This time of year many young children are gearing up for their Statutory Assessment Tests, or SATs.

Boo is in year six and her SATs are in May but already her workload has increased to a ridiculous amount. Each day she is bringing home at least two pages of homework, all SATs related. They are doing their SATs mock exams to see what extra help they need to get the best possible results in the actual tests.

Now, out of all three of my children at school, Boo loves it the most and always has done. She works hard, tries her best in everything and nearly always has 100% attendance (blooming chicken pox spoiling it one term!) Her teachers have always had such lovely things to say about her and she has lots of friends. She’s not the brightest in the class, sometimes learning things do not come naturally for her, but she gives her all and is keen to learn.

These past couple of weeks I’ve seen a change in my little girl. She’s become moody and snappy and although she’s still happy to go to school she’s coming home feeling tired and grumpy. School is not fun anymore, it’s all work, work, work. Now you may say that is what school is all about, but there has to be some down time and she’s only ten, she’s still in primary school.

They are SATs not GCSEs

I do see the importance of these tests, they let the school know a lot about their teaching methods and help to define the learning paths of the children. But surely they should be a test of how well they have learned throughout the year and not treated like proper examinations like G.C.S.Es? What I mean is, they are assessments rather than qualifications so I believe that the children should not be forced to revise and practice the tests over and over to get the best possible results.

These tests are way too stressful for children so young, I really believe that schools should be more relaxed about them. If they are teaching the children properly then they should fly through the tests.

I Tried Some Tests Myself

Mind you, have you seen some of the things children are meant to learn at this age? I struggle to help her with her maths homework, I really don’t remember doing compound fractions at primary school. And I consider my English to be pretty good, but I stumble when it comes to things like ‘subordinate conjunction’ and ‘apostrophes used for a contracted form,’ well, unless I look up what they actually are. I did a 2017 English SATs test online and got less than half of the questions right! I did exactly the same on the Maths test. I’m definitely not brainier than a 10 year old. I really can’t understand why they need to learn these things so early! I’m certainly sure that the things they learn has changed a lot since I was in primary school, maybe I need to go back?

It’s only February, but I can’t wait until May is over so that I can have my happy little girl back again.

Do you have a child doing SATs this year?

 

Keep calm it's only SATS

We had four cats, now we only have one. I’m dedicating my Sunday photo to Salem who past away on Friday. I’m sorry there is more than one photo, but I’ve decided to celebrate all our cats.

grey cat sitting on my lap

Suzie was my cat, we had her for fourteen years before she passed away in 2015

 

tabby cat curled up on the stairs

We had Scribbles the same time as Suzie and she also passed away in 2015. She loved to sleep on the stairs and was a scruffy fur ball.

 

two little kittens curled up together on an orange blanket in a cardboard box.

In 2009 we welcomed Salem and Sabrina. Salem was a hunter and he was loved by all the family but especially my eldest daughter. Sabrina was tiny and never really grew very big. Salem is the one with the white nose.

 

two photos of my little boy fast asleep with a blacck and white cat.

Salem was very caring and the Little Man love to cuddle up with him.

 

Three cats, two of them black and one of them grey, looking out of the window where it is raining outside on the path.

I’m going to miss scenes like this, my cats waiting for the rain to stop so they could go out and chase the birds away. Only one of them survives now.

 

black and white cat sitting on a cardboard suitcase.

Here is Salem, I took this photo late last year and joked that he’d packed his bags. Well, he’s left us for good now. Good Night sweet boy. We will all miss you so much.

 

Photalife

 

Sunday Snap

 

emotions

This week has been all about emotions.

At the beginning of the week my little girl showed her first signs of becoming a young lady. I don’t think I’m ready yet, is it really time for her to start growing up. We had a lot of emotion, in particular as she didn’t deal with it very well. I’m still in touch with a lot of mum’s that had daughter’s at the same time and their girls seemed to have coped much better. I don’t want to go into much detail on my blog but menstruation is not welcome here.

Then my second little Roborovski Hamster died. I went to feed him and he didn’t rush out to greet me like he usually does, so I checked inside his little house and he was curled up in a little ball, totally unresponsive. I was so sad, he always made me smile he was such a cutie, now both my babies are gone.

We’ve had some emotional stress from Boo who is sitting her SATs mock exams and coming home with tons of homework every day which she is struggling to finish in time. She’s been really worked up and my lovely little gentle natured girl has become very irritable.

On Tuesday I had some good emotions from going to see Cinderella, a ballet by Matthew Bourne. It was a very different adaptation of the old fairy tale, set in WWII during the London Blitz. It stirred up so many emotions but the one I was left with was excitement from such a thrilling performance.

On Wednesday I had to take the Little Man for an appointment for another problem that I wish we didn’t have. Sometimes I wonder why we have to go through so much as a family and the emotional stress I feel is just too much to bare. At the time of the appointment I was dealing with the stress of another family member as well as the Little Man and straight after I was due for another appointment with Star. It all became a bit too much for me and I ended up sobbing in front of the nurse. That’s not an emotion that I let take over too often but sometimes it just can’t be held back any more.

Today we have an appointment to say goodbye to our seven year old cat Salem. He’s been sick for a couple of months and we knew he wouldn’t get better, but we didn’t want to let him go until his quality of life was compromised. That time has come, we would be cruel to let him get to a stage of suffering. This is an emotion I really don’t want to be feeling. It’s going to be a sad weekend.

So, I’ve had a week of emotions, most of them bad but at least I had something very good in the middle.

How has your week been?

The Reading Residence

 

It’s a while yet until Spring arrives and bedrooms this time of the year need to feel cosy and warm. However, we don’t really want our rooms to feel dull and boring either, especially not the kids bedrooms. My kid’s room have been the centre of my attention lately. I don’t have much cash to spare, it’s that time of year when Christmas emptied the bank account but I’m now saving desperately for our holiday. So I’ve been thinking of ways to make their bedrooms better without costing too much and now I’d like to share my ideas with you.

Here are some simple ways of cheering up a child’s bedroom.

Tidy Up

Quite obvious really, a clean bedroom is much nicer than a messy one. This is a cheap and easy tip to make your kid’s rooms much nicer. There is an added bonus, you can pick out some stuff they no longer need and may even make a bit of profit off Ebay. Or you could donate them to a charity store, they love receiving old toys and clothes. I honestly believe that a tidy bedroom helps to encourage restful bedtimes too. Just think of the time wasted trying to find that much needed teddy that they just can’t get back to sleep without!

My kids bedrooms were in much need of a tidy up and I’m afraid to admit, it’s an ongoing process, we have already filled one charity bag and I have a heap of clothes that have barely been worn to go on Ebay. There is profit in a good clean out for sure.

Tidying up can involve a simple sort and clean, but you may also wish to buy some new storage. This can in the form of cupboards or shelving, or opt for the cheaper option of a toy basket. This one would look great in my girls room and the ideal place to store all of those cuddly toys which they refuse to part with but barely ever look at. No doubt the basket would remain until they were teenagers, maybe even longer.

soft toy basket in light grey colour with stars

Toy basket from Room to Grow

Change the Bedclothes

Put on some lovely fresh clean bedclothes, what a simple and quick way to cheer up any bedroom. But you could even splash out on some new sets. At Room To Grow They have some fabulous sets at prices that won’t break the bank. I got some for my kid’s beds and they loved them. I let them choose themselves which ones they wanted. With the girls their room is pink and purple so most sets would fit in nicely. Of course, it would look neater if they had the same but with two very different personalities they obviously went for different sets. Star chose flamingos, while Boo went for Unicorns. The prices are great too, just £15.75 for the Unicorn single duvet cover and pillow case, and only £12.50 for the Flamingo set.

a bed dressed with a pink flamingo bed set, a second bed covered with a pink unicorn bed set

Room to Grow Pink Bedsets

The Little Man’s room is magnolia, I’m going to get around to painting it soon, I promise. I wanted something bright and light and this lovely Animal Kingdom set was perfect. The Little Man agreed and when we put it on we spent an age looking at the map on the pillowcase and talking about where all the animals lived. Educational as well as pretty! Also, a bargain at just £15.75

Lovely Animal kingdom bedset and close up of the pillow with a map on

Now my kids have their new bedclothes they can’t wait to get into bed!

And The Little Man doesn’t want to get up in the morning either!!

little man snuggled in his bed

Add a Bit of Colour to the Bedroom

If the room is looking a bit dull you could consider painting the walls, or adding wallpaper. If you don’t have the time or money for that, why not add some colourful new prints or even a wall sticker. There are plenty of wall stickers to choose from, just take a look on Ebay or Amazon. I have a wall sticker on my bedroom wall (which is magnolia because it’s another room we haven’t got around to painting yet) and it really makes a difference. I may get one for The Little Man’s Room , maybe some animal stickers to match his new duvet cover. (I’m not just using this as an excuse to get away with painting his room, honestly!)

animal wall stickers, giraffe, leopard, monkey, koala bear

 

 

Light it Up

What’s the perfect way of brightening up a room? Add lighting of course! In a kids room this can be in the form of a lamp which they can use on the desk, or one for the bedside table.

a selections of colourful desk lamps

Or you may just want to replace the lamp shade, there are some great, colourful kids ones available.

The girl’s have a bedside lamp which is often left on all night! I don’t mind, I just put a low bulb in it. The Little man also has a bedside lamp but his comes on when he touches it, so he’s quite happy to turn it off while sleeping as he knows he can simply reach out and it will come back on if he needs it.

Hopefully once I’m finished the rooms will look much brighter and the kid’s may even spend more time in them. I live in hope.

How do you brighten up your kid’s bedrooms?

 

 

 

 

Disclosure: I was provided with new bed clothes in return for writing this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own

When I was little I wanted to be a ballet dancer, I was always prancing and twirling around. The lady next door to my aunt gave ballet lessons and I always begged my mum to let me go. She said she couldn’t afford it, but I think really she just knew that I was too lanky and unbalanced and had no sense of rhythm and certainly no poise, I was so clumsy! Still, I kept dreaming. My Dad loved the ballet and would watch it on our old black and white television. My other aunt gave me a jewellery box with a little ballerina inside which twirled to Swan Lake.

Yet, it took me 52 years to go and see a ballet on stage for the very first time!

Last December I went to see the magical Nutcracker and I loved every minute, it was beautiful, emotional, colourful and simply amazing. Then my friend told me about Mathew Bourne and I was intrigued.

So we went to see Cinderella, set in London during WWII, and it was completely different to our Nutcracker experience.

matthew bourne's cinderella program, showing Cinderella being lifted up high by her RAF prince

 

The rest of this post includes lots of spoilers so be warned. However, it doesn’t matter how much I tell you, it will be nothing like actually seeing the performance!

Set to Prokofiev’s Cinderella score, which has been used for classic ballet so many times before, the music gave you all you expect, grand waltzes, mazurkas and national dances, fairy tale magic in the style of Tchaikovsky’s most famous ballets. However, the interpretation was so different.

The first act started much as you would expect with Cinderella waiting on her family in their home, the invitations to the ball arrive and Cinderella is left out. Then when the family have retired to bed Cinderella acts out her fantasy of meeting a man by dancing with a mannequin, which is briefly turned into a male dancer who is dancing like a mannequin. It was all very clever.

Then the Fairy Godmother arrives, but it’s not, it’s an Angel, and he is male. He looks stunning in a shiny white suite with a shock of white hair. It was at this point that I realised everything was in monochrome, apart from the little specks of colour provided by something like a table cloth, all the dancers where in black, grey, navy blue or dark brown, the shock of white really stood out. It really helped to set the time scene, it really felt like 1940s London as you would see in a black and white film on tv. Matthew Bourne found a lot of inspiration from old films like, A Matter of Life and Death, The Bishops Wife, Brief Encounter and Waterloo bridge, all released in the 40s.

Cinderella gets her coveted invite and the Angel takes her off in the sidecar of a white motor scooter

https://www.birminghamhippodrome.com/calendar/matthew-bournes-cinderella/

MATTHEW-BOURNES-CINDERELLA.-Liam-Mower-The-Angel-Cinderellas-Fairy-Godfather-and-Ashley-Shaw-Cinderella-.-Photo-by-Johan-Persson-

The ‘ball’ was inspired by the Café de Paris which was destroyed during the blitz in London in 1941. Despite the war and regular bombings, party goers would go to venues where they could dance the evening away and forget all the troubles. The Café de Paris was an underground ballroom where all sorts of society would mix together, sing, dance and have fun. In March 1941 the dance floor was heaving with party goers when two bombs hit the building causing massive devastation and many deaths and injuries. A little unusual for the setting of Cinderella’s ball don’t you think?

I loved the ball, the music was amazing and the dancers took us through a whole evening of entertainment, dancing, cavorting and drinking. Then at the end of the evening the dancers were continuing while inebriated which was both amusing and visually stunning. Cinderella arrived, the only guest in a stunning white ball gown, and met her ‘prince’ who was actually an RAF pilot and they went on to do a little more than you would expect with a romantic bedroom scene. Then we go back to the revellers when the bombs hit and we witness the devastation.

While recovering from that scene we are treated to a scene at Waterloo Station with prostitutes and a confused and injured RAF ‘prince’ looking for Cinderella as all he has left is her single silver shoe. We then continue to a bridge scene where he is dancing with the shoe before getting beaten up by two shifty looking blokes!

Are you following? I have to admit, I’m making it a little simpler than it actually was!

We then find Cinderella who is injured and taken off to hospital where her family comes to visit and her evil step mother tries to smother her with a pillow! The beaten up RAF ‘prince’ also arrives at the hospital, so confused and crazy that they instantly decided that electric shock treatment is needed. Then while recovering from these scenes we finally see Cinderella and her RAF ‘prince’ re-united, phew!

The final scene takes place at a railway station where Cinderella is leaving with her RAF ‘prince’ and says one final goodbye to her wheelchair bound father. All’s well that ends well!

To say I was moved by the experience would be an understatement. I was taken back to the 40s and felt the horror of what it must have been like living in London during the Blitz, while at the same time immersed in the amazing dancing and emotional music.

I think I may be hooked on ballet for sure now and I so want to see lots more!

Have you ever been to the ballet? Have you ever seen a Mathew Bourne’s  ballet?

You can see a trailer for Mathew Bourne’s Cinderella here.