Back to school

Back to School image via Shutterstock

This year’s Back to School in September is a biggy for us as we’re going up. Yes, the girls will be moving on to Year 3 and junior school and although the school is only next door and has the same name we had to reapply.

It means not only a change of teacher but of school uniform, school times and much more that I am finding out as the time draws closer.

We’re going to have to teach the girls to put a tie on and tie up shoe laces. We’re going to have our larger school bags to contend with, satchel or rucksack? Pencil cases are needed with named products inside. So as you can imagine there’s quite a lot of preparation already taking place.

Back to school tips and tricks

Marks and Spencer asked me to share some of my top tips for making sure our Back to School is worry free and painless.

Uniform

Think ahead – I have already been to the local shop and bought the school cardigans with logos on, I’ve sent in money for the school ties and the compulsory PE bag too as last year some students had to go without at the beginning of term. Also by thinking ahead you can take advantage of the sales and pick up quality uniform at a fraction of the initial price.

Getting dressed – It’s important to get the girls into a habit of dressing themselves and I find if I have laid out the uniform with them the night before so they have to think of what they need for the following day it makes them more responsible (she says with fingers crossed)

Lunch

School dinners or packed lunch? I must admit after a whole year of not having to worry about making a packed lunch every day I’m tempted to pay for them to continue with school dinners. If we do find ourselves reverting to packed lunches then they will be prepared the night before and once again I shall rope the twins in to sorting out their lunch boxes with me

Pencil case

I shall be taking them shopping over the school holidays and choosing a school bag and a new pencil case. I have invested in a Stamptastic stamp which allows me to stamp EVERYTHING they own.

Keeping the knowledge

It’s important to keep their knowledge ticking over on the summer break and by that I don’t mean over doing it with homework but little games for the times tables, at least the 2s 5s and 10s plus lots of reading good books. Visit the local library or start a book swap with other school mums.

School bags

Always get prepared the night before. Only last minute addition could be a lunch box out of the fridge.

Walk to school

We are just down the road from our school so we walk every day unless it’s tipping it down in which case we jump in the car. We have a checklist we all say before we leave the house so we all remember what to take: – Book bags, water bottles, keys and so on. We’ll often talk about things we see on our walk to school or use the time for conversation.

First day back

An exciting day and a worrying one too for some? On our first day back parents will accompany the children to the junior school hall form that day onwards the children will have to enter via the school gate on their own and in past years I have noticed this can be quite daunting for some children. We shall be organising with the other school mums to meet at the gate from the second day onwards so the children can go in together.

Reaching half term

I always think the first term back is the hardest especially when it’s a new school, new teacher and lots of new information to take on board. I like to get homework done over the weekend in the morning so the day is clear and we haven’t to worry about it anymore. I think weekends should have something to look forward to, this can be playing in a local park or baking some brownies, anything that for the children is a fun task.

Marks and Spencer got in touch and asked me to share some of my top tips with them, have you got any to add? How do you make your Back to School smoother?

Disclosure: This post is in collaboration with Marks and Spencer they have a 20% off promo that runs until the 14th of July

cabo de palos - la manga club resort

Michelle from Mummy from the Heart set about asking us what Big 5 lessons do we want to pass on to our children and it made me sit and think. After all we spend our lives teaching them, how to walk, talk, run, swim, and behave but what do I really want the twins to focus on as they grow older and hit teendom and beyond?

I took my time and focused on my big mistakes as, like most parents, I want them to avoid messing up like I did. Here are my life lessons Alice and Bessie (and for Tommy and Megan if you still need a gentle reminder now and then)

1. You are beautiful. You are enough.

If I look back to my younger days I was desperately trying to be like ‘everyone else’. The magazines I read, the adverts I watched all told me I should have a big bust, I should be skinny, my nose should be just so, I should laugh like this and act like that. This would make me the perfect person that everyone loved and admired. All along I should have listened to my dad who always used to tell me ‘You’re beautiful. You are enough just as you are.’

He was right, I wasted so much time trying to be someone I wasn’t, it took me a lifetime to understand that the image sold to us by the media doesn’t exist. What does count is that you are happy and surrounded by people who love you. Accept you for what you are and you will climb mountains.

2. Be yourself, like yourself.

This one kind of carries on from the above but I am referring to character. I have lived through so many excruciating moments convinced nobody liked me that I wasn’t worthy of anyone’s friendship, that everyone thought me, stupid, silly, a show off, bossy boots, a horrible person that no one wanted to waste their time on. Because of this highly critical way of looking at myself I have managed to bust up good friendships, I’ve managed to wreck a marriage (my own – not anyone else’s!) If only I had had more faith in myself from the start, if only I had accepted me for what I am, maybe I wouldn’t have made those mistakes?

I guess we’re never going to be liked by EVERYONE but those that do accept us, don’t go analysing every word they say looking for an excuse to put yourself down. Accept their friendship and accept that you are you.

3. Have courage and be kind

This one is taken from the Cinderella film we have been to see recently, Cinderella’s mum tells her to have courage and to always be kind and that advice serves her really well. Now I doubt you’ll be marrying princes but I have a theory that whatever you do in this life comes back at you sooner or later so if you are always kind then you should receive lots of kindness in return.

As for courage there will be lots of moments in your life that you need to hold your breath and take a step forward not knowing what the outcome will be. I say if you have thought about it, go for it otherwise you will never know. You only have one life and I want you to make the most of it in the best possible way. Have courage my lovely girls (and boy).

4. Listen to your heart

I’m a great believer in intuition and listening to your heart. If it doesn’t feel right STOP right there and don’t do it. Your heart will always be true to you, learn to listen to your bones, your stomach, your feelings and you will hear the right tune. Sometimes it might not be what you want to hear but the lesson will be the truth. Learn from it.

5. Don’t mess with other people’s feelings

Maybe another way of saying treat others as you wish to be treated. This is so important as you can’t go through life upsetting people, you have to take responsibility for your actions, think before you speak. Trust me when I say that sometimes it is best not to speak your mind, sometimes it is best to keep your thoughts to yourself. Sometimes people don’t want to hear it so don’t be the one to upset them. If someone is upsetting you, walk away and stay right away. Don’t get involved and you won’t get hurt. And when the time comes that someone falls in love with you, if you don’t love them back be kind, be gentle, it’s someone’s heart you’re dealing with.

big5memebadge

 

Dr Ranj Singh, paediatrician and TV presenter, has been spending a lot of his time underlining the importance of the flu vaccine on offer right now. He goes into a lot of detail in this video explaining the benefits of protecting your child against flu. It is brilliantly explained and after watching, personally I can’t see any reason why I wouldn’t vaccinate my children, please take a look.

Facts about Flu

In an average flu season in England, flu affects up to 10% of children aged 0 – 14 years

Children are the main transmitters of flu and pass the virus on for longer than adults.

For every 10 children who missed school because of flu-associated illness, eight household members subsequently became ill.

In 2013/2014, a total of 904 admissions to intensive care were reported as influenza including 98 deaths.

2014/2015 immunisation

All children aged 2,3 and 4 are being offered a free vaccination at their GP surgeries this winter.

All children aged 5 and 6 and classed as ‘at risk’ are also being offered the same.

flu vaccination

What is Flu?

Flu isn’t just a rotten cold, it can be a serious illness and flu vaccination gives children the best chance of protection from flu and the nasty complications that can be caused by the virus.
The recommended flu vaccine, for most children, is a nasal spray which means no needles will be used.
Protecting our children also protects others, such as the elderly who are particularly vulnerable to diseases such as flu.

Dr Singh said: “We shouldn’t forget that flu can be a potentially deadly disease and if not controlled, can spread fiercely. We are lucky to live in a country where we are actually offered a free comprehensive flu vaccination programme for our children. I fear that, unless people understand the facts, it won’t be until flu affects them personally that they’ll take action in the form of vaccination. I hope that is not the case. We really shouldn’t take that risk with our children when we have a vaccine on offer. Part of this is down to healthcare professionals like me, but also our schools and government to ensure that our community and children are protected.”

Immunisation has played a substantial role in public health, topping the list of greatest achievements in public health in the 20th century. The benefits of immunisation are substantial, not only protecting children from vaccine-preventable diseases but also extending to adolescents and adults, providing them with protection against diseases such as influenza. Children are the most likely people to bring flu into the home and the most likely to spread it around.

Top tips for protecting your child from flu

1. Wash your hands with soap and water

2. Reduce the risk of contamination

3. Ensure your child is immunised against flu.

Disclosure: Information and photo credits to Share good times not flu I have been compensated for this post but I do seriously think it is a very important issue and urge all parents to think very carefully and vaccinate their children.

marianne and megan

Today I celebrate my daughter’s 24th birthday, it has given me the perfect excuse to rummage through the photo albums I have in a cupboard. I miss her terribly. She’s happy and that’s a consolation but grrr to living in different countries.

As only mum’s can, I thought I’d share with you some of our time we had growing up together. Be warned it’s photo heavy this week, I hope you enjoy looking through our family snaps.

megan age 4

 

When she was born she was a beautiful baby, I fell in love instantly and was so very proud of her. She was 3,200 k and 51 cms long with a shock of black hair, a doll – I still haven’t stopped hugging her tightly to me.

me and megan 2004

She was a good baby too, ate, slept, and smiled so we had a lot of fun together.

As she grew I came aware of her excellent sense of humour and to this day Megan and I read from the same book, sometimes it doesn’t even need saying out loud, we just know and smile.

Many a snowy afternoon was spent watching favourite Disney films snuggled up together, this was a new camera I had at the time and I was playing with the remote button.

‘Don’t look at the camera Meg and we’ll see what happens.’

me and megan

I feel an incredibly strong bond with her even though we are miles apart. She is the one person I would love to have in my life every single day because we can talk for hours about all sorts of things. Sometimes our opinions differ…

For example at BritMums Live this year, where I was so happy to have her with me, we shared a room so were getting ready together …

Megan: ‘Mum those shoes don’t go with that.’

Me: ‘But I love these shoes, they’re fun and comfortable.’

Megan: ‘They still don’t go. You wear them, I’m just letting you know what I think.’

I changed the shoes.

Megan me and simon calder

So allow me to indulge today readers as I look back on our 24 years together and celebrate being mum to this wonderful lady who makes my heart sing when I hear her voice.

me and megan

megan

megan aged 2 sardegna

M&S SS14 shoes

Megan learning to snowboard

Oh dear – someone’s not very happy ..

megan carnival

and finally something every mum has to do sooner or later – let themselves be made up by their daughter. I don’t think she did too badly for her first time do you?

Happy birthday darling Megan, have a wonderful day, love mamma xxx

make over by Megan age 12

 

Camping le croix du vieux pont sky

Image: The lake at Camping Le Croix du Vieux Pont, Berny Riviere, France perfect campsite near EuroDisney.

The sky is always there above us and it’s one factor I always keep in mind when I miss my Italian kids. I remember saying to them years ago, ‘When I miss you I shall look at the sky and know you can see the same as there is only one sky above us all’. I think all three of us still look at the sky to communicate before we jump on FB, WhatsApp or the phone.

I look up to the sky when I pray for important things.

I look up to the sky when I talk to my souls who have passed on. My dad’s been living up there since 2007, ‘watching down’ on me.

Heaven, for me, is in the sky. It’s where I will go when I leave this life. I’ll be in the sky, watching down on all my loved ones.

My Italian mother in law, Daria, passed away in summertime, I think it was 1999. She’d been suffering terribly and I had been lucky that she had let me assist her in those last few months and weeks she was with us. This was an enormous stamp of approval from her which I am so grateful for to this day. I remember visiting her in hospital on what was to be her final day, she’d given a nurse some money to buy biscuits and chocolates which she had on her bedside table.

I walked to her bed at visiting time and she used her head to point to the goods on her bedside table, she told me they were to be given to the nurses to thank them for all their hard work. My husband was with me, agitated and left the room to speak to a doctor. In his absence she said

“Goodbye Marianne.”

In my heart I knew it would be the last time I would ever see her and speak to her.

She passed away the next morning.

I saw to it that the biscuits and chocolates were given to the nurses who didn’t want to accept them in such a sad moment but I insisted knowing it had been her wish.

My children were in England that week and we never ‘ruined’ their holiday by telling them their beloved nonna had passed away keeping the news for their return when we could hug them too.

There was just one tiny thing I could say to them to make the blow a little softer.

You see, the day she passed away was in August, high season and our hotel was full of guests. When I had finished serving in the restaurant, after the tables had been relaid for breakfast, the floors swept and washed and the service kitchen put to rights once again, I stepped onto the balcony that runs around the restaurant and looked up at the sky for a quiet moment before heading back in to the busy bar. The sight I found took my breath away because never in my life before, nor since that night, had I seen so many starts out twinkling in the crisp, black mountain night.

So many stars.

‘Hello Daria.’ I said.

Whenever my children were feeling the loss of their nonna which often happened at bedtime I would pull back the curtains, open the shutters and show them the sky and tell them what I have told you adding, ‘Nonno Orlando was throwing a party for nonna Daria as he’d been missing her for so long.’ Which always raised a smile as everyone likes a party.

This week’s prompt for The Gallery 199 is The Sky.

We had a fabulous time on our holiday in France this year although the downgraded hurricane Bertha had messed about with the weather a bit making it very unpredictable, until the day we left of course! However, on a good day there were some stunning sunsets that lit up the sky with thousands of colours and which the lake reflected beautifully for me when I took my photo, like these ones, same lake two different nights.

sunset, sky, camping le croix du vieux pont france

Image: The lake at Camping Le Croix du Vieux Pont, Berny Riviere, France perfect campsite near Disneyland Paris.

Nip over to The Gallery 199 to see more skies.

the gallery photography sticky fingers