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stephbond89

stephbond89
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Member since: 06.01.2009

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    • More +
      27.03.2011 14:41
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      A great game which is fun and easy to use!!

      == Introduction ==
      I bought my husband a Wii Fit for Christmas last year and didn't really realise that Wii Fit Plus was an add on to the pack as I also bought the game Wii Fit Plus. He had been after the game since it came out, but we have had a couple of years bad luck with money, so it just hasn't been possible for us to buy it for him, but this year I decided to treat him.

      == What is Wii Fit Plus? ==
      Wii Fit is a game for the Nintendo Wii console, the original game comes with a thing called a "balance board" (you can also buy these seperately), and it is supposed to be a type of gym workout game in your home- the games and workouts which are incorporated in the game are there to help you lose weight and keep fit. The add on game of Wii Fit Plus is a game which adds to the original Wii Fit game, it comes with the board if you do not already have it, or it comes as a game only- if you already have Wii Fit all of your weights and results are saved onto the new game automatically, so you do not have to start all over again which is good!

      Wii Fit Plus simply adds to the original game, it adds some extra games, it adds more functions and makes game play much more fun and makes it easier to work out.

      == Game Play ==
      The game itself is pretty much identical to Wii Fit, but for those of you who are not aware of the original game, allow me to explain a little what it is all about...

      You can add as many people as you want to Wii Fit, and each can have their own account (this can be password protected so that nobody can see your weigth or BMI if you don't want them to be able to!), you sign in to your own account and first off you do a "body test" (please beware that there is a weight limit of 300lb or 23stone on the Wii Fit), this is where you are weighed and your BMI is worked out, it will tell you if your underweight, normal weight, over weight or obese, of course this is only a game, but it is pretty accurate from what I can tell. You then have a choice of doing a couple of activities which will test your balance and will assess you and give you a "body age".

      This body test is how the Wii Fit game helps to assess you and your progress on the game. And I suggest doing it once a week, as it can differ by a good couple of pounds each day (whether this is the body or the game though I am not sure, but even when you diet you shouldn't weigh yourself daily, so I do recommend only doing it once a week!)- you can then go on and play some games.

      There are a few different catagories...balance games, aerobic excercises, yoga and muscle workouts.

      - Muscle workouts and Yoga -
      These are more "boring" in my opinion, you do things like muscle stretches and are good for toning up certain parts of the body, and the yoga can be good for relaxation too! As well as being good at helping to tone the body, these excercises also help with your balance which in part make your "body age" younger!!! These excercises won't get your heart racing and so I personally don't class these as excersices in that sense, but I do a couple of these each time I play the game, though I find some of the yoga stances very difficult to do on a tiny board, and you do need quite a lot of room for some of them, I think with the yoga excercises especially you are best practising them off the balance board first as the board can be a hinderance where these are involved!

      - Balance Games -
      These are games which you actually play, and for me are much more fun, you don't feel like you are excercising...and neither will kids which is good really for children who don't want to be told to do their excercises but you don't want them doing none! Some of the balance games are snowball fight where you have a pretend snowball fight and have to move side to side and throw snowballs at the other Miis, and a game where you have balls which are like hamster balls which you have to guide with your feet into holes on a board, lean too far forward/backwards or side to side and the ball will fall off and you have to start again!

      - Aerobic Excercises -
      These are my favourite of the games as they make me feel like I am actually getting a sweat on and make me feel like I am getting my heart beating. These excersises are meant to make your heart beat by making you work your body. Some of the games on this part of WiiFit are Steps (basically aerobic steps!), Running, Cycling.

      The game is very fun, and when uses correctly daily, or 3 times a week or so, it does work to get you excercising.

      == New things on Wii Fit PLus ==
      Calorie Counter: This tells you an average of how many calories each activity burns, and you can also set a calorie goal- so you can choose a "beef burger" for 300 calories, and you can keep going until you have burned these calories

      New Activities: Such as Step Plus, Running Plus, Cycling, new balance games.

      Workout Routines: You can choose which parts of your body you want to tone or work out...so your arms, your tum, your bum etc..and the game will chose the games which are suited to these parts of the body, it means you get a full on workout and not just a couple of games here and there not working the parts of the body you want to work.

      Activity Log: You can log the activities you do outside of WiiFit, so any walking you do etc.

      == Price and Availability ==
      The game on its own costs between £15 and £20, whilst the game and Wii Fit balance Board is between £65 and £80 and is available from Amazon.co.uk as well as Game, Game Station nand Cex stores.

      == Does it work? ==
      In my opinion it does if you work at it. If you don't want to work out, then you don't want to, and I don't think you will work at it, you may find you get bored of doing it everyday, but i do think it makes working out easy. Sometimes you want to work out but don't want to join the gym and don't know how to excercise at home, but this does help. I personally haven't lost any weight in the couple of weeks I have being using wii fit, but I do think I am fitter, and getting fitter and fitter by the week! it is also FUN which is so important as it makes you want to carry on with the game!

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    • Emachines eM250 Netbook / Netbook / 20 Readings / 17 Ratings
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      20.03.2011 23:09
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      A great little netbook for a fantastic little price!!

      A few months ago my laptop eventually died after 2 years of hassle with it breaking and me having to reboot it each time losing everything from it. I went to get a value for fixing it, and it was just going to cost me a fortune, and there was no real guarantee how long it was going to last anyway, so I decided I would get rid, and get myself a new laptop. Selling my broken laptop for £80 to a laptop repair centre, I had a few pennies saved up, I went searching online to see what I could find.

      All of the laptops were well out of my price range, they seemed to have really gone up in price since the last time I had bought one 3 years ago when I spent £300 on a pretty high spec model, they were now more like £500 for anything even half decent. It was then I thought about maybe getting a netbook, a smaller version of a laptop-they have no cd drive, and not as much "going on", and in my own experience, they seem to be just that little bit more hardy than a laptop for carrying around.

      I only used my laptop for writing reviews, networking, checking emails and shopping. I do not play games (I wish I had that much time spare!), nor do I need much storage as the only thing I store is photos and a handful of generally unimportant documents, so I wasn't after anything high spec or special. After trawling the internet and finding nothing below £200 which was really my limit as a new mum and someone who only uses the computer for simple leisure purposes I couldn't justify spending any more than that...I was having no luck and thought about a reconditioned laptop. That was when I found out about a company called emachines- they make computer equipement, and netbooks...for a fraction of the cost of normal netbooks.

      I found the emachines e250 model in my local PC World for £190, well within my budget, and JUST what I was looking for.

      Specifications
      The screen is 10.1" meaning it is perfect to be carried around for work/college purposes, but also perfect for around the house.
      It has an Intel Atom processor.
      1GB of memory (though you can have an external hard drive to increase this if needed).
      160GB hard drive...this is actually quite big for a small cheap netbook.
      3 cell Li-ion battery
      The Operating System is Windows XP.
      Wireless
      Internal Webcam
      Weight 1.25kg

      Using the netbook
      The netbook doesn't have a locking system to open and close the lid it just opens easily, one less thing in my opinion to break as on my last laptop the latch broke and if I didn't keep something in it to keep it open, it would lock shut!!! So once you open it, there is a simple button to turn on the machine, and it loads up. It isn't as fast as newer model netbooks, my husband has an EeePC which has Windows 7 and it is loaded up a good minute before mine, though I still wouldn't swap for reasons I will go into in a moment- once you have gone through the initial set up and registration of the netbook, you are good to go, everything from there on in is simple, just as it is on all netbooks and laptops really.

      The keyboard is smaller than that on a laptop or computer, so it does take some getting used to, and you may find that you are typing wrong for a couple of weeks until you get used to it, but once you are used to it, you won't notice the difference! Everything is in the same place as on other netbooks and laptops, there are no confusing buttons, nothing which needs setting up to get it going, the Internet is instantly connected to your prefered wireless network or dongle.

      The internal webcam is instantly set up and good to go once you are using a programme which supports the use of webcams (Windows Live Messenger for example), and is of a good quality, the picture is as good as any other webcam I have used in the past and is perfect for using to speak to relatives who may live away.

      My dad cannot use netbooks, on the couple of times he has tried to use mine, he gets confused with the smaller keyboard and how small the touchpad is etc, and even had one of his own which he sold after a week as he found it just too small! He is almost 70 though...so maybe this is why!!!! I think they do take some getting used to, the screen is obviously smaller, not as much fits on the screen so you may find you are having to zoom out on some webpages to be able to see everything, but again this is something which you very quickly become used to!

      As I mentioned earlier, there is no CD drive in any netbooks, it is one of their characteristics, so it means that rebooting the netbook is more complex if it crashes, and you cannot play CD drive games- but you CAN now buy external CD drives, this means you can plug it into your USB drive and insert CDs, I have never found not having a CD drive a problem as I use a USB pen more often! Also there is a memory card reader (SD cards) so you can use higher memory SD cards to store things like films on- this makes them much easier to store, as they take up a lot less room and are easier to utilise!

      This netbook is XP and not Windows 7- what some people do not realise though until too late is that with the majority of new laptops and computers the Windows 7 which is already on the machine is called Starter...this is NOT full windows. You cannot set your own desktop background, cannot watch DVDs...there is more you cannot do on Windows 7 Starter, and you have to upgrade to Windows 7 Home Premium which is another £80 or so ontop of your laptop/netbook if not more. My husband found this out when he got his netbook and it was a huge disappointment. So for me the fact the machine is XP is a huge bonus! For a machine with Windows 7 Home Premium already installed, it was going to cost me a good £500-£700!!! So please don't take the fact that this machine is "only" XP as a bad point as it really is not...also remember Windows Vista is now gone as it was the "trial run" for Windows 7 so you will not find any machine with Vista on it now.

      The 10.1" screen is LCD, this means that unlike plasma there is no visual disturbance if you are sitting at an angle to the screen, for some this may be great...if you are someone who likes your privacy it means the person next to you on the train can see everything you are doing...! But it is all down to personal preference on that one, for me LCD is the best type of screen.

      I have tried using my netbook outside in the sun, and it is nigh on impossible, the sun glares off the screen and you just cannot do it. I do not know why laptops are still made as they are and don't imcorporate anti glare screens!

      The battery life on the netbook is pretty reasonable, from a fully charged machine I find I get around 4 hours usage, of course this is reduced if streaming TV or films, but it is a reasonable battery life, and even after 6 months use, the battery doesn't seem to be reducing its life span.

      The netbook runs quite slow which is one thing which gets annoying after being used to Windows Vista on my old machine which was pretty quick, of course it isn't "slow" just slow-ER than Windows 7 machines are, it sometimes gets a little annoying when you want to really quickly log on to do something and have to wait 5 minutes before the netbook is entirely loaded for use without freezing.

      Althouth this machine doesn't come with full Microsoft Office (Word, Excell etc) it does come with Microsoft Works- a cheaper simpler version of all of the Office programmes! These can be saved in Word/Excel etc format so they can be emailed or put on a USB drive and opened in Microsoft Word with no problems, so there should be no problems transferring college work, or work documents from home.

      The netbook doesn't seem to get hot like a laptop does, maybe because it doesnt have as much to cool down? I am not sure, but I can sit quite comfortably with it on my knee without it burning me!!!

      I mentioned a little about portability of the machine- the dimentions of the whole netbook are as follows:
      Depth 1.85 cm
      Height 2.5 cm
      Width 25.85 cm
      and the weight is 1.25kg, the size makes the machine really easy to carry around, and it isn't heavy at all, so it will sit in your bag quite comfortably. As it does not come with a case of any sorts, I would recommend buying one to keep your netbook safe from splashes or spills of drinks and knocks and bangs- especially if you are carrying it around alot.

      Appearance

      The look of this netbook is really good. It is slim, around an inch and a half thick when closed, and the whole machine is not much bigger than the screen size when all shut up. So it really is very portable. It is all black and stylish looking (though it does come in silver too as far as I am aware!). The top is matt finished so no nasty finger tip marks all over the top, and it means that slight scratches which may occur are not noticable, perfect for someone who is on the go alot, but likes to keep their things looking "like new"! To look at you wouldn't think this netbook was a cheap model at all, and it actually looks more attractive than a lot of the more expensive models I have seen recently.

      Worth the money?
      This is the cheapest brand new, not ex display model, netbook I have found, it is around £50 cheaper than even the next in line, which was the Acer Aspire ONE range of netbooks which was around £230-£240 when I was looking, and it is WELL worth the money! The only thing I find that this netbook is missing is bluetooth, my husbands netbook has Bluetooth connectivity which makes connecting his phone to the netbook really quick and simple, and it is the ONLY thing I wish this netbook had. It has everything I personally need, plenty of storage space for me, does everything I need it to do, simple office type tools like a spreadsheet, and document programme.

      I am overly impressed with my little netbook, I am really happy I chose this one, and at the price I paid, if it only lasts 2 years it isn't too bad...though by the way it is still going after 6 months (after 6 months my last laptop had died already and been back for a new harddrive!) then I am hopeful of a long little life!!

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      • Johnson's Baby Shampoo / Hair Care / 27 Readings / 26 Ratings
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        20.03.2011 18:23
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        A lovely baby shampoo! :)

        Just before I was due to give birth to my first child, I stocked up on all the baby bathtime items I would need, baby bath, baby top to toe wash, talc, and this baby shampoo. It cost me just £1.15 from the Cooperative this was for a 300ml bottle. I didn't really think it would last me that long, so I also bought another bottle of a green Johnsons baby shampoo at the same time.

        What is Johnsons Baby Shampoo
        Quite simply it is shampoo which is made safe for use on babies- this just means it is a simple formula which is soft on babies sensitive skin and doesn't irritate the eyes if it goes in- Johnson's claim it is no more irritable than plain water to the eyes.

        It comes in a bright yellow colour in a clear plastic bottle with a yellow lid and a simple label on the front.

        Using the product
        I usually get in the bath with my daughter as I find it one a bonding time, and two much easier to bath her when I am in with her. When she was a tiny baby, I found this shampoo really difficult to open when you are holding your babies head and body and trying to stop them going under the water as the lid is very stiff and hard to open- I guess this is so that as the baby gets older and are left in the bath alone, they cannot open the shampoo and squirt it all over the bath...but it is very inconvenient to open without a spare hand...I cannot help but think a press top bottle would be better for this product maybe which you can "lock" after use so that if the child is left on their own they cannot open it and use it all in one go.

        Despite the problem I had opening the bottle with one hand, the shampoo itself is really easy to use- it isn't thick so it comes out of the bottle easily- but not too easily, you don't end up with a huge handful of shampoo when you only want a pea sized amount. I found that a little went a long way, and even a tiny drop in the middle of my hand was loads on a babies head, it seems to foam up much more than you would expect.

        I would recommend rubbing it between your fingers before putting it on the babies head as I found I was wary of my daughters soft spot the first couple of months while it was still so big, and if the shampoo went directly onto her head it could be hard to rub in to the whole head without pressing down hard on the soft spot, so I now put it onto my hand and rub it in slightly to make it easier to put into the hair.

        I have been using this shampoo every night since the day my daughter was born 6 months ago and I still have a third of the bottle left! It really does last ages on a babies head as their hair is so thin that you barely need any to wash the head.

        The formula does actually seem to be no more tears too as my daughter has got it in her eyes on numerous occasions and it just hasn't bothered her at all even as a newborn.

        Smell of the shampoo

        I think Johnsons baby have the nicest "baby" smells in the business, and the smells of all of their baby products are just what you think of when you think of babies...and the shampoo is no different, the smell is just "baby" all over. I cannot really describe the smell itself but it is very pleasant and clean smelling! The smell sticks around on your babies hair for at least 12 hours (when I get my daughter up after her sleep, her hair still smells of the shampoo!) and keeps your baba smelling fresh!!

        Supposed toxins in the shampoo
        I was a little concerned about the ingredients in this supposed "gentle" baby shampoo...

        the ingredients are as follows- aqua, coco-glucoside, sodium lauroamphaocetate, sodium laureth sulfate, citreic acid, polysorbate 20, peg 80 sorbitan laurate, peg 150 distearate, polyquaternium 10, sodium benzoate, parfum, ci 47005, ci 15985.

        I must say this list of ingredients was a little un nerving especially as sodium benzoate is something which has been attributed with cancer...but upon reseraching the shampoo, of course the shampoo is only dangerous to children and adults alike if swallowed in large quantities (so not swallowing a little foam whilst in the bath but drinking the bottle!), all shampoos need these chemicals and ingredients to make them what they are, and I have never had a reaction myself, nor has my husband, my daughter or any of my 9 nieces and nephews...so I think it can be trusted...especially as it has been around for decades...and is still trusted by mothers today...also in the world of health and safety madness, I am pretty sure if the shampoo was even remotely dangerous, it would be taken off the shelves quicker than you could say "nanny state".

        So would I recommend the shampoo to other mummies and daddies?
        Definitely! I have used the shampoo once or twice myself when I have had none to hand and it does my your hair dry and isn't particularly conditioning! So I wouldn't use this myself as it isn't nice on adult hair, but for my baby it is perfect. It smells gorgeous, I hardly need to use any, and though it makes my own hair dry and lifeless, it makes my daughters lovely and soft!

        It is well worth the money as it lasts so long! The packaging isn't perfect, it is difficult to open and this is a pain when your on your own and trying to bath a baby who cannot sit up on their own and who you need to support. So this is something I think Johnsons need to re-think, I see why is has a difficult to open top, so that children cannot open it and drink it, pour it away etc. But if it makes it difficult for a parent to open, then it seems a little pointless.

        But overall the product really is brilliant! I will definitely buy it again!

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        • Nescafe Original 3 in 1 / Coffee / 17 Readings / 16 Ratings
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          18.03.2011 23:09
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          Great for picnics and days out!!

          Seeing these advertised on the TV a couple of weeks ago I thought they sounded like a really good idea- although I don't often take sugar in my coffee, I do sometimes enjoy it sweet, as does my husband, and so I thought I would pick some up for picnics and the likes rather than trying to measure out a spoonful of coffee on a windy beach in the middle of spring. I was expecting these to be quite expensive, so was surprised when they were only £1 for a pack of 10 sachets in Tesco (though this was a special introductory offer, and their usual price was £2).

          What are Nescafe 3 in 1's?
          These are sachets of pre mixed coffee with milk and sugar, perfect for on the go, picnics and long car journeys, meaning no stewed coffee in your flask, just boil some water, pop it in ther flask and away you go, you can make a brew when you feel like, no waste-age if you end up not drinking any of the flask, only water is being poured away.

          Packaging
          These little 3 in 1 Nescafe drinks come in a bag and within the bag there are 10 finger sized sachets, these are made of thin plastic with an easy open tear along line, making them easy to open on the go. The packaging is perfect, no silly box taking up loads of room in my cupboard, just a plastic type bag which can be easily manipulated into the already full cupboard space.

          Each sachet is enough for one 250ml mug of coffee, and are the eqivilent to a mug of coffee with one sugar and a splash of milk.

          I definitely give the packaging a 10 out of 10, the sachets are strong enough not to rip or ruin if they get wet in a bag meaning that they are perfect for picnics as even if something spills on them, they won't be ruined, each one is perfectly sized for one mug of coffee. The packaging is well designed making it easy on the eye as well as useful. And it is easy to open, meaning there is no spilled contents when it goes flying everywhere when trying to open the sachet! Storage is no problem as like I said, there is no bulky box to hold the sachets.

          Using the coffee mixture
          This couldn't be easier, just empty the contents of the sachet into a mug and pour around 250ml of boiled water in. Stir and drink! These are simply perfect for on the go as there is no messing with storing milk, sugar and coffee seperately and messing with spoons for each one and spillages etc.

          Taste
          The coffees taste is relatively mild and quite sweet, for me it was a tiny bit too sweet...maybe there was not enough coffee to sugar ratio for my taste buds, but for my husband, it was perfect as he likes his coffee quite sweet! I think to please everyone on this ratio would be pretty much impossible to be honest, and on the whole, the coffee tastes just like normal Nescafe coffee which I would make at home in my kitchen only with a spoonful of sugar which I wouldn't always add.

          The milk is obviously dehydrated milk (like you get in powdered capuccino and like the powdered milk you can buy in the shops), so it isn't creamy as you would get with usual milk, and for me reminds me of coffee made using skimmed milk- not a problem for me, but for people who like full fat milk, they would be able to taste the difference in the milky texture and taste.

          The only problem with this coffee as far as I was concerned was because I add milk from the fridge to my own coffee at home, it cools it down so I can drink it right away, whereas with this, I found I was scalding myself the first few sips because I was so used to being able to drink it right away!

          Worth the money?
          Considering if I want to buy me and my husband a cup of coffee in a cafe whilst out, it would cost me between £1 and £3 for a cup (depending of course on where I went for it), I think that even at full price of £2 approx for 10 sachets is well worth it for my purpose of using them for camping/picnics/days out as it means I am saving myself money when we go out for the day at the weekend. It means I can have a coffee whenever I like and don't have to worry about finding a cafe where I am not going to have to remortgage my house to buy 2 cups of coffee and I know it is going to be reasonable, and not taste like dishwater as some cheap cafe coffee does!

          I wouldn't buy these to use at home on a daily basis- nor would I buy them to take to work with me, but to grab two and pop them in my bag when we are going on a day trip or long journey along with the flask of boiled water, they are perfect, and well worth the money.

          Maybe not to everybody's taste in that the coffee isn't particularly strong, but it definitely warms you up on a cold seaside front!!!!

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          • Anxiety / Discussion / 29 Readings / 26 Ratings
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            18.03.2011 11:44
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            Don't be ashamed about getting treatment.

            It all started when I was a teenager for me. It took nothing to make me snap, I would just start shouting and getting angry for apparently no reason, and I would be awake all night worrying over nothing at all...I just couldn't switch off from life sometimes. When I went out, I would worry that I hadn't turned off the oven...and although many people have these simple thoughts, they will quickly dispense, but for me I would worry all day, or all week if I was going on holiday. Sometimes the shakes set in and when I got really stressed out I couldn't breath, it felt like the life was sucked out of me...I later realised these were panic attacks.

            It took me until I was 22 to actually do something about my problems. I had gotten married 2 years earlier, and my marriage was very happy, but when we did have a little argument, I would spin it out of control, the amount of glasses and plates that had gone flying through the rooms in my house was ridiculous. It only took the birth of my daughter to give me the much needed kick up the backside to go and get myself some help.

            Finding I was getting stressed out with a baby crying, I was shouting at her, even at a few weeks old if she was crying, and I was worrying that if I didn't get help, I might end up hurting her albeit by accident.

            So off I went to my lovely Doctor, who listened to my symptoms and told me it sounded like I had stress and anxiety disorder- my mum has depression, and my dad used to be on pills for stress and anxiety himself, so it does "run in the family", and she prescribed me with a medication called Citalopram 20mg and sent me away for 6 weeks to try them, see how I dealt with them. I was anxious about taking pills, worried that I would become addicted to them and not be able to come off them, but as my doctor said, if I had diabetes, would I not take the much needed insulin incase I became addicted...anxiety and depression are illnesses just like diabetes, although not as physical as some illnesses, which makes many people disregard mental disorders, it IS an illness and so I was a little happier about taking the medication.

            6 weeks passed, and though the medication had helped me, I still found I was just a tad worried still and still got stressed, though nowhere near as much, and my Doctor upped my dosage to 40mg...and finally I was happy.

            I would not class myself as depressed, and the questionnaire which I was given by my Doctor also showed that I didn't have depressed tendancies, but the medication I was given is actually an anti depressant. My mood has really improved with the help of my medication, and although I of course still get stressed out and annoyed at things, it is much much more in control and a more "normal" stress level like the majority of people get when things happen to them which are stressful!

            So what is anxiety then?

            Anxiety is psychological, meaning that it is to do with the brain, the word anxiety basically means "to worry", and this is what anxiety does to a person, makes them worry unnecessaily whether there is a reason to or not. Anxiety can make a person feel worried and stressed. Anxiety in itself is a natural reaction to stresses in life, for example a worry of losing your house if you lose your job...and almost everybody in the world gets anxiety on a weekly if not daily basis.

            But, when anxiety becomes excessive, a person is diagnosed with anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorder can provoke panic attacks (hyperventillating), tension in a physical sense, symptoms such as sweating; raised blood pressure; feeling hot, and worry. Although this one phrase is used, there are lots of sub categories of anxiety disorders- panic attacks, phobias (such as agoraphobia) and other disorders such as obsessive compulsive disorder. Each "type" of anxiety disorder will be treated differently. The type I am explaining in this "review" is a general anxiety disorder where the person gets stressed and general feelings of worry on an extreme basis- this is called "Generalized anxiety disorder" and "panic disorder" can also fall under this too, where a person allso experiences panic attacks with their anxiety.

            Anxiety disorders are complex and can be confusing for somebody who is diagnosed, but you will usually be told which anxiety disorder you have whether it is a panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder etc.

            What causes Anxiety Disorders?
            If we are completely honest, Doctors are still not 100% sure exactly WHAT causes anxiety disorders, the brain is still relatively an unknown organ, which is why treating these types of disorders can sometimes be hit and miss and a case of trail and error.

            In some cases, but by no means all (and certainly not in my case!) the anxiety disorder may be induced by drug or alcohol abuse, so if you are diagnosed with anxiety, you must tell your doctor if you use an excessive amount of drugs or alcohol- and these will be the first things to "cut out" to stop your anxiety before the use of drug intervention will be used.

            Something called Gamma Aminobutyric Acid (or GABA for short!) a neurotransmitter which is there to reduce activity in the central nervous system of the body can be produced in low levels, meaning that there is too much activity going on in the central nervous system, this can contribute towards anxiety disorders.

            There are parts of the brain, situated in the temporal lobes (in the middle of your brain!) called amygldala- this part of the brain is essential in stress and anxiety and processes it. In an anxiety disorder, the function of the amygldala may be the cause or caused by anxiety disorders, though it isn't sure which causes which, does the function of this part of the brain cause anxiety disorder or does the anxiety cause the reduced function of the amygldala.

            Sorry if this is quite brief but the reasoning behind anxiety disorders is relatively unknown, we do not know if it is caused by a natural thing (i.e. something in the body and possibly genetic) or is it something to do with life (i.e. life stresses bring on extreme stress which bring on anxiety and then eventually a disorder!)- so for now, I cannot really give an exact reason behind anxiety disorders sadly.

            Diagnosing Anxiety Disorders

            Anxiety disorders can be present from a very young age (though it is natural for children to have anxiety as everything is so new to them), or they can come about later in life when something triggers it (this may be a divorce, loss of job, death close to home etc).

            As there are lots of physical symptoms to anxiety disorders, these can be used to diagnose these disorders: these include headaches, excessive sweating, muscle spasms, palpitations of the heart, high blood pressure and tiredness. But on top of this, a Doctor will listen to your own experiences, will ask you questions and will usually ask you to complete a questionnaire which will give you a "score" between 0 and 20 (as far as I know, all of these tests are different so yours may vary from this one, but they all have the same end result!), 0 means there are no signs of depression or anxiety, whilst 20 may indicate a serious mental disorder such as scizophrenia, a person with an anxiety disorder will usually get a score between 3 and 7 (unless there is a depressive tendancy too). Many people diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, and these will be treated simultaneously.

            There are no "tests" to say "you have panic disorder", or "you have obsessive compulsive disorder", so the diagnosis of these illnesses can be difficult, and it all depends on your doctor- so when you call your doctor for an appointment, you may be best asking for a doctor who has specialised in mental health as these doctors will know more about the conditions and will be better qualified to diagnose your condition and treat it correctly.

            Treating Anxiety Disorders

            As I mentioned earlier, all anxiety disorders will be treated differently. With a Generalized anxiety disorder, your doctor may begin by trying to treat you with counselling-if you do not want this, you can request medical help rather than therapy- though you may want to try the two hand in hand.

            A doctor will try starting off low- they don't want to over prescribe you with high medication which you may not need, so they will always start lower than you need- as most anti anxiety medication can take up to a month to start to work, you will be given usually 6 weeks worth of the medication and will be told to come back in a month to see if they are helping at all. If they are working you will be given a repeat prescription usually, and given a date for a medical review, usually 3 months or so down the line- at this review you will again be asked if they are working, and if not you will be put onto a higher dose, or a different medication. Like I have said before, it is a case of trail and error and sometimes it can take a couple of tries before you find a medication which works for you. There is no quick fix for anxiety disorders, and it can take even a year or so before you find something which helps you.

            I was told that after 6 months of been on a medication which works for you, the doctors will try to get you "off the meds", and see if you have learned to cope with the feelings of anxiety with the help of the medication, if this hasn't worked, the medication will be continued to be used, but in some cases, the body learns to "cope" with the excess anxiety with the help of the medication. For some people, they will need the medication for longer than 6 months, and some may need it for life. Though this is usually rare.

            There are hundreds of different drugs used to help treat anxiety disorders, and to go into these would take me years- but usually the treatment will be SSRI's (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) which are used to treat depression and these tend to be the first port of call. Also Beta Blockers may be used to treat panic attacks and heart palpitations and the raised blood pressure.

            Living and Coping with anxiety disorders

            It used to be (and I am talking not even a decade ago) that people with anxiety disorders and depression were seen as "weird", people wanted to stay away from them, they didn't want anything to do with them, and even in the medical profession, mental disorders were not considered a "real" illness. But in recent years more has come to light about these disorders, we understand them more, and we can treat them better. No more electo therapy for depression and disorders such as aggoraphobia! So I think I am actually lucky that I was diagnosed with my anxiety disorder in 2011 and not 1999...so much has changed in these recent years!

            Living with an anxiety disorder without treatment is hard, very hard. For me I felt like I was always on a knifes edge, my husband was walking on eggshells incase I snapped and started shouting, and when my daughter was born I was more worried for her safety, the last thing I wanted was to snap when she was here, for one thing I don't want my little girl seeing her mummy screaming at daddy, throwing plates etc, but I also didn't want to end up smacking her, and taking out my stress on my little girl. Gladly I had support from my husband who said he thought I should see a doctor, and I finally took his advice.

            Now living with my anxiety disorder is much easier, I just take one pill in the morning and I am fine, I haven't snapped, thrown anything...since I started taking the pills, and I am slowly learning to deal with daily stresses. I have a long way to go, I only got diagnosed a couple of months ago, so I am still early on in my treatment, and I still think I need something to help with the heart palpitations and blood pressure whcih I can sometimes still feel when there is stress around me even though I no longer get angry! It makes my life so much easier.

            As for getting jobs etc, it is sadly still a requirement to tell your employers about which medications you take, and what they are for- and for this reason my husband has found it hard getting jobs (he has depression and has for a few years now), and though you may think "take them to court then!", it isn't that easy as they simply reply with "you were not suitable for the job nothing to do with your depression". It is apparantly coming into law soon that employers cannot ask about medical issues you may have unless of course it is going to affect your job (you couldn't work in a nightclub if you have light sensitive epilepsy for example...!). And I think when this is passed it will be much easier for people to get jobs who have these disorders, of course there are people who don't see anxiety disorders as an issue, and these people tend to be those who actually understand them and know it isn't anything bad!

            Anxiety disorders are not something to be ashamed about, between 7 and 10% of people have these disorders, so they are not as uncommon as you may think- and these are only those who have been diagnosed. You may find yourself needing to change your lifestyle to get used to your disorder, sleep is very important- as lack of sleep can cause stress to get worse, and more stress makes anxiety disorders much worse. Try to take the stress out of your life- this isn't always possible, but if you have something very stressful happening at the moment, try to take yourself away from the situation if it is at all possible. Talk to someone, even if it is a friend or relative, you wouldn't believe how nice it feels to get things off your chest...open a blog if you have nobody to talk to and vent to the world! Keeping a pad next to your bed is good, if you get worries in the night write them on the pad, and just leave them til the morning, just remember there is nothing you can do at 3am about that bill which needs paying, or about that phone call which you forgot about, or about the letter which needs posting, so just write it down you don't forget tomorrow, and this may help you be able to get back to sleep and stop worrying about it.

            Do not worry about getting medical help- I was concerned my daughter would be taken off me, a silly thought!!- nothing bad will happen, a doctor will happily help you, it is what they are there for at the end of the day. Your children won't be taken away, you are getting help before you can snap, and this is always a good thing.

            Anxiety disorders are complex and confusing, even to those of us who have the disorders they are confusing. There are so many different disorders under the heading of anxiety disorders, so many different treatements and causes, but once you have the help you need, you are on the right track, and though it can be a long process to getting on the right track, it is well worth it when you start to feel better, I know I do. There were days when I felt I couldn't cope. I don't know how long my marriage would have lasted if I hadn't got help, but now me and my husband couldn't be happier!!!

            I really hope I have helped shed some light on what anxiety disorders are and how they are treated etc. I know that when I was diagnosed with my anxiety disorders, all I wanted was some advice, what it meant, what the heck an anxiety disorder was and what it meant for me, was I mad? Was I sick? Did it make me weird! And sadly I didn't find much information to help me out or explain anything to me apart from medical jargon nonsense which just didn't mean anything to me so I do hope I have helped at least one person!!!

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              17.03.2011 10:42
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              The perfect book for a Stag or Hen!!!

              Introduction
              This is the first book I bought on my Amazon Kindle, it sounded funny and witty and just like the kind of book I would enjoy. I had never heard of Matt Rudd as an author, and don't usually read books with a male protagonist (not chick lit books anyway), though I don't quite know why this is! I settled down to read the book and very quickly got into it!

              About the Author
              Matt Rudd is an English author who also writes for the Sunday Times newspaper, he is aged 34 and lives with his wife and two children in Kent...I cannot help but think William Walker's first year of marriage was based a little closer to home than you may first think!!!
              As well as William Walker's first year of marriage, there is also "William's Progress", which I have yet to read, and is a sequel to this book...which should be fun!!!

              Plot
              William is a 30-something average Joe and Isabel is a beautiful young lady and they together are newly weds, they live in London UK And William is expecting married life bliss, but everything starts to go wrong even from the honeymoon! But despite the bumpy road of married life things are going good, he has a great new job, a beautiful wife and things are looking good. But things are just destined to go against William when his ex girlfriend Saskia (The Destroyer of Relationships) shows up on the scene and moves in below William and Isabels flat! And then there is Alex, Isabels "best friend" who never seems to be off the scene. Throw in chucking (cold) tea at a work colleage and moving around the corner from his mother in law...and things just aren't looking up for William Walker's first year of marriage!

              Opinion of the story
              I really enjoyed this book. I myself am reasonably newly married (me and my husband have been married 2 and a half years!), so I understand a lot of what William is talking about with being a newlywed. The change in dynamics, the silly arguments about stupid things like who is going to put that glass in the cupboard...who is going to choose something for dinner, why did you leave a sock on the bannister...etc! So I found myself laughing and nodding along with a lot of the book remembering when these things happened to me and my husband...and still do happen with me and my husband! Though I must say I do not have a mad best friend who wants to steal me away from my husband...or at least I hope not!

              The book in my opinion is well written, it is average in length (291 pages) and is written in months and days like a diary rather than in chapters which I really liked about the book. Although written like a diary, in other ways it isn't...it doesn't have short paragraphs and although written in the eyes of William, it still gives plenty if insight into the lives of the other people...more like he is telling a story rather than writing in a diary. It gives enough background to Williams life without giving too much away.

              There are plenty of twists and turns and funny things which happen which you are not really expecting. Although not the average first year of marriage...I am sure some people have had worse, and though some of the things seem a little far fetched, they don't feel unrealistic in the book and you can really imagine them happening to poor William who just seems to have the worst luck imaginable.

              The book is very Bridget Jones...but written in the words of a man, and I think it is enjoyable for both men and women, which is unusual for this kind of book- I could see my husband enjoying the book as much as I did...and I can imagine him nodding along with the concens William has and the discussions he wants to have with Isabel...!!! I actually think a man would appreciate the book even more than a woman as he would "understand" where William is coming from with a lot of the things he is saying whereas a woman may think "Oh get a grip man!!!!".

              I really enjoyed this book, I couldn't put it down, and ended up staying up until well into the small hours reading it (annoying my hubby who was due up at 4.45am to go to work...!!!), it made me giggle, smile and think about my own marriage, it even made me appreciate it even more than I already do.

              If you like a good comedy, and enjoyed Bridget Jones' Diary, then you will love this book. A definite 10 out of 10 from me, definitely a book I would pick up and read again and again as it is a book which is so easy to read and humorous that you could read it over and over and still laugh at!

              The perfect book for a hen or Stag....!!!!

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                17.03.2011 10:04
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                Try to follow your doctors advice!

                So you are nearing your due date, you feel like you're the size of a house and no clothes fit you anymore. You're uncomfortable, feeling huge, feeling impatient and you just want the baby out NOW. Then...you get this horrible pain between your legs, and you think oh great...just one more thing to add to my list of woes.

                Symphis Pubis Dysfunction...you probably think it sounds like a deadly disease when you are told this is what you have, I know I did...I thought my was going to lose my baby when I was told I had it at first, and it didn't help that my doctor didn't actually explain what the hell it was, just said I had it, and there was nothing they could do for it, but that in most cases after birth it goes away- it took me hours of looking online (scaring myself basically!) to actually find out what SPD was, and to find that it is one of the most common things for pregnant women to get, that although excrutiatingly painful...it isn't in the slightest bit harmful to the baby- and yes in most cases once you give birth the pain will go away.

                So what IS SPD?

                The Symphis Publis is located the the bottom of your pelvis, and it is this which needs to open to allow the baby to pass through during childbirth, the pain comes when this part of the pelvis moves more than it should do and before labour, which can cause horrible pain in your groin area, in many women it makes even walking impossible- but in other women they may simply have a slight pain for a couple of weeks. SPD affects up to 1 in 4 pregnant women, so it is not at all rare. As I mentioned, it isn't harmful to you or the baby in any way- but it can be very painful, and a trip to the doctor is advised if you think you may have this- SPD may also be called "Girdle Pain". Usually diagnosis of SPD is simply done through your symptoms (i.e. there is no test done to diagnose it!), but if you continue to have the pain after pregnancy, you may be offered scans to diagnose SPD, and to rule out other problems- another reason you should see your doctor early on in suspecting you may have SPD is to rule out other problems which may need immediate attention, so any pain in the groin, abdomen or lower back really should mean you seek medical help- even if you just mention it to your midwife!

                Treating SPD

                At the moment, there is no "cure" for SPD, and in 93% of cases it goes away on its own once you have given birth, in some cases (usually when SPD occurs early on in pregnancy) a girdle support will be given to try and keep the pelvis aligned and stop the pain from happening- I was not given one of these with my SPD as it was diagnosed in the last 2 weeks of my pregnancy so I am afraid I cannot really comment on this girdle support. The only other treatment is prescribed pain killers- as SPD occurs mainly in pregnancy of course the range of drugs you can take is limited- usually Co-codamol (a mix of paracetamol and codeine) will be prescribed which can make you drowsy and makes some people feel sick- though I myself have never experienced either of these side affects. If the pain is extremely severe and deemed you cannot live with it, you may be sent to a pain clinic who will asses the pain, and give you tips on pain management, and things to do in your lifestyle which will reduce the pain- you may be put on bedrest which would mean time taken out of work if you had not yet finished for maternity leave- you may be given a sick note and told to simply rest which is what I was told in my own case, and not walking too much did help- for me walking up the stairs brought the pain on, so you may want to try and stay downstairs as much as you can!

                In very rare cases surgery may be required after you have given birth to realign the pelvis, but this is as I say very rare, and in the most part, the pain spontaneously goes once you have given birth!

                Lifestyle changes which can help with SPD

                There are certain things which can be done to help your condition in your life rather than taking medication (which a lot of women do not want to do during pregnancy for all the obvious reasons!).

                Don't stand for long periods: so avoid things like vacuuming/sweeping and waiting in long queues. If you can, sit down for most things which would mean a long standing period, this could be whilst sorting the dinner.
                When in bed, placing a pillow between the legs is thought to be good for easing the pain- and whilst turning, keep the legs together (this for me was the most painful part of SPD, turning in bed, but keeping the legs together does help!).
                Avoid carrying things and having to lift heavy objects (of course this is advised during pregnancy anyway!).
                Avoid walking long distances- a pain when you are trying to bring on labour...!!!

                You may need help around the house when you have SPD, with things like the vacuuming, sweeping, lifting and carrying, and you may be told to rest as much as you can, which is a pain when you get the nesting instinct and just want to tidy, but it is essential to your condition that you try not to strain your pelvis.

                Pelvic floor excercises are thought to help with pain management, and will also help after birth with getting your pelvic floor back into shape (no embarrasing accidents when you cough or sneeze...!!!), so do these at every opportunity- speak to your midwife about pelvic floor excercises if you are not sure how to do them- I wouldn't want to advise and give incorrect advice which may end up doing more harm than good!!!

                Natural Labour with SPD

                Something I was worried about with SPD was that I would not be able to have a normal and natural birth as I wanted to have, but this was not the case. You SHOULD be told to speak with your midwife about a birth plan, and it will be put in your notes very clear so that the delivering midwife knows you have SPD and can help you with birthing positions, sadly, for some reason, my notes were never updated, or were not read when I went into labour, and I was not helped for my SPD in labour, and I think that made my SPD worse (6 months after giving birth, I still get bouts of it sometimes!).

                You will be able to have a normal birth, and won't be forced into a C Section (unless your SPD is so bad that you really cannot move), and an epidural is actually considered to make the condition worse as it makes you feel like the pain is not there so you could strain it too much.

                You should not be laid on your back with your legs in stirrups if you have SPD (this is where my midwives during labour messed up as this was exactly as I was laid, and I did not know until AFTER birth that this is the one position I should not have been put in to). A birthing pool is considered the best birthing option for a lady with SPD as the water supports the weight of the pelvis meaning pain is taken away slightly.

                Make sure your delivering midwife knows you have SPD (so ensure your birth partner knows about it so they can tell them as trust me it is the last thing on your mind when in the delivery suite, and if you have been given drugs to take away pain chances are you will be a little bit out of it!)- the use of forceps should be avoided as well as the position outlined above and stirrups should only be used with great care. So you should ensure they know about your condition to ensure no long term damage is caused!

                SPD isn't a nice condition- it can be very painful in some cases, but it is a common condition and midwives are used to dealing with women with it- so do not worry if you are told you are suffering with SPD. Following simple lifestyle advice really will help, avoid doing things which you have noticed bring on the pain (for me it was walking up stairs and walking in general so I tried to not go upstairs as much as possible, and took breaks when I was walking long distances to rest my pelvis and it did help). You can request pain killers if you want them, and you will be given something which is safe in pregnancy- and in the worst cases a support will be fitted to help you with the pain. SPD is just another of those pregnancy things which we don't know about until it comes on, it isn't pleasant, but it isn't dangerous either, there are much worse things you could have whilst pregnant that's for sure. So don't worry when your doctor says oh yes you have symphis pubis dysfunction, it sounds scary, but it isn't! In 93% of cases it will clear up as soon as you give birth- and even of the 7% of cases where it doesn't, it clears up soon after. It is very rare that intervention is required after giving birth.

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                  16.03.2011 18:17
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                  They're a doddle! :)

                  When I found out I was pregnant in January 2010, I couldn't wait to see my baby on the scan, I couldn't quite believe that I was pregnant despite the numerous pregnancy tests I took which were all positive- I just wouldn't believe it until I saw my baby for myself. I worked out I was only around 6 weeks pregnant so I had a long time (ok only 6 weeks...but still a long time when your so excited!!!) to wait before my scan would be due! But I wouldn't have to wait as long as I thought when at 8 weeks pregnant I started getting cramps. It was my first baby and I didn't know what to expect from pregnancy, and so off I trundled to the hospital worried sick. I was given a scan only to be told they could not see anything only the Gestational sac (this develops first in a pregnancy and it is what will become the placenta is I am not mistaken, please feel free to correct me if I am incorrect here and I can change it!!)- no heartbeat BUT it looked like I was 2 weeks further behind in my pregnancy, so sent away to come back in two weeks for another scan, I was in tears, terrified. I was so excited for my first scan and it was all a disaster, I thought I had lost my baby...but 2 weeks later and there on the black grainy screen I saw a tiny flicker, if you didn't know any better, you'd probably not even have noticed it, but that little flicker was the beginnings of my babies life...my beautiful daughter flickering away on a screen...my first glimpse at her life...and it was magical.

                  Ok so what IS an Ultrasound?
                  The ultrasound has been used in hospitals from around the 1960s, but their history goes back to the late 16th century when scientists worked out that sounds could be used to "see", just like bats use sonar to get around despite being almost totally blind.

                  An ultrasound is sonic waves which get thrown into the body and bounce echos back from the organs inside, and anything else which may be there...i.e. a baby...gallstones...kidney stones...tumours etc. It can easily distinguish between solid and fluid within the body, meaning that especially in a scan during pregnancy the picture is very clear. (This is a very simple analogy of an Ultrasound but the basics are the most important part of understanding how they work!). Ultrasounds are still thought to be extremely safe in all cases, both in pregnancy and in other medical circumstances and do not use radiation as with xrays and so are a much "safer" way to look inside the body.

                  Ultrasounds are used in a variety of circumstances, though they are mostly thought of when we think of pregnancy, during pregnancy an ultrasound is used to gauge how far along a pregnancy is (though it is not always completely accurate with dates!), checking the development of unborn babies, looking for medical deformities or disabilities which may be present and also measuring the baby during the end stages of a pregnancy (though not all mothers will have these later scans!), as well as pregnancy, ultrasounds are used in lots of other medical cases...such as checking for thrombosis of veins in some circumstances, checking for things such as kidney stones and gallstones, looking for tumours in the body in parts such as the testicle, stomach etc. There is a huge range of circumstances which will require an ultrasound, and the majority of people at SOME point in their lives will come across an ultrasound scan in some capacity!

                  What happens during the scan?
                  This is the same no matter where the scan is being carried out...
                  A clear lubriant is applied to the area, this is to help the probe glide across the skin and helps it pick up the echos which are needed to make the pictures for diagnosis or in pregnancy. This is often cold and feels sticky on the skin, but it is nothing to worry about! A small probe is then placed on the body part, and is moved around until the sonographer (the person in charge of doing the scan!) finds what they are looking for, in some cases this may be right away, in others there may be a bit of pressing and moving around, it all depends on position of baby, or in other medical circumstances the ease of "getting to" what they are looking for!

                  A screen attached to the probe will be next to you, and a grainy black grey and white picture will be on the screen- you may not be able to decipher much from the screen but in cases such as pregnancy the sonographer will show you what they are doing once they have the position correct and verified there is a heartbeat.

                  The scan may last anything from a few minutes to half an hour, or even more in some cases. It all depends on circumstances- even in pregnancy scans it can differ from a few minutes to anything up to 45 minutes, they may need to send you out to walk around, have a drink, empty your bladder a little and come back an hour later, so a trip to Ultrasound may not always be quick- if this happens, it is nothing to worry about, most of the time it is simply that baby is in a silly position and the ultrasound cannot see what it needs to be able to see, or that baby is asleep and needs waking up for the scan, of that the scan is not clear as the bladder is not full (when pregnant, it is important to have a full bladder as this pushes the uterus upwards meaning a clearer image.

                  An ultrasound doesn't hurt, but sometimes it may be a little uncomfortable if the sonographer needs to press hard to get a picture, and you may be asked to move to an uncomfortable position for a while for them to get a good clear picture. This is normal and it doesn't mean there is anything wrong- just that again your baby is in a funny position or the thing they are looking for is difficult to see.

                  Complications with Ultrasounds:

                  As I mentioned earlier, there is no known affect of ultrasound on unborn babies, or any known adverse affect for the patient receiving the ultrasound...but as they are relatively "new"...only 50 years they have been used in hospitals, it may be unknown for a few more decades if there ARE any known affects of the ultrasound, but for now, nothing is known to be bad about these scans, and they are the best way to see a baby in the womb- or a tumour etc without anything too invasive. There is still a limit to how many scans you will be given during pregnancy, most people will just have the two- and in some hospitals there is only one scan done at 20 weeks gestation, and unless there is cause for concern, no more scans will be done.

                  The only real problem I ever came across with ultrasounds is my size, I am not a HUGE girl, but I am not small either, and this can make it difficult to get a clear image from ultrasound- my scans were no real problem, but my pictures may not have been as clear as other peoples were...

                  So whether you are having an ultrasound in pregnancy, or to diagnose something else...Ultrasounds are a doddle, un-invasive and usually relatively quick, they are done on an outpatient basis (unless you are already in hospital of course) and once it is over there is no recovery time, just straight back to work or home, no problems with driving etc.

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                    15.03.2011 16:49
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                    Use your common sense, only YOU know your baby!!

                    I am a first time mummy, but I don't want that to cloud your judgement of me. Many will think I am inexperienced and "don't know what I am talking about", but I have been a big part in the upbringing of 9 nieces and nephews since I was 7 years old, so I have pretty much seen and heard it all. I have seen the baby weaning advice change, change and change again. And once again, the advice is changing, and I think all that really tells us is that even the professionals don't know what is best...so just do what YOU think is right. This is the most important advice I can give you. Only YOU know your baby, advice may say 6 months (or 24 weeks) but your baby may have been 2 weeks late...or they could have been 3 months early...so does that mean that a baby at 6 months old who was born 3 months early and now weighs 10lb is fine to eat whilst a 3 month old 15lb baby born 2 weeks late is NOT ok to eat...I think not...so in this case, it really is down to the parents, and I really think you should use your instinct here.

                    First off, let me tell you about the professional advice on baby weaning:

                    You should stick to breastmilk or formula for the first 6 months of a babies life and you should start weaning no earlier than 4 months (or 17 weeks), and definitely not if the baby cannot hold their own head without support.
                    A good indication your baby is starting to want solids is when they are waking in the night when they have previously slept through (but you shouldn't feed solids just because the baby wakes in the night to get them to sleep through), they take an interest in the food on your plate.

                    Now on for my own advice:

                    The thing which annoys me about the professional advice is they do not give you an age that you should definitely have started weaning by, I have known babies of 8/9/10 all the way up to 12 months who are not weaned yet, because the parents think they have to wait and wait and wait.

                    Actually the advice is in the process of changing once again to a lower age than 6 months as it has been proven that babies who are weaned at 6 months or later are more likely to be at risk of speech impediments, and may be "fussier" eaters. But when this is going to be enforced by Health Visitors, I do not know...I think they are currently doing more research into it!

                    I weaned my daughter at just 4 weeks. I hear that sharp intake of breath you take...! My daughter was 2 weeks late and she was born holding up her own head and trying to stand up. She was always much more advanced than any of the babies her age. By 3 months she was sitting with support, and at 4 months she was sitting without support. And at 4 weeks she was telling me in her own baby way that she was ready for solids. She was holding up her own head, she was taking an interest in my food, she was grabbing out for it, and she was hungry ALL the time. I had tried giving her more milk, I had tried the hungrier baby milk and nothing was helping. So I gave her a tiny amount of baby rice, I gave her maybe 3 baby spoons of baby rice she she wolfed it, and cried when it had all gone. At around 8 weeks old, she seemed disinterested in food again, so she came off the baby rice for a couple of weeks, and we took it back up at 3 months, when she started having 3 meals a day within a week of weaning.

                    She is now having 3 meals a day and 1 pint of baby milk (she is 6 months old now), at this stage she should be just starting on baby food, but infact she is on "stage 2" baby food, which has bits in it, and will eat absolutely anything, she isn't fussy at all, mushrooms, peppers, fish, meat, pasta, beans, cheese, absolutely anything she will eat which is great, and it makes it super easy to feed her! She even has little sandwiches and "picnics" some days as she also has finger food (which helps with their coordination).

                    My advice for starting weaning, is to do it when you feel ready, but don't do it too early if you baby isn't ready. I know a baby who is 5 months old, and she isn't weaning yet, but she is very small, doesn't hold her head properly etc, and she simply isn't ready for food. There is in my own opinion no set "age" you can tell someone to wean a baby, for the reasons I outlined before, and I am not here to tell you to wean you baby as early as possible, I am telling you not to be worried about weaning earlier than the recommended 6 months if YOU feel your baby is ready.

                    Start off with a small amount, remember a babies stomach is very small and is only used to milk, you don't want to give too much and make the baby constipated. Give them a small amount of baby rice, this in my opinion is the best thing to start weaning with, it is smooth, and has a very bland taste, nothing too overwhelming to get your baby used to solids- spoon 1-2 baby spoons of baby rice into a bowl and add an oz of water, mix until you have a smooth paste- it shouldn't be too firm. Sit the baby in a chair suitable for their age- and feed them slowly, they may be a bit dubious at first. The way a baby eats is using their tongue, and so it may appear that the baby is spitting the food back out, but its unlikely this is the case, so just bear with them, they'll probably make a mess and it might take a while, they might not actually eat much of it, but persevere with it, they will soon get used to using a spoon and eating the food. Try the baby rice for a couple of days, in the morning is best as this tends to be when a baby is happiest, but again you know your own baby...so you decide what time of day your baby is happier and feed them at that time each day.

                    When they are used to the baby rice, you can start giving them other foods, like pureed fruit and vegetables, you can buy the jars or make your own...each new food may take a couple of "tries" to get used to it, you may be lucky and your baby will eat anything first time round, but sometimes it can take a few attempts, again don't be disheartened, they are starting to get more used to the foods, just give them time. After a week or two, you may want to up their meals from 1 a day to 2, and then 3, again remembering they are only small, so don't give them too much food!

                    Your baby may become slightly constipated, and remember their poo WILL change, now they are no longer on milk alone, their poo will be more "normal" looking, and smelling! So don't be concerned when it changes colour, and texture! Of course if they have constipation for more than a day or two after starting them on solids, it may indicate you are feeding them too much solid food before they are ready for it- if you want to continue with solids, try adding boiled water to their foods to water them down a little...or try them with a bottle of cooled boiled water through the day- solids actually helped my little girls bowels, before we started the solids, she had terrible constipation, but once she started on solids it cleared up right away, why I do not know, maybe coincidence!

                    Once your baby has been on "stage 1" foods (pureed) for a few weeks, you can start to introduce more lumps- I wouldn't recommend this until the baby is sitting at least aided and is really established on 3 meals a day. Never give them foods which can choke them, the jars of stage 2 baby food are a good indicator of how big your bits should be, and this makes it easier to make meals yourself for your child.

                    From 6 months there are no restrictions on what your baby can eat, apart from honey, salt and sugar. So feeding your baby gets to be very easy as they can literally have what you are having mashed!

                    Once your baby reaches 6 months and is fully established on solids, their milk intake reduces from around 35oz a day to 22oz or 600ml, this is around 3 bottles a day at 8oz each. But your baby tends to do this themselves when they are ready to reduce their milk intake- they will stop drinking as much, once they have reduced their intake for a week or so, adjust your bottles accordingly, it helps to get into a feeding routine, so they are having a bottle and a feed at roughly the same time each day. It makes it much easier to plan days out for you, and means your baby is used to having their meals at that time.

                    Weaning is a pretty easy thing when you have advice- but sometimes I think the Health Visitor advice can be a little misleading. I think some health visitors want to make you wait until your baby is 10 months old before weaning, whilst others use their common sense, and if they see the baby is the size of a 6 month old, and at the development stage of a 6 month old then there is no problem with weaning them early. As I said earlier on, use your common sense, if your baby is tiny, not holding their head up and is content with just milk, then keep it that way, no need to force solids onto a baby who isn't ready for it. But if your baby is starting to get interested in food, maybe not so interested in milk, stopped sleeping through the night...then it may indicate they are ready for solids.

                    I am not a health professional, and my experience comes from simply being a mummy and a member of a large family. I have taken the advice on weaning from the health books and leaflets I have been given at various points over my pregnancy and the 6 months of my daughters life, and i truly believe that they need to re evaulate their advice, and retrain the health visitors in the weaning advice, as I think many of them are confused themselves about what the advice actually is. Many say 6 months and no earlier, whilst others say 4 months and no earlier, but my own GP told me at my daughters 8 week check that she should be starting on solids due to her size and development speed!!!

                    Upon reading the comments on this review, I felt i needed to add a little more...I do NOT and I sincerely mean that, advocate weaning from a young age, I think that it should only be done under the advice of a health professional, I did not do this, and in retrospect, I should have done- but my worries were that I would be reprimanded by them and told not to be stupid...when in fact my own GP said my daughter should be on solids from 8 weeks at her check anyway. So I do think you are planning on weaning from before 3 months, that you should ask your GP or health visitor...they will take into consideration your babies weight, and development...if you get a sensible health visitor, then they will give you the correct advice...and you can always get second thirrd and even forth opinions from your GP and other health professionals.

                    Also, somebody mentions about nuts, please remember the advice on giving a child nuts before 12 months is still very contradictory, one group says no another says you should...basically they do not have the slightest idea. Always make sure your babies food is COOKED THOUROUGHLY, no matter what their age, whether it be 3 months or 9 months, eggs and meat should never be rare (or runny in the case of eggs!), but there are NO restrictions (and this is from a Health Visitor!!!) from 6 months other than honey, salt and sugar.

                    I am not the law, nor am I a health professional, I am a young mum (well I say young, I'm 22 so not a "young mum") who doens't believe that every single piece of advice is correct...if I followed all the "advice" I have ever been given, I wouldn't be me now would I? But I would be an idealised version of what the Government want us to be...I believe in doing as you think is best. I do think that on the most part, babies won't be ready for weaning before 3 months, not for anything more than baby rice anyway as this is just a step up from milk when prepared correctly...and many babies won't be ready until 4,5, or 6 months. But as I have said, I am trying to get across that not ALL babies will be the same, some will want food earlier than 6 months, and my review is trying to give advice about that! But it seems that dooyoo in the 6 months I have been away from here, has not changed much and you are not allowed to go against the grain in any way shape or form...! My basic advice on that is, if you don't like what I say, then don't listen...write you own review and contradict what I say if you like...give readers an alternative view...but this is afterall an OPINION site, and this is my opinion on weaning.

                    I do not in anyway tell anybody to wean their children at 4 weeks, I simply say that is what I did...I am not the Pide Piper...I do not ask you to follow me on this, but the rest of my advice is just that, do with it as you please, follow it, follow parts of it, or dimiss it completely and ask your health visitor- it is YOUR CHOICE, and thats what I am trying to say in this review. Clearly that crown I got the other day upset the long timers though...and so they had to put a spanner in the works as per.

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                      15.03.2011 14:56
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                      Let you children BE children while they have the chance.

                      "7 year old snatched from local play area"
                      "Paedophile ring in North West is caught by police"
                      "2 children are missing in London..."

                      We are all far too used to these headlines on the news and in our papers, and I for one am terrified for my daughter growing up in this world. It may explain why there are so many children with Vitamin D deficiencies in the UK because they aren't playing out as we used to as kids, and instead are sitting in on games consoles or watching TV...and it knocks me sick.

                      When I was growing up...and I am not an old or even middle aged person, I'm 22...I would leave the house in the morning and my mum and dad probably wouldn't see me again until 8pm that night, we had no mobile phones to keep in touch, but my mum and dad didn't sit and worry about where I was or who I was with, they knew I'd be home when I was tired and by my "home time", definitely before it was dark. Now, I don't think any of my nieces and nephews are allowed out of the house without their mum or dad with them and it is sad that childhood has been taken away from these poor children because of a handful of horrible people in the world.

                      So what ARE we scared of?

                      Paedophiles...well there have ALWAYS been paedophiles around to be fair, they are not a new phenomenon of the 21st century as you may be lead to think.

                      Murderers...again, there have been murderers around since the beginning of time, and sadly it does happen to children as well as adults. But again it's not something new.

                      Kidnapp maybe? Well kidnapp usually occurs by somebody either for a ransom (so not really a worry if you aren't a rich or important person), or by somebody mentally ill, maybe a mother who has lost their own child...and once again...kidnapp has always been around too!!!

                      So really, are we scared of new things which weren't around when we were growing up? No, we're scared of things which have ALWAYS been there. Ok so WHY are we scared then?

                      NEWS. Thats the one answer, the news is to blame for us being so terrified to let our children out of our sight for more than 10 seconds, even though there aren't necessarily more paedophiles/murderers/kidnappers around now, we are told more about those events which DO take place, whereas back in the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s and even early 90s, the news just wasn't as up to date and "right now" as it is today. Now we have 24 hour news channels, we have bulletins coming in every few minutes, the second something bad happens, the entire country is told about it by our news reporters. And we have it thrust in our faces everyday that a child is missing, that a paedophile has been caught, and its ruining our childrens lives.

                      So do I think children should be able to play outside?

                      Of course I do! I would much rather my little girl come home tired and dirty faced after a play with her friends in the park, than sitting in all day on the Wii or on the internet or watching mindless tv. Even if she only goes and plays in the back garden for a couple of hours.

                      I am not saying let your kids go off on their own for 8 hours a day without knowing where they are, but there is a line between letting them out of your sight for a couple of hours a day, playing with their friends and getting some excercise and keeping them on a tight leash and not letting them have fun outside of the house without you trailing 5 feet behind.

                      Teaching your child of the dangers will help them to know what not to do when they are out on their own.
                      So the old classics of stranger danger...don't talk to strangers, no matter how nice they seem (I would rather my child be rude and not talk to somebody who says hello to them when I am with them than being too confident with people they do not know and speaking to anybody.
                      Never accept sweets/drinks/money from anybody you do not know, and if they invite you into their house/car, do not go.
                      Never go out alone...if your friends are going home and you are going to be left to walk a long way on your own, go back to your friends house and ask them to phone your parents who will come and collect you.
                      Give them a simple phone (just a £10 top up phone which isnt going to be a big target for bullies or stolen), and top it up with £5 of credit, and make them aware of the emergency services, but ensure they understand they are NEVER to call unless it is a real emergency like someone is hurt badly or you are lost. It means you always have a life line between you and your child, you can phone them and vice versa, it means that if you are starting to get worried, you can find out where they are and when they will be home.

                      Make sure you always know where they are going to be, and teach them that if they are going to be going to somebodies house, to tell you about it before they go. And never to assume you will just "know".

                      You cannot wrap your children in cotton wool all their lives, if they don't go out and play they are at a whole host of risks, obesity, lack of vitamin D. Playing outside is important for children of all ages from being a baby a child should get good "air time", of course until they are old enough to understand the dangers of being out alone, they will be with a parent at the play ground for example. Of course there are risks all around us, but these risks aren't only at the play ground or when the child is alone...
                      there have been numerous stories about nursery workers in the news over the last 2 years...James Buldger was taken from a shopping centre where he was out with his mother...there are risks everywhere, but you cannot let these worries ruin your childs life, you have to let them be children while you have the chance, you never get their childhood back, and yes those worries are in every parents mind constantly, I know they play on my mind everyday, and if anything ever happened to my little girl, well it doesn't even bare thinking about, but we could all be burned alive tomorrow by the sun exploding, we could be taken over by aliens...ok well maybe not, but you never know what is around the corner, you just have to live yours and your childrens life day by day, and let them enjoy being a child while they have the chance to make memories. I have brilliant childhood memories of playing with my friends in the park or on the field behind my house, playing silly ball games and "catch" and hide and seek, and i want that for my daughter, I don't want her childhood memories to be of sitting in front of a TV watching CBeebies...!

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                        14.03.2011 13:49
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                        Routine is the answer to a sleeping child!!

                        5 months ago I gave birth to mine and my husbands first child- we had a baby girl, Olivia. I was 21 when I had my daughter and I have always been someone who needs her sleep, so I must say the only part of becomming a mummy which I dreaded was the sleepless nights. I have seen my sister go through 9 years of her son and two daughters messing her around, not going to bed until gone 11pm, not sleeping in their own beds and demanding to sleep in with their mum- and I was determined I wasn't going to have tantrums at bedtime every night.

                        I am a very old fashioned mum, I don't believe that children should rule the roost, I don't believe in spoiled children who get what they want when they want, I don't believe you have children to let them take over your life. I was brought up with a strict bedtime, and it meant I grew up having a good sleep pattern, and still do now.

                        So when my daughter was born I wanted to get her into a good sleeping routine as soon as was humanly possible. Not only for my own good of getting a good nights sleep, but also for her.

                        The most recent advice is to keep your babies in your bedroom for the first 6 months- this isn't always possible, you might not have a bedroom which is big enough for example, so it is always important to make sure you follow the other guidelines to cut down the risks of cot death- of course it is something which you don't even want to think about with a newborn, but is something which does happen sadly, and is something which all new mothers are petrified about. Incase you don't know these guidelines:

                        Keep a nursery thermometre where the baby sleeps, the room shouldn't be too hot...18 degrees celcius is just right for a nursery, and at this temperature for a baby wearing a nappy vest and baby grow, they should have a sheet and two blankets (a folded blanket is classed as 2 blankets!), if it is hotter than this, then take the blankets away, if the room is over 25 degrees, then just use a sheet. You can also get sleeping bags for babies of 2 different sizes, a winter one and a summer one, these are a good idea as it means they cannot pull them over their head!

                        Always place the baby feet to foot of the cot, so they cannot work their way under the blankets. Do not place anything in their bed like teddies and toys until they are older than 6 months, and even then only one or two. Only ever place a baby on their backs to sleep (unless otherwise told by your GP or Health Visitor due to a health condition). As they get older they may start to roll over themselves, once they are old enough to do this though, they're old enough to roll back or lift their head if it became difficult to breathe and so its no longer too much of an issue, but still only ever place them on their backs to go to sleep.

                        When I had Olivia, I kept her with me at all times for the first week, she had a moses basket downstairs and one upstairs next to my bed too, and she slept downstairs until we went to bed and then in her moses basket in our room. But after a week i started getting more confident with my baby and started to trust life, and leave her on her own in bed...this is when her routine began...at 1 week old. Many people will criticise saying that 1 week is far too early to start a routine, but I personally do not see why this would be the case, you are never too young to learn a routine, and my case just proves that.

                        We started giving Olivia a bath at 5.30pm every night, no more than half an hour earlier or later, after this it was straight upstairs, into her own bedroom to get ready for bed to get her used to her bedroom even before she was "living" in there, dressed for bed, a quick story (yes even at 1 week old!), a bottle and bed. For the first 2 months or so, I would sit with her until she went to sleep, but would not rock her (if you get a baby into a routine of rocking them to sleep, they won't learn to soothe themselves to sleep and will learn to need you there), and i would not pick her up to get her to sleep in my arms (babies remember the last things before they fall asleep, so if that is of being in their mummys arms, if they wake up momentarily once they have been put into their cot, they will be disorientated which will scare them and it will make them cry, whereas if they are left to go to sleep on their own in their cot, they will only remember being in the cot and should learn to soothe themselves back to sleep). So I would sing, "shhh" her, etc when she cried, but usually she would go straight off to sleep within 15 minutes and I would go downstairs to settle down for the night. She then slept til 10pm (which was when we went to bed) when she would be given a bottle and again she would go back to sleep in her own bed. Then another waking at around 2am, when a bottle feed would be given in the dark, no talking so she knew it was still night time and bed time, this makes it much easier to get the baby back to sleep after this feed as it means they aren't being stimulated and woken properly. She would then sleep until 6-7am when she would be fully awake.

                        It took maybe a week to get into this routine, so by two weeks old she was in this routine- it meant I was getting a brilliant nights sleep, and even though I was getting up at 2am in the night, it was always the same time, so I was used to it, and went straight back to sleep just like Olivia.

                        When she was 3 months old, we realised we were waking her when we went to bed at 11pm or so, which was stopping her from sleeping through the night, and so we decided to put her in her own bedroom, the routine stayed the same, and within a week of being in her own bed...she was sleeping through the night from 6pm to 7am, I started to put her to bed an hour later as she wasn't as tired at 6, and she started to sleep through the night. I was made up, I had a 3 month old baby who slept from 7pm to 8am all because I had worked at getting her into a routine.

                        So if you want your own baby to sleep through the night and allow you to relax at night without tantrums at bedtime then the tip is routine. It is never to late to get a child into a routine, as they get older it can become more difficult to get them into a routine, but with a bit of hard work, it is possible.

                        Always keep things at the same time, do everything the same each night, the best place to start is with a relaxing bath, keep it short and at the same time each night, try not to differ by more than half an hour each way so if you bath at 6pm on average do it no earlier than 5.30 and no later than 6.30pm- when you have given the bath my advice is straight to bed (unless you have an older girl who needs her hair brushed- then try to keep the hair brushing in the routine, doing the same each night take her into the living room sit her on the floor in front of you and brush her hair for the same amount of time, then bed), dry them, dress them and give them a feed (if they are a baby)- giving a feed at bedtime means that they aren't waking in the night hungry...the more they have going to bed, the longer they are likely to sleep, I give my daughter 8oz going to bed, which is how many ounces she is having with each feed in the day.

                        Read a story, this is important as it is 1) a bonding thing, 2) is educational and gets them interested in reading and 3) relaxing for a child. Start reading to them as early as possible for around 5-10 minutes going to around 15 minutes as they are older, and then they can maybe read you a chapter of a book as they learn to read themselves.

                        Then bed. Say goodnight, love you (even to a baby this is important as those words can become a trigger that right ok it's bedtime now, time to sleep)- and leave them. I don't believe in controlled crying where you go in every 5 minutes then every 10 minutes then every 15 minutes, I think you will spend your life going in and out of their room, and they will begin to know if I cry mummy will come eventually. I believe that from 3 months old, you can leave a child crying once you know they are not in pain, they are not hungry, not sick, not too hot or too cold and do not need their nappy changing- as they are only crying then for a couple of reasons- 1) they want attention, 2) they are frustrated because they are so tired and cannot sleep, 3) they have been over stimulated and cannot switch off...all of these things won't do your baby any harm, and they will very quickly drop off if they are tired. In my own experience, it takes around 15 minutes for them to go to sleep...they go through a crying down process of screaming for a couple of minutes then silence, you may think they have fallen asleep but it is unlikely...after 5 minutes of so they will start crying again, maybe not so loud this time, for a few minutes, then silence again, then another bout of crying this time even quieter...then they will drop off, this may be a slower or quicker process, if after around 15 minutes the crying isn't getting any quieter or sounding like they are starting to fall asleep, you may want to check them to make sure that there is nothing wrong as in hunger, nappy needs changing again etc. You know your baby though and will know when you need to re-check them as you alone knows their cry so use your instincts here.

                        So many parents think their lives are lead by their children in sleep, the baby wakes up 10 times a night and won't go to bed on time...their 6 year old runs riot at bedtime and refuses to go into their own bed...but you just have to regain control of their sleep pattern. I am yet to see if my daughter continues with her good sleep pattern as she gets older...gladly she maintained her good sleep pattern through teething and getting her first tooth, and I haven't had one sleepless night since giving birth 5 months ago and I really believe that is because I have her in a routine. She will sleep in this routine anywhere we go, at her nanas where we visit once a month or so, she keeps to this routine in a strange bed and strange bedroom. I do hope that she stays in this routine as she gets older, and I hope I can keep her in her routine. I try to pass on my experience to all new mums who complain of lack of sleep, and to let them know how important a routine is to a child. If they don't have this routine they don't know what to expect from one day to the next, if you have them in a set routine which you rarely differ from, they will know that once bath time is over its then time for bed, they'll expect it all and it will make your life so much easier- of course its important to understand that all children are different, and what works for one child may not work for another- some mothers find that the controlled crying approach works better for them, or that a routine simply doesn't work for them and they still have issues with their babies and sleep- the important thing is to rememebr that if a child doesn't feel comfortabler (this could be teething or anything really!) it could mess up a routine you have them in, and their sleep pattern could be thrown out of the window at any point, so although my approach may work for some, it may not work for others- and it is possible that Olivia could well turn around in a few months and stop sleeping through as she does now, I hope she doesn't, but it is possible. Also, if you already have one child, you need to try and work a routine aruond them, i.e. if they are up for school the next morning you don't want your baby waking them, or disturbing them- so again my routine may not be for you.

                        I am not trying to be patronising, only helpful, as before I had my daughter I looked into sleep and how to get them into a good sleeping habit from early on, and I looked at hundreds of different techniques and routines, and chose the one I thought would work for me. I know many mothers who have tried everything and still cannot get their baby to sleep for them, and any new advice they will jump on and try, I am not saying it will work for your baby, but for a lot of babies routine is key and it will go a long way to good sleep training! :)

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                          14.03.2011 11:50
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                          The best E book reader around!

                          Amazon Kindle3 Wifi Version

                          Introduction
                          I have always been a big reader, since being quite young I have enjoyed a good book starting out with the classic kids books from Roald Dahl and the likes. And as I got older my taste for books grew, in my house I've a bookshelf busting with books both read and unread and complained most days about it as I had no room for new books (of course my husband told me to get rid of the read books...but not a chance!). Then the Amazon Kindle was released and advertised all over Amazon. I must say I had my reservations, I couldn't imagine reading a book on a machine! What about the texture of the paper, the feel of the book? And I am a big "un-truster" of technology, I was worried if I bought hundreds of books, and my Kindle suddenly died on me, that I would have lost all of them. But then I was thinking of the good side, how easy it would be to read my books wherever I wanted, no worry about taking 10 books on holiday with me taking up all the room in my suitcase, those heavy hardbacks which I found difficult to pick up and read wouldn't be a problem anymore. But I didn't have the money to go out and buy one anyway so I stuck with my normal paper books.

                          Until Christmas day when I opened a present from my mum and saw my very own Kindle! By this point I actively wanted the Kindle, I had realised how much easier it would be for me to read all the books I wanted...and so much cheaper...and E book is around £5 cheaper (if not more in some cases) than the paper versions of the books...and no trawling through Waterstones trying to find a book just search online! I was made up with my present and quickly finished the book I was reading so I coulc start to play!

                          So what IS a Kindle?
                          The Kindle is an E Book reader made by Amazon. It is thought to be the best E Book reader you can buy at the moment. There are no fancy frills to the Kindle, it doesn't do handstands nor does it claim to. It comes in two versions, WiFi or WiFi and 3G (the 3G is not like you may expect where you have to pay a monthly cost...it gives you FREE access to the 3G internet to download books instantly perfect for people who read mostly when travelling as it means you don't have to be connected to a WiFi internet connection to be able to buy a book), I have the WiFi version which is perfect for me as I have WiFi at home, and buy all my books at home before taking my Kindle away with me!

                          The Kindle is small, the size of the average sized book but only as thick as a pencil. It has a large screen and a small keypad at the bottom. As I say it is a simple E Book reader! No frills, no messing around. It has internet connection, but it isn't for using the internet (though you can browse the net on it, but page updating is very slow as it isn't what it is there for!) it doesn't store your pictuturs, though it can be used as a data storage point (for moving things from one place to another) and you can use it as a music player if you like to listen to your music as you read.

                          Availability & Price
                          Originally the Kindle was only available from Amazon.com and .co.uk, but I have recently seen them in my local Tecso extra shop- though nowhere else! And I am finding it very difficult to find any actual reference to where these little cuties are sold other than Amazon. I would personally buy through Amazon as once you have bought it, it is instantly connected to your Amazon account making it easy to buy books without having to go through any lengthy registration process, just click and your E Book is sent to your machine within a minute (so long as your connected to the net!).

                          The Kindle is priced at £111, which may seen like a lot of money for something to read books on...but considering a new book is priced between £10 and £20 it is only the price of 5-10 brand new books, and the money you save buying E books rather than paper books is immense. Even if you usually buy your books second hand for a few pound, you will find these books are super cheap on the Kindle...at least no more than the average second hand book...and they aren't banged and battered with pages falling out...!!!

                          Using the Kindle
                          The Kindle is possibly one of the easiest to use things I have ever come across!

                          The Kindle never turns off...this may make it sound like your battery will die in a matter of days...but I haven't charged my Kindle since I got it and did its initial full charge...so that's 3 months of reading on it every night for at least 2 hours and it hasn't run out of charge, in fact, it still has 3 quarters of its charge left. The battery life is incredible, and that's because it has no fangles and dangles messing it around. It doesn't update every 10 minutes, it doesn't do anything unless you are using it to download your books! Its fantastic! So back to what I was saying! It never turns off, it simply goes to sleep, and you have a screensaver (you cannot set this yourself) which is of famous authors or characters from famous books. To wake the Kindle you simply press and hold a small button on the botttom of the Kindle and its on. Easy.

                          Reading a book couldn't be simpler, once you have bought your book, it appears in your home screen, you just highlight it using the 4 way keypad, and press a button and the book opens, you read as much as you like, then you can leave the Kindle and it will go to sleep on its own, and when you turn it back on, it will be where you left it, so no hunting for the page you were at, even if you need to come out of the book and go back to the home screen for something, it holds onto where you had read up to so you can simply go back to the book and be where you left it, this is brilliant as it means no worrying about losing your page. If you DO have to go back to another page, you can even go to "furthest page read", and so long as its your first time reading the book it will take you back to your last read page.

                          Buying your E books is just as easy as reading them, you can either do this online from a computer or on your Kindle itself so long as you have the internet. From a computer you simply log onto Amazon, go to the Kindle E book store and search for a book...and buy it as you would buy anything else from Amazon, it is delivered free via something called Whispernet- basically wirelessly through the net, and so long as your Kindle is connected to Wifi or 3G the book will be downloaded within a minute- whether you have it with you or not! To buy them from the Kindle is even easier. Simply go to Kindle store from the Menu, and search for a book (you can search for books recommended to you from your other E Books already stored on your Kindle, or you can search for a specific book or author or even just a specific genre), you then click on the book, where you can read about it, read a synopsis of the book, and then see a price- this may be a point to add there are hundreds of FREE E books on Amazon which are well worth a read, you then simply click BUY, and it will debit from either your connected bank account or your online Amazon credit (you can buy gift cards or of course use your DooYoo points to get an Amazon credit!!)...the E book again is then sent direct to you! Don't worry if you accidentally click Buy (there is no confirmation screen so it is very easily done especially the first few times you use the Kindle to buy your books!), there is a simple button which says "bought this book by mistake, click here to cancel" and it simply takes the book back and credits your account.

                          You can make notes on books easily (very handy if you are using the Kindle for research purposes) and these are stored in a file on your home screen. Very good if you are reading a book for a class and need to make notes on certain parts of it, it means they are all there in one place easy to grab and read without searching through a book load of notes!

                          Carrying the Kindle is easy too, its so light and compact it is easy to throw in your bag or even in your pocket. I do suggest getting a case for it to stop scratches to the screen though!

                          You may be thinking like me about reading the Kindle in the sun, I have tried taking my laptop out into the garden and sitting in the sun with it, and it doesn't work, the sun glares off the screen and I can't see what I am doing. I was worried this would be the same with the Kindle, but it has a very clever anti glare screen, I didn't believe it would work until last week when the sun was shining so much that I decided to go and sit in the sun and have a read, and low and behold even with the sun directly on the screen, it was just like reading a book in the sun!

                          Also, another thing which worried me was getting a headache from reading off a screen, as you may know if you sit in front of a computer all day for work purposes, you tend to get headaches from the screen...this was something which worried me about the Kindle, but the screen has something called e Ink or something along those lines- which means that the screen is literally like the page of a book, no light, no glare nothing, so you wouldn't get a headache simply from the screen like you can do with laptops and computers. I have not suffered once with a headache from using my Kindle!

                          As well as books you can also get electronic versions of newspapers and magazines which I personally have no interest in, so have no personal experience with these on my Kindle, but I have been told that it is brilliant being able to read your newspaper on the Kindle instead of the huge newspapers which can be hard to read on the bus or train and get ripped or messed up far too easily!

                          If you wish, you can have your books read to you (this isn't available on all of the E Books, so check before buying each book!), I haven't used this yet as I prefer to read the book myself but it is a good idea if you are maybe deaf, or find it difficult reading, or maybe when reading foreign books.

                          You can also enlarge the text if you find it difficult to read the small writing of the Kindle (which is the same size as a paper book), I find this handy sometimes if my eyes are getting sore from reading, making the writing bigger helps a lot with eye strain from reading too much too late into the night!!!

                          Disadvantages of the Kindle

                          Strangely the E Book reader doesn't give you a page number but a percentage of the book read, it took me a couple of weeks to get used to that, I wanted to know how many pages of the book I had to read. It means you have no real idea of how long the book is, or so I thought...on the home screen there is a line under the book title with dots, these dots indicate how long the book is, its strange getting used to, but once you do get used to it, its fine and not an issue! And you soon realise how much better a percentage is than page numbers!!!

                          When you are travelling on an airplane, you will be told to turn your Kindle off on take off and landing, even though the Kindle is of no threat to the aircraft as it is not electronic in the way that a computer is, there is no transmittance of any sort from the Kindle unless you are using it to browse the net which you wouldn't be on a plane anyway as there would be no signal- this just wouldn't be understood or listened to by the people on board, and so it does mean that for half an hour from getting on the plane and half an hour before you land (or so depending on where you are going to and from!) you wouldn't be able to use your Kindle whereas a book you would have no problem with!

                          It is breakable! Of course it is, its electronic, it isn't paper like a normal book, so it isn't immortal. It will break on you if you drop it on the floor or in water (though it is supposed to be splash proof...handy for round the pool!), and as I touched upon earlier the screen could be easily scratched if you don't have a case for it and carry it around in your bag. Now this is like saying a disadvantage of a mobile phone is that it is breakable if you drop it or put it in water...or a laptop is breakable...or anything electrical is breakable!!! But when comparing an E Book reader to a paper book...a paper book isn't broken if dropped...and even if it is broken, in most cases if ripped it is replaceable with a few pound! But so long as you're careful with your Kindle and treat it like a machine and not a book, then you'll get on like a house on fire!

                          There is no colour screen- this isn't so much an issue for reading plain texted books like I read, but as the Kindle also has kids books, magazines etc on there, then for some this may be an issue for you. Now there is a Kindle 4 coming to Amazon at some point in the next 2 years...this is going to be an updated version of the Kindle 3 (the newest Kindle, and the one I am reviewing right now!) and there is speculation that is may be colour screen, touch screen etc. But it hasn't even been designed yet, so don't hold your breath for the release of this new Kindle...and remember, touch screen, colour screen, backlights etc...all mean battery life is compromised. I would rather have a plain grey black and white screen and 3 months battery life than a weeks battery life just to have a bit of colour.

                          Worth the money?

                          In a word definitely!

                          Would I recommend the Kindle?
                          It depends on the person. I wouldn't recommend the Kindle for anybody who doesn't read very much as it is a lot of money to spend on an E Book reader to read one book every 6 months. But if you are a big reader and like me have hundreds of book lying around with nowhere to go, then yes the Kindle is amazing. You can buy your books in a click of a mouse and don't have to wait for them to be delivered. Ok you don't have the feel of the book in your fingers, but all of the advantages of the Kindle really do outweigh that point, and you can have a real book every now and then to keep your feel for the paper!!!! (I still have 20 books on my shelf unread which I am reading in between reading my Kindle books!).

                          If you want something which does more than just read books, if you want something to play games on, use the internet on etc, then the Kindle really isn't for you, it is first and foremost an E book reader. There is nothing else to it. If you want the Kindle but don't like the idea of no internet, games, apps etc, then you can get a Kindle app for the Ipad- the new tablet from Apple which is basically the Kindle e book reader in App form- the Ipad prices start from around £420- so much more expensive than the Kindle, but they do have more things on them like the Internet and games, so if this is more your thing- then the Ipad is more for you. If you want a simple E Book reader which has amazing battery life, and is reliable and easy to use, then the Kindle is something you want in your life. It has become one of my most prized possessions since I got it!

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                        • Carte Noire Instant / Coffee / 27 Readings / 25 Ratings
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                          26.11.2010 11:42
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                          Used to be great and well worth the money, but now its quality is terrible.

                          == Carte Noire ==

                          == Introduction ==
                          We have had Carte Noir before and we really enjoyed it, so when we saw a 250g jar of the coffee on offer in Tesco a couple of weeks ago for £4 we thought why not. The coffee is usually quite expensive for a small jar, and my husband is a strong coffee lover, and we needed coffee so I thought why not pop it in the trolley.

                          When we got home, we made a cup of coffee expecting the strong rich flavours from the coffee which we had the last time we had bought it- but we were sorely mistaken.

                          == So what IS Carte Noire? ==
                          Carte Noire is an instant coffee range made by the company, Kraft. The coffee I am reviewing is the original instant coffee, but there is quite a large range available- Cappuccino, Filter, decaffeinated etc. It is the leading brand of coffee in France.

                          For some reason, Kraft don't seem to have a website for the Carte Noire coffee, so I cannot find a history of the coffee or any real information on it, which is slightly annoying I must say!

                          == Packaging ==
                          The packaging of Carte Noire is very appealing, the jar is black and elegant looking, it looks like a premium brand of coffee on the shelf of the supermarkets and makes you think it will be an expensive but worth it coffee.

                          The jar is glass with a plastic top, and unlike Kenco, do not do the coffee in refill packs, so you have no choice but to buy the glass jars each time, but they are widely recycle-able, so its not too much of a problem.

                          == The taste test ==
                          Me and my husband are both big coffee drinkers, but we have completely different tastes. I am a more smooth roast person, and I don't like my coffee too strong, whilst my husband likes his rich and dark, the stronger the better!

                          He has always raved about Carte Noire saying it is the nicest coffee he has ever had, when we got a small jar a couple of years ago, I am afraid I couldn't agree, it was far too strong for me, I had to put half a cup of milk in there just to dull the taste! But he loved it. So when he saw it on offer a couple of weeks ago, he jumped at the chance to have a larger jar. It was the exact same as the first lot we had a couple of years previous so we expected the coffee inside to be the same.

                          We made a cup just as we would make a normal cup of instant coffee, put a spoonful of the granules into the mug, and poured in the hot boiled water. Our cups are normal sized, not HUGE and not tiny. But when we started drinking our coffee it was just like tap water! There was no taste to it, it certainly wasn't as strong as it had been the first time we had bought the coffee! It was even too weak for me, the queen of weak coffee!

                          We tried with two spoons of coffee the next time...still not much difference. We actually ended up having to buy espresso cups and have the TINIEST coffee in the world, just to get a decent taste from it! The quality of the Carte Noire has DEFINITEY gone downhill since a couple of years ago, it just has no taste, and definitely doesn't warrant spending £5 on a 100g jar of the stuff, in my own experience, Kenco and Nescafe have been much better with much stronger tastes- even the smooth roast!

                          == Would I buy it again? ==
                          After the first time I bought it, my answer would have been yes, it wasn't to my own personal taste as it was far too strong for me. But now, I most definitely wouldn't waste my money on it again! It was like dishwater, it had no taste to it at all until there was only about 50ml of water in it! If it had been advertised as Espresso, then ok, this wouldn't be a problem, in fact we have a jar of espresso in the cupboard and even that tastes better than this did when mixed into a "full" mug of coffee!

                          So in a word, no I wouldn't bother with it again!!!!

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                          • firebox.com / Online Shop / 18 Readings / 17 Ratings
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                            22.11.2010 15:56
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                            Great quality products which are new and different!

                            == Firebox.co.uk ==

                            == What is it? ==
                            Firebox.co.uk is a website which sells gifts all through the year which are slightly "strange", things like caravan bird houses; slush making mugs; hot chilli jelly sweets; "blood" energy drinks. As well as more "normal" gadgets, digital cameras and the likes. But everything they sell has something different about it. I have used Firebox a few times to buy different gifts for my husband and brother, but there are so many things from the website which I would LOVE to buy if I had the money!!!

                            The website started in 1998 but back then had a different name; hotbox, which was made by two university friends. In 1999 the website was re-launched as Firebox when the company relocated from Cardiff to London and their customers just kept coming in the millions, as well as selling to customers on the net, Firebox also sell wholesale to a number of shops and retailers.

                            Now the website attracts thousands of customers every day looking for that something a little different for their family and friends.

                            == Design and layout ==
                            The websites layout is very "fun", it is bright and the descriptions of the items is fun and just like the items is very different, for example the Musucbag a sleeping bag which allows you to move around completely as it has arms and legs... has a description with this phrase: "Cocooning yourself in a sleeping bag is all very snuggly, but have you ever tried dancing to gingangooly without unzipping yourself? It's not easy. In fact, unless you fancy caterpillaring around the campsite, trying to do anything other than sleep in a traditional sleeping bag (no nudging at the back) is virtually impossible. Step forward - and we mean that quite literally - the incredible MusucBag." (this item costs £89.95 and comes in a range of sizes and colours).

                            The layout of the website for me is brilliant, I think it's been very well thought out and fantastically done, it's bright colourful and eye catching which helps to attract the customer, it certainly attracted me!!!

                            There are a few things on the site I don't like, when you browse gifts it comes up with little squares of the gifts with no names or descriptions next to them so you have to try and work out what they are without any information, it makes browsing the site quite difficult. But you can search for who you want to buy a gift for, the age range, price range etc. Which is handy when searching for gifts when you don't know what to buy someone!

                            The website is easy to navigate and finding payment screens and baskets is very simple even for a novice with computers, contacting Firebox and address details etc are all very easy to find, no searching around the net for hours trying to find a simple email address or contact form, its all simply at the bottom of each Firebox page where there is a simple email address, phone numbers for ordering and customer services, and postal addresses.

                            All in all the layout of the website, and navigating around the website is all very easy and well presented.

                            == Price of items ==
                            I have to say that the prices of some of the items on the website are quite high, but considering the items cannot be found in many other places then with most items I am happy to spend the amount on the items on Firebox, but for some of the items, I will look on Amazon prior to ordering to see if I can get them cheaper on there.

                            For example, on firebox the Zippo hand warmer is £19.99 (free P&P during November but normall £4.99), on Amazon it is £16.50 with free P&P all year round. It may not be a huge saving, but that £3.50 extra which your saving (£8.50 when your having to fork out for P&P) may buy you something else as well as the hand warmer!

                            Some of the items are also quite expensive for what they are, for example there is a blood energy drink which is a 100ml drink which is served in a "blood bag", it looks like a really fun product, but it costs £3.99 for one, and £14.99 for a pack of 4...that's £15 for 4 small drinks! Also the product shown on the picture, the actual red "blood" is only available in a 4 pack, single packs are only available in green as "zombie blood" which for me isn't as fun!

                            So this is something which is quite annoying as you sometimes feel like you have to re-mortgage the house before you can have a spending spree with Firebox!

                            Something on Firebos which I love is the "Mystery Box", it is a box which is available in two price category's, £19.99 and £24.99- available for men or women, in the mystery box you never know what you will get but your guaranteed that the total cost of all the items will come to at least £7 more than what you have paid. Each box is different, the contents change daily, but if you buy two boxes together they'll contain the same items, I got a £19.99 box for my valentines present off my husband this year and I was really happy with it! I won't say what mine contained, but the items came to a price of around £30 when the box was only £20 and all the items were items sold on Firebox and not the rubbish which didn't seem to sell or last years stock. I was very impressed with it! You can also get a Christmas Stocking at Christmas time too!

                            == Delivery times ==
                            Delivery as I said earlier usually costs £3.95 for standard delivery which takes between 3-5 days to arrive, and is always on time, I have never had anything arrive later than 5 days after ordering from Firebox. They also do First Class for £6.95 which I have never used, so couldn't comment.

                            Small light items (like the wrapping paper which you can buy) are posted for a cheaper price of £1.95 which I think is good as most places have a standard delivery no matter what the size of the item.

                            There are also other express and same day deliveries but these are only available to London and M25 customers, so not usable by the majority of the UK, but information on these deliveries are on the Firebox website.

                            I have never had a problem with Firebox delivery, it isn't too extortionate in price and all through November 2010, standard delivery is free.

                            == Quality of products ==

                            All of the products I have received from Firebox have been excellent quality, nothing has ever not worked how it says it is supposed to work, or been of a low quality, which does definitely justify the pricing and gives me confidence in buying from them again. Everything is well made to a high standard in my own experience!

                            == Would I use them again? ==
                            In a word, yes!

                            == All in all ==

                            The prices can be a little expensive, but the quality does justify it, delievery is quick and the items are fun and quirky unlike anything you will find in most shops!!

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                            • The Jeremy Kyle Show / TV Programme / 27 Readings / 23 Ratings
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                              22.11.2010 12:56
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                              A funny easy to watch programme in the morning!

                              == Introduction ==
                              The Jeremy Kyle show is a sort of chat show, counselling show, hosted by Jeremy Kyle, a self confessed ex gambling addict. It is on weekday mornings on ITV1 between 9.30am and 10.30am, and usually takes place on a stage in Manchester with a live studio audience.

                              Jeremy Kyle Show started in 2005 and was an instant hit with the daytime TV audience, aimed at those out of work, full time mothers and housewives, and students. I myself am part of that group, and do sometimes watch the show in a morning.

                              The aim of the show is to help families, friends, couples to get through problems such as adultary, drug and alcohol problems, anger problems, reunions between lost family members as well as offering DNA and lie detector tests. Sometimes, maybe once every couple of months, there will be a "special" Jeremy Kyle, maybe where he confronts homelessness, gangs, or prostitution on the streets rather than on set.

                              == The show ==
                              The show usually has guests who are what you can only class as lower working class...or the "benefit class" as it is now known, those who are out of work and on full time benefits, sadly these are the people giving people on benefits a bad name, as they tend to be the people in society draining the benefits system, not working as they don't want to work (yet still claiming Job Seekers Allowance!), procreating with numerous women and giving up on the children, drinking themselves into a stupor on the taxes which working people have paid. This is the most part, but not all the time. You will maybe once in a blue moon, see a genuine family on the show, and I have seen many a show which have been very emotional, a daughter who wants to be married before her dying mother passes away, a father who lost touch with his children's mother and wants to be reunited with his kids. But usually it is these chavs who are in relationships which are full of adultary and abuse, and Jeremy Kyle takes pleasure in ripping these people apart on stage.

                              You may be sitting there thinking this girl seems to HATE the show, so why does she watch it...oh no, its hillarious!

                              As a person who cannot stand those who are benefit cheats (I do not at all have anything against the benefits system and think it is brilliant to have it there for those of us who may need to fall back on it when they are out of work for a legitimate reason, or are having trouble finding work!), and think that they can sit smoking weed, drinking vodka and been bad parents all day long, and take great pleasure in watching the show where Jeremy Kyle basically takes the mick out of them and tells them how it is. That they ARE bad parents, that they ARE a drain on society etc! And I find it hillarious.

                              The show isn't traditional counselling show material, although Kyle does have professionals who will help the people who really want help, he doesn't feel the need to sugar coat what he says, and will tell people that they are a waste of space if he believes they are!

                              == A few examples of Jeremy Kyle episodes ==

                              Here are a few examples of some of the guests on Jeremy Kyle:

                              *A young woman wants to be married to her long term partner, but they have no money, certainly not enough to put together a wedding. It wasn't a huge problem for the couple as they were saving sensibly so they could have the day of their dreams, but then tragedy hit, when the young woman's mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer, she only had 3-6 months to live and she wasn't going to get to watch her daughter walk down the aisle. That's when they called the Jeremy Kyle show. They were not asking for anything, but just telling their story- at the end of the show, Jeremy sat down on the stage, almost in tears, and told the couple and the mother, that they would foot the bill for an extravagant wedding so that her mother could attend. This is an example of one of the "nicer" shows, with a nice normal family.

                              *A young couple have been in a relationship for a few years, and the woman just had a baby. But, the boyfriend has been told by his best friends cousin that his girlfriend cheated on him a few times last year, and now the boyfriend is suspecting the child may not be his. He wants a DNA test and lie detector doing on his girlfriend. Both are done, and despite swearing she had never slept with anyone else whilst with her boyfriend, it proved the child was not the boyfriends who had been supporting the baby since it was born.

                              These are just a couple of examples of some of the episodes which are shown, but of course there are more! And you really do have to see them to believe them!!!!!!

                              == My own opinion ==
                              Well I have said throughout this review that the show is hilariously funny, but what is quite sad is that the people in the show are actually real, and although personally I believe that some of the guests may be fake or embellished a little, they are actually living like this in this way, and in a way it makes me sick that there are so many people sponging off benefits, having children with various partners, taking drugs and drinking too much which is very annoying! Its also sad that TV has got so shocking that this is our entertainment laughing at people who are basically scum bags! BUT, on saying that I do still watch the show, and I do recommend the show to other people! It's a great morning show to brighten your day, and it makes me feel better about my own life...no matter how bad things are...I'm nothing like that!!!!!!!!! It's not a show for everyone, but I think you should give it a go!!!

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