Archives for October 2015

Mushroom makes Mandalas

Mushroom had his first piece of homework from school recently.

I won’t go into my thoughts on homework for four-year olds here, that’s probably for another post! But that’s my stuff. He seems to quite like having homework. And to be fair, it’s not dissimilar to stuff we would do anyway as part of our playtime.

All of his homework has been to practise writing his letters. His first assignment was the letter ‘M’ (coincidence?). Only we’re not allowed to call it that. We have to say “now let’s practice writing Mmmm”, which feels really weird to me! Anyway, he tried very hard and was so proud to hand in his first piece of work, which made it to his classroom’s Wow! board. He was very pleased (as was I!) but I tried not to make too much of this as I don’t want him to be upset when a piece of work doesn’t make it to this board!

Anyway… We have been told to practise the sounds of the letters as much as possible so we talked about all the things that begin with ‘Mmmm’ (still feels weird). Mushroom said “Maisie and the mountains” first, as that is how he’s been taught to write it (see Read Write Inc.). Then we talked about the moon, magic and mandalas! Ok, so I brought up the mandalas. He rolled the word around his mouth a few times and got very excited, even before I’d explained what a mandala is (I agree though, that it is a fabulous word).

So, we got whatever natural things we could find around the house for our first attempt:

And created this together!

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Then I left Mushroom alone for ten minutes and when I returned, he proudly told me “Mummy I made a mandala! It’s so awesome.” It really is.

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I’m not sure the mini babybels should be in there. Or the salad cream. Or… But I didn’t have the heart to tell him!

I expect we’ll be making many more mandalas soon enough!

If you’re wondering why the obsession with mandalas, well I’ve always enjoyed making them but haven’t done for a while, until Pippa invited the Story of Mum community to share theirs! If you fancy getting creative with nature why not make one yourself and head over to add it to the gallery?


Pumpkins, pumpkins, everywhere! | A Parragon book buddies review

PumpkinsPumpkinsActually they’re not, which is a bit of a pain as Mushroom really wants us to carve a pumpkin this year, thanks to our latest gift from Parragon Books.

He was really excited by this book, asking “is it scary?” as he traced his finger over the glittery moon. I suggested we take a closer look…

It’s a simple rhyming book, with lovely illustrations of children (with all those pumpkins!) getting ready for a Halloween parade. Mushroom and I don’t really ‘do’ halloween at home, other than giving sweets to any trick or treaters who turn up (not many!) and a one-off themed party he had at nursery once but he does like the idea of pumpkin lanterns, having spotted a few themed plastic torches in toy shops lately.

He actually wasn’t that interested in the story this time, preferring to look at the illustrations and come up with his own! So when  said “Pumpkin happy,” he responded with “Yes, because he has all the sweeties!” and “Pumpkin fly” was met with “That boy might drop him!” He asked if the pumpkins were alive and I explained that they were lanterns that people make by carving pumpkins…. And pointed out the pumpkins carved into different shapes, like a spider and a cat, at the end of the book. So now of course he wants us to carve one this halloween!

Once Mushroom has an art project idea in mind he doesn’t forget it so I had better keep my eyes open for at least one pumpkin, and hope he doesn’t expect me to carve spiderman into it! If we manage to find a pumpkin and carve something that doesn’t look too terrible, I’ll come back here next month and post it below.

We did indeed find a pumpkin (of course we did!) and had a go at carving it:


See the final results here.


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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Nina – A Mummy Plus interview

Our last Mummy Plus interview was with Anna Hoffman, full-time Paper Conservator and small business owner. Anna talked about how she manages to balance working full-time, looking after her toddler Oscar and running Kurkuma, her small business making ‘pretty useful gifts for babies and their parents. Take a trip back to July to find out more.

author-photoToday’s Mummy Plus is Nina Garcia, who blogs honestly about the joys and challenges of parenthood over at Sleeping Should be Easy (it really should!). As well as being a prolific blogger, Nina is a graphic designer and mum to three boys – a five-year-old and toddler twins. She is now also a published author and her brand new book, Parenting with Purpose, is being released this month. I was lucky enough to get my hands on an advance copy and can tell you that I loved it! As with her blog, Nina writes very much from a gentle parenting perspective, putting the needs of your child first and reminding us of the actual definition of discipline and how building stronger connections sits at the heart of this. I also love Nina’s honesty, in that she reminds us that her credentials are her experience with her children, and reassures us that what works for one child may not work for another, and that’s ok. Nina also has her fair share of ‘off’ days, which she isn’t afraid to share! I caught up with Nina ahead of her book’s release.

Life is pretty busy for you already Nina, what made you decide to take on the challenge of writing a book?
Busy it definitely is! I’ve been blogging about parenting for over five years, so the idea of compiling the principles that have guided me into a book had always been on my mind. Readers would say how much the blog posts resonated with them, and I hope the book will help even more parents with its wider reach.


How did you manage to keep on top of everything – work, blogging, writing and editing the book, designing the cover and promotion? As well as being mum!
I set my priorities and focused on tasks and to-dos that I enjoyed or were important. With blogging, much of what wasn’t necessary was put on the back-burner and I worked on only what needed to be done. I also relied on calendars, to-do lists, and created a system to organize myself and what needed to be done.

I started with an outline, then gave myself deadlines, down to the chapter and when I needed to write it by. I self-edited the book once I finished the first draft, then sent that version to an editor. She and I then worked back and forth to fine-tune the book before I sent it off to the book designer.

Promotion has largely been on me. I designed the landing page, then handed it off to a web designer to code and install. Then I recruited friends (like you Rachael!) to help promote the book.

I did my best to prioritize my family over the book—I wouldn’t work on it if the kids were awake, and I made sure my husband and I still talked in the evenings and we weren’t just glued to our computers the whole night.

I definitely had those intense days, especially when I was writing and self-editing the book, when I thought this was getting too much. I only had a few hours in a day to work on blogging and the book, so every minute had to count.

What were the similarities and differences between writing your blog and writing the book? Do you have a preference?
I used a similar process for both blogging and writing a book for the actual writing part: I’d start with an outline, type a first draft and edit like crazy. The big difference is the format and the purpose. Blogging felt like sharing lightbulb moments with your friends, or the latest news you heard. Book writing felt like gathering all your ideas into one place. Both have their perks. Writing a book with one grand launch is exciting, and blogging gives you the community and interaction with your readers.

Are you planning to write any more books?
Yes! Though in different format and for different purposes. For instance, next on my projects list is to write a shorter PDF book for a specific topic on my blog. As far as writing something similar to Parenting with Purpose, yes to that as well! I have a few topics in mind I’d like to write about that I had wanted to include in this book but figured would do better as a separate one.

Who or what inspires and/or motivates you?
Entrepreneurs who set a goal or dream for themselves and do what it takes to reach it.

How do you manage childcare when you’re working?
All three kids are in school now. The eldest is in kindergarten and the twins are in preschool. My husband and I work odd hours so that we can drop off and pick them up by the time school starts and ends.

How do you ‘switch off’ when you’re not working?
The minute I pick up my kids, I’m in ‘off’ mode. I wouldn’t have enough space in my mind to balance both! If I need to capture an idea in my mind, I write them down on my notes or my phone so I can let it go and get back to the moment.

If money was no object, what would you do with your time?
I would blog and write.

If you had to describe your children in just three words, what would you say?

FREE Kindle version- from 18 - 22 Oct ONLY!

FREE Kindle version- from 18 – 22 Oct ONLY!

Inquisitive. Delightful. Strong.

If you’d like a preview of Nina’s book, you can download a free chapter from her website now. The book is being released on Sunday 18 October and the Kindle version will be available for FREE for the first five days (until 22 October)! To stay up to date with all the latest book news and be first for special offers, sign up for the Parenting with Purpose newsletter now. You can also connect with Nina on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – she’s very easy to chat to!

If you would like to take part in a Mummy/Daddy Plus interview, either leave a comment below, email me or DM me on twitter. If you’re a bit shy but know of someone else you feel is a Mummy/Daddy Plus, let me know why you think they should be interviewed and pass on their contact details so that I can get in touch.

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