Tag Archives: family

Love or Loathe Facebook? 1 Billion users in a day!

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Today Mark Zuckerberg announced that on Monday over 1 Billion people logged used Facebook, meaning 1 in 7 of the world’s population visited Facebook on 24th August 2015. This statistic got me thinking, love or loathe Facebook, 1 Billion users in a day is pretty mind blowing!

Chances are if you read blogs and have found your way here via social media, you were one of the 1 Billion. Do you genuinely love Facebook or do you find yourself on there wasting time or checking it in case you miss out on something juicy and interesting?

I have mixed feelings about Facebook. I find myself idly browsing through my news feed when I could be doing something far more positive and pro-active with my time or worrying over how many likes my Playing Parent page has had. However I have re-connected with old friends who I had lost touch with, I am able to share photos of our son with family living on the other side of the world or see my nephew in the States learning to ride his bike; and I have joined groups which have let me share interests with people who I would never have met in the ‘real world’. Joining the Facebook group ‘Archers Anonymous’ has given me a place to share my love of The Archers on Radio 4 (if you don’t listen to it, I highly suggest you start but be warned, it is highly addictive!) and discuss plots and characters who enjoy listening as much as I do, which in the ‘real world’ I know very few people like this. You can sell things far more simply to local people than you can on Ebay or you can ask a question and chances are someone will answer it for you.

We have just come back from a fab (if wet – VERY wet)camping holiday in Cornwall. We went with Ed’s best friend from school and his family. Our two families had a great time together, cemented our friendships and are already planning our next trip together. The same goes for the girls I am in touch with again from school. Meeting up with them and seeing our children get on and play together really is a very special thing to see and only yesterday I got a message out of the blue from some of the girls I used to work with in Surrey 15 years ago planning a reunion which is long overdue.

Facebook is a great place for small businesses to market themselves and get the word out there about all the great things they can do and offer. But there is the dark side to Facebook where kids are bullied, people are trolled and insulted or relationships breakdown because of a partner’s infidelity stemming from their Facebook use.

I don’t know if the good things outweigh the bad, but what I do know is that social media like Facebook is here to stay. If 1 Billion people can use it just one day within 10 years of it being launched just imagine what will see in the next 10 years.

I would love to know your thoughts on Facebook and social media, do you love it or loathe it?


My Villa Football Family

Villa FA CupThis weekend is a big deal for my family of Aston Villa fans. A Wembley Cup Final doesn’t come around very often for us. Growing up in Birmingham we had a wealth of teams we could have supported but going back five generations it would seem we were always Villa fans from the days of my great, great grandfather’s butcher’s shop in Aston.

My brother isn’t about so we are going up to my Dad’s to watch the match with him. We grew up with season tickets, weekends at Villa Park and a memorable trip to Wembley to see Aston Villa beat Manchester United in the Coca Cola Cup Final, so it seems only right to watch the game with Dad.

However in this family of Villa fans (I did marry a Liverpool supporter but having never been to Liverpool I don’t think this counts) there seems to be one small issue, the sixth generation (our 4 year old) doesn’t seem to interested in the Villa. He loves football, goes to a weekly soccer club and is starting to show an interest. Grandpa has bought him an Aston Villa annual, he even had a claret and blue blanket and baby grow when he was born but it seems that the Villa have not grabbed his attention. (I particularly liked this outfit as it was a very subtle and stylish nod towards our Villa heritage!)

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The reasoning behind this is because they ‘don’t wear enough blue’. It seems that Chelsea show more of a pull because of their strip. This week we saw Prince William interviewed  about his love for the Villa and the hope that Prince George and Princess Charlotte will follow him in his support for them. This got me thinking if you are a real die hard football fan (I am not) who is passionate about a particular team, what do you do if your children don’t follow suit? If you support City and your kids start supporting United, or as in our case your family have supported the same team for over 100 years and then suddenly someone ‘steps out of line’?

It is important to let our children make their own decisions but it can be hard to stand back and let them choose for themselves. This doesn’t just apply to football, it can be any sport, music or fashion style that deviates from our own tastes and interests.

You never know, if Tim Sherwood and the Villa boys do bring the FA Cup back to Birmingham maybe we might have a new ‘Villain’ on our hands….. or maybe not. (I am pretty sure he won’t support Arsenal, they are far too ‘red’.) Whichever team our son ends up supporting I really won’t mind, but I will pass on one thing to him which my grandpa said to me, there are lots of United’s City’s and Rovers but there has only ever been one Villa.

 


Chocolate Easter Baskets

chocolate easter baskets As per usual the one thing you can’t plan for over the Easter weekend is the weather and here in the Cotswolds it has been shocking. So we battened down the hatches this afternoon and made these easy peasy chocolate Easter baskets following a simple cornflake cake recipe.

We were really lucky today that we were able to enjoy some of Good Friday as a family. With Ed working in hospitality bank holidays usually mean we don’t get to spend time as a family as not surprisingly these are the busiest days of the year for them. Somehow we lucked out today and although Ed has had to work tonight he had the whole day free.

We popped out at lunchtime to the garden centre but the weather was so grim, the prospect of purchasing anything that needed planting over the weekend was not at all appealing. All we ended up coming away with was two ready made hanging baskets for our back door courtyard.

On the way home we stopped off to purchase the ingredients for these yummy chocolate Easter baskets as I knew Garth would enjoy making them as much as he would enjoy sampling them. I got the recipe for them from the BBC Good Food website (worth having a look at their cooking with kids section – it has tons of great ideas) The Co-op had run out of Cadbury’s Mini Eggs (am I surprised?) so we ended up getting the eggs from the M&S garage we pass. Although I wasn’t best pleased about this as I love a Cadbury’s Mini Egg, they were perfect for our cakes and the colours were so pretty they added a touch of something special to the overall effect I think!!

Ingredients

  • 50g butter
  • 100g milk or dark chocolate, broken into chunks
  • 3 tbsp golden syrup
  • 100g cornflakes
  • Chocolate mini Easter eggs

(Be warned! – We ended up using double the amount of chocolate stated here) chocolate cornflake cakes for Easter chocolate Easter baskets Method

1.       Children: Weigh out the ingredients. Older children can do this by themselves with supervision and little ones can help to pour or spoon ingredients into the weighing scales. Put the butter, chocolate and golden syrup in a saucepan or microwavable bowl. Put the cornflakes in another large bowl.

2.     Grown ups: Melt the butter, chocolate and golden syrup in the saucepan over a low heat or briefly in the microwave. Allow to cool a little before pouring over the cornflakes.

3.    Children: Stir the ingredients together gently using a wooden spoon. Spoon the mixture into 12 cupcake cases arranged on a muffin tray (or baking sheet, if you don’t have one). Grown ups will need to do this for younger children or simply arrange on a tray and let the mess happen. Put in the fridge to set.

To make these into Easter baskets we added the mini eggs and chicks (left over from our Easter bonnet making activity.) Garth loved making them and as he had made some at school last week was quite keen to tell me what I was doing wrong (I say differently) compared to his teachers. At least he is taking on board his experiences at Kindergarten and applying them elsewhere, even if it means we have a mini Masterchef judge on our hands!

Quality control in the kitchen

Happy Easter everyone and remember cocoa grows on trees, so effectively it is a plant.

Do you think we can count it in our 5 a day????????

 


Is it only February?

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Is t still only February? As I write this post I can’t get over how much our lives have changed since seeing in 2015. I have started a new job teaching again and we have left the pub we were tenants in for 5 years. It is really odd to have my husband back, at home, helping with daily life instead of feeling like single parent. This is part of why I started blogging as I was on my own so much. I know he was working hard to keep the business going but there came a point when the hours and no profit were just not worth what we were losing out on as a family. We now have weekends and each one is already booked up until the end of February, doing normal family things. In the space of a week we left the pub, buried a dear friend and had to have our lovely family dog put down after 14 years as my faithful companion. Not the easiest week but we got through it as a team.

I am sorry I haven’t posted for such a long time but as our life turned 360 degrees I didn’t have the energy to write posts or think about getting organised. I was simply taking each day as it comes. However with the hardest and longest month of our lives behind us I am excited for all 2015 has to throw at us. Bring it on……


Creating memories that last forever

Creating a Christmas full of lovely memories for our son (and us!) is really important to me when thinking about how I want our Christmas to be. I am a bit late with this but I saw the Mark Warner ambassador program for bloggers was closing today and it got me thinking about holidays in general and creating memories and having fun as a family no matter what time of year it is. For me I think of it as a bit like a bank account. You fill up with lovely, fun experiences when you can so that when you have those tough times which let’s face it we all do, you can ‘draw’ on these memories to help get you through.

For me, growing up, the highlight of my year was our annual family ski holiday. Unfortunately I haven’t been skiing for nearly 20 years, as a) my husband isn’t a skier and b) when I did have the opportunity I was 8 months pregnant but it is something we would really like to do as family in the future.

As a child I was lucky to start skiing from a young age as both my parents were keen skiers, my dad in particular and he was keen to get us started almost before we could walk.

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I still remember trying on my ski boots at home before we went which were bright red with blue and yellow clips. This photo was me using the plastic bags we had our lunch in as a make shift sledge, which my dad’s best friend Uncle Ken invented. (This photo is extra special as Ken is no longer with us.)

When we were a little older we returned every year to the same village of Niederau in Austria where both my brother and would take part in the weekly ski school slalom race. Julian would always do better than me (he was and still is a fearless skier) whilst I never did particularly well but was thrilled to get a bronze medal one year which is still in my treasures box today.

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This photo is from our first ski trip to Niederau and was taken in the après ski bar called The Avalanche where we had lots of fun with friends both old and new over the years we visited. Each time I look at this picture it fills me with so much love for my brother and our childhood (mainly as this was taken before he became an annoying teenage younger brother).

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It is these memories that are my most vivid and happy and from my childhood and as a parent I really hope I can create memories like this for our son. So there is my reason why I would LOVE to be a #markwarnermum as it is family friendly companies like Mark Warner that take the hassle out of planning the family holiday and let us get on with the job of having fun and filling the memories bank account. You never know Garth might be blogging about his childhood holidays in thirty years time.


42 Days of Summer #sweeet

At the start of the school holidays I signed up to the 42 Days of Summer challenge with BritMums sponsored by McVites BN biscuits. When the biscuits arrived I put them away with the intention of taking a great picture of the two packets to add to the blog. However they didn’t stay closed long enough for me to do this and to take this picture we are now on our third packet! I remember eating biscuits like this when we had holidays in Spain as a child so was intrigued if they were anything like I remember. I have to honestly say they are yummy and we will definitely be stocking up on them, especially as they are made from wholemeal and wheat.

BN Biscuits

Anyway back to our summer of fun. We have had a hectic summer as those of you who are regular visitors will know but have managed to have lots of fun as well. Living in the countryside is both a blessing and hard work when it comes to doing stuff to keep little ones entertained. Yes we have beautiful green surroundings but we don’t have much on offer in terms of parks and museums that town dwellers have. (I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, I love living in the countryside but as an ex-townie I also appreciate what city living has to offer too.) We have to be a little imaginative when it comes to things to do without getting in the car for long drives.

So our days so far this summer have included;

1. Playing in the garden and the grounds around where we live, including lots of fishing.

2. Day trips out to Stratford-upon-Avon, Hatton Park with my godson and Oxford.

3. Popping down the road to have ice cream in Bourton-on-the-water with all the tourists.

4. Getting crafty at home on rainy days.

5 Spending time with our family which is always special.

 

We still have our summer holiday camping in France to look forward to and a week of play dates lined up before we go. Thanks BN for actually making me stop and think about the fun we have had this summer, rather than that usual ‘what did you do over the summer holidays?’ to which the reply is usually ‘ooh not a lot’. This summer is definitely turning into a summer of fun that we will remember.

This post is an entry for 42 Days of Summer Linky Challenge sponsored by McVitie’s BN. Learn more at http://bit.ly/1mRpMCL


My Crazy Week and Poor Parenting……

The last seven days have gone by in a blur and my parenting skills have been poor to say the least. This time last week we were offered the opportunity to move to a bigger and busier pub and had to make the decision pretty quickly. The time frames were tiny and would have been a huge upheaval for all the family so as you can imagine their was an awful lot of soul searching. Cue the bad parenting due to all our focus on what should we do. The milk went off, the bread went mouldy, we didn’t send son to nursery as there was nothing for his packed lunch and we had a succession of babysitters over the five days we tried to work out what to do. Here is me trying to blog about healthy families and the other half caved in to the golden arches on one of his stints with our son! The crazy thing is the root of all this poor parenting was trying to make the right decision for our son’s future and us as family. Oh the irony of it all….

After all the umming and ahhing, number crunching and possible scenarios we have decided to stay put. We love our life as it is even though it can be a hard slog, but then what isn’t in this life? We have decided to focus and develop what we have rather than stretching ourselves and our time even more than we do already. Since we said no, our fridge is packed with vegetables again, dinner times have seen home cooked food back on the menu and the lunch box is back up to standard again. Our son visited his new school on Monday and my mum gave me a lecture on the importance of him having clean fingernails. If only she knew about the mouldy bread.


Welcome to My World

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Welcome to my world! Playing at being a parent is often how I feel. Am I doing this or that right? Do I really have any ideas about what I am trying to do? Am I creating huge problems for my child later in life? These and numerous more worries I could list haunt me daily and looking at the large number of parenting magazines, blogs, books and programmes out there it would seem I am not alone.

Also with being a parent I find the balance between being the strong adult who is the moral compass, shepherding to school or nursery, running a busy household and job means I often forget to be my child’s friend. the parent who plays and has fun with their child, the one I wanted to be when I was pregnant for the first time with all the dreams and aspirations that soon disappear after a run of sleepless nights, a tight budget with only one of you earning a wage to start with and just trying to get dressed and brush your teeth before midday.

If any of this sounds familiar then I hope you will enjoy visiting me here. I am Dominique and have been a teacher for the last 15 years, specialising in Early Years education since 2001. Since having our son 3 years ago I have devoured parenting manuals, websites, in fact anything about parenting as not only does it fascinate me, I am paranoid about messing the biggest job of my life up! If any of this sounds familiar to you I hope we will be friends……………………