Monday, 28 January 2019

Now that's how you throw a party...

Its been a (very busy!) month since our party but it is still talked about. Every year there is the challenge of making sure that the Christmas Party is just as special for our children as it has been in previous years.

This year we had a special Disney twist (and who doesn't love a bit of Disney!) because Little Hiccups, through In Kind Direct, have been joined with The Disney Store in The White Rose Centre, Leeds. And what this means is that if The Disney Store had any stock in the shop that they couldn't sell (ie. end of sale, slightly damaged, no box, parts missing, etc) they put it all in a big box and give us a call. We go and pick it up and over the year have collected some wonderful, wonderful gifts to pass onto the Hiccups children. Knowing this, we obviously went with the theme and had a Disney Christmas. Susie Sparkles was back as Jessie and Woody from Toy Story and the balloons from Celebration Balloons were Disney style. We had Claire's Facepainting back with her wonderful talent and this year she brought a friend, Louise, who created masterpieces from balloons. I spent most of the party with a unicorn on my head but that is another story...

We were back at The Royal Armouries and the room was again decorated in a truly beautiful manner. It makes the party feel so special as if the decorations were just for us. And this is what we want to get across to the Hiccups families - that they ARE special. That they SHOULD be invited to the most amazing parties and they definitely should enjoy themselves at all times of the year but especially at Christmas because that is when magic is real. And if anybody deserves magic its the Little Hiccups families.

A massive thank you to our Santa and elves who held back their return to the North Pole to visit our party and as always excelled themselves. There were so many happy children coming away with their gifts. And of course, thank you also to our photographers of the day, Heather (one of our volunteers) and Dean from Dean Sanderson Photography, because special memories like these are meant to be kept forever. Although I was slightly disappointed that Heather turned up in Disney style BUT Dean didn't. Next time maybe...An Alice in Wonderland and a White Rabbit theme would be perfect :-)

Wonder what our 2019 Christmas Party will bring? Thank you all for coming.

"Great party!! Thank you all!!"

"Such a fantastic time at our first Little Hiccups Christmas party yesterday. Both kids, even the "too cool for school" pre teen had a wonderful time and thoroughly love their gifts. Small one is upstairs now, racing his remote control car around the landing! Next one for us is Clip and Climb! See you there!"

"Nathan enjoying himself as Woody from Toy Story at The Royal Armouries today for the Little Hiccups Enchanted Christmas Party. He even won a cute little trophy for dancing on the dance floor!"
"Thank you Little Hiccups. xxxx"

Thank you for another great party we had a fab time and they loved their gifts xx"

"Callum loved it. Thank you hiccups"

"Our first little hiccups event and it was amazing, thanks so much for everything Woody and Jessie were great, food was yummy (especially the pudding) and the presents they got from Santa were fabolus all 4 of my children loved them really thoughtful gifts thanks you so much xx"
"Thankyou little hiccups for a wonderful Christmas party xxxxx."
"Thank u for a beautiful party, food was amazing ! And while atmosphere was brill, always love meeting our gorgeous friends there THANK YOU"
"That’s how you throw a party. Thank you xx"

"Thank you for the lovely party glad we came both boys had fun and now are both asleep now. Thank you also for the lovely Santa gifted boys love them. Santa must of know we love Olaf and McQueen"

Monday, 21 January 2019

Climbing to new heights

Well - if you wanted to kick off the year in style, visiting Clip n Climb in the miserable month of January is certainly the way to do it! I think a few bucket lists and conquering fears were achieved this day. We certainly had a few nervous looking families on arrival who went away beaming by the end of the day. 

We had approached Clip n Climb last September to organise a SEND session for Little Hiccups and right from the get go we knew this would be a fantastic event. The owners were keen to have us and were honestly one of the most approachable and helpful companies I've ever planned with. We explained we have a range of abilities and ages and include siblings in the events  and on the day we had around 150 people attending the to Clip n Climb event. 

It was slightly crazy as most of our big events are but I can honestly say this has been one of our best ones. The owners pulled out all the stops and nothing was too much for them. They bought a hoist and new harnesses to enable more children to experience the walls and experience it they did. We had the full range of climbers from the ones with low muscle tone in the SEND harness. This completely enclosed the child so that they could experience the sensation of 'climbing' high the see the sensory colours of the bright walls. Then there were the harnesses that the toddlers and the ones that needed a little bit more additional support. These harnesses went over the shoulders and meant that the line was clipped on higher up to give a more secure centre of balance. It meant that parents could support their child to climb but if they chose they were still able to climb themselves. The final group had the harness around the legs and waist. These were the most flexible climbers and the ones that needed the least assistance. The majority of these were climbing by themselves by the end of their session and even the most nervous beat their initial climbing heights from the start to the end of their climb.  

Clip n Climb also brought in extra staff and trainers from other centres and they also managed to feed all the families with extremely gorgeous home cooked food.  As soon as the food was put out, it disappeared it was that popular! There was no time pressures for the families and the staff worked extra hard to make sure that we were all well looked after. I certainly felt like we were in very capable and safe hands and I think this is certainly going to become a regular event for our families.  

If you didn't make it to our event but want to give this a try with your child, I fully recommend this place as they have all the necessary equipment needed to make it a success.  Just give them a call before you go and they'll make sure you are looked after! I've already promised my boy that we'll be back on his next Training Day! 

"Thank you for organising a brilliant day. Jack loved every minute of it. We would never have considered climbing an activity he could take part in and really appreciate little hiccups allowing Jack to have new experiences and such fun doing them."

"Our three kids! Especially my boys with learning disabilities. And hypermobilty. Were really excited about it at first. Got in and weren't shore. And got a bit scared too!. We werent shore they'd take part! But I kept phrasing them! And saying if it didn't matter how far they got! And started clapping whenever they tried. And they loved it. They tried to climb abit higher. Never got to the middle but almost! It was fantastic! They started to laugh and smile! They loved it! And they sister us all too! Just to see the boys have a good try! And have fun. And that they loved it. I'd definitely go again! Just to see them try as hard as they did today. They clearly felt on top of the world and they should. I think with most of the kids it was the same. Hit and miss but all did the most they could and enjoyed themselves! Well done on the organisation of this! And thank you so much. We loved it! X"

"Thank you sooo much little hiccups. I cant thank you all enough for today... callum had an amazing time climbing and seeing him genuinely happy and hearing him laugh is priceless and just makes my heart melt. I was so proud of him and everyone else there today. Memories ill treasure for life 😘💗 xxx"

"Thank u for a brilliant afternoon"
"Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!! Xx"
"Thanks again for another fantastic afternoon!! We've enjoyed every minute 😘"

"What an amazing afternoon thankyou so much little hiccups for making it possible seeing my own n so many other children and adults conquering fears and climbing the walls was amazing there truly are no limits or barriers stopping our hiccups family xxxxxx well done all ❤❤❤❤"

"Thank you so very much for a fantastic afternoon. One very tired boy who cant stop talking about it."
"Thankyou for a great day out xxxxx"

"Had a great afternoon thank you so much xx"

"Georgia really enjoyed herself!! And there were a couple of ladder like walls Yanni did quite well with - different to the climbing walls they have in Ilkley. Really great, thank you."


Friday, 18 January 2019

What 10 means to me...

Proud parents with Oliver and Isaac
Like all new mummy’s and daddy’s we were eagerly awaiting the arrival of our firstborns - due on Christmas Eve. Despite our very unexpected twin pregnancy everything was going along smoothly and we began to make plans and started to imagine our lives as a little family of four. But 10 years ago, on the 12th September 2008 our lives changed forever when we gave birth to our amazing boys, Oliver and Isaac 15 weeks prematurely. We were told by the Doctors to expect a rollercoaster journey and boy were they not wrong. Our first few days of being a first time mummy and daddy passed by in a blur of tubes, machines, ventilators, and very scary medical things which I’d  rather not remember. We slowly and reluctantly settled into life on the neonatal intensive care ward - beginning to care for our boys, taking the days literally minute by minute and living on a knifes edge. When one of our boys were doing well, the other seemed to be struggling and vice versa. I felt like I was being dangled upside down over a cliff edge by my ankles .. just waiting to drop.

And drop we did.

A day trip with with Little Hiccups
Despite getting off a ventilator first and seemingly getting stronger our beautiful little boy Issac’s condition deteriorated when he was around 9 weeks old. A few days later our hearts were shattered when we had to make the horrific decision no parents should ever have to be faced with. Despite the gallant efforts of the Doctors and nurses and the heroic fight of our little man, Isaac Harold Eaton died snuggling in our arms on the 19th November.  I skim over much of this period not because I have forgotten (far from it) but even now 10 years on it is painful to re-live.

Visiting Santa
Following Isaac’s death we had no choice but to carry on. Our other warrior Oliver  needed us. And despite wanting to crumble in the corner and climb into bed forever we ploughed on. More tubes, more machines, more surgery's and lots of scary moments where we thought we were going to lose him. But miraculously after almost 6 months Oliver came home from hospital weighing  almost a whopping 7lb.

It is at this point now where many people believe the journey ends. But looking back now our journey was just beginning. Oliver had a lot of medical needs and he spent he first year of his life in 24hour oxygen.  

The euphoria of making it home led me to trying to normalise and do the ‘new mummy’ things which some of my friends were doing around me. But we were fragile. Oliver physically and me mentally and emotionally. I quickly realised I felt like  we didn’t fit in. Nobody could possibly understand what we had and were going through. I was scared to speak to other new mums for fear of coming across too doom and gloom. I broke our in a blind panic when anybody every started the obligatory ‘how was your birth’ story. But I was scared to attend any special needs groups for fear of admitting to myself the obvious. I was in limbo and began to retreat.

A day at the beach
And then I sat in a hospital waiting room for another appointment (the hospital was our second home) and I saw a poster for Little Hiccups. I remember ringing Linsay that night and speaking to her on the phone and she made me feel so at ease. I went along to my first Little Hiccups group nervous as hell. I needn’t have been. That was 10 years ago. Being part of a Little Hiccups finally felt like we belonged somewhere. In those early years being able to meet up with our little ones on a weekly basis was a life saver. I made friends and began to feel like we weren’t alone on this journey.

Over the years Oliver has received various diagnosis’s including cerebral palsy and autism. Our Little Hiccups family have been there for us throughout this. And as Little Hiccups has grown, so has our family (younger brother William and little sister Evie) and our biggest boy who turned 10 this year. His stubbornness and strength which in a way saved him in those early days are now creating new obstacles for us. Getting out and accessing activities and events with him is quite difficult, daunting and sometimes requires military operation and planning. Little  Hiccups have given us opportunities where we have benefited not only from ‘strength’ in numbers but also opportunities to participate in activities we would not have thought possible or not dared to try on our own. Nothing will ever compare to the happiness I felt seeing Oliver hurling down the dry ski slope attached to an instructor or seeing him relaxing and enjoying a canal boat trip. It is definitely the little moments, big memories. Thank you Little Hiccups; Linsay, Miriam and the gang for helping to create these memories and giving us he normality we so often crave xx

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

Kicking off Christmas with a Little Hiccups tradition

I'm now told by the Little Hiccups families that Christmas just isn't allowed to start until we've visited Sundown Adventureland. Every year we visit in early December and every year we come away with happy memories. The Little Hiccups facebook page fills up with raving reviews and pictures of smiling families. It really is one of our most cherished events.

If you haven't been to Sundown before its a theme park aimed at under 10's. The rides are more about sights and sounds than speed and there are plenty of soft play areas, playgrounds, rides, visual display amongst other delights all aimed at stimulating and tiring out those children of yours! But there is also plenty of food outlets to restock them as well for more fun. (More importantly though, there are many coffee outlets for the adults!) And what is more fun than visiting Santa and Mrs Claus at their home after riding a sleigh through a Christmas Wonderland. The Big Man is always friendly and approachable (of course!) and I hear reviews time and time again how this is the only place where a child has loved Santa at first sight. The elves on the door were also aware we were visiting that day and were ready to help out. We really couldn't ask for more! 

It certainly helps as well that the weather was unseasonably warm and dry. Visiting an outdoor attraction in December is always hit or miss but we seem to get lucky. Maybe there really is magic in Sundown... The mild weather didn't deter from the Christmas theme however as all the decorations and lights were in full splendour and when the sun went down we saw them in all their glory. 

This year was slightly different as it was Sundown Adventureland's 50th Birthday and they celebrated by opening the park to invite only and contacted local Charities to attend. The theme park attendees were limited to allow a relaxed session for the children and everything was free. As it was on a Friday however, a number of families were unable to attend due to work or school commitments. However, many could and as you can see from the feedback below it made for a truly magical and memorable event. 

"Thank you so much. Today has been amazing at sundown adventure land. My girls have thoroughly enjoyed themselves. My daughter has found a new love in the bears to the point we had to buy her very own ones from the gift shop. Its been truly magical. "
"Thank you little hiccups. We had an absolutely amazing time"
"Thank you so much Little Hiccups for today. it was magical."

"Huge Thank you !!!!"
"We have had the most amazing day! Massive thank you to Little Hiccups for inviting us to Sundown today. As part of Sundown’s 50th birthday celebration the park was closed to the public today and families with disabled children and those with life limiting conditions could enjoy a quieter park, a relaxed atmosphere and over all a spectacular day! Every little detail was thought of to make this day enjoyable and accessible for all !! Smiles all round here."

"We had the best day!!! Smiling from the second we got there... thank you again so much little hiccups."

"We just wanted to say a big Thankyou to you and everyone at Little Hiccups for organising Sundown on Sunday. We'd never been before and our boys absolutely loved it (as did we!)"
"Thank you for a lovely day!"
"Thank you Little hiccups for a fabulous day out. Fun was had by all the family. Thank you so so much everyone. Great day loads of family fun and a magical trip to Santa which Aiden loved. He even said to Santa "Please don't get stuck up the chiminy Santa" lol and gave him a hi 5. Xxx"

"Thank you so so much. My autistic little girl as well as her triplet sisters all had an absolutely fabulous time today. I cannot thank you all enough for organising and giving us a chance to have such a wonderful family day. I cried as this was the first time we didn’t have any tears with Santa they all loved it and went to sleep without a peep. Exhausted and happy. Thank you so much again. Awesome day."

"Wow what an amazing place! Thank you little hiccups for encouraging the trip down. We all loved it x"
"Thank you Little Hiccups, another wonderful day out for the children. We've had an amazing day."
"Merry Christmas all. Fantastic annual sundown trip. Thank you"
"Another fabulous outing thanks to Little Hiccups. Cameron had a brilliant day"

"Thank you for an awesome day! Owen is so proud that he passed his driving test in the dark."