A family visit to Dogsy Ma Bone at Touchstones Rochdale

Our family blog has given us many opportunities so far that would have been unnoticed to us otherwise. This post is a great example of this. Even though we are not that far away from Rochdale we had never planned a visit to that city before, until we were approached by the Liverpool Biennial team. This time we were kindly invited to attend the launch of the exhibition of Dogsy Ma Bone, the production from Marvin Gaye Chetwynd.

We were quite surprised and in all honesty I had to google the artist and the show, but we are always opened to new family experiences that help us get closer to different activities.

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As they explain it very well on their website “In 2016, Chetwynd worked with 78 young people from Liverpool to create a new film and performance, using the city as a backdrop to the action. Originally commissioned for Liverpool Biennial 2016, the work is inspired by Bertolt Brecht’s Threepenny Opera (1928) and Betty Boop’s A Song A Day (1936).”

Well, we explained to our little ones a bit more about it and told them we were going to see a little show made by kids and for kids. Our 5 year old’s first reaction was “I want to be part too!” haha, as usual, she likes being the star of the show everywhere we go. 😉 Anyway, she finally understood.

When we got there we still had a bit of time to walk around the museum and see other galleries. It is quite well thought for families, since facilities, access for prams and children area are in to easy access. Staff were quite friendly too, must say.

So before the performance started, the organisers explained to us the hows and the why. They said it was definitely a great opportunity for Rochdale to boost youth’s creativity and talent. Then we met Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, the creator of this production, Dogsy Ma Bone.

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Finally a group of youth came out all dressed up in very peculiar fancy clothes. It has a purpose behind all, and if you watch the screening you will learn why they dress like that. They tell the story through the songs. All of them were sung live. Their voices and talent were amazing. Even our 1 year old was paying attention to them, which is really hard to happen.

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For kids, it is something they can enjoy since the rhythm of the music keeps them entertained and there are some props there too. For adults, you can read between the lines and understand a bit more of today’s society’s biggest issues since there is a clear message that comes across with the story of Dogsy Ma Bone.

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Anyway, Touchstones is a great museum, Dogsy Ma Bone is a good family activity and we were greatly surprised by Rochdale town centre and surroundings, which it seemed beautiful to us. So you might want to take advantage of the coming bank holidays or another day and plan a visit there. Dogsy Ma Bone will be there until July, so you’ve got plenty of time!

10 lessons I learnt after one year blogging

This is my blog post #100 after one year blogging. I can’t believe I have been able to share with all of you a hundred of our family stories, our ups and downs, our nonsense and our achievements. Our family blog is a bit older than one year actually. It was born back in June 2013 when we just first shared with you that we were moving to Manchester,UK.

But it has been a full year of really being committed to blog regularly since April 2016. I was still on maternity leave, embracing every moment I could spend with my baby boy. Blogging has helped me to reflect, actually to ponder on many things. So whether you’re giving it a thought and you’re not sure if you should start a blog or you’re an experienced blogger who would like to look back on time, this blog post may be able to help you remember a few lessons.  If you don’t have anything to do with the blogging community but you enjoy reading our stories I hope this post will also help you in some way.

So without further a do.

Lesson #1 Blogging is much more than writing

Even if you don’t plan to monetise your blog and earn money from it, or even if you want to keep it quiet, blogging requires much more than just writing a blog post in front of your computer. Unless you don’t care at all if someone out there reads you or you’re keeping it private as a personal journal or just to be shown to a few selected family and friends, then blogging needs more hours than the ones you invest on having an idea and putting it into words.  You need to promote it on social media, be part of the blogging community, get involve, read other blogs, comment on them, create content for all your other social media channels. Look after the aesthetic of your site, the speed, and other technical issues. Create good quality pictures and/or videos. And the list could go on and on…but hey! I don’t want to discourage you with just my first lesson learnt, so please, keep reading…

Lesson #2 I want to be ME

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In the beginning of the journey you look for other bloggers, check what they write about, how they tell the story, what type of pictures they take…but after that stage of “stalking” others you realise there is no better version of yourself than being true to your own essence, to that something that makes you be YOU. Depending on the lenses you’re looking at me you might see I’m a regular ordinary woman in her 30’s but you might also find something that you can feel related too; it might be my background, my family, or any treats of my personality that I share with you on every post, whatever that may be it has kept us connected through this family blog. And because of that, I need to be ME. I want to be ME. I love how others write and tell their stories, their wittiness, their lovely pictures, but they’re not me. And after one year blogging I’ve realised that I feel much better when I’m true to myself than trying to copy somebody else.

Lesson #3 I won’t LIKE you just because you LIKED me

Written like that sounds quite mean actually, but within the blogging and social media scene there’s a “dodgy game” of “likes for likes”. So you can find out there many opportunities to join threads, posts, etc. where you will receive as many likes as you give. I tried it in the beginning and part of me felt like I was cheating… I understand people that do it, they’ve got their own good reasons, but I don’t like to play that game to be fair. I want you to LIKE me because you really do and not because you’ve got to. For me, that’s true love, isn’t?! I guess you can say I’m a bit old fashioned and romantic…haha

Lesson #4 Numbers are just NUMBERS

If you want to work with brands and companies some of them might ask you for your stats, your domain authority (none ever did to me so far) but I’ve heard they do. After one year blogging I have learnt to not be obsessed by the figures. I had a great date out when my DA was 1 and recently had a lovely event too now that my DA is 20. Have I changed? Has my family suddenly become better than it used to be when no one read our blog? NOT AT ALL. For me, success doesn’t depend on numbers, for me it depends on the “collateral beauty” ( did you watch that lovely movie with Will Smith by the way?) anyway, what I mean by that is that for me success is learning that someone felt better because of something we shared, it means touching other people’s lives through our stories.

Lesson #5 Inspiration doesn’t come unless i set up my priorities right

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For me, my main priorities in life are my family, my God, and then my other main responsibilities that kept us alive, whether it be temporally, such as work or spiritually, such as church responsibilities. I have noticed throughout this year that if I mess up with any of them, but most importantly with the first two, then my mind just gets lost and confused and seems impossible to organise my time and look after our family blog. You may not be religious at all, but what I’m trying to say with this is that as much as blogging might be important to you, decide your priorities first and stick to them, and things will run much smoother than you think. It works for me.

Lesson #6 Don’t take things “too” personal

Whether it be you were pitching to a company, trying to be selected for something, or you received an unfortunate comment by someone, remember there is a screen between you two. And the same way trolls use it to make you feel horrible you can use it the other way around and help you feel better. Brush negativism off your shoulder, shut your computer down and remember that you have an amazing family that loves you. You’re not less worthy because you weren’t selected as “blogger of the year”. I have been quite lucky to come across friendly people and readers that support and like our stories  but I have also encountered a few occasions where my words were mistaken and I felt judged and criticised. What did I do? Block, smile and move on. I can completely agree to disagree with someone, don’t take me wrong, but nobody needs to have people around that only want to bring you down.

Lesson #7 I will get happy with the success of other bloggers

What? That blogger is younger than me and is already doing that campaign?! What?? She’s writing about the same topic but seems to have much more visits than me!! WHY!! Seriously…all those questions take you NOWHERE, or well…let me tell you, they’ve taken me to sit down on my couch all grumpy and disappointed with myself, thinking, is it all worth it at the end? IT IS. If you remember your WHY, your main reason to start blogging. Then you can see others with the right eyes and understand that even those who might seem similar to you are unique in their own way, just as you are. People say it all the time, but it’s so true, comparing yourself to others will take you nowhere, it won’t let you move forward, because instead of looking forward, you are looking to the sides.

Lesson #8 Have fun! It’s a family blog not your tax self-assessment!

Unless you are an accountant and that’s like Christmas to you…This is a family blog, a place where I talk to you about my family, our adventures, our children development, our feelings and thoughts on parenting and family life. During this first year blogging I’ve had a few times when I was so focused on blogging about my family that I forgot how much fun it is to have a laugh with them and not take any pictures at all, because, hey! I need you to see it too! you know… Sitting with them to watch a movie, fall asleep with the children and hold them tight to you and don’t wake up to do other things. Our family blog is meant for us to have fun as a family, to remember, look back on time and laugh at our ordinary experiences. Find the right balance that works for you but never forget why you started all this.

Lesson #9 Take a step back when you need to

I promise you the world won’t end because you haven’t posted anything for one week. Ok, ok, it’s true the world is kinda going to an end with all the wars, crisis and political situations, but trust me if I say that if you can’t blog as frequent as you wanted to it will be fine. Take a step back, recalculate, you might want to do things a bit different, so you can still enjoy this blogging experience. I had to do that, and yes…sorry but not sorry, I don’t post as regular as I wanted to, but after being back to work for a few months things started to pile up and I needed to focus on my main priorities. I don’t want to stop sharing our stories, it is therapeutic, it is rewarding in many senses and it is a wonderful opportunity for our family memories, but I had to pull over, think about where I was going to and find the right balance for myself and my family again.

Lesson #10 I have many other lessons to learn yet

I don’t feel the newbie I felt the first few months, with all the “awkwardness” of talking to whoever else is reading this, wondering if actually any one was reading it at all or if it is was just me talking to myself. But, I have so many lessons to learn yet: for example, I know I need to not underestimate myself or my blog and say no to unreasonable approaches for some collaborations. I want to improve my photography and video edition skills, cause you know, for how long am I going to take advantage of hubby?!… I need to learn more about other social media platforms, other technical issues… But see, one step at a time, blogging is a journey not a destination.

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I could go on and on with the lessons I’ve learnt after one year blogging, but let’s stick to 10, ten is a good number, don’t you think? If you have followed us, read some of our stories, comment on our social media or by any other way our paths have come across during this year, we say THANK YOU to you from the bottom of our hearts! This has been a great experience so far and we very much look forward to the next ordinary moments that will turn into extraordinary memories!

 

Our first ever experience getting kids into golf

A couple of weeks ago we were invited to the “Get Kids into Golf” event organised by OnlineGolf, the online golf shop for all golf products and news. We were quite excited to attend since our only experience with golf was crazy golf, and even that we haven’t played it very often!

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The activity was aimed to all children 3 years and above so our little J, who’s 5 years old, took full advantage of it. For our little boy, who is one year old was more just about chasing the balls around.

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We got there on time and met with other families. The place had been set up quite nicely and it was indoors, so the bad weather didn’t affect us at all. They organised us all into groups so the little ones could walk around every station and try a different exercise, guided by professional golf players and instructors.

In the beginning it was a bit tricky cause J is left handed so having to turn around and hold the club properly was a whole new thing -yep, we learnt that word at the event! we used to call it “stick” lol-

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In a fun and entertaining way they used every opportunity to teach the children the right terminology. So we also learnt that an “ace” was a hole in one or a “hook” when the ball curves to the left (they called it “captain hook” so the children would remember it) but it has actually helped me to remember it myself! haha and a “slice” (called it “pizza-slice”) when the ball curves to the right.

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By the way, position is so important! At the end, after enjoying a nice lunch, they gave us some free time to play all the games again, this time, grown-ups could participate too. I thought I would be able to do it, cause, honestly in my mind seemed quite easy…but apparently my body and the club don’t get along too well! I was terrible!!

One of the instructors performed a nice trick show, that all children loved. I would say that that was one of our little one’s favourite part.

You can watch the video of the event created by OnlineGolf here.

So why you should get kids into golf? Here’s one of the main top 5 reasons:

“Your kid will learn important life lessons! Playing golf your kid will experience highs and lows, from the first hole-in-one or birdie to a misplaced shot in a bunker. Golf will teach your kid that though we can’t always win, we always have another shot in life and skill comes with practice.”

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Our children are such a great example of this, with perseverance and a good attitude they can achieve whatever they want, and as in golf, we can’t always win, but we will always have another shot.

 

Reading with Fonics – App #Review and #Giveaway

Moving to a new country is a fascinating experience. Moving to a new country with your kids is a whole new world. Our 5 year old started this year what they call in UK “Reception”, the first year of her Primary adventure. Behind we left all those fears from the very first day of school, those tears from not only hers but mummy’s also… She is embracing every day and developing in all areas so well. We couldn’t feel happier for her, to be honest.

Although there is one thing we thought it would be our stumbling block, not being native English speakers ourselves, and that is PHONICS. In our languages, Spanish and Portuguese, kids learn to read and write using different methods, not by sounding the letters out; so we knew that we had to share that pathway with her and learn how to read the phonics along with her.

One of our many attempts has been through play scenarios, like the one we created on this video where she pretends to be the teacher and we are the students.

It works great for us cause she has fun at the same time she reviews the sounds.

But now that she is getting to another level and needs to recognise also consonant and vowel digraphs…you know, those two letters that make one sound… (I looked that up in Google! 😛 haha) things get harder and you need more resources. Luckily for us not too long ago we were approached by the people behind the app Read with Fonics.

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As they state on their website “Readwithfonics.com is a website based online reading program designed by a teacher to help children learn to read in a more fun and engaging way. Play fun phonics games and systematically learn the 44 phonetic sounds of the English language. By turning phonics lessons into phonics games, students stay engaged longer with a higher level of concentration than traditional resources.”

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This translated into the words of our 5 year old is ” I love the green little monster! it’s so cute!”green alien

So this green little alien helps the child to go through the different stages. I was quite surprised when she first tried it out cause I thought it would be more simple but she really needs to pay attention, which is good because it helps her to be focused on what she is doing.

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I like it when a kids app is educational at the same time than entertaining. It can be quite hard sometimes to find a safe “screen option” for your little one but I think Read with Fonics will be one of our resources to turn to specially during this Easter break. We cannot allow 2 weeks full of YouTube Videos! so we better fill out her time with the good stuff.

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Read with Fonics also gave us the opportunity to offer our readers a giveaway with 2 winners that will have full access to all the stages. So don’t miss it out and enter the competition. It’s quite easy and you will have many chances to win!

Read with Fonics Giveaway

*We were given full access to the app for the purpose of this review but opinions have been honest and our own.