Disney on Ice Magical Ice Festival

I know, I know, it’s the hottest day of the year so far and I’m writing about ICE! Well, to be fair I never promised you any sort of sensible behaviour when I set up the blog. And also, it’s not just any ice, it’s the Disney on Ice Magical Ice Festival,  back at the Cardiff Motorpoint Arena on Weds 29th April!

Disney on Ice Magical Ice Festival

My lovely girl in the middle and her two friends had a brilliant time at last year’s show, and when I broke the news to her that we have been invited back this year, she nearly popped with excitement. And, despite being a very grumpy and cynical 43 year old, I’m actually a bit excited too!

This year there’s an all-new lineup, with something for little ones and grumpy, cynical adults alike! My childhood favourites Mickey, Minnie and Pluto will be introducing us to fun, frolics and I’m sure the odd comedy moment with characters from The Little Mermaid, Tangled and Beauty and the Beast performing on the ice; however the icing on the cake as far as my girl and her friends are concerned is the fact that Anna, Elsa and the Frozen crew are making a special appearance!  (I’m especially pleased about Sven the Reindeer, I feel we share some vital characteristics, particularly the ability to convey our in depth and complex feelings with a variety of carefully timed snorts).

Disney on Ice Magic Ice Festival

The Disney On Ice Magical Ice Festival is part way through a UK tour, and will be calling at Belfast, London, Cardiff, Nottingham and Leeds over the next few weeks, so there’s still plenty of time for you to get tickets for what promises to be a truly spectacular event. And of course my girl and I will be reporting back after the event!

**Disclaimer – we have been kindly invited to the show free of charge in exchange for blogging a preview/review**

Back on the blog?

Coo-eee! It’s ME!!!! I’ve not been around for a while. Well, I have, obviously, just not around here. I was hanging out at my new secret blog for a while, but to be honest I’m not really feeling at home there – I had thought that blogging anonymously would give the writing a new lease of life but it hasn’t so far!! So here I am again, back at the ranch as it were…

It’s not just the secret blogging (or not) that has been keeping me away from LearnerMother though. For the last few months all my spare time has gone into training for an 18.5 mile trail race – and of course continuing with the Great Pull-up Challenge, which may as well be renamed the Great Pull-up Fail. When I originally posted about learning to do them (and raising money for charity on the process) I thought it would be a matter of simply doing the time, putting in the effort, and hey presto, I would be a pullupper. Boom!

Not so much of the boom. If fact, no boom at all. Not even a little bit.

I’m taking this quite hard! At the risk of sounding cocky, I have never yet been defeated by anything I really, really wanted to do. I might have a small paddy, or possibly a larger one depending on how scared I am (you don’t ever want to be in an airport with me pre-flight!!) but I always do manage to get whatever it is done in the end. Usually by dint of simply getting my head down and plugging away, and not always with grace or any sort of style, but I do get there.

Well, they do say pride comes before a fall…so you can consider me a well and truly Fallen Woman. It’s not all bad – I know I’m getting stronger, and on the pullup machine the number on the assist weight is getting s-l-o-w-l-y smaller. But if I’m honest, it’s a dispiriting journey. I’m sure I will, oe day, manage my 6 pull-ups, but I suspect we might be talking months or possibly years. Gah.

But…BUT….back to the running – get a load of this!!!!

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That’s ME that is! Part way round the very hilly 18.5 mile Coastal Challenge. That’s EIGHTEEN AND A HALF MILES, in case you missed it. Oh, and when I said ‘very hilly’, I actually meant as mountainous as it is possible to get, that close to the sea. And guess what? I finished it! And I wasn’t last!!!! In fact I was 46th out of 142 finishers, which I am very proud of indeed. Sure I have a nasty sprain on one of my ankles, not to mention ferocious sun/wind burn on my calves, but I am still well and truly buzzing. I never in a million years thought that I could run for 18.5 miles when I first graced the doors of a gym after twenty years of doing no exercise at all. I’m even (whisper it) thinking that I may try and tackle a marathon next…go me!

Anyway. I only opened up the blog to do a spam clearout (and I only did that to avoid doing the actual work I am supposed to be doing) and suddenly I seem to have written a post. And quite enjoyed writing it too…maybe I’ll try it again one day soon…who knows!

ShareAware from the NSPCC

Around a year ago, I wrote about choosing to give my then 8 year old an iPod Touch – it’s since become the most popular post on the blog by far, particularly in the run up to Christmas when I guess many parents were facing this same dilemma. And in fact we were facing it all over again ourselves – my girl in the middle (age seven) is now the very proud owner of her own iPod also.

Until recently, I’ve been fairly confident in my ability to police tactfully supervise the use of internet enabled devices – I tend to be pootling about nearby when the kids are online; I have set the devices up to only access age appropriate apps and content; and Google and Youtube are also set to safe search to give another layer of security. Realistically I know that I won’t be able to maintain this level of supervision as the kids get older, a point driven home when my eldest came home from school last term and informed me he’d need to borrow my laptop to log on to the gaming/social networking site he’d signed up for on the class computer earlier that day.

I’d never heard of the site in question, though after some research I’m cautiously ok with it under fairly strict conditions. However the experience served to highlight a couple of things to me – firstly that despite considering myself social media savvy, I am actually completely out of date as far as being aware of what’s popular with kids and teenagers; secondly although I can and do supervise his online access at home, I can’t expect that he will have an equivalent level of supervision elsewhere, even at school.

Given that I can’t wrap them in cotton wool and protect them from the world for, like, EVER (sob), AND that I seem to be horribly out of date (and there was me thinking I was all down with da kidz – I mean I’m on Instagram and everything!!) I was really pleased when the NSPCC contacted me about their new #shareaware campaign. It’s aimed at parents with children ages 8-12, to help them support their kids to use the internet safely; it includes a parents guide which offers general, sensible and realistic advice for parents, and there’s a section on ‘Talking Tips’ which I found particularly useful for suggesting ways to open conversations about staying safe online.

#Shareaware also addresses the biggest problem that we face as adults – staying up to date with the vast number of apps, games and sites that young people use to communicate with each other. There’s a brilliant guide called Netaware where you can search by name, by popularity, and even by the colour of an icon – and once you have identified the app you want to know more about, there is a wealth of detailed information available, including:

  • how young people use the app, and why they like it
  • how easy or otherwise it is to find/change privacy settings
  • how likely it is that a child will come across inappropriate content
  • safety advice for parents and children using the app
  • Other similar or related apps.

I’ve seen various other online guides for parents, and none have been as comprehensive and user friendly as Netaware; and the great thing is that the content on the site is being continuously reviewed so that as quick as these pesky new apps get popular, us dinosaur parents will be able to get with the programme! And let’s face it, the internet isn’t going anywhere, so getting with the programme is the best chance we have of making sure our kids enjoy the digital age for everything that’s brilliant about it, rather than get caught up in a situation they can’t handle.

If your kids are online in any shape or form, I’d highly recommend a browse through Netaware, as well as the other #shareaware resources from the NSPCC – and I’d love to hear what you think about this, or other parent friendly tools for safe online use, below!