Archives for May 2015

Growl | A Parragon Book Buddies review

This month Mushroom and I have been enjoying Growl with the Animals, an interactive book of noisy creatures for little learners.

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When the book first arrived in the post, I initially thought it might be a bit ‘young’ for Mushroom, as it looked a bit like the baby books we used to read together when he was younger (although we do still read those too). I was wrong! he was really excited to have buttons to press and the first time we read it, he enjoyed guessing what sounds some of the animals made before finding out for sure. He pointed out that the dolphin and the toucan make a very similar noise…

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Can you hear the difference?

…and he thought the hyena’s ‘laugh’ was funny, but not actually that much like a laugh!

We both learned new things (I didn’t know a whale’s tail is called a ‘fluke’, did you?). Mushroom loves to be ‘tested’ on each animal. He remembers that dolphins and cows have something in common but not always what it is (both their babies are called calves) and he says that he can hold his breath underwater for as long as a hippo (five minutes. Mushroom can hold his breath for quite some time…. but not that long!).

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What did we learn about wolves and bears…? You’ll have to get the book to find out!

We enjoy reading this book together, and Mushroom can also while away quite a long time ‘reading’ it by himself! It’s a lovely book to have if younger children come to play as it’s suitable from an early age and it would make a great gift for button loving toddlers. You can buy Growl with the animals from Amazon.

Disclosure: Mushroom and I are Parragon Books  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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Nature in the city 12 | We found the rest of Victory Park!

Mushroom and I have been to Victory Park (part of the Olympic Park) many times before, to practice climbing on the rope bridge below. However, we knew there was another part that we hadn’t yet managed to find (admittedly, we hadn’t looked very hard!).

Climbing at Victory Park_MotheringMushroom

The mirrors

Mr B had told me ages ago that he has taken Mushroom to ‘the bit with the mirrors’ but I didn’t know what he meant and hadn’t been able to see it. Then, on the May Bank Holiday*, we were just going for a wander and we stumbled across it purely by accident! I realised then that the reason I hadn’t been able to see it before, is because at the angle from which I had been looking, it simply reflected the grass and became invisible!

We enjoyed playing hide and seek..

and afterwards, we looked and listened out for local wildlife (not as many butterflies as we would have liked and a LOT of birdsong)…

Nature trail Victory Park_MotheringMushroom

and then we came across this guy!

Gorilla at Victory Park_MotheringMushroom

We were lucky with the weather and really enjoyed our day, which ended with some time playing in the giant sandpit hidden away between two blocks of flats just round the corner from Neighbourhood (highly recommended for lunch if you’re in the area!). Even though it was a sunny day, there weren’t many people here. Partly because it’s so hidden but it also doesn’t get much sun in the afternoon (so I was freezing! But Mushroom was happy).

Giant sandpit E20_MotheringMushroom

I am linking this post up to Coombe Mill‘s Country Kids.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

*I’m cheating a bit as this little adventure actually took place over the last bank holiday weekend but it’s taken me that long to sort out the photos! Click on the image above to find out more and read other outdoor adventures.


On seasons, school and being a big boy | From Mushroom’s mouth

I turned four this year. This means I am big. Big enough to go to big school, which starts in the Autumn – that’s when the leaves change colour. I know all about the seasons now, I learned this at nursery. I know lots of things. Numbers, colours, shapes… My favourite colour is blue and my favourite shape is a triangle. Mummy likes circles. I asked her. I know all of these things (and more!) because I am big.

I’m a bit scared, though

I love nursery. I’ve been there a long time and I know all my teachers and I have a lot of friends. I know where the toilets are and what we do at lunchtime (wash our hands, get our placemats out, sit nicely). I know when we have snack time and what to do if I feel poorly (tell a grown-up). School is going to be a big change. Big! Bigger than me! Mummy is going to take me to visit before the summer holidays and this will help but still… Will there be enough grown-ups there to look after all of us? If I’m poorly will someone still phone my Mummy? Where will I go to the toilet? What do I need to do at lunchtime? So many questions! I spoke to Mummy and she said that everyone in my class will be wondering the same things.

Everyone’s a little bit scared

Mummy said that even she still gets scared when she’s doing something new. I asked her what she does about it and she said that sometimes, she avoids the new things but eventually she has to do them. So she takes a deep breath and gives it a go. She said it doesn’t matter if I don’t do everything right because it will take me a while to know what ‘right’ is for some things, and that’s ok. I’m not sure about that (I don’t like to get things wrong, even though Mummy says it doesn’t matter. It matters to me!). I think I will be doing a lot of deep breathing when I start school. I’m looking forward to learning lots of new things though.

Will all this new learning fit in my brain?

My brain will grow

Will all this new learning fit in my brain? Mummy says it will grow so that I can fit in both the stuff I already know, and the new stuff. That’s a lot. I was worried my head would then be too big for my body but she explained that it’s a different kind of growing. She has quite a lot of stuff in her brain and her head looks ok so maybe she’s right.

Butterflies and bumblebees

Sometimes, when I think about scary things, I can feel bumblebees around me. Mummy said that some people call that butterflies in their tummy.  I really like butterflies but I don’t want them in my tummy! I do not like bumblebees as much (although they do look quite nice, they sting!). When I meditate with Mummy (we just sit quietly and breathe. Sometimes she talks, softly. I like to cross my legs) the bumblebees go away. Sometimes I feel a little bit like there are bumblebees when I’m excited too. Mummy said that being excited and being scared sometimes feels similar, so maybe I’m a bit excited about school… I don’t know… I am looking forward to having a big playground to play in though, and wearing a uniform! The big kids in the park wear uniforms. I want to be like them. I hope my uniform is a colour I like.

Maybe school will be ok. I will let you know what I think when I’ve actually started!

Can you remember when you started school? Were you scared? Do you still get scared now..?




Encouraging creative entrepreneurs from childhood

As many of you know, when I’m not blogging about parenting and family life, I’m a freelance writer, poet and personal coach. These roles used to be something I did around a more traditional day job (although that did include writing and coaching) and it’s only last year that I took the plunge and went fully freelance. So far, it’s been the best thing I’ve done. I liked my job enough… But I love what I’m doing now.

So, what stopped me from doing this before? Well, a number of things that I’ve managed to move past but really, it was only when I hit my 30s that I even really considered having my own business as an option. It certainly wasn’t something I thought about as a kid. Back then, role models in books and on TV tended to have more traditional jobs such as doctor, policeman, fireman, builder, teacher secretary etc… If you asked a class full of kids then what they wanted to be then, you would usually get a variation of these roles, with the odd aspiring astronaut thrown in. Things have changed now, but not that much. We’ve got Fireman Sam, Bob the Builder, Postman Pat… And what about the women? Doc McStuffins’ Mum is a Doctor but otherwise they tend to be second to the men in these programmes. The only people in business are usually men running big corporations and are rarely portrayed in a positive light (remember the Lego movie?). So where are the entrepreneurial role models for our kids?

As for me, I was lucky enough to have some role models around who did have their own businesses but they tended to be of the more traditional sort – running a restaurant or shop, for example. So while I saw the work that went into being self-employed, I never thought that more creative ventures were viable careers. So, although I dreamed of being a ‘writer’ of some sort, I told people I wanted to be a teacher because I liked kids and it seemed like the most creative option at the time.

Fast forward to now and Mushroom and I have had lots of conversations about the work I do. He understands that I write (and likes it when I make up stories for him!) but I think he’s still not sure about the coaching. What matters (to me), though, is that he understands that different people have different jobs and that it is possible to do what you love and love what you do. The other day we played a game where he said he was going to buy ‘a really big boat’ like the one we saw on holiday (a yacht) and when I asked him how he would buy something so expensive he said “I did a lot of writing work so now I have a lot of money.” I love how anything is possible for him!

Mushroom is lucky enough to have many different role models to look to when it comes to work. But how can we encourage entrepreneurial spirit in the next generation, regardless of their immediate influences? That’s where the people behind Clever Tykes come in. Set up in 2012, Clever Tykes is a series of books aimed at children aged 5-11 (reading age c.8/9years), which introduce children to positive entrepreneurial role models. Each story follows a child’s journey as they follow their passion to create a venture that they love. There are currently three titles in the series: Code-it Cody, Walk-it Willow and Change-it Cho.

Mushroom and I were sent Code-it Cody and Walk-It-Willow to review towards the end of last year. I read them both first and while I thought they were great stories that clearly championed essential characteristics including innovation, hard work, goal-setting and teamwork, I felt that they were a bit old for (then 3 year old) Mushroom. However, a lot changes in a few months at this age so we tried reading Code-it Cody together recently (over a week, it’s quite long for little ones) and he really enjoyed it! With this title, I loved that Cody’s disability (he has a hearing impairment) is simply a part of who he is rather than being a big part of the story, as can often end up being the case with characters with disabilities. It would be good to see a girl in a similar role in a future book, to encourage more women to get into technology but across the series Cody is the only boy so I can’t say it’s not diverse.

Clever Tykes complete series

Clever Tykes are already working with dozens of schools across the country and they aim to eventually offer their books and related resources for free to all schools in the UK but you don’t need to wait until they reach your child’s school to get hold of them. If you would like to order one (or all!) of these books to introduce the idea of self-employment (other than your own job if you’re already self-employed!) to your children, you can do so by clicking on the image above.

Disclosure: Mushroom and I were sent copies of two books for the purposes of this review, which also contains an affiliate link. All opinions are our own. Read my full PR and disclosure policy here. If you are a blogger and would be interested in partnering with Clever Tykes, email



Proudly Imperfect Parents

Earlier this year, I ran a coached workshop for Working Mums; the first in a series of workshops I’m developing this year around letting go of the notion that there is a ‘right’ way to parent and finding what works for you and your family.

Good Enough_WritingPeoplePoetry

I wrote about the workshop over on my website last week if you want to find out how it went!

If you like the idea of these workshops, then I’d love your help to develop more and create an online programme later this year so, if you haven’t already via the website, could you spare five minutes to take part in a short survey? Just click on the image below and it will take you straight there. Thanks in advance for taking the time!

PIP survey_MotheringMushroom

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