Archives for November 2013

Nature in the city 6: Autumn leaves

This week we thought we’d make the most of the autumn leaves before the snow descends (it’s coming soon, apparently!) and makes them all slimy. ‘Cause it’s all about the crunch, right?

Sadly, although we did go out and kick some leaves, a lot of them were already pretty slimy from the rain…

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So I’m cheating a little this week and using photos from when the leaves were crunchy a couple of weeks back! It’s still nature in the city right? And autumn is almost over so wanted to share this before it’s too late.

So, it was a cold but sunny afternoon and we were headed to the park but Mushroom couldn’t wait that long. He saw a nice tidy pile by a tree on the corner of our street. ‘Can I Mummy…?’ I said no at first (someone had obviously gone the the trouble of sweeping them up) but he insisted ‘Kick leaves! This, leaves!’ He didn’t understand why we should wait til we got the the park. So I told him to go ahead and kick!

The look on his face was worth the guilt of messing up someone’s nice tidy pile… I hope they weren’t too upset the next day!



I’m linking up with Coombe Mill‘s Country Kids blog linky with this series. To find out more and/or add your own, click on the image below:

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall


Motherhood: The messy bits

Motherhood is messy.

I’m not talking about messy play messy – paint smeared on everything, crayon drawings on the floor and walls, glue, flour, lentils etc. everywhere, sand in every crevice… or even the mess of eating – the weaning stage, the throwing food around stage… or other messes such as those relating to illness and/or toilet training (or both at once. Ew. But it happens).

While all of these messes deserve a mention and some of them even a blog post of their own, what I’m talking about today is the mess on the inside. Our mess. The stuff we never thought would come up before we had our kids.

The past few weeks Mushroom has been a monster. A MONSTER. Especially at bedtime. Several times I have wanted to scream at him ‘WHY CAN’T YOU JUST GO TO SLEEP!’ I’m ashamed to say that once (not this week), I did. Needless to say, it didn’t exactly help matters. That was a long night with a lot of apologising. Before I had him, I told myself, ‘I’ll never shout at my kid/s, it doesn’t do any good anyway.’ I was good with kids, they never played me up (other people’s kids still don’t!) so although I knew it wouldn’t be easy, I never really understood just how much patience I would need to keep my word. Here are some other things that I might not have believed I would think before I had Mushroom.

Get off me!

I am quite a tactile person. I like to hug, and be hugged. When with close friends, I frequently touch them while we speak and when Mushroom first arrived, I loved holding him close, feeling his skin on mine and breathing in his scent. I looked forward to the day he would be able to hug me back. I never thought I could tire of his touch.

Oh believe me, I can. When I have been asked ‘carry me please’ half the day and used as a human climbing frame for the rest of it. When he says ‘I want hug! for the 10th time after he’s ‘gone to bed,’ when he pulls up my t-shirt so he can rest his head on my belly (with his hand still on my face), and has been doing this for weeks, I sometimes want to shout ‘Get off me!’ and run for cover.

Leave me alone!

Ok, so it did occur to me that I would miss having a little time to myself. But I didn’t realise just how much it would get to me during the clingy/separation anxiety phase. I work part-time so as to spend time with Mushroom and enjoy doing things with him – we especially like painting, baking and running around outside – but never getting to go to the loo on my own is more tiresome than I ever imagined. The other day Mushroom followed me in and, as I walked in, he ‘helpfully’ handed me his snotty tissue and asked whether I had finished yet. I had only gone in there to wash my hands.

Just. Go. To Sleep!

As I mentioned earlier, Mushrooom is currently fighting bedtime (naptime is less of a problem). He’s never been a great sleeper but it’s getting ridiculous. I’ve tried the ‘back to bed’ routine. I did it for about a week and it just exhausted me. So I’ve just gone back to staying with him while he goes to sleep. Some nights I can sit by the door but most nights he wants to fall asleep attached to me in some way so I sit contorted by the bed as he drifts off to sleep. At least, I always think he’s drifting off and that’s when he starts. ‘I thirsty.’ or ‘My hungry Mummy.’ or even ‘I want Daddy!’ (I got Daddy once, thinking it would give me a break. He wanted to play with him. When he realised that wasn’t happening he was not happy). His current favourite is ‘ need a poo!’ While I can say ‘no.’ to all his other requests, he knows I can’t refuse this one. I know he’s playing me when I hear him singing on the loo and playing with his bath toys (he likes privacy when he goes, shame he doesn’t afford me the same courtesy). ‘Back to bed!’ I tell him, as firmly and calmly as I can manage (through my teeth, if it’s been a long evening). Then, eventually, he will actually fall asleep.

And here’s something I expected to say, but perhaps not quite so often:

I’m sorry…

I often whisper to him I untangle myself and look at him, lying sprawled across his little bed, which still has the cot side up at the back. I gaze at his chubby little cheeks, red with the effort of trying to convince me he’s not tired, and remember he’s still just a baby, really, with a whole lot of growing to do. ‘I’m sorry. I love you.’ I say this to him a lot when he’s awake too but it’s when he’s sleeping that I apologise for those unsaid thoughts, the ones that I wish I didn’t think. The ones that make me wonder whether I’m cut out for this motherhood thing. The messy ones.

Motherhood is hard. It’s also incredibly rewarding, yes, but it is hard. It feels even harder when it looks like you’re the only one having these messy thoughts while everyone else is enjoying every second they spend with their children.

Do you have messy bits? What thoughts do you have about your children that you wouldn’t usually share? Please comment below, let’s get it all out there and remind ourselves that even though we love our kids, sometimes it’s ok to have bad thoughts about them. They’re only thoughts… and we’re only human.

(pretty please? I can’t be the only one…. Can I?)



Nature in the city 5: Pigeons and puddles

It’s been a couple of weeks since my last nature in the city post so these photos are from the past two – three weeks…. The pigeons we chased last Saturday, while waiting for a friend to pick us up from Sainsbury’s in Ilford! So right in the middle of the high street, opposite a massive shopping mall, we managed to find a little nature.

Mushroom asked why they were eating the ‘dirty bread’ and wanted to touch one. They weren’t so keen!

Chasing pigeons

Neither was he, really. When he got up a bit closer he squealed and ran back to me laughing. He couldn’t understand why some flew away and some didn’t. We had a bit of a conversation about city bird and country birds and why, although it’s a kind and generous offer, we shouldn’t give the pigeons any of his sweets…

The puddle pictures are from the week before after particularly heavy rainfall. We headed back to Coronation Gardens with our boots on for a bit of puddle jumping.

The puddles by the bandstand were so big that Mushroom asked if he could go swimming in one! I think we was making a joke (I hope so). A leaf dropped and he asked about the ‘circles’ it made in the water…

A leaf fell in

Then he was ready…. Splash!!


If enjoyed these photos you might also like something I wrote on my other blog (it’s more prose than poetry but see what you think), last month :  Pigeons and puddles.


I’m linking up with Coombe Mill‘s Country Kids blog linky with this series. To find out more and/or add your own, click on the image below:

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall


Mushroom’s first pyjama party!

Last month, Mushroom and I were out with our friends at Stratford Circus, one of our favourite family friendly venues in East London. We had been umming and ahhing for a while about whether to buy tickets for some of the children’s theatre productions this weekend. We finally decided that Tea Dance for Little People‘s ‘Pyjama party,’ sounded like fun and headed to the box office only to find out it was sold out! This made us want to go even more but I didn’t think it could happen and we started to look at other options.

A few days later, my friend called and explained that another date had been added to the calendar and she had bought us the last family ticket! I was so excited I told Mushroom straight away and every day he asked me ‘Is it my party today? Pyjamas on?’ And pouted when I said no. When the day finally came we both couldn’t stop talking about it and as we headed to the bus stop to meet up with our friends, I started to wonder if I’d got us so excited that we might end up being disappointed.

I needn’t have worried. We arrived, to a cafe full of little people in the cutest selection of pyjamas, all brimming over with excitement as what was to come. We queued nicely at the door with our tickets…

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Then Mushroom was so overwhelmed by the sensory explosion as we walked in he had to run out again for a few minutes to compose himself! Once he’d calmed down, we explored the activities laid out for the free play session before the show.

Then, the show started! There were grown-ups in pyjamas in the daytime (Mushroom recognised some from his music club so was especially excited about this), singing, dancing and doing “gynastic Mummy!” on the giant bed. Mushroom and his friend were so excited they either stood mesmorised by the performance or enthusiastically joined in (although his friend was better at following the instructions than Mushroom, at least he tried!).

Towards the end, small containers of popcorn were provided for the ‘midnight feast,’ which were eaten while watching a film, “The Red Balloon (Le Ballon Rouge).” We had ordered fruit and yogurt for the kids as we figured they would need a little more sustenance than popcorn after all that jumping around. Pasta was available too, but just as well we didn’t order that as although Mushroom was hungry, he did not sit down to eat! He loves balloons so got very excited about the film, and even more so when he realised the sponge filled bath was now filled with red balloons!

At the end of the day, we were allowed to take a balloon home (I think we lingered a little too long!) and Mushroom made sure everyone on the bus home knew it was his ‘special balloon!’ Once we got home the tiredness started to kick in and that night, although he didn’t go down easily at bedtime (he rarely does), he slept through until 7am. Unheard of!

If you’ve been thinking about taking your kids to the theatre but are not sure whether they might be a bit young, these interactive performances are a great way to introduce them to the arts and Mushroom and I highly recommend them. You can find out more about upcoming performances for children at Stratford Circus here.

This is not a paid review and we paid for our tickets to this show, we just love Stratford Circus and Tea Dance for Little People, and enjoyed the Pyjama Party so much we wanted to share! Read my full PR and disclosure policy here.


So, Mushroom can count to ten. Apparently

Last month, we had Mushroom’s second ever parent’s evening at nursery.

Have you ever been to a pre-school parent’s evening? Even I found it overwhelming so can only imagine what it’s like for the toddlers. It was manic. The sessions are in ten minute slots from when the nursery closes so everyone turns up at six and waits their turn. This means that there was at least one parent for every child, along with older siblings in some cases, most of whom were waiting in the corridor, supposedly reading their child’s journey book before talking to their keyworker. Ha! I did not see one parent reading the journey book before going in. We were all much too busy trying to keep the kids under control. It was complete chaos.

When we finally got in to see Mushroom’s keyworker (let’s call her S), Mushroom had already had enough. He ran away several times, climbed on the furniture, shouted ‘No!’ and threw some toys around. In between trying to keep half an eye on him, S talked to Mr B and I about Mushroom’s development.

S said: Mushroom doesn’t reach out to his practitioners to ask for help and support. He will only seek help if he really needs it.

My response: We’ll encourage him to speak to you if he really needs help rather than trying to do everything for himself.

My thoughts: I admire his independence.

S said: Mushroom communicates more with the other children in the room than with adults.

My response: Is he still not engaging with the adults? (When he first moved up to the toddler room he wouldn’t speak to any of the adults. At all. Made potty training challenging!).

My thoughts: It turns out he has an attachment to a previous keyworker, the only man at his nursery. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. In fact, I have noticed that a lot of the women use motherese with the children (not just the babies) which I’m not keen on now that he’s older… Anyway, perhaps that’s one for another blog posts! It seems Mushroom’s just being picky about which adults he’ll speak to.

S said: Mushroom appears very interested in books, rhymes and stories and will happily look at books alone or in a small group where he can discuss what he sees. He handles books with care and knows that text is read from left to right.

My response: *smiles*

My thoughts: That’s my boy!

S says: Mushroom can count reliably from one to ten and will do this throughout play with hs peers.

My response: What?? I mean, yes we’ve been counting at home a lot.. To ten reliably, really…?

My thoughts: He’ll give it a good go but it’s more like, ‘one, two, three, three, seven, eight, ten!’ I wonder whether he’s taking the piss at home or they have him confused with another child.

I won’t bore you with the whole report (yes, we got a report to take home! It all felt scarily like preparation for school. Which I suppose it is) but needless to say he is doing well in all areas and I am very proud of him, although I do wonder whether he saves up all his emotion/frustrations until he gets home when he unleashes it all on me and Mr B. Even S commented while we were there that ‘he’s never usually like this… I can’t believe he’s the same child!’ while he ran off for the 100th time shouting ‘No!’ as he was chased across the room by the poor girl who was supposed to be observing the exchange as part of her training.

What are/were your child’s pre-school parent’s evenings like? Are they chaos too, or are they slightly more sedate affairs? And have you ever been surprised at how differently your child behaves at nursery compared to at home? Do comment below and share your own experiences!






A warming winter breakfast

It’s about that time of year when I switch from my usual breakfast staples (Alpen most days, Kellog’s crunchy nut cornflakes if I fancy a treat) to something a little more warming (although warm Alpen tastes better than you might imagine too, go on, try it!). So, when Kellog’s got in touch and asked whether I’d like to try their new Special K multi-grain porridge… Of course I said yes! We were sent three flavours to try: Original, Red Berries and Almond & Honey.

Special K

Seeing as Mushroom’s favourite (year-round) breakfast is porridge, I enlisted him to join in with the taste challenge too. It’s so easy to make that I let him do it!


Add the sachet to a bowl

Add the sachet to a bowl


Fill the sachet with milk then add to the porridge

Fill the sachet with milk then add to the porridge


Stick it in the microwave for 2 minutes...

Stick it in the microwave for 2 minutes…

That’s it! My bowl of porridge pic was not pretty so I’ll spare you that.

We tried all the flavours over the course of a week and the winner was the red berries one, although we did also ‘customise’ the original sachet with coconut and raisins, which was lovely. I wasn’t too keen on the almond and honey one although I do like both honey and almonds! It just didn’t taste ‘right’ to me.

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The Red Berries is a clear winner!

If you’re after a warming winter breakfast that’s quick and easy to make, then this is perfect. The individual packets also help with portion control (I tend to make far too much porridge usually, then can’t finish it all) and they are easily transportable if you prefer to eat breakfast at work!

Disclosure: We received the porridge free of charge in exchange for this review. Opinions are mine (Mushroom’s Mum) and Mushroom’s own. Read my full PR and disclosure policy here. 



Welcome to our new home!

Hello you…

Whether you’ve followed us over from our old site, or you’re completely new to Mothering Mushroom, it’s good to see you here! We’ve just moved in and done the place up… Why not stay for a bit? Join us for a cup of tea/coffee/hot chocolate?


Go on, have a doughnut too…

If you’ve followed us from our old place, what do you think of the new look? Tell us what you like and whether there is anything you’re not so keen on (do be honest!)… We know there is still a bit more tidying up to be done so if you’re looking for something and can’t find it, or if something doesn’t look right… Get in touch and let me know!

If you’re new here, take a look around… You might want to start here… Then take a look at the categories and see if there’s anything that grabs you… If you like what you read, be sure to sign up (see that little box on the right?) so that you don’t miss a post!

Right, that’s far too many exclamation marks for one post and I seem to be getting a little overexcited so I’ll leave you to take a look around now. I’ll be back soon though!

Until next time…

Mushroom’s Mum x


Image courtesy of – Marcus -/



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Nature in the city 4: Tigers in the rose jungle

One of our favourite local green spaces here is Coronation gardens. Named for the coronation of Edward VII, the site was bought by Leyton Council in 1897 and it opened as a ‘recreation ground in 1902. Labelled ‘a disagreeable eyesore’ by the Leytonstone Express and Independent in 1903, the Council used a £1,000 grant to transform the area into the beautiful landscaped area that it still is today.

There are plenty of things to do here including finding our way around (or chasing each other around!) a mini maze, which is just the right size for little people, running around the bandstand or drawing chalk pictures on it (the bandstand is covered so especially handy if it rains), watching squirrels collect, eat and store (mostly eat, actually) acorns, chasing pigeons and, in the autumn months, kicking leaves! I will probably blog about all of these things at some point but today’s post is about one of Mushroom’s favourite games at the moment.

After being introduced to the concept by a lovely dad we met in the park one afternoon with his son (hello Yomi and Elijah, if you’re reading!), Mushroom likes nothing more than to pretend he is in the jungle hunting tigers. We play this game in the park, on the way back from nursery and, in the supermarket (that took me by surprise. He asked to get out of the trolley, then suddenly shouted ‘tiger, run!!’ and well, ran off. Um).

Coronation Gardens has a real jungle, as far as Mushroom is concerned. He tiptoes towards the rose garden, saying ‘Shhh’ and holding a finger to his lips. He negotiates his way around perilous flowers and through thorny bushes before breaking into a run, shouting ‘Mummy, quick! Tiger wake up!’ and collapsing against me, laughing before stopping for a snack. Hunting tigers is hard work, don’t you know.


If you look really closely, you might be able to read the commentary on the bottom of this slideshow!

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I’m linking up with Coombe Mill‘s Country Kids blog linky with this series. To find out more and/or add your own, click on the image below:

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall