What an Incredible Year!!! 

It has been a while since I have posted anything and this is because I have been on the most incredible journey, experiencing different things I can blog about and making new friends along the way. 

This post is, perhaps, a generic one because it doesn’t focus on one aspect and is more of a summary of what I have been involved in this year.

September 2016 I left my teaching job of twelve years to embark on a new journey.

 This new journey was supply teaching among other things but more importantly, for me, to have quality time with my beautiful daughter. She needed to come first for a change. 

The first couple of months from September to mid October was difficult. I was so used to being busy and have always worked, from the age of 15 and paid my own way. Probably younger than that if you count the pocket money for helping around the house doing chores. 

It was a shock to the system to not work and it really did have a negative impact on me for a while. The house, however, has never been sooo clean!!! 

I had a few days work here and there at the start of September thanks to a wonderful friend. The rest as they say is history.  I have had steady work with her school for the rest of the year. General cover, Pe (my subject) and secured seven weeks work in science.  She got me the foot in the door and I did the rest according to her.  I have been asked to come in time and time again and we will see you again next year. The feedback I have received from this school has made me feel so valued. Loved working there. 

Along side supply I became a Tiny Soccer Star coach, and I have loved every minute coaching 1 and two and half year olds and 3-4 years. I have loved watching their faces when the learn a new skill or do it better than they have ever done it before. 

I also decided to start a small business, Mighty Minds Book Shop by becoming an Independent Usborne Books organiser. It doesn’t bring a huge amount of money unless I build a team but I love doing it and it something different. It gives me a little extra pocket money and keeps my mind busy.  My daughter and nieces will never want for books again. 

This year has also made me realise how much school ptfas do. I joined my daughters school  thinking it will be a few evenings and daytime events here and there. I was overwhelmed at how much they do. The events, the organisation of events to help buy things for the students in the school. The list is endless.  I am in awe of the amount they do. It has been incredible to meet so many amazing and inspiring people. The time they put into the school is amazing. 

I consider myself to be Christian however my faith for various reasons has been well and truly tested for a few years. These are different stories to tell another time. 

My dearest and best friend who has been by my side for 17 years of my life, including being my maid of honour and accepting to be my daughters Godmummy, has seen me at my worst and at my best, I think.  She  asked me if I would like to volunteer for a Christian weekend called Shine UK. This is a weekend for girls to explore their faith, take part in different activities through the weekend, from slient discos to arts and crafts and fitness activities to name a few. 

I reculantly said yes. Knowing her faith was incredible compared to mine. However, it has been one of the best experiences of my life. I have been volunteering as a Shine Angel for two years now and the team that organise the weekend, have asked me to become their activities coordinator this year. To say I feel blessed and humbled by this is an understatement. I, of course, said yes and this year I will embark upon the next chapter of my Shine journey. I can’t wait. 

I will definitely say I was more confident this time around and it was very noticeable. To the point of I was told you need to realise how good you are with young people. This coming from the lady who organises the weekend!! 

This will be my 3rd year. 

To say I admire the lady and team who organises Shine is the biggest understatement. I am in awe. They ooze faith, a peace and calmness I have known but been searching for again in my faith. Each and everyone of these incredible, phoneminal ladies, again having their own fights and battles while still remaining in God’s grace.

I must have proved my worth because I was asked to help out at Spree West Midlands this summer, by the lady who puts these weekends together. Again another Christian weekend for young people with football tournaments, laser tag, bushcraft, slient discos, work shops to name a few! 

Again, being the insane one, I agreed to do early morning circuits and jog at 7 am on both days, stretch and relax and core stability on fitballs on Saturday afternoon and some fitness sessions on the Sunday. Yes you read that correctly!!! Zzzzzzzz by Sunday evening ready for work Monday morning. 

By Saturday midnight I gave myself a target to beat from Shine. What’s the target I hear you thinking? Well it was to complete over 39,500 steps I managed at Shine!! 

Did I do it?

Well, not only did I reach that I smashed it completing 40,500 steps. I blame it on the silent disco and partying the night away. So I need to set a challenge for Shine in November!!!

I have now finished my first year of supply and nearly completed my first year of Tiny Soccer coaching as well as being an Independent Usborne Books organiser and being the PTFA at my daughters school. 

Am I happy?? The truth; absolutely yes. I may not have the steady income but it has taught me a valuable lesson- live to your means. The other lesson I have learnt, everything happens for a reason- God has a plan for me I didn’t know existed until now!! 

The time I have with my daughter is to be cherished. I no longer need to work all the hours to get data recorded, spend hours writing lessons plans and deep marking or writing reports. I go into the school do my job and come home. My mental health  is once again, good. I no longer feel I am rubbish at being a mother or teacher. I have the work life balance I always wanted after having my daughter. 

I am right where I should be at this moment in time. 

After all life is about making memories and cherishing every moment. Those that take your breathe away and those you need to learn from. 

I am a princess warrior. 

Teaching Antics: Karate Kid 

It feels me with pride when a student or students of mine excel at a sport and this story is no exception, apart from some aspects fill me with dread when I recall this particular one.

The student in question had been taught by me for a few years, and had kept a secret well hidden until year 11. She approached me to inform me she wouldn’t be in my GCSE PE lessons for at least two weeks. When I asked why she said she was off to Italy. I was a bit taken a back at first! A student being taken put on holiday in term time! The story then unfolded as to what she was actually doing. 

With pride, I can tell you that she was representing Great Britain at Taekwondo, along with her twin brother. 

However, the reason for telling this story will unfold and the reasons for fearing for my life but also the funny side.  

This particular lesson was in year 11 core PE time and we were doing basketball. 

Now, my love of this sport is an understatement. Any opportunity I get to play I will. I decided to join in and make up the numbers. 

On this particular occasion I wish I hadn’t. The Taekwondo girl was playing well so I stupidly decided to mark her. 

I cheekily used my basketball knowledge and experience to gain the upper hand! What a big mistake. 

I used my body well to box her out and grab a few rebounds. She hated this. Keep in mind I am only 5ft 2 and she was around 5 ft 10 maybe 11.  Well to me she was that tall!! I was quite chuffed I finally got some rebounds. 

However, the next part of this story sums up how short I actually am. 

So, we both go in for the rebound this time. She manages to get around me and grab the ball. However, I am trying my best to get it too. 

The next thing I know she has the ball and her tactic to do this was to lift her leg up into defensive kick technique right at my head!!! Yes, you read correctly. Her knee was pretty much directly in line with my head. Thank goodness she didn’t kick. My head would have come clean off. 

I must point out that this wasn’t done maliciously, it was done as she went to balance. I think and hope. 

I feared for my life and I saw what could have happened. 

She bent her leg luckily. 

The next part of this story was when she was in 6th form in year 12. It was an enrichment lesson. So, basketball was the sport. We both went up for the rebound. I managed to land with the ball somehow. 

What happens next?? I dribbled the ball down the other end of the court and dunk it on her????? No of course not. I am 5 ft 2. Ha ha ha ha. 

No, what happens next? Well let’s say this. It hurt and hear is why. 

I didn’t stay on my feet long. The next thing I know my legs were swept out from underneath me and I landed with a thump. Flat on my back. That’s right. I was pretty much horizontal in the air for a few seconds. Like the slow motion falling in film when the person arms and legs are moving around when falling from a building. All for getting a rebound from her. It was done in gest as I knew this student well and the rapport I had with her was good. 

It took me a few moments to realise what had happened, regather myself and make sure nothing was hurting. Oh apart from my pride.

 I looked up and noticed her smiling with a hint of ha ha I got you. 

A bit similar to this. 

If you have ever seen the first karate kid film. I feel like the dude that had the major ass kicking from one kick right at the end of the film!!! 

To this day I speak to the student for a catch up every now and again and these two stories always come up in the conversation. Miss remember the time……  

After all it’s about making memories. Even ones that hurt sometimes. 

Mighty Minds Book Shop 

I won’t bore you with too much of my back story as to why I chose to join Usborne Books but I will tell you this:

I was a PE teacher for 12 years and I loved it. I still do in many respects. For the first 10 years it was my life! I lived, loved and breathed teaching. I did 5 clubs a week, fixtures, trying to make lessons as fun as possible so more girls like PE. 

Unfortunately the rat race of assessment, planning, deep marking, monitoring and hardly any work life balance took its toll. 

When my daughter was born, over 3 years ago and I returned to work, I found it hard. I dropped to part time and was working 7 days a week but getting paid for three. My work life and life changed the moment I held my beautiful daughter for the first time. I realised that my new job was to the be the best mum I could be to her. 

Please don’t misunderstand what I am saying. There are many mums who do work 7 days a week and are amazing mums, inspiring teachers and are mums with other professions that work long hours. 

I bow down to them.

Some of these amazing women, I consider some be good friends. I think the world of them for doing this and still being the best mum. I know some mums who have chosen to give up work and I bow down to you too. Too all of you.  You are completely amazing. 

I knew something had to change when the dreaded Ofsted phone call came. It was my day off with my daughter. I sat at the dining table working all day and night to try and prepare outstanding lessons, resources and have everything ready, but one thing still makes me feel so guilty about that day. It was a day I was supposed to have my daughter! She kept coming up to me and asking to play. I, stupidly, said I have to work. What a fool I  was. What would you have done?? It’s too late but I would welcome any ideas. 

For many reasons, I left teaching in September 2016.  I am now a supply teacher, Tiny Soccer Star Coach and have a little side business selling Usborne Books. I am so much happier. OK, granted I don’t earn as much as I used to and  I don’t get paid in the holidays. Work can be a bit sporadic too. This was one reason I  joined Usborne Books at Home. 

To bring in a bit of money in the holidays and where possible to top me up AND I wanted to try it! It was time to try things I wanted to try. As a friend put it a mum venture. 

Stock to display and sell. 

There are plenty more in my stock. 

I have access to amazing books for my daughter or use some to sell.  It depends on how you want to work your business. You can work your business in hours that suit you. I am still on a learning journey and really want to make a good go of this. 

I joined in November 2016, for £38 and you get £150 of books and stationary to start your business. I joined with a very good friend of mine and I am her mentor. We did it as a joint adventure and where it takes us. Well watch this space. 

What I enjoy about selling these books is getting to chat to new people, holding pop up stalls in different places, selling to friends, family and hopefully nurseries and schools. I also enjoy the perks. Free books. Half price ones and a business I can work around me and my family. 

My mum did a lot of her Christmas shopping. “wow, this saved me a lot of hassle, thank you”

However, you can’t beat seeing children’s faces when they get the books. 

One happy little customer

For me, education is important. I cherish the fact that I will have been able to educate my daughter to the best of mine and my husbands ability. Both through having a better work/ life balance, being able to be a mum and having access to fabulous books. 

If you are interested in knowing more about Usborne Books at Home please ask. 

You can also find me on Facebook: Mighty Minds Books Shop. 

This sums it up for me. 

After all I cherish spending time with my daughter, whether it is reading, playing or taking her to classes. Most importantly I want her to have as many amazing experiences as possible. 

After all it’s about making memories and the Usborne Books journey is definitely creating some amazing ones. 

Comedy Gold: The Trip. 

So, this story sums up the cheekiness of one of my new basketball team mates. Well, after 2 years with the team now we still have a giggle when we chat about this particular one. 

I look back on this story with embrassment and with a smile on my face. 

The team is a friendly one and always up for a laugh. So, a laugh at my expense was not going to come cheap!

After warming up and doing our usual shooting drill from various spots in and around the key it was time to look at dribbling under pressure. As a shooting guard or point guard these two skills, for me, are an important part of my game. Dribbling being a part of this particular comedy gold moment. 

The mens team had a game after our training session and their coach was sorting their kit out and the bag was on the side line.  

The particular drill we were doing was one where the player dribbling the ball had to loose the defending player. 

Curry showing how it’s done. 

As usual I went with the other point guard who is ten times better than me! Little did I know how sly her tactics would be. We will come back to this. 

So, after a few times zig zagging up and down the court and myself being in a rather unhappy mood. I can’t remember why, my team mate tries to cheers me up!! 

Did it work? Well let’s put it this way. She was crying with laughter, I was red with embrassment. The rest of the team were trying to piece together what and how this moment of comedy gold happened. 

Here it goes. It was my turn to defend. I am starting to try and turn up the defensive pressure on a good point guard. Her tactics I can only describe as a moment of pure evil!!!! However, she was clearly thinking out side the box or bag!!! 

Remember the coach sorting the kit out for the mens game? 

Yes, well this bag ended up on the court some how! No, not in the centre on the left hand side of me. I had passed it the previous time and thought “someone will move that”. Now at this point my healthy and safety alarm should have started ringing big time, as it should have done with my team mate. We are both pe teachers by trade. As you can read my alarm started bleeping. However, it was obvious that the alarm needed to ring instead of bleep. 

The next moment resulted in me turning bright red and laughing until my sides hurt.  

It’s like a video on You’ve Been Framed. Guess what happens next?? 

Now if you guessed that I jumped over it? Wrong, if you thought I picked it up and moved it, wrong again. 

If you guessed that my team mate spotted it and pretty much moved me into the kit bag you guessed correctly. However, what you might not have guessed is the final part if this comedy gold. 

Imagine something out of Benny Hill, or Morecambe and Wise and you might just have the start of what the outcome was. However, if the name Miranda means anything to you, you can imagine the outcome. “Such fun”. 

I was walked backwards straight into the bag. My feet got caught in the handles, I slipped and away I went. Arse over tit. Excuse the language. I fell into the bag and that is where I stayed for the next few minutes gathering what just happened, my team mate wetting herself and the rest wondering how on earth I had ended up in the bag. 

Similar to this but in a bag. 

The bag was that big you could have zipped me up and taken me away. 

I can only describe what it felt like, which was one of those comedy moments when someone falls into a bin and has their legs and arms sticking out, while their actual body is stuck. You know the ones I mean. How embrassing!!!! But such fun!! 

Like this. 

To top it off, in the scrimmage towards the end of the session, I have also learnt to tie my shorts up as they ended up around my ankles pretty much. Thanks team mate. 

After all life is about making memories! Even ones you want to forget but can’t. 

Rock and Roll Soft Play 

I was looking for something for my daughters first birthday. We had a lot of people coming and thought doing something at home would be better. 
I googled soft play and found Rock and Roll Soft Play. I liked the fact that Karen had been hired for other functions like weddings and christenings not just birthdays. I read the reviews and was happy to see what she could offer. 

The thing that initially attracted me to the company was their unique animal theme. Once I had decided that this was what I wanted to go for I contacted Karen. 

To say she was helpful was an understatement. I was not sure which hire package to go for, the medium or the Ultimate Rock and Roll package. We had around twenty  1-5 year olds coming so I wanted to make sure they were all catered for and had a good time. 

The Ultimate Rock and Roll package is what I went for in the end, due to the numbers of children and Karen made sure that all ages would be kept entertained. This was my biggest worry. However, Karen put together a package of soft play equipment that did keep everyone entertained. Including this adults!!!! 

Prices vary from £80 to £120 pounds. Karen has just introduced the Dinosaur Rock package for any budding Ross Geller characters out there. It looks awesome by the way. 

The whole process for booking was easy. Once I had the date in mind I checked with Karen to see if the package I wanted was available. It was. I asked for her to reserve the date completed the booking form sent to me by email, returned the form and transfered the deposit. All in the space of two days. Closer to the time Karen emailed me to remind me I needed to pay the remaining balance even though I was on the ball and knew o had to sort this. Done and then it was time for the day to arrive. 

One of the aspects that was fabulous about Rock and Roll Soft Play was we had the equipment for pretty much the whole day. Karen set up at around half past eight to nine o’clock and collected the equipment around half past three to four. I thought this was brilliant. 

Fun in the sun

Example of the equipment that can be hired. 

Would I recommend Rock and Roll Soft Play?

Yes. I thought the value for money was excellent and we had the soft play equipment for pretty much the whole day. Karen has definitely spent a lot of time thinking about the theme for her company and what equipment she wanted. I think this shows. 

Her professionalism was excellent. She helped me decide what was best suited to the children I had coming and even added a few pieces of equipment for the older ones to use. Perfect. 

The only down side. I wish she had the Dinosaur Rock package earlier. My daughter loves them and this would certainly have been one I would have looked at. That said, I was still extremely happy with what we hired and this really made my daughters first birthday even more special. Thank you, Karen for helping to make it so. 

If you would like more information please go to their website http://www.rockandrollsoftplay.co.uk or find them on Facebook page Rock and Roll Soft Play. 

The areas that are covered are around the West Midlands area. Bedworth, Bulkington, Hinckley, Leicester, Rugby, Stratford, Sutton Coldfield, Tamworth and Warwick. 

Or if a franchise opportunity is something you may be interested in? You get everything you need. Equipment, flyers, insurance, website, help with marketing and the business from Karen. 

It would suit a mum or dad looking to stay at home and work flexible hours to suit you. Potential earnings could be the same as a full-time and no child care costs to pay. 

After all it’s about making memories and Rock and Roll Soft Play certainly helped with that. 

Empower AH: Sports Rehabilitation and Sports Massage  

Empower therapy room. 

I love my sport and fitness and I always will. 

However, there becomes a point where the amount of exercise can become unhealthy for you or cause you a nasty injury. 

I, unfortunately or fortunately experienced both. I loved training and would spend a good amount of time at the gym or playing or playing basketball. 

I was not allowing my body the rest it needed. As a result I badly sprained my ankle over seven  years ago. It was in the last few seconds of a Basketball game. 

I am not ashamed to say that I needed this to happen to make me see some sense. 

The result was a few weeks on crutches, a couple of weeks off work, rest and recovery time for my body. I struggled with being less active and probably went back to sport and fitness too quickly. after 6 month. To this day I still struggle with the same injury.

I rushed to get my ankle fixed. My first physio, wasn’t great. One thing he did do, which helped, was getting rid of the scar tissue that the sprain caused. I thought friction treatment was the most painful thing ever! That was until I experienced childbirth. Yep, that has been my most painful experience too date and probably ever, with friction treatment coming in second. 

I must admit from my first experience of physio and the negative experience I had I was a little apprehensive to try again. 

Saying this I had the chance to visit Alison at Empower and give it another go. 

Alison was lovely. When we met she was very professional. To begin with I had to fill in a health questionnaire  and then some documents about my injury.  This allowed her to get an idea of what had happened to my ankle, how and when. 

After the initial questions she moved on to assessing my ankle with a series of tests to establish how strong it was and  where to go from there, based on her knowledge and experience.  

Ready for the session!! 

Just as I thought. My ankle was weak and needed strengthen after the sprain, and many more that has happened since the first.

She moved on to more friction treatment which I was dreading. It definitely wasn’t as painful as the first time and even though my ankle still niggled as she did it her knowledge was fabulous. ” you will find that it should be tender for the first few seconds and then the pain should subside”. She was right! From that moment I started to pay even more attention. Throughout the treatment she kept asking questions and I answered as truthfully as I could. She gave me a breakdown of how the ankle works and its structure. As a pe teacher I found this even more interesting, especially with a basic understanding of the body.

Ouch, a little bit anyway!!! 

Her questions also included examples of what exercises my old physio got me doing. Alison looked amazed, not in a good way. She didn’t understand why I had been given them and explained that I need to strengthen the ankle and work on my balance. Basically I needed to retrain my ankle and build strength its strength up again.  

From this assessment Alison gave me few strenghtening exercises to do. Standing on each leg for  few minutes whenever I was standing still. Once this became too easy the next advice she gave me was standing on a pillow as this made the floor uneven and then on  a wobbly board like the one shown in the photo  below. The other was to find a step and rise on to my tip toes and then lower my heels below the the step.  

Wibble wobble 

On to tip toes and lowering down to floor  

So, would I recommend Alison at Empower?

Absolutely yes. My first experience of a physio was a lot to be desired. However, I felt that she delivered the goods  I came away happy with how the rehabilitation session went and knowing what I needed to do in order to make and see an improvement  in the strength of my ankle. I now try to do these exercises as much as possible and looking forward to seeing the progression I make. 

Alison even followed up with another email recommending even more exercises to do as my ankle starts to strengthen.

If you are interested in seeing what Alison can offer you, you can email her at empower.ah@outlook com.

After all life is about making memories and learning from experiences, good and bad. 

Leapfrogs: Solihull 

My daughter had already done football and I had heard about Leapfrogs before. A friends daughter did the Sunday morning classes and I had heard good things, so I was keen to see what they were like. 
My daughter was just over three when we booked in for her taster session. She went into the Froglets sessions on a Thursday at 10.30 for three to three and half years olds. Leapfrogs also caters for two to three years and three and half to  five years olds.

The big thing that attracted me too this class was the number of sports and activities they cover. Each week a different one is taught. From Dodgeball to Rugby and even Cricket. 

Before the session starts, and waiting for others to arrive, the children get some free time to play with a ball. My daughter has just learnt to bounce a ball, like in basketball, from having a play around and trying things on her own. I was so chuffed. This is is my favourite sport.

 
As the children arrive they get a sticker with their name on it. This allows us to learn each other names but in a more informal way. I like this way but I also like the introduction way too.

Each session starts with a warm up. This involves running around cones and then standing behind one ready to do some stretches and mobility exercises like circling hips and arms.All I can say is my daughter just loves to run and is starting to experiment with some funny versions of the stretches which make me giggle. For me, this is vital knowledge for participating in sport, and starting to input this knowledge at an early age is a great idea.

The session is then moved on to fundamental skills needed for the sport being looked at each week. 

Last week it was jumping, over cones and lines, as the focus sport was dodgeball. 

In dodgeball, jumping to move out of the way is important so you don’t get hit with the ball. This was one of the sport based activity. I got to bounce the ball at my daughter!!! 

As the film states there are 5 skills “dodge, dip, dive, duck and dodge. 

Another example is Cricket.  Throwing is important, so one skill was throwing the ball into different size targets. This then progressed to throwing the ball at stumps.

Dribbling  practice in Hockey  for example. 

Once all the skills and concepts have been taught the children try to put them into a game. These are conditioned to make it easier for the children so they can start to understand the concept of what the sport involves. An example being smaller areas used to play or a similar version and the basic rules and smaller equipment.

The session ends with a cool down. These can vary. My daughters favourite is animals, where they pretend to be them and make the noises or movements. They stretch out without knowing. My daughter now does an mean Meerkat impression. By this I mean it’s brilliant. I think it gets their imaginations going. She loves doing it. 

 Another favourite is pirates. 

Through out the sessions other little games can be played like Fox and Hound, which is when the children chase the instructors and take a bib, and also encouraging their imaginations by pretending to be animals.

The one thing to come across from the all the sessions is fun and they are suited to meet the age of the children. I also like the fact that the class sizes are smaller so the children get a lot more coaching out of it and more chances to try the skills, activities and games.

The range of equipment they have and use in the sessions is brilliant, and the activities and skills planned demonstrates how much thought and time has been put into them.

Using balloons to teach the basics of volleyball. Genius. I have now used this in my secondary school pe lessons, along with beach balls. I have taken some of the drills and adapted them to suit my students as they were good. 

The thing that struck me most was the organisation of the sessions. Once one drill was completed Leapfrog was shouted and all the children had to go and touch the pictures in an area of the hall so  the next activity could be set up, and if needed get a drink.  I thought this was excellent. 

The other was our instructor, Amanda. she is lovely, lively and engages well with the children. She is brilliant and always so welcoming. 

The instructors. Amanda is on the right 

Down to their level 

One thing to come out of these sessions was my daughter showing a flare for cricket. She had never seen a bat, picked one up or swing one but picked it up very quickly. Maybe an England cricketer on our hands!!!

Would I recommend this class? Absolutely. The structure, the equipment used in each session, the instructors and how the sessions are planned all makes the experience worthwhile. I definitely think it is worth the money.

My daughter has got so much out of classes.

If you would like to find out more please visit leapfrogssport.co.uk or visit their Facebook page Leapfrogs Sports.

When my daughter learns a new skill or improves on the ones she can do I have a proud mummy moment and this time I get to spend with her is very precious to me. 

After all it’s about making memories and cherishing every moment.