Oddball and the Penguins

I love going to the cinema with my children. It’s always fun to watch something new and especially when it’s something we’re not familiar with…. it’s nice to be surprised.

That’s what it felt like with new film Oddball and the Penguins. I had no preconceptions about it because I hadn’t even heard of it.

Reading the synopsis….. a true story about a dog (Oddball) who helps save some penguins on a little Island off the coast of Melbourne, Australia…. I have to admit I wasn’t sure. It was being billed as a lovely family film though and my daughter absolutely loves animals so I knew we had to give it a go.

And boy was I pleasantly surprised.

Honestly, the film is absolutely brilliant!

As soon as it started, we were instantly captivated by the stunning backdrop of the Melbourne coastline and the wonderful characters. The gruff but cuddly Grandpa, Swampy, who was ever so loving and very funny; his cute granddaughter who became his little sidekick, the hero of the film, Swampy’s dog Oddball, the Maremma Sheepdog, and of course the adorable little Penguins!

oddball and the penguins review

The Penguins live in a sanctuary which was once looked after by Swampy’s late wife. His daughter is now in charge but the numbers of penguins on the Island have significantly dropped due to foxes and if they don’t improve, the sanctuary will be shut down. With the prospect of his daughter and granddaughter moving away if the penguins can’t be saved, Swampy needs to do something fast.

Swampy discovers that Oddball has a wonderful, protective connection to the Penguins so, along with his beloved nine year old granddaughter Olivia, they formulate a plan!

oddball and the penguins

Cue an adventure and a race against time.

Will they manage to save the sanctuary before it’s too late? Someone is determined to stop them…. but who?

We thoroughly enjoyed this film, it had a great storyline and my daughter fell in love with Odd ball and the gorgeous little penguins. I love the fact that it’s based on a true story. The film definitely brings a refreshing change from the usual cartoon kids films that seem to dominate this niche.

My daughter here meeting the star (not the actual dog from the movie but one of his relatives!) of the movie! He actually came into the auditorium and watched the film! 

 Oddball And The Penguins is released across the UK on February 12th, in time for half term. It’s a great film that the whole family will love.

Driving Lesson Stress

So my Teenager is learning to drive.

It’s something he’s been excited about for a very long time… I think, like most teenagers, he thought he’d literally be driving the minute he turned 17 but the reality of course is very different!

We did say he could have driving lessons for his birthday but before that could happen, he needed his provisional license. I’d picked one up at the local post office because his passport has expired, otherwise he would’ve been able to apply for the licence online.

I left him to fill it out. Which he didn’t. It sat on the side in his bedroom for weeks. I reminded him that he needed to get photo’s done for the licence but of course he didn’t get round to doing that either. He’s not a baby and I was refusing to do everything for him. This meant that it didn’t get done!

Days before his birthday he was kicking off that he didn’t have his provisional and that meant no driving lessons! My fault of course.

This was the first ‘stress’ I experienced on my son’s learning to drive journey and apparently, according to research by Carfused.com, learning to drive isn’t always as straightforward as we’d like – While getting on the road comes with a financial price-tag, it can also come with an emotional cost too. I think I would agree with this!

Eventually of course, Teen got his photo’s done for the licence, I got them signed off and it was eventually posted to the DVLA. It cost me £43!

Finding an instructor wasn’t the easiest task either.

Teen wanted a female driving instructor. I think he thought that a male wouldn’t have the same patience with him, or might become angry if he did something wrong! I’ve no idea where this notion came from but I can appreciate his thought process… he was obviously looking for an easy, gentle, less pressurised time during his lessons and in his mind, a female was more likely to provide this environment!

After finding an instructor, we found out she charged £25 a lesson, which is average, if not slightly cheaper than many, so I was pleased. The first two for £40. Teen had a double lesson to kick off with and afterwards he came back buzzing, full of excitement and enthusiasm. He LOVED it!

driving lessonsTeen in the car with his driving instructor

But then came the pestering. The next stage of stress!

He was continually begging to let him have a ‘go’ in my car! The thing is though, my car is a huge seven seater with a 3.8ltr engine… A bit scary for me to let him behind the wheel of that monster! Plus it’s automatic, so he wouldn’t be gaining that much from driving it.

However, he didn’t give up…. every time we got in the car he asked…. “Please, I’ll just drive it down the road there… I’ll go slow…. I’ll be really careful” etc etc.. He bugged the life out of me!

After a couple more lessons and Teen declaring himself to be amazing at driving (he’s always been so full of confidence), I very nervously allowed him to get into the drivers seat of my car and take it for a spin! Just to shut him up!

Nervous just doesn’t cover it. We were only on our road which is very quiet and we agreed he would literally just be driving in a straight line.. maybe a slight bend, but that’s all. Still, I sat there rigid… terrified he would do something stupid! And of course, he did. Nothing serious, but he did put his foot down harder for a second and in a car like mine… we shot forward so fast, much faster than the little car he’s used to which he takes his lessons in! I’m sure it took him by surprise but he loved it. I on the other hand, freaked out and screamed at him to slow down…. at which point he laughed, but stopped!

“Chill out” he told me!

“Get out” I shouted back!

I jumped back into my drivers seat, my heart pounding! Teenagers seem to find it hard to follow simple instructions, they just do whatever they want, regardless. He scared me. I have since taken Teen out a couple of times in my Dad’s car, which is a little Fiesta manual and although I was still nervous, I knew this was a much less powerful car which meant Teen couldn’t get carried away!

I don’t think I could teach Teen how to drive fully though, like many parents do these days… to save money. I can obviously see the advantages but I don’t have the patience. His Dad has taken him out once or twice and actually, Teen is pretty good now. But to do it from scratch? I don’t think so!

The new study by Carfused.com reveals that almost half of learner drivers (49%) opted to take driving lessons with a parent or family member. Though these lessons might have been free, learners paid in increased stress levels as one in seven (15%) say they were yelled at repeatedly.

I totally get that!

The combination of an inexperienced driver and an over-bearing parent can be an interesting mix with stressful and potentially dangerous consequences. In fact, it lead to one in 10 (10%) parents grabbing the wheel during lessons and one in 20 (5%) learners say they almost had an accident. More than two thirds described the experience as too stressful and one in seven (15%) say they found the process scary. A similar number (15%) described learning with a parent as ‘annoying’. And while the learners take the brunt of the stress, almost a quarter (24%) admit that it was a nerve-wracking experience for their parents.

To test this out, Carfused.com set out to monitor the stress levels of a father and daughter as they set out on driving practice. Georgia (17) and her father Kenneth took the road in a vehicle with special cameras installed to film the whole process – so no angry look or yell went unseen.

Watch the full video below….

And it’s not just the emotional stress that learners are sharing with their parents with nearly a quarter of drivers (23%) saying their first driving lessons were bought for them as a gift by their parents. A lucky one in five (20%) say their parents funded every single lesson they took with an instructor. With the cost of learning to drive so high, it’s no wonder that parents are stepping in to help.

Teens’ driving instructor told him that the average number of lessons it usually takes is around 22-25, with teenage boys normally coming in under this amount. Probably because they’re so eager! But still, that’s a lot of lessons to fund…. it makes sense to learn as much as you can with a family member! If you can stomach it and have the patience!

Then there’s the cost of the tests… two these days with the separate Theory test to take.

Most teenagers think it’s their rite of passage to learn to drive as soon as they can but the cost of it all can make it impossible for a lot of families. Many teenagers do have little part time jobs at this age, which means they can help out themselves. But the whole shebang is a lot more stressful than you imagine it to be!

Carfused.com is a great resource for everything car related and it’s perfect for parents and new drivers alike.  It’s a one-stop shop that brings you insurance, finance and a huge range of cars for sale together all in one place… there’s also plenty of information about the ‘black box’ insurance scheme whereby the black box is have fitted into your Teenager’s car. This records their driving, ensuring they drive safely and consequently cuts down insurance costs which is sky high for young drivers. Finding a website like this that gives so much advice and information is a godsend.

Teen is preparing to take his theory test now.

I am excited myself about Teen being able to drive and having his own little car. How great that will be for him… and me…. no more ferrying him round or being called upon late at night for some taxiing home, although I will miss that if I’m being honest (not the late night lifts). Giving him a lift here and there always gave us a bit of one to one time and I enjoyed our little chats in those moments.

Still, I’ll have to get in HIS car instead, let him take ME somewhere! Or I can ask him to collect his siblings from various places if I’m stuck….. yes, I can see the advantages!

Maybe i’ll even ring him for a lift home if I’ve been out at a party late at night….

See if HE likes it! ;)

Collaborative post

Week 4 Photo – 2016


It’s the end of January… yipee!

January always seems like the worst month of the year and one we usually can’t wait to see the back of. It’s cold, and the come down after the excitement of Christmas really hits with a bang.

But I don’t know about you, and maybe it’s because of the mild weather (last week not included), but this January hasn’t felt quite so bleak. In fact, it’s been totally fine….. although I am looking forward to it being February with the prospect of Spring around the corner!

This photo was taken earlier this week when a storm hit the UK. Me and the kids got caught in a massive downpour on the school run. Luckily it was home time because we couldn’t really escape as we had to run to get to the car which was parked in the car park. By the time we were there, the rain had come down with such ferocity that the kids were dripping wet. They’ve never been out in rain like it!

I didn’t mind though. I could see how much they were loving it…. the look of sheer delight in their faces was priceless.

They literally embraced the rain!

In other news, Teen competed in the County swimming championships. The first one since he gave up swimming due to injury. It was fun to be back there without any pressure, as Teen is swimming mainly for enjoyment purposes these days.

My daughter performed at the O2 in London this week, along with around 8000 other kids from schools in the region. It’s the Young Voices concert and what an amazing experience that was. More on that later though.

Hope you all had a great week.

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With the film having just been released all across the UK, I was sent through the best selling book from which the film was made, to have a read!

I’m not an avid reader, but sometimes I do feel like enjoying a good book and although I’m not even half way through Room yet, it’s really got me hooked!

It took a few pages to get my head around the way the book is written as it’s written from the perspective of a 5yr old boy Jack, who is, unbeknownst to him, a prisoner in the room. He was born there and lives with his mum (Ma), who was kidnapped and held captive there for seven years. Jack doesn’t know about the outside world, his world is Room, as he calls it. He calls everything in the room by it’s name: Table, Chair, Sink etc… they all have names because to Jack, they live there with them.

Ma’s kidnapper, Old Nick, comes to visit Ma regularly, at which point Jack is hidden away until he Nick has gone. This is how they have lived since Jack was born.

Whilst reading the book, I have been completely drawn into the world of Jack. His close bond with his mother has really touched a nerve because I have my twin boys who are at a similar age right now. Jack is so happy in his little world, he has never known anything else and it’s that innocence I can see, like my own boys, that pulls at my heartstrings.

I’d be interested to see how the film conveys the claustrophobia and monotony that the book does so well. I don’t want to go and see it though until I’ve finished the book, so I need to hurry up!

The film has now been nominated for 4 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, and Best Adapted Screenplay, as well as 2 BAFTA nominations and a Golden Globe Winner for Best Actress for Brie Larson. It has been one of the most acclaimed films of the year.

An intensely powerful and wonderfully life-affirming experience, Room is the new film from acclaimed director, Lenny Abrahamson, based on the best-selling novel from Emma Donoghue. A riveting emotional journey about the power of love, limitless imagination and the strength of the human spirit, Room is an unparalleled celebration of the bond between parent and child. Ma has created a whole universe in ‘Room’ for 5 year-old Jack, where they have both lived for Jack’s whole life. But when Ma decides they have to escape, she risks everything to give Jack the chance to make a thrilling discovery. One of the most acclaimed films of the year, and featuring award-worthy performances from Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay, Room is a must-see for audiences; a discovery of the world for the very first time.

A riveting emotional journey about the power of love, limitless imagination and the strength of the human spirit, Room is an unparalleled celebration of the bond between parent and child.

STUDIOCANAL released this UK trailer for ROOM which arrived in cinemas on 15 January. 


Week 3 Photo – 2016

project 366

So week 3 already done and dusted!

This scene is a regular one in my household. My kids playing games on the Play Station. In this photo though there’s also my two nieces who came over for the day on Saturday, and who love playing on it too. They don’t have one at home so they make a beeline for it when they’re here!

Week 3 has been relatively uneventful, apart from my twins losing their first teeth, and the weather taking a nose dive temperature wise.

Oh and the fact that I let Teen’s girlfriend have a ‘sleepover’ on Friday night for the first time ever and the OH going crazy because I hadn’t discussed it with him first. Eeek… not good! More on that though in a later post!

Hope you all had a good week and kept warm in the freezing temperatures!

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After school freeze in the park

After nipping to the shop after school this week, my children announced they wanted to have a play in the park opposite.

I don’t do cold weather, so with temperatures barely above freezing my initial reaction was to fully decline!

But being the pushover Mum that I am I thought aww bless them… Ok I said just for 10 minutes though!

This particular playground is tiny so they really didn’t need long to have a go on everything!


I’m really glad we stopped to play for a while as it’s quite some time since we visited a playground and the kids really did enjoy themselves! They didn’t want to leave but my daughter started to complain about freezing numb fingers… the result of forgetting her gloves… so we made our way home and got cosy!

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Big teeth growing behind baby teeth & losing teeth!

So my twins are in Year 2 at school and were the only kids in their class not to lose a tooth yet.

Until this week.

Fair enough, they’re the youngest in the year group so it probably makes sense that they would lose their teeth last, but it doesn’t work like that. And anyway, quite a number of their classmates had lost a good few teeth in Reception, TWO years ago!

I was glad though. It meant my boys were still officially (well to me) my babies. I don’t want them to grow up fast, they’re my last children of four and to say I’m savouring every millisecond I spend with them would be an understatement.

I absolutely worship my little boys and it terrifies me how times flies, I hate it. I have a 17 yr old boy so I’m acutely aware of the speed in which they grow up. It seems like yesterday that he himself was losing his first tooth… and now he’s almost a man, towering above me!

My twins have had a wobbly tooth for ages now! H’s little bottom tooth first (I think it’s always this one that comes out first isn’t it?), then O’s. But because they are them, little worriers, they didn’t want to ‘wobble’ their wobbly teeth manically like most kids. My daughter doesn’t leave her teeth alone and they’re usually out in no time from the constant interference! But the twins were playing it very cautiously, barely touching their wobbly teeth, which meant they didn’t really get any wobblier!

Then a strange thing happened!

We noticed that H had a new tooth growing BEHIND the loose one! This was a first for me, I hadn’t seen anything like this happen before. My older two kids’ teeth didn’t do that and I panicked slightly!

This can’t be normal I thought. He can’t have a tooth growing there surely? The ‘big’ tooth looked massive compared to his tiny wobbly tooth, as though it didn’t belong there at all! It’s further back in his mouth and it’s not inline with the others! Eww…. it looked weird to me, abnormal. This should not be happening I was sure of it!

Of course, I tried to force H to wobble that wobbly tooth and MAKE it come out! I was convinced that his lack of wobbling and subsequent prolonging of the tooth being in his mouth, was the reason for this new tooth to be growing at the back. It simply had no room!

H was in no rush though. I think he was concerned about it coming out. It must seem a little scary though to a youngster.. the thought of a tooth literally falling out. He hadn’t gone through it before so he didn’t know what to expect!

Fast forward a few weeks and the tooth was still there and the big tooth was still growing behind, getting bigger!

More panicking by me, so I did what every other parent does these days when they’re worried or don’t know the facts about something…. I googled it!

‘Big tooth growing behind baby tooth is this normal?’ was what I typed in I think.

Of course, there were trillions of answers and all of them confirmed that it was indeed quite normal. It reassured me that once the baby tooth fell out, the big tooth would move forward and be in the right place. Usually this happened by itself, but some Mums took their kids to the Dentist, who pulled the tooth out.

I felt better. I decided I would just leave it to nature and let the tooth fall out naturally.

Which it did this week!

Whilst brushing H’s teeth, I actually thought the tooth was out. It was hanging there by a thread but still attached! I told him it would probably come out at school and to try not to worry.

losing baby teethHere is the tooth hanging out, and you can see the new one behind. It had actually started to move forward already at this point, which is what probably forced the baby one out!

When I picked him up, it certainly had come out! At lunchtime whilst eating his food! He was very happy and excited! He had his tooth in his pocket and couldn’t wait to show me!

After all the worrying, the tooth simply came out when it was ready.

The Tooth Fairy made a visit that night but low and behold, H’s other bottom tooth at the front fell out the following day (yesterday) and then his twin, little O’s tooth, which hadn’t been quite as wobbly… fell out during the night! We had to go hunt for it this morning in his bed! I was so happy O’s had come out too, I’m sure he was feeling a little left out!

first tooth outO’s gappy mouth!

Jheeze! These teeth are like buses – you wait ages for one to come out then three come out all at once!

The teeth have come out without any problems, the big tooth is moving forward and into place and because the teeth weren’t rushed (being wobbled all the time) there wasn’t any blood or even any redness where the tooth had been!

But you know what this means don’t you? My babies are growing up, I can’t deny it! (sigh)

Big boys now with some big teeth… and big gaps!

gappy teeth