Pasta for the whole family! with #PrezzoLaFamiglia

You know how much you really love your family when you’re willing to share one big bowl of pasta with all of them. Only if you are pasta fanatics as we are, of course. So are you ready for the challenge? We were! 1 bowl of pasta, 4 people, including a starving after school 5-year-old little girl and a bottomless tummy 1-year-old baby boy. May the hunger games begin…

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OK, yeah, that’s a bit too dramatic, but last Friday we had a really good time being able to try the new #PrezzoLaFamiglia dishes. Basically, you’ve got 4 options to choose from: Penne Arrabiata, Spaghetti Bolognese, Spaghetti Carbonara or Penne Alla Rusticana. I always like to try new things but every time I do my expectations are not met.

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Here we are! Ready for the challenge 😀

So on this occasion, we thought we would go for a safe option, especially since we were with the kids, and choose a Bolognese or a Carbonara. But then we decided to check with the waitress, who we must say was very friendly throughout the whole night, and asked for the Rusticana. We hadn’t tried that one before.

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We definitely picked right this time! Everyone loved it. Our little J was amazed by the size of the bowl and we actually got a few looks from other people in the Restaurant. They probably thought we were quite hungry or quite stingy…lol -a bit of both maybe!-

It worked out really well cause choosing a kids meal for each one of our children is usually a waste of money, and making them share one sometimes it doesn’t fit right; so with #PrezzoLaFamiglia we were able to fill us up, grown-ups and little ones.

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Two happy toddlers loving their pasta!

For a second I thought we would all make a mess sharing 1 big bowl of pasta but luckily for us, only our 1-year-old was responsible for any food waste. We love when you can eat out with the kids at a pleasantly and child-friendly environment. We’re happy we visited the Prezzo Restaurant at Manchester Media City. Right just outside the restaurant area, you’ve got those lovely views and gardens where our little ones had a lovely time running up and down, burning that big bowl of pasta. And obviously, us, chasing them after, burning a few calories too.

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The only survivor…haha

When we got home that night J was saying her prayer before going to bed and said how grateful she was for going out and playing with mummy and daddy. At the end, for me, that’s all that really matters. 🙂

*This post is an entry for the Britmums #PrezzoLaFamiglia Challenge, sponsored by Prezzo *

The 2 things that stopped me from falling into depression

I recently watched a video that talked about the burnout syndrome and how it related to mums and dads who unknowingly were suffering this too. I’m not saying I’m suffering from that syndrome, also when I say “falling into depression” I don’t mean a clinically diagnosed depression per se. If you have symptoms that make you think you are depressed I would totally recommend seeking medical advice since it is an illness as any other.

My aim with this blog post is to share with you two things that I put into practice in my life that stopped me from feeling down and discouraged most of the time.

May was a challenging month for us. We did an amazing road trip from Manchester to Paris at the end of April so that we could see the open house of the LDS Paris Temple. We still need to tell you all about that experience, our pros and cons, our best tips…so hang in there, the post will come soon…

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In the meantime, I needed to share this with all of you. When illnesses attack your home it seems everything else gets worse. This time not only the children were poorly, but also Sam and I had to be in the hospital for a few days, in different times each. In order to keep myself out of the stress, I was more stuck on my mobile phone than usual. I like reading the news and being on top of things. I also can get easily hooked to Facebook and everything else blogging related, so it was quite easy to loose track of time. As the days went by, I started to feel worse, not only physically tired but emotionally exhausted.

I couldn’t figure it out what I was doing wrong since for me, I was trying to look after my family to the best of my abilities. Sometimes I would cry, sometimes I had nightmares, I couldn’t rest well. I had a long chat with my husband. I also prayed a lot. After a while, I understood what I was doing wrong. What I was doing that was adding more pressure into my already hectic life.

All the news I would read were discouraging. Wars, paedophiles, rapes, kidnapping, slavery, and all the tragic things of this world. I didn’t pick them on purpose, they just came on my News app and I would read them. Concerns with politics, Brexit, jobs, the list was endless. As soon as I got up, I checked my phone and read the news. Before going to bed I checked them again. That was really destroying me. So, the first thing I did to stop me from falling into depression was NOT READING THE NEWS.

I know I cannot hide in a bubble and be completely unaware of this world, but the frequency and the quantity were mentally poisonous to me. You cannot go to sleep in peace if you just read that a child had been abducted and abused. You cannot wake up with a positive attitude if what you put into your mind first are thoughts of anger or uncertainty.

Do I still read the news? I do, but not every day, not every time. And I try to be wiser on my choice of what am I going to read.

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The next thing I noticed was the amount of time spent on my mobile phone, especially when the children were with me. I could be checking Facebook while breastfeeding my baby boy. I could be Instagramming while listening to my 5-year-old. Time is a priceless gift given to us. What example am I giving to them if I’d rather look at a screen than on their little faces? So I needed to change that too. I decided I would put my phone away when I was with them. They are far more important to me than any social media.

As soon as I stopped reading the news and I put my phone aside while being with the family my days started to get brighter. I would be more open to the light, to the goodness of this world. There are probably so many other things we can do in our lives to stop us from feeling down. I encourage you all to find them out. What will work best for you and your family? For me, these two things have made a difference in my personal well-being. I hope that if you decide to put them into practice they will work for you too.

Please, if you feel so, tell us what has worked for you. We’d love to read your stories!

No more scratches! Our Baby Nails #Review and #Giveaway

Time flies and it’s been quite a while since we told you about our little man’s adventures. Oh well, he has a very hectic life, you know, between daily rock picking, messy eating and a new sense of independence thanks to his recently acquired skill of walking and almost “running” around he barely has much time for looking after his appearance…

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That’s why when the team behind Baby Nails approached us we thought it would be a really good try on our family. The idea is quite simple. You don’t need to chase them around or entertain them so you can trim their nails. You just need your thumb and let the rest do its magic. I was quite intrigued about this product since I’m not used to file my children’s nails but it seemed so easy that I wanted to give it a go.

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Little E is 16 months old now. I’ve been trimming his nails since he was a newborn baby so switching to this technique was a bit tricky for us. I would recommend that the earlier you start the better it will be and more relaxing. As I said, it’s quite simple to use since you just need to stick one of the files on the thumb holder and you’re completely hands-free to either bottle him or breastfeed him, as is in our case. The files are quite soft so they didn’t hurt his delicate skin.

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Our little boy is a curious explorer so as soon as he noticed I was using something new he wanted to try it for himself! That really is “hands-free” actually it turned out to be “mum-free”! lol but after a couple of times I got to persuade him that mummy would probably do a better job than him, at least for now ;).

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One of the other things that I like compared to trimming is that after using Baby Nails the nails are quite straight and smooth without too much hassle, something that doesn’t happen when I use baby scissors. Also, since we have a 5 year old that loves pampering herself, we’ve used them a couple of times for some mummy-daughter time. That way she doesn’t need to use grown-up files, which didn’t end up too well the last time she tried.

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Baby Nails team are being quite generous and wanted 5 of our readers to experience first-hand this unique baby nail care accessory. So, don’t hesitate and enter the competition. One of this cute packs could be yours, with files from newborn up to 6 months+.

5 Free Baby Nails – Hands free baby nails care

*We have been given a pack of Baby Nails for the purpose of this review but opinions have been honest and our own.

2 Activities for a perfect bank holiday on a budget

With Spring bank holiday just around the corner we thought we would share with you two of our favourite family activities that will help you fill the day with some fun and keep yourselves on a budget.

To be honest, money doesn’t equal good times. If you think about your best family memories you will probably realise that it didn’t have much to do with the things you bought or how much you spent. It is more about the laughter, the running up and down, the team work, doing something together and enjoying each other’s company.

So here you have, our OUTDOOR activity for a perfect bank holiday on a budget, IF the weather is nice. (you can’t always count on that, can you?!)

VISITING YOUR LOCAL COMMUNITY FARM AND PARK

The main difference with other farms is that community farms, even though might be a bit smaller won’t charge you any entrance fee or it will be quite symbolic. One that we like going every once in a while is on the south of Manchester, at Wythenshawe Park.

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You’ve got beautiful green areas where kids can ride their bikes or play the ball. There’s also a small cottage where you can have lunch, if you haven’t packed it before. That’s what we usually do. 🙂 and also the community farm with cows, pigs, chicken, donkeys and a few more animals.

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You can plan games, a treasure hunt or a minibeasts exploration, always a good fun. You can finish the day with a nice ice cream from the ice cream van. Who doesn’t love ice cream?! Whatever you’re doing, just finish the day with an ice cream, they will LOVE you! haha

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So you get home all worn out, but hey it’s bank holiday, you’ve got another day to fill out, this time it’s raining therefore, here our INDOOR activity for a perfect bank holiday on a budget:

HOME CINEMA WITH HOME MADE POPCORN

Pick one of the movies you and the kids would like to watch. Set up your lights, a blanket and in our case, daddy is in charge of the home made popcorn. (I get scared heating up the oil! lol) We love watching movies at home, so for us this is quite an entertaining and chilling activity for the whole family. Oh! Don’t forget, turn off your phones or put them away, otherwise you will miss the movie and won’t enjoy the time with your little ones to the fullest. I’ll tell you more about it on another post. 😉

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For now, here’s our Recipe for Home made popcorn:

  • You will need: corn kernels, a deep pan, vegetable oil and salt
  • Preparation: Add 3-4 spoons of oil into the pan and heat it on. Add the corn kernels (approx. 80gr will give you enough popcorn for 2 adults and 1 children) Cover the pan. Now the fun part starts…they will start to pop and the trick here is to take the pan out of the heat when you hear that they have stopped popping. If you leave it too long they’ll burnt, but practice makes the difference 😉 Then just add salt to the taste and enjoy the movie!

Remember, TV apps like Netflix, NOW TV, Apple TV, Amazon TV or even if you’ve got a smart TV and you can access YouTube, it will give you a good variety of options to watch on a budget. And if not, you can always turn to your laptop and download a movie from the Internet.

We are so old school that my brother has a good laugh every time he sees our TV appliance, cause it’s one of those big SONY. It was given away to us when we just arrived to UK and it’s still working fine, so let me tell you, I have no intention of replacing it yet! As I said to my brother, one day it will be considered a luxurious antiquity that will be worth millions. 😀

*This is a collaborative post with Provident who asked us to share a few ideas on what we like doing on a bank holiday on a budget*

You can find ours and many other suggestions from other bloggers here.

Enjoy the family time! xx

 

13 Reasons why I liked “13 Reasons why”

You know sometimes we like telling you about the shows we’re watching, why we like them and a few lessons we can learn from them. We’ve done it with The Flash, the movie Trolls or even with Alice through the looking glass. Well, 13 Reasons why wasn’t going to be different. We know it’s kind of like a controversial show to talk about. You’ve got the people who loved it and people who are totally against it. On this post I want to share with you my 13 reasons why I liked 13 reasons why, and no, don’t worry, I haven’t recorded any tapes and I’m quite far from killing myself…

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Before I go into the reasons, let me tell you that it is not a series I would recommend for the whole family, it has some difficult scenes to watch that I wouldn’t let my kids watch at all. “13 Reasons why” tells the story of a teenager who kills herself after suffering all sorts of bullying and complicated life situations. She records 13 tapes. Each tape is addressed to the person she feels it had an effect on that decision. Anyway, so, sorry in advance if I’m sharing any spoilers, I hope not! but here they are, my 13 reasons why I liked 13 Reasons why:

#1 It reflects a sad reality

Teenage years, hormones going up and down, defining who you are and who you want to be, come on, we all know adolescence can be quite difficult. And it is sad to admit but youth suicide is a current issue of our society.

#2 It helps you see the small things

The main character suffers all sorts of dramatic situations, but some of them, if you take them out of the whole story, are not that much of a “big deal”. Who hasn’t had an argument with a friend sometime? But, see, from the very first tape, she shows that even the small thing can have a impact on someone else’s life that may go unnoticed to us.

Since watching this, I’ve been trying to be more careful with what I say and how I say it, especially to my little ones. Thank God they’re not in that stage yet but their minds are vulnerable and so teachable, I want to make sure that my words are coming across the right way.

#2 Every one has a story

See, the series not only shows a poor Hannah that decided to take her life, it also tells little bits of the other character’s lives that help you understand why they act like they do. Nothing is to be justified, don’t get me wrong, rape is ALWAYS wrong, no matter the angle from where you’re looking at, but there is always a story behind that bully too.

For example, you’ve got the rich boy, Bryce, whose parents are so nonexistent that they don’t even appear in the show once. He thinks he can have it all, regardless of someone else’s will. So, can you imagine, in a different world, where his parents would have been present in his life, really cared for him and showed him how to respect others? Maybe he would be a different person, who knows…

We cannot be that quick to judge others.

#3 Say something nice when it comes to your mind, ALWAYS

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Clay, the other main character, was so scared of showing her real feelings that at the end he couldn’t help Hannah the way he wanted to. There is never a wrong time to say something nice to others. Have you tried it? I remember once somebody thanking me for something I did. To me it was so small I didn’t even remember it but apparently for the other person it helped her a lot. A smile to a stranger, a heartfelt “I love you” to your kids and/or partner. You won’t never be wrong if what it comes out of your mouth is something uplifting, empowering or encouraging.

#4 Start to worry when you don’t feel anything.

Feeling bad is a sign that you’re still alive and feel something. At the end, she didn’t care for anything or anybody. Nothing seemed to matter anymore. I can, in no way, feel what she felt because I have been quite fortunate in my life so far. But, identifying the signs on an early stage is a pivotal point towards future decisions.

#5 Keep your eyes open for what matters the most

This is a lesson that I can relate more now that I’m a parent. In the story Hanna’s parents are so worried by their financial situation that they don’t notice the changes that she goes through. It’s really sad cause they are not depicted as bad negligent parents. You can tell they loved her but were too focused on what wasn’t that important at the end.

I’ve been guilty of that sometimes, and it’s so fundamental that we always keep our eyes open for what matters the most, our family relationships. Sometimes, you can miss something better for focusing on something good.

#6 Tony, one of my favourite characters!

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Come on, you gotta love Tony, with that sense for what is just, trying to keep himself out of all the school drama but unavoidably being part of it. I liked that he seems true to his convictions though. He doesn’t change or follow trends, in fact he likes to be different. Unlike Clay, he is not scared. You gotta be true to yourself and I think Tony does it quite well.

#7 The cast

I think they did an amazing job portraying all the characters. You wouldn’t think this was Hanna’s first appearance on the film industry. I love watching new faces, especially when they deliver. You can get bored of seeing a 30 something actor/actress doing the role of a teenager just because she/he looks younger and is already well-known. I think Netflix are quite good with that. They invest on new series, movies, talented people that might not be that famous yet.

#8 The music

The soundtrack of the series has definitely been well chosen from my point of view. Every song can take you to that moment and help you feel what the characters are going through. It is a sad story indeed, but I think, if watched with the right attitude you can learn a few lessons. I wouldn’t advise for someone who is already mentally suffering to watch it, to be honest, because it can demoralise you even more. Since there is no happy ending.

#9 If you’ve got no friends, search for new ones.

Hey! and here I am, a 30 something mum that usually complains of having no friends. So I should probably apply this to myself. In the series, Sky, is the character that could probably understand Hannah the better but, despite of her making a slow move towards her, Hannah is just so focused on all the rest of the people that she doesn’t notice a true possible friendship.

We can be like that sometimes, can’t we? We don’t see the ones in front of us, maybe we think they’re not the right match, we don’t have anything in common, but who knows?!

#10 Alcohol is friend of no one

Along with any drugs of course. How many families can be destroyed because of these substances? If you think about it, many things that happen, not really to Hannah in this case, but to others in the series could have been avoided if alcohol and other drugs were not in the way. To me, it’s another prove that a life free of these addictions is a better, happier, healthier life.

#11 Loneliness makes you grow older faster

That is something that the victim will say at some point on one of the last episodes and I agree with her. Humans were not made to be alone. We need to get involved with other people. We do need to know there is somebody else out there who cares for us. If you haven’t found it within your family you might have found it on a friendship, or a colleague. People need to stop feeling lonely. Sometimes, I do feel lonely too, and I shouldn’t cause I am surrounded by people that cares for me and loves me in many ways, but I think that if you feel you are missing something/someone the best remedy for that is for you to be that person for somebody else.

#12 Things don’t happen all of a sudden

Not things like a suicide anyway. There are signs, there is time. We just need to make sure we react to them promptly and search for the needed help. She spent a whole summer, a whole school year, another summer and then the start of a new academic year to figure it out. Things got worse for her, especially within her mind, but IF someone would…well you know.

#13 LIFE is PRICELESS

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No other time in life pain will equal joy

I cannot relate to a person who is suffering from these sorts of feelings, as the victim does, but we all go through our ups and downs. I could say that I don’t believe in suicide cause I consider life as one of the greatest gifts given to us. But at the same time it is hard to put myself on somebody else’s shoes. And if all, what I know is that I don’t want to judge. I don’t want to fall in the wagon of easily pointing at someone and saying I would never do that. I truly hope that my mind will always be as healthy as it can be, and if at some point turns to another way that I will have people who cares for me to help me realise that.

You don’t know this little story of mine, but I was once bullied too when being 12 to 13 years old. It wasn’t for being too short, too fat, too weird…it was for something I didn’t have control with. I was bullied because of my ethnicity. Being called many names for a whole academic year. It was hard. Every day going to school was a nightmare. I learned to defend myself with words I wouldn’t let my kids to even try to pronounce now. My parents weren’t fully aware of that because I’ve always been a good student and my grades didn’t drop down. But it was a daily harassment. I wouldn’t desire for anyone to experience that but I learnt to be stronger. I learnt to love myself even more. Because if no one else could see beyond my nationality, I could. And I wasn’t going to let them make me down.

Obviously I cried many times and it was hard to bear. But guess what, there was a happy ending. I learnt years later that one of my main bullies had his mother in prison and didn’t have a stable family situation at home. Our paths crossed a few years ago and he asked me to forgive him. The same happened with other one of the bullies, who purposefully wanted to meet with me on a school reunion just so he could apologise. I forgave them both. Every life stage has its own challenges and if we don’t move on we can remain there with the grief of the memories of what happened. We can forget that life is priceless and it deserves to be lived one day at a time, the good, the bad, the better and the worst.

I wouldn’t feel complete if I don’t share this link with you. There are many organisations out there eager to help you out if you’re struggling with feelings of taking your life. Or if that person is feeling too low and you are a friend of him or her, get the help, don’t think there is nothing you can do. It will always be their choice but let’s say that we did everything that was in our hands to help.

GET HELP https://www.papyrus-uk.org/

 

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.

via GIPHY

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!

getting kids into golf

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.

golf-kids-1

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-

golf-kids-2

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.

golf-kids-3

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.”

golf-kids-4

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.

j playing read with fonics 2

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.”

j playing read with fonics

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.

Read with fonics app

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.

read with fonics app2

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.

silver lining feature

Every cloud has a silver lining -even for a 5 year old little girl

Every cloud has a silver lining -even for a 5 year old little girl. We’ve been wanting to tell you this story for a while, but as time went by we didn’t seem to find the right moment. It is something we want to share with all of you though, because we hope that if your children or yourselves go through something similar you will be able to find some answers on this post.

silver lining feature

We need to give you a bit of background before getting into it. You know we already learnt our lesson and decided to accept our children as they are, and never push them to do something they don’t want only for our own parents’ pride. We understand that more important than what other people think is what they feel and what message they receive from us.

So since a very young age, around 2.5 years old, we initiated our little J on swimming lessons. I’ve always taken swimming lessons myself during my childhood and one of my goals  as a mum was to make sure that my children would be good independent swimmers. She loves the water and has always been keen on some water fun. Now, let me just brag a little bit here and say to you all that she has quite a good aptitude and when she is in the right mood does it quite well. She’s progressed in such a good pace that despite being only 5 years old she’s in Stage 3 already. OK, enough boosting myself!

j-swimsuit

She was only 3 years old on this picture! 😀

Then she started complaining about the lessons…

Around 3 or 4 months ago she started complaining about the lessons. First she kind of drown herself a little bit and swallowed too much water. She got a bit scared but she was fine. Then, she started saying that her instructor yelled too much. We explained to her it was the only way everyone could hear him well in the pool but had nothing personal against her. Then, it was more things like “I don’t like it anymore! I don’t want to do it!” In the beginning she would get upset but with a little bit of encouragement went through the lessons. We thought that was going to last for a short period of time. We were so wrong. The situation got worse and worse.

She would cry every time she had a lesson. She would cry in the lesson. One day, she almost got paralysed and was trembling in a corner. We didn’t understand what was going on. We were there watching the class so we knew it didn’t have to do with the instructor himself. But our hearts would break every week seeing her suffer so much. We didn’t want her to quit though. In the beginning our approach was more “causal -effect”. -If you take swimming lessons, you will be able to swim on your own at yayu’s home in Barcelona! , or – If you are not going to do it, we will take you out of the course then” None of these things really worked. They only put more pressure on her.

One day, I saw her there, crying, looking up right at me

One day, I saw her there, crying, looking up right at me, like begging me to rescue her from that hell she felt she was on. I said a prayer in my mind cause I didn’t know what else to do. I should have probably done it before. I made up my mind and decided that changing group would be a possible solution. We told her and she seemed pleased with that idea. We chose a day where the swimming instructor was the same person she had when she was in the initial stage. So we knew she would remember her and maybe things would change for the better.

The following week she started on this new group. New instructor and new swimming friends. We thought that was going to be it but during her first lesson she cried all the way through. This time though I had told the teacher before and therefore made a few arrangements to help her be as comfortable as possible. When the lesson was over and we were in the changing rooms she and I had a little chat. On this occasion instead of focusing on the aspect that she had cried throughout the whole lesson I tried to focus on all the positives. You know what they say, every cloud has a silver lining, oh well, that was true, even for our 5 year old little girl. I felt inspired to just focus on how brave she was, that despite not feeling like it, and crying she was able to finish the lesson and follow every instruction her teacher gave to the group. She looked at me quite surprised, like she hadn’t thought about it that way.

When we were in the car she was telling Sam all the time “Daddy! today I’ve been so brave! even though I’ve cried I still finished the lesson! next time, I won’t cry that much!” I can tell you now, the change didn’t come instantly but I know that the path we took was definitely the right one. Last week it was her third week on a row where she kept asking about her swimming lessons and was more than eager to go! She says she loves it now! She’s making good friends with her new group and loves her Instructor. If we had continue using the “causal-effect” approach she would probably had quit swimming by now.

We chose to see the silver lining

We didn’t. We chose to see the silver lining. We chose to focus on what she was doing good already and encouraging her to keep it up, the rest would come. She’s not only taking swimming lessons now she is also doing taekwon-do and will be going to her very first tournament next week. Oh you’d have to see her with all the safe guards on and jumping and kicking around! She looks so adorable. The best part? She’s loving it! She’s overcoming her fears and growing in confidence little by little.

Wouldn’t we all feel much better if we focused on the silver lining? Life will make sure to bring you down in many diverse ways but if we look at our challenges, whether it be our own or our children’s, from the right angle, the right perspective, we will be able to overcome our biggest stumbling blocks. We will be able to help our children see things as they really are. We are so happy that our 5 year old got to open her eyes and realised that she was much stronger than she thought. She realised that she could climb the highest mountains and overcome her scariest fears. Now, we are ready for the next chapter in parenting, the school where every day you take a test for something that you have never studied before! 🙂