Natty Celebrates the Arrival of the SS16 Frugi Collection in her own Inimitable way

Do your children pinch your mobile phone and fill it with selfies and silly videos? 


Is that just my crew? 

Natty celebrates the Spring Summer 16 Frugi collection!

Well, last week Mia discovered the time lapse video button which made us all giggle heartily. The two partners in crime spent hours fast forwarding through their daily routines and recording it all for posterity.

So when ethical, inclusive, organic kids' clothing experts Frugi sent us a Spring gift of a gorgeous oh-so-Natty Little-Miss-Sunshine-esque blue and yellow sunflower dress, we decided to put our new found video function to good use. 

Natty features in the current SS16 catalogue here and here, and is always delighted to be compensated for her professional modelling services in garments, so we had a couple of the latest outfits already in her wardrobe.

Frugi fashions always mix and match perfectly, wash well and last forever. So here are our faves of the season. It goes without saying that they are all super duper quality and look equally good on the dance floor as the beach, teamed with wellies.

Enjoy that time lapse, won't you! Oh, and apologies if I got over-enthusiastic about the camera click sound effect... #amateur

Is the Frugi SS16 collection a match for the inimitable Natty...?

Global Mouse Travels are the next #FrugiFamily members in this blog hop, so jump on over to them and see which Spring Summer delights they've been trying on.

Inclusive Clothing Co. Gecko Seek Models

Would your child love to model? Would they like to join the band of diverse models working for ad inclusion? Details of how to get involved below...

Could your little one be a brand rep for Gecko clothing?

BBC1 Documentary with Sally Phillips Examines Down's Syndrome Screening

We are proud to have played a small part in this forthcoming important programme.

BBC One announce documentary examining Down’s Syndrome screening

 BY Lisa McGarry
Flashmob celebrations in London with Sally Phillips
Dragonfly has been commissioned by BBC One to produce a one-hour documentary that explores the impact of a new screening test that is said to detect Down’s Syndrome in 99% of pregnancies.
Actor Sally Phillips, who is a mother to a child with Down’s Syndrome, sets out to explore this emotionally charged debate and ask what effect the test could have on our society. Sally asks what the impact of this scientific breakthrough will be on the future of Down’s Syndrome, at a time when the health, life expectancy and wellbeing for people born with the extra chromosome continues to improve.
Earlier this year the National Screening Committee recommended the government make this new genetic screening test for Down's Syndrome available on the NHS. In a world where pre-natal genetic screening is predicted to become routine, this timely documentary asks what is the future for people with disabilities? The discussion will have contributions from experts and supporters on both sides of the debate including children and adults with Down’s Syndrome and leading professors in the field of genetics.

Sally Phillips meets key champions with Down's syndrome 

Emma Loach, Executive Producer at Dragonfly said, “There couldn’t be a more important time to explore the complex moral and ethical dilemmas at the heart of this debate. With developments in the pregnancy screening process and continuing advancements in gene therapy and gene editing, this film sets out to explore all sides of this contemporary issue.”
The one hour documentary is produced by Dragonfly, part of Endemol Shine Group. The Executive Producer is Emma Loach and the Producer/ Director is Clare Richards. It was commissioned by Maxine Watson, Commissioning Editor, Documentaries.

Time Flies - A Life less Ordinary by Sarah Stevens

Three years ago I hosted a series of guest posts for Down Syndrome Awareness Month. One of them was by Sarah Stevens, who has kindly given us an update. 

You can read Sarah's original post, A Life Less Ordinary here.



It flies by, in the blink of an eye. 

In this increasingly bonkers world that we live in, days merge into weeks, weeks into months and before you know it, it’s Christmas again. How is it possible that the subject of my original blog turns eight next month? EIGHT!!!

I must confess that the writing of my original post had more or less completely vacated my headspace. Then by the power of Facebook it suddenly popped right back in there - ‘on this day’ inviting you to review and share your memories.  There it was, staring up at me from my shiny iPhone6 (latest toy, still rather precious about it…), along with all the wonderful comments and praise it received at the time. I clicked the link and read it again, for the first time in three years or so. 

And a single tear rolled down my cheek. Not because it made me sad, for I am still proud of it as a record of those early days of this special needs journey. But just because it made me realise how much all our lives have changed since then – and once it was shared again, an update was soon being requested by all and sundry - so here goes….

George is now 7!

Here he is. 

George David Stevens – now 7 years 11 months old and on the cusp of entering his eighth year in this world. Someone asked me recently whether he is what I expected. What a stupid question. I’ve never had an almost eight year old child with Down’s syndrome before, how am I supposed to know what to expect?! What I do know is that it is almost pointless to read any sort of ‘official’ literature surrounding Down’s – we threw the textbooks out when it came to George a long time ago.

He remains something of the enigma that I described in my original blog; his reading ability is astonishing - put anything in front of him and he’s away. But ask him a question about what he’s read and – unless it is a Spot story or The Gruffalo – he will hide his eyes and say ‘ERM’ very loudly. Like any child his age, he’s got the avoidance strategies cracked. He can recognise three and even four digit numbers (particularly if the latter if his new high score on 100 pin bowling on the Wii), yet ‘more than’ and ‘less than’ often still evades him. 

His skill in navigating the iPad puts all of us to shame, and if he can’t make himself understood through speech or signing then he instead offers to tap what he wants into Google to give us a clue. Google. WHAT?!?! I didn’t even know what an e-mail was until I went to University. He would spend hours on (a filtered version of) YouTube if we let him. But he still likes watching ‘In the Night Garden’ and ‘Bing’; thank the Lord we’ve finally moved on from ‘Something Special’ (although Justin – if you happen to be reading this – thanks for all the free babysitting mate!)

His school journey has also been something of an interesting one so far. Those of you that read the original blog may recall that we chose the mainstream option for George. He started at our local infant school, with a full time Teaching Assistant that he truly and utterly adored – he still loves his Partridge. Down’s syndrome is quite probably one of the most complex forms of learning difficulty that you are likely to encounter in a mainstream school; indeed, his Reception teacher could simply not fathom how this child could read, recognise number and letter sounds, yet was still wearing nappies and could not string more than two words together consistently.

He very definitely didn’t fit the ‘mould’ of what the school was used to, and this caused a problem in itself. All of a sudden different resources, strategies and outside agency help was called for. Some of this was embraced, some not. Some staff were willing to just go with where he was and mark progress, others worried because he wasn’t matching the attainment of his peers. I’m fairly sure he spent more time ‘velcroed’ to his TA than should have strictly been the case. But he was happy, he did make progress and came out the other end three years later.

Much praise here has to go to the fabulous bunch of kids that he’s with. They have been together now since Reception, and have known George from the very beginning. Obviously as Year Threes they are now very aware of the differences; but not once have I ever heard a derogatory word, cruel comment or seen them be anything other than fully embracing of him and what he brings to the table. He still has his harem of adoring girls wherever he goes, and one young lady in particular who looks out for him in the most affectionate but non-patronising way. She comes out of school with him, making sure he spots whoever is picking up and gets to them safely before skipping off to find her own mum. They have at least one kiss every day. 

It’s quite a different experience so far at the junior school. Willing to work with where he is, rather than trying to force him into somewhere that he’s not comfortable. He’s got the Year Six girls wrapped round his little finger. Working with a different TA but still full time support (who he still likes to kiss and cuddle at the end of every day), but now a far more independent and more mature young man – “I can do it myself” being the current phrase of choice. 

Even silly things like they’ve managed to get him away from insisting on a toilet seat to sit down and have a wee, and now doing it standing up. Little things and all that. I hear how well behaved he is – and how incredibly polite – and then in his home-school book it says how he was told off for spitting at his friends. Damn. Although I didn’t really know whether to be secretly pleased about the spitting, as I had been trying to teach him to spit out after brushing his teeth – was this not solid proof that we had achieved that?! Hmmmm…

So school is currently going well. Starting to have preliminary thoughts about what to do when we get to Secondary, but I’ll cross that bridge when someone drags me across it kicking and screaming, dragging my nude heels behind me.

So what of everything else? 

Again, those who read the original will know that at that time I’d just given birth to a second baby, this one having only the regular number of chromosomes. Fast forward to now and I have an ever so slightly quirky three and a half year old, obsessed with dinosaurs and who can spin you a tale as long as your arm. I still find it bizarre that all these words can come out of the mouth of someone so little. Although he’s not actually that little at all, having just gone into age four to five clothes and with legs up to his armpits. 

Toby adores his big brother and the feeling is very much reciprocated. In fact, the recent improvements in George’s speech have, I believe, been largely down to the quite frankly ludicrous conversations that they often have. They rough and tumble, and I take heart from the fact that George knows exactly how to wind his little brother up – just like big brothers should. 

A narrow escape for Toby's dinosaurs

Toby is also towing the family line of not being particularly fussed about coming out of nappies, recently quite happily just announcing he’d weed on the floor when I dared to attempt a day in pants. He moved his dinosaurs out of the way first, though…

But much else has also changed. 
In the last couple of years we have moved house twice and I bought my own place for myself and the boys last summer. Ironically, it is my dream house and what I always wanted as the home for my family. Just the ‘family’ looks a bit different to that which I envisaged in the picture in my head. Thanks to good old Slimming World, I shifted almost three stone and then landed my dream job working as a special needs co-ordinator in a large primary school. I absolutely love my job. LOVE IT, LOVE IT, LOVE IT. Most of the time. But it has made me more stressed than classroom teaching ever did. I work with some truly amazing people that keep me (relatively) sane. And it has given me an insight into how this whole school experience is going for George – and where we might head next. I have also just started my Masters degree – beginning with the national award for special needs co-ordination, and then… well, who knows????

I am sat writing this and happened to glance over at the sideboard where my Mother’s Day cards are propped up, waiting to be opened in the morning. I still sometimes find it ridiculous that I am a Mum at all. A mum is someone like my Mum. A more ‘adultier’ adult if that make sense. I have never needed my Mum or Dad more than in the last couple of years, and they have quite literally been life savers on more than one occasion. I couldn’t have done any of this without them, and I will be eternally grateful. They’ve let me make my own (quite often massive) cock ups, and caught me when I’ve fallen. My mum still comes to my house and cooks our tea most Saturdays. The boys have such a close bond with their Nanna and Grandad, which is something that I always wanted for them and I know it is something that they will cherish forever.
I’m going to look forward to re-reading this in a few years’ time, when it pops up on my news feed – although with technology going the way it is, it will probably jump right out of the screen and smack you round the face by then. 
Who knows where we will all be? Having launched myself back into the world of 21st century dating, I have become something of a cynic romance wise – to quote the lovely Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, ‘I want the fairy-tale’. After dabbling in the murky world of online dating (there’s another whole blog post in itself…) I am now *FAIRLY* certain that the fairy-tale does not exist. There’s always a compromise, if you think it’s worth making. I dream of getting married again, and I dream of the perfect man (whenever you’re ready, Mr Beckham…) – but if he’s not out there, then one who will love me just for being me, show me respect and take me and my boys just as we are will more than suffice. 

Then we can carry on this life that has become just a little bit more than ordinary.

Sarah x

What Are You Doing for World Down Syndrome Day?

Subtitle: A Less Less Nakedness and a Little More Education

World Down Syndrome Day 2016

My laundry basket plays host to at least 20 solitary socks in a variety of patterns and colours. They've been living in this medley of footwear without their partners since this time last year, or maybe the year before that.  

Occasionally I tip them all out onto the work top in a vain attempt to find their long lost friends, but still they prefer to live in a happy jumble of brightly-coloured difference.

You see World Down Syndrome Day is marked by folk wearing #lotsofsocks, as I have always said 'For we are all colourful and different.'

It's an eye-catching idea, but this year I won't be shouting about mismatched socks. It's not that I disapprove if you do, I might wear a couple of my faves from the melée and the children will do the same. It's just that my sock basket has made me grumpy of late.

Neither will I be taking my clothes off in a classy re-make of calendar girls again. Yep, one WDSD I bared almost all (apart from the aforementioned socks) egged on by Kate from Striking Mum and her Naked Mums series, to raise money for the Down's Syndrome Association and to celebrate our Mummy bodies... 

...I think the total reached around £3575, but possibly that was to get me to put my clothes back on!

Two years ago the #TeamT21 bloggers pulled together and spread the word about donating via a text message. Somehow this went viral  with nothing more than a hashtag and some determined champions to fuel it, and we raised around £10,000 in 24 hours. 

I will never forget the excitement, standing in my kitchen too excited to sit, or even go to the loo, tweeting all day for all I was worth and watching the number rise and rise. That can never be topped. 

But no, this year I have decided that I cannot take the excitement. The adrenaline-fuelled frenzy. Perhaps it's because we are a year further along our journey, perhaps I've got it out of my system, perhaps I have a little nagging feeling that WDSD is more about celebration and education than fund-raising, perhaps I've just reached a certain age and stage.

So, I will leave the parachute jumps and the baths of beans to the younger advocates with more energy.
I will cheer from the sidelines and focus on sharing vital information and stories of celebration. We'll change our avatars and watch building light up in blue and yellow. We'll feel part of a global community holding hands around the world.

Buy I Love You Natty for World Down Syndrome Day

One small token I decided on is to give the profits of all copies of our book I Love You Natty sold this month to the Down's Syndrome Association who support people with Down's syndrome throughout their lives.  I've also decided to slash the cost of the book for March to make it as affordable as possible. We're throwing in a free Downs Side Up magnet from Camaloon too!

Click to buy now!

You don't have to buy a book to help spread the word though, just join our Thunderclap here to shout to your followers. And if you're new to Thunderclaps it's worth taking a peek to see how they can help your campaign.

We're also very excited to have been part of making a small film with the Down's Syndomre Association as part of #MyFriendsMyCommunity

More about that when it's unveiled. It'll be worth the wait I can assure you *smily face*

5 Ways to Encourage Your Child to Eat More Fruit and Veg

5 Ways to Encourage Your Child to Eat More Fruit and Veg

Encouraging children to eat a healthy diet and pack in their 5 a-day can sometimes be a struggle.  Little ones who are prone to constipation really benefit from several portions of fruit and veg plus plenty of water each day. But just how do you entice them to eat more?

5 Ways to encourage your child to eat more fruit and veg

1 Make a smoothie for breakfast 

Blitz a handful of berries with yoghurt or coconut milk for a refreshing start to the day. We've just invested in a smoothie blender to encourage us all to get a great start to the day.

2 Pop a fruit bar in their tuck or lunch box

Get Fruity with these natural fruit bars

Cereal bars can be enemies in disguise, often packed with salt and added sugar and of course may contain nuts, which are usually banned from school as they pose a danger to children with allergies. 

Natty has a Get Fruity bar every day and with nothing but fruit, oats and coconut oil in them. Naturally vegan friendly and gluten free, I can rest assured that there are no hidden nasties. She loves Juicy apricot, orange and ginger, and the Marvellous Mango flavours the best. You can choose from Radiant Raspberry, Moist Mixed Berry and more.

Locally made, they come in 6 juicy flavours and contain nothing but natural goodness. Natty really enjoys them too, which is a bonus. 

Packed with ingredients that can help little constipated tummies keep on the move. Just big enough to keep her going until lunch without spoiling her appetite as well.

Encourage your child to eat more fruit

3 Make fruit juice ice lollies

Great for when the weather warms up. We have a re-usable silicone mould that we can pour juice into and then store in the freezer. Ta da!

In Winter blitz any number of vegetable into soup, or leave thicker to make a pizza topping or pasta sauce.

4 Buy a bento box or funky cool bag

Grace at Eats Amazing has fabulous ideas for making healthy eating fun

Experiment with fun fruit faces and bring variety to what you offer your child. Pop over to the Eats Amazing blog for ways to make healthy eating fun. Creator Grace also has a shop packed with colourful accessories to turn tuck into tempting art. 

Or try a funky cool bag from Cool Blue Zebra. Our lovely friends at Special Needs Jungle sent us one to brighten our snacks, thank you x

5 Play games with fruit and veg

Try sorting activities, or set up your own makeshift grocery store. Get your child to help prepare meals too. 

Children are also more likely to eat fruit if they have grown it themselves. You can try anything from cress, to tomatoes in a tub, to canes of raspberries, depending on your available space.

Play sorting games with fruit and veg

Get Fruity bars are available from selected Waitrose stores, Ocado, Amazon and on the Get Fruity website.  You can follow their Facebook page here for more fruity fun. 

Get Fruity kindly sent us a box of bars to review. Thank you!