Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Five Second Den

You know when you've spent months scouring the internet for the perfect tent/den for your kids to use both indoors and also outside when there's the odd bit of sunshine which is probably about twice a year?  Then you go the extra mile and buy lovely twinkly fairy lights for the interior so that it looks Pinterest perfect?

Yes?  Well, here's what happens when those same children shun the idea that a cool looking teepee would be a fun place to play and instead make their own.

I give you the den that even makes Sixty Minute Makeover look good.  I bet Peter Andre would be proud.

Just tie your dressing gown onto the top of the dolls house why don't you.  Looks great!

There is the face of a guilty looking child.
Never did find out what she was watching on YouTube...

On the bright side, I didn't have to build the damn thing myself I suppose.


brummymummyof2

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Are you stressed about SATs?

SATs, SATs, everyone's talking about SATs this week.  Are they easy or are they too hard?  Why should kids do them?  How stressed everyone is.


Just a spot of revision...


Now, I consider myself a bit of a veteran in this area.  My third child is this week going through the sheer joy that is Year 6 SATs week.  And that's all it is.  Just one week. A week of tests.  After which?  Everything goes back to normal.  Like it never happened.

And we all wonder what the fuss was about in the first place.

But this week everyone is stressed apparently.

(Why on earth are the kids stressed?  Who is stressing them out?  Hmm?)

I have to say, that I am yet to see the stress that others seem to.  I have told my son to do his best, and that if his older siblings can manage it then he will be fine too.  The word stress has not entered my vocabulary, or his, once.

Is he stressed?  No.  At the moment he is upstairs playing Minecraft on his XBox.

He told me yesterday that one teacher said that it would be a good idea to practice every spelling he knows in preparation for today's test.  I have told him that this is both impossible and unnecessary.  

(I tend to think that if he doesn't know it now then he hasn't been taught it and so the test results will be an accurate reflection on his school, which is kind of the point of the SATs isn't it?)

The same teacher has also given the children all a sheet of relaxation techniques - don't even get me started on this...

Has he done some revision?  Yes, a little bit over Easter, along with doing normal kid stuff, and probably playing too much XBox.  We haven't pushed it.

I can see why as a first time parent experiencing SATs, you might be anxious for your child.  Believe me, I have been there, with a child desperate to do his best and me willing him on from the sidelines for the better part of a term in preparation for them.  And the outcome?  The results were withheld while the school's testing area was investigated for not being satisfactory.  The results finally came in the second term of Year 7, by which time he was more than half way through his first year of high school, and the SATs had long since been forgotten.

They meant nothing to anyone.  An anticlimax to say the least.

I'm not for one minute saying that if you are a parent going through this for the first time, that you should simply chill the f*ck out (although maybe I am, I'm not really sure until I get to the end of writing this). I just think that it's a bad idea to place so much emphasis on one week of tests.

I can't see a reason why anyone would need to.

Which is why in this family we're carrying on as normal this week.  The boy will take his tests.  We'll ask him how he got on, tell him "well done" and move on.  I have to confess that until I caught a sniff of this in the media, I had almost forgotten that this was the week.  (You could say that it's because he's my third child but I prefer to think we've got this whole SATs thing under control, ha!)

We won't even mention the word stress.

And the results.  Will.  Not.  Define.  Him.

So yes, I do think we all need to start worrying less about testing in schools.  And what if we were to stop referring to them as stressful?  Maybe the kids wouldn't worry so much.  

Just a thought.

Friday, 15 April 2016

In a class of his own

I have lamented many times before on this blog about the madness that is the bastard class bear.

And last year our particular bear really proved himself to be in a bloody annoying class of his own.

In mirth, and mild boredom at reading some of his other escapades, I photoshopped him at a lap dancing club, being barbecued (I wish) and finally on a rocket into outer space (purely for the amusement of my blog audience, he did normal things in the real diary).  We endured a fair few of his tedious visits last year as we had done with other class bears before him.

When the doors of the Primary School finally closed for summer I thought that was the last we'd see of him or any of his friends. Indeed, I was confident that I was sodding well done with this kind of thing.  Like a rite of passage, only slightly more germ ridden.

But it appears that I was wrong.

7.30 pm on Monday evening there came the email (Monday!  Monday ffs!  They had only been back at school for six hours!).  There was to be a new bear in town.

I'm not going to start photoshopping this time, there will be no fantasies about his gin stealing, poker playing, womanising ways.  But I think it's about time that I told you about why I cannot bear the class bear.

You best go and put the kettle on, it could be long...

The element of surprise. The bear gets sprung on unsuspecting parents at a split seconds notice.  You can tell how we all feel about this judging by the knowing looks of relief/pity that are exchanged outside the classroom door once the new bear caretaker has been revealed for the week.  And that sinking feeling, when you realise that it's your child carrying the bear and his belongings.  It's like finding out there's a school disco, PTA fundraiser and 3 school trips to pay for all in one week (oh, and a dress down day you've forgotten too), combined.

Cleanliness is next to godliness.  The bear is neither of these.  Just thinking about where he's been brings me out in hives.  And the children?  Always insist on sleeping with him tucked into bed an inch from their faces. He frequently also comes equipped with a toothbrush.  All I can think is 'Oh My God!  How many mouths has that thing been in?'  Everything looks a bit grimy and smells funny too. Of course. #itchingtostickhimonahotwash #quiteliterally

It is NEXT. TO. HIS. FACE. *boak*


Writer's block.  Not mine, but the kids.  Have you ever tried to get a six year old to write about the adventures of a mangy soft toy (usually describing an after school trip around the local branch of Aldi) when they are exhausted from a full day at school and would rather be playing Minecraft on the XBox?  Well, have you?  I know homework is seen as a good thing most of the time, but when it takes up an entire evening with all the photographing and then the handwriting, which. takes. about. an. hour. per. word. (finger space) then I start to tear my hair out a bit.  *sob*

Keeping up with the Joneses.  Not literally but if you've ever been tempted to have a quick read through all of the bear's escapades then you will know exactly what I mean.  As he visits each child in the class then the bear's adventures tend to get a bit more complex, exciting or expensive every time.  This for us has meant anything from reading about him hanging out in a hot tub all weekend to going on holiday to bloody well Spain.

We took this bear to look at some planes...  the following week he was in somebody's back garden hot tub.


This bear went to Jodrell Bank... which isn't quite as good as a holiday to Spain.


Thou shalt not covet thy neighbours hot tub/holiday to Spain.  OK I'll admit it.  I am a bit quite envious of the bear's hot tub and holidaying escapades.  Mainly because we lead an absolutely normal and average life. Which is in no way exciting.  Its no wonder the children never want to write any of it down really, is it?  The bear makes me feel like a crap parent.  Fact.

Yay!  We're having fun with the bear. In a National Trust garden. In the sun.  But is isn't quite like Spain... *sulk*


Crushing disappointment.  The bear is a reward for good behaviour in class (some reward, eh?), but what if your child has tried and tried every day for weeks to bring the bear home and then another child gets picked?  I have wiped away more than my fair share of tears from the faces of my children as I try to explain that even though they have tried hard, it doesn't mean they aren't good enough to have the bastard bear.  Is carrot and stick bribery really the only way that teachers can get their class to behave and do well these days?  What happened to everyone just taking turns? (which as it goes is a lesson a lot of kids could do with learning).

Also, if there was a rota this would mean I could book a quick flight on Easy Jet somewhere FUN, and hot, and exotic, hey, the bear could even bring a friend and join the mile high club (he's gotta have his vices, right?). BTW does anybody think I might need a holiday?

The visiting class bear is a grotty, energy sapping destroyer of souls, big and small.

And I'd quite like it if he'd take his great big diary of fancy adventures and germ ridden belongings and do one.

Maybe the rocket idea wasn't such a bad one after all...

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Dinner Time Disappointment

I missed #WickedWednesdays with brummymummyof2 last week owing to, if I'm honest, holiday laziness, but I'm back this week with yet another slice of our exciting and oh so funny (!) family life.

I had a few delightful shots to choose from over the holidays, but I thought I'd start with this one which is "hot off the press" taken last night.  As my lot went back to school this week, I thought I'd try to make sure they had a lovely healthy home made meal in the evenings to counterbalance the chicken nuggets they often get for school dinners.

So I made them a delicious stir fry complete with noodles (a fave with the teenagers).  As you can see, they all really loved it...

Enjoying your dinner then?

Err, well, never mind.  After 20 minutes of tantrums, shouting and refusal he absolutely loved the cheese sandwich that I prepared as an alternative.

*sigh*

Never mind.


brummymummyof2

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Easter Baking with Wilko

We are still in the Easter holidays here (only three more days to go!) and it feels like it's lasted a lifetime. The weather hasn't been particularly good and this has meant that we've had to stay inside a lot more than we would do usually.

When the team at Wilko got in touch with me and asked if we'd like to try some of their fab new baking products to help keep the kids busy (and maybe try to use up some of out leftover Easter eggs* in the process) I was thrilled.

My lot love a bit of baking and I'm quite partial to cake (Mmm, butter cream...) and so this seemed right up our street.

We were sent a wonderful selection of baking products to help get us started.



The first things that caught my eye were a gorgeous 50s inspired Mason Cash Measuring Jug and matching Mixing Bowl (I want to buy the whole range - they are so pretty!).  I love the slogans on the outside - "Pour your heart into it" and "Good things come to those who bake", very fitting!




The children loved these sweet little piggy silicone utensils.  Not only fun but the perfect size for little helpers to use too.



The Heart shaped Biscuit Cutters were another of my favourite things.  I quite often make little shortbread biscuits for the family and have a growing collection of shaped cutters.  These were a very welcome addition and a complete bargain at £1.50 a set.



Armed with our selection of goodies, it was then time to get started.  The general consensus on what we should make first - a very big cake!

With twin girl helping me with the mixing, off we went!  I thought the Wilko Mini Scale Set was perfect for her to measure out the ingredients.  A great size for little hands and made it easy for her to pour the ingredients accurately into the bowl.



We used the Oink Oink Mixing Spoon to mix everything together.



And the matching Oink Oink Spatula to smooth the cake mixture in the Wilkinson Springform Cake Tin.  The spatula is a new favourite of mine as it was really good at getting every last bit of mixture out of the mixing bowl.  Twin girl then used a tried and tested method of removing any excess mixture from the spoon (OK, she licked it, but we all know this is the best bit about baking when you are little!).



After the cake had been baked and cooled we set about decorating with some mini chocolate eggs and butter cream (Mmm...).  The springform cake tin was dead easy to remove and I'm thinking of buying more because of this alone.


There it is!  The finished product!  I'm afraid this didn't last very long at all.  With five hungry children (who were amazingly not fed up of Easter eggs) it made a good pudding for after their dinner that evening.




With the cake baking being such a success, we decided to try out some of our other Wilko goodies a few days later - this time we'd bake some biscuits!

I don't have a brilliant track record with biscuits on the whole but the rolling pin really did help.  It's a lovely smooth revolving one, really easy to use.  We soon had a dozen biscuits cut out and being no strangers to play dough, the children liked doing this bit the best.




The biggest of our new cutters made very generously sized biscuits, and once they were out of the oven,  they took a lot of decorating.  The teen even had a go...





The children were really pleased with the results from their hard work and couldn't wait to eat them too. They tasted delicious, even if I do say so myself!



Baking was the perfect way to keep everyone entertained (and fed!) during the rainy afternoons we had last week.  I have been really pleased with the things we received from the baking range at Wilko and would 100% recommend them.  There hasn't been one thing that we haven't enjoyed using and we'll get a lot of use from them in future rainy holidays too.

*  There are no such thing as leftover Easter eggs.  I bought more ;)


We were sent a selection of products from the Wilko Easter baking range for the purpose of this review.  All words and opinions are our own.

Monday, 4 April 2016

Teen-Speak - a Masterclass

Teenagers.  Not happy with spending my money, filling up my laundry basket (when they remember) and eating the contents of my kitchen cupboards, they have also taken it upon themselves to reinvent the English language (because it wasn't good enough for them already?).

It's quite hard communicating with my two, even using the common vernacular, but when they start throwing in all kinds of random words and phrases that I don't understand, it can take ages before I work out what they really mean.  Like some kind of secret code.

So, I thought I'd share the ones that I have managed to de-code so far (seriously, I could use some kind of Turing style enigma code breaker, this has taken me weeks) just in case any other parents out there struggle as much as I do.

This list is by no means exhaustive.  They'll probably change them or make up a whole new language next week...

So I'll start with the easy ones first and work my way up.

Swag

Not those things that people used to put on the tops of curtains in the 90s.  I once had a neighbour whose house was stuffed with swathes of fabric, hanging from every curtain pole in her house.  This is what I think of when people say swag.  But it really isn't anything to do with that if you are a teen. Everyone is swag or swaggy, unless you are over the age of about 25 and then you are probably not swag.  I have no idea what makes people swag, but you either are or you aren't.  And if you aren't then it's not a good thing.

bae

Not James the singer.  Or a tree in your garden.  It is pronounced the same but that's where the similarity ends.  Simply it means "before all else" and typically refers to a loved one or someone you fancy.  You'd think that being a loved one (of sorts) that all parents are bae, but no.  Justin Bieber is bae, parents are not.

Remember, this is BAY and Bieber is BAE

bruh

A sort of a noise that comes out of some teenagers.  Just annoying and has absolutely no purpose whatsoever.  Still don't really know why, probably best to just ignore it like I do, to be honest.

On fleek

On fleek or on point, as in just right, looking good or words to that effect.  "My mascara is on fleek", "my hair is on fleek", "this nailpolish is on fleek", you get the picture.  All about the way you look.  Sentences that are never ever likely to include the words on fleek include:

"Mum, this chicken pie that you have spend all afternoon baking for us is really on fleek"
"Mum, thanks for making the bed today, my room is so on fleek"
"Mum your stripy top and jeans combo is on fleek!"

I am not on fleek.  Nothing I do is on fleek.  It's all about them.  Always.  So self absorbed.  *sniff*

Squad Goals

This one is dead simple.  You have a squad, which is a gang or group of friends and they have goals.  Erm, I've no idea what these goals might be.  Maybe tickets to a Five Seconds of Summer concert?  Or a trip to the Trafford Centre for some new Converse?  Who knows.  Incidentally, who do they all like now that 1D have split up?  I knew where I was with them.  He's a nice lad, that Harry...

Homeslice

Nothing whatsoever to do with Homepride sliced white bread.  Saying things like "I'm just going to use this homeslice to make you a nice sandwich for your lunch, is cheese and pickle OK?" will get you nowhere.  It is not slang for bread.  A homeslice is a person who is like a slice of home to you, like a really really good friend or a sibling (probably one that you don't want to kill or inflict some major torture on because they've been in your bedroom and touched your phone/laptop/dirty socks on the floor). I am a homeslice apparently. I'm so pleased about this that I might even get it printed on a t-shirt.  It's the only form of recognition I've had in months.

NOT a homeslice


Tracks

If someone is abut to go somewhere then they say this.  Not as in "Time to make tracks" but just "tracks".  A complete sentence in itself.  The teenagers have just decided that all the other words that make up the structure of the sentence here are superfluous and that one word is all you need.  It must save an awful lot of energy, which is something that we could all do with from time to time.  I might just start doing that myself in fact, especially when I ask the teens to do things, "EAT!" ,"CLOTHES!", "WASH!".  It gets the message across far quicker, doesn't it? Incidentally, while tracks is used to denote that you are going somewhere, you must never say it when you are only popping to Tesco with your parents.  That is not cool.

Sick

"That is SICK!"  yelled the teen girl last week.  Oh no, I thought.  Who had vommed all over the carpet now? (We've all been a bit ill in the past month).  But apparently nobody had been ill, to my great relief.  It turns out that if something is sick then that means it's good (but not swag, why do so many words they've invented mean the same thing, isn't one word enough?), but not just good, like awesome in fact.  Examples of things that are sick in this house include, the pre-teen's neon orange football boots, some new special edition fantasy game, which includes women in bikini armour with swords and blue hair, that Nintendo have launched, and the pot of sprinkles that I bought last week to decorate biscuits with, which had four different types of sprinkles in.  Although they might have been playing me with that last one.  I honestly can never tell.

So there you have it, a little glimpse into the world of teen-speak.  Remember, there will be at least five minutes for you to learn this until they change it for another group of random words.

Still, I suppose their ability to adapt so easily and master so many uses for the English language might come in handy one day?  They might make excellent MI5 agents for example.  I'll bet government secrets would be completely secure if given to a handful of teenagers to DM each other on Instagram.  Something else nobody understands.

Probably best if we leave them to it...

Tracks.  Homeslice.


Little Hearts, Big Love

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Running-y* thoughts

Its been a while since I've written a post about running (unless you count the one about having a mid-life crisis and listening to Jessie J while waving jazz hands at the postman).

Still doing it, still feeling a bit 'meh' about it tbh (even with the jazz hands).

I had a read back over all the posts I wrote on the C25K last year and I was so surprised at how cheerful a lot of them were.  I had forgotten that running made me feel like that.

I had a brief moment after Christmas when I got a spangly new Garmin Forerunner and everything felt exciting again.  Although, I must admit that I was slightly disappointed that it was so bloody accurate.  It took over half a kilometre off some of my running routes and made a lot of my achievements over the previous six months seem like they never happened (well, they didn't really did they?).

Ooh, spangly! and annoyingly accurate...


And so, I've kind of been faced with starting the whole journey all over again.  Working on my pace which after a lot of perseverance is getting better, but the distance?  Not so much.

I had wanted to be able to run 10K by the end of last year, but I didn't manage it for one reason or another (realistically I have no good excuses).  Happily that has now changed, and last month I finally ran that 10K.  I say 10K but really it was about 9.5K with about another 800m of me running up and back down the road to get the final few metres in on my watch.

But I still feel 'meh', like even doing that isn't quite as good as I'd hoped.

Don't get me wrong, I still love the feeling I get when I come back from a run, but I'm not so sure where I'm aiming for any more.

So I thought about all the things that helped me on my original path to learn to run in the first place.  Some new kit always helps cheer me up, (I may do a little running haul post if I get time). Although I bought some new running shoes in November, they are making me feel so slow compared to my old ones, so I'm going to change them as well. I am also going to start writing my progress down more.  Sorry if you think that's boring - I'll try to make it as entertaining as I can, but it really helps and it's my blog so there *sticks out tongue at all the haters*.

I'm off to go and make a playlist now for the new month (you know how I love to run to music - the more inappropriately silly the better).  I might share it so that you can all laugh ;)

Could somebody somewhere just PLEASE shake some virtual pom-poms at me in the comments below.  I could really use it.

Ta.

* Running-y is totally a word by the way.  I know this because I've just invented it.
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