Wednesday, 29 February 2012


Home today with The Baby, The (poorly) Husband  - and this is no ‘man-flu’ this is a fully bona fide vile virus - and the two plumbers who are refitting our bathroom.    Is it wrong that I am excited - more than could be considered to be a normal amount - about having a new bathroom?  Probably gives you some idea about the state of the existing bathroom.  And also suggests I should get out more.

The Eight Year Old is at school despite feeling that today , being an extra day in the year, should be a day off school.  Fair point.  I can't disagree with him on that.  And what, I wonder, happens if your birthday is today?  Would you celebrate in non-leap years on 28th Feb or 1st March?  Or maybe you only celebrate during a leap year and age at a quarter of the pace of the rest of us. 

I'm not sure what the meaning of this post is.  It's all a bit random really.  Which kind of provides an insight into my mind today.   Hmmm, we'll leave it at that I think.  Happy leap-year-extra-day people!

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

To buy or not to buy

Moments into the house viewing I knew I wanted to buy it. Ok, so the roof leaked, the electrics were - at best - questionable, wallpaper hung limply away from the walls, the brown swirly patterned carpets felt sticky underfoot, the kitchen was barely in tact, the bathroom was tired and outdated . But oh...the cornicing, sash windows, high ceilings, wide original doors. I fell in love with the potential. Could I make it work?  Was I up to the challenge? With my heart in my mouth I made the call to the Estate Agent and put in an offer...

This piece was written in response to this weeks 100 word challenge.  The writing prompt is"take a leap of faith".  To find out more about the 100 word challenge ,and to read more entries, head over to Julia's Place.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Snippets of everyday conversation #4

Picture the scene.  Last Friday, late afternoon, I'm sat sandwiched between The Eight Year Old and The Baby in the back of our (small) car that The husband is kindly driving in the general direction of the Norfolk Coast. I say 'general direction' because, as usual, we are without Sat Nav or directions to where we will be staying for the weekend.  Apparently, "we'll be fine" The Husband tells me, because, "having driven there before we're bound to remember it when we get close".

Me and The Eight Year Old are sharing a bag of marshmallows.  The Eight year Old, as ever, has with him one of the hats from his trilby collection.

"Mummy look!"

I manoeuvre my head from the inside of The Baby's car seat - where I have been pulling fish faces in a bid to keep said baby entertained and turn expectantly in the direction of The Eight Year Old.

"Two marshmallows dancing in a hat"

I sit back and wonder if this is how other people travel.

Friday, 24 February 2012

A crossroads in her life

My second go at the 100 word challenge.  This weeks writing promt is 'the flip side'.  For more 100 word creative writing fun hop on over to Julia's place.

She had reached a crossroads in her life. She could return home to the comfort of the sleepy town she knew so well or she could reach out to the opportunity that stood ahead of her waiting to be grasped, another world full of unknown potential and excitement. 

Only she could choose the path she would take.  Her decision would be easier without the implications for other people.  People she loved.  How would they respond if she went away?  On the flip side, she knew that she only had one life and she was determined to make every second count.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

A letter to The Eight Year Old

This is the final week of writing prompts set by Nickie over at Typecast for the Do Something Yummy Campaign which aims to raise awareness for the fantastic charity that is CLIC Sargent.   Nickie has provided the prompt 'survival'.

A quick google search provided me with this definition of survival:-
  1. The state or fact of continuing to live or exist, typically in spite of an accident, ordeal, or difficult circumstances

This got me thinking. One person's idea of an ordeal or difficult circumstances may not be anothers. It's all relative. As one of The Friends puts it: "if the Princess in the castle breaks her nail for the first time then it's probably gonna feel like a catastrophe if that's the worst things that's ever happened to her".  And so, this post doesn't make any claims to be a story of survival that compares to that of others, but it is a story of survival that is personal to me.

This is a letter to my eldest son, The Eight Year Old...
Hello my lovely,

When you arrived my life changed.  Just like that.  It was no longer all about me. Now it was about you.  I wanted to give you the world.  For the first year of your life it felt as if everything had fallen into place. The future was full of excitement.  And then things changed.  Suddenly and without any real explanation, my relationship with your Dad unravelled.  We tried to work out why, to make things work.  For us to be a family.  I wanted you to experience the ease of family life that I had grown up knowing.  All of us living together in our family home, loving each other, sharing our lives.  Sadly, it wasn't to be. 

After a lot of heartache, we agreed that it was for the best for us all if me and your Dad were to separate.  We both love you dearly and we longed to be with you as much as possible.  We wanted you to retain your relationship with us both and to keep a real sense of who your family are.  We reached the agreement that we would co-parent you.  From that day to this you have split your time equally between the two of us. 

I was the one to move out of the 'family home'.  It had to me as your Dad's parents owned the damn thing so it was only right and proper that I didn't remain there really.  The night I left that house knowing that you were still there inside scared the hell out of me.  I was frightened that you would grow up thinking that I had left you.  I hated the thought that you were there at 'home' and I wasn't.  That your home, the only one you had known at that time, was no longer my home.

During my first night away from you, my heart ached.  I wept.  I now knew what loneliness really meant.  I didn't know how I would ever cope with feeling that way again. But I knew that I had to cope for you and for me.  There was no option.  We were in this awful situation and now the only thing I could do was to dig deep and find the best possible way I could to make our new circumstances work best for you.  You were only eighteen months old and so didn't know that anything was amiss. You had been used to me and your Dad splitting the childcare and taking it in turns to tuck you into bed so it wouldn't seem strange to you that there was just one or the other of us there.  I rented us a house for a few months until I could scrape the money together to buy a flat for us to live in. There was a lot of change for us both but you coped so well. Knowing you were ok made my life so much easier at a time when very little felt easy.

Life since that first night we weren't together hasn't always been straightforward.  There have been times when the sacrifice of co-parenting, from a selfish perspective, has felt too great.  I lived in fear about many things for a long time.  My main fear always being how you would cope with not having your family all together.  How would this affect you?  What might we have done to you by not being able to live together.  Others can be judgemental in situations such as these.  Everyone has an opinion.  "A child should be with it's mother" came the words of wisdom in the early days from some who should have known better.  It took a lot of strength for me to stand by our decision.  To do what I have always believed to be the right thing for you.  There wasn't, and isn't, a choice. Life has gone on.  Just in a different way.  As heartbreaking as it is at times, not having you with me as much as I would like, seeing you thrive makes it all worthwhile.  You are an incredible boy who I am confident will grow into an incredible man. 

We faced, what felt to me at the time to be, an impossible situation.  We have survived that situation together.  You have given me the strength I needed to get through.  I feel privileged to have you as my son.  I am as proud as any parent could be.  You have shown me that 'home' is where the people you love are, it's not the bricks and mortar.  And, it would seem that it's more than possible to have more than one home.  I ask you about this sometimes. I say "how is it for you, living  in two places?"  and you make my heart swell when you tell me that you "actually quite like it.  There's no time to get bored mummy and there are lots of people who love me.  I have a really big family. "  It's true.  We are in a happy place and you are surrounded by people who love you more than you will ever realise.  And you have a great relationship with both parents who adore you and who will always be there for you, loving and supporting you.

Nothing in this life is perfect.  Too many of us get hung up on thinking there is a 'right way' to live.  Doing things in a different way from the expected way isn't a negative thing if it works for you, always remember that. I hope when you are older and you think back to your childhood you will have happy family memories of our lives together being well lived.

I love you with all my heart. Always.


Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Around the world in 80 words #2

 Continuing with our tour of Italy...

 Venice.  It didn't disappoint. Canals, Gondolas, architectural-elegance, widespread-beauty. We hadn't anticipated the hailstorm. An alfresco lunch took a dramatic turn as the breeze gathered pace. Waiters quickly removed table clothes and stacked furniture as they urged us into the tiny indoor bar space. Doors were hurriedly bolted shut.  Hailstones the size of golf balls pelted the windows. The square became flooded. Minutes later, blistering sunshine returned and the ground was bone dry. We stumbled, dazed, back onto the Venetian streets.

Me and one of The Friends - the one I call 'Fool', it's ok, he
calls me 'Fool' too - on the Rialto Bridge on the Grand Canal. 
I was pregnant with The Eight Year Old at the time.

Now head on over to the fantabulous SAHDANDPROUD for more travel fun.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Favourite childhood book

There is a competition currently running over on Love All Blogs (LOB) - a blogging network of which I am a part of - in association with Harper Collins.  There is the opportunity to win some childrens books simply for commenting on what your favourite childhood book is.  It got me thinking...

"What is my favourtite childhood book?" 

Hmmm.  It's difficult to narrow it down to one.  It not easy to pick a favourite anything really is it as it depends on a person's mood.  I mean, we all prefer some things to others but to select just one...well, that's tricky.  And particularly when it comes down to books.

If pushed to name just the one favourite childhood book (as I was by entering the LOB competition) I would have to plump for was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  All that oompa loompa-ing combined with a fountain of chocolate and the craziness of Mr Wonka.  I loved it.  I wanted to be Charlie - to be fair, who didn't?    I'm reading it again at the moment - supposedly to The Eight Year Old ;-)  I am reminded of the richness of Dahl's language.  The flow of the text as silky smooth as the chocolate waterfall he so delightfully describes. Fabulous!

Even just thinking about it now, I am transported back to my childhood self.  I can feel the familar comforts of my family home and I feel all sort of warm and fuzzy inside. It's funny how books, just like music, can evoke such feelings. And yet, equally, we can be whisked away by a book, transported to another lifetime, another world, a land that isn't our own.

Which then get's me thinking about why I don't currently read more than I do.  Oh yeah, that would be a lack of time thing.  Back to reality with a bump!

5 words to sum up the last week

Snot.  Vomit.  Teething.  Coughing.  Mardy.

So there you have it.  Our half-term in five words.  I suspect The Eight Year Old is glad to have made his escape back to school despite his rotten luck with being ill over half-term week.   For the rest of us, the misery looks set to continue.  Oh joy.  Please drop by again tomorrow.  I promise to make an effort to be a little jollier. 

In the meantime, any tips for removing the smell of vomit from a 5 day old rug will be gratefully received - the bicarbonate of soda has started to do it's work but there is still a sickly whiff in the air...

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Snippets of everyday conversation #3

The Husband to The (teething) Baby as he handed him a new beaker containing formula to try (The Baby currently refuses to drink anything other than milk direct from the breast): 

"Ooohhhh you'll like this...something you can bite, AND, you'll get a drink of milk from it".

Me to The Baby:

" Don't go getting any ideas about biting things that you're getting milk from".

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Saturday is caption day!

So, my quick-witted friends,
what image do we have for you today?

 Let's go with this, captions at the ready if you please...just pop them in the comments box below!

And now,  pop yourself over to the Mammasaurus Blog to check out some more Saturday caption opportunities.  Happy weekend people!

Friday, 17 February 2012

Snippets of everyday conversation #2

Playing Wii sports recently...

The Husband - "We'll make a great doubles tennis team"

Me - with right eyebrow raised questioningly - "You reckon?"

The Husband -"Too right.  With your aggression and my control, what could go wrong?"


The Eight Year Old looked on, a mild smirk upon his face.

Fabulous Friday - Sweet Valentine

This week, 'Friday of Fabulousness' is handed over to a very special little girl I know.  This very brave four year old, daughter of one of The (very good) Friends has recently been in hospital.  She's had a really rough time of it having lots of tests for different things and also having her adenoids removed.   Throughout it all she's shown her lovely Mum and Dad and younger brother just how strong she is.  By all accounts, she's coped brilliantly well.

I love this little girl, not just for the person she is, but also for the sweetest friendship she and The Eight Year Old have.  To say there is four years between them they get on incredibly well.  The Eight Year Old has always impressed me with how gentle and caring he has been throughout this friendship, he looks out for his friend and they have fun together.  In return, today's fabulous little girl has developed quite a crush on The Eight Year Old.  In fact, she has been known to declare that she 'loves' him.

A big grin leapt onto my face this week when her mum text me to say that whilst in hospital her four year old daughter had made a Valentines card for The Eight Year Old.  Not only that but her Dad had discovered her kissing a photo of him!  With the aim of returning the favour and putting a smile on the face of our four year old friend, The Eight Year Old and me made a Valentines Day card and he signed it with love.  By all accounts our 'smile' mission was accomplished!

Me and my friend (the four year olds mum) are delighted not only to see our children being such good friends, but also that we are collecting all these stories with which to store up for potentially embarrasing storytelling in the future when our kids are all grown up.

In the meantime, to the bravest and most fabulous four year old I know.  Here's wishing you a Fabulous Friday! With lots of love from us to you.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

A bloggers dozen

Call me naïve if you will but I was happy to be tagged (my first time!) by Housewives Incorporated to join in this meme which, for reasons that are not explained, seems to be  hung up on the number 12. 

I’m told that these are the rules - try not to be put off by the use of the word 'fun':

1) You must post the rules
2) Post 12 fun facts about yourself in the blog post
3) Answer the questions the tagger has set for you in their post and then create 12 new questions for the fellow bloggers you plan to tag
4) Tag 12 people and link to them on your blog
5) Let them know you tagged them

So, here we go!

12 (fun?) facts about me:-
  1. My initials spell JAM.
  2. I smoked a cigarette once with Rick Mayall whilst standing in a back alley in Nottingham.
  3. I am ALWAYS Batman and never Robin.
  4. When I am pregnant I look like a snake that has swallowed a really big football.
  5. I once played Malcolm in a production of  McBeth – to a small and select audience.
  6. Drinking Caipirinhas whilst on a carousel in Paris is be my idea of heaven.
  7. I like to feel the sand between my toes and the sound of the sea in my ears – preferably at the same time. On a beach. Obviously.
  8. Some years ago I almost knocked a man unconscious whilst lavishly dancing with my best friend to Ricky Martins ‘Livin la vida loca’ in a gay bar in Manchester. 
  9. During that same weekend trip to Manchester I also nearly ‘counter-dived’ in a takeaway to obtain pizza - so desperate was I for carbohydrates following a week long detox.  I wouldn't dream of detoxing these days...I no longer have the energy for counter-diving. 
  10. I very much like vintage (ok, old) china and own more teacups and teasets than could be considered normal
  11. Many years ago, a drunken accident, that began with me bending to stroke a cat and ended with me hitting the floor face down, left me looking like a cross between Elvis and Hitler – think huge swollen lip and unfortunately placed moustache shaped open wound.  Attractive.  When I read this out to The Husband, his only comment  was this "a blog post that mentions Hitler, interesting".
  12. I would like Moloko’s “The time is now “ to be played at my funeral.
My answers to the 12 questions set by Housewives Inorporated

 1. How many places outside the country you were born in have you visited? Feel free to name them if the list is short enough.
In no particular order... Wales, Scotland, Ireland (Dublin), France (Paris and the South), Italy,(Venice, Florence, Lucca, The rolling hills of Tuscany), Germany (Munich), Austria (Salzburg),  Hungary (Budapest), USA (Seattle and Oregon), the Greek Islands, Spain (Madrid,  Valencia), The Balearic Islands, The Canary Islands, Portugal, Tunisia.

 2. Do you own a currently valid passport?
No. Thank you for the reminder – my passport ran out a couple of months ago and I am yet to renew it.

3. When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? And are you doing that now?
I wanted to be Batman. And yes I am now Batman, but sshhh... don’t tell anyone!   An alternative option was a desire to be a contemporary dancer and choreographer.  I now dance often in my head.

4. What (or where) would your dream holiday be?
A deserted Watergate Bay in Cornwall with the weather of the Caribbean.  If you’ve ever been to Watergate Bay and explored beyond the crowded bit (why do all of the people want to sit in the same bit???) then you will know what I mean.

5. If you could invite ANYONE at all to a dinner party at your home, who would be top of the guest list and why?
Stephen Fry who I believe him to be an intellectual comedy genius.  And he may bring Hugh Laurie along too.

6. If you could invite someone from history to the said dinner party, who would that be, and why?
Coco Chanel.  To see if she was as oulandishly individual and single minded as the film of her life portrayed her to be.  I reckon we'd have a giggle with Stephen and Hugh.

7. What would be on the menu at the said dinner party?
Queen scallops in garlic and white wine, Thai green curry , Crème brule. To be washed down with a gallon of Chablis.  I'm usually a Rioja kind of girl but wih this menu I'll make an exception. 

8. If you could change the World, where would you start? What would you do?
I would share out all of the food equally amongst all of the people.

9. When your cupboards are running bare, and you lack inspiration, what is your standby thing to make for dinner?
Potato waffles.  Yes, shameful.

10. How would you define happiness?
As a state of ‘being lost in the moment' with any of my favourite people - I include my own company in this. Egotistical?  Possibly. 

11. If you could give your house/home a name, what would it be and why? (If your house already has a name, what is it and did you choose it?)
The Batcave.  See question 3.

12. What do you hope to accomplish through your blogging?
To write honest, thoughtful pieces well, and to remind me that I currently have a life that extends beyond The Eight Year Old and The Baby.

My 12 new questions
  1. What is your earliest memory?
  2. Which 3 songs would provide the soundtrack to your life?
  3. What is your favourite word?
  4. Who would play you in a film of your life?
  5. Tell me – in one sentence if you please - your best bit of parenting advice.
  6. Please recommend a book.
  7. What makes you laugh -  in a proper real belly-laughing sort of way?
  8. What five words would your friends would use to describe you?
  9. What’s your guilty TV pleasure?
  10. What is (in your opinion) the best blog post you have written (please provide a link)?
  11. What is your most embarrassing moment?
  12. Name a blog  (other than your own) that we all need in our lives.
Below are the 12 fellow bloggers I am tagging – these are parenting-blog-bods whose blogs I admire and who I would like to know a little better - who I am asking to answer my new questions above:-
  1. bluebirdsunshine
  2. Actually Mummy
  3. Diary of the Dad
  4. imcountingufoz
  5. Kate Takes 5
  6. Pheasants,frogs and banana bread
  7. AMummyToo
  8. Mummy Whisperer
  10. Maris World
  11. (Just) Above Average Mummy
  12. Mammasaurus
Message to the chosen 'tagees':  If you are in a meme-sniffy kinda mood and don't want to play then "boo".  If you're joininig in this hefty meme then thank you and"hurrah"!  Please leave a comment with a link to your post so I can have a read of your answers.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Snippets of everyday conversation #1

Me - pointing to a 4ft tall cardboard box that The Baby's new travel cot recently arrived in -
"Please don't throw this box away.  We're making a robot out of it."

The Husband - "Of course we are".

The day I interviewed the Eight Year Old...about me.

Welcome to week 3 of the link up at Typecast for the CLIC Sargent Do Something Yummy awareness raising campaign.    For more information about CLIC Sargent, click here.

This weeks theme is "Getting Together".  Nickie at Typecast has provided the following three promts for us to choose from:-
  1. Personal post. When was the last time you got together with a group of friends? Tell us about it.
  2. Yummy post. Yummy Mummy week is all about getting together with other parents to raise money for CLIC Sargent. Tell us why getting together with other parents is important to you.
  3. Creative post. Tell us how you are surviving the half term holidays! Or get the kids involved. Interview them using these questions.
I was tempted by number 1 as back in November I wrote about my 40th birthday weeked shared with my closest friends.  And then I thought "no, that would be a bit of a cop out and people can already read about that here".

And so instead, I've gone with number 3 - I've interviewed The Eight Year old using the questions provided (in the link above).  This is how we got on...

Interview with Joe, aged eight

1. What is something mum always says to you?
It's true.  I can often be overheard remining The Eight Year Old that the door to the living room needs to be kept shut to keep the heat in and the draughts out!

 2. What makes mum happy?
I can't argue with that!  :)

3. What makes mum sad?
"When I get angry"
Yes, this does make me sad, usually combined with any of the following:- exasperated, confused, irritated, frustrated.

4. How does your mum make you laugh?
"I laughs when she laughs"
...and then that makes me laugh more and sometimes we go on like that until we can't remember how it started and The Husband begins to think he has lost his mind!!

5. What was your mum like as a child?
"Friendly and liked to play boys games"
I was very much a tom-boy.  I'd think to think I was friendly but I know I was very shy which probably got in the way a lot of the time.

6. How old is your mum?
Correct.  See this.  And this.

7. How tall is your mum?
"Taller than me"
Yes I am but realistically I don't think this will be for too much longer.  The Eight Year Old is among the tallest in his class and seems to be growing at an alarming rate!

8. What is her favourite thing to do?
"Painting and baking"
I do very much like to do both of these things  - even given that by painting, The Eight Year Old means decorating.

9. What does your mum do when you're not around?
"Looks after my baby brother"
Correct, amongst other things!

10. If your mum becomes famous, what will it be for?
"Baking on tv"
Chance would be a fine thing!  Although I'm not sure the world is quite ready for that just yet!!

11. What is your mum really good at?
"Drawing and painting butterflies and baking"
Anyone see a theme developing here?

12. What is your mum not very good at?
"She's not very good at playing Pirates of the Caribbean (POTC) on the wii"
This is very true, most of the time I have very little idea what is going on or what I am doing. When playing POTC on the wii that is and not in life generally - despite how things may appear.

13. What does your mum do for her job?
"Works in an office at a computer with students"
Rumour has it that there is some truth in this. I am currently on maternity leave and in denial.

14. What is your mum's favourite food?
"Roast chicken and chips and homemade gravy"
I do love this meal.  Is it my favourite food?  I'm not so sure.

15. What makes you proud of your mum?
"She’s kind"
I'd like to think so. It makes me very happy to hear my son say these words :)

16. If your mum were a cartoon character, which one would she be?
That, I cannot deny.  All will be revealed in a future post.

17. What do you and your mum do together?
"Cooking and baking"
For proof, see this.

18. How are you and your mum the same?
"We can both roll our tongues"

19. How are you and your mum different?
"I do jokes"
And I don't 'cos I can never remember them.

20. How do you know your mum loves you?
"Because she gives me hugs"
I like this :)

We have been asked this week to tag another blogger to try to spread the word a little further.  So if you’re willing to join in Missing Sleep, then I am passing the baton over to you - if you don't have time this week then there is always week 4 next week...the prompt will be out on Monday over at Typecast. 

To find out more, or to read other posts, please click here.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Around the world in 80 words

Started by the 'Blogging God' who is SAHDANDPROUD I've decided to join in this marvellous 'Around the world in 80 words' linky thing.  In SAHD's very own words, here's how it works:-

"Here’s the deal. Describe your favourite place, town, city, village, holiday destination, planet, service station, cafe, dungeon, day out. Or not. Describe your least favourite place. It can be funny, true, real, based on experience, or totally and utterly made up. The rule? It has to be done so in under 80 words. And you can do as many as you wish or even your take on one someone else has done. Lets do a map of the world!" 

So, here's my first attempt.  We're heading off to Italy people... 

The Tower of Pisa is, unsurprisingly, in the Italian city of Pisa.  It’s true what they say, that tower does indeed lean.  “Surely being this high up on a sloping floor can’t be right” said The Husband walking string-puppet-like to grab at the all too flimsy looking railings as we emerged from our spiral staircase climb onto the top of the tower.  Away from the Disney-film-set-esque-ness of the tourist square in which it sits, the tower stole our hearts.



For more travel reports with a difference, click here.

Love is in the air

The first Valentine's Day The Husband and me had the pleasure of each others company was far from romantic.  Mainly due to the fact that the greater proportion of the day was spent attempting to catch the two pigeons that were making themselves at home in my bedroom having flown in down the chimney.  Considering we were only weeks into our relationship it's a wonder The Husband stuck around really... but stick he did.

In fact he stuck so tight that by Valentine's Day the following year he had moved in.  I woke up that year to find the house full of birds.  Beautiful origami birds he had folded with his very own hands and placed all around our home with little love notes written on them.  How lovely is that??  It made the scrappy little handmade card I gave him and the cheap chocolate hearts I'd purchased look a bit lame really.

I loved those paper birds so much so,that when we got married last year, we agreed that The Husband would make hundreds of them to decorate our venue.  There see.  That'll teach him for being a romantic show-off won't it?

Note to The Husband - I love you like crazy, funny man.  Happy Valentine's Day  :)  xxxx

Monday, 13 February 2012

The boy who lost his voice

The first day of half-term and The Eight Year Old is feeling ill with a cold and sore throat.  He is losing his voice and is quite rightly feeling more than a little sorry for himself.  I remind him of the first time he lost his voice, he would have been around two and a half or three years old I think. 

Not understanding what was going on, he was naturally upset at not being able to speak properly.  When I explained that he had a cold that was making his throat feel sore and swollen and was causing him to lose his voice he became much more upset.

In a strained croak through his tears he said "will we ever find it again?"

It was hard to contain my smiles at him thinking that the 'lost' voice of his may never be found.  Thankfully, I'm happy to report that the voice was indeed soon found.  "Maybe we should start searching again now?" I suggest.  He flashes me the exasperated look of a wise and weary eight year old who thinks his Mum is a little bit ridiculous.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Food for thought

On the fantastic blog that is 'SAHDADPROUD' - the 'SAHD' for those of you who are initiated in the world of parent blogging stands for 'stay at home Dad'- a recent post entitled "Where have I gone wrong?" was published.  The post finds SAHD questioning his parenting skills due to the refusal by his son to eat the healthy nutritious food lovingly prepared by his Dad.  I started to write a comment in response to this brilliantly written piece but soon realised that I was writing an epic of my own.  And so, instead, here are my thoughts.

If I transport myself back in time, around five years to be precise, SAHD's post could well have been written about The Eight Year Old.  I had, through the weaning stages of introducing my first born to the delights of' solid food' been positively smug about the range of food I had successfully exposed him to.  The Health Visitor had marvelled at the foods my son would happily devour, "..avocado you say?","yes, I do say avocado, he loves it". 

The smug smile was soon wiped off my face though .  As my son got older and progressed onto so-called 'finger foods', and then later graduated onto such delights as the potato waffle, he quickly realised there were options he found preferable to the healthy vegetable-loaded meals  that his Mum spent hours planning, and making.  And so it was, that his diet became more and more limited until, at around the age of two, and for what felt like forever, he would only eat eight things (aside from the biscuits and crisps that he would happily have eaten all day):-  pasta in a homemade tomato sauce, potato waffles, tangerines, cheese sandwiches, porridge, weetabix, fromage frais (the children's sort that are fuelled with sugar)  and a 'pretend' fish pie made with boil in the bag cod in sauce mixed in with a pile of mash and a few peas on the side. 

If I put any other foods in front of him he would never shout or tantrum, no, he knew that the silence or the quiet tears would be equally as powerful  if not more so, to move me into giving him exactly what he wanted.  Just like SAHD, I too, felt like a huge failure.  In response - once I'd done tearing my hair out  - I decided I couldn't do with the daily food face-offs and subsequent disappointment (from both me and The (then) Two Year Old) whenever I tried to temp him with something new and flavoursome and nutritious.  And so instead, I tried to find a compromise that gave us both a bit of what we wanted.  I aimed to maximise the vitamins that we could gain from the healthier things he would eat.  I went down the route of 'hiding vegetables' in the  pasta sauce (onions, red pepper, carrot, celery, courgette) and then blending until smooth so they couldn't be detected.  I decided that if he unknowingly ate those vegetables along with a couple of tangerines a day then we were doing ok vitamin wise.  Throw in a bowl of porridge or weetabix for breakfast and we were having a good day.

The more relaxed I was able to be - and it really doesn't come naturally to me to be relaxed about this stuff - the more relaxed my son was.  So I kept on giving him his favourites and tried to offer him a choice of two relatively healthy options (more often than not, the pasta in tomato sauce or fish pie) which made him feel like he had a choice and some control over what he ate.  The  battling stopped and we both became less stressed.  If he began to reject any of his 'chosen' meals then I'd try to react as little as possible and then offer him a bowl of cereal or slice of toast (never anything more exciting than that) so that I wasn't worried about him being hungry and not getting enough food inside him.

In a very low key way, I kept on offering him different things that I would be eating and eventually - we're talking years. rather than weeks or months here - he became more interested in trying other flavours.  The use of a 'reward chart' helped with this  - ok so it may not be the best parenting technique 'bribing your kids into eating new things' but sometimes we just do what we need to do!  The incentive of gaining a 'star' each time he tried a new food, a small treat after collecting three stars and then a bigger treat after getting ten stars, was enough to tempt my son into trying different things and he surprised himself by even liking some of them.  Starting school and seeing other children eating lots of different foods was a big turning point too which saw him being a little more open to the possibility of life beyond pasta. 

From that time of food battles, there is something that really stuck with me. One day we were at the local library and another Mum looked on in wonder at my son as he ate his cheese sandwich.  "My daughter won't even entertain the thought of eating a sandwich" she said. As we compared notes she added this: "I tell myself that you don't see many eighteen year olds who don't eat sandwiches so I'm guessing this is just a phase".  Since that day I have applied this theory to many, many situation.  "You don't see many eighteen year olds who are still potty training", "you don't see many eighteen year olds who will only eat pasta for every meal",  "you don't (these days) see many eighteen year olds who can't read", to name but a few.

My best piece of parenting advice, for what it's worth and should anyone be interested, would always be this.  Babies, kids, they go through phases - we are all aware of this but it is easy to forget when we feel 'lost' in a particularly challenging parenting rut.  Our children, they change all the time.  And so do the resulting challenges that we face as parents.  No parenting rut will last forever, there will always be light at the end of the tunnel no matter how long that tunnel may appear to be.

As far as food goes now with The Eight Year Old. Well, we're getting there slowly but surely.  I can't honestly say his diet is particularly varied but we've come a long way.  A roast chicken dinner - complete with carrots, green beans and peas - rates up there amongst his favourites these days.  He still thinks baked beans are the devils very own poison, wouldn't dream of trying broccoli and thinks I'm lying when I tell him he used enjoy avocado, but hey "how many eighteen year olds do you see who won't eat baked beans eh?"

To help get The Eight Year Old more interested in the food that he eats - and also to help me fulfil my role as a Mum who's trying to do a good job of raising boys who will become the next generation of men - we've started a new thing in the last few weeks.  Instead of 2012 New Years Resolutions we set ourselves 'culinary challenges' . Read all about it in our blog called "Cocoa & Fig".  It's a new battle now, between Lego and cooking but hey, a girl's gotta try!

Check out SAHDANDPROUD by clicking here.

Saturday is caption day!

It's simple. Just come up with a
caption for the photo below and
write it in the comments
section underneath. 
Go wild people!

For more Saturday Caption fun go to the Mannasaurus Blog by clicking here.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Fabulous Friday - A Parisian Carousel

I have a real 'thing' about fairground carousels.  I'm not entirely sure where this 'thing' originated but whenever I see one my heart does a little skip.  I also have a bit of a 'thing' for Paris since my one and only visit to the city almost a decade ago.  And so, imagine my squeal of delight when I came across this beautiful image taken by one of The (very talented) Friends. 

A carousel in Paris...what could be more fabulous than that?!

All rights to this image are owned by the photographer, Ash Haeger.

Ash Haeger has given permission for me to share this image of
'something I love' with Love All Blogs and Albelli.

To find out more, click here.