Thursday, July 25, 2013

How to Prepare Your Child for the First Year of School

You may be a ball of nerves with the thought of your little one beginning school, but to your young child, starting at a new school in a new environment can be even more intimidating. Thus, it’s important to adequately prepare your child for his or her first year of primary school in order to help alleviate some stress and make him or her feel more at ease and confident about the big changes that are about to occur. To make the transition a smooth one, it’s key to sit down and have a chat with your child in order to prepare him or her for this new, somewhat scary, significant part of life. By helping your child get mentally and emotionally prepared for what’s ahead, you can help develop a positive attitude and love for learning, making this new change a happy and positive one.

Discuss What Your Child Should Expect

Prior to the new school year, you should begin to focus on different aspects of school life. Have an open dialogue about school and encourage your child to be more social—take him or her to new places to try new activities so that he or she can become used to meeting new people and trying new activities, which can help him or her get better adjusted to the new learning environment. Additionally, ask your child what he or she thinks about going to school and if he or she feels scared or nervous. This is also a great opportunity to get feedback from your child about starting school as this will encourage your child to ask questions. You may want to organize a play date with the families of other children who will be attending the same school as your child so that he or she will know other children before school begins.

Encourage Independence

Have your child do more things on his or her own, such as dressing, going to the toilet, and opening drink boxes. Although it may be difficult to let go yourself, giving your child more independence by allowing him or her to do more things without your assistance will be a major help once school begins. Ask your child to assist you at home, the grocery store, or other places. Remember it’s important to remind our children that they are growing up and must be able to do things on their own, especially at school.

Develop a School Routine

At least a week before school begins, show your child where the school is and describe how you will get there each day. Have your child accompany you when you pick up his or her school uniform (I recommend M&S, have tried other cheaper options, but M&S can often last for two years and did I mention no ironing???) and other school supplies. This will get your child excited about the prospect of starting school. Most importantly, go through a trial run of the first day of school. Show your child how to pack his or her school bag and discuss what he or she should expect at lunch time. Again, communication is key, so talk with your child about what will happen once the school day ends, particularly the arrangements for after-school care.
Monday, July 8, 2013

Tipperary Roller Girls

Cross Post from Fat Deb Slim, my weight loss journey blog.

When I was a kid, I went to a roller derby exhibition show, in Flint, Michigan.  I had little idea what the hell was going on, but I knew I loved it.  I wanted more than anything to become a roller derby girl.  I used to go skating as often as possible at the roller arena where I lived in MI. I loved it so much but then I got older, moved back to Europe, life became a lot more complicated.  I sort of forgot about that childhood dream.

Then a few years ago I saw Whip-It and it all came flooding back. I made a note to order some skates and gave himself a lot of very prolific hints for birthday presents, but alas they never did appear.  Last week I was in Tesco looking at hair dye and I saw a wicked purple colour and thought to myself, if I were a roller girl, I'd totally do that.  When I got home I noticed an acquaintance of mine had a roller derby picture as her profile picture on facebook and when I clicked through and realised there was roller derby in Ireland I almost freaked.  I was kindof bummed at the same time because my nearest league would be Waterford and that's a pretty far drive when you've got three kids and have to find a babysitter etc. I clicked through to the Irish Roller Derby page only to find out that a league was forming right here in Tipp!  The Tipperary Roller Girls were recruiting!!! I couldn't believe it.  Contacted them and it's a go!

Special Delivery
I ordered my skates and equipment and went for my first skate in years last Friday.  Let me tell you, it is NOT like riding a bicycle. I looked like a deranged fawn I'm sure, but towards the end of the session I was getting the hang of it. Was so grateful I'd been running the last few weeks and built up a bit of stamina.  I went out again on Sunday to a parking lot in Clonmel and had a bit of fun, but the heat with all that padding was unreal! Managed to get turning down and only fell a few times!

I went to see the Dublin Roller Derby bout this weekend and was soooo sore after Friday.  I was beginning to doubt myself as a bigger girl, would I ever get the hang of it.  But it was immediately apparent from the teams playing that size did not have to be  a hindrance.  I was amazed by the skill and talent of all shapes and sizes and couldn't wait to get back on my skates. 

So in terms of my weight loss plans, this could not have come at a better time. Practice is on Tuesday and Thursday the opposite of my running days. This means I'll be getting proper workouts five days a week.  Plus I've already started some core and strength workouts.  Roller derby stance consists of a very low almost permanent squat so I've been adding squats in daily as well as some ab, push-up and arm work.  I have wanted this my whole life and it's finally happening, so I am not going to screw it up. We won't even talk about the investment involved in the equipment! :D 

If you're in the area and interested, get in touch with TRG, all skill levels most welcome! We're in this together! <3
Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Holiday Review: Bluestone Wales

Early last month I had the most amazing opportunity to review Bluestone Resort in Wales.  We had a holiday planned last summer in Wales and our car broke down the day before we were to catch the ferry. Travel Insurance wouldn't cover us (they'd only get us on the next ferry, which was impossible without a car) and we lost every penny we'd paid on our holiday not to mention the cost of repairing the car.  The kids were devastated and there was nothing we could really do as all our spending money went on the car repair.  2012 went down a pretty shitty year as a result.  Having just moved I had figured a holiday was out for this year, but then this opportunity came up and I felt like it was karmic justice or something.

Tenby Beach
We took Stena Line from Rosslare to Fishguard.  It was a fairly uneventful journey and we had a lovely and reasonably priced breakfast on board in the Stena Plus lounge.  The lounge was great and I would definitely pay the money for it next time we travel on the ferry.  There were movies for the kids, a kids snack table, colouring supplies and even the ability to borrow Nintendo DS consoles to play while onboard.  They were kept very busy! My only complaint is the lack of baby changing facilities on that level, seems like a very simple thing to rememdy (install a changing table on the wall) as anyone with a terrible toddler knows carrying them up two flights of stairs with a stinking nappy is no fun at all!

Mark at the Adventure Centre
Bluestone was less than an hour from the port and is a simple and straightforward drive. We arrived and checked in but told we couldn't actually go to our cabin until 4pm.  This was the worst part about the whole trip. My little man had been awake since 5am and needed a nap so bad it wasn't even funny. I asked if an exception could be made but apparently not.  The weather was scorching and I was very worried about him getting overheated/tired and having nowhere to put him down or just relax for a few minutes.  We ended up walking around the village and checking out what was on offer.  The kids all played in the adventure centre for a good while and really enjoyed it.  There was lots for all ages. A baby play centre, bouncy castle, games etc with bigger slides and fun places for older kids.  There were also some excellent rides for the more adventurous kids and adults, high ropes, the "drop" and a giant swing.  It was very cool and we had to drag the kids out!  We walked around the village which is lovely, there's a bakery which sells the most amazing local ice-cream, a pub, an excellent treehouse playground in the centre of the village which was supervised and allowed parents to chill with a coffee at one of the picnic tables overlooking it.  The kids were quite literally in heaven!

The girls after their spa day!
We finally got to our cabin at 4 and were stunned to find it well kitted out and beyond our expectations.  Beautiful bathrooms, comfy beds, two flatscreen TV's - one upstairs with beanbags for the kids - and one in the main living room downstairs.  There was a patio with a picnic table, a beautiful kitchen with everything you could possibly need and more.  There was a cot and highchair in the house and it was plenty spacious for our family of five.  The showers were strong and we had absolutely no complaints.  It really is an amazing base for a family, you can really feel at home.

Medieval Night at The Yard
We headed for dinner that night at the buffet in The Yard, it was lovely.  I'm a food snob, so I wasn't overly impressed, but then I never have been at a buffet.  It's standard mass produced food, but the kids all love it and it looked like everyone was enjoying themselves.  It's a lovely setting and no one bats an eye at the noise or mess your kids are making. Really felt family-oriented and the kids enjoyed the play area.  We headed to a welcome night afterwards which featured some family entertainment.  I groaned inwardly as we went, but I was pleasantly surprised.  The entertainers were absolutely brilliant with the kids and quite talented to boot.  Being a classically trained singer, I am quite critical, but was extremely impressed with the quality of the voices and music.  The kids were completely engaged and it put us in a great mood for the week to come.

Welsh Night Kids Entertainment
The next day we went to check out the Blue Lagoon, an incredible water park and pool next to the resort which is free to use for guests.  The best part is that from 9-10am, it's closed to the public and open to guests only.  We had the whole place to ourselves most mornings, the kids had a ball.  The slides are brilliant and there is a wave pool that goes on every hour that had everyone squealing.  I didn't bring the little man to the pool as I was worried about watching all of them, as they're not the best of swimmers, but if I had have been more comfortable, I know he would have absolutely loved the toddler and baby areas, they looked like loads of fun.  This was the kids favourite part of the week.

Mini Safari
We were booked in for all sorts of activities some of which suited, some which didn't.  The staff are absolutely wonderful, everyone we encountered was extremely friendly and accommodating. It was absolutely no trouble to switch the kids into activities they would like better.  They got to go pond-dipping, try archery and go on a mini-jeep safari.  Our second night was Welsh night and featured some fabulous food (beef wellington, yum!) and entertainment.  Again I couldn't get over the quality of the entertainment, the kids were quite literally mesmerised. A bluegrass band took over later and they were incredible, extremely talented and totally fun.  Would have loved to stay longer, but tired kids are tired kids! 

Pond Dipping on the Lake
The girls got to have a spa day which they adored.  They got their nails and toes painted as well as getting their hair and make-up done.  The ladies at the spa were just lovely and treated them like princesses.  I thought the pricing was very reasonable for what they got as well.  On the last day I to got to enjoy the spa and tried out all the various steam rooms, saunas, pool and so forth.  It was so relaxing and lovely to have a few minutes to myself.  Medieval night was another highlight for the kids.  We had a medieval banquet at The Yard (more buffet food) and they were entertained by a show that they absolutely loved! Again the entertainers impressed and got everyone involved, have to say I quite enjoyed it myself.

Mark at Tenby Beach
We managed to cram in a morning at the most beautiful beach in Tenby.  It was just lovely, the girls had a blast playing in the sand and splashing in the waves.  Mark had never been to a beach and really enjoyed it.   It's a beautiful blue flag beach only 15 minutes away, well worth the visit if you can squeeze it in.  Again the staff were so helpful with directions and getting us there.  Such a beautiful place on all levels.

The return on Stena Line was great as well. The stewardess at Stena Plus Lounge remembered us and had saved a lovely area for us, which I thought was a nice touch.  Again lunch in the lounge was delicious and quite reasonable. Such an easy way to travel compared to flying. No long waits, full service, able to move around etc etc. No complaints at all.

It truly was a jam packed week and so much fun for all of us.  There truly is something for everyone there and I know for a fact we will be going back next year!  I love that it's so family oriented and the kids are catered for in every aspect.  It's rare you find somewhere where all the staff are so wonderful.  I really have no valid complaints at all other than the delay with check-in.  When we go again, I will not be doing the all-inclusive option, as I did feel overall the food was a bit of a letdown.  It was stodgy and not the healthiest and I think you'd be better off booking a few of the theme nights but going self-catering otherwise.  For any family looking for an easy holiday, there is no doubt in my mind that this is the perfect place.  If you stay for a couple of weeks, there is so much to do in the local area as well that would really make for an amazing break.

Disclaimer: Travel, lodging and activities were provided at no charge, but this review is all my own opinion and observation. 

Edit: I've since been informed that there IS an early check-in option at Bluestone, which if you're on that ferry is definitely worth availing of! :)