Our Favourite Five – November

November is finally over and so begins my favourite month of the year. But before I get completely caught up in strings of fairy lights, presents and the smell of cinnamon (oh and being kind to my fellow humans etc etc) I want to take a look at what we enjoyed about November.

1. Spirit of Christmas Fair

You may remember myself and my friend Helen went to the Spirit of Christmas Fair last year and had a whale of a time. I wrote all about it here. Anyway after the fair, I completed a customer feedback survey and blow it all if I didn’t win two free tickets for this year’s show. It gave Helen a very legitimate reason to leave her children at home with Daddy (thanks Geoff!) again and come all the way from Devon to spend the weekend with us and come to the Fair with me. We had just as good a time this year, although as I don’t have a target to reach this year we definitely spent more time in the food hall, sampling lots of delicious goodies! We also went to another workshop. This year’s was canapes with Executive Chef Barry Vera. It was fun and all that (who doesn’t love choking on a wasabi oyster!) but it was a watching only workshop, unlike the hands on Biscuit Decorating we did last year. No matter, we had a super day and came home just as tired but happy as we did before.

Thanks to Helen for coming with me, thanks to Ben for looking after Oscar and thanks to Spirit of Christmas Fair for a great day out!

Helen with a reindeer made from dried fruit. As you do!

Helen with a reindeer made from dried fruit. As you do!

Helen and I in the same place we took a photo last year. Cos we're just that cool!

Helen and I in the same place we took a photo last year. Cos we’re just that cool!

My purchases from this year's Spirit of Christmas Fair. Can you see a theme?

My purchases from this year’s Spirit of Christmas Fair. Can you see a theme?

2. Pusskins Plush

My friend Jane started making whimsical, beautiful things in felt and cloth a little while ago and I actually bought my first item from her etsy shop, Pusskins Plush, two years ago. However this year she’s been working on a line of one of a kind Unicorns and I fell in love when I saw the ones she’d created for Christmas. Here she is. She is this year’s Christmas decoration. Isn’t she a beaut?

Gingerbread the Unicorn

Gingerbread the Christmas Unicorn

And it got me thinking about Oscar’s decoration for this year. I had a picture in my head, but knew I didn’t have the skills (or patience, let’s be honest) to make it myself. I decided to ask Jane if it was something she could do and blow me if she didn’t say yes. What a doll! And as she was being such a sweetie, I also asked her to make one for a friends daughter too! Jane’s been amazing updating me all through the process and I received the photos of the finished articles a few days ago. They’re on their way and I cant wait to put Oscar’s up!

My very very rough drawing of an idea for Oscar's decoration. In case you cant read my writing - that's meant to be a train!

My very, very rough drawing of an idea for Oscar’s decoration. In case you can’t read my writing – that’s meant to be a train!

3. Boo Face Photography

How could I talk about November and not mention our Pony Pals shoot with Boo Face Photography. I wrote all about our experience here (and if you haven’t read it yet, you’re the only one who hasn’t! Who knew little boys running around with tiny horses could be so popular 😉 ). It was an amazing experience and gave us some fantastic memories, as well as some wonderful images to keep. Seriously, if you haven’t seen the pictures go and look now!!!

 Boo Face Photography 2015

Boo Face Photography 2015

4. Mog the Cat

It’s that time of year when big stores release their Christmas advert designed to pull at the heartstrings and make us cry. At least I assume that’s what they’re for. I’m always a blubbing mess when I watch them! Anyway this year’s Sainsbury’s ad is a little different. Based around the ever popular children’s book character Mog, it’s my favourite of the season, for several reasons. Firstly Sainsbury’s are using the ad to support Save the Children and to improve child literacy across the UK. And who can argue with that? Secondly it’s really cleverly filmed and the boy absolutely loves watching it. Over and over! But mostly it’s because it reminded me that I still had my early 80’s copy of Mog’s Christmas. I decided that, as the boy seemed to love the ad so much, I’d dig it out for him. He was thrilled to have the book, but the more I read it the more I realised how potentially useful it could be. Mog’s Christmas is all about how difficult it can be for Mog when everything in the house starts changing and she doesn’t understand why. This is something many autistic children struggle with too and so I’m hoping that by reading the book together, we can explain to Oscar the kinds of things that might happen and help with any anxiety the festive season may cause him. Good old Mog!

image

My original 80’s copy of Mog’s Christmas

5. Tots100

Much as I don’t really pay any heed to these sort of things, it was a lovely surprise to find out I had entered the Top 500 of the Tots 100 this month. The Tots 100 is a scoreboard, a Top of the Pops if you will, for UK parent bloggers and there are 8000 members. I’ve had the badge on my blog since I began blogging, but only linked it up earlier this year. Once you get into the Top 500 bloggers your badge updates and shows your ranking. It was a massive shock to see I’d jumped up the scores and got a number in my badge this month. I have every expectation that it will be gone by the next round of scores, so I took a snap of it to remind myself I was there once! Yay me!

A Top 500 blogger? Get me!

A Top 500 blogger? Get me!

What did November hold for you? Or have you already forgotten in the glare of gorgeousness that is December?

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Boo Face Pony Pals Photo Shoot

A couple of weeks ago a picture of a little girl running alongside a tiny pony popped up in my Facebook newsfeed. The image was whimsical, almost magical and it took my breath away. I didn’t know this girl, or her family. It was in fact a picture taken by a local photographer, who I’d started following after she photographed Oscar’s friend Cecily and her family back in the summer. I don’t know what it was about the image, but I just kept looking at it. It was beautiful.

We’ve never had any professional photos taken of Oscar. We’ve talked about it a few times, but from fairly early on, we were pretty sure that a studio shoot would be a disaster and when we thought about an outdoor session, I was convinced all we’d get were a hundred photos of the back of Oscar’s head, as he ran away into the distance. It didn’t strike me as much fun for anyone; or worth it to be honest. So we left it. We have one image, taken in Tesco (of all places!) when he was 18 months old. My friend wanted to enter her daughter into the local paper’s ‘beautiful baby’ competition and convinced me to let them take some photos of Oscar while we were there. I wasn’t going to, but she badgered me enough that I gave it and apologised in advance. As it was he posed like a pro and all the family have one from that ‘sitting’. But that one image is the only professional one we have.

So when, last week, the picture of the girl with the horse reappeared in my newsfeed, I was compelled to look into it a bit closer. It transpired the company, Boo Face Photography, were running mini sessions where the children would be photographed with miniature horses. The 20 minute sessions would be held at a local farm and the horses were all trained Pets as Therapy (PAT) animals from a company called Pony Pals, meaning they were used to being around skittish or inexperienced people (aka small children!). I figured that if the horse was there to give Oscar something to focus on, then we might just be able to get some good shots of him.

I contacted Kerry at Boo Face and explained about Oscar’s Autism and how this may (or may not) impact on the session. She couldn’t have been more understanding. She explained she had previous experience of photographing autistic children, but also explained that she realised this meant she didn’t know Oscar and that the most important thing she could be was patient. This gave me hope and we decided to go ahead, with an early morning session (before he’d have chance to get hungry or tired!) booked for that Saturday.

Despite not being completely sure what to expect ourselves, we explained to Oscar what was happening, showing him pictures of the miniature (or as he christened them ‘baby’) horses and even photos of Kerry. We rocked up on Saturday morning with my mantra of ‘expecting the best and preparing for the worst‘ firmly in our heads.

We were welcomed into the farm and taken to meet the ponies. Oscar insisted on being carried to begin with, but within minutes of meeting the horses and their handler Caroline, he asked to get down. Caroline took him down to the lane and gave him the very gorgeous Mr Kellogg’s lead to hold and that was it. The session was under way. And we’ve not laughed or smiled so much in a long time. Just look at the joy on this little boys face!

Pony_Pals_Oscar-1

© Boo Face Photography 2015

Copywright Kerry Jordan Boo Face Photography 2015

© Boo Face Photography 2015

© Boo Face Photography 2015

© Boo Face Photography 2015

© Boo Face Photography 2015

© Boo Face Photography 2015

We mentioned to Kerry that Oscar had enjoyed brushing the donkey he met in the summer and Caroline rushed to grab him a brush. Oh my!

© Boo Face Photography 2015

© Boo Face Photography 2015

We then moved to the barn and let the boy climb all over the hay bales, all while holding on to his new best friend!

© Boo Face Photography 2015

© Boo Face Photography 2015

As the session drew to a close, we started to worry how Oscar would cope leaving something he was clearly enjoying. Caroline took him to see some of the other horses, while we talked to Kerry about what would happen next and when he came back Kerry presented him with a completely unexpected party bag full of exciting little Christmas themed gifts and a balloon, which diffused any sadness and resulted in an amazing bonus shot.

© Boo Face Photography 2015

© Boo Face Photography 2015

We can’t explain how amazing the session was. We laughed so much and the boy spent the whole weekend both calm and talking about ‘Baby Horses’, which is amazing to me as he so rarely shares memories with us in this way. I’m so, so pleased I followed my instinct on this one. With the advent of camera phones and accessible editing software you might be forgiven for asking why bother with a professional photographer.

I hope this answers your question.

© Boo Face Photography 2015

© Boo Face Photography 2015

 

 

Thank you so much to Kerry and Caroline for their unbelievable patience, understanding and care taken throughout the shoot.

I have not been paid for this review and I paid for the shoot with my own money. I just wanted to share these amazing photos with you.

For more information about Boo Face, including any upcoming Pony Pal sessions, please visit their website

 

 

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