GSCE Exam Stress – Me not Teen

So my beloved Teen is taking his exams this year. I can’t actually believe this time has come around this fast. It seems like yesterday that he was just starting high school. Honestly.

I’ve been stressed about his GCSE’s for at least a year now! Pathetic I know, but they’re important and I just want him to do as well as he can. To achieve his potential.

He’s not stressed though.

exam time

He doesn’t seem to have a care in the world!

I’ve been banging on about preparation and revision this past year but it’s pretty much fallen on deaf ears most of the time!. Teen wasn’t thinking or worrying about his GCSE’s a year ago…. Jeez, he’s only just starting to acknowledge them now! He was still messing around at school a year ago!

Causing me stress.

Going into year 11 last September, thankfully, he started to knuckle down. Taking things a bit more seriously at long last. But even so, I had to be on his back, asking him questions, asking his teachers questions so that I was clear on what needed to be done by when. I didn’t think he was doing enough though and even his mock exams he didn’t take THAT seriously. He did revise a little and did better in some subjects than was expected, but did ridiculously bad in others.

Causing me stress.

He still wasn’t stressed though. Said he’d be fine in the ACTUAL exams!

Oh yeah? I wouldn’t count on it matey.

He completed all of his Controlled Assessments and did incredibly well in them, which is fantastic. Controlled Assessments are done in school under exam conditions. They replaced the old coursework aspect of the GCSE’s and were introduced to eliminate the possibility of cheating at home by either using the internet or getting parents to do it. This used to happen apparently! Students still have to prepare for the controlled assessments but if they do well in them it gives them a head start towards their final results, so very important. And I’m happy Teen managed to get excellent results in his.

But now we are in the final push before the exams start.

Teen’s first one, Biology is on the 12th May. Exactly SIX WEEKS from today!

And I’m stressed. I don’t like it at all.

I wish I could stop worrying but I can’t help it. There’s so much riding on the results.

His results will determine whether he can get a place on the Sixth Form course at school and do the A-Levels he’s chosen. Yes there are always alternatives but it’ll be so much better if he doesn’t have to re-think his options. Yes he can re-take some GCSE’s if he needs to but that’s not ideal.

I wish it didn’t matter. I know Teen is a bright, witty young man… why should his results of a one or two hour exam on one day dictate his future? Even if he fails, that doesn’t change the fact that he’s a bright, witty young man! It means that maybe he didn’t prepare well enough for the exam, or that he had a bad day, or the nerves got he better of him.

Being 16 is a difficult, challenging time for a person; raging hormones, confusing emotions…. the eagerness to get out into the big wide world, the need to enjoy life and have fun….. exam time just gets in the way!

I get that. I was 16 once. But times are hard out there and the competition is fierce for jobs. If you haven’t got a good education with decent exam results, you’re going to be overlooked, no matter how bright you are!

Teen knows this. He should do, I’ve drummed it into him enough times!

But he’s still showing no signs of stress and I suppose that’s a good thing. He’s confident he’s going to pull it out of the bag. He’s drawn up a revision timetable and he is sticking to a plan, so fingers crossed.

I’ll just be glad when it’s all over!

Project 365 Week 13 – 2015

My twins were off school most of this week. They had a cold. It started off reasonably bad on Sunday evening with a temperature, which turned into a bout of earache, a cough and left them with severe snotty noses. They weren’t THAT ill to be honest, they managed to play a bit and go on their beloved tablets a LOT, but they were in no fit state to go to school.

Not sure where to draw the line really on this. They could’ve gone back to school on Thursday but O had slept badly and they were both still having to have their noses wiped continuously so it wouldn’t have been nice for them to be at school. But they couldn’t stay off indefinitely and all kids go to school with colds don’t they? I just wanted to make sure my little lads were going to be ok. So I took them in on Friday, and actually it was the right decision because they were happy to go in then, they were ready to go back. I couldn’t think of anything worse than sitting in a classroom feeling under the weather… what’s the point in that?

Anyway, it was lucky because the OH was working at home this week which meant I didn’t have to cancel work but more importantly, I didn’t have to cancel a lunch date with friends on Tuesday ;)

My Week 13 in photo’s

paddington at the cinemaDay 81 Sunday 22nd March – I took O and H to the cinema this morning to see Paddington. Other parents are always going on about the cheap tickets for family movies at Vue cinemas every weekend, so I thought I’d check it out! My daughter has seen Paddington but the boys and I haven’t so I booked it, only £1.75 EACH! Bargain! And we absolutely loved it – what a fabulous film. O and H laughed out loud in parts! It was really nice being just the three of us. This pic is of H at the end of the film!

Day 82 – My daughter doing her 11+ revision. She’s only 9 but round here the kdis have to sit the secondary entrance exam the year before. I feel sorry for her, it’s quite challenging and she gets frustrated with it!

Day 83 – I had a lunch date with friends today but before that I met one of my best friends here at her new house. She has downsized because she wanted a home that was in the perfect location which had an abundance of character. This cute little graded cottage is in the most beautiful village. I chuckled at her kitchen which I thought was amazingly old fashioned and quirky. But fab! They are having building work done soon to extend so this kitchen won’t be here then but I like it just the way it is!

Day 84  – My daughter’s class performed in a steel band show at school. It was actually so much better than I thought it was going to be. It sounded amazing!

Day 85 – My daughter seemed a little tired and fed up after school on Thursday. I didn’t have the twins with me so I took her to the local coffee shop for a treat. We had a hot chocolate and a brownie each :)

Day 86 – I have weeks where I don’t do anything other than school runs and work, but this week it’s been lovely catching up with friends. Today, I visited another friend who has also just moved house. She is a mum of 5 and has just bought her ‘forever home’. This is it. It’s beyond beautiful. There is literally so much work to do but the house is so pretty and it’s in the middle of nowhere, but not too far away really. It has tennis courts, a huge outhouse that consists of a hall and spa, and it has stables! I love it and can’t wait to plot up here in the summer with my kids hehe!

Day 87 – I’ve just run a Hotel competition on my blog and I’m reviewing this beauty! The praline chocs in this are the most delicious I’ve ever tasted!

I hope you had a fabulous week!

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#iPhone6 on Three

I’m obsessed with my iPhone. I’ve constantly got it in my hand looking through it and can never put it down. In fact, it annoys me how much I faff about with it but it’s a habit I just can’t break. A love affair almost!

I still have my first iPhone. Well, actually it’s my second, a replacement for the first which my twins used to chew when they were teething! I know. Yuk. But their dribble ruined the part where it charges so it had to be replaced. Must’ve been around 2009/10.

I loved it. I remember how amazing I thought it was back then to get my very first iPhone, they were so completely different and innovative. Just the ease of use, the touch screen, the internet at my fingertips, the apps, the games.. everything about it was amazing! It was super cool and above all else I loved the shape, those gorgeous curved corners. In fact, I was disappointed by the newer versions that returned to the ordinary square shape.

first iPhoneMy first iPhone

Not sure why I still have it to be honest. I remember keeping it initially because I thought the kids might use it as an iPod but they never did. Now it seems to just be around to remind me how fab the first iPhones looked.

At the moment my current iPhone is the 5C. I always seem to upgrade my iphone just before the new model comes out which is frustrating. Getting tied in to another two year contract meaning I have to wait ages before I can get my hands on the newest version. But actually, I haven’t usually been that bothered, so happy have I been with my phones I haven’t really hankered after the newer ones as soon as they came out.

Until now.

Until the iPhone 6.

I want one. The big one. The iPhone 6plus.

A few weeks ago I was invited to an event with Three Mobile for the purpose of trying out the newest iPhones…. the 6 and the 6 Plus, as well as a new fitness App that has been developed for use with ios 8. It was fantastic to know I was going to get the chance to have a proper play around with the new phones!

Myself and a handful of other bloggers were going to be trying out the fitness App, named Zova – Rhythm Based Fitness … LITERALLY…. at the famous Pineapple Studio’s in Covent Garden. I’d danced there as a teenager so I was beyond excited to be going back, albeit it as an unfit Mum of 4!

pineapple studiosIt was exciting to be back!

iPhones are the most incredibly easy to navigate phones ever, as I’m sure everyone on planet Earth already knows! So seeing what Apple comes up with next in their newer versions is always exciting.

The new iPhone 6 is bigger than it’s predecessor, the iPhone 5s, and Apple has updated nearly all of its internal components, resulting in one of the most powerful handsets currently on market. The corners are back to their curvier selves (not as curvy as the original though I might add), it’s thinner, lighter and the camera is tons better, especially the front facing one! We all know the current 5’s were lacking in this department! I’m obviously not a tech geek but from what I’ve read, the iPhone 6 is sleeker, faster and far superior. The 6 Plus is the same, but bigger still, with a 5.5″ display!

iphone 6 plusThe very slick iPhone6 Plus

So back to Pineapple and the App, Zova. I’ve lost count of the amounts of times I’ve joined gym’s and given up. Bought workout DVD’s and got bored of them within weeks. Or started running only to give up after a few outings! I’m always on the look out for inspiration that might inspire me to actually get fit, as well as enjoying it!

Zova looks like it might be just that.

Zova workouts “combine custom made music with exercise science to achieve better results” and “integrates with Apple Health so you can accurately track and review your workout progress”.

zova app

What I loved about Zova was that if you were doing it at home, it would be like doing an actual fitness class with an instructor and music! In our class that we did at Pineapple, we did have an instructor to guide us through the moves, but it was the App’s ‘instructor’ that talks over the music and tells you what to do. She shouts out the moves, counts you in and encourages you! It’s pretty amazing!

IMG_4165.JPGBeing put through our paces

Developed for women, there are different levels and different workouts. You can select which part of the body you want to workout, for how long, your ability status and so on. The possibilities are endless. We completed a couple of sets which lasted just under an hour and included some cardio and yoga type moves.

We had been given a very thorough workout indeed and were all suitably exhausted!

I couldn’t move for days…. I obviously overdid it but this is definitely something I’m going to continue at home.

After the workout, the lovely people at Three invited us out for a meal to health restaurant Wild Food Cafe to replenish those muscles and feed our tummies! It was great to catch up with fellow bloggers at the event, Ruth from RocknrollerbabyLilinha from Lilinhaangel and Zaz from Mamandmore, as well as meeting the very lovely Corey from Learning Patience.

Unfortunately I couldn’t stay long as I had my daughter with me as we’d been at another event earlier in the day across town. I needed to get her home and she was hungry…. she wasn’t up for the mega healthy offerings of this establishment but the food did look and taste yummy, the bit that I tried anyway!

wild food cafe

iphone6 with ThreeCorey and Lilinha here on the right here, with the lovely PR ladies that organised the event on the left!

I had a great time at the iPhone6 with Three event and after perusing Three’s website I’ve noticed that they are doing some amazing deals on the iPhone6 and 6 Plus. I’m currently with o2 for my 5c and to upgrade to the 6 I would be paying considerably more than I’d like to really for a phone. But Three seem to be offering some very good packages.

Maybe it’s time for a change…….

Wicked The Musical – A Review

As a massive musical theatre fan, it’s hard to believe I hadn’t actually got around to seeing Wicked until now.

I have wanted to see it for years, it’s always been on my ‘must do’ list but somehow never managed to tick it off! I go to the theatre regularly, mainly with the children these days as I want them to experience the excitement of a live show and appreciate it the way I do. Anyway, you can imagine how delighted I was to be offered two very coveted review tickets recently…. I was over the moon.

There was no question who I would take…. my daughter. Just the two of us.

wicked the musical

It’s strange, but I didn’t really know anything about the story of this show. Obviously I knew it had connections with the Wizard of Oz, but in what context I had no idea. After seeing the spin off Hollywood blockbuster film, Oz – The Great and the Powerful…. I automatically assumed that the musical would be the same storyline to that.

Wrong!

I didn’t read the synopsis on purpose. I felt as though it would spoil it somehow. The show has seemed that little bit mysterious to me and I’d come this far not knowing, so I figured I should keep it that way and let Wicked surprise me on the night!

wicked the musicalMy Girl and I in our seats, eagerly waiting for the show to start :) 

wicked the musicalThe stage at The Apollo Victoria, London looked fantastic!

As soon as the performance started I knew I was going to love it. I prefer shows with lots of singing and dancing in…. and the singing, songs and dancing in this show (which I’m sure you are familiar with) are out of this world. I like upbeat, feel good shows…. and my god is this uplifting! Emotional in parts, yes… but the message is prominent. This show is all about friendship and love, and the storyline, how it interlinks with the original Wizard of Oz film is simply brilliant!

It was nothing really like I imagined at all… instead, it was so much better. Oh yes, it certainly exceeded my expectations, which were set very high I have to say, from all the rave reviews I’ve heard from friends. I loved the fact that it surprised me every step of the way, the manner in which writer Gregory McGuire has re-told the story from the witches perspectives is genius. About the friendship of the two witches from the original film – Glinda, the good witch and Elphaba, the wicked witch of the East!

wicked the musicalGlinda, (on the left) played at the moment by Savannah Stevenson and Elphaba, played by Emma Hatton – both out of this world fabulous.

wicked the musical

wicked the musical

There were lots of twists and turns during the story, it was funny, it was heartwarming and it was spectacular. I won’t tell the story here because if you haven’t seen it and like me, you’re not entirely sure, then I won’t spoil it for you. You can of course head to the website where there is a synopsis which will give you a brief outline.

The singing by the two main characters was amazing. Performing the famous, ridiculously hard to sing songs to perfection. The relationship between them was honest and believable and I loved the character of Fiyero too, played by Jeremy Taylor!

wicked the musicalGlinda and Fiyero

Wicked is amazing!

It’s everything you’d want it to be and more. It’s a multi award-winning musical extravaganza, recently acclaimed as “one of the greatest musicals of our time” (Daily Mail) and it’s now the 10th longest-running show in the West End! It has been seen by more than 6 million people in London alone!

Wicked has also been shortlisted for ITV’s This Morning Audience Award in the 2015 Olivier Awards. Very exciting indeed and if you’ve seen it I’m sure you’ll understand why. They would be eternally grateful if you could help them secure a win by popping over to give Wicked a vote, as this is the only Olivier Award that can be voted for by the public! Here is the link www.WickedTheMusical.co.uk/Vote  :)

If you haven’t seen Wicked then you must! The Apollo Victoria Theatre is currently taking bookings until 30th April 2016! AND, if you can’t make it to London, it’s also touring the UK so no excuses!

I’m sure you’ll absolutely love it as much as we did!

Project 365 Week 12 – 2015

mothers day cards Day 74 Sunday 15th March – Mothers Day! These cards from my youngest three were brought to me in bed along with breakfast! I loved the cards, OH had done well this time finding these, which were large and were all written in beautifully! I also had some that the boys made at school which of course I will treasure :)

Day 75 – My kids have been enjoying porridge for their breakfast recently…. with this on top! It’s so ridiculously sweet I know but they love it :)

Day 76 – The twins have been enjoying the Spring weather after school, running around whilst we wait for their sister!

Day 77 – Received this little Flutter Wings butterfly to review! My daughter was over the moon!

Day 78 – The boys had D & T week at school and made lots of things! I loved this little pom pom monster that O made, and I can just about read what it says which is amazing! Well done little one!

Day 79 – On Friday, parents were invited to join their childs’ class which had been turned into a cafe at the end of the day! It was ever so sweet, checked paper table clothes and cardboard flowers on the desks…. the children dressed up as waiters, hence the t-shirts which they designed themselves! They also made menu’s and brought us cake, which they had made, along with some juice. So cute, what a fab week the children have had at school making all sorts of things. Plus it was absolutely lovely for  me to be served by these two handsome waiters ;)

Day 80 – A crazy day today. In among a number of kids parties we got together at the OH’s Mum’s house as it was his sister’s birthday. My daughter and her cousin dressed Nannies dog with Build a Bear clothes! Poor thing, although I think she quite liked it! Ha!

 

Hope you all had a good week!
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Win Easter Goodies with Hotel Chocolat

Easter is only two weeks away and I for one am looking forward to eating lots of chocolate!

Well, it’d be rude not to!

For some extra special treats I love to buy the delicious chocolates from Hotel Chocolat. Last year we reviewed one of their Egg Sandwiches, which went down very well I can tell you and kind of spoiled me then for everything else! So I went in to my local Hotel Chocolate store and bought quite a few bits for the children (and myself).

 

hotel chocolatThis year’s version of the Egg Sandwich

There are so many choices in store and online, Easter treats for the buyer who wants to give something that little bit different…

hotel chocolat

I have to say that when it comes down to taste, this chocolate is the best I’ve tasted. Milk chocolate is my personal favourite and Hotel Chocolat’s is perfectly, deliciously thick and creamy…. its’s absolutely divine!

How about buying this very special hamper to share out?

hotel chocolat easter

Hotel Chocolat have very kindly offered me something from their Easter collection to try at home. There were a few items I could choose from and in the end I chose this…. it has praline chocolates, which I adore!

hotel chocolat

My egg hasn’t arrived yet, but it’s the same one, this is the little beauty, that I will be giving away in my new comp… it’s only running for a week so make sure you enter, you’ll have a very good chance of winning :)

I can’t wait to stuff my face over Easter (any excuse) and create an Easter egg hunt for my children inthe garden, which we do every year. Easter is a very exciting celebration for kids, much more than it is for us adults…. so it’s nice to make an extra special effort for them!

I hope you have a fantastic Easter and best of luck!

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Swan Lake – My First Ballet

Are you a fan of ballet? Do you have a daughter, or indeed a son who is? Have you ever taken them to see the ballet at the theatre?

I took my 9 year old daughter to see The Nutcracker last Christmas and it was a very magical experience which we both enjoyed immensely!

I think going to see a ballet is considered a pastime only for the more cultured sections of society, similar to going to see an Opera. But these shows can, and should be enjoyed by anyone at all. Choosing the right ballet to see for the first time though is important. The Nutcracker is one such ballet, because the storyline is familiar and relatively easy to follow, which is a good place to start, especially for children and those that haven’t been before. But even with that, some children may find the fact that there is no dialogue and the story is told through dance alone, a little difficult to follow.

childrens swan lake

That’s why the ‘My First Ballet’ series of ballets, by The English National Ballet has been created.

Performed by talented children (aged 9 and upwards) who attend the English National Ballet School and with a narrator to help the targeted young audience follow the story, this is the perfect way to introduce children to the art of classical ballet.

The latest installment in the series is Swan Lake.

Tchaikovsky’s wonderful music and the performers will tell the famous story of the evil magician Rothbart who has turned the beautiful Princess Odette into a swan, who can only return to her human form at night. Then there is Prince Siegfried.. will he be able to save her or will he too fall for Rothbart’s sorcery? The world’s favourite ballet takes us on a journey from a Royal Palace to the magic of Swan Lake.

I have been offered two tickets to see the ballet when it comes to London next week and I cannot wait to take my little girl. She is going to love it. It will be at the Peacock Theatre from 2nd to 12th April before visiting a few more towns throughout the UK.

If you want to book tickets, and if you have a ballet mad little girl (or boy), then this is a must…. visit the My First Ballet section on the English National Ballet’s website and see which venue is nearest to you.