Tag Archives: School

Cake & Balloons

Ever had one of those nights where you’re so messed up you think your nose has fallen off, you can’t stop hysterically laughing while devouring Cadbury Dairy Milk and watching Waking the Dead because that Trevor Eve is a solid 10 for an older man..?

That’s pretty much exactly what I was doing 12 years ago today, in fact right now, I was telling my anaesthetist, Michael Moneypenny (no word of a lie, that’s his name) to keep it down while he was putting a freakishly large needle into my spine to curb the crippling pain I was experiencing while attempting to give birth to my eldest daughter.

Ellie One

I was 11 days overdue, had been subjected to the most god-awful induction earlier that day and despite 12 hours of labour, the kid just didn’t want to come out. Typical obstetrics of 12 years ago…’Here, lie down flat, get comfy, you’re going to be here for a while’. As opposed to move your wobbly ass, get moving and let gravity/nature bring that little curly haired whopper out.

I was indeed there for a while, a further 12 hours as it goes. From a quiet, darkened room at 06:25……just me, my hubs, my mum and the most knackered looking junior doctor ever, to blazing strip lights, spot lights, may as well been car headlights for all I knew, a registrar, two midwives, a consultant, the blurry-eyed junior doctor, Moneypenny and what dignity I had left and 10 minutes and the clinical version of a Dyson later……Ellie was born.

 

Ellie Three

Picture Credit: Matt Bowen Photography

 

She looked like she’d been dragged through a hedge backwards, which isn’t too far from the truth I suppose. First thing she did was poop in the scales. Never lived that one down since. 8lbs 11oz, with a superman curl on her forehead (she’s still got it too) the kid with the cerulean eyes changed my life forever.

Ellie Five

I’ve barely spent more than a few days away from her since that tumultuous first morning, and she generally still causes a riot wherever she goes. She’s generous and loving, witty and smart mouthed, almost a little too smart at times, I know, chip off the old block. She doesn’t know when to shut up (gets that from her dad) she gives the best hugs, she can twerk like a champ and can speak Japanese with surprisingly fluency (providing its the lyrics to a RWBY song).

She can quote Ghostbusters beginning to end, she adores Bill Murray, she’s a budding artist, song-writer and digital genius. Yet she can’t make toast, boil a kettle or locate the iron. I’ve still some work to do.

Ellie Four

She’s also 6ft 9′ (slight exaggeration), wearing women’s size 8 clothes, the biggest stationery nerd going and has the biggest, curliest mop of hair that even Side Show Bob would be jealous of. Having just started high school, Elle (Smelly Ellie, Elles, Crap Bag, Curly Witch, Elspeth) is working out where she fits in the world all over again, and she’s doing it in her own sweet time.

She’s my greatest achievement and whether she’s still causing a riot or peacefully going about her way, I’m confident that she’s going to change the world.

Happy Birthday Ellie, love Mum x

 

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6 Months and Counting

I bloody love a countdown, about as much as I love a challenge and 2016 will test me to the absolute limit.

September is a busy month for me with three little dudes starting new schools, seeing friends after the summer break, birthdays and re-settling into nursery routines. So in my infinite wisdom I thought, why not make that entire schedule more pressured by adding a whole new dimension.

September 11th welcomes the Tough Mudder challenge to the north west. A half-marathon distance littered with obstacles to test even the fittest of participants including ice, fire and gulp….electricity…not to mention all the mud.

This morning I have happily paid the grand total of £90 to take part in this frankly terrifying challenge, and that’s exactly what I love about it. Its a challenge, not a race. Its about camaraderie, team work and sheer determination.

It’s also about commitment. I’ve now committed to six months of serious hard graft to build physical and mental strength as I have none, zilch. (I had to mop my kitchen floor yesterday to stop me and the kids eating any more snacks before dinner) see….none!

So that’s me done, signed on the dotted line. I’m feeling positive, apprehensive but positive. I can train, I can conquer my fears and I can do this. There’s only one question left to answer now.

Who’s with me?

For more info and to hold my hand through this terrifying experience, check out Tough Mudder here. …please….anyone!?

 

 

 

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#IAMMPCT

I’m still walking around with a big smile on my face and wishing I was 16 again following my visit to the ACC Arena yesterday morning. I may only be an honorary Scouser, but I’ve never been more proud of this city’s youngsters.

The last of the September sun shone brightly over the Albert Dock as training providers, students, parents and press flocked to see what the Motivational Preparation College for Training (MPCT) can offer the young people of Merseyside….and the launch event knocked my socks off!

The MPCT encourages learners to be the best possible version of themselves through education and motivational learning methods. Only, this isn’t your run of the mill sixth-form college. Students take part in daily inspection, drills and adventure training along side classroom based vocational qualifications. The flexible training programmes are aimed at 16-19 year olds and offer support and guidance from enrolment right through to employment, enabling students to make informed choices about their futures.

Yesterday I heard first hand from teenagers who’ve overcome deeply-personal issues with traditional schooling and social problems. They spoke about their experiences with positivity and acceptance, another testament to the emphasis the college puts on building confidence and emotional wellbeing in preparation for the world of work. A number of students took to the stage to speak about their journeys through military preparation training and how it has instilled in them important life skills like taking pride in their appearance, punctuality and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. (Find me a parent who wouldn’t marvel at a teenager taking pride in ironing their own uniform and laying off the pot noodles!) #IAMMPCT

16 year old Nicole made a huge impression on me. Currently the only girl on roll at the newly opened Liverpool branch of MPCT, Nicola said there was no point in starting a two year A level course having gained her GCSE’s this summer, because her heart wasn’t in it. She is focussed on becoming a combat medic and is working hard to ready herself for selection into the British Army next year. I’ve never met a more mature, determined and out-going teenager. She made me want to up my game.

During the launch event the young recruits showed off some dynamic (and very loud) drill displays, complete with bellowing staff sergeant and hyper-active PT…..every one of those kids was in perfect sync (no tik-toking on this parade) smiling and having a blast showing off their new-found skills.

Every student at the launch made a lasting impression, their desire to achieve is infectious. I sat typing up my notes afterwards feeling proud. Liverpool can only benefit from more success stories to inspire the next wave of kids approaching 16 and beyond. And whether its a career in the Armed Forces or on ‘civvy street’ they aspire to, I can only echo Councillor Ian Francis in thanking MPCT for providing this unique training opportunity for Merseyside’s youngsters.

To find out more about The Motivational Preparation College for Training click here. If you’re on Twitter follow @MPCT_HQ and the #IAMMPCT for all the latest news on enrolment and new centre openings.

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Old Skool

Earlier this week I came face to face with my high school, head of languages teacher as I arrived a few minutes late to a presentation…she didn’t look impressed. I scurried past her and took my place in the auditorium as she addressed the parents of years 5/6 pupils at the Holly Lodge Girls College open evening… as Head Mistress.

The look she gave me instantly transported me back to the corridors of lower school at Broadgreen High School where I’d loiter about waiting for my best friend Leah to finish registration. My own group tutor had a much more lax approach and allowed us to do whatever the hell we wanted providing he’d seen out faces long enough to put a tick in the box next to our names (Ahhh Mr Burgess, what a legend). Mrs Tinsley was strict, yet calm and effortlessly commanded control. Her form group would sit, backs-straight and silent at their desks for the 35 minute period completely focused on whatever school news she had to report each morning while we arsed about at the window pulling faces and doing our best to get our mates into trouble. Eventually Mrs Tinsley would grow bored of our antics (and the lack of authority imposed by our teacher) and rocket out into the corridor to send us all skittering back to our form rooms. I thought she was a bit of a nark and could lighten up a bit…which is ironic as now I respect her authority and I think she’s an excellent head teacher! Oh to be 13 again eh?

Holly Lodge Girls College

My eldest daughter will be off to senior school shortly and our first port of call for admissions was Holly Lodge Girls College (or Holly Splodge as we called it back in 1994). Mrs Tinsley welcomed parents warmly and only after a brief chat later on, realised she had taught both my ex husband and me (about a hundred years ago) at a different school. She went on to address the disappointing Ofsted report which had graded the school down following an outstanding grade just a few years earlier. Mrs Tinsley really felt that result, she explained just how committed her staff are to improving on the already impressive GCSE grades the students are achieving and how proud she is of the girls who helped raise the national average in Maths specifically. Having watched a short video of year 11 opening their exam results and explaining to camera just how they felt about their outstanding grades I couldn’t help but feel like Ofsted had missed the mark a bit.

Around the school there are constant reminders of the positive ethos of the school. Confidence, Determination, Resilience. The girls are encouraged to support one another, and to complete work thoroughly and to the highest possible standard. All great qualities to carry into any work place or further education. I was impressed.

The facilities at Holly Lodge are second to none. Two year 8 girls excitedly showed us around the state of the art recording studio complete with 8-track style software and radio studio. Year 7 girls taught my girl how to conduct an experiment with hydro-chloric acid in the Science labs while I got lost reminiscing about HND Fashion and Textiles with the Arts faculty surrounded by sewing machines and tailors dummies. The English staff spoke at length about the positive changes in reading material within the subject and Ellie talked animatedly about her love of Jacqueline Wilson, Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton. She was ecstatic to learn about theatre trips and joint ventures with the drama department. Along side finger print technology in the canteen and an interactive homework website (for sneaky parents to check up on progress) I’d say Holly Lodge is leading the way in terms of nurturing girls into successful, confident women. Ellie absolutely loved it and despite being the first open evening event we’ve attend, she’d adamant Holly Lodge is right for her.

Note to self, never be late for meetings with the Head Mistress!

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Best Foot Forward

Over the last year I have suffered a brutal break up, I’ve kept a dignified silence on my social media accounts and even attempted reconciliation..but here’s the truth…I’ve broken up with shoes. I mean obviously I still wear them. I’m all for starting new trends but going barefoot in a big sprawling city is unlikely to catch on.

In my late teens I was swept off my feet. Finally freed from the school regulation low heel brogues and ballet flats, I fell in love with brands like Dune, Jones The Boot-maker and Ravel. l owned 130 pairs of shoes by my 17th birthday…..a constant source of drama between emerging fashionista and my practical shoe wearing, shift-working mum. Being taller than your average 17-year-old sixth-former (5ft 10′) I instantly loved wearing heels to further enhance my height and my passion for Mary-Jane’s showed no signs of slowing as I transitioned into my twenties and the world of office wear. I’d look down on those wearing kitten heels to work, thinking i was superior for being able to wear heels for the 9-5 day. I felt unstoppable.

The relationship grew intense with purchases of high-end, iconic footwear to mark the biggest events of my twenties. Dolce & Gabbana neon strappy heels, Vivienne Westwood pirate boots and a pair of the most stunning gold Gina courts among a sea of weekly high street purchases from River Island, Topshop and New Look…..I bought a designer pair for each of my children coming into the world (a Hallmark card clearly wouldn’t do)  I routinely take them from their dust covers now and admire them. (The shoes, not my kids)

So what changed, where did it all go wrong? In a nutshell I stopped making an effort for my shoes…and myself. I let myself get out of shape and stopped dressing up as much. I found solace in Nike and Converse, addicted to the comfort and less likely to break an ankle benefits of wearing flat shoes again. I also have a double Phil & Teds buggy to contend with on a daily basis and the 4 mile nursery/school round trip would take me twice as long in a pair of KG platforms. I felt resentful. Heels are a nuisance in my busy world of being a mum and championship multi-tasker. Elated to read about celebs breaking with tradition and rules at Cannes and rocking metallic, jeweled flats on the red carpet, I was convinced that it’s perfectly fine to live in flat shoes…

But oh the glamour of a svelte black platform court with a seductive red sole and those beautifully cursive letter spelling out Christian Louboutin…Carrie Bradshaw’s midnight blue jewel encrusted Manolo’s…..even Cinderella had it nailed back in 1950…… Oh heels I miss you!

Now that I’ve succumbed to practicality I realise just how much joy I gained from wearing impractical shoes. My confidence soared, my legs looked great and I felt young.

I’ve vowed to change, I’m only 32, we can get back to the good old times, I’m sure. By way of counselling I’ve booked myself and my favourite D&G neon’s into The V&A Shoes: Pleasure & Pain exhibition to rediscover my passion……and possibly my youth.

Wish me luck

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