Making sure your children get the best education

school year 4

The twins have gone back to school today and they have entered the world of Year 4. New teachers – we have a job share this year so we have more than one – new classroom, stricter rules as children are expected to become more and more independent and focused for longer.

I know this first week will be a difficult one as they have been used to lazing around, playing and doing nothing, after all that’s what school holidays are about, right?

However as much as I like to let them relax during the holidays and enjoy a more outdoors lifestyle both husband and I take schooling very seriously, we want them to have the best education we can offer them. We have kept the reading ticking over, with the promise of completing a Brownie badge, we got them to keep up their handwriting by writing a daily diary for 4 weeks. That one got difficult towards the end when the novelty wore off.

And, we have been setting them 10 maths questions per day for the last couple of weeks, just simple addition, subtraction and multiplication to get their brains geared up again. This caused tears, BIG tears, so we bribed them with pocket money and that seemed to work.

We know we’re not raising tomorrow’s Einstein here but we’d just like to make sure they remember what they learnt in Year 3 with the hope of making Year 4 that little bit easier for them.

There is already talk of SAT’s and 11+ too and as much as we try to be laid back and relaxed we are very aware that they only get one shot at education. We feel it is our duty to make sure their education journey is the best they can get.

school reviewer

I was really interested to come across the website School Reviewer, this is exactly the kind of website parents need to make sure the choices they make are the correct ones and to find lots of additional advice and tips to making the educational journey as enjoyable as possible.

For a start School Reviewer includes stats and knowledge about every school in the UK. Each school has it’s own page and you can read an About page with contact details and lots of information about the school, the academic results for the past three years, you can check out the catchment area and read reviews from other parents.

There is also a parents forum enabling everyone to talk about all sorts of topics regarding their children’s school life. Not only that there is a very interesting Buy and Sell page which allows you to sell on your own items or search for a pair of nearly new football boots, ballet leotard or school tie.

school reviewer

As your child progresses through school you can also download SATS and GCSE papers, some are free and others for a small fee. These will help enormously on the run up to the exams.

Another point of interest for me was the Tutor page, inviting tutors from all over the country to sign up and be available for parents up and down the country.

So as we head towards Year 6 and SATS I like having the knowledge that I can use School Reviewer along my parental journey and help the girls out as much as I can on their educational experience.

Why not take a look for yourself and head over to post a review about your school today?

Disclosure: This is a collaborative post with School Reviewer, all opinions and words are my own.

Walking yourself fit with a PITCH pedometer

Stone bay Broadstairs

The French family baker Brioche Pasquier, have had a genius idea this summer, they’ve added pedometers to their bags of PITCH bakery products. The girls were delighted to discover a pedometer when we opened up the delicious products they sent us. Brioche Pasquier challenged us to track our steps for a day and report back.

As you can imagine my first hurdle was to put a stop to the argument as to who was going to wear the pedometer! So we decided on a day each. We were down at the caravan where the girls are constantly on their bikes, in the pool and we take Baxter for some lovely coastal walks.

PITCH pedometer

I have been wearing a Fitbit now since April and I love it. It gives me a clear indication of how much I have been moving, I’ve set myself a goal of 10,000 steps a day and am horrified to see, especially on a work day, that I can just about clock up 4000. The girls are fascinated by it and will often ask me how many steps they have done on one of our walks. Now I had the possibility to let them find out for themselves.

The pedometer clips onto your clothes and has a reset button. I laughed when I saw how seriously they were taking it, downing their bikes and walking off to the park instead. They would come back very excited and reel off the number on their pedometer looking for praise or a wow from me or dad.

They kept the pedometer on for a whole weekend and the only problem we had with it was it kept resetting itself every time the girls bent over but this was soon put right by moving it to another area, like the edge of a t shirt for example.

Walk to the park and back = 642 steps

Playing one afternoon = 331 + 589 + 210 + ? (it reset to zero) + 457

Our coastal walk from Stone Bay to Broadstairs – 4321

Broadstairs beach huts

On a Sunday morning we all jumped in the car and drove to Stone Bay where our walk commenced. We walked around the bay to the neighbouring Viking Bay, home to the pretty town of Broadstairs. We walked to the end and back and stopped for a delicious ice cream with the most wonderful view

Chiappinis ice cream broadstairs

A great morning was had by all and you can find out what we saw and did at Viking Bay Broadstairs on our new blog which is very much in its early stages Thanet Uncovered.

broadstairs Viking bay

As you can see there was a lot of recording and one figure got deleted before they could take a note, I can assure you they were taking this very seriously and had a lot of fun.

If you are looking for some fun activities to pass the last week of summer holidays or maybe to count the school run steps then keep an eye out for the Brioche Pasquier PITCH products.

Disclosure: We were sent two bags of brioche and a pedometer for the purpose of this post

I learnt it on Netflix! Project Mc2, Beat Bugs and more

Netflix twins

It’s time to talk about Netflix again and what we have been watching because although it’s the summer holidays and there is lots going on there is still time for Netflix. Everyone needs some chill out time and that’s where Netflix comes in to being for us.

So what have been watching?

Beat Bugs

The twins turned their nose up when our box of goodies came through, they are going through a ‘That’s too young for us!’ stage with very clear boundaries of what is right for them and what isn’t, they are 8 *raises eyes skywards*. However I persisted, I chose a day when they were sitting on the sofa, tired from a lot of running around. I had a massive pile of ironing to catch up on, as is frequently the case, and I started to play episode 1 of Beat Bug.

What you need to know:  The cute Beat Bugs tell uplifting and life-affirming stories filled with hope and melody. They are a group of five friends who discover life’s most important lessons in their garden. The Beat Bugs live out their childhood adventures to the words and music of The Beatles. Created by Josh Wakely, Beat Bugs incorporates more than 50 songs from the Lennon/McCartney ‘Northern Songs’ catalogue and features covers by world-leading music artists.

What did we think? Well the ‘big girls’ watched the entire episode and went on to watch another straight afterwards! The stories are well told, the illustrations are gorgeous and the music fits perfectly. I think this is ideal for youngsters and although my 8 year olds watched it I think they are at the stage they want something a bit older.

Project Mc2

Project Mc2 is perfect for them, it’s about a group of school girls who dress fashionably but at the same time are a bit geeky and know how to handle themselves. A kind of girl power in the classroom taking all the best bits about girls.

I really love this program as I find it inspirational for the twins who are on the lookout for good role models, any girl who is happy to let everyone know she is intelligent is a good role model in my book. It also makes school more exciting.

The Little Prince

I have a very fond place in my heart for The Little Prince as it is one of the books I read with Thomas my eldest back in the day. We both loved it and read it more than once together. So I was very pleased to see it was on Netflix too.

What you need to know: The story is about a Little Girl and her mother who are preparing her for the world we live in, only they hadn’t bargained on The Aviator, their eccentric and kind hearted neighbour becoming part of their plans. The Aviator introduces the Little Girl to his friend The Little Prince and she discovers with them a world where anything is possible. The film features voice work by Jeff Bridges, Rachel McAdams, Paul Rudd, Marion Cotillard, James Franco, and Ricky Gervais.

What did we think? LOVED IT and I will certainly be watching this again. I may even go and buy the book again just for old times sake, thank you Netflix for bringing this beautiful story back into my life.

The Good Wife

One last shout out for mums (and dads) on another of my mammoth ironing sessions I chose to start watching the series The Good Wife and I have fallen in love with it. It’s utterly superb. It’s an American legal and political drama series. The show revolves around Alicia Florrick, whose husband and former Cook County, Illinois, State’s Attorney, Peter Florrick has been jailed after being found guilty of corruption and sex scandal. She returns back to her job as a litigator in a law firm in order to provide for her two children. It’s gripping.

Netflix mari

What’s next on my list?

Tallulah

Tallulah, was written and directed by Sian Heder (Orange is the New Black) and tells the story of a young homeless girl, Lu who lives in a van and is very independent living day by day.  A chance meeting convinces her to ‘save’ a baby from the drunken mother and she turns to the only person she thinks can help, Margo who is led to believe she is the girl’s grandmother. I have only watched the trailer below and I just know this is going to be brilliant.

Disclosure: I am a member of the Netflix #StreamTeam 2016

The secret to a long life – my research and findings

Weekes family timanfaya

The secret to a long life is an ongoing intriguing matter for me. I find the older I get, the more I consider my body and how I use it, after all I only have this one and ideally I’d like it to last me a very long time. I would love to discover the secret to a long life so I have been doing a bit of research and I thought I’d share my findings with you; then you can keep reading Mari’s World for years to come and I can keep writing. You’re happy – I’m happy.

The fact that my great grandmother died a month before her 103rd birthday has always filled me with optimism that I will naturally follow in her footsteps. Her daughter, my grandmother, will be celebrating 96 at the end of the month and her longevity has added to my faith. However, every now and then the fear of not being around for long grips me and I run a quick check over my lifestyle to see if I could be doing better.

The secret to a long life

Broken into six areas, I get the feeling that if you are doing well in each you can give yourself a slap on the back and a big round of applause. Let’s take a look.

Diet

Most of the food we eat is home cooked from scratch. Occasionally I will get something pre-prepared, like on my work days when I come home bushed but we very rarely have take aways and my cooking has been heavily influenced by my years in Italy, so I’m pretty sure we have a healthy diet.

I am a bit overweight and that needs addressing, middle age spread they call it. I think my metabolism has dropped and I’m not burning the calories like I used to. This is really annoying as I still have the appetite that I used to.

My struggle is cutting back and not cutting out all of my favourite indulgences. I am still searching for the perfect diet for me but cutting out a daily chocolate treat sadly, seems to be a great step forward.

My other vice is wine. Yeah I know, my favourite treat in the whole wide world and it would seem I’m drinking pure fat mixed with poison. So, I only drink at the weekends and then in moderation. No more propping up the bars or knocking back shots and cocktails to the early hours these days.

Healthy heart

I was asked to go for a health MOT a few months back which, of course, I sailed through but it did highlight the importance of a healthy heart and a healthy lifestyle.

With some of my birthday money I invested in a Fitbit; a lot of my colleagues have one and the part I love is the community aspect. I can now take part in challenges with friends all over the country. It has inspired me to get up and get walking as I hate days when I have a low step count.

Purpose in life

static caravan

Apparently, having a purpose in life is paramount to living longer. Well I have loads of purposes at the moment, 4 kids and 3 grandkids to start with! A husband I love and we’ve just invested in a static caravan in Birchington.

I also have my job which is no longer shiny and new as I’ll be clocking up a year in October. I love my work and the company I work for, they have given me an extra purpose in life.

I’m not short of purpose for the moment.

Reduce stress levels

I’m not a neurotic, stressed out working mother but I will admit stress can get to me. I notice it most when I have a song on ear worm and on waking during the night I can hear the song over and over again in my head. That’s an annoying indication that I need to step back and relax.

I am very, very good at stepping back and indulging in a lazy day. Only this has been known to bring on indulging in treats which goes against the food point made earlier! Vicious circle, right there.

Be social

That is me! I have a wonderful family who I love to catch up with, I have friends I like to meet up with and of course my immediate family which I love spending time with. When I’m not with them I am online, although I have managed to reduce the amount of time I spend online since starting work which I am very pleased about.

Smoking

Not a problem, I gave up smoking in 2013 and haven’t looked back since. One of the best decisions I ever made. However, I do still worry about any leftover damage I may have caused in my crazier years as I did smoke a lot.

sunlife death clock

For a bit of fun I had a go at the SunLife Death Clock – sounds ominous doesn’t it, but it works out I still have another 48 years to enjoy! I think that’s a great excuse to have a glass of wine don’t you? Oh I can’t it’s a Wednesday!

Disclosure: A collaboration with SunLife

Disney Art Academy plus Wii U news!

 

Disney Art Academy

 

Disney Art Academy

Our latest review for the Nintendo 3Ds is Disney Art Academy which is guided art lessons whilst drawing some of the most popular Disney characters. If your child has ever said, “I can’t draw’, then this one is for them as following the mini lessons using the stylus you quickly see your drawing of the Disney and Pixar characters come to life.

It’s also a fantastic game for children who can draw and want to improve their skills, even mums and dads can have a go!

Characters to choose from include Disney princesses, Mickey Mouse, Nemo and WALL-E, the twins particularly liked drawing Olaf, everyone’s favourite snowman.

When you first pick up the game the level of difficulty is simple, tracing lines and filling in with colours. as you go along you are taught about expressions and portraits. There are some excellent tips included for young artists, like where to place the eyebrows and how a slight angle to the mouth can change an entire facial expression showing the emotion of the character.

As you go through the lessons you are taught how to use layers, it’s a great base for future users of Photoshop!

The beauty is, when the kids are in bed you too can have a go and learn some great drawing techniques and as there are no user profiles you won’t be messing with their levels – just don’t save your work over theirs!

The more characters you complete, the more you find and the more you are enticed in to learn and develop your skills.

  • Playable on: Nintendo 3DS
  • PEGI: 3+

Perfect for rainy days over the holiday or for quiet moments.

Wii U Premium Pack and Mariokart

Wii U Mario Kart Premium Pack

A second fantastic addition to our Nintendo games this summer has been the Wii U Premium Pack. Straight out of the box, it is so simple to set up and connect to your Nintendo account that we were up and running right after breakfast.

Mario Kart 8 is pre installed and very simple to work the controls to discover where it is. One simple click and we were in.

Since then the girls have been playing daily, absolutely loving the race track, the music and the fun character Mario. Dad has to wait for the girls to go to bed to get a look in and can’t wait to tell them in the morning how he got on.

As part of the Nintendo UK Family Blogger Network, we look forward to bringing you news of lots more products both for the Nintendo 3Ds and the Wii U.

Disclosure: The above mentioned products were sent to us for the purpose of this post, we are part of the Nintendo UK Family Blogger Network.

Nintendo blogger