Tuesday 31 December 2019

Project 365 - the last 10 days of the year

Been a rather stressful week between the loss of a set of car  keys and an undelivered delivery.


We spent the day turning the house upside down for a lost set of keys. Not seen them since Friday when hubby came in the front door with the and went out the back to get the bins out that were due emptied over the weekend. He usually tosses them onto the kitchen cupboard but not sure if he has put them in his pocket and pulled them out somewhere else when pulling his hat out, if he mistakenly dropped them in one of the bins or when putting them out the front street, or has had two sets one day when away to friends house. Retraced the steps of where we have walked, turned friends house upside down and asked at the police station but no luck.

Took the dog for a walk, the buds are beginning to bloom on the trees.

Back home after all this for about 3pm. DD3 came up for a visit and was hoping SIL3 was picking her up to go shopping and pick up their click and collect order but he was working later than intended so I took her for her shopping about 4. I gained out of it as she bought me two boxes of Turkish delight and a couple of other bits in the pound shop including a toy for the dog that she loves, as well as covering the petrol costs.

Home to wait for a delivery that did not turn up.


Hubby dropped me in the town before heading into see friend and I visited a different friend.
Phoned the insurance company to get the ball rolling, need to book it into a garage and wait on them contacting me.

I sat and did this jigsaw in the afternoon. Bought this for 50p last week as hubby liked the tin and wants to mount the jigsaw on a wall. He plans on colouring the area where the two bits are missing.

I chased up the delivery and was promised it for tonight, did not turn up.


Went online to book the car in but garage is shut until 8th Jan so need to sort something else.

Into town on the morning as hubby had to help friend with some stuff. Phoned to see where my delivery was and was told it would be out between 2 and 6. Hubby had to shoot down to Irvine by himself to pick up a freebie off of market place while I waited for the delivery.

Went down to carry on the tradition and made mince pies for Santa with the gruesome twosome and Spud. Here they are singing me jingle bells while I take the picture. Then we went for a walk round the lights to tire them out while the pies cooled. Home for a pie each and a bath before setting out Santa's plate some allergy free food for the elves with allergies and Rudolph's carrot and then off to bed.

Delivery still not here, so chased it up again and they then told me they had been out and could not find my house.....hmm not that hard to find and had you phoned when you got to the village I could have given instructions. So about 10pm got a Facebook message from the man that runs the organisation and without going into any detail he then tells me I was not getting it. So why tell me it is coming out more than once and somebody brought it and could not find us when in fact nobody had and we were never getting it??? Not a happy bunny about being lied to but life goes on.


Merry Christmas to all.

Christmas day with no Christmas cheer. We got a present from sister and brother in law and  as well as the one from next door because we out their bins out each week when putting ours out which were both very much appreciated.

Decided fairly last minute to go and help out at the Church hall we helped out at for the last few years. Was not sure if I was much good to them one handed but they were happy to see us and I avoided hot food and heavy plates and did the little things like delivered drinks and cleared up rubbish. Worked my way round the hall talking to the people who had turned up for their meal and recognised some of the regulars. The entertainment was good. Cheered me up to get out of the house and so many people tell you how much they appreciate it, so all worth while. Hubby spent the whole time in the kitchen washing dishes as in previous years. He is not a people person and he was still contributing to the day and it is very much appreciated by the back scene volunteers.

As an added bonus we came home with a massive doggy bag of Christmas dinner, enough to feed us for two or three night so that was much appreciated.

Did pop into DD1's on the way home but they were eating and the children were just getting hyper and wanting to show us there stuff so we left again will go back tomorrow.


Tidying up and hoovering the two spare bedrooms as they get messy despite not being used as bedrooms. DD2, SIL2 and the girls are due down at the start of next week.

Popped down to see the local grandchildren and spend some time with them. Playing their new games taking it in turns with them. They can be hard work when they all clamour for your attention and all want to play their game first. Helped Spud transfer her sweets to her Halloween bag and helping Dinky with a foil art set she had.


Back on the phone to the insurance company again to try and sort it out. Our fear is the keys were lost locally and somebody has them and will at some point possibly steal the car. So going to arrange ours to be uplifted and stored securely and give us a courtesy car as living rural without one does not work.

So they phoned for us to pick up a courtesy another tomorrow and the RAC to recover ours on Monday. . They were told ours was not available today as I had my MRI and it is a hospital that is a 98 mile round trip. Hubby texted to say they turned up for the car while I was out. So back in the car to phone the insurance company back and make sure somebody is still coming for it when originally arranged.

Thankfully replacement keys are done free under the car insurance and does not affect our no claims either.

Car hire company having trouble sourcing us a car, needs to be an automatic as that is all my licence allows me to drive. Need one for Monday night as got the panto in Glasgow.

Finished Minky's Pokeman jumper.


Into town for a shopping at the cheap shop. They were allowing us to take extra frozen items as they were clearing their freezers for more stuff to come in. This shop is such a help with the budget.

Back via the car rental to pick the courtesy car up. Thankfully the wipers and indicators are on the same side so should  not be a problem when I go to Glasgow on Monday night.

Also bought a new barrel for the front door and changed that as well once DD1 showed us how to do it. So house now secure as well. This is not done free under the house insurance policy. Lock cost us £11 and took less than 5 mins to get old out take it with you to buy a new one and the new one in. Insurance company wanted £100 excess.

Got some soft fruit in my shop this morning, I only eat cooked fruit so happy to take it soft. Put this on to cook and forgot I had so time I finished moving stuff from our car to the hire car it had boiled all over everywhere. The ceramic hob is going to take some cleaning.


Out for a play in the new car to get a proper feel for it. A run to Irvine and a walk along the very windy beach. Looked for a Next shop as seen something I fancied in the sale but there is no Next left in Irvine despite being on the website.


Car was suppose to being picked up this morning between 9 and 9.30. Phoned at 11 to see where they were to be told early afternoon. So about 2.30 pm the lorry turned up for it. Was loaded on and just before it drew away a second truck drew up. Second driver was not really caring.

Went to see Snow White at the SEC. Not impressed with the first half, not a lot of audience participation, but the second half was brilliant. A 3D scene was brilliant as they walked through the enchanted wood.


Had something to return to cash converters so nipped into town before it got to late to take it back. Picked up a prescription and nipped into Morrisons for sparkling water but they had run out but picked up £6 of cold meat, £4 of cheese and £2 of coleslaw for 56p.

So that's it 2019 is over. All the best for 2020.

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Saturday 21 December 2019

Project 365 week 51

Well this time next week it will all be over, done and dusted and all the stress and money spent will be a distant memory. Merry Christmas to you all for when the day comes. Been a Christmas themed week even for Mrs Bah Humbug here.

Decided it was time I charged up my Fitbit and made it feel loved and wanted again, it has not been on since the start of September.Aiming for 10k a day to start with.


When I had been feeling ill any food that came into the house just got shoved in the first cupboard that had a gap. So now I am feeling better my kitchen cupboards are annoying me. So decided to empty, clean, toss out anything out of date or that has been open way to long to still be edible and organise them again.

Took me over three hours of stop start, still not pushing the arm, and used the stool to reach the higher shelves instead of stretching - job well done. I then did the kitchen drawers as well.

Chucked away the old toastie maker as well as it has lost it's not stick coating. Keep saying I will get a new one - well now I have no choice.

not quite old mother hubbard


Sees the start of me trying to be festive. Bah Humbug and all that.

Went into town to drop hubby and dog off for a walk and he went into see friend while I did my own thing.

Santa Claus came to town just after 6. Hubby and I wandered down to see them. The local school children did a lovely job with their singing as they toured round the village. Bumped into DD1 and the kids and Minky wanted to come up to play but it was bed time so told him another day.

the local children singing 


Hubby took an old laptop down to friends to see if he could sort it, but no luck, needed a few bits and pieces he did not have at his house.

Promised Minky last night I would help decorate the tree with them after school. So I did. In the first picture they are all being stars.

the nutters and the tree


A run into town to walk the dog and do my cheap shopping. Friend came into town with us as we leave Dixie dog at his house and he comes with us to help carry the shopping. It is a longish haul back to the car with one gammy arm. First time they have not had potatoes so will add them to my weekly shopping list.

We then went down to Maybole to drop flowers off at Gran's grave, hubby likes to go every Christmas. Popped into the charity shop while there. it is a small shop that different sections of the community take it week and week about and have to move their stock back out to let the next ones in. We bought a tin for hubby that he liked. spotted an outfit for a local friends wee boy that I really liked and bought friend a pair of padded water proof trousers as he needed them. All items were 50p so all were a great buy. I happened to know the woman behind the counter and she threw me in this lot of Christmas related items for free to give with the food.

some donated items 
Had some Argos vouchers so picked up a new toastie machine and an electric tin opener as I am still struggling with the manual one.

Picked friend and Dixie back up as he was going to have another go at the laptop as he got software from a friend but still no luck. Ran him back and took a walk along the river, the reflecting lights were lovely looking.


Spent the morning sorting out all the food bank stuff that has been handed in by local people ready to take in tomorrow. I added a few bits to the total haul as well. Some of the items the grandchildren have never used and so are still like new, somebody might as well get the use of them.   Did some housework. Decided as it was a nice afternoon we would go and get the bits and pieces of shopping I needed. Not Christmas stuff just normal shopping not buying any Christmas stuff for us. So walked the dog first and then shopped. This was all the local stuff that had been donated.

the local items ready to go 


Went into pick up the rest of the food bank items from the oldies complex I use to work in,and dropped it all off at the Salvation Army and then walked the dog. Friend did not want to come for a walk with us. Went back to friends for some lunch, the bakers next door is way to handy, and then went and dropped off the Christmas related items at the cheap food shop. I added a box of crackers and a roll off wrapping paper that we had not opened and a roll of sellotape to help somebody else out. The crackers were last years we forgot to use.
Also handed a bag full of freshly laundered socks hats scarves and gloves as well as a jacket to a place that collects for the homeless. We have way to many of them lying around unworn as we have our favourites.

dropped off at the Salvation army


While dropping stuff off yesterday we bought our Christmas if you want to call it that, a new pair of slippers each as ours from two years ago have fell apart. We are also having a box of sweeties each. No they are not getting wrapped.
 I don't see the point in presents just for the sake of having something to open.

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Friday 20 December 2019

GCSEs Explained

At the end of Key Stage 3, students have the opportunity to choose their GCSE subjects. This can be a challenging time for children and they will need plenty of support from their family in order to help them choose wisely.
Family support is one 
of the most important factors in a child’s success. St Christopher's School in Letchworth have put together the following information for families who want to learn more about GCSEs, in order to provide the best support for their child.

mage courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

First and foremost, you may be thinking ‘what exactly are GCSEs and what do they involve?’
Please read on to learn more…

A GCSE (or a General Certificate of Secondary Education) is a qualification normally taken by most UK students towards the end of year 11.
For most schools, English, maths and science are mandatory GCSEs. In addition to these three core subjects, students have to study three ‘foundation subjects’ such as citizenship, computing and PE. Then children get to choose one subject from each of the four ‘entitlement areas’ which include the arts (including art and design, dance, drama, and media arts), design and technology, humanities (history and geography) and modern foreign languages. This means that most pupils will take at least seven GCSEs in total.

Now you have a basic understanding of GCSEs and what subjects they include, here is some advice on how best to support your child when the time comes to choose their subjects…

  • ·         Deciding which GCSEs to choose involves a number of factors, such as your child’s interests, which optional subjects their school allows and your child’s future plans.

  • ·         It is a good idea to talk about what they wish to do after school, such as university or a particular career interest. These kinds of conversations will prompt your child to think about their academic strengths and how they could benefit their future.

  • ·         If your child does have a particular career interest, you could research the qualifications needed in order to secure a role in that industry. However, it’s also worth encouraging them to select a variety of subjects that will allow them to explore and develop a range of skills. In doing so, they are keeping their options open in case they change their mind about their career later on.

  • ·         The best thing you can do for your child when they are choosing their GCSE’s is help them to collect as much information as possible. Relevant information will help to make your child’s decision making as stress free as possible.

This is a collaborative post. 

Monday 16 December 2019

Helping Children with their Homework

I think in most house holds the word homework can have a little bit of a negative attitude towards homework, well from the children anyway! However it is proven to be a highly important part of school life and should be encouraged by parents, grandparents and all family members as much as possible. So how do we introduce a positive, more effective attitude towards extra learning and home work in our homes? A private sixth form in Hertfordshire has provided the following helpful advice to help us!

mage courtesy of dvrcan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Be involved
Children of all ages love one on one time with their parents or siblings, even those who pretend they are too cool for it! A little bit of extra attention when it comes to homework can make all the difference.  Try to take time to sit down and work through the more difficult questions with your child rather than leaving them to do it at the table alone. 

Make it less boring
It doesn’t all need to be text books, essays and note taking! How about an educational trip to a local museum, art gallery or zoo to change things up a bit? Invite a study buddy over and introduce some games, competitions and quizzes to make it more fun for your children and help to scrap the negative connotations to homework time.

Get organised
Try not to let your children leave it all to the last minute, short and sweet homework sessions every night is better than spending the whole of Sunday buried in school work. This will be more effective when it comes to absorbing information and retaining concentration at the same time as making it seem more manageable and less of a chore. When exam season is coming up create a study timetable to help your children keep on top of their revision. A dedicated study space with all of the equipment they need to complete their work will also help improve efficiency and remove unwanted distractions.

This is a collaborative post.

Saturday 14 December 2019

A Levels Explained

Confused about how your child’s A level studies are structured, or just what they are in the first place? Not to worry, a Sixth Form College in London have put together the following information to help parents understand how they work.

Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A levels are a type of qualification that are offered to school leavers once they have finished their GCSEs. They are available across a range of subjects and studied across two years; the AS year and A2 year. Generally speaking, students will choose to study four different subjects in their first year and drop one so that they only have to worry about three in their second year. They will then have an AS level qualification in one subject and full A levels in three more.

Although students normally drop a subject after the first year, it is still very important and will contribute to your son or daughter’s university application. Furthermore, teachers use AS level performance as an indicator for a student’s predicted grades, which will also help them when it comes to applying to university.

A levels have 6 pass grades, from A* to the failing grade E and they are usually assessed by end of year examinations. If your son or daughter does intend to go to university, they will need to have a good understanding of what grades they’re expected to receive in order to be accepted onto the course.

However, university isn’t the only option for young people after they have completed their A levels. They could jump straight into a full-time job or perhaps consider an apprenticeship, which essentially provides on-the-job training. Lots of young people also take it as an opportunity to have a gap year and perhaps do some training.

There are lots of benefits to studying A levels, in addition to the qualifications. They help young people become more independent and hardworking. If you would like more information about A levels, it would be wise to speak to your child’s teachers.

This is a collaborative post. 

Favourite Activities For Grandchildren

We all remember visiting our grandparents as children, and the extra treats and extra attention
was celebrated at the time. As we grow older we appreciate our grandparent's efforts,
even more, we then pass this down to our own grandchildren, we love watching the
grandchildren running around having fun, and their parents are always happy to take a
short break while the grandparents take charge. Quite often, taking charge does mean
extra sugar and later bedtimes, but this is what grandparents' houses are for.
The bond between grandparents and their grandchildren can really improve and enrich a child's life,
but what are some of the activities that grandchildren love to do the most when visiting
grandparents? Here are some ideas if you're looking for things to do when the grandchildren

Photo by Johnny Cohen on Unsplash

Looking through old photographs
It really is as simple as getting the photograph albums out when the grandchildren visit, you can't
go wrong with showing the grandkids what their parents look like as children, there will be plenty
of laughs, and plenty of exciting stories to be told that the children absolutely love to hear.
It's important to remember that even short stories and anecdotes are special to the
grandchildren, even the stories that you may not think you are very interesting, you will be
surprised. With modern technology, you might also be able to create a story books with
them and really add an element of interest to your old photographs.

Card games
Card games or something that we've all played before, and we all know various different games
to play that can be quite fun, you don't have to take out the complicated games, and you don't
need to play these games for long. However, just the act of teaching your grandchildren how to
play these games it's a great way to bond and enjoys time with them; if you are someone who
plays games like these regularly, then you will enjoy every second of this. Although quite often
many people rediscover a love for playing cards, after playing games with their grandchildren.
And of course, this is a simple way to entertain them without spending much money at all.

Playing in the garden
If you have a garden that you enjoy spending time in, then your grandchildren will love exploring
and having fun in the space. If your grandchildren are still small, you may need to childproof it to
an extent, but if you think carefully and plan ahead, then you will find that you can enjoy your
outdoor space in harmony, with a beautiful addition of your grandchildren's laughter and with
the help of hearing aids if needed. What better way to enjoy some fresh air than that?

At the end of the day, spending time with our loved ones is precious regardless. And you will find
children make their own entertainment quite often, so it's important not to put too much pressure
on yourself, and be kind to yourself as well. Letting the grandchildren make up games,
and asked questions about the world around them is ultimately an enjoyable experience anyway.

This is a collaborative post.

Project 365 week 50

Well folks another year nearly done. More memories to look back on.

Have to say it is really really nice to be feeling human again, to be enjoying life and getting out and about a bit more for pleasure rather than appointment after appointment. .


Fill the slow cooker with Stovies, defrosted the fridge freezer as somebody had closed the door quite right last week and it iced up, sorted out the presents into piles, they all look about even enough and then when hubby went ( again) to visit friend I sat and did some more of my jigsaw, did some miles on the exercise bike and then sat and watch one of the DVD's I bought, Pooh Bears Christmas - just to make sure it worked all right you understand!!

Made a few cakes and had cake and custard after our stovies. We never usually eat pudding but the cake smelt yummy.


A few bits during the day. Popped in to visit a friend while hubby was in visiting friend and then a dog walk round the village after tea. A lot more of the decorations are beginning to pop up now.


A very very wet day with a lot of floody patches on the roads. Hubby decided not to visit friend today.
Dog and I got soaked and blown about walking to post a letter, yes I know I have a car but I begrudge using it to drive 1/3 mile and it got the dog a stretch of her legs.
In the evening I went to the volunteer Christmas night out with the other volunteers from Active Travel that I do the cycling with, was a good laugh, great company, met some new people and enjoyed good food.


Blooming rotten weather again today.
Went into town to bring friend back to give hubby a hand with a few bits in the loft. I don't do lofts.
Went and did my cheap shopping while I was there to make it worth while going in. Much easier to do this with hubby and friend with me as I need a help to carry the bags.
This is making a huge different to my budget, Ending up with enough rice, pasta or potatoes as well as veg to feed us most nights of the week as well as the meat or fish to go with it three or more nights a week as well as most of my bread. Not sure how I would be managing right now without until things improve.
Friend got dropped off at his sisters house by hubby after tea time. There was sleety snow lying when they left.
Got my letter through for my MRI scan. Surprised it is so soon but not complaining. Sadly the waiting list in my own area is anything from 13 weeks is marked urgent and 39 weeks if not. Approx 45 miles away but now I am back driving that is not so bad.


Dryer weather thankfully. Hubby decided to stay at home as he wanted to tidy the loft after yesterday.
I had my physio appointment appointment. He is quite happy it is all going the right way. Agreed I could go back to work when my current sick line runs out but with restrictions.

When I got back we took the dog down to the polling station to do our voting and then walked her round the park.


A fairly full on morning. Dropped hubby off to go see friend on my way into town. Had an appointment with my line manager, a long term absence meeting complete with HR and my Unison Rep, never go to even an informal meeting without one present if HR are there. I have been keeping my Line Manager updated but these meetings are part of the absent policy of the company I work for. I always see these as a positive meeting offering support to see where things are at and a chance to talk things through.
I was quite disappointed as she, quite rightly, said I could not be accommodated at work with the restrictions Physio had advised. To get a sick line for another four weeks and then we will see where we stand.
Off to a funeral after the meeting for an elderly friend that lived in the complex I use to do holiday relief cleaning in.
Went to friends house, got changed and went into town with friend for a spot of lunch.

Home again and fell asleep on the couch.

Christmas is now all wrapped up. Still using my sellotape machine you attach to your wrist that gives nice even sized strips of tape.


Went to spend my Sproketts voucher I won before it runs out. Got a new helmet, mins cost me £5 in Asda about 10 years ago. Also bought some light weight cycling gloves and a pair of socks.

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Friday 13 December 2019

The Benefits of Extra-Curricular Activities for Children

Extra-curricular activities are proved to have endless positive benefits for people of all ages. However for children in particular they are highly recommended for the children’s personal  improvements as well as being able to list them on their applications for university or CVs when applying for a job. They can teach children socialization and team skills, improve stress management and have health benefits. Letting your child explore various positive hobbies can also help prevent them from partaking in negative activities or peer pressure that children can sometimes become involved in. 

I have teamed up with a Prep School in Somerset to find out more about the benefits of extra-curricular activities for children and why we should encourage our children or grandchildren to find hobbies or interests inside and outside of school.

Image courtesy of jiggoja at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Confidence booster
Extra-curricular activities are a great way to boost your child’s self-confidence. This is because they gain new skills, explore a new environment and meet new people. What’s more they are doing something that they have a real interest in, the passion will shine through when they are talking to you and their friends about it.

Health benefits
Being involved in an extra-curricular club or group can help to improve mental and physical health. Many extracurricular activities are physical; such as team sports or dance programs. Activities that include physical activity not only help to keep children healthy, they can also help to clear the mind, relieve stress and focus on the task in hand.

Personal skills
When your child adds a new extra-curricular activity to their timetable, they will be taking on more responsibility and working on their time management skills. Teamwork is also a valuable skill to master in both childhood and adult life. It’s just as important in the boardroom as it is on an under 5’s football team.

This is a collaborative post. 

#WoTW Disappointed

My word of the week is 


For those of you who follow me through my #365 posts you will know I have been off work sick. For this that don't follow me regularly I will give you a little background.

This started off in in the middle of September, with what they suspected was a food allergy. Caused swelling and simple pins and needles in my arm and hands. I had a few weeks off work with it and then went back to work, for one day, before it escalated into massive pain and inability to use my left arm. Massive pain is the understatement of the century.

I have the fortune of working for the NHS and so could very quickly refer to Occupational Health and through them into being seen by physio. So having tried painkillers, anti inflammatory tablets and nerve blockers from the GP I had reached desperation point as they were telling me they could do nothing else for me. I was put on the list for a neurology appointment which came up very quickly,
and they are organising an MRI and other tests.

 Fast forward to the end of November, though believe me six weeks of pain and no sleep did not go very fast, I got a steroid injection from physio, and thankfully for me it worked and I have now had ten days of being pain free.

So having gone back for another appointment yesterday with physio he said I could go back under certain conditions. This morning I had a meeting with my line manager, which we had agreed to delay from the original time of yesterday morning so we could have the most up to date information on which to base the decision.

Sadly the restrictions placed on me were such that it made my job impossible to do. I work as a domestic and I am not to push, pull, lift, carry or stretch so apart from emptying bins and carry the bags with my good arm then really not a lot I can do.

So today's decision by my line manager is to get a sick line for another four weeks and she will reassess me next year. I love my job, enjoy the company and the banter from both colleagues and customers and am missing not being at work. So to  say the least I am rather disappointed.

Word of the Week linky

Thursday 12 December 2019

How to child proof your garden

Your garden can be one of the best places for your children or grandchildren to explore nature, run off that extra bit of energy, and generally get some fresh air in their lungs and sunshine on their face (weather permitting!). Paddling pools and tents in the summer, hunting for bugs and wildlife, planting flowers and looking after a vegetable patch are all educational and fun activities that we can utilise our outdoor space to entertain our little ones. But how can we make sure that it is a safe and secure place for children to play?  A Builders Merchants based in and around Hertfordshire have provided the following advice to help.

Fix any damaged fences
Firstly it is very important that you have secure boundaries around the edge of your garden to stop children or pets escaping or unwanted guests coming in! Be sure to check your fence panels and garden gates regularly especially after harsh weather conditions such as wind or heavy rain!

Consider artificial grass
If your little ones take a tumble, artificial grass will be more forgiving than paving stones, gravel or decking. As well as saving any cuts and grazes it also looks fantastic with minimal maintenance and what’s more it can protect your home from any muddy footprints being spread throughout!

mage courtesy of athurstock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Remove hazards
Before letting your children loose in the garden do a quick check over the garden to remove any hazards. Make sure you remove any sharp objects and furniture that can be climbed on (and fallen off!). It might be a good idea to dig out the thorn bushes and check the overhanging trees for any poisonous berries.

Garden tools
Keep all of your dangerous tools away from little fingers and toes by locking them away securely in a garden shed or garage!

This is a collaborative post.

Christmas Memories

Memories can often be altered by time, for good or for bad we do not always remember things how they actually were. I doubt many of us remember what we got for a Christmas present before we were five or six years old.I certainly don't. I do remember every year we use to make paper chains, the sort that required you to lick and stick them together...yeuuchh at the thought now but it was fun at the time.

I do remember our Christmas days varied depending on where we were staying for the holidays. Regardless of where we were we had stocking on our beds.. I remember mine and my sisters were the same, they containing a chocolate sweet of some description, an apple and an orange, a bottle of  Nulon hand cream, one of us got pink and one yellow and an annual of some sort.depending on our age. We were allowed to open our stocking when ever we awoke. There was never a surprise of any sort in them, but we still woke early, opened them together, read our annuals and then go back to sleep.

Me Christmas 1962. 

Once up in the morning we had to take our stocking through to our parents room and show them what was in them before our mum went down the stairs to see if Santa had been and if he had then we got to go down and see. If we were at home then we opened some of our presents, had some breakfast usually rolls and bacon and played with what we had opened. If it was something for outside like a bike or roller skates we would wrap up and go pout.  After our full Christmas dinner we got to open the rest of our presents.

If we were staying with my paternal grandparents then we only got to choose one present when we got up in the morning and the rest were not opened until after lunch. I don't ever remember going to my maternal grandparents for Christmas, we may have done, but I was only nine when they left the UK for Australia. Have to say I don't have many happy memories from my childhood Christmas's.

When my own children came along I decided that despite the fact we did not have much money I wanted my children to have good memories of their Christmas days. So we started some new traditions that made it about more than the presents.

They always got to decorate the tree. May not have always looked very good, got better as they got older, but the decorations were generally always on the bottom half and usually to the front of the tree but as long as they were happy it was about them.

Christmas Eve was always about keeping them busy. After lunch we always made mince pies for Santa and the elves. They all did their bit depending on their age. From cutting out the circles with the pastry cutters, putting the  mince in, the job of the youngest child and then topping them off. Rarely were they sealed properly and the tops and bottoms did not always meet, but we made them together as a family. They also made chocolate krispie cakes that they would eat for their supper, probably the only day of the year that got chocolate for supper.

When DS2 was two we bought something that became a big part of our tradition, Disney sing a long of Christmas - you can see it on you tube here. We are all rather tone deaf bit we use to have so much fun "singing" along.After supper they got ready for bed, set up the table with the mince pies milk amd carrots and then we did the video. Once the video finished we would go upstairs and read some Christmas themed bedtime stories before he was put to bed.
I would play games with the girls, which we often did anyway, until it was time for bed for them.

We had a friend and her daughter stay for a few years, she was a single mum and the girls all got on well so she added to the enjoyment of our day.

They use to bring their stockings through to our room and we would all pile on the bed while they opened what was in them.To the squeals of delight and the happy laughter. Friend and daughter piled in as well, the more the merrier.

We then went down stairs and they had to eat something sensible before we tore into the presents under the tree. Some of the presents the children got were second hand, but children don't notice there is no cellophane wrapping or that things were detached from the internal packaging.

Then they played for a while with their toys, again going outside with any outdoor toys before we had rolls and bacon mid morning, bacon was expensive at the time and a real treat. We would go over to Auntie Carols house and my lot would take their "best" present of the day over to see her son Christopher and help him open his presents, he got that much stuff he could never possibly open it all in one day. I remember the year son, Christopher and the wee boy in the flat up the stairs him all got a remote control big foot car and their controls would work each others and they would randomly move in the other house if one child played with theirs.

They had snacks over at Carols house before we all piled back for Christmas dinner. The rest of the day was spent playing with what they had. Bedtime was into new pyjamas watch the sing along dvd again, stories and bed. Probably the only day of the year the older girls did not object to going to bed the same time as their baby brother.

DD2 tells me she does not remember ever feeling like they did not get enough presents but she remembers very fondly the season being about doing things together and creating memories and memories are free.

I do remember son asking me one year when it was two more sleeps to Christmas if he went for an afternoon nap did that count as a sleep....nice try but way to old to need an afternoon nap.

Some of these traditions I started with my children I carried on with the older two  We use to do Christmas eve baking for Santa and the elves with food allergies. Sadly for me most years the younger ones now do things with their parents and are not usually available to bake with.

We also started another tradition with the grandchildren about twelve years ago which those old enough to remember love as part of the season. They all come to us on another day after Christmas, some times Boxing Day, this year will be January 1st as first day we can all get together and we have what we call second Christmas where they all get their presents from our side of the family. The idea was and still is the parents get a few hours peace, we get to spend time watching them opening their presents and get to play with them. Spreads it out for tham and makes it less overwhelming on the 25th

Boba nd Fifi with their baking.

I also remember a well know card shop at the time did personalised letters from Santa. Every year from the time she stopped believing DD1 use to go into the card shop and order and pay for a letter for her brother. He use to love them and so looked forward to getting one, I think he kept them for years. He was quite heartbroken when he found out that Santa was not real and it was his sister that had done it. This was one of those family things that was brought up every year for many years afterwards.

What do you remember most about your Christmas?

Tuesday 10 December 2019

How to Tell if a Child is Happy at School

School is such a massive part of every child’s life, from nursery to primary school then secondary and potentially college or university they spend the majority of their young lives in education of some sort. For this reason it is extremely important to make sure that they are happy at school and that nothing is bothering them from day to day. Some of us have children or grandchildren that tell us about every single second of their days and every though that they have which makes it much easier for us to tell if they are happy or not. However some children tend to not give much away and keep their thoughts and feeling close to their chest. After all, school can sometimes be overwhelming and your child might not want to open up about some of their experiences, no matter what their age.

For this reason, an independent school in Twickenham have provided some tips to help us tell whether our children are truly happy at school or not.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Ask open ended questions
The first thing you should try is to talk to your children as often and as casually as possible. This doesn’t always have to be as soon as you meet them from the school gates or the second they walk through the door as it might be better to let them unwind and relax a little first. Ask detailed and open ended questions that require more than just a one word answer. Your child’s answers,  facial expressions and body language will give you a strong indication as to whether or not they are happy.

Talk to the teachers
Your child’s teachers are a great place to start if you would like an outside perspective on how your child is getting on at school and whether they are happy or not. They do after all spend 5 days a week with them! Call and ask for a meeting or have a quick chat at home time.

Observe their behaviour
As a parent you know your children better than anyone. Keep an eye out for any unusual behaviours such as becoming withdrawn or signs of anxiety such as bed wetting or nail biting. Has your child tried to pull a sick day when there was nothing wrong with them recently or declined any invites to birthday parties?

This is a collaborative post.