It’s been a while!

Well it’s certainly been a while since I have been on here!

It’s not like there hasn’t been anything going on for me to write about it’s more like I haven’t had the urge to write, but lately that has been changing. So rather than bore you will loads of catch up posts I thought I would do a quick run through everything that has been going on.

So this year I have had more hospital imput for my M.E/ Fibromyalgia than I have over the last 8 years since being diagnosed. Finally I managed to get physio treatment for the Carpel Tunnel in my left hand which has helped ease some of the numbness at least. I have also been referred onto a pain management course due to start late September for 7 weeks and I hope that helps me with at least pacing any activity I do ( I am absolutely rubbish at saying ‘No’ to anyone and generally end up overdoing things and then crashing afterwards!). The course will run me up to almost Christmas when I have been told I may get referred onto an exercise class suitable to help with my illness.

Excitingly, earlier this year a ‘dream job’ sort of fell into my lap via a good friend of mine. Dream job in the fact I can do the job in my pj’s, at anytime of day, keeping my own time! Sounds bloody good eh? It comes in the form of running a social media account for a local clothing boutique called Kimmicass (would love you to come and give us a follow) that sells amazing womens clothing that you just cannot find in the high street shops (and will be looking to expand and sell online as well as open more shops too). This one account actually led to a second account for a London florist who lives locally but works independantly for clients like the V&A! This account is a slow burner and is not fully up and running but is definitely getting there and should be more active before Christmas. So how great is that? Literally a dream job for me as with my illness its difficult to predict health wise how I will be feeling on any particular day, but this job does not require me to be anywhere in particular for any length of time! So I get to work from home in my pj’s which I am loving ………….total result!

Also, we had an amazing surprise with my youngest’s sons GCSE results. His plan was originally to do a Level 3 Early years Childcare course at college which he needed 5 passes including English and Maths. Now hes a clever boy so we knew he would get the 5 passes unfortunately his worst subject is maths so we were extremely concerned ( as was he) that he wouldn’t pass that and therefore not be able to do his course. So the results morning was literally the most stressful time ever and I had lots of contingency plans running through my head should he not get his maths. Well talk about a total surprise, not only did he get a level 5 in his Maths ( the new marking system is numbered!) but he also passed ALL 10 GCSE’s and did so well was offered a place back at the school’s 6Th Form!! He was so gobsmacked he literally didn’t know what to do with himself and although he still went over to the college to enrol he ended up taking the place at 6th form to do A levels instead. As you could imagine it was total surprise all round so we ended up going out to his favourite restaurant to celebrate………….it would have been rude not to!

alex meal out

Then it was birthday celebrations for my husband who was turning 50 at the end of August…………….50!! Now he’s not one for big parties etc although is more than happy to go to others he hates being centre of attention himself. So I came up with a cunning plan to use the money that a big party would cost and instead take him away to somewhere I know he has wanted to go to for a long time- ROME! So I managed to find a little family run boutique hotel in the centre of Rome for 4 nights and booked that and some flights etc for early October for the two of us. However, because this was going to be his only present , except for a few bits from the boys, I wanted to make it a little special. So, I came up with the idea of putting some clues together to put inside a cabin size suitcase and then wrap it all up. So I numbered the clues…

  1. A picture of a fountain and some Euro coins (for the Trevy Fountain)
  2. A spanish style fan with a picture of some stone steps ( for the Spanish Steps)
  3. A rosary (hopefully making him think Catholic!)
  4. A dvd of Sparticus with a small Italian flag!! (The Colosseum obviously)

Each clue was wrapped up and numbered and then his present was a gift of 2 guide books for Rome with the flight tickets inside.

present box

suitcase clues

suitcase pic

Now my hubby is not one for showing emotion at ALL but as he opened the guide books his eyes did well up and his hands were physically shaking which showed me he literally had no clue up until that point of what his present was. I had even gone behind his back to one of his work colleagues to help me book his time off work and get it approved (he is in the police so it’s not an easy thing to do without him finding out)……………..BUT I BLOODY DID IT!

rich and present

It was a tough thing to make all the decisions on my own with regard to the flights, the hotel and when to go so I was actually quite relieved when it all seemed to work out. Thankfully now I can relax as I know he will sort everything else out from here- he has already done our medical cards and booked airport parking! The only time throughout that I gave myself a total heart attack was when my Mum asked me on the phone if our passports are in date! For anyone who doesn’t know us we never go away anywhere abroad as we cannot afford it normally and the last time i used my passport was when he took me to Venice for my 40th birthday 7 years ago……………………………………..SO THANKFULLY THEY WERE IN DATE!!

**So if anyone has any recommendations for Rome please let me know**

We also took my eldest back to uni last weekend (sobs) and helped him move into his new shared house ( which is a total state and will be another blog post on its own!) so I am missing him already sitting with us for dinner etc.

Next up is my youngest 17th birthday in a few weeks time before we can get really excited about our trip.

Anyway, it’s lovely to be back and have the urge to put things down in black and white again and would love to hear what you have all been up to. If

Teach your children not to live in fear

So, the last few months have seen us endure some pretty horrific terrorist attacks around the world as well and 3 in 3 months in this country alone, and I hear more and more people online sharing their fears for their children’s future in such a world. I too share those fears even though I have older teens now I wonder what will become their ‘normal’ in say the next 20 years with regards to terrorism, policing and our country’s safety. What will they be bringing their future children into in many years to come?

However, I am  from Belfast, born in 1970 and lived my youngest years into my teens throughout the height of ‘The Troubles’ in Northern Ireland. The absolute full extent would probably never have been covered in the national media forums unless it involved the mainland itself, but still it continued on a very daily basis in my area as well as many others. My parents back then probably had the exact same fears about our future as children with armed police and the Army patrolling our streets and wondering where it would all end up.

Yet here I am! Old enough to have my own family and worry about their future in the way my parents did before me. Coming from a very loyalist area ( being Protestant) my parents never discussed religion or politics in front of us. We were never brought up with extremist views one way or the other. They never stopped us playing outside, or going anywhere or doing anything…………………life just carried on. We were never brought up to actively ‘hate’ anyone just because a paramilitary group had decided to plant a bomb,or  kill innocent people, or shoot a single person in retaliation for another attack. We were not brought up to think that ‘tit for tat’ killings where OK. As kids we had been segregated to either Protestant or Catholic areas to live and for schooling etc. Yet I remember how excited I was when I got my first part time job in Belfast city centre working inn Argos knowing that I would be ‘mixing’ with Catholics and working in a ‘mixed’ area. I had a blast in that job. The people I met and the friends I made just made my time there brilliant fun.

What I am trying to say is that my parents never made religion and the issues surrounding it in Northern Ireland and issue for us growing up. We were not brought up to ‘hate’ a person just because they were a different religion to ourselves.

So  if you are afraid of what the future holds for your children then teach them that not everyone of that race or religion believes the same as those extremists. I never once thought that all Catholics ( back in the days of The Troubles ) were affiliated or believed the same as the IRA and I can only thank my parents for that.

Do not get me wrong, my absolute heart goes out to each and every person who has been affected by these atrocities and yes I would love to see an end to them too, it’s a total heartbreak that most of us cannot even begin to imagine or understand what they must be going through.

It is a scary world, but do not pass on your adult fears to your children before they are able to comprehend or begin to understand. Instead, teach them to see and take everyone on face value, to not be afraid when they see armed police or possibly armed forces on the streets- these people are here to protect us. I was in my mid teens on holiday in Plymouth when I saw the very first policeman in shirt sleeves with no body armour, unarmed and on his own!! Until then armed police and Army on the streets was my normal- and yet here I am a normal person. I haven’t suffered any detrimental affects, all grown up with my own family.

Our world is always going to be scary with everything that is going on across the globe, but for your children’s sake concentrate on the everyday normality and the good. I have seen a great quote online telling us to ‘look for the helpers’ in those awful situations and it’s true. There will always be many more people willing to help than to harm. Never let those people affected be forgotten but celebrate those who go to selfless measures to help in the most awful situations regardless of the danger they put themselves in.

In short, I am proof along with many others, if you teach your children to live without adult fears and teach them not to hate a race of people or a religion because of the actions of a minority of extremists then your children will adapt and live normal lives too. It’s possible, we as adults have to make it possible.

 

Jump In, Tonbridge- Review

I have seen more and more of these style of trampoline parks popping up all over the place taking over (almost) from the generation of kids indoor playcentres, with the difference being that us adults can also now ‘pay and play’!

We were invited along to Jump In trampoline park Tonbridge in Kent over the half term,  which has just recently opened in fact. This one was on an industrial estate ( which most of these places are anyway) and although there was a decent sised sign on the outer gate we really had to look hard to make sure we were in the right place as this was the sign on the building itself….

jump-in-sign

We were advised to register everyone in our group that were actually going onto the trampolines and those under 18 need to be signed in by an adult on the waiver form.

As my eldest was home from uni we decided to all go on and try it ( yes even me!) but unfortunately for us we were restricted on our time that week and so were there around 3pm, and obviously at those times it was full of young children from toddlers up to teens. Thankfully we are not a family to be put off and we went on anyway. I am sure the later you go the older the kids/teens would be ( it is open until 9pm on weekdays and 10pm on weekends -Fri and Sat) but like I said we were a little restricted that week working around my eldest.

The venue itself you could tell had not been open long, the walls were a clean crisp grey and everything had that newly painted/ decorated feel. Once you register and book in and pay, you are given your grip socks which you need if you are going on the trampolines. The sessions are one hour long at £12 inc your grip socks with a second hour available for £6 (prices for under 5’s are reduced ). So at £12 a child it could be kind of expensive with more than one child- however, I guarantee you they will come off totally knackered…………… so worth it if you think about it! We were also given a coloured wrist band as it was peak time in half term and very busy, but I imagine this is the only way to actually keep a restriction on how many people they are allowed on at any one time. Then we were sent into a holding room to view a 4 minute ‘Do’s and Don’t’s’ video before entering the trampoline area itself.

There are small lockers available if you are all going on for you to pop your phones/ bags/ valuables etc into which you get your money back from each time.

As you walk through you are into the seating/ cafe area on the same level (think normal playcentre and you will get an idea of what to expect) and then if you are going on the trampoline area which is completely raised there is a ramp walkway to get on there. It is still easy to see your children from the cafe and there is a small walkway all along that you can go up to check on them if you want.

Like I say we all went on and had a ball. I lasted about 20-30 minutes before I was completely shattered and went for a coffee from the cafe ( ladies be warned Tena ladies would be very handy if you are jumping!! Just saying). Our 2 teens stayed on there the whole time! There was an area unfinished in the top corner which was bordered off from the rest of the park, it was set in lower and looked like it was going to be used for a dodge ball area ( I could be wrong on that but it did look like it). They also have a small 2 hoop basketball area which you queue for to go and have a try- using the trampolines to get the bounce and height to help you get the ball in the hoop- looked good fun. There is also an under 5’s small area bordered off near the cafe area. There is also an area at the top end where you have obstacles to get past over a pit filled with sponge blocks- string ladders to climb up and ‘gladiator’ style jousting on a slim walkway were you are given head gear to put on and bash your opponent with a large soft paddle to knock them off into the pit.

All in all we had a fun time, next time we would definitely book an evening slot so the age group would be older and more suitable for teens and adults alike without worrying that when you jump you are going to unknowingly fling a young child about 10ft in the air! They also run exercise classes which I imagine would be amazing fun and great exercise- my hubby and I can confirm our legs felt like lead the next day so this would be a great form of cardio exercise! It’s definitely something we all enjoyed and said e would do again……….and lets face it most teens don’t want to do anything with their parents so were pleased they said they would go back again.

Unlike normal playcentres though it is advisable to pre book your slot online before you go as once they reach their maximum amount of people at that time the slot will no longer be available for obvious health and safety reasons. You also get to keep your grip socks after the first time so a 1 hour slot reduces to £10 an hour when you bring those socks back to re use them each time.

If you fancy trying it then just check out their website here for more details on pricing/ times/ classes/ parties  etc.

 

Yes I am still here!

You may have thought I had given up on my little blog it has been so long since I have posted on here, but no, I am still here I have just been having a little break.

It’s not that I haven’t had anything to write about, there have been loads going on in the past few months in my little corner of the world, it is just the fact that I haven’t had the inclination to put it all on here, call it lack of blogging mojo but I have had a total break from my site although I have been active on my social media sites. Last night, however, I attended a lovely event down in Kent which got me back in touch with the blogging community. It was fun, it was nice to meet new people and get a bit of that missing blogging mojo back.

So, what has been happening while I have been away (and I do not mean the obvious political stuff that is all over social media at the minute). In my little bubble, I haven’t been active on here since attending a review for a local spa, which I have now joined myself and try and go there at least twice a week. I cannot tell you how relaxing it is using the heat rooms ( sauna and steam) there and how lovely that has been for my poor M.E/Fibro muscular pain.

There’s been 18th birthday celebrations for my eldest ( in April) before all the madness of his A level exams recently.

DSC_0012

There’s been more sewing for me as I attended another sewing class learning more skills and meeting new people.

dress collage

There’s been a lot of ‘new to me’ furniture buying and upcycling as we have started to redecorate our lounge from a modern look to a more old style/ country appearance..

Gone from Dark leather to cream fabric
Gone from Dark leather to cream fabric
Again gone from a very dark wood to white and a sanded top, I still need to cover the chairs!
Again gone from a very dark wood to white and a sanded top, I still need to cover the chairs!
Gone from dark to light on the curtains and will be taking down the blinds and putting up voiles instead to make it lighter
Gone from dark to light on the curtains and will be taking down the blinds and putting up voiles instead to make it lighter

There is still a lot to do as the walls need repainting and the feature walls need re-papered and some soft furnishings still need to be sorted, but the majority of the change over is done.

There’s also been a trip to Royal Ascot (which was amazing) for a friends 50th birthday.

That's my friend and I all togged up looking posh!
That’s my friend and I all togged up looking posh!

This was something I always wanted to go and experience and I am glad they invited us to enjoy their special day- things are always enjoyed best depending on the company you go with. This was a fabulous day that I will not forget for a very long time…………….did I mention how close I got to the Queen????

There you go - just in case you didn't believe me!
There you go – just in case you didn’t believe me!

Recent weeks have been tough health wise for me, I felt I was having no relief from my Fibromyalgia pain at all. It was making me more exhausted than normal and was just never ending. I finally managed to get a GP appointment and she is very understanding and finally changed my medication to a slow release morphine ( the strongest thing I have been on ever). However, the detox from the years of Tramadol onto slow release MST was just horrific for about 5-6 days in total. I have never felt so rough in my life, hardly able to hold myself up yet unable to sleep  ( I was literally awake all night on the 1st evening watching films!), there was lots of nausea and dizziness and a bloody awful crushing headache that lasted days. A week or so on from there and things have settled and things are on the up and I am slowly but surely getting back to what would be relative normality for me.

Then last night was a huge milestone when my 18yr old went on his 6th year school leaver’s Prom, having officially left school and now just waiting exam results ( do not mention Edexel A level Maths………….there may well be a meltdown here!) and hopefully for him ( definitely not me) off to uni.

Here he looking handsome and dapper being  forced to stand and have a million pictures taken before he went!
Here he looking handsome and dapper being forced to stand and have a million pictures taken before he went!

So there you have it! There have obviously been lots of normal life thrown in too, ( nothing is ever straightforward or stress free with older teens in the house) but for now I will leave it there.

I look forward to catching up on all the blogging goings on now that I have a little blog mojo back!

School holidays with older teenagers means…………

…………………………….you no longer have every minute of everyday organised and planned to within an inch of it’s life, because even if you do bother to take the time to organise something for them not only would they not want to do it but they will probably have something ‘more important’ that they need to do- like gaming, sleeping or just generally ignoring you.

……………………………..you become even more fluent ( like a second language) in the grunting system they have in place for answering you, that is if they haven’t got their headphones on and cannot hear you anyway.

……………………………….you automatically turn into an ATM shelling out tenners like they are going out of fashion for the times they actually get out of bed and get dressed to go and see their mates to do something.

……………………………….you morph into a waitress in a cafe serving up bacon sarnies to ungrateful customers on a non ending rota working irregular hours for no pay.

……………………………….your normal weekly shop, which would still not last a week with teenage boys, now only lasts 3 days if you are really clever and hide most of the cereal, chocolate, crisps and cakes.

………………………………you have absolutely NO plates, cups, glasses or cutlery left in the cupboards as they will be all languishing in teenage boys rooms complete with rancid milk in bowls and fungus on the cutlery.

……………………………….you will still be equally amazed and appalled by the ‘teenage boy’ smell that you thought you had got used to but realise can actually get much worse when they spend a full week in there- I have NO WORDS for that smell!

……………………………….you become a 24hr taxi service on call, dropping off and picking up at a moments notice, yet they do not pay the going charges.

……………………………….you spend the week going to bed well before they do whilst asking them to keep the noise down when they are online with their mates shouting, laughing and joking whilst gaming.

I can only speak from experience of having boys, one of 15 and one 17 about to turn 18 very soon, I would like to think that girls would be different. The only good thing is that they actually sleep longer than me in the morning ( and that really is going some to beat me) so it means a week of no early mornings and a first coffee of the day in pure peace and quiet……………silver linings and all that!

My teen gets an ASD diagnosis at 17

This is what we have been going through recently. My eldest has always shown Asperger traits throughout his growing up, but has been very high functioning that it has never been a major issue to him or us as parents. He noticed himself after being at secondary school for a year or so that he ‘seemed’  different to his friends, that’s also when his lack of management skill came into play big time and and we had a discussion with him then to see if he wanted to pursue it further and get a diagnosis. At that time he said no, he didn’t want to be labelled different or have any spotlight put on him and so we helped him along with the school to get him more organised. It has also not hindered him in any way with friends, he has some great friends in the last few years that just accept him and his sometimes ‘odd’ ways and in fact it was one of those friends who encouraged him to go to his GP for help.

However, as he got older and then headed through the pressure of his GCSE’s it started to take it’s toll resulting in high levels of anxiety (which we were totally unaware about as he hid it very well under a laid back exterior) which led to a secondary period of ‘low mood’. This is when he as a 16 yr old then made an appointment with his GP and went off to discuss his ‘depression’ before telling us that he had gone and they were going to follow it up with a referral to our Children’s and Young Adults Mental Health clinic. We have supported him in his decision fully and have found out from our consultations that this high anxiety and low mood is very common in undiagnosed, high functioning, ASD cases in teens. They get to a certain age and then start to feel socially awkward and uncomfortable in a time that is turbulent for most teens anyway! This leads to the high anxiety resulting in a secondary ‘depression’.

We have since then been through the necessary assessments and he got his official diagnosis over the half term. I have emailed his Head of Learning at school to inform him of the diagnosis and arrange a meeting to see what help ‘if any’ he can get in his last year of A levels. There is an urgency to this meeting from my point of view as he has his UCAS forms to send off very soon and they need to know his requirements from school.

What I need to know is what sort of things he could be entitled to from others who are in this situation. If, at the very least, it would be nice if he qualified for some extra exam time, as his writing is atrocious and that could take the pressure of time off him as 2 of his subjects are essay based and he struggles to make his handwriting legible!

I would love to get some ideas from people in the same situation so I have an idea of what I should expect or not when I do get a school meeting.

Can you help?

Some Easy Craft Ideas For Kids This Christmas

christmas bunting picture

As my boys are now 17 and 15 years old this is something I am starting to miss. We used to do quite a lot on the run up to the festive season and even made lots of sweet treat pressies like the hot chocolate cones, decorated biscuits and cakes. Once they hit mid teens the enthusiasm for crafting waned and it is definitely something that I miss these days ( I expect I have to wait until I become a granny- although I am in no rush for that just yet!). My 15 year old however, will still decorate his own bedroom and will happily make Christmas paper chains if he is in the right mood……..and he won’t thank me for telling you that! I always think doing Christmas crafts starts all the build up and excitement, any time from Oct/ Nov all parents are already talking ‘Father Christmas’ to the kids and the crafts become an extension of that, I still have their school home made decorations too.

Take a look below for some fabulous and EASY craft ideas to get you started:

Some Easy Craft Ideas For Kids This Christmas

Christmas is the time for kids to enjoy and rejoice. This is the time when they get time off from school and are able to spend quality time with parents. So most of the time parents try to bring in new craft ideas that they can enjoy with their kids while preparing for Christmas. You can even find many craft products for your kids at Baker Ross.

Christmas stocking

  • Take a felt cloth and cut two pieces out of it in the form of socks.
  • Now sew or staple them together in such a way that top remains open.
  • Stick the sides with lace to hide the staple and use felt pieces and buttons to decorate the socks.

Reindeer’s

  • Use patterned paper to cover cardboard tubes.
  • Now cut a triangle for reindeer head and two small and big oval shapes for ears from paper.
  • Now paste the small one inside the big one and fold them in half. Now paste these oval ears on the two sides of the triangle.
  • Now paste the triangle on the cardboard.
  • You can have antlers prepared for your deer using pipes and straws.

Christmas tree with cones

  • Take cone water cup and paint it with green colour.
  • Now use ribbon or rick rack to wrap around it.
  • Now decorate it with pom-poms.

Snowmen

  • Cut the shape of some snowmen out of felt cloth.
  • Now prepare some hats for snowmen from some coloured felt.
  • Now glue the hats on the snowmen.
  • Put holes inside the snowmen and pass a string through it.
  • So you will have a series of snowmen together.

Cookies

  • Get sugar cookie dough for your kid.
  • Roll them and ask your kids to cut different shapes out of it.
  • Bake the cookie and now decorate them with cream cheese or peanut butter.

Kids with strong motor skills grow up to become active and intelligent. Different art lessons and craft activities helps kids to improve their motor skills as well as strengthens the muscles of wrist and hands. Some of the ways to improve the motor skills are:

  • Playing with play dough helps kid to use its hands to stretch and squeeze, thus strengthen their hand muscles. They also develop their sensory experience.
  • Painting helps in improving eye and hand coordination. So why not give your child a paper and paint brush to start working on it.
  • Drawing and using colour pencils also helps to improve the motor skills in kids. Moreover, they learn to hold the pencil using the forefinger and thumb.
  • Making craft items helps the child to widen their imagination and bring in creative ideas.

Kids should be encouraged to get involved in more of such craft and art lessons. Click here to get these products for less from your favourite stores.

What are your favourite crafts to do with your kids at Christmas?

My baby turns 15!

It feels like time is just spiralling out of control, there’s no brakes, no way of slowing it down to appreciate what is going on.

This week saw my youngest turn 15, now one of the oldest in his class. To be honest he’s like 15 going on 50 but that’s another story, however, his age now hits hard as he is my youngest, my baby so to speak. It seems like only last week we brought him home from the hospital and felt we had all the time in the world to appreciate him.

So what happens? We blink and they are teenagers, to old to be babied and not old enough to be an adult, yet they are like mini adults with their own personalities and strong views. I am now officially the smallest person in the house with the 2 boys towering over me, making me feel small and old!

Birthdays can make you nostalgic, look back with rose tinted glasses and feel as though you didn’t make the most of the time when they were young. Of course this is never true. They were hard work as babies, they took all of our time, we were up during the nights, nursed them when they were ill, praised every stage of their development and enjoyed all the different stages they have been through.

My baby can now look down on me and pat me on the head. He can make me laugh and cry, he can frustrate the life out of me ( everyday), make me proud, embarrass me and show his loving side ( which we don’t always get to see). He knows how to make me the perfect cup of coffee, knows how to get his way, knows how to argue his case but can be very caring when he knows I am ill and will still accompany to the cinema- although I am sure those days will soon come to an end. He is growing up fast biting on the tails of his 17 year old brother and embraces independence at every stage.

I can only try and treasure the time we have now before his life takes him in the direction he wants to go, be that staying close to us or venturing further away on his on journey.

Happy Birthday to the baby of the family and thanks for making me feel proud ……………………….but OLD!!

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Virgin Active- ‘Active Crew’ review

 

We were invited to be one of the first to try a new exercise class soon to be launched in Jan 2015 aimed at 8-16 year olds in particular called ‘Active crew’. My 14 year old son decided he would give it a go to see what it was like.

We headed over to The Virgin Active Club in Acton were the launch was taking place and were lucky enough to grab a chat with the founder of ZUU Chimps, Nathan Helberg who was extremely lovely, chatty and enthusiastic about the exercises the kids were about to try. He explained how it was fun so kids didn’t realise that they were exercising and empowers them at the same time.

The class itself was broken down into several stages ranging from ‘animalistic’ style movements to  coordination and agility style exercises that included the use of Sandbells and Fitlights with rest periods in between and a lot of high fiving along the way. Another element of the Active Crew is SAQ (Speed, Agility and Quickness) training, a programme that has actually been used by a variety of sports starts from Andy Murrey to the Manchester United Football Team.

At first my youngest thought the exercises were a bit weird considering they were called ‘gorilla’ and ‘bear’ and ‘iguana’ amongst others! But as the time went on and the high fiving continued he felt more relaxed within the group which is essentially one of the key characteristics of the class anyway.

103_Virgin Active Crew[1]

317_Virgin Active Crew[1] 326_Virgin Active Crew[1] 327_Virgin Active Crew[1] 341_Virgin Active Crew[1] 355_Virgin Active Crew[1]   As you can see by these pictures that were taken during the class  all the kids were definitely engaged and focused with all the range of exercises they were asked to try. The fact that it’s non competitive meant that the ones who were shy or embarrassed at the start of the class weren’t overpowered by either louder, or stronger kids that were taking part, and this part of the class is just as important as the exercise itself. It’s fun games, that do not exclude anyone, that get 8-16year olds off their backsides, away from the technology that is taking over their lives and socialising face to face with other kids and adults in a friendly, safe environment.

This is the group my son took part in complete with the Virgin Active Crew and Founder of Zuu Chimps, Nathan Helberg
This is the group my son took part in complete with the Virgin Active Crew and Founder of Zuu Chimps, Nathan Helberg They all look pretty happy to me!

When I chatted to my son afterwards he said he enjoyed it, that it was something different and that his legs had literally gone to jelly!!!

The exercise could in effect be done in the smallest of places with no real fancy equipment so could be suitable for a number of groups, for instance, we are volunteer leaders at our local Cub Scout group and some of the exercises based on animal movements would be a great activity to run for that age group. So we will be calling on my son ( as a young leader) at the group to put the kids through their paces soon!

Active Crew is currently running in 25 clubs and will be launching nationwide in Jan 2015. To find your nearest club visit www.virginactive.co.uk

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The day my eldest was assaulted at school

This happened to us last week. On Tuesday in fact, we had a call from the school around lunchtime to say he had been punched and knocked out and an ambulance was on the way. To say we were gobsmacked would be a huge understatement. we literally couldn’t believe it. My eldest, who is 16 yrs old, has never been in trouble at school or anywhere else in his life! He is a chilled, everything happens around him sort of boy.

When we arrived at school he was being walked into the ambulance and I went with him to casualty as my OH followed along in the car. He was still a bit dazed at that point although he was able to have a conversation. His face was swollen on one side and he complained of a headache and he was very pale and shaky. It was only a 10 minute journey to the hospital and the paramedic in the back with us was brilliant, keeping him chatting about his exams, what he planned to do after 6th form etc, yet all the time also reassuring me about what they were doing. It was a real shock when he booked my son in as ‘ a 16yr old assaulted on school premises’! Yet this is exactly what had happened.

Then we had a 5hr visit which included an xray to check if he had a fracture in his jaw. Thankfully all was ok, except for the inside of his mouth which was swollen and damaged as he wears braces, and the general concussion that comes with a bang on the head.

When we got to the bottom of the story it turns out that my son had said something verbally about what he was wearing, like most 16yr olds he did use swear words but said that this is general boys banter that goes on constantly. So apparently he swore at the boy and then all he remembers is a sharp pain in his temple and then waking up on the floor and then being helped by friends to the medical room.

Now we have spoken to him about the consequences of using any sort of verbal abuse towards anyone and he readily put his hands up to his part in the lead up to being punched, however, we also made it clear that there is ABSOLUTELY no excuse for physical violence and that a physical reaction is just as much a choice as what verbal reaction is.

Anyway, we were advised obviously to keep him home for a few days and watch for signs of concussion just in case it got worse. So the next day we expected the school to phone first thing to check on his possible injuries……………. but there was no call. At around 12ish I contacted the school to speak to the teacher who was dealing with the incident. When he called me back he explained that the attacker had been given a 1 day exclusion and he and his parents had already been into the school that morning for his ‘re inclusion meeting’! He also said that up until then the boy in question had had a bad day and therefore my son’s comment pushed him over the edge. He also said that as far as the school was concerned the matter had been resolved.

Therefore, I ask you is a 1 day exclusion an appropriate punishment for a punch so hard it knocked my son out for a minute or two? Is the matter resolved? I’m sure you can guess my answer.

I was furious, no-one had contacted us to confirm any possible injuries and yet the attacker had already been dealt with and completed his punishment! My son missed two and a half days off school and only went in on the Friday so he could catch up on his missed schoolwork in order to catch up over the weekend, yet the attacker was already back at school. My son had to also face the humiliation  attached to being knocked out by a single punch by another pupil. There was supposed to be a meeting with the Head of Year and the 2 boys on the Friday morning, yet the attacker was late so that didn’t go ahead.

As parents we were seriously disappointed in the care of my son over this attack, we had not been consulted as parents either. The next step for us was to arrange a meeting with the school’s Head Teacher which ended up being on Monday morning. We were in his office for an hour and I had printed out the emails that had gone between myself and the Head of Year who was dealing with it. Apparently this punishment is in line and fair with a previous incident in 6th form 2 yrs before and therefore he would not reconsider the level of punishment. However, we continually made it clear it was not a ‘fight’ but an ‘attack’ and should be looked at on an individual basis. He did agree with us in the end and has himself forwarded it on to the Board of Governors to see if the system is at fault and whether there is a possibility that a change is in order.

I am still in my right to formally complain to the Board of Governors if they deem this incident to have been dealt with properly, which I can tell you now I most definitely will. In the mean time the Head Teacher is going to investigate why we were not contacted about the level of my son’s injuries before the other boy was dealt with as he seemed quite astonished himself that no one called us.

So for a week or so I will wait and see what actually comes back from the school before I take it further, but I still cannot believe this has happened to my son. I didn’t want to put the pics up on here out of respect for him but I have them which I can use when I contact the Governors. Whatever the outcome it is too late to help my son, however, for the next person this happens to hopefully a decent system will be in place so that other pupils and parents do not go through what we have. My son was relatively ‘lucky’ when it came to his injuries however, the next person may not be so ‘lucky’ so an appropriate system needs to be in place.

I would love to know what you would have done if this had have been your teenager?