Celebrating The Small Things:Week Twenty

This week has been as manic as usual and we’ve all been rushing here there and everywhere but we have had had plenty of small things to celebrate.

When Children Never Cease To Amaze – My eldest son has always been the quiet one, the one that is the hardest to work out and the one that I wish I could shove a fire cracker up his backside most of the time.
It has been the same conversation for the past few years with his teaches – “he is an extremely talented boy who needs to apply himself”. I find this so frustrating as it is so hard to get him engaged and believe me I’ve tried. So when he walked through the door the other day and announced he was putting himself forward for head boy I nearly dropped to the floor. Im really hoping something has finally clicked and he’s going to make the most of his last few years of school.

My Regained Fitness Is Paying Off – Even at my fittest running has never been something I have enjoyed. I find it boring and after suffering with terrible shin splints over the years I pretty much always avoid any kind of distance running.
This weekend I challenged this by taking part in a 5km obstacle run with Izzy and some good friends.
Although running is not my thing my competitive edge took over and I found myself running ahead and trying to complete the course in a good time, I did feel a little bad for leaving Izzy behind!
I completed the course, faced my terrible fear of heights and thoroughly enjoyed every minute.

Sushi In The Sun – After a trip to the shops with Oscar the other day I was quietly laughing to myself about his choice of sushi for lunch.
At the mere age of four it would have been a cheese sandwich and packet of crisps for me and I actually relish the fact that my children have a love of such a wide variety of different foods.

Talking To Teens About Vaping

Parenting is hard work at every single stage. You start with the sleepless nights and endless feeds, move onto the temper tantrums of the toddlers years, hit those awkward in-betweens years until you finally get to the dreaded teens!

For me I think the transition of no longer being the person they always turn to for advice and the person they confide it the hardest part of them growing up. There as so many other people in their lives now that they hold of great importance that Mum is often pushed down the pecking order and certainly for me my opinion on pretty much everything isn’t really valid.

When it comes to subjects such as what they are wearing or eating for their lunch then it not really to much of a problem but when it comes to more worrying subjects such as drug taking and smoking then this is something I find important they can feel comfortable approaching me to talk about and not just take for gospel the facts they come across on the internet or chat about with friends.

Both of these things can have a huge impact on their lives and being an inquisitive teen very tempting to try for themselves. For me as long as they are armed with all the information possible about how these decisions can affect every aspect of their life and I have given them the physical and emotional side to it then I am happy that they can go onto making an informed decision about what path they take when these temptations come their way.

However something that is pretty new to the UK and something I have very little knowledge about is vaping. It has taken off in a huge way and has been labelled the ‘safer’ alternative to smoking but there are mixed views on how safe it actually is.

Vaping – inhaling and exhaling vapour through an aerosol type device is being dubbed the ‘safer’ alternative to smoking. With this label and the fact the vapours come in appealing flavours such as strawberry, mango and even salted caramel the pull to teens is very strong.

I know that I have had several heated debates with my teen regarding their safety and being such a new product there is certainly a lot of conflicting advice out there, but below are a couple of the things I feel it is important to talk through with your teens about:

Unknown Chemicals – Different brands use different chemicals in their vape pens that could potentially cause harm to growing lungs and mouth.

Can Lead To Smoking down The Line – In several studies it has been proven that people who start by vaping then move onto smoking itself. Although they may think they are harmlessly experimenting with a safe alternative they could infect be putting themselves on a slippery slope.

Don’t Follow The Crowd – As I said before vaping has been dubbed the new and cool thing to do and is becoming increasingly popular. Peer pressure will be extremelly strong when there is temptation like this all around and I hope that my teens can make informed decisions on wether they really want to follow the crowd or not.

My biggest tip though is the same for any tricky and worrying subject…just keep those lines of communication open. Allow them to be inquisitive, be as honest and you can and hope that by this they will choose the right path.

*collaborated post

Getting Teens Into Board Games With Staccups:Review

A while ago we decided to dedicate a Sunday evening to games night. With life being so hectic and a lot of down time spend online I think it is important to take a bit of time out and connect with the family and playing games together is the perfect way to do just that.

The younger ones are easy to please and are more than happy to join in but the older ones are harder to please and it takes a lot more to prize them away from their phones and gadgets.

There are a huge number of reasons why they are good for you and I have listed a few below:

Leaving The Digital World For A While – Our whole family spend way to much time on social media and the like, and taking time away from the screen allows you to pull yourself out of the digital world and contact with real time for a while which can’t be bad for anyone.

Reducess Stress – Life can be stressful for everyone, especially teens. To break away from everything for a few hours and immerse yourself into something fun and engaging can be a great stress reliever.

Increases Brain Function – Board games allow you to stimulate the brains areas that are responsible for thought and memory forming as well as improving decision making and cognitive skills.

Brings People Closer Together – I think playing a board game together is probably one of the rare times that we really engage with each other. It gives us the chance to chat, laugh and play and simply just enjoy each others company.

We had been getting a little board of the same board games we have at home so I was really please when we were asked to try out a new game from University Games called Staccups.

It is a two player games which is ideally suited to children over 8 years old. The aim of the game is to be the first player to stack all their cups. Cups must be stacked so that the colour of the top of the cup matches the colour of the cup below which means a pretty high amount of concentration is needed as well as speed.

We are a pretty competitive family so this was absolutly perfect for us.

It saw plenty of tense moments, lots and laughter and a few arguments over people putting the cups in the wrong order!

It was a great game for the teens and adults alike and I’m sure its going to be a favourite from now on.

* we were given this game for the purpose of this review and they are all my own, honest opinions.

Workspaces For Teens

Give me a newborn over a teenager any day! Oh yes there are the sleepless nights and the endless cycles of feeding but as long as food, comfort and plenty of cuddles are supplied they are pretty much catered for. Teenagers however are a different breed altogether.

I have managed to navigate one child through their teens and she has now made here way into her twenties with both of us coming out the other side pretty much unscathed, however I am now on the same journey with my eldest son who has been completely different to my daughter.

I actually couldn’t ask for a better teen than Archie in so many ways to be honest. He is kind, caring, thoughtful, helpful and aside from the occasional strop he is pretty easy going. However when it comes to schooling its a different matter!

He is punctual, always completes his homework and is very well behaved during class but is a naturally gifted boy that is coasting through school and isn’t fulfilling his potential which is in fact more frustrating than anything else.

If he was messing around or not completing work then this could be dealt with by punishing him, but lack of motivation is a much harder thing to crack as it has to come from him.

He does however have lots of ambitions for jobs that don’t nesseserily need formal education and he has his heart set on this. I love and encourage my children to follow and fulfil their dreams so I am probably a large part to blame for this and need to get his mindset to think in a slightly more practical way without quashing his dreams.

He currently dosent have a area dedicated to learning so I think a workspace where he can keep organised, stay away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the house whilst still building on his teams would be just what he needs right now.

Below I have listed a few of the top things I think are needed to create the perfect working environment for a teen:

Privacy: This is always something that most teens crave and I think its very important to allow their work area to be private and somewhere they can grow their own independence.

Organisation: Organisation isn’t always something that goes hand in hand with teens and many struggle to get this sorted, so a good desk such as the ones from Lionshome will help them to make sure everything has a place of its own, things are to hand as and when they need it and allows enough space for them to carry out all the work that needs to be done.

Limit Distractions And Boost Creativity: Make this area somewhere that is solely for work. Make sure that computer games and any other devices are kept away from this area to limit distractions and allow this area to be a calm, motivating place that allows your teen to be creative, productive and engaged to have a positive effect on their schooling and hopefully whatever career path they wish to follow.

I would love to know how you get your teenage children motivated to work.

*Collaborated post

The Wicked Uncle Challenge

Number two is the hardest child to buy for.  He never asked for much for birthdays and always has a very sparse christmas list.  In a way this is commendable and a welcome change the the catalouge sized requests we get from the others.

When Wicked Uncle set us the challenge to pick a grown up to buy a gift for I knew that number two would be the biggest challenge of all my little ones!

My poor sister was my chosen grownup and was a little daunted by the task ahead.

She was actually really plesently surprised that the online toy shop was jammed packed with so many goodies that her challenge was going to be easier than she thought.

The site offers you the option to select the gender, age and type of area that is best suited which narrows there search down perfectly.

Number four is a techy teen so when she came across the x-cam quadcopter drone she hoped it would go down well.


Delivery  was super quick and when the big parcel arrived number four looked super happy to get a special gift through the post, the delight filled his face as he opened the box to reveal his drone.

After charging he headed straight to the garden where he spent ages perfecting his flying skills and trying to capture images of his younger brothers playing on their scooters below.

From the selection process of the purchaser to the reaction on the children’s faces Wicked Uncle have got the whole experience sussed!

This will 100% be my go to site for christmas presents for all the family and I have a feeling  the christmas list from number two may be a little longer this year!

*we were gifted this drone in return for the review. They are all my own, honest opinions. 

 

Thank You Camp Bestival For Finding My Little Boy!

No we didn’t lose a child at Camp Bestival as the title may suggest, in fact quiet the opposite happened and as cheesey as it may sound this wonderful festival bought our family closer together than ever, and my teenage son that has become so distant was a changed child!

For weeks number two had been making up excuses as to why he didn’t want to go away to Camp Bestival.  We had a birthday party that if he didn’t attend would ruin his life, a sleepover the entire class was going to and he would be the only one not there to a whole host of illnesses that suddenly appeared every few days!

Even as close as the night before he was complaing of crippling stomach pains.  To be honest I had to admire his staying power.

We didn’t crack and piled him into the car dreading what lay ahead as I had visions of him ruining the entire trip with his strops and temperamental attitude.

We made our way down to the entrance with him moaning about the lack of Wifi and KFC and telling us how we were ruining his entire summer holiday.

It didn’t take long for reality to set in and for him to realise this would be his home for the next few days and he may as well just get on with it.

He got stuck in with helping to put up the tent and blowing up the many air beds, helped my with the mammoth task of getting everything from the car and loved getting the little kitchen area set up so he could help prepare our food.

He happily played hide and seek with the little ones around the campsite and became a bit of a magnet to the children in the neighbouring tents who all loved playing football and Nerf gun fights with him.

He got involved in everything at the festival from excitedly jumping on all the fairground rides to helping his brothers and sister with quiet crafts.

Don’t get me wrong he was still mortified with me when I started dancing to Bananarama and was not enthralled with having to endure Mr Tumble but that care free, happy child was found once again and I absolutely loved it!

The lure of the XBox had been taken away and he found pleasure in simple childhood activities once more.  He bought a diablo that he spent hours perfecting tricks on and got such pleasure from allowing the little ones to bury him completely in the sandpit.

What I loved most though was the walk to and from the campsite where we would have chats about nothing in particular as these moments at home have been lost to the technical world and the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Camp Bestival has pulled him from the shell he had become encased in and I will be forever grateful for that.

           

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

XBox Wars

  

Number two was absolutely desperate for an Xbox One for his birthday at the end of last year.  

With the hefty price tag my husband and I were reluctant but he agreed the whole family would chip in and this would be the only present he would receive.

His face was a picture as he opened the box and for a normally emotionless teenager this was so lovely to see.

Little did I know this moment would be completely life changing for us all!  This probably sounds pretty extreme to most but the Xbox entering our home has caused nothing but dramas. 

First came the arguments of how long he was allowed to spend on it.  We are apparently the only parents in the world that implement a time schedule and I’m totally unreasonable for not allowing him to spend hours on end stuck in front of a screen.

Next came the sneeky sessions where he thought we wouldn’t notice late at night and he was trying his luck by going back on when we were busy with the other children.

He turned into a child that’s one and only interest was gaming.  In days out it would take him ages to engage with us as all he wanted to do was be at home playing on his console.

The breaking point for us though was XBox Live.  This allows them to play games online with others.  He would get so into the game and massively aggressive when I would go into his room to get him off.  If anyone dared enter his room whilst he was engrossed in a game you would get his full wroth!

After countless bans due to unacceptable behaviour and homework not being completed the straw that broke the camels back happened and he managed to rack up a bill of over £500 by buying points online.

I felt completely sick that over a few months he had managed to do this without any thought for us.  He denied all knowledge and blamed his younger siblings for sneaking into his room and pressing buttons.

The console has been removed and thankfully Microsoft were fantastic and refunded me the full amount.

After the initial week of pleading to have it back and trying every trick in the book to get on my good side I finally have my son back.

He’s engaging happily with the family, enjoying time out together, getting on with his school work and getting up without a struggle in the morning.

The problem is where do we go from here?  Every part of me wants to get rid of it for good and there is then my soft side on my shoulder telling me it’s awful to completely remove something he loves so much.

Reading back through what I have just written would easily suggest there is only one option but I have always been to soft of the children and want them to be happy, what would you do?
  

Special Time With My Little Big Man

Number two turned thirteen this week and I got that sinking feeling that comes with your little one turning into a teenager!

He is growing into an independent young man that has a little job at our local skatepark and loves to spend time on his beloved X Box which leaves little quality time for us as a family.

This weekend we went for a meal to celebrate his and my husbands birthday followed by a lovely long walk through Box Hill.  This is something the the rest of us do most weekends whilst he is busy at the skatepark.

His face hit the floor at the thought of walking through muddy fields with no technology or skate ramps in sight.

  
 
Once he realised this was his only option he really let himself go back to that carefree child he is and had so much fun running around with his brothers and sisters, trying to grab rope swings across the stream and found it hilarious to get soaked crossing the stepping stones that had  become half immersed due to the heavy rainfall.

   
 
We walked and chatted about nothing in particular for hours and he said how much he had enjoyed his day.

Im making it my mission to make him come along with us more from now on as I’m a great believer in letting children do what they love and have their own space but these years have already flown by and it’s days like these that cost nothing but mean so much. 

 

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Looking After My Dancing Feet With Scholl

A night out in this house is now a rarity  and donning a pair of high heels is something I’m a little out of practice with.

When Scholl asked me to try out some of their products I was more than happy to see if they could help me get my unloved feet party ready.

First up I need to tackle the dry skin on my feet.  Gone are the days off monthly pedicures so if there is a product I could use at home it would be fantastic.

I got number three to help me out with this job and got her to set up a mini foot spa where she massaged the cream into my feet concentrating on the really dry areas.

  
My feet felt instantly softer and we’re still silky soft the next day.  

Next up were the Scholl party feet invisible gel cushions.  I have seen these before but was always skeptical about how invisible they would actually be.

  

With open toe, strappy shoes as my choice of footwear I needed something that was going to help me get through an evening out without any pain and without exposing my secret by the pads slipping out and showing.

  

They worked perfectly and got me though my evening completely pain free!

The added bonus is that they can simply be washed and packed away in the pouch provided until the next time you need them.  In my case they maybe in the drawer for a while!

The last product I was sent was not really any use to me but was perfect for my near teenage son.  The Scholl fresh step foot spray is like a deodorant for your feet.  

  
After a long day out taking part in lots of sports my son always comes in and is banished to the bathroom to get rid of his smelly feet before he stinks out the entire house!

I asked him to give this a go before putting on his shoes and socks and it has really helped.  He no longer has the embarasment of smelly feet and we don’t have to put up with the smell!
I was gifted all of the products by Scholl for the purpose of this review and they are all my own honest opinion.

Image Of The Week:All Grown Up

  

Children are a challange at every age.  Sleepless nights with newborns, tantrums with toddlers, strops and arguments with teenagers; but none of us would have it any other way.

Children growing is a learning curve for both the children and parents.  They are experiencing things for the first time as we are as parents.

With my eldest turning 18 next month I can say that we have taken on every challange along the way and both got lots of them wrong!

I’m sure there are many more challenges to come but for the most part we have got through all the big milestones together and they given us the parent/daughter relationship we have today and I wouldn’t have it any other way X