Archives for May 2014

Nice weather for ducks

Last weekend Mushroom and I were in Liverpool with my sister, staying with friends and visiting family in New Ferry. Mushroom spent a lot of time playing with the dog (thankfully, overcoming a recent fear he acquired when a dog tried to bite me), playing with old toys, playing football and bouncing around on the trampoline in the garden at our friends’ house with his new ‘best friends’ who he took to calling ‘The Boy’ (with whom he spent most of his time) and ‘The brother’ (they are 13 year old twins).

As a lot of the outdoor time was spent just walking from one place to another Mushroom was usually asleep in his buggy (yes, managed to get him to have some nap time so me and my sis had some catch-up time too!), so when he complained he’d not been ‘out,’ we promised we’d take him to Birkenhead Park to feed the ducks.

It was a nice sunny morning when we went to visit ‘MummyNanny’ (my Nan) and we headed back to go to the park later afternoon… And then it started pouring with rain. Still, a promise is a promise and the dog needed walking so…


Will this be enough bread?
Um yes, I think so…
Good, I eat some too

We fed a couple of ducks who were on the bank before the rain got heavier… and heavier… The ducks swam across to a willow tree and gathered under it, leaving one lone drake eating the bread we’d thrown while pigeons gathered to grab the bits we’d dropped nearby…


Mummy the ducks are swimming away!

Then more pigeons arrived…


Oh gosh Mummy, the pigeon birds are eating all the ducks bread. Poor duckies. Let’s go *shovels rest of bread into mouth*


So… I say it’s nice weather for ducks but they didn’t seem too impressed either! Mushroom had fun though, both feeding the ducks and running around the park throwing the ball for the dog. It was wet and miserable, yes but I’m still glad we got out!

I am linking up to Coombe Mill‘s Country Kids  with this post. Click on the image below to find out more.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall


The myth of the multi-tasking mother

I’m not saying that mothers cannot multi-task. We all can, and do. Even if it’s just eating a sandwich while nursing an infant to keep blood sugar levels up during a Wonder Week  feeding marathon (took me a while to master that one), we all do it.

However, I think the myth that women and specifically, mothers, are excellent multi-taskers is almost as dangerous as her sister myth, that women can ‘have it all.’

But mothers are great at multi-tasking… Aren’t they?

Well. To an extent, as I said above, yes, we have to be. We all have a lot to get through each day. To go slightly into detail; We have kids to get up out of bed, to feed, clothe, entertain, take to school/nursery/playgroup/just out. Then there’s more feeding, more entertaining, more appointments/playdates etc. Then there’s the ‘home admin,’ and all that entails. We might also work – full-time/part-time/work-from-home (in any capacity)… It’s all work. Then there are relationships to maintain – partners, family, extended family, friends… And we also need to look after ourselves somewhere along the line.

Did you notice how I put ‘looking after ourselves’ last?

I’ve written about not dropping the glass balls before. In that post, I talked about the importance of putting the glass balls first (and not having more than you can safely juggle), and how routine can help when it comes to managing everything. However… Even though I know this, and even though in my work as a coach* I help people, parents in particular, identify and achieve their goals – one at a time – I still fell for the myth of the multi-tasking mother.

I do a fair bit of stuff. Other than mothering mushroom and all the other ‘life stuff’ (which in itself can be a full-time job, just ask any stay-at-home mum), I also work part-time, write this blog and another one and then there’s the freelance writing and coaching. Usually I try to take some time out in September as, it being the anniversary of my mum’s passing, I know it can be a hard time for me. Last year, I didn’t. In fact, it coincided with some other personal challenges and a busy time at work including a project I found very challenging. I put a lot more time into that, and no less into everything else. I started believing that if ‘everyone else’ (‘everyone?’ Really? In the whole world? Hmmm) was managing, then I ‘should’ (oh how I loathe that word – but that’s for another blog post) – be able to too. Of course, I couldn’t, and didn’t. Remember those glass balls? Well, I put work above health once too often and it slipped. It cracked. I cracked.

At the time, I posted a rather dramatic announcement that I ‘wouldn’t be around for a while,’ only to return two weeks later with a post that explained nothing. The reason I didn’t explain is because I felt that if I’d written down all the things that happened in isolation, they would seem small, ridiculously so in some cases but all together?  Well, the build-up was too much. There were of course things beyond my control that I just needed to take the time to reflect on as well as the smaller things that felt insurmountable at the time because, put simply, there was just too much going on in my head. I needed to stop and I didn’t. So I got sick. My body forced a stop for me.

Taking time out

Two weeks was all it took. Just two weeks when I only had to take care of the essentials – Mushroom, myself and my family. My work (all of it) took a back seat and I concentrated on what was important. This short break was the reminder I needed.

Once I ‘switched off’ from all but the essentials I found time to relax I realised that this is what I had been missing for a while. The time to reflect, to ‘take a step back’ from all the ‘doing’ and just ‘be’ for a bit. I spent some time talking to friends, and these conversations got me to step outside myself and see just what I had been doing. Looking back at myself from this new perspective, I realised that all these plans for the future were great but I had sort of pulled the future in so close that it had overtaken the present. I was rushing towards it, trying to do everything – without asking for support when I needed it – and had become less mindful of what I needed right now.

Being more mindful

I felt annoyed with myself at first – when did I start believing I could do it all at once? No-one had been asking me to stretch myself so much. Even at work, I had deadlines, yes but had I asked for help? No, Not this time. Somewhere along the line I’d gone back to thinking that was weak to need support (it’s not) and that I had to just get on with it. There was a voice in the back of my mind telling me that I couldn’t show weakness at work. I had to start challenging myself again. Who told me I was weak? What if I wasn’t? What would it be like to ask for support at work? What’s the worst that could happen? And all the other projects… Well, I’d just put that pressure on myself. I wanted to ‘have it all’ and have it now! I became impatient, so focused on the future that – apart from Mushroom – I wasn’t paying enough attention to the present. However, once I asked for support, it was given without question from several sources and I was able to get that balance back.

Redefining ‘all.’

Now, when I get frustrated about what I’ve not yet achieved I remind myself that I just need to take time out. Just a few minutes to reflect on how far I’ve come, instead of rushing ahead of myself to the next goal. If you’re also in that frustrated phase, try it. Talking through these reflections with others can help too, as it’s easy to dismiss your own achievements when they might seem to you like just a tiny step on this massive journey. When you hear from friends how much you’ve done, you might just feel differently about it. I know I did. That new perspective also makes me look at where I am now and what I have – Mushroom, my health, my family, great friends and so much more – and start to think actually… Maybe I do already ‘have it all.’

I said before that ‘having it all’ is a myth. Well, if we redfine ‘all,’ then perhaps it can be possible.

What do you think? Do you find yourself trying to live up to the myth of the multi-tasking mother who ‘has it all’? What happens if you redefine ‘all’ on your terms? Do share in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you!




*If you’re interested in finding out more about the coaching work I do, have a look here first but the best way to find out if it’s something that would work for you would be to have a chat with me! Consultations are free and we can Hangout on Google+, Skype, or if you live in London, I can meet you anywhere that suits. If the weather’s on our side a walking conversation can work wonders.



Kids Today | Persil offers a fresh perspective

This morning, I asked Mushroom what the most amazing things he’s ever done or seen are… being as he is, totally immersed in the present, he replied with:

  • Playing bouncy with the boys (on the trampoline at a friends’ house)
  • Pirate Ship! (creative climbing frame at our local Jubilee Park)
  • Olympic park. Not with nursery. I’m not allowed to touch the sand with nursery
  • Making cakes with Mummy
  • My scooter. My bike. My bike hasn’t got pedals (he’s hinting his desire to move on from his balance bike)

He struggled to come up with more but I think that’s pretty good for a three year old put on the spot.

Recent research commissioned by Persil showed that older children (those aged 6 – 11) list Legoland as number one when asked what they thought the top seven wonders of the world were. As well as the list of seven, which also includes he Pyramids (no.3), Harry Potter World (no.4) and the London Eye (no.6), the children revealed that they most enjoyed themselves when simply playing outside. Almost 70% said that their favorite activities were riding their bikes and scooters. So Mushroom is in good company.

This research is part of Persil’s Kid’s Today project, which aims to understand just how children see the world. Persil commissioned BAFTA award winning Director Rupert Edwards to create six films that literally show the world from a child’s perspective. A unique piece of technology, the eyeView camera, was created especially for this project.   Head over to the website to watch the results. Here’s our favourite, which explains – from their perspective – what it’s like to be a kid.

If you like this film, and the others, too –  share them and/or you can join in the conversation with #kidstoday

Haven’t got time to watch the video? Well here’s a synopsis: It’s close to the ground, it’s very very busy and it’s messy. Of course, that’s where Persil comes in.

Generally, as a family we use whatever is on offer in the supermarket but we have used Persil small & mighty a lot and it always does the job well. I hadn’t used it as a pre-treater before but when we were contacted about the possibility of doing a review this was mentioned so the next time Mushroom came home with a stained t-shirt (some sort of pasta sauce at nursery – although it looks like chocolate to me), I tried it….

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The results speak for themselves!

I’ve never stopped Mushroom getting dirty before anyway as, like Persil, I believe that ‘dirt is good,’ and that children learn as much through play as they can do through more traditional learning methods. It does help to know that those inevitable  grass, mud and of course, food stains will come out in the wash though!

What about you? What do your kids count as their ‘world wonders,’ and do you worry about them getting messy or do you get in there with them and deal with the dirt later? 

Disclosure: I received a bottle of Persil small & mighty but was under no obligation to write a review and share this research, I was impressed with the pre-treater function that I’d not used before and found the research interesting! Read my full PR and disclosure policy here. 


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Conversations with Mushroom #1: He’s NOT A CHICKEN!

This morning Mushroom and I were walking to nursery, discussing what he would do with ‘Turtle’ (a small soft toy) that he’d taken from home. I was trying to get him to agree that Turtle should stay in his bag so we wouldn’t lose him (we have lost quite a few toys to nursery recently). Here’s how the conversation went:

Me: What shall we do with Turtle when we get to nursery Mushroom?

Mushroom: Play!

Me: I mean, where shall we put Turtle… In your bag? Or in my bag, and I can bring him back later, when I finish work?

Mushroom: Him?

Me: Um. Is Turtle a boy or a girl?

Mushroom: He’s a boy.

Me: Ok, just checking.

Mushroom: He’s NOT A CHICKEN!

Me: What?

Mushroom: He’s a turtle, Mummy. *Shakes head*




Let’s go fly a kite!

As you might recall, last weekend was rather wet and windy. On Sunday, Mushroom and I had just popped out for a quick walk to the shops to pick up some milk, when he remarked ‘Hey, wind, stop that! Stop pushing me!’ I looked back to see him literally ‘pushing’ the wind back… It gave me an idea… ‘Hey Mushroom,’ I said, ‘…shall we get a kite?’ His face lit up.

He’s seen a few kites around lately and was particularly excited when someone’s kite flew off and they had to run all the way across (a very large) park to retrieve it. Apart from when we met the recycled kite man last year (apparently he’s still around. We’ve not seen him though…) he’s never flown a kite himself. I didn’t need to ask twice. We bypassed the shop, headed straight for the local pound shop opposite and found a kite… For just over  £1! Bargain.

We headed over to Jubilee Park and on the way, I sung Mushroom ‘Let’s go fly a kite‘ from Mary Poppins, which he loved, and asked me to sing again. and again. I was relieved when we got there and he shifted his attention to unwrapping the kite. ‘It’s a bit scary,’ he said…

Monster kite

It is a *bit* scary…

A second later he started laughing. ‘I’m not scared! Haha. You think I scared!’ Little comedian.

Here are some photos of us flying the kite!

Of course, we forgot to buy the milk we went out for in the first place! It was worth it though.

I am linking up to Coombe Mill‘s Country Kids  with this post. Click on the image below to find out more.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall


Free ice cream!

Ok I cheated a little with this title. So it’s not free. It is very cheap though. In fact, it will cost you less than the price of a bunch of bananas…

It is, however, free from wheat, dairy, sugar and gluten. Not bad huh? Wondering how this is possible. I gave you a clue earlier…


Yep, that’s right. We made ice cream from bananas. We added other stuff too but the basic recipe just calls for bananas, a freezer and some kind of blender. Here’s how we did it in two simple steps:

1. Slice up some bananas and freeze them. We also froze some roughly chopped strawberries.

Banana ice cream ingredients

2. After 1/2 hours, pop them in a blender and turn it on. We used a simple hand held blender. It took a bit of work, but before long we had strawberry ice cream!

Strawberry ice cream

We also did a batch of chocolate ice cream – we added chocolate spread and a touch of milk to that one but it would probably work just as well with cocoa and a splash of vanilla if you want to avoid the sugar content.

Strawberry and chocolate ice cream topped with coconut

We also added some caramelised coconut to ours as a topping but you could try roasted seasame seeds instead, or flaked almonds if you’re ok with nuts.

You could make a whole heap of different flavours too. We were inspired to make banana ice cream from a recent blog post over at The Boy and Me, which gives the link to the instructions we followed. Copy ours, copy some of theirs, make your own… Go bananas!

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Caramelised coconut

Mushroom likes coconuts. At least, he likes all the coconut flavoured things we’ve made and/or eaten. He’d never handled a real coconut until recently.

In my childhood, coconuts were a real treat. We never bought them but if we ever won one at a fair we’d have caramelised coconut. It’s a delicious treat – if only slightly healthier than candy floss – and so easy to make!

Here’s Mushroom handling his first coconut.

Coconut water

He was a bit apprehensive about the hair but soon got over that. We made holes in the ‘hedgehog face’ to get the coconut water out, which involved a bit of singing.

Mr B sings this from time to time and I think it stuck in Mushroom’s head so he was obsessed with the idea of trying some coconut water. He was less than impressed and about to leave me to it when he saw I had a hammer. ‘What’s that for?’

Cracking the coconut, son


This impressed him! He wasn’t keen on the fresh coconut so rushed off after that while I separated the fruit from its shell and roughly grated it (a bit time consuming, but worth it!).Once you have the grated coconut, all you need to do is:

Pop it in a frying pan with a bit of butter (coconut oil would be better but butter is what we had in) and a couple of tablespoons of sugar (depending how much coconut you have)

Coconut frying

Keep stirring until it turns brown.

Caramelised coconut

Eat while its hot! It makes for a lovely ice cream topping.I keep it in a container in the fridge for a few days and warm it up when we want to eat it, although it tastes good cold too.


Fun Food Friday: Fish

I bothered with bento today! To celebrate Mushroom’s recent achievement of swimming by himself, I thought I’d make him a special water themed lunch. Unless we’re out for the day, it’s only on a Friday that I regularly make Mushroom a packed lunch as usually he either eats at nursery or we’re at home together. After swimming though, he’s too hungry to wait until we get home. Also, it gives me time to get dressed in peace (I either go in with him or go for a swim myself) while he eats.

Here’s his lunch today:

Fish-shaped egg (using egg mold) in fish silicome cup, spinach pasta and tomatoes in frog silicone cup, carrot sticks and houmus with strawberries and green heart pick.

Fish-shaped egg (using egg mold) in fish silicome cup, spinach pasta and tomatoes in frog silicone cup, carrot sticks and houmus with strawberries and green heart pick.

The silicone cups and heart-shaped pick (which came free with my order!) are courtesy of Grace at Eats Amazing, who is the inspiration for anything bento themed you ever see on this blog.

Here’s some bonus fish themed food: yesterday’s afternoon snack

Dolphin banana

Banana dolphin!

To find out more about Grace and see other amazing fun food offerings, click on the link below.

Eats Amazing Fun Food Friday



I love the way kids talk. The way they get their words mixed up, don’t pronounce them quite right and can’t get the hang of grammar rules (English grammar is ridiculously hard!)… I find all of this adorably cute. I always have done but hearing Mushroom make his own little mistakes as he ‘practices my talking’ makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.

So, before he gets old enough to learn how to speak properly, and then hits his teens and ‘forgets’ again in a way that is probably not going to be ‘cute’ at all, here’s a round-up of things he says now that I love (and what they mean):

Bless you me – He says this when he sneezes and no-one else blesses him.

I lub you/I lub you better – Needs no explanation. Awwwwwww.

I not happy! – You’ve really annoyed me.

That’s not properly! – You’re not doing my way.

Oh dear!/Oh gosh! – Something has/You have really annoyed me. He had started to say ‘oh shit!’ which he claimed ‘Daddy says it.’ Hmmm… We talked about what he can say instead. So imagine ‘Oh dear’ shouted with that tone. And a bit of foot stamping. Now try to keep a straight face…!

Oops Days! – Whoops a Daisy. I never say this. He picked it up at nursery, I think and even though he can say it properly now he still sometimes reverts to Oops days. I love it. I have lots of Oops Days myself.

I tell you yesterday! – I’ve mentioned this before sometime in the past few months.

I’m  not say/tell you any more – You’re taking too long to understand me. I give up.

I’m practice talking – I’m trying out new words/phrases OR Let me finish, I’m trying to find the words and you need to be patient with me.

My words aren’t working – I can’t remember/don’t know the words to say what I mean. I still feel like this quite often myself.

I hurt yourself – I’ve hurt you. Adorable if it was an accident. Less cute if he’s just hit me mid-tantrum.

Togedda – Together. As in ‘No Mummy, come wid me, I want to slide togedda!’ or ‘Can I go togedda with this boy/girl?’ Am working on getting him to ask other children directly!

I don’t want to use talking! – See I’m  not say/tell you any more.

That’s too wrong! – That’s wrong. In my world. In a way that really annoys me.

That’s too noisy! – Something is too loud or sounds annoying/You and Daddy are talking and I’m trying to watch TV/want your attention on me (we are never ‘too noisy’ when he is the centre of attention)

Noighty – Naughty. I can’t capture his pronounciation  properly but trust me it’s cute.

MummyDaddy – Parent. He refers to me and Mr B as ‘MummyDaddy’ if he’s not bothered which of us answer him. He also sometimes refers to his friends ‘MummyDaddy’ if he means both their parents.

I’m sure there’s more! I may need to revisit this post to add things as he starts to expand his vocabulary… What does/did your toddler say you that think is worth recording? Please share in the comments below!



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Nature in the city 9: From planting ‘trees’ to grass stained knees

It’s been a while since I’ve had a Nature in the city post here, mostly because our recent outdoor adventures have been in local parks, which I’ve either written about before, or involve playing on equipment (awesome equipment, but still), which is not necessarily natural.

Over the past week, however, we did a few of things that I feel fit the ‘nature’ category much more clearly. I’m not sure of the order we did things in now (I know, it’s only been a week!), so here’s our week of nature, in no particular order…

Planting ‘trees’

Ok, they’re not really trees but it’s still nature. Mushroom found some fallen branches in a clearing, got busy with a stick and popped the branch in before asking my help to fill in the hole. ‘Mummy I made a tree!’ He told me proudly.

Planting the tree

Planting the tree


We came back a few days later and it was still there!

We came back a few days later and it was still there!

Collecting creepy crawlies

One damp morning, we decided to go for an early walk to see what creepy crawlies we could find. There were plenty of worms but what struck us was this dew-soaked spider’s web. ‘So pretty,’ he said. I agreed. Can you spot the spider hiding underneath?

We spot the spider's web...

We spot the spider’s web…


2014-04-21 10.30.47

..and move in for a closer look!

Taking time to smell the tulips

I love tulips and had mentioned this to Mushroom when someone bought me some for my birthday earlier this year. This day was the first time Mushroom had seen them in the park. He stopped and said ‘It’s Mummy’s favourite one!’ Here he is taking a closer look…


Dig, dig, dig

Give a kid a stick…. Mushroom discusses the logistics of digging a big hole with his friend. Should they big one enormous hole, or two ‘quite big sort of little’ ones? It was all very serious.

Digging holes


Grass stained knees 

This is my favourite activity of the past week although the photo doesn’t so it justice. All the others showed his face clearly, which those of you who visit this blog regularly will know I try to avoid. But trust me, this is him at the bottom of a really big hill…

Hill rolling


He enjoyed himself so much he kept on rolling!

Hill rolling2

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

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