Thursday, 31 July 2014

Happy Birthday Sweet 16

In the early hours of Monday 27th July 1998, a beautiful newborn baby girl was placed in my arms and I became a mum for the very first time. On this past Sunday, that baby girl turned sixteen years old.

A has had a busy year. Starting her first job, choosing her A-level subjects for sixth form, studying for and sitting all of her GCSE exams, and of course, her year eleven prom! She's been making the most of her extra long Summer by doing, well, not an awful lot to be honest, although she has taken on an extra day at work - but I think she has earned her break and celebrating her 16th birthday at the end of all that hard work is the icing on the (birthday) cake. In three weeks time, she'll have her GCSE results and will be preparing herself for year twelve, but first - we party!

Unfortunately my dad was working away so he couldn't join us, but we enjoyed a family meal at Frankie & Benny's with the seven of us along with my mum, and my M&FIL. It was a really lovely evening with great food and great company, A loved having her grandparents with her to celebrate her special day, but she did miss having "big grampy" there to share it, too.

After weeks of asking her what she wanted for her birthday without an answer, her Dad & I just gave her the money that we had planned to spend on her gifts so she could choose for herself - much to her delight. I imagine it will be spent on clothes, gig tickets and band merch but I do like to hope that she'll maybe be sensible and save some... 
Yea, I don't think so either.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

42 Days of Summer

We have big plans for Summer. And we also have no plans. The beauty of our Summer will be that we will fly by the seat of our pants. Whatever we want, when we want, wherever and whenever the mood takes us.

We'll be taking a wonderful family holiday, our first one abroad all together, to Paris and the south of France, as well as spending a day checking out the awesome new #BludgersandBroomsticks event at the Warner Bros Harry Potter Studio Tour. We're off to Center Parcs for the day along with my brother, SIL & nephew to celebrate L's 11th birthday (ssh, he doesn't know this yet!) and as for the rest of it, well - we'll see where we end up!

If you're looking for ideas for your own #SummerBucketList or just some things to keep you occupied throughout the school holiday, check out my list :

You can't go wrong with a day at the beach. Building sandcastles, wave jumping, eating fish & chips on the sand, and paddling in the sea. I have vivid memories of days like these from my own childhood, lazy beach days are what childhood memories are made of. Even if it rains, you can always shelter in the arcades - just don't forget the 2ps!

We've joined our local library and are taking part in this year's Summer reading challenge - the Mythical Maze. Every Friday we visit the library, exchange our books for new ones & collect our stickers for our maps. We've really neglected our library, it's such a wonderful resource to have (& free!) so we'll definitely be making the most of it this Summer, and beyond.

A visit to the park is always good fun. We are lucky to have several nice parks locally and we like to take a picnic with us and enjoy some running about, swinging up into the sky, and a spot of tree climbing. If you're lucky you might be able to include some duck feeding, too! Britmums & McVitie's BN Biscuits sent us some samples of their cheeky winking biscuits in two delicious flavours - chocolate, and raspberry - to add to our picnic basket and see what we thought. It's safe to say that they'll be a regular addition to our packed lunches now, especially the chocolate flavour!

Our favourite picnic picks are:

- sandwiches/rolls/wraps (cheese, ham, and cucumber are our usual fillings)
- fruit (strawberries, bananas & apples are favourites)
- crudités (chop them up & store/carry in an airtight tub)
- yoghurts (we freeze the tube style ones so they stay cool for longer)
- sausage rolls (L would eat packs of these if we let him!)
- chicken goujons (pre-cooked, obviously!)
- cocktail sausages (again, pre-cooked... I hope this is obvious!)
- biscuits (BN are the new favourite of my kids, I didn't get a look in)
- crisps (a big variety pack - something for everyone)

We aren't too far from beautiful Shearwater, and love a leisurely woodland walk can be great fun and exercise. My kids always hunted for dragons but you could always look for bears, elves or even fairies! Climbing over logs and following the trails is a lovely, free day out if you find a clearing you can sit down and enjoy your picnic surrounded by beautiful scenery and the sounds of nature (and your kids bickering over the biscuits, probably).

Another favourite activity is picking your own fruit, get google on the case and find your nearest farm. I remember doing this as a kid and we had SO much fun. Two of my sisters have taken my nieces and nephews recently and really enjoyed it. Then you can get the kids involved in making their own jam, cakes, or perhaps a delicious Eton Mess!

Rain doesn't have to stop play, if the weather isn't great then you could always go swimming at your local pool to wear the kids out, or head to the cinema and catch a movie, there are always lots of new releases in the Summertime, or often on weekend mornings there are cheap kids film deals.

Have a great Summer!

This post is an entry for 42 Days of Summer Linky Challenge sponsored by McVitie’s BN. Learn more at (no-follow).

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Happy Endings, New Beginnings

The time has come, L has finished primary school. I attended his leavers assembly having given myself a stern talking to beforehand - I was not going to cry. And I didn't.

Not during the assembly, anyway...

As I was leaving, the deputy head/SENCo told me how much she had enjoyed having L there and that he would be missed, which then set me off into a sobbing mess completely unable to express my gratitude for everything they have done for my son, and my family, as I had planned.

After his mistreatment at his previous school, the staff at his new school gave him the education, the opportunities, the time, and the care he deserved and they gave me my son back. I can't thank them enough for what they did for him. Some might say that they were just doing their job, but they really did go above and beyond for him, and I am so, so grateful for that. I'm so sad that it is time for him to move on, but I know they have given him the best possible start. When I got home (and composed myself) I wrote them an email and thanked them. I know I would have been incapable of saying the words out loud without crying again.

On the last day of school, the boys and I took in some gifts that they had chosen. We decorated a cake for all of the staff to share, H had two Costa Coffee gift cards for his teachers, L gave key rings I had made by Issy K Jewels (with little puzzle piece charms) to his link workers who are just the most brilliant ladies ever, and we gave the deputy head/SENCo a bottle of wine because frankly I'm sure she needed it by the end of term.

He was given a class picture signed by all the teachers wishing him luck at his new school and for the future, he had his shirt signed by all of his friends, and took a bunch of selfies of him & his chums before he left. And then it was time to go. Come September he'll be starting year 7 at senior school, off with A in the 6th form, and J in year 9, and the next chapter of his life will begin.

H has said how much he will miss having L at school with him, but he's excited about being the big brother at school now E will be joining him in the Autumn. She is really looking forward to going to "big school" and I know she will be well looked after by the staff, and of course by her big bro.

Her preschool graduation and sports day was the sweetest thing, she went up to receive her certificate & collect her folder and the preschool ladies said a few words about her, and then everyone gave her a round of applause. She enjoyed taking part in the races which were comedy gold rather than competitive, and it was all in good fun. All five of my children have attended that preschool so it's the end of an era for us now.

There are so many changes to come in the next few months. It's a cliché, but the time really does go by so fast. You don't see it happening until it has passed you by, and you realise that your children are taller than you. And have better social lives, because you can never get hold of them & they never answer their phone (that you pay for, so you can reach them). It just rings & rings - yet it's never out of their hand at home. Funny that...

I'm anxious about but looking forward to all the new challenges the new school year will bring all 5 of my kids. But first - let's enjoy the Summer!

Monday, 28 July 2014

Meal Planning Monday 280714

Mon 28th July - Baked potatoes & coronation chicken with salad

Tues 29th July - Fish & chips

Weds 30th July - Brinner

Thurs 31st July - Southern fried chicken, with salad & chips

Fri 1st August - Toad in the hole

Sat 2nd August - Spaghetti Bolognese with garlic bread

Sun 3rd August - Roast chicken

I've joined in with Mrs M's #mealplanningmonday linky with this post
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