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

 

back to school 2014

First day of Year 2

Alice

What are you looking forward to? To do writing, seeing my friends and meeting my new teacher.

What do you want to be when you grow up? A teacher

What’s your favourite game? Puzzles

Favourite film? Aladdin

Favourite princess? Anastasia and Jasmin

Favourite book? Frozen

Favourite song? – ummmmmm?

Bessie

What are you looking forward to? My new classroom and finding which table I am sitting at. Seeing my friends.

What do you want to be when you grow up? A teacher

What’s your favourite game? Puzzles

What’s your favourite film? Beauty and the Beast

Who is your favourite princess? Aurora

What’s your favourite book? ummmmmmm

What’s your favourite song? Let it go!

 

Didn’t we have fun and yes there’s a huge part of me that is so sad it’s all over but there’s also another part of me that actually enjoys the first day back to school, I have always found it exciting. Seeing friends again after the long summer break, new bag, new pencil case and new teacher to get to know. There’s something scary and exciting about the whole September moment.

I recently wrote about my writing process in blog tour and it made me think lots. I feel as if I’m at a crossroad right now waiting for the ‘sign’ of where to turn next. But one thing I know for sure is I have been taking on way too much and need to step back a bit.

Looking back at my blogging journey I immediately recognised what used to be a weekly meet up for me, The Gallery on Sticky Fingers. Joining in this fun weekly photography prompt allowed me to meet and read lots of other blogs plus it encouraged me to get my camera out and have a go.

Some weeks my photos were simply just introductions to writing (and they were terrible) but the more blogs I visited the more I became inspired and the more I worked at my photography to try and get better.

The Gallery – first ever participation – Master of Good Ideas 2nd March 2010

Lots of writing and poor pictures of my beautiful chess set which incidentally is still in the loft.

chess set

But thumbing through all of my entries I smiled at this photo and it made me go awww. It’s not a good photo technically but it captured a moment that still makes me smile.

playing in mummy's shoes

 

And this one made me realise how grown up my girls are now, how time moves quickly and how I am so glad I kept a record of the important moments and the non-important ones like making snowballs when you’re 3.

twins playing in snow

 

Blossom I want to be

You may remember a while back we talked about the new inspiring magazine for girls, Blossom Magazine. The twins continue to enjoy their monthly copy and can often be found flicking through the pages, reading the stories or playing the games throughout the month.

I can honestly say they love it and I love it as it approaches all manner of subjects allowing them to broaden their minds and learn lots of new interesting information. For example in each edition of the magazine, Blossom features a different aspirational career to show girls they can be whoever they want to be – whether it’s an airline pilot, an author or a doctor.

blossom I want to be a pilot

This week Blossom magazine have launched a brilliant competition for their readers and I thought I’d let you know about it as the prize is a family VIP trip to London which includes:

    • one family ticket to ZSL London with a Meet the Meerkats experience;
    • one Rainforest Café voucher worth £100;
    • overnight accommodation in one family room at 3-star hotel, in Central London
    • and a visit to Blossom HQ plus a Blossom Goody Bag.

The #IWantToBe campaign is asking young readers to submit a video entry of what they want to be when they grow up.

I asked Alice and Bessie what they’d like to be when they grow up and here’s their answers

Alice: I want to be a teacher.

Bessie: I want to be a vet.

Then they asked me what I want to be when I grow up, my reply – A lady of leisure like the queen :D

Entrants have until 6th September to submit their video to the email address of hello@blossommagazine.co.uk and one winner will be selected to win a VIP London family trip 

Terms & conditions

T&Cs: Terms and conditions: Promoter: Immediate Media London Company Limited. You must make sure that we have your entries by 11.59pm, 6th September 2014. 1. You can enter if you live in England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland or the Channel Islands, unless someone who lives in your house works for the Immediate Media Company. 2. By entering the competition, you promise to us that you have read these rules and that you will follow them. 3. We can’t include entries which arrive too late and we can’t accept responsibility if your entry is lost. By entering this competition, parents/guardians grant permission to Immediate Media Company (publishers of Blossom) to post the winner’s video and entrants’ first names in its publications, websites and on its social media sites. 4. Winners will be chosen at random. 5. One entry per household. We don’t allow bulk entries or entries made by other people on your behalf. We will disqualify all entries which break this rule. 6. If you win, you will receive the prize described. We won’t swap the prize for cash. No alternatives or substitutions for any unused elements of the prize. If there’s ever a reason why we can’t give you exactly the same prize, we’ll give you something just as good or better instead. Prize is one family ticket to ZSL London valid for 2 adults and 2 children aged 3-16. Children must be at least 5 years of age and be accompanied by an adult for the Meet the Meerkats experience. One Rainforest Café voucher worth £100, see voucher for expiry date and additional T&Cs – includes drinks. Overnight accommodation in one family room at 3-star hotel, in Central London selected by Immediate Media Company. Visit to Blossom HQ includes a Blossom Goody Bag. Travel and other personal expenses are not included. Prize must be redeemed before 31st December 2014. 7. Winners will be contacted within 28 days of a competition closing date, either by post, telephone or email. 8. If we contact you to tell you you’re a winner, but you don’t reply within a month, we may have to offer the prize to a runner-up or give it away in a future competition. Your details: We will use your name, address and any other details that you give us to run this competition. If you win, we will pass them to the person who’s providing the prize so that they can post it to you, and we may use your first name and county in the magazine or on our website but we won’t provide them to anyone else without your permission. You can find out the winner’s first name and county once the competition is over by sending a stamped addressed envelope to Competition Rules, ATTN: Marketing Assistant, Blossom Magazine, Immediate Media Limited, Vineyard House, 44 Brook Green, London W6 7BT. Remember to tell us which magazine, issue number and competition you’d like to know about.

Parragon Gold Stars Challenge

I am really pleased to see the twins have excelled themselves at school in Year One this year both getting a superb report and having over achieved their targets setting them well up for a great Year Two.

Having asked throughout the entire year at school pick up time, ‘What did you do today at school?’ and receiving a non comital, ‘Nothing.’ or ‘I don’t know.’ It’s been really lovely receiving their books home and being able to see what they’ve been up to. Apart from a wonderful memory of their early learning years it’s also a valuable insight into what they’ve been covering.

Many say that the six week summer holiday causes memory loss and that a child may struggle in the new class with a new teacher who has yet to know and understand them and with a new curriculum.

I want to help my girls keep ticking over but not in a scheduled and vigorous manner, just by ‘playing’ and when I saw the Parragon Gold Star books at BritMums Live this year I knew they’d be perfect for the job.

They have been developed by teachers and educational specialists and take into consideration parents tips and advice. Each activity is illustrated using bright fun colours and in engaging the child with simple instructions like ‘Draw curly hair on the clown.’ Each activity also supports the National curriculum, in our case KS1.

Parragon Gold Stars challenge

Each book has 50 gold star stickers that parents can use when finished an activity as a reward system, there is a practise pad with extra exercises and each page also has a note for parents like ‘This activity helps your child to recognise nouns, verbs and adjectives.’

You can find the Parragon Gold Stars books in Sainsbury’s, WHSmith, Morrisons and Wilkinson. I am taking part in the Summer With Gold Stars challenge where once the child has successfully completed their 30 day challenge, which is a lot of fun anyway, they will receive a congratulatory letter and a personalised certificate.

I had the opportunity to speak to a child psychologist this morning, Chireal Shallow. We were participating in a BritMums hangout with lots of other lovely bloggers and our chat was around how to inspire children’s creativity.

I was able to put a question to Chireal about the twins as they play the same princess game over and over, day in day out. I wondered if maybe I should encourage them to play a different game but Chireal’s answer surprised me and put my mind at rest as she explained this is a good thing and if I watch closely each day the ‘princess’s are actually playing different games. She asked me to ask questions like, Where have the princesses been today? Did they enjoy it? and so on.

Chireal gave out some other great tips like games to play in the car when travelling, I didn’t know about the Number Plate game, did you? Basically spot a plate and make a word with the letters, for the younger child use one letter, the older child use 2 or 3 letters to make the game more challenging.

Helen asked about keeping three different children of different ages amused and what to do when they argue instead of play together. Chireal said try asking Socratic questions like ‘How do you think we can solve this? And putting the answer in their hands so they have to come up with a solution. What a genius idea!

Another area touched on was about children’s worry, I’m sure we’ve all felt that at some point. Chireal was asking us to intervene and use role play. She said it was a good idea to expose the worry and by doing so turning the fear into anticipation and excitement.

I hope you find the discussion interesting, click and watch to find out more of Chireal’s tips