Archives for February 2015

A lovely little love story | A Parragon Book Buddies review

Max and Tallulah

We don’t make a big deal about Valentine’s Day in our house. Last year we just made heart shaped sandwiches for Mr B and a heart shaped cake for us all to enjoy and this year it was just heart shaped toast (that went so quickly I forgot to take photos!). Mushroom helped me make the toast and as we were doing so, he asked why. I told him that some people celebrate Valentine’s Day in a big way and some just think of it as a reminder to tell those we love… That we love them.

That evening seemed like an appropriate time to read him our latest Parragon Book Buddies book! Max and Tallulah is a lovely little love story about a shy zebra, Max, who wants to tell his friend how much he loves her. He doesn’t have the words so he tries all sorts of ways to get her attention but each time, something goes wrong. The fruit he picks for her floats away, his moon dance goes completely unnoticed and his spectacular hat just frightens her.


Finally, he decides just to be himself.


Whether you read it as a romantic love story or just as a way of introducing the subject of being yourself in friendships, it’s a lovely little tale. Mushroom enjoyed the story and said that Max was ‘silly’ and Tallulah ‘probably laughed’ when he finally told her all about the things he’d tried to get her attention. He said he should have just ‘asked her to play’ from the start. I love the way children approach relationships, and hope that Mushroom always remembers this approach and continues to believe that simply finding something to do together (whether that be ‘play,’ or something else!) will work into adulthood.

You can find out more about Max and Tallulah author and illustrator Beverley Gooding and her creative process over on Parragon Books’ website.

Disclosure: Mushroom and I are Parragon Book Buddies and receive a new book to read and review each month. All views are our own. Read my full PR and disclosure policy here.


Perfectly Imperfect

I’ve spoken a fair bit about not being a perfect parent. So this is nothing new! Here are a selection of posts that share my ‘failings’ and what I do about them:

On not being perfect

Motherhood: The messy bits

The myth of the multitasking mother

I’m not a perfect parent

So what do I define as ‘perfect’? Well, in reality there is no such thing! But by my own standards, there are days that I could fit into categories of perfection and imperfection. Looking back over the past month or so, here’s an example of each:

Perfect Parenting

After a morning where I was less present than I would have liked with Mushroom but not so distant it bothered me, we spent a lovely afternoon indoors because of the rain. This usually frustrates us both but on this particular day Mushroom and I made monsters with play dough, completed jigsaws, read to each other and practised writing his name. No complaints, tantrums, tears or requests for TV. We had some good conversations about his week and he shared things he hadn’t told me that were still bothering him.

Imperfect parenting

Frustrated by a mountain of washing and a broken washing machine, I did not start the morning in the most positive mindset (to put it mildly). A visit to the landrette was a complete disaster. The bag broke, spilling washing all over the street and at the same time, Mushroom run away¬† from me towards the road! He stopped, but I was so annoyed I could barely speak to him. We just about made it to French club (which he had insisted he wanted to go to) but when we got there he shouted at Catherine and the other children and generally acted out. I don’t know whether it was because there were too many people for him (there were more than usual), he was feeling bad about running away or he just hadn’t really wanted to go in the first place and not said, but he was so disruptive I took him outside. Twice (he said he wanted to go back after the first time). The second time we left he had a full on meltdown in the street and when someone asked what I ‘did to him’ I ignored them but felt like the worst parent in the world. I had been too angry to see that what he probably needed was to know that my awful mood was not his fault. It wasn’t until much later when we had both calmed down that a conversation with him made me realise this.

Perfectly imperfect

So yeah, on that ‘imperfect’ day I felt bad but I’m only human. I apologised and Mushroom and I are good. We all have days like this and there will be plenty more of them. There will also be plenty more of the ‘perfect’ days too and I try to remember to focus on those days and let the other days go. It’s not always easy but I find sharing helps, as does knowing that no-one really has this parenting thing down 100% of the time – even the experts make mistakes. I think the key is in remembering that allowing ourselves to be ‘real’ is a great model for our children and good enough is not only good enough, but perhaps even better than ‘perfect.’

If you’re interested in exploring new ways to let go of the idea of perfection as a parent, you might enjoy my Proudly Imperfect Parents coached workshops, which kick off next month with a Working Mums Workshop. The first dates will be released next week so if you are interested, make sure you’re on the list to be first to know and receive special offers!

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Dressing Glitterbelle | A Parragon book buddies review

This month’s Parragon Book review comes with a hefty side helping of honesty about gender roles and whether I live up to my own ideals..!

So, after the craziness that is Christmas and the beautiful treasury of Christmas stories and songs that Mushroom and I have been dipping in and out of since we received it, I sort of forgot about January’s book until the email dropped in my inbox. My first thought (and I hate to say it!) was ‘I wonder if that’s a bit ‘girly’ for Mushroom?’ The book was part of a new series of interactive books released last month, starring Glitterbelle, a modern day princess.

Glitterbelle is described as smart, funny and enthusiastic and she loves riding her scooter and climbing trees. Although she has plenty of sparkly ‘princess’ dresses, she prefers her leggings and glittery trainers. Each page in the books is a photograph of a stunningly designed miniature 3D set created by Harriet Muncaster with which the reader can interact, adding his or her own creative input.

When I read the description, I challenged myself. What exactly did I mean by ‘girly’? And where did that come from..? Whose voice was in my head (because it didn’t feel like mine!)..? Mushroom likes scooters and trees and sparkly things and loves creative activities so why wouldn’t he identify with Glitterbelle and enjoy the books?


We received two books from the range (there are four in the series); Dazzling Dress Up and Doodle, Dazzle, Create! Mushroom was drawn to the Doodle, Dazzle, Create! book first as he liked the sparkly tin notepad but once he had opened that, he lost interest a bit. We have looked through it a couple of times and he has coloured in some of the pictures but he hasn’t really engaged with it. Not to say that he won’t come back to it though, as we have now got through almost all the stickers in the Dazzling Dress Up book, which was by far his favourite!

Mushroom loves stickers and dressing up. He likes to try on clothes before we buy them and he actually enjoys clothes shopping – both for himself and for me. He likes trying things on where possible and has very strong opinions on my choices! So he has really enjoyed interacting with this book. He’s not so interested in the story – he keeps saying he will ‘read it later’ and makes up his own narrative about what the girls are doing as he dresses and accessorises them. This is one of his favourite activities to do before bedtime, I think he finds it calming.

I thought the sets were stunning, so much detail has gone into each page that I almost didn’t want to then mess with them! But the books were not for me and Mushroom loved dressing the girls up and creating his own stories. The books are aimed at children up to the age of six, and I do think that slightly older children might get a bit more out of them but if your child is the creative type and especially if they are in to princesses, then they might enjoy getting to know Glitterbelle. You can learn more about her on the Glitterbelle website.

My initial reaction to this book has made me really pay attention to when I might be encouraging gender stereotypes. While I’m mindful to challenge Mushroom when he says that things ‘are for girls/boys’, which he generally explains with ‘[insert random nursery friend’s name] says so,’ suggesting that the messaging is not coming from me, there are clearly some things that to me feel much more marketed at girls and I would perhaps shy away from buying if he hasn’t asked specifically for. Funnily enough, as I was thinking this I read Nina’s recent post on whether we are raising our kids to confirm to gender stereotypes and it certainly got me thinking again. Maybe I’m actually overthinking it sometimes… What are your thoughts?

Disclosure: Mushroom and I are Parragon Book Buddies and receive a new book to read and review each month. All views are our own. Read my full PR and disclosure policy here.

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Conversations with Mushroom #6: What colour is your finity?

Mushroom and I are talking about love and numbers one evening before bedtime.

Mushroom: I love you Mummy.

Me: I love you too. I love you so much.

Mushroom: How much? I love you to 10, 11, 12, 16, 18, 19!

Me: I love you much more than that.

Mushroom: How much? A really big number?

Me: Well, you can count forever, and we say ‘infinity’ to mean on and on and on…

Mushroom: Infinity? Like counting forever and ever and ever?

Me: Yes baby.

Mushroom: I’m not a baby!

Me: Ok. I know, you’re Mushroom. Mushroom, I love you infinity.

Mushroom: *smiles, excited* …and I love you to the other finity! The red one!


Mushroom: What colour is your finity Mummy?