Monthly Archives: March 2012

I won’t give up

Love this.


Cheesy? Maybe a little.

But God knows we’re worth it.


Have a great Friday.


Parenting dilemmas: Should I have backed down?

I could scream.

I just dug myself into a classic parenting hole. One of those hideous black holes where you issue some decree or other in the heat of the moment, fuelled by fury, only to wonder moments later if perhaps you over-reacted. Just a tincy bit.

And then what do you do? 

Climb down off your high horse? Admit your error? Apologise?

Or stick to what you said, even though pangs of guilt make you wish you could take it back?

If, say, you declared a bedtime story ban (harsh, I know but it seemed to befit the crime) and then think better of it when bedtime comes, does reinstating story-time undermine your argument that drop-kicking your brother on the trampoline won’t be taken lightly? 

And if you relent and read stories anyway will the fact that drop-kicks are ill-advised pale into insignificance?

And will you inadvertently reinforce the message that mothers can be manipulated, and that a heartfelt apology is all it takes to wriggle out of trouble and reverse unappealing consequences?

And if you accept the caveat that it was an accidental drop-kick and the cheeky claim that the ensuing bad behaviour was justified on the grounds that you didn’t provide a thorough investigation and the opportunity to make amends – if you do that, are you setting yourself up for trouble in the future, or showing yourself to be patient? Gracious? Kind?

And if the latter, does modelling those things instill them and so help reduce the likelihood of drop-kick related drama in the future?

Or does it just make you a push-over?

In the end we brokered a compromise, snuggled up beneath my duvet. There were no stories but I did apologise.

So why do I still feel like the bad guy?


Things you never thought you’d hear yourself say… to your kids

Thinking might be banned around here – and how much happier I am when I think less – but, fortunately, staying up late and surfing the internet for cool stuff isn’t, which is how I found this post about an artist called Nathan Ripperger.

Click on the link above to check out his brilliant posters, which capture all those bonkers things you find yourself saying when you’re a parent. You know the moments I mean – when you tell your child to stop sucking his own face off with the hoover, and find yourself marvelling that that’s one sentence which you never thought you’d need to utter.

Boys, eh.

I especially like the first one, and the one about building forts in church.


The one where I resolve to give up thinking

In my ongoing quest for feature ideas that will make Editors want to commission me for megabucks, I’ve tried more than a few weird and wacky pursuits.

I’ve ridden a horse, despite my terror, in a misguided attempt to embrace spontaneity. I’ve kept a diary of all the arguments I’ve had with my husband for a week and I’ve even whisked my son away for a weekend of Love Bombing. Which is nothing to do with terrorism or violence.

But my latest experiment isn’t for the purposes of publication. That’s not to say that it won’t turn into a feature at some point, but for now it’s purely personal. Er, except for the fact that I’m blogging about it.

My plan? To give up thinking.

I am a compulsive thinker. I do it way too much and it causes me no end of grief. While other people are happily thinking about nothing more challenging than what to have for dinner, I am usually running through a mental monologue that ranges from angst about the past all the way to fear about the future, with a good dose of worry about the present thrown in for good measure. It’s crippling. And that’s official – a clinical psychologist once told me that being a thinker is both my greatest strength and my biggest weakness. So I’m giving it up.

The idea came from Eckhart Tolle, and something my husband read to me from one of his books – The Power of Now – which, according to the blurb on the back, is ‘the bible du jour – a must-read for anyone looking for a modern day take on spirituality’.

It’s not my usual cup of tea, I’ll admit, but this stopped me in my tracks:

‘Not to be able to stop thinking is a dreadful affliction, but we don’t realise this because almost everybody is suffering from it, so it is considered normal… Thinking has become a disease. Disease happens when things get out of balance.’

I’d add some pithy conclusion here if I could but… I can’t think of one!

You are awesome

I completely adore these ‘You are awesome’ posters, created by awesome artist and blogger Kal Barteski.

I love the sentiment that ‘seeing your name in print can validate you in a way that moves you from the inside’.

I especially love that they’re customisable, and I’m thinking of ordering one for each of my boys, to hang on the wall right beside their beds. I love the idea that the first thing they’ll see upon waking – and right before falling asleep – is their name, in their favourite colours and decorated with their favourite animal, reminding them that they are, indeed, awesome.

Couldn’t we all do with a bit of that?

Explaining loss to children

On Friday night my husband’s grandmother died.

The next morning our boys crawled into bed beside me and for a few sweet moments there was silence. Then, quietly, I told them.

Their faces said all the things they don’t have words for. Big emotions swirled wordlessly behind little, soulful eyes.

It’s just a word to them for now.

It won’t mean much at first. Death only gains currency when you begin to realise what loss really means.

For now loss is just a misplaced precious DVD or a toy stashed somewhere, its whereabouts momentarily forgotten. They feel it keenly but it’s a fleeting moment of sparky angst that vanishes when the wanted item reappears, which it invariably does, eventually. They don’t yet know the longevity of loss. They just know that it makes them miss their Daddy all the more, and together we re-counted how many more sleeps until he comes home from visiting Great Big Gran.

This morning my mind is on the legacy this beloved great-grandmother leaves behind her. The ripples of character and personality that never would have been, were it not for her. Remarkable.

And what an honour it must be to live long enough to see your influence – in genes and smiles and interests – living on.

And live on they will, present every day in little ones who already feel they miss her, without yet really knowing what that means.

At times like this – well actually, at ANY time in our house – we can usually find a word of wisdom from the venerable Albus Dumbledore that helps sum up the things that small boys sense but can’t explain.

In Dumbledore’s own words:

“To the well-organised mind, death is but the next great adventure.”

I think Great Big Gran would heartily approve of that.

My fabulous baking boys

My lads made dinner tonight.

Last night, the eldest and I attended a cookery class at the boys’ school. We made leek and potato soup followed by tuna fishcakes, and he claimed to enjoy both dishes so much that I had an idea… I thought he could recreate the experience for his brother at home – and save me the hassle of cooking dinner for once.

The plan was a roaring success. While one boy scrubbed and chopped the leeks the other got to work with the potatoes.

Their enthusiasm was just intoxicating.

I love the way these little boys bloom when given the chance to exercise a bit of independence. Their movements change; they’re possessed with a self-assuredness that isn’t there when they get stuck on a word in their reading books, or when they’re (reluctantly) brushing their teeth and asking for the millionth time: “Has that been two minutes yet?”

They seemed to throw their shoulders back just the tiniest fraction of an inch, and the gentlest  hint of swagger marked their movements as they dragged chairs from the table over to the worktop in order to be able to reach the blender.

They wield sharp knives with eyes wide, and suddenly-confident banter flows easily between them. In the kitchen, camaraderie flows instead of rivalry.

But it’s woefully easy to take shortcuts – not just in the kitchen but in life in general – and in so doing, to deprive them of these opportunities to bloom. Here’s to giving sharp knives to little boys, throwing caution to the wind, and watching boys become men. Not too fast, mind.


I can’t seem to find my blogging rhythm, so to speak, so it’s a good job that fellow blogger Woodland Widow has seen fit to tag me in a blogging Q&A – thanks! – otherwise it could well be another fortnight before I find a moment to put fingertips to keyboard. So here goes:

1. What three words would your best friend use to describe you?
Feisty (but of course), funny, faithful.

2. What was the last book you read and what would you rate it out of ten?
Currently reading Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal (10/10) by Jeanette Winterson but before that it was The Peculiar Sadness of Lemon Cake and I’d give it a 7.

3. Do you have a faith?
Absolutely, though I’m more inclined to call it ‘faith’ rather than ‘a faith’. Semantics, maybe, but they matter. (To me, at least.)

4. What is your favourite thing to cook?
Ooh, tough call. Favourite thing? Hmm. I’m fickle so it changes with the wind but nutella cake, maybe. This one.

5. Do you keep in touch with many schoolfriends?
Yes, only one ‘properly’ but I wish I was better at keeping in touch with her. We did manage to meet up in Scotland last summer though, which isn’t bad going, I suppose. I’ve recently rekindled an email friendship with another school friend (but I’m shocking at replying to texts and emails on a regular basis) and I touch base from time to time with 4 or 5 others via Facebook and Twitter. Still in touch with all my girls from University though. Again, not often enough.

6. Are you happy with the area in which you live?
Yes, very much so. And according to the Office for National Statistics people who live in Northern Ireland are happier than people who live elsewhere in the UK.

7. What is currently must-see television for you?
I don’t really ‘do’ TV but I go through phases of watching a series compulsively. Grey’s Anatomy is my fave of all time and I’ve just recovered from a dodgy Eastenders stage and am fairly hooked on One Born Every Minute. Except it makes me cry and want (a) to become a midwife and (b) to have more babies, neither of which seems sensible, so I’ll try to wean myself off it soon.

8. Which musician/band always cheers you up when you hear their music?
Weirdly, I’m not really a music-to-cheer-you-up kind of person. I prefer my tunes with a bit of pathos and my go-to bands for that are Snow Patrol and Mumford and Sons. Original I am not, in a musical sense.

9. What is the hardest thing you have ever done?
Not telling. Except that while I don’t really ‘do’ pride I am very proud of myself for getting through it and coming out stronger. It’s the hard things that help you grow and mine made me ten feet tall and bullet-proof. The second hardest thing I’ve ever done was to sit helplessly in the back of an ambulance as it drove to hospital at high speed on blue lights while I watched paramedics work on my 18-month old baby just after he suffered a febrile seizure in the car park outside Halfords. I thought he was dying in my arms and every time I’m in that car park or even see a Halfords ad on TV I can literally taste raw fear. The third hardest thing was being present at the one and only birth I’ve attended (except that of my sons) and realising that all was not well with the baby as the room filled with medical staff and the baby was whisked to intensive care before his mum had even clapped eyes on him. He’s a gorgeous, healthy young man now.

10. What car do you drive?
A silver one. Ha!

11. Flat shoes or high heels?
Heels in my heart, flats for the life I really live.

I think I’m supposed to tag other bloggers and set a list of questions for you to answer but if you want to join in leave me a comment and I’ll dream up some questions for you.