Project 365 Weeks 19 and 20 – 2015

A two weeker from me today. I don’t really like writing up two weeks at once as the first week always seems so long ago!

So going back to week 19. This was a busy week for my older two children.

It was Teen’s last ever official week at school, which is a very big deal.

My baby has left school! It’s beyond crazy. Feels like yesterday that I took him to school on his very first day, aged 4. And now here we are at the last.

On the Friday he went on study leave and will no longer be going into school as an ordinary student. He will go in for his exams only from now on, although he can choose to go in for revision classes if he wishes. He’s hoping to stay on at sixth form so it doesn’t quite feel like the end but officially…. it is. The end of an era. It’s been emotional.

But the week for him was all about revision.

My daughter was sitting a mock exam too, for the 11+ exam. So she was practising her work all week too bless her – she’s not even 10 yet and the exam is in September. In fact, none of the kids will be 11 by then so it seems a bit unfair. But anyway, this is the price we pay for living in an area with highly competitive and selective schools.

On to the photo’s then…..

Week 19

project 365Day 124 – Sunday 3rd May – We went to another Kids A.M showing at our local Vue Cinema. This time to see Big Hero 6. And oh my goodness what a brilliant film. I didn’t know much about it beforehand and didn’t bother going when it first came out but I kept hearing great things about it. And rightly so… it’s absolutely a fantastic film.

Day 125 - It was a bank holiday and we didn’t do much. We did however nip to the shops to buy my daughter some trainers, and we came back with these too. Tsum Tsum’s by Disney. Apparently the new craze – so my daughter told me. She’s been watching video’s all about them on YouTube… of course! ;)

Day 126 – Teen and all his Year 11 fellow pupil received their Leavers Hoodie today. They had a choice of colours and Teen went for black. It’s actually very lovely and a nice keepsake.

Day 127 - The twins were showing me their teeth. But do you think I could get a  capture of them both with their mouths open at the same time? Nope! My daughter was checking them out to confirm that they have exactly the same teeth, which they do – being identical twins. Their teeth are all the exact same shape, size and position. It’s very weird – but cute!

Day 128 - We voted. That’s all I’m saying on the subject!

Day 129 - Daughter’s 11+ Verbal Reasoning practicing books. Getting ready for her mock tomorrow. This vocabulary book on the right is excellent by the way!

Day 130 - Took my little girl to do her first 11+ mock test. She was a little nervous but the test is run by Mums at our school, and is held at our school, so it wasn’t too bad. And she did quite well, considering it was her first go. I took her into town afterwards for a bit of retail therapy and a stop off in Costa. She usually has hot milk with chocolate sprinkled on top!

Week 20 and the start of Teen’s GCSE’s. The time I’ve been dreading for at least a year or so. But they are going well he said so I’ve started to relax a little. He’s revising and trying his best, that’s all I ask.

My Girl went on her school trip, as I wrote about last week. She came back and enjoyed it she said, but couldn’t wait to see me. She cried when she got off the coach, buried her head into me and gave me the biggest squeeze so tight and wouldn’t let go. I think she enjoyed the activities and had fun, but she wasn’t overly impressed with the place where they stayed, said it was creepy! She was glad to be home :)

 Week 20

project 365Day 131 – Sunday 10th May – My twins swinging on the scaffolding at home! This shot is weird – they look kinda strange just hanging there!

Day 132 - My daughter at school, ready to go on her very first school trip away.

Day 133 – Teen got a new haircut! He’s gone from bouffant to shaved! This is the new ‘Buzz Cut’ which is all the rage this summer. Apparently! I think it looks ok to be honest. Very different, but I like it.

Day 134 - My daughter got back from her trip and ran to me as fast as she could!

Day 135 - Went to the pet shop to buy some food for our rabbit. The kids always love looking at the pets. These are chinchillas.

Day 136 - Had my nails done again!

Day 137 - Went for a run with Teen! He thought it would be hilarious to take a cheeky selfie (of sorts) and show my lack of speed, lagging behind him, struggling. The cheeky devil! In my defense though, we routed through the field and the ground was a bit bumpy!

Hope everyone had a good couple of weeks!

Gellish Nails

I love my nails to look nice but however hard I try, they don’t grow very long. They just aren’t strong enough.

I’ve tried the whole nail strengtheners etc and they do work a little, for a while, but I get fed up with applying it every day. I also fiddle with my nails (an annoyingly bad habit) and once one breaks and I have to file it down, I lose interest.

A couple of years ago I had the acrylic nails applied. They looked fabulous! French manicure, ever so pretty. I returned religiously to my salon to have them re-done every three weeks or so for almost a year. But then I fell out of love with the whole process.

I hated what was being done to my natural nails.

If you’ve ever had the acrylic tips put on, you’ll know what I mean. The vigorous filing and scraping, the snipping and pulling…. it hurts. My poor nails were like tissue paper underneath it all and I decided I wanted a break from it.

It took a while to get my own nails back to normal. My finger tips felt bruised as my nails were so soft, therefore not protecting me at all. Everything I touched hurt my finger tips. It was awful.

But gradually my nails grew back and I was happy to leave them be.

When I paint my nails myself at home, however much I try to do them properly, i.e base coat, two coats of colour plus top coat…. realistically, with all that being a busy Mum of 4 entails, the colour chips after a day or two and my nails look a mess. This really bugs me. What a waste of time and effort!

So I decided this Spring to go back to salon nails. But not the acrylic tips, oh no – staying away from those, this time I wanted to stay as natural as possible and so decided to have the gel colour.

gel nailsGorgeous Springtime colour

Having Gel nail varnish applied is much the same as painting your nails yourself, but having them done by a professional is a real treat. The nail technicians prepared my nails, primped and primed them, then applied a base coat. But instead of waiting for it to dry naturally, your hand goes into a UV dryer. A bit like a sunbed for hands, but without the tanning! Then a couple of coats of colour are applied, again each time going under the lamp before being topped off with a shiny top coat and oil!

Lovely Jubbly!

The great thing about gel is that it’s super strong. I felt I could’ve put my nails through hell and they still wouldn’t have chipped. I kept this initial colour on for three weeks before going back to the salon. By this time the growth margin was quite big and even though the colour and my nails were superbly intact, I needed to have either an infill, which means applying colour to the part of my nail that had grown, or I could have the colour soaked off and some new polish applied.

I was bored with the peach by then and wanted a new colour. So this time I went for a vibrant pink!

gel nailsMy nails were slightly longer this time round, as the initial gel helped them to stay strong to allow growth!

Of course, once nails are longer, they are more susceptible to breaking, especially if you’re cleaning! I chipped one of mine this time whilst hoovering the bathroom and caught it in the weaves of the washing basket! Aargh – I was so upset! Ha! It was ok though, I just had to file it down slightly.

With that in mind, when I returned to the salon this week, I decided to have my nails cut down. You can strengthen nails further if you want them to grow very long, by having a thin coat of acrylic applied before the Gel process. I didn’t want to do this though and besides, long nails aren’t very practical!

gel nailsI went for a mint green yesterday! 

There are squillions of shades to choose from, all gorgeous. I’m actually enjoying choosing a colour to surprise my daughter – she loves looking at them and gets excited to see what I’ve chosen!

It IS a treat having my nails done. A luxury even. But this salon is extremely reasonable and I can justify it because I don’t go out much, I don’t drink and I work…. so a girl has a right to treat herself sometimes doesn’t she? ;)

My daughter is into nails at the moment! She has some of those fake plastic nail wheels that she paints with all my nail varnishes… hours of fun!

My daughter’s creations! 

She found a shade similar to the mint green I’m wearing now and asked me to paint hers the same…..

nailsMatching Mum and daughter nails! 

I’m loving my nails at the moment… not sure how long I’ll keep on having them done though. I know I’ll probably get bored at some point (maybe once I’ve tried every single shade!) and will then let my nails return to their normal state to breathe.

But for now… I’m enjoying them far too much :)

Missing my girl….

My little girl has gone on her first school trip to stay away from home.

She went yesterday and she’s back tomorrow but today, I’m missing her so much.

I remember when Teen went on this same trip, back when he was in year 5 too. A PGL activity trip that I think many schools run for this age group. He loved it. I missed him but I knew he’d love it, he was that sort of child; very outgoing, confident, sporty – I didn’t really worry too much that he’d miss home. He had some great friends and was used to sleepovers etc.

But my girl is different. She’s quieter and a lot more homely.

I remember she must’ve been in year 1 when Teen went, and she was horrified at the thought of going on a trip like that herself! Of course she was only little at that time, but I couldn’t imagine it either.

Even up to last year she was adamant she would not do the trip. But once we received the letter in the Autumn of last year, giving us all the details and a deadline for the first payment to be made, she decided she wanted to go. All the children at school were talking about it and she knew she didn’t want to miss out.

I’m glad, because I wouldn’t have wanted her to miss out either. I suppose many of the children would’ve felt apprehensive, it’s a young age to be staying away from home in a strange place. They had no idea what it would be like.

As momentum at school started to build when the trip date approached, my daughter became very excited about it! I would even go so far as to say she was looking forward to it! Bless her.

I thought it would be nice to go out shopping, just the two of us, to let her choose some of things she needed from her kit list. I treated her to a new suitcase. Yes we have some already but they’re all a little large and anyway, I wanted her to feel special and have one of her own! (Although I did insist on a neutral colour so it can be used again by any of my sons!)

She chose some new clothes, just basics like leggings, t-shirts and a new raincoat (children have a nasty habit of growing out of everything!). She also picked out a little wash bag and a few of those mini toiletries that shops like Superdrug and Boots do! She loved that bit!

zoella wash bag and perfumeThe cute Zoella wash bag she chose. Oh and I even treated her to some gorgeous smelling Zoella perfume! She felt very grown up!

So she was all set.

Sunday evening she had a little wobble. To be expected. She couldn’t sleep and came downstairs once or twice but when the morning came around, she was back to being excited again.

Everything was packed. A secret note to her was written by me and hidden in her suitcase, ready for her to find during her trip! I packed a few sweet nibbles too for some cheeky night time snacks (I don’t want her little tummy to be empty… maybe she won’t like her dinner – who knows?!).

Here’s my Girl when we arrived at school! The case looks bigger than her in this photo!

She happily got on the coach and was sitting with her friend. We waved them off and that was it. They don’t know who they’ll be sharing a room with until they get there. This is obviously to prevent complaints. They were invited to write some names of friends they’d like to share with beforehand, and I’m sure the teachers will ensure they get at least one of those with them.

That’s worried me a little though. I hope she has been with someone she feels comfortable with, otherwise that could upset her.

The worst thing about the whole trip though for me, is the no contact allowed. We cannot call or speak to our children and they cannot call us. This is for the best according to the school, and being as they’ve been taking children away on trips like this for years, I’m sure they know best. It’s to prevent homesickness kicking in. The children might be fine, then speak to a parent and suddenly miss home. It also prevents parents worrying if their child was to cry on the phone. But no contact is difficult. At this age, I don’t think there are many parents that would say they haven’t spoke to their child for this long!

It feels strange.

And I’m sitting here on Tuesday evening missing my girl so much. The twins are missing their buddy and the house doesn’t feel the same without her.

She’s home tomorrow and I can’t wait.

I can’t wait to see her pretty little face and hear all about it. I hope she’s had a amazing time. I’m sure she has.

The weather has been perfect for them.

I can’t believe she’s had her very first trip away from home.

Growing up.

3 Rules for dressing young children

When I had my first two children 6 years apart, it’s fair to say I spent a lot of money on clothes for them. I splashed out regularly on a either a designer pair of jeans for my oldest son, or a dress & coat combo for my baby daughter, even though she probably had no real need for it! I loved it and it gave me a lot of pleasure to see them looking so stylish.

But as time wore on and especially since my twins came along, splashing the cash on clothes that would still get end up getting food stains on them or that they would grow out of in no time, wasn’t so appealing. Buying two of everything for my twins simply meant I had to buy much cheaper items!

And to THEY even notice? Of course not, but dressing young children can still feel like an uphill struggle at times,  so what are the three main ‘rules’ to adhere to when dressing young children?

Don’t give in to the latest trends

From Frozen to Lego to Big Hero 6 our children are ruled by what they see on the cinema screen and what their friends are wearing. Don’t give in to their cries of ‘Becky at school has one’, but if they really won’t let up (just remember how bad peer pressure was when you were young) do some research and find a cheaper alternative. Sites, such as LamaLoLi, offer discounted branded clothing featuring all your kid’s favourite characters. I’m not a fan of novelty clothing but I do give in because the children love it so much!

Don’t dress them up like little adults

I can’t stand this. I think kids should look like kids. Stylish yes, but mini adults – oh no! I recently saw some little girls boots that looked like a young woman would wear, snake skin with high heels… yuk!

There has been recent heavy debate over a campaign by Burberry, which had young female models depicting older supermodels Kate Moss and Cara Delivigne. With their contoured cheekbones and grown up outfits making them appear years older than they actually are, Burberry has received a backlash from the advertising campaign. You may think they look cute but for many it’s unsettling, kids already seem to be dressing and acting older than they should – as this Buzzfeed post attempts to convey – so let’s stick to more age appropriate clothing.

Let them choose

Gender-neutral clothing is a hot topic at the moment, with many parents refusing to dress their children in clothing that reflects their gender to avoid sexist viewpoints being inflicted on them. It doesn’t just apply to clothing though, many toy companies and shops are having to act more ‘gender neutral’ and suggest that their products can be worn or played with by both boys and girls, not one or the other.

I wouldn’t say I’m all for going gender neutral but letting your children choose what they want to wear, unless it’s just their underwear and wellies, is fine…. go with it. It’s important that they are allowed to discover what they like and who they really are on their own terms and as a parent it’s important that you are open to this path of self-discovery – plus, kids change their minds so often that what they want to wear for a week could quickly change to the next.

Children apparently only become aware of their gender between the ages of 3 and 4 and do not realise it’s permanent until they are 6 or 7. The concept of blue and pink clothing for children to tell apart the sexes actually came about in the 1980s, when prenatal testing for the baby’s sex became available. That’s when parents wanted to buy gender depicting clothing and accessories for their child. Nurseries would be decked out in pink or blue themes and children would be dressed only in a style that reflected their gender.

This couldn’t be more different from earlier times. For example, boys in the 1800s would wear dresses and their hair shoulder length until the age of 6 or 7, which was also when they would receive their first hair cut. The concept of pink and blue for babies was once determined by eye colour, blue was best for blue-eyed babies and pink for brown eyes.

Don’t believe that by letting your little boy try on a dress or allowing your little girl to wear a football kit that they will grow up confused. My twins have often been forced into wearing dressed up in all sorts of girlie ensembles by their big sister – leotards, tutu’s, hair bands etc…. they are quite happy to oblige her – for a while!

collaborative post

Disney on Ice – The Magic Ice Festival

Last Friday evening we were lucky enough to bag some very special tickets for the newest offering of Disney on Ice fabulousness at Wembley Arena!

We go to every new show that comes out but since the film ‘Frozen’ infiltrated our lives in a mahoosive way (we love it. Who doesn’t?), we have been waiting patiently for the show that included a ‘Frozen’ section. We knew that would be totally amazing but both shows last year didn’t include it! Boo!

Finally though, our wait was over when this Spring, Disney on Ice have finally given us what we have all waiting for!

Disney on Ice Frozen‘The Magic Ice Festival’ spectacular promised to be amazing.

I, for one, couldn’t wait. My three children couldn’t wait…. and even though we love Disney on Ice, regardless of which films and characters are featured (we love them all), it was going to be very special indeed watching this one.

Our tickets could NOT have been better either. Front row and the opportunity to go onto the ice during the performance for my children if they wanted to!

We were bursting at the seams with excitement when we sat down and couldn’t wait for the show to start!

disney on ice

As with all the shows I’ve seen, the comperes are some of the oldest Disney favourites in the shape of Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Goofy and Donald Duck! After their introductory number the first section was The Little Mermaid. This is a shared favourite Disney film of my daughter and I. We have watched it squillions of times and never tire of the songs. The ice lends itself brilliantly to the underwater world and the luminous lighting provided a magical setting.

I have to point out that the main character in this part, Ariel, was totally amazing! I mean, the skating is always brilliant but she took it to the next level. Whizzing around the ice at speed, so elegant but yet so strong – even showing her incredible acrobatic skills!

disney on ice

Next up it was Tangled, the story of Rapunzel. This is a relatively new film and one we watch regularly at home. (I have a thing for Flynn Rider, the male character in the movie. He’s lovely isn’t he? Ha) We haven’t seen Tangled performed on the ice before so this was a treat!

disney on iceIt was during this section that my children were asked if they wanted to have a ride on the ice in a cart! How exciting?! My twins are notoriously shy and much to my dismay, they declined but my daughter jumped at the chance! A few other children joined her, who were competition winners, and off they went!

disney on ice cart rideThe cart was pushed around all over the ice while the dancers skated all around. The children became part of the show and felt very special… my daughter even had a chat with Donald Duck, as you can see here! It was fabulous for her and a moment she will never forget!

disney on ice

Just before the interval we had a Beauty and the Beast extravaganza! Again, one of our favourites. The ‘Be Our Guest’ number was amazing, a real show stopper and the transformation of the beast to the Prince was ever so magical! My daughter loved that bit!

disney on iceInterval time and the perfect excuse to have an ice cream!

The excitement was starting to build in the arena as ‘Frozen’ type props looked like they were being placed around the ice. I would liken the frenzy to being at a major pop concert when you’re waiting for your idol to come out… there was a real buzz about the whole, huge auditorium. And when the first hint of ‘Frozen’ music came through, there was hysteria in Wembley Arena! It gave me goose bumps actually!

My children could NOT contain themselves!

disney on ice

disney onice

It was fantastic. I looked around the arena as the famous songs from the film played…. the utter joy and delight on peoples faces! Almost everyone was singing along…. there was a little girl sitting directly behind us who was shouting the words out at the top of her voice bless her!

One by one the adored characters stepped onto the ice, each one bringing about rapturous cheer and applause.

It was truly awesome!

disney on iceMy boys were captivated

disney onice

disney on ice

I cannot tell you in enough words how much we all enjoyed this! The show was incredible from start to finish – by far their best one to date! In our opinion of course! But then everyone is different and if you have boys, maybe they’d miss the sections from previous shows that they might be more familiar with like Cars or Toy Story! This show was all about the Princesses. Every section was just perfect for us… The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Rapunzel and of course… the spectacular Frozen! What more could we ask for?

Amazing!

We were sent complimentary tickets to Disney on Ice in exchange for an honest review.

Project 365 Week 18 – 2015

Another full week of school and all week I really looked forward to the Bank Holiday. We had no plans for the three day break, which was utter bliss. We are usually busy but having no where to be was fab. The kids are more than happy at home, my youngest three play together really well and now that the weather is good, they are happy in the garden for hours. My twins are best buddies and when my daughter gets fed up with playing, she’ll go and do something like watch TV, go on her Kindle or play with her toys… she loves chilling! Teen is full on revising right now (1 week to go, aargh!) so making plans and going out without him didn’t feel right either.

On the subject of Teen. He returned to swimming this week after a long break following an injury. He swam competitively at National Level but decided to quit for good after much soul searching. There were a number of reasons. He pursued other sporting interests and even though he always missed swimming, I didn’t think he’d go back. He’s joined a different club and just wants to enjoy swimming again, with no plans for making a big National comeback any time soon!

Week 18

Day 116 Sunday 26th April – Teen’s first evening back at swim training. Not the greatest of photo’s but I was conscious to try and not get anyone else in the photo! He is training here with a snorkel!

Day 117 – I love these freckles! My twins have freckles just like mine when I was a little girl :)

Day 118 – There was a ‘Learning Together’ morning in my twins class at school. I wasn’t working which meant I could help. I love being with them in their classroom….. listening to them answer as the teacher takes the register (their little voices!), watching them interact with the other children. It gives a good insight. There are lots of educational games to play and tasks to do which the children do in groups. This is O having a ‘go’ of the laptop!

Day 119 – The OH had the day off work so we went to collect the children together from school. They love this as Daddy doesn’t do the school run very often. We took them for a treat to a new ice cream and desserts establishment that’s recently opened nearby. The decor is glamorous and the desserts were to die for!

Day 120 – Teen had his two day GCSE Art exam this week. This was a piece that nearly made it in the coursework folder. Can you guess who it is?

Day 121 – My daughter has had this wobbly tooth a while now. It’s still not out! Hanging in now by a thread, literally!

Day 122 – I have started a new fitness regime. (Wish me luck) I’ve created my own little 10 minute routine that I can do at home to tone up. I’m also doing the 30 day squat challenge alongside… PLUS this! The couch to 5k. The first outing didn’t go well, Teen came with me the second time to motivate me! I’m determined to do it though! Going to write up a full report on this at some point this week.

Hope you guys all had a fab week!

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A Day at the Farm – Willows

Another school holiday, another trip to Willows Farm in Hertfordshire.

I know I always write about most of visits here but we love it. It’s such a great day out for all the family. So much to do once inside the farm, indoors and out. I just love it that the kids can run around for hours in the open spaces!

willows farmSpring time means there’s lots of baby animals to see. So cute.

willows farmConquering the agility course which runs the whole length of the Farm

willows farmFun on the inflatables

willows farmWe were entertained by Mr. Easter Bunny who was a special guest. There was some singing and games on this outdoor stage!      

willows farmWe ventured inside to the fab play area and cafe. I grabbed a coffee and a seat whilst these three ran around getting hot and sweaty!

willows farmMore outdoor fun…..

willows farmA cheeky Willows Farm selfie

We stayed all afternoon until closing time! You wouldn’t think so judging by these photo’s but there was a lot we didn’t do today, so much on offer is there at Willows. You do really need a whole day here if you’re going to have enough time to get around everything…. it truly is a wonderful place to be, my children (and me) always have a great time whenever we visit :)