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.

Read more

Smiggle- Gift Voucher Giveaway

dsc_0131

I was invited recently to the Smiggle branch in Bluewater to open the next window on their Christmas advent calendar and see what treat could be waiting for me.

Anyone that has been to a Smiggle store will know it’s an explosion of colour and a total must for all stationary lovers. The store there is not huge but is very well stocked with both lots on the shelves and underneath the display tables ( so I cannot see you having any trouble getting a particular item you may be after).

At the moment they have lots of their fabulous Christmas Advent Stockings, that retail at £28. That may sound a little extravagant but is in line with Lego or even Yankee candle (if you buy yourself one!). However, the goodies that are in the advent would cost around £40 if they were bought individually, so a bargain when you consider that and also a great alternative to just more chocolate.

dsc_0133

There are the typical colour assumptions, pink for girls and blue for boys, but there are also lots of alternatives that can be gender neutral. Some of the bits can work out quite expensive but there are also some fabulous gifts that would be perfect for Christmas presents that work out at just £10-15 which is very budget friendly.

I particularl
I particularly liked this design on a black background and perfect for little monster lovers!

There is also a wonderful little colouring area set up in this store which was in use most of the time I was in the store and it was constantly busy in there. I was given the chance to peel off the next advent sticker from the window outside to get the next prize ( which I will include with the gift voucher giveaway as a little extra, it’s a Goo Glopper………………!

The store manager there, Linda, has a great manner about her and she will find out if it’s your birthday and get the whole store to sing Happy Birthday to you, I heard the singing even before I reached the store as I came down the escalator towards it. You will recognise her as she has a huge whistle hanging around her neck and she’s not afraid to use it- so be warned.

So I have a lovely £25 gift card and my Goo Glopper from behind the advent to giveaway to all you lovely stationary loving peeps. All you have to do is comment below with what you would use the voucher for and fill in the normal Rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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!

Walk to school

With all the talk on Twitter and Facebook about kids returning to school this week I’m asking the question:

Do You Walk To School?

My 2 boys are at secondary school now and at age 15 and 12 (almost 13) they STILL walk to school! (well one goes on a bike)

For the whole of their time at nursery and primary school we walked to school- always. It is about a 15 minute walk away from where we live. Their secondary school is about a further 5 minutes away from there.

When it was raining we still walked as the roads would be far more busy and we would have to park about 5 minute walk away so we would have got wet anyway. I found that by the time we had walked to school we had beaten all the traffic and could get undercover ( let’s face it that’s why we have UMBRELLAS!). Also It was a quiet time to chat without too much distraction from telly’s. We began to meet friends on the way, the kids would maybe take scooters etc and in the summer we would go straight to the park on the way home.

I do appreciate that not everyone is in this position, maybe the school is further away, or the parents both work and therefore haven’t the time to walk there and back before work. But you and I know there are loads of parents who live close enough to walk and yet chose to get in their cars to drop their kids outside the school gates!! The operative word being ‘CHOOSE’. So from there their kids then are trained to expect to be driven everywhere.

Check out this video below by StartRite taken from a child’s point of view about walking to school.

Great British Walk To School

So I will ask you again……..Do you walk to school?

Explosions and experiments – Brainiac Live

I have just returned from watching a show FULL of explosions and experiments with a few electrocutions thrown in! No I wasn’t at some indecent over 18’s only dodgy show but at Brainiac Live at The Glow in Bluewater.

First of all this is NOT a sponsored post I bought the tickets and just wanted to share how good it actually was!

I was surprised though that the show wasn’t sold out as this was enjoyed by kids (boys and girls) and big kids alike. I took my eldest who is 15 who thoroughly enjoyed it.

The show starts with blowing up a little caravan, and then goes on non-stop from there! Anyone who is a fan of the show will know exactly what to expect, they ran through doors of plasterboard / wallpaper and attempted netting. They worked their magic with liquid nitrogen, airzookas, live electric shocks and spinning on chairs using fire extinguishers and rockets and much more.

Using airzookas trying to blow smoke rings to the audience!

The tickets only cost around £7.50 for this venue and the show lasted about an hour. It was noisy but definitely fun. I know the show is also going to run in London as well so really worth a look for something different to do with kids of all ages .

Check out their website here to find more details of where the show will be- everyone will love it.

Summer Bucket List Update

Yes we are one full week into our summer break. As we were finishing for the summer I decided to get a list of things together to accomplish over the holidays, some for the family and others selfishly for me! To check out my list here

So, one week in and already we have managed to:

*set the pool up with much nagging to the OH….

Complete with very brave or stupid cat!!

We have also completed our full day’s fishing with lots of fab catches:

Youngest’s biggest catch to date!
Not my biggest to date but biggest I caught that day!
OH had to get biggest of the day at 9lb15!!! He was gutted as wanted a double figure- over 10lb LOL

After a full days fishing I also managed to fit in my pj’s day!!! Not through choice but because the fishing day had taken it’s toll so I spent most of the day in bed and stayed in my jim jams for the rest of the day LOL…………….still that counts surely!

Also earlier in the week we found ourselves child free for an evening- Yes you heard me right- CHILD FREE!! So we treated ourselves to the cinema, Gallery seats at Bluewater no less- lots of leg room, super comfy seats and complimentary snacks and drinks………..don’t mind if we do.

Well here’s to next week to see what I can knock of the list- wish me luck.

How’s your Summer Bucket List going?

 

Schools out- Summer Bucket List!

I have read a few posts lately about the impending school holidays. Love them or hate them they just won’t organise themselves!

I have found it much easier and more fun to organise when the boys were a lot younger. I envy  all of you with the 5-10 age group as there are LOTS of things you can do that cost NOTHING but a bit of time and planning- park picnics with friends, days at the beach, walks in the woods/ forests, kite flying…….and the list goes on.

However as they get older I find it becomes far more costly and a trip to the park is literally like you want to end their lives as they know it- SOOOOOOOOO uncool!!! Being able to get away with a ‘special’ trip to the cinema over the hols is now one of the main things they want to do……………….and money just does not grow on trees, whatever anyone tells you.

So I now find myself with a 15 and 12yr old, both boys ( and both mine- I didn’t just kidnap them off a random street), and the thought of trying to organise and keep a budget of any kind over the summer is virtually non existent.

However I will not be outdone, I will sort summer the summer hols, it will not break me *cough*. So here are a few things that I definitely want to include over the holidays, both for the kids, as a family, and some ‘just for me’ selfish ones thrown in too.

* Cinema trips- 1st to see Worlds End with the eldest ( as he is 15!) and 2nd to see The Internship with the 12 yr old (not my choice)

* Fishing day- this is already arranged with friends so I can say with confidence that this will happen- next wednesday to be exact!! ( I’m a fishing addict and proud LOL)

* See the Brainiac Live show that is showing at Bluewater and also up London hoping at least one of them will accompany me.

* Organise a huge swim day at a fun pool for both boys and whatever friends they want to bring. I have a 7 seater car so the more the merrier LOl

* Try the ‘Up at The 02’ experience, requested by my youngest- at £25 a ticket I have emailed them from my blog to see if they want a reviewer!! Cheeky I know but if you don’t ask you don’t get LOL- If not I will bite the bullet and let OH and youngest go.

* Take a trip on the new Greenwich cable car- with kids would be good but if they turn their noses up at it then just me and the OH!!

* A mammoth game of Monopoly as a family- this tends to go for hours and I can keep the arguing to a minimum by providing fizzy drink and sweets and snacks.

* Camping- we have actually booked this and are going for a week in Aug to the Isle of Wight!! I cannot wait

* Have some girlie friends round on a sunny evening to drink copious amounts of pink wine, talk crap and eat rubbish! ( even better get a take away)

* I would love a PJ’s day! Just for the sake of it, a lazy, not going out past the door, watching dvd’s all day just because I can!!

* A trip to my Mum’s in Plymouth- on my own LOL like that will ever happen!!! But you never know stranger things have happened as they say! My eldest is getting to go next week for a week on his own- to say I’m jealous would be the understatement of the day.

* Have friends round for a chilled out BBQ, everyone chipping in, kids off playing football out in the park and jugs of Pimms to enjoy for the adults.

* Get the pool up for the boys- I am nagging the OH as I type- he hates putting it up as It is huge- but may encourage youngest to invite his cronies round for the day!

* Sit in a lovely beer garden on a sunny afternoon enjoying a mega cold beer or G+T- this one with no kids and don’t really mind if it’s with girly friends or OH!

* Would love a day down at Dymchurch beach- a bit of a trek for us but worth it if you get the weather and time the tides right LOL

* A poker night! Ok maybe it’s not great to teach your kids to gamble but we love a game of Texas Hold’em in this house. We invested in a poker table with drink and chip holders!!

* A HUGE water fight while the weather is still hot, with friends as much more fun the more people you have- and we are lucky to have a huge park outside our back gate!! I feel a panic buy of water bombs coming on!

* Get to watch through the series 2 of The Killing in peace! I know I am behind on this but lets face it with it being subtitled I cannot exactly sit on Twitter and FB  iron or knit while watching it LOL

 * Become an expert in beating the teenagers butts at Swingball! One of the less energetic sports I can do LOL Just bought a new retro metal ‘old style’ proper one- BRING IT ON KIDS!

At the moment that is about it but I’m sure I will add some or change some along the way. Still hoping to get the teens dragged along involved in someway in at least some of my list, but only time will tell.

So wish me luck and let me know what’s on your list.

 

Top tips to get your child into Theatre

As some of you will know my youngest is a bit of a luvvy. He has done a bit of acting, TV ads, plays, panto’s, short films and photo shoots etc, and is naturally high maintenance which I think comes with the career!

He is 12 and has been doing this for about 3 years via an after school drama club he goes to. He has attended auditions for all sorts of things from musical theatre to feature films. He has learned very quickly to take the knock backs in his stride and realises that sometimes you are just not right for a part.

How long he will keep this going I cannot say, he could give it up at any time or continue into his teens and beyond. He will only do it for as long as he enjoys it and that is the main thing. From an early age he has always been, loud, centre of attention and wanting to be part of this.

But how does a child get ‘into’ this sort of business?

Take a look below for some top tips

 

Get your children into theatre with these top tips

Whether it is Grease, Les Miserables, Oliver Twist or Hamlet, we all have a favourite theatre show that springs to mind. But have you ever spotted the signs of a star in the making? Actress and choreographer Jayne Draper from the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts has compiled some top tips on how to get your little ones in to theatre:

1.     Attend ballet, dancing, singing or acting classes on a weekly basis at School/College/local Dance/Acting schools and visit the theatre to see productions.

2.     Audition and participate in School/College Productions or join the Choir.

3.     Ask your parents to send for a variety of prospectuses and visit different Stage Schools/Colleges to ensure that the course will match your needs, before you audition.

4.     You could attend a Summer School/Workshop at a Stage School where you will gain exposure to a variety of disciplines, be taught by professionals within the industry and have the chance to perform at the end.

5.     Always make a good first impression at an audition or in class – by being well prepared, enthusiastic and motivated. Ensure that you are well groomed and appropriately dressed.

6.     Demonstrate a good professional work ethic, show mutual respect for teachers and fellow students and always work to fulfil your potential.

7.     Work hard. Be focused, self-disciplined, driven, passionate, polite, committed and aspire to be the best you can be.

8.     Show your versatility; explore your self-expression and creativity. Be adaptable and accept constructive criticism.

9.     Practice in your own time to develop and perfect your technique to enhance your overall performance.

10.  Look after yourself – Healthy eating, drinking water and plenty of rest are all essential to sustain the necessary levels of energy and stamina required. Ensure that your mind and body are “warmed up” to prevent Injury.

Despite our love for theatre productions, research has found that that on average the last time we went to the theatre was seven years ago, due to the cost of the tickets and inconvenience of getting to the theatre.

Luckily for us, TalkTalk is launching it’s new on-demand Theatre Channel on YouView to make theatre accessible to families throughout the UK. To get some further inspiration on what to view first with your kids and to inspire your children into the world of dance, music and drama, watch our video montage: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqwyGU5UPlM&feature=youtu.be

 

In this video, actors from the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts have teamed up with TalkTalk to celebrate some famous and much-loved scenes from the world of theatre, asking audiences across London what they wanted to see them perform.

 

 

 

The Importance of Bedtime Reading

So how important is bedtime reading to you as an adult? Hands up all you parents who have a read of a chapter or two before you go to bed yourself…………………..go on I will count you all…………………………..ok just a show of hands will do then.

So now as a parent how many of you actually read to your children before they go to sleep? Now don’t get me wrong there are days when maybe you have got home from work late to find chaos at home and by the time you have battled your way through dinner and the bedtime routines of baths etc, there may be a few nights that go past without a story………..Yeah?

We can’t always be perfect ( although we are most of the time of course!) but I would reckon that a good majority of us DO read to the kids before they go to sleep.

This was something I did almost religiously with my boys when they are young. My OH is not a big reader but I am and I knew it was important for the boys to enjoy books before they could master reading.

I am proud to say that both my boys are avid readers today, so that must be something I have done right at least!

Anyway, for those of you who maybe don’t read to the kids at bedtime, for whatever reason, check out this programme  online to help with the possible stress that bedtime reading can sometimes cause.

The Importance of Bedtime Stories

Watch our live show with Becky Overton, British children’s bedtime story writer, and TV presenter Helena Dowling to discuss why bedtime stories are so important for our little ones.

Show date: Friday 22nd March

Show time: 12:30pm  

Many parents can find bedtime stressful, but that needn’t be the case. Reading bedtime stories can really help your children relax and fall asleep more easily, and create an emotional bond between parent and child. Not only does a bedtime story help create a sense of occasion but it can also give children something to really look forward to before they turn out the light.

While some of us might lack confidence in our ability to read to our children, some of us are unsure of what tone or volume to use, or even what stories are suitable for bedtime reading – fear not, help is at hand.

So if you are worried about how you can read your children bedtime stories, don’t know exactly what the benefits of reading with your little ones are or want to share your tips and advice to other parents, then log onto our live show.

Becky Overton, a British Children’s Writer, whose stories are featured on A Bedtime Story with Arnie & Barnie on Nick Jr. and read by well-known celebrities such as Greg Rutherford and Kimberly Wyatt, is on hand to answer your questions, alongside TV presenter Helena Dowling and Holly Driscoll from Dolly and Daydreams.

Becky Overton, Helena Dowling and Holly Driscoll join us live online at http://www.studiotalk.tv/show/the-importance-of-bedtime-stories on Friday 22nd March at 1pm

Click here to submit questions before the show http://www.studiotalk.tv/show/the-importance-of-bedtime-stories

For more info check out http://www.nickjr.com/read

Love a bit of record breaking???

Then check out this new CBBC show due to start 11th March, it will run on weekdays at 7.45am.

Now I know this is rather early and lets face it usually a manic time on school days! However, thank goodness for the record button LOL. So put it to good use if your house is as manic as mine in the mornings.

In the meantime have a look at the link below to get an idea of what to expect, cross the original Record Breakers, with all the mad and awesome stuff people get up to nowadays and your will be getting close!

Officially Amazing starts this week so don’t miss it!

So you will see things like……

Longest fingernails

Longest distance dog surfs on wave!

Heaviest sportsperson,

Most people crammed into a Mini

……..and much more!

So check it out here before the show starts