August 2023

Gibraltar National Day

Every year on the 10th of September our streets come alive with our national colours of red and white.  National Day does not fail to create a sense of unity amongst our community.  This is OUR day.  A day to celebrate our history and identity as a people.  A day to remind those who would do otherwise that only the Gibraltarian people can decide our futures. Join us as we delve into the fascinating tale of Gibraltar’s past, discover the significance of the 10th of September, and explore the exuberant festivities that mark Gibraltar National Day. A Glimpse into Gibraltar’s History By way of background for our non-native readers, Gibraltar is a small British Overseas Territory which is located at the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula.   Over the centuries, Gibraltar has been a sought-after territory due to its strategic location, guarding the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea. As a result, Gibraltar’s history, and indeed its culture, is one which has been influenced and shaped by successive occupations over the centuries.  Early History Gibraltar was first inhabited over 50,000 years ago by the Neanderthals with evidence suggesting that Gibraltar may have been their last place of habitation.  There is also evidence of the Phoenicians, ancient Greeks, Egyptians, Carthaginians and Romans also having occupied our rock with the latter having named it Mons Calpe meaning hollow rock. Moorish Occupation Between the the early 8th century to the late 15th century Gibraltar was occupied by the Moors who renamed the rock to Jebel Tariq (the mount of Tariq), this later evolving to Gibraltar.  Their presence also left an indelible mark on our cuisine, language (with elements of Arabic being evident in our local dialect of llanito) and architecture.  Many elements of Moorish design, such as the Moorish Castle and the  use of intricate tilework and decorative motifs, can still be seen in Gibraltar’s historic buildings.  Spanish Influence In the late 15th century, the Spanish Crown regained control of Gibraltar from the Moors, holding it until  it was ceded to Great Britain in perpetuity under the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713. Despite this, Spain has repeatedly sought to regain control of our hometown using bullying tactics which have led to tensions that persist to this day.  Despite our difficult relationship with our neighbours, Spain’s influence is evident in Gibraltar’s architecture, culture, and cuisine. Spanish dishes, words, and customs have seamlessly integrated into the local way of life. British Influence Gibraltar’s modern identity is of course heavily shaped by Britain.  Having been under British rule since 1713 our legal system, educational institutions, and governance structures reflect a distinctly British character. English is the official language and British customs such as afternoon tea and the celebration of events like Guy Fawkes are a much loved part of Gibraltar’s cultural fabric. Other Influences Beyond the major historical occupiers, Gibraltar’s strategic location at the crossroads of Europe and Africa has attracted influences from a myriad of cultures. This mix of influences has resulted in a diverse and vibrant people who embrace their past while looking toward the future. Gibraltar’s National Day, as mentioned in the previous post, serves as an annual celebration of this eclectic history, where Gibraltarians come together to commemorate their shared heritage and express their commitment to a united and diverse community. The Significance of September 10th Gibraltar National Day is celebrated on the 10th of September to commemorate the 1967 referendum when the people of Gibraltar overwhelmingly (99.64%) rejected Spanish sovereignty and chose to remain under British jurisdiction. This historic decision solidified Gibraltar’s identity and marked the beginning of its journey towards self-determination. The date holds immense importance as a symbol of Gibraltarians’ determination to preserve our heritage, culture, and autonomy. A Day of Unity and Celebrations Gibraltar National Day celebrations as we now know them did not come about until 1992.  At the time, acting Chief Minister Joe Bossano and Denis Matthew, the then leader of the newly Self Determination For Gibraltar Group (SDGG) organised an event at the Piazza to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the 1967 referendum result.  The event was a huge success, so much so that the square could not fit the crowd that had come together to celebrate our right to determine our future as a people.  The event grew from here with celebrations being transferred to the larger Casemates Square.  Nowadays the Gibraltar National Day festivities commence with the Gibraltar Fair which takes place during the third week of August.  On the day itself, the celebrations typically kick off with a vibrant parade featuring local bands, dance troupes, and community organisations as well as a political rally.   Delightful Culinary Experiences Now of course no celebration is complete without indulging in delicious food, and Gibraltar National Day is no exception. Traditional Gibraltarian cuisine takes centre stage, offering a delectable array of flavours that reflect the territory’s rich cultural heritage.  Whilst many will celebrate at home with warm dishes such as paella, rosto and the like, many of us will flock to our local beaches.  As such, our food choices need to be easy to transport.  In this post, we focus on the traditional finger foods. Torta de patata Torta de patata, also known as Spanish potato omelette or tortilla de patatas, is a classic dish.  It is a simple and versatile dish and you just need a few ingredients to make it.  Torta de patata is a staple which we enjoy for school lunches, picnics in the countryside and our National Day beach celebrations. To make torta de patata, start by peeling and slicing potatoes (about half a kilo) into thin slices . Next, heat up a good amount of olive oil in a frying pan and fry the potatoes until they are soft and tender.   If you like your torta with onions, fry some sliced onions in a separate pan until soft and golden. In a bowl, beat three eggs and add the potato and onion mixture, along with a pinch of salt and

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Back-to-school tips

Ready, Set, School: Back-to-School Tips for Busy Mums

Summer is over and the school bells ring once again. If you are a busy mum you might find this time overwhelming, trying to juggle multiple tasks whilst ensuring a smooth transition for your kids. And although it might seem daunting, the back-to-school season can be a breeze with the right strategies in place. Here are 7 back-to-school tips to help you effortlessly navigate this time of year: Back-to-School Tips for Busy Mums 1. Begin Your School Morning Routine a Week Ahead My kids didn’t really like this at first. While summer is enjoyable, it also disrupts our usual routine, especially with bedtime and waking up early. In order to prevent a complete shock to all of us, I gradually started enforcing an earlier bedtime and wake-up time a week before school started. Surprisingly, it worked really well. By the time September rolled around, their daily routine was almost fully restored, and a great deal of morning stress was successfully averted on my end. Check out these awesome and tasty breakfast ideas that are not only delicious but also super healthy 2. Shop Smart, Save Time: Embracing the Convenience of Online Shopping When I was working full-time, I would try my hardest to avoid the crowds and long lines by exploring online options for purchasing school supplies. To begin with, you should compile a list of necessary school items. After that, presto! With a simple click, everything can be sent to your door, effectively conserving your time and energy, and avoiding unnecessary stress.  In order to help you save time, we’ve put together a free printable, back-to-school checklist. Feel free to download it below: 3. Establish A Family Calendar One of the things I really enjoy about September is the opportunity to hit the reset button on our routines and begin anew. By utilizing a family planner, you can easily keep tabs on everyone’s schedules. This method guarantees that important dates, meetings, and after-school activities are conveniently available for both you and your children. 4. Create a Homework-Friendly Environment Establishing a homework station right from the beginning was crucial at home. I once made the error of not addressing that, and I simply kept postponing it. The dining room table kept being used by my daughter, causing stress for both of us. Given that both my kids have desks in their bedrooms, it was easier to take the time to reorganize and equip them with necessary supplies for the upcoming months, just before summer came to a close. 5. Plan School Meals Ahead Of Time The mornings when I had to prepare school lunches used to be the most dreaded part of my day. Fortunately, those times are behind me now, but what made a significant difference was planning in advance. Using a meal planner specifically for organizing their school lunches, made a world of difference. If you are in need of meal ideas, then check out our blog post on school lunches. We have planned a full month of meals for you with food that kids will actually eat. Plus don’t miss out on downloading our free printable school meal planner. 6. Batch Cooking For Stress-Free Meals Allocate a specific time in your week or over the weekend for meal prepping, taking advantage of slow cookers and one-pot recipes. By doing this, you ensure that nutritious meals are prepared effortlessly, ready to go on those hectic weekday evenings. If you are in need of delicious and healthy recipes, check out our food & drink section. 7. Decluttering Your Child’s Closet Just before school starts, I always carry out a good decluttering of their closet space. I go through three piles: keep, donate, and toss. This also helps me pinpoint what school uniforms need replacing.  My son outgrows clothes at the same rate he breathes oxygen,  so often it’s a shopping spree for new stuff.  Set aside a drawer for school outfits/uniforms.  This will encourage your child to become more independent in the mornings before heading out to school. Top Tip: Once your kid is back to school, scan or photocopy their timetable. Laminate it and then slap it inside their closet door. This way, every morning, they can scope out the day’s plan, making it a breeze to remember which books or gear they’ll need for classes. Mum, Make Time For Self-Care Don’t overlook the importance of recharging your own batteries. Set aside some time for self-care. Being a mum doesn’t mean neglecting your own needs. After you’ve recharged, it’ll be much easier to take care of your little ones. Final Thoughts The truth is, the more organized you are, the smoother the transition back to school will be for your little ones, and the happier you’ll be. As summer comes to an end and kids return to school, stepping back into a daily routine is highly valued by most parents. Even though some of us may feel a pang seeing them begin another year. Although,  I can’t deny that during the years when my kids were young, the start of school provided a much-needed break. We trust that these back-to-school tips come in handy, and we wish your little ones, a fantastic academic year ahead. If You Enjoyed This Article Please Share: Related Articles You Might Enjoy:

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School Lunch Ideas Kids Will Actually Eat

School Lunch Ideas Kids Will Actually Eat

With just a week to go before kids return back to school the time to start dreading the school lunch prep is already upon us.  Over the years I have frequently searched for new ideas to inspire me to provide my kids with delicious and nutritious food.  However, these searches left me wondering whether kids would actually eat the meals suggested.  My kids certainly wouldn’t!  I need suggestions for school lunch ideas kids will actually eat! Sandwiches are a no! Now, I don’t know about you but my kids refuse sandwiches for lunch (that is simply not a meal in their book) and like to have nice warm meals out of a thermos flask.  But, then there are limitations: No fish because it’s smelly. No soup because it’s fiddly. No fajitas because they are messy.  Sometimes I just feel out of ideas – that is unless I think ahead and meal plan. Meal Planner Those of you who have subscribed to our newsletter will have received our school lunch meal planner earlier this month and I hope that this will help your back-to-school meal preparation a whole load easier.  If you have not yet subscribed – what are you waiting for?  Let’s Get Down To Business Okay, that’s enough general chit-chat, let’s get down to what you came here looking for.  Help in getting school lunch meal ideas that your kids will actually eat. Our recipes will make enough for four servings. Spaghetti Meatballs Whenever there are spaghetti meatballs on my kids’ school lunch menu there are never any leftovers.  Instructions Chicken Enchiladas Enchiladas are just so easy to make and so delicious too.  Cheesy, tomatoey and cheesy – what’s not to like?  Pack this for your kids’ school lunch and there are sure to be no complaints! Check out our recipe here Tuna Rice Simple and tasty and always a favourite whether as a school lunch or at home. Ingredients Instructions Spanish Omelette (Torta De Patata) and Chicken Tenders A torta de patata is such an easy meal to give your kids for their school lunch.  It is also easy and cheap to make at home.  Check out our guide on making torta patata in our Gibraltar food section in this blog. Making the chicken tenders could not be easier.  Cut chicken fillets into strips and season.  Add 2 eggs to a bowl and panko breadcrumbs to another bowl.  Dredge the chicken through the egg and then coat with breadcrumbs. If you want to make healthy and crispy versions in the air fryer spray both sides with a little olive oil.  Place in the air fryer basket in a single layer and cook for 5-6 minutes on each side, turning halfway through. If you do not have an air fryer you can cook the tenders in the oven at 220℃ for around 15 minutes.  You can also fry them in olive oil although this will obviously add calories and will not be as healthy. Honey Garlic Noodles Sweet, slightly spicy and delicious noodles. Ingredients Instructions “Peppered Steak” Chicken Meatballs Who here loves peppered steak?  We absolutely love it but it’s not something which is practical for a school lunch is it?  So, we’ve come up with “peppered steak” meatballs. Ingredients Instructions Mac and Cheese This mac and cheese is yummy just as it is or add some bacon bits for extra flavour. A quick and fuss free school lunch idea. Instructions Chinese Egg Fried Rice This recipe has some veggies in it but feel free to omit them if you have picky eaters.   Instructions Hot Dogs It seems like an insult to your intelligence to even tell you how to make hot dogs but here we go.  Heat a frying pan over a medium heat.  Add a little water (just enough to cover the bottom of the frying pan.  Add the sausages and cook until the water has evaporated. Cook a little longer if you prefer your hot dogs slightly browned. Once ready just add to their thermos flask.  I cut the hot dog bun, wrap it in foil and the boys make up the dog themselves at school.  Add sauces in a small tub if they like ketchup or mustard with their hot dogs. Shepherd’s Pie   The ultimate comfort food. Instructions If your children like their pie cheesy, add some grated cheese over the top of the mashed potatoes during the final 5 minutes of cooking time. Greek Meatballs A sticky honey and white wine sauce together with the feta cheese in the meatballs make these the ultimate lunch for any occasion, let alone school.  Check out our recipe here. Lasagne This is the most basic lasagne recipe we could come up with.  When we make a lasagne for an Italian-themed party it will be way richer than this.  But, this recipe is perfect for fussy eaters. Instructions Chicken and Chorizo Paella Ingredients Instructions Sausage Pasta Bake Sausage pasta bake is one of my boys’ favourite school lunches.  We love this recipe by Jamie Oliver. Cheesy Chicken and Bacon Potato Melt Add cheese and bacon to a dish and it’s likely to be a success with the kids, right?  Try this dish by Everyday Made Fresh.  We are sure it will become a favourite. Chicken Curry Meatballs Instructions Spaghetti Bolognese The ultimate classic!  We love this version by BBC Good Food but we omit the celery (we just don’t like the flavour) and I also need to blend the carrots and tomatoes into the sauce (fussy kid remember ?) Orange Chicken and Rice Orange chicken became a family favourite during a holiday to Disney some years back.  This recipe reminds us of the Panda Express version we had on holiday. Instructions Cheesy Chicken and Bacon Fettuccine Instructions Chicken Korma This healthy chicken korma by BBC Good Food makes a great lunch which the kids are sure to love With 20 recipes you have a different and delicious warm meal for every school day for a whole month. 

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A Practical First-Time University Checklist

The long-awaited day has finally arrived. After months of dedicated studying and enduring the stress of exams, your child is now embarking on their journey to university. As a parent, you’re likely struggling with a complex blend of emotions—pride tightly intertwined with apprehension. Your baby is spreading their wings and leaving the nest, leaving you in a state of emotional turmoil, unsure of exactly how to navigate these feelings. Yet, even before you have the opportunity to fully reconcile your emotions, the next chapter swiftly approaches. Travelling abroad with your kid. University life awaits.  It’s Easy To Become Overwhelmed When we took my daughter to university for her initial enrollment, I remember feeling a surge of overwhelm as I pondered the extensive to-do list. It was long and it needed to be done within a limited time frame.  I extensively researched online and compiled numerous lists outlining every essential item she would require. The more I researched the more my stress levels seemed to increase.  Not only having to achieve a lot in a small amount of time, but, also trying to keep to the budget.  It seemed like an impossible task. A Practical First-Time University Checklist – A Parents Guide To make life easier for you, we have compiled A Practical First-Time University Checklist – A Parents Guide. Furthermore, at the bottom of this blog post, you will also be able to download a printable checklist. Hope this helps. Bedroom Essentials: Extra: Bathroom Essentials: Kitchen Essentials: Electronics: Optional: Having taken care of the essentials, the additional items you choose to acquire to enhance their dorm room’s comfort and homeliness will largely depend on your child’s preferences. This was Celine’s first time away from home, so, she was particularly determined to transform her new accommodation into a comforting home away from home. We bought plenty of photo frames, allowing her to exhibit all the family and friend photos she had brought over from home. Instead of traditional candles, which campus regulations prohibit for safety reasons, we opted for LED candles. Additionally, we also purchased fairy lights which infused the space with a warm and inviting atmosphere, potted plants, a few snug cushions and a cosy bed throw. Without forgetting to mention the assortment of cuddly toys that accompanied us on our journey to the UK. Top Tips: Extra Top Tip: Download your free first-time university checklist below: Final Thoughts The day I travelled back home, leaving my firstborn behind, was probably one of the hardest days of my life. Whilst I was overwhelmed with pride, I was also crumbling from the fear, as though I was leaving a piece of my heart behind. I was fighting my motherly instinct with every step I took. All I wanted was to grab my kid and go home, but I couldn’t. Life was happening and it was time to let her go. Allowing our children to spread their wings takes a remarkable blend of courage and grace. Naturally, we have an innate desire to protect them forever because that is how we are wired. Unfortunately, that isn’t possible, and that’s a good thing too. The time has come to stand back and watch from the sidelines as they navigate this new chapter. As they stumble and fall and then pick themselves up again. We will always be watching, always willing to help when and if they need it. If you are a parent going through this right now, my big piece of advice is simple: trust. Trust that you have raised them well and that you have provided them with all the life skills and tools they need to embark on their own journey. We truly hope this blog post proves to be of great value to you, alleviating any needless stress along the way. Sharing Is Caring: Related Articles You Might Enjoy:

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7 Practical Tips To Manage Anxiety In The Moment

7 Practical Tips To Manage Anxiety In The Moment

Anxiety. Everybody feels it at some point in their lives. However, not everyone is comfortable speaking out the words ‘I am feeling anxious’. It used to be seen as a sign of weakness, hence why there is still, to this very day, a stigma surrounding the word ‘anxiety’.  So I’m going to keep it real for whoever is reading this. I suffer from chronic anxiety, however, I am NOT WEAK. In this blog post, I will share with you 7 practical and tested tips on how to manage anxiety in the moment. How do I know they work? Because I have tried and tested them myself, and for me, they work like a charm. Anxiety Is My Life-Long Friend As far back as I can remember I have always over worried about one thing or another. And, if there wasn’t anything to worry about I would find something. I was a shy and anxious child, but I couldn’t tell anyone around me that I was feeling anxious, because back then, I didn’t understand what I was feeling. By the time I became a teenager, not only was I an over-worrier and an over-thinker, but I had also stepped into the role of a people pleaser. A deadly combination for someone suffering from anxiety.  When I became a mother, my over-worrying grew into something much worse. Fear. Fear of everything, fear of everyone. My world became a scary place. One in which I didn’t know how to climb my way out of. And when bad things happened, as they do, because life happens to everyone, my anxiousness would escalate to unbearable heights. As a young adult, I still didn’t understand what I was feeling. Those Anxiety Triggers Feelings of anxiety come in different forms for different people. It isn’t a one size fits all formula. So, let me tell you about my own experience. Last week I was triggered by a video I saw online. Before the video was over, I was already feeling overwhelmed. My mind was racing just as fast as my heart and a pressure was building inside my chest. I was struggling to breathe and to think straight. My daughter came in, tried to talk to me and I had to excuse myself and tell her I was in the middle of something.  Fear. I was in the middle of FEAR.  A year ago, I would have spiralled out of control. My anxiety would have taken root deep down in my gut and I would be ruminating for days on end. Torturing myself with worst-case scenarios, walking into the darkest and loneliest corners of my mind.  That was a year ago.  I am not that person anymore. I am no longer my anxiety, and I am definitely NOT my thoughts. Finding The Tools To Manage My Anxious Mind This past year I have focused on healing, finding myself and overcoming challenges. And the only way I was able to do this was by using certain tools. These tools have saved me. Whilst they are widely available on the internet, I was introduced to them by my beautiful and brave friend Brenda. Keeping my anxiety under control requires practising daily self-care and mindfulness. However, I do have a few tricks up my sleeve for when anxiety hits me hard and out of the blue. Fortunately, these episodes are usually far and in between, but when they do happen they can be debilitating.  Please note, I am not an expert or a medical professional. I am simply someone who knows what it’s like to feel so anxious that you want to jump out of your own skin. The following is a list of the steps I take that help me. It might not work for you, although I really hope it does. A great way to take care of your mental health is by honouring and showing up for yourself. 7 Practical Tips To Manage Anxiety In The Moment 1. Bring Yourself Back To The Present Moment When you hit a state of panic, the safest thing to do is bring yourself back to the present moment. This is what this looks like for me: I find a safe space where I can be by myself. I close my eyes, concentrate on my breathing, listen to the sounds around me, and focus on the surface supporting my body. This goes on until I feel my body starting to relax. I ground myself and quiet my mind.  When you are panicking and catastrophizing, the logical part of your brain shuts down. Your nervous system goes into fight or flight mode, and nothing makes sense.  Taking the time to ground yourself and come back to the now, will allow you to evaluate your state of mind with more clarity.  And then ask yourself these three questions: 1. Can you control it? So much of life is out of our control. The only thing you can control is your attitude towards any given situation. And yes, that sounds easier said than done, but it can be done.  Would you rather face challenges from a state of stress, or from a state of joy? I choose the latter. As hard as it is, it is the only option. 2. Does it have a solution? Most of the time, yes. It might not be an easy one, but whoever said it would be easy? 3. Has it happened yet? No. There is a high chance that you are worrying over something that hasn’t happened yet and may never happen. Instead of coming up with solutions, you allow the worry to rob you of your peace. This exercise normally brings me back to the present moment. It calms me down, allows for logical thinking and helps me move on with my day. However, there are times when the anxiety lingers. A niggly feeling, almost like residue. A potential threat that sits at the entrance of my gut and needs to be eliminated. When this

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A Perfectly Creamy Tiramisu

Gelato and tiramisu are perhaps two of Italy’s most famous and favourite desserts.  Whilst for me nothing can beat a creamy pistachio gelato Dani had an almost impossible decision to make.  After exploring the between streets and canals of Venice it was time to enjoy dinner in a quaint Italian restaurant which had a perfectly creamy tiramisu on display. I must admit that it looked absolutely delicious.  The only snag for me being my distinct dislike of coffee!  Dani however was almost salivating.  Imagining the smooth mascarpone, infused with the aromatic coffee-soaked ladyfingers and the bittersweet cocoa dusting – dessert could not come soon enough! What Is Tiramisu? Tiramisu is a dessert made from ladyfingers which are quickly dipped in coffee (there is no alcohol in the original recipe) and topped with a mixture of mascarpone cheese, eggs and sugar.  It is one of Italy’s favourite desserts whose name literally means means “pick me up” in Italian. Origins The exact origin of this dessert is one which is subject to dispute between the Italian regions of Veneto in Treviso and Friuli Venezia Giulia in Udine. The residents of Veneto claim that the dessert originates from a restaurant called Le Beccherie.  Here the restaurant’s owner made her pregnant daughter-in-law a breakfast of zabaglione and coffee.  It is said that this breakfast inspired Alba Campeol (the pregnant daughter-in-law) to work with the restaurant’s pastry chefs to create this much loved dessert. The Original Recipe was presented as part of a menu at a food expo in Milan in 1972 and the recipe has since been deposited with a notarial deed at the Italian Academy of Cuisine. This said the residents of Friuli Venezia Giulia claim that the dessert actually originates in their town and point to a handwritten recipe for tiramisu dating back to 1959.  And, much to the outrage of Veneto, in 2017 the Italian Government declared this dessert a prodotto agroalimentare tradizionale (an officially approved, traditional regional speciality) of Friuli. Famous Worldwide Whatever its origins, tiramisu is undisputedly a dessert which is much loved and enjoyed across borders and cultures. A Magpie Take on the classic Tiramisu The original tiramisu has no alcohol but, with the dessert having been exported worldwide it has been adapted countless times.  The following is our take on the perfectly creamy tiramisu.  In our case, this becomes a perfectly creamy (and boozy) treat! Directions Some more Magpie Tiramisu Variations For a refreshing (and egg free!) twist to the classic tiramisu, check out our White Chocolate and Limoncello Tiramisu Delight or our deliciously nutty White Chocolate and Pistachio Tiramisu.  I also like making a fruity version by swapping the pistachios with mixed frozen berries and have an ultra-secret recipe which my family adores at Christmas time!  Maybe I will share this with you sometime. For now, I hope you enjoy these easy-to-make recipes which are perfect during these hot summer days. Sharing Is Caring: Related Articles You Might Enjoy:

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Transition Primary To Upper Primary

Supporting The Transition From Primary To Upper Primary

So the time has come for your baby to take one of their first big steps and move on from ‘baby’ school to ‘big’ school! Whether it’s your first child or your fourth, it still gets you every time! “Are they ready? They’re so little! Will they be okay?” And the answer is yes, yes, yes! We are very lucky in Gibraltar that most of our Lower Primary Schools are in the same building, or right next door to, the Upper Primary School that children transition to, making the move so much more smooth. Transitioning from lower primary to upper primary can be a significant step for both children and parents. Here are some pieces of advice to help make the transition smoother: 1. Make sure that your child knows where their new school is. Visits to the middle school before the transition will help them become familiar with the surroundings. This can alleviate anxiety and make them feel more comfortable. This is normally done with their class during school hours, arranged by the school if your child is moving school within your catchment area. If your child is transferring into/out of the catchment area get in touch with the new school and ask to arrange a visit. 2. Encourage independence Upper primary often brings more responsibilities for students. Encourage your child to take ownership of their belongings, organize their tasks, and develop a sense of independence. Gradually let them handle tasks on their own to build confidence. 3. Communicate with the school Establish open communication channels with the middle school staff. Attend orientation sessions, parent-teacher meetings, and stay updated on school policies and procedures. This ensures you are well-informed and can address any concerns or questions. 4. Maintain a positive attitude Emphasize the exciting aspects of middle school, such as new friends, opportunities to explore different subjects, and engaging in extracurricular activities. A positive attitude will help your child approach the transition with enthusiasm. Are you in need of lunch meal ideas? We have you covered. Download our school lunch planner, complete with a planned menu for a whole month. 5. Encourage social connections Help your child foster new friendships by encouraging them to participate in extracurricular activities or clubs of their interest. This can provide a sense of belonging and make the transition easier. 6. Support organization and time management Upper primary may involve juggling multiple subjects and homework. Assist your child in developing effective organizational and time management skills. Teach them techniques such as creating a schedule or using a planner. 7. Stay involved in their education Stay engaged in your child’s academic journey by asking about their day, reviewing their homework tasks and showing interest in their progress. This involvement reinforces the importance of education and demonstrates your support. 8. Address any concerns  If your child expresses concerns or anxieties about the transition, listen attentively and validate their feelings. Offer reassurance and problem-solving strategies to help alleviate their worries. Conclusion Remember, each child’s transition experience may differ, so tailor your approach based on their unique needs. With your support and guidance, they will adapt to their new school environment smoothly. By providing a nurturing and supportive environment, you can help your child navigate the transition to upper primary school successfully. Remember to be patient, understanding, and celebrate their achievements along the way. Teenagers at home waiting for exam results? Read this article on how to cope with exam results stress. About the author: Our lifelong friend and new guest author, Nicola Smith, wrote this blog post. Nicola is a lover of life, good food and travelling. Wife, mum, doggie mum and for the past 23 years, she has passionately served as a primary teacher, illuminating the lives of countless young minds with her unwavering dedication and expertise. Sharing Is Caring: Related Articles You Might Enjoy:

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30 Journal Prompts For A Life Of Gratitude

30 Journal Prompts For A Life Of Gratitude

Often, the small blessings in our life go unnoticed. Have you stopped lately to wonder if you are taking things for granted? Fair enough, day-to-day activities might feel mundane. Most of the time, you are moving forward on auto-pilot, without even pausing to appreciate all the small blessings in your life. After all, gratitude is a habit and one that can be easily introduced into your daily life. This perspective is profound and transformative, with the power to shape your life. In this blog post, we delve into the daily practice of gratitude and explore how keeping a gratitude journal can not only add a sense of contentment in your life but also promote a profound sense of abundance. Negativity Is A Habit You Can Break Negativity is one of the worst habits. A formidable force that can cast a shadow over even the brightest aspects of your life. It is an easy habit to adopt. This mindset keeps growing and festering your soul,  and stopping you from appreciating your life and all the good in it. And whilst the journey you are on might not always be an easy road, there is always, always something to be grateful for. Negativity is one of the worst habits. Moreover, it’s a formidable force that can cast a shadow over even the brightest aspects of your life. Despite being an easy habit to adopt, this mindset keeps growing and festering in your soul, thereby stopping you from appreciating your life and all the good in it. However, while the journey you are on might not always be an easy road, there is always, always something to be grateful for Breaking free from a negative mindset demands decisive action and a resolute commitment to realign your thoughts. To further this transformation, embrace a mindset that thrives on opportunities, triumphing over obstacles. While the journey may not be effortless, it is undeniably achievable. Countless individuals have conquered this challenge before; thus, you can too. Adding to my strategies for self-care, a valuable weapon in my arsenal is my cherished gratitude journal Gratitude Journal Keeping a gratitude journal keeps me grounded and grateful. Moreover, it is an incredible mindfulness tool. However, many of us fall into the trap of complaining and whining, which leads to a sense of victimization. Questions like ‘Why is this happening to me?’ and ‘Why does my life suck?’ tend to arise. Nevertheless, if you stop and dig deep, you will notice all of the things you take for granted. These are the small things in your life that, in reality, are blessings To overcome the darkness that occasionally engulfs your mind, I strongly urge you to embark on your personal journey of gratitude by establishing your own journal. By doing so, believe me, this powerful practice will pave the way to remarkable transformation and inner strength To help you get started, I have put together 30 great gratitude prompts. Gratitude Journal Prompts If you are enjoying this blog post, why not subscribe to our monthly newsletter? You’ll gain access to valuable insights, thought-provoking content, and exclusive updates delivered right to your inbox. And the best part? It’s FREE Final Thoughts In the past few months, I have learned that challenges are always accompanied by life lessons. Specifically in my case, I have learned the importance of learning to accept and show gratitude for certain circumstances. Surprisingly, it turned out that these challenges ended up leading to an exciting and promising road ahead.  Embracing a positive mindset and cultivating a sense of gratitude has truly transformed my life in remarkable ways. I wholeheartedly encourage you, my dear reader, to liberate yourself from the burdens that hold you back and discover a world of boundless opportunities and joy. May you embark on a journey filled with wonder, where endless possibilities await you at every turn. Never forget, life isn’t happening to you. It is happening for you! Much love, If you enjoy journaling, then check out our article on Journaling – The Path To Self-Discovery Sharing Is Caring: Related Articles You Might Enjoy:

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Greek Meatballs Dani Style!

Just a week ago we were sipping delicious cocktails on board the beautiful Norwegian Gem. This was our first time cruising with Norwegian and we have enjoyed it so much that we have already paid a deposit for another cruise!  Yes, it is safe to say that after a ten-year break from cruising the Winks have caught the cruise bug.  Unfortunately, it’s not the only bug that we caught as I tested positive for Covid over the weekend. I am feeling slightly fed up and as I reminisce about the delicious Greek food we had in Santorini I am currently craving Dani’s take on Greek meatballs. Garlic, honey and white wine form the base of the delicious sauce for these moist and super tasty pork meatballs.  Serve with pitta bread and yoghurt and mint sauce for a delicious Greek meal. Super Versatile Meal Options The craving for these delicious Greek meatballs has also got me thinking of how versatile meatballs can be.  As kids Italian-style tomato meatballs were firm favourites for my brother and I but there are countless variations out there.  The following are just a few of the were the versions that form part of our meal rotation at home: Perfect Back To School Meal Ideas Whilst the last thing you may want to think about at the beginning of August is packed lunches, the dreaded task will soon be upon us once again.  Meatballs also make the perfect back-to-school thermos flask lunch.   And, the best thing about meatballs is that you can make them in batches and freeze them so that you have different meatball meals on rotation for weeks on end. School Lunch Meal Planner Speaking of back-to-school lunches, do you struggle to plan your school lunches?  Do you find that your searches for lunch ideas online come up with meals that your children would never eat?  I totally feel you. Jamie is the fussiest eater ever!  This is why we have designed a free downloadable four-week school lunch planner with food children will actually eat!  If you are a subscriber to our newsletter you will receive this for free.  So, if you are not yet a subscriber, what are you waiting for?  Click on the link below for your free meal planner and for lots more behind-the-scenes information and freebies. Greek Meatballs Anyway, time to get back on track and talk about delicious Greek meatballs, Dani style!  New Year’s Eve is always celebrated at our house and every year we try to vary the menu.  After all, there is only so much turkey and gravy that one can eat over the Christmas period.  This means that at our house, the NYE menu is varied.  Italian one year. Greek, Moroccan, Indian or Asian the next.  This is how our Greek meatballs came about.   Our recipe is just as perfect for a family celebration as it is for a delicious midweek lunch or dinner.  As part of a celebratory meal, we would be sure to include typical Greek starters such as Spanakopita.  This is a delicious pastry filled with feta and spinach and we love this version by The Mediterranean Dish).  A meze platter including vine leaves, olives, cheese, grilled veggies and hummus is also a firm favourite with guests.  Finally, include a finger-licking Baklava such as this one by My Greek Dish to round off the perfect Greek meal. Hopefully, we have whetted your appetite enough to give our Greek meatballs a whirl.  Without further ado, check out our recipe below. Ingredients Instructions Greek Yoghurt Sauce Mix all the ingredients together and add to the side of your meatballs to enjoy with some pitta or flatbread to mop up the sticky honey and yoghurt sauce.  Believe me, you will want to lick the plate with this recipe! Let us know if you have tried this recipe (or any of our other recipes).  We love to receive your feedback and ideas of anything else you would like us to write about. Be sure to check back in over the new few weeks for all our other meatball recipes. Sharing Is Caring: Related Articles You Might Enjoy:

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A Journey Of Shared Milestones

A Journey Of Shared Milestones

When a marriage comes to an end, as a parent you ask yourself, ‘How many of my child’s milestones will I miss out on?’ Often people outside the marriage will tell you, ‘Stay for the children’. Little do they know there is another way forward. A way to be part of every hurdle, challenge, success, every milestone. Divorce shouldn’t define you as a parent. Despite the challenges and complexities, the love for your children will remain constant and strong. This blog post is about a journey of forgiveness and moving into the unknown waters of co-parenting. And, how the love for a child can bridge the gaps that might otherwise seem insurmountable. Life became a journey of shared milestones. The Start Of A New Way Of Life When my daughter was seven years old, her father and I decided to go our separate ways. I vividly remember her sitting on the bathroom floor, crying for two hours straight. All she wanted was her daddy. Meanwhile, all I kept asking myself was, ‘How badly am I messing up my kid?’ It felt like the earth was moving around me, spinning out of control and I couldn’t stop it. I felt like a failure. The only good thing in my life are my children, and I was letting them down. It felt like I was destroying their futures. So I made a promise there and then, sitting on the floor, alongside Celine, that I would move heaven and earth to provide her and my son with a stable and happy home. No matter how inadequate I felt as a mother, or how I was currently failing them, I would find a way to move forward and guide them to live their best lives. Rebuilding Life The road ahead for my ex-husband and me was anything but easy. Between all the valleys and peaks, we found a way to move forward, with as much grace and compassion as we could both muster. We might have failed as a couple, but that didn’t mean we had to fail as parents. With a shared love and an unbreakable passion for our children, we navigated co-parenting. We were both determined to put the children’s needs first. And so that is what we did.  We set aside blame and pride and buried the past where it belongs, in the past!! Eventually, we became friends, and we watched as our children blossomed into good-hearted, polite and successful human beings.  A year after we separated I met David, who I married four years later.  As a stepfather, he took the time to get to know my kids, building trust and creating a strong bond. He has been instrumental in the upbringing of my children. I am eternally grateful for his unwavering support and encouragement, and I know my ex-husband feels the same. There are no me’s and you’s when it comes to raising children, there is only – how can we all move forward together as a team. And that is what we became. Watching Her Grow and Reach For The Stars I have watched my daughter grow from a curious but shy, little girl to a determined and ambitious young woman. At four years old, at the end of her first day of school, she proudly informed me that she was going to become a teacher. I thought it was a phase, and yet in all her years of schooling, she has never deviated from her dream. A goal was set that day and she has worked hard towards it, regardless of all the challenges. Whether it was learning to live with new family dynamics, teachers who didn’t or wouldn’t see her potential, or the latest, a global pandemic.  Undoubtedly Covid has been a challenge for all of us. A time in our lives ruled by fear and uncertainty, and loss. As a student in higher education, Celine’s life was thrown off balance. Her mental health suffered, she was afraid of the unknown. How was this going to affect her future plans? She had to learn how to let go of the idea of how things should be.  And yet, she navigated this time with grace, and the occasional tantrum. Every goal she hit represented the dedication, hard work, and resilience she is capable of. She kept pushing, kept her eye on the prize. Celine was determined. And it paid off! However, amidst all her success, Celine possesses the gift of kindness and compassion. She has the ability to empathize with others, doesn’t judge and strives to make a positive impact in the lives of those around her. Especially the children she works with. Celine wants to make a difference. I raised a good kid, and I couldn’t be prouder. The University Milestone Three years ago, with a bucket full of dreams and another full of worries, Celine started her university journey. We travelled to the UK with her. Myself and my husband, Celine’s father and her step-mum. My daughter never had to choose which parent she would share this milestone with. We travelled together as a family, setting her up in her dorm room, and creating cherished memories along the way. Many people in my life do not understand our family dynamics. That’s fine, they don’t need to. All that matters is my kid and her happiness. She deserves parents who respect each other just as much as those kids who do not have divorced parents. For this, Celine is eternally grateful. Graduation Day Milestone Fast forward to July 2023, and once again we all travelled back to the UK to bear witness to the culmination of a lot of hard work and tears.  It was the perfect day. As her father and I sat waiting for the ceremony to begin, I was overwhelmed with emotion. We didn’t fail. Throughout all the storms we still managed to carry her to this very moment. And what a moment it was! The ceremony run smoothly, without any hiccups

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