A Mummys View

Telling it like it is

A Very Special #FictionFriday Book Review: Before You Sleep (Benji Bennett)

It’s that time of the week again where we hop on board with @Home Dad and join in his #FictionFriday blog hop

This week I’ve written a very special review about an adorable book called ‘Before You Sleep’ by a wonderful author called Benji Bennett.

I had the pleasure of meeting Benji recently at a show I was at and he is a fabulous author and father from Ireland with a range of beautiful and enchanting children’s books. I was at the show with my little girl and came across Benji’s stand. I was instantly drawn to the beautifully illustrated and eye catching titles displayed.

I got talking to Benji about his books and learnt that he had written the series of ‘Adam’s Stories’ in memory and celebration of his gorgeous little boy Adam who tragically passed away a few years ago.

Adam was only four when he fell ill whilst on holiday with his family. He had vomited but the family had thought nothing of it as first, believing it to be a tummy bug. However three days later things had not improved, the vomiting was continuing and Adam was admitted to hospital severely dehydrated due to being unable to take and keep down fluids. At hospital he had a seizure and very sadly went into a coma. Further examination and tests discovered that Adam had a very aggressive brain tumour and as a result he had to have an operation but tragically died 24hrs later.

Having visited Benji Bennett’s website Adam’s Cloud I’ve read more about this wonderful little boy and have learnt that Adam was:

“An inspirational, energetic little boy with an abundance of pure innocence and love. His energy, affection and love would brighten the darkest of days by generating a feeling of love, warmth and happiness all around him. Fun, love and happiness with his family and friends was all he knew and this was constantly evident through the excitement and happiness that radiated from his sparkling eyes, accompanied with a mischievous smile and a giddy giggle.”

Adam was taken far too soon and far too young but his parents strongly believe that he was an angel brought to the family for a reason. They believe Adam had been here to help spread the importance of love, laughter and play within the family and the importance of how all children should be told they are loved on a daily basis. His father Benji said:

“The simple things in life are free and that’s what matters, you can’t buy the love of a child but it’s this love that’s priceless and puts things into perspective, life’s too short to worry. We were obviously distraught at Adam’s death and the fact that it happened so quickly. However if his life was to mean anything, it would be that every child is told they are loved on a daily basis, especially before going to sleep at night and that happiness and fun and play time becomes a key part of their life.”

The happiness the family had with Adam and their other children helped drive them forward in what ultimately was an awful time in their lives. They decided to seize the opportunity to celebrate Adam and Benji began writing, releasing his feelings and the love he had for his son. I guess it was his way of grieving in a sense. But the beautiful words he wrote down became much more than that, they grabbed the attention of parents across Ireland and his first book ‘Before You Sleep’ was voted ‘Children’s Book of the Year’ at ‘The Irish Book Awards’.

Since then Benji has written several further book’s in the Adam’s stories series, including ‘Adam’s Amazing Space Adventure’, ‘Adam Saves Christmas’, ‘Adam’s Pirate Treasure’ and ‘Adam’s World of Wonders’.

Benji and his wife feel Adam is still very much around them and helping them along the way, especially with the books and this is a driving factor in the ‘Adam’s Stories’ series.

A donation is made from the proceeds of the sale of each book to Barretstown, a charity founded by Paul Newman in 1994 which exists to improve the quality of life of children with serious illness. The Bennett family attended a bereavement group three times over a year with Barretstown and it provided an immense amount of support to them. Jackie, Adam’s mother said:

“The groups helped us to celebrate Adam’s life and made us laugh again and feel that we were not alone. They look after you in a happy, supportive and safe environment. You can share experiences with others going through the same things and build life-long friendships and support networks. We can’t thank them enough for the help and guidance they provided to our family. The donation’s provided through Adam’s books means that other families can continue to benefit from the support Barretstown can give.”

Barretstown also have recreational and therapeutic programmes for children who have cancer and their families. The purpose is to rebuild confidence, trust and self-esteem whilst healing emotional scars. To find out more visit the Barretstown website.

As I chatted with Benji I knew I just had to have one of the book’s for my daughter’s collection and realised what a wonderful opportunity it was for me to use my blog to spread the word about the Adam’s series and the importance of letting your child know every day just how much you love them.

So this is hopefully in this post what I am aiming to achieve. Benji is right, life is far too short, a series of things that have happened of late has made me realise this only too much. We have to all seize every opportunity to spend quality time with the ones we love and to tell our children and our loved ones every day just how much we love them.

The book recommended and very kindly given to me by Beni was his first, ‘Before You Sleep’ and I have been reading this with my little girl.

When reading ‘Before You Sleep’ you can feel the warmth and love oozing from the words written by Benji. It’s a collection of short rhymes that combine the concept of love with creative and imaginative fun and adventures.

The book opens with a poignant and beautiful tribute to Adam:

 “To Adam, our sweetheart, with love, hugs and kisses from Mum, Dad, Harry, Robbie and Molly”
“Adam is an angel and lives on a cloud and makes his mummy and daddy so proud. With long golden hair you just could not miss, he always has time for a hug and a kiss. The message he sends from his cloud every day, is to spend more time with each other and play. The most important thing in life’s simply this, show your love for your family with a hug and a kiss.”

If you feel anything like I did then this may bring you close to tears.

The word’s of the story itself begin with “It’s time to sleep but before you go there’s something I really want you to know” and this in itself is also a moving tribute to his beautiful little boy and any much loved child out there. The book takes readers through many enchanting and beautifully illustrated experiences, from a colourful beach scene, building sand castles and a galactic space adventure to the moon and stars to a deep sea and pirate treasure hunting adventure and travelling back in time to the dinosaur and caveman era, before ending with a beautiful image of Adam and his parents, cuddling up to that all important bedtime book and cuddle among the final words, simply, ‘Night, Night, Sleep Tight My Bundle of Joy’.

The words pulled at my heart strings and I felt a small lump in my throat at the end of the read, knowing Adam’s story and the love his family felt for him and how this came across in every word. But also, I felt the fun and creative nature of the Bennett family, as well as an overwhelming sense of love for my own little girl, the reaffirmation of just how much she means to me and how precious every second with her is.

I am so glad I came across Benji’s stall at that show, it almost feels like it was meant to be and that I now have a responsibility (one that I am pleased about) to share Adam’s legacy with my friends and followers. I have no doubt that ‘Before You Sleep’ will become a firm favourite in our household for both me and my daughter and I look forward to buying more of the Adam’s Stories range and seeing the amazing adventures that Adam goes on. The words are beautiful and the illustration, by Roxanne Burchartz of Cartoon Saloon, is just amazing. I would highly recommend the series to anyone. If you want any further proof Catherine Zeta Jones, Michael Douglas and Adam Sandler are huge fans of the series too so what better endorsement.

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A Simple £10 Test Could Save the Life of a Newborn

So following a tweet I saw from @Netmums regarding the £10 test that could prevent a newborn’s death I felt compelled to write something about this in order to help raise the profile of Group B Streptococcus, which is the biggest killer of newborn babies in Britain.

Shockingly around a third of women carry the bacteria that causes Group B Streptococcus. It is believed to be contracted through eating beef or fish, though skin-to-skin transmission is more likely. Women carrying Group B often don’t have any symptoms so never know they are carrying it. It is largely harmless to adults, but because baby’s have immature immune systems, the bug’s effect on them can be devastating. It is said one in 300 exposed to it will develop the infection and every year 30 newborns will die as a result and another 200 can be left disabled. Spotting it early and treatment with antibiotics during labour or in the first few hours after childbirth can save lives.

Group B strep as it is known, is a well-known risk for newborn babies and most healthcare professionals are aware of it, so antibiotics are often given as a precaution when, for example, a mother’s waters break more than 18 hours before delivery or if she develops a fever during labour. However if none of the above happens a mother may never know she is carrying it until it is too late and here in the UK we are one of only a few countries who don’t routinely screen for it.

A Daily Mail article published recently and quoted by Netmums has cited that previously, the UK National Screening Committee has ruled against rolling out a national screening programme on the grounds that the test used by the NHS is unreliable and could lead to pregnant women being given antibiotics unnecessarily. The concern is that antibiotics interfere with the development of a healthy baby’s immune system, increasing the risk of asthma and other allergies. However, the committee is due to review the decision this year and campaigners hope the availability of a new, more sensitive test for the bacterium will make them change their minds.

“The current NHS test picks up around half of carriers; the new Enriched Culture Medium (ECM) test has a 90 per cent accuracy rate”, says Jane Plumb, of charity Group B Strep Support. At present, the ECM test is only available privately for £35 — it’s estimated it would cost the NHS just £10.63 per pregnant woman.

“Since introducing national screening with these more sensitive tests, the U.S., Australia, France and Spain have seen an average 80 per cent fall in the number of newborns contracting group B strep” says Jane Plumb, “What further evidence does our Government need that a national screening programme here would save babies from death and disability?”

The charity Group B Strep Support are calling for people to support its petition for the Department of Health to ensure that every woman is routinely given accurate information about group B Streptococcus (group B Strep or GBS) during her antenatal care; every low-risk woman is offered a  sensitive test for GBS, ideally at 35-37 weeks of pregnancy; and every  higher-risk woman is offered antibiotics in labour.

The cost really is minimal when you consider the potential outcomes and I fully support the campaign to offer testing for pregnant women and have signed the petition. If you want to sign the petition please click here

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I Did Something Yummy for CLIC Sargent

Well, this weekend was my Yummy Mummy Coffee Morning in aid of CLIC Sargent (the children’s cancer charity). I’d spent 3 weeks arranging the event after I’d seen the campaign advertised in a magazine.

I canvassed lots of people I knew and invited them along and managed to get a host of fantastic prizes for a raffle, including a fabulous art set from Muralart, Jamie @ Home, Partylite, Avon and Phoenix Cards prizes, as well as a baby sign language voucher and spray tan voucher.

We had a truly gorgeous day for it so were able to open up into the garden, thank god as I had gone a little overboard on the numbers I’d invited! My fab neighbour lent me chairs for both inside and outside and I set up the swing and slide for any little people attending.

Inside I had areas set up for a Partylite candle pool with a percentage of the takings going to CLIC Sargent as they are their nominated charity, a Phoenix Cards box for people to purchase cards from (again with a percentage donated to the charity) and a Jamie @ Home stall not to mention the fab cake stall! I’d asked everyone to bring cakes and boy did they bring cakes!!!! In fact I still have cakes left! Lots of cakes!!!!

Unfortunately in the run up to the event a few people contacted me to say they weren’t able to come for a variety of reasons, which meant numbers attending did drop somewhat (I don’t know if that was a blessing for the space I have or disappointing that we could have possibly made even more money), however the support from those that were able to come, or couldn’t come but still supplied cakes or donated money in advance was fantastic and we raised an amazing £150!

I am thrilled to be able to send the money across to CLIC Sargent, knowing that it will make a significant difference to many little lives. It only takes £20 to supply a play specialist, who through the use of toys helps children undergoing treatment understand what is happening and will happen to them, so our £150 will be able to help put quite a few children’s minds at ease in what must be a very scary time in their lives and that means a lot to me knowing that we have been able to do that!

I just want to say a huge thank you to everyone that got involved! Having been involved this year I am sure I will sign up again next year to Do Something Yummy

If you did something yummy too why not share it with us and hopefully we can encourage more people to sign up next year!?

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Yummy Mummy Coffee Morning

The stage is set, bring on the yummy mummy’s for the CLIC Sargent Yummy Mummy Coffee Morning as part of Yummy Mummy Week. #dosomethingyummy

Yummy Mummy Week  takes place 10-18th March 2012. Yummy Mummy and is a week long fundraising event where mums are being asked to get together with friends and family and ‘do something yummy’ for CLIC Sargent.Tomorrow I am hosting a coffee morning for this amazing cause and hoping to raise lots of money!

CLIC Sargent provide invaluable support to children with cancer and their families.

No matter how much raised all monies help make a difference to people who are going through a very very difficult time in their lives.

£20 could pay for a CLIC Sargent Play Specialist to help a young person undergoing treatment by using toys and photo’s to explain what will happen.

£400 could pay for a family to stay at a CLIC Sargent Home from Home for a fortnight, so they can stay together near the hospital during treatment.

I’ve raised money for various causes over the years including Tommy’s baby charity and Marie Curie Cancer Care and like knowing that I am making a difference and helping others. I hope to regularly take part in CLIC Sargent’s Yummy Mummy Week and make it bigger and better each time!

I’ll report back on how we get on but in the meantime why not check out more information about CLIC Sargent and how you can help support them.

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Be a Yummy Mummy and Raise Money…

I love doing my bit for charity so when I saw that the children’s cancer charity CLIC Sargent are calling on all Yummy Mummies out there to get together and hold a Yummy Mummy coffee morning to raise money for the charity I couldn’t resist.

The charity are asking mummies to hold events, no matter how big or small between 10th and 18th March so I am opening my doors to my lovely mummy friends and hosting a coffee morning of my own. I am really looking forward to it and will of course be writing a post event update!

At present however I am calling to all the other mummies out there to jump on board and host your own event to help raise money for this fantastic cause!

Every day 10 families are told their child has cancer. As the UK’s leading children’s cancer charity, CLIC Sargent is the only organisation to offer them all round care and support. That’s because they’re there every step of the way:

During treatment – providing specialist nurses, play specialists, Homes from Home

In hospital & at home – offering specialist social care and support in the community – services for young people, holidays, grants

After treatment – helping survivors, supporting those bereaved

I was shocked to hear that every day 10 families receive that news, it must be heartbreaking to receive such news and I can’t even begin to imagine how I would feel or cope. However to read that 8 out of 10 children now survive cancer and that charities like CLIC Sargent are out there offers some form of reassurance that work is being done and people have someone to turn to.

However without support charities like this can’t continue to provide the services they do. If between 10th and 18th March you can take a couple of hours of your time to bake some cakes, put the kettle on and have your friends round or set up a stall at work and raise even a small amount, you will be making a huge difference to those who need it most!

Links:

Yummy Mummy Week launch

Yummy Mummy Week Event Information

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