How do you deal with losing a pet?

When you children hound you for a pet, they go on and on – or at least my son did until eventually we gave in and let him have the two baby guinea pigs that he had seen.

He was very good and paid for them out of his own money, along with the cage and everything else that he needed to go in it. They were named Fluff and Scruff – Fat Fluff as he became know because he was greedy and also because he had a fat orange strip on his brown body, and Scaredy Scruff because he was quite nervous and anxious!

We have had them for nearly five years now and they have been well looked after – fresh fruit and vegetables twice a day, dry museli and hay! They were always given grass and put out in the run in the summer and came inside for cuddles when the cats weren’t around.

The children’s friends were always excited to see them and sometimes they were allowed to hold the or stroke them which they always loved. Fuff and Scruff were part of the family, and living just outside the back door in their double storey cage, it always made me chuckle when I opend the fridge to hear them squeaking for food – even when they had just been fed!

Well, today is a sad day. My son came down to feed them this morning only to come in sobbing – one of the guinea pigs had died. Fat Fuff was lying on the floor of the cage, whilst Scaredy Scruff was making noises for her food. It is a hard lesson for kids to learn, and although he is eleven, he is a sensitive sole, and this hit him really hard.

Dad fetched the other piggy in and he was allowed to be cuddled, while we put Fluf into a box to be buried – not a nice job but one that had to be done. We discussed burying him in the garden but my son didn’t want that, so instead we rang Nan and asked if we could bury him there instead. Fortunately, Nan agreed, so Dad took him aroud and buried him behind the shed. We are often at Nan’s so this seemed like a nice place for him to be.

The afternoon was spent getting the old cage ou so that Scaredy Scruff wouldn’t be on his own outside. My son asked if Scruff could stay in his bedroom for a few days so he had some company – we agreed as long as the cage is cleaned out regularly during the week.

All day my son has been sombre – often with little tears trickling down his cheeks. It is so horribe to see your children like that. My daughter didn’t know how to react and kept showing us these little nervous smiles – not having experienced any death yet, I’m not sure that she knew how she should react.

It’s been a tough week, and this really has topped it off! It is never nice when an animal dies and I don’t even want to think about our cast who are 13 and 14, as my son has always had them in his life. BUT, death is something that we all have to experience and come to terms with adn today has been one of those life experiences that we all have to go through.

We talked about how these things happen and how sometimes there is nothing that we can do and that nature has to take it’s course. We talked about how it is ok to feel sad, but how important it is to remember the nice things and the good times.

For now, all we can do is make sure that Scruff isn’t lonely and gets lots of cuddles.

RIP Fluff, you were well loved and we hope that you make lots of friends in pet heaven and that they feed you as well as we did x

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VIP’s coming to visit!

I have some very exciting news! On Monday, Raymond Blanc, Jamie Oliver, Henry Dimbleby, John Dimbleby Leon and Prince Charles came to visit my lesson and observe me teach……
It was obviously the highlight of my career and quite possibly of my life!
Preparations and practice runs began about three weeks before hand, and there were lots is meetings and discussions about how the day would run. My class had trial cooking sessions and fine tuned their recipes in order to make them perfect for the day.
When the morning arrived, I was confident that we were prepared and ready for our guests. There was a strict timetable with our guests being given different slots, but we were on our best behaviour at all times just incase things didn’t go to plan!
Having met Matt Baker of One Show and Countryfile fame, we had already had a trial run…. It’s just that it happened to be in front of the TV cameras ( gulp!!!). Things went amazingly well, and to plan, and the crew were really impressed with the boys and their cooking so we were on the right track! It was a bit scary when Matt Baker interviewed me though and they stuck a camera in my face ( I’m not really one for pictures, let alone TV ).
Anyway….. In at the crack of dawn Monday morning, getting ingredients ready- I’d been in the day before to get everything else set up! All that was left for me to do was teach and cook with the boys. So off we went, making starters, main courses and desserts.

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So, our first visitor of the morning was Michelin starred chef Raymond Blanc. He was fantastic….so full of passion and such an inspiration. After lots of kisses on the cheeks, he was off tasting boys food and commenting, suggesting, helping and sharing advice. He was easy going and friendly and agreed to pose for photos too! He was saying how important Food education and cooking is, and commended me on the work that I was doing and the fantastic standard of cooking that was going on in the class.

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The second group of visitors were also very important…. They included CEO’s and other “top dogs” from Food For Life, School Food Matters, Organic Society, top supermarkets….. We also had Henry Dimbleby Leon who has been appointed by the Government to review school dinners and John Dimbleby Leon too! It was surreal having more famous chefs in the room! Food was being presented at this stage, and to our surprise, Raymond Blanc returned. He had escaped from his group tour and found his way back to Food where he was handing out samples of the cooked food by the boys and encouraging everyone to try it! This was an honour…. for such an amazing chef to take the time to return and encourage the students and promote their cooking and learning was truly unbelievable.

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By now, the classroom was really buzzing- the boys were on a high and cooking for their life! Not long now and Prince Charles and Jamie Oliver would be along…. As the time drew closer, the room turned quieter as the boys started to get a little nervous! I was getting that way too….. Remembering to address the Prince of Wales as your Royal Highness and then having him handed over to you is a big responsibility!!! Not to mention the film crew….
Well as time was drawing near, there was suddenly an onslaught of people into my room- all with long lens cameras and microphones, TV cameras etc. the paps had arrived…. And there was about 15 of them! We ushered them into the corner of the room and knew that HRH and Jamie would be following shortly- along came the butterflies in my tummy, the hot sweating feeling and a sudden urge to goto the loo! Deeeeeep breaths I told myself- in……. And…… Out! They’re here!
I welcomed HRH and Jamie Oliver and the next 15 minutes went past so quickly. I showed the future King of England ( how amazing is that!) around the room, and introduced him to the boys and let them explain what they were cooking. I had a chat with Jamie about Food Education and the importance of cooking as a life skill. I was directed(!) by the film crew and cameras were going twenty to the dozen- flash, flash, flash….. Over here please, Look this way! Wow….. A small insight into the world of celebrity and fame…… What a moment! Matt Baker also returned, so I was also being asked by the crew to talk to Matt in the background shots of HRH touring the classroom ( don’t mind if I do!)

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Then after HRH had talked to the boys and viewed their food, it was all over. You could almost feel everyone relax as the VIP’s and film crews left the room. The buzz of excitement was replaced with relief and even disbelief of what we had just experienced. This was most certainly a once in a life time opportunity and one that neither the boys or I will ever forget!

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This was such an amazing day, I cannot begin to describe the pride I felt, the excitement, the nerves, the enjoyment! I do know that I was exceptionally privileged to be part of such a momentous day, and I will have these memories, photos and of course, my blog as a reminder of this once in a lifetime opportunity.
The coverage of this visit was in lots of local and indeed national papers- you may have seen the photos and articles yourself! Jamie Oliver also mentioned on This Morning saying that “every parent deserved a school like this”. And there is more to come. The film footage is going to be part of a Countryfile episode to be shown sometime in February next year, so watch this space… You may see me on TV!

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Teach your Monster to Read and Win £150 of Books!

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Teacher Your Monster to Read is a brand new game that does exactly what it says – it teaches your child to read but in a fun and interesting way!  This is what the website says:

Teach your Monster to Read: First Steps is a new, free game to practise the first steps of reading.

Combining top quality games design with essential learning, the game is built on the principles of synthetic phonics and follows the teaching sequence of the Letters and Sounds programme.

It has been assessed by reading experts at the University of Roehampton

There is a playable demo on the site here: http://www.teachyourmonstertoread.com/game/demo

If you are in the early stages of teaching your child to read, then you will just LOVE this game! Once you have signed up and logged in, your child can build their own monster……my daughter loved choosing all of the different body parts to make her own one.

 It is a really fun way to help your child to learn the phonics sounds and have fun at the same time. If your child is anything like my 6 year old daughter, she loves playing on the computer and so the fact that this is an educational game is a huge bonus…….it means that I can let her play but know that she is learning all the while she is playing.  The game is bright and colourful, and my daughter, once logged on could navigate her own way through the game and the different levels. She loved the fact that she was awarded a prize at the end of each stage and that she could choose which parts of her spaceship she could repair!

This is a screen shot from one of the games:

  This game asks you to round up the sheep and put them in the “a” pen. Once you have completed this task, you are set another and you play until you have reached the end of the level.

Another bonus with this game is the fact that it saves automatically, so if you child leaves the games, their progress will still be recorded.

The Usbourne Foundation have set up this game, and as a charity they are giving the game away for free as a way of encouraging children to read, and also to support those that may struggle or need extra help with their reading.

Here’s further information about the game and the Usborne Foundation:

Teach Your Monster to Read has been developed for the Usborne Foundation – a charity set up by Peter Usborne (who also founded The Usborne Publishing company). There will be a series of games, all of which will be given away for free. 

The game has been featured in the Sunday Times, the Times Educational Supplement and recently won Gold in both the Practical Preschool and Primary Teacher Update awards.

Now, here is the best part……..The Usbourne Foundation are running a competition and you could win £150 of books. All you have to do is get your Little Monster to create a monster of their own, by drawing, painting or building using whatever materials you have to hand. You then need to take a photograph of the monster and email it to: competitions@teachyourmonstertoread.com

All entries have to be submitted by Friday 9th November 2012. 

Prizes:

1st prize: £150 worth of Usborne books of your choice*
2nd and 3rd prizes: £25 worth of Usborne books of your choice*

You can find more details on their blog and there are also lots of ideas on the blog that you and your child can use to help you to create a monster of your very own!

Entries can also be viewed on their Facebook page

We have already entered our monster, and we had great fun doing it……….so why not keep your Little Monster entertained on a rainy afternoon and be in with a chance of winning £150 of Usbourne books that can read together!

Very First Reading: Easy phonics words         Very First Reading: abc        Stop that cow!

Please note that we were asked to review this site and will be receiving a couple of the Usbourne books as a thank you for doing so. My opinions  are my own, and I always give a frank and honest review of anything that I am asked to consider.

Pop Party 10 – the one party you won’t want to miss! (…and you can win a copy here)

Okay, so my daughter is six and loves music – particularly Justin Bieber and One Direction, but she is also partial to Jessie J, JLS and many more. Her older brother (11) , is also music mad and can name almost any current tune in approximately 10 seconds! We listen to KISS FM, and in the mornings my son has his TV on and set to the music channel. My daughter on the other hand is usually found listening to her songs on the Ipad or plugged into her Ipod before she goes to bed!

So, as you can see, we are a musical house, and although Dad listens to classics from the 80’s (no comment), we all prefer music from the 21st century and can often be found bopping (old word I know but what is the current one……street dancing? Bustin’ some moves?) in the living room with the music on loud so that we can’t hear ourselves sing (that’s a good thing by the way……best to drown out my voice!).

This week, we have been listening to Pop Party 10. Now, I am always cautious of albums with titles like these, but on this occasion I was pleasantly surprised. Not only did both of my kids loves the tunes on here, but I did too! Dad even liked a few of them and there was even a couple that Nan had “heard of!”.

Pop Party 9 sold a fantastic 322k in 2011 getting to #1 in the compilations chart.

To start with it had an impressive line up……not only was there Justin Bieber (Boyfriend), One Direction (What makes you beautiful), Jessie J (Domino), JLS (Proud), Rizzlekicks (Mama do the Hump), but there was also PSY (Gangnam Style) which resulted in fits of laughter and all of us bouncing around the living room like a bunch of lunatics!

Both of my kids loved all of the songs on the CD – and with 22 of them to listen too, they have chosen a fantastic collection! There were one or two that they were not as familiar with as some of the others, but none that they wanted to skip because they didn’t know them!

The retail price varies quite a lot for this, but I found that it was only £6.99 in Sainsburys………. a fantastic price for a great combination of songs! The fact that it comes with a bonus DVD and the lyrics to the songs, makes it an even more attractive buy……. My daughter loves it and it is well worth the money! I know when her friends come over she will be wanting to listen to it with them, and this is just the job for a birthday party (…..and her’s is coming up soon!)

Competition:

If you like the sound of this CD, why not take the opportunity to win one for yourself?

I am lucky enough to be able to offer one of these as a competition prize……….in order to win, just comment below telling me about your most embarrassing singing/dancing moment – perhaps you were caught singing Chesney Hawks at the traffic lights, or were pulled onto stage to sing along with your child doing Big Fish, Little Fish! The entry that makes me laugh the most will be sent a copy of the CD…….

Ends Friday 9th November 2012
My decision is final and no cash alternative will be offered!

We were lucky enough to be sent this CD for the purpose of this review. All opinions offered are my own and I will always offer a frank and honest review of the product. If you would like us to review a product on your behalf, then please get in touch at mumsmoments@yahoo.co.uk

The Great Outdoors!

We love the outdoors! My kids are happy when over the park, walking on the beach, trekking through woods or camping in a field. We get out and about as often as we can, but it really isn’t often enough!
We’re really lucky and have great facilities at our parks, so have been making the most of the mild weather this week!

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Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall