School run

It’s been a week of firsts… But of course we have been most preoccupied with the First Day of Big School. We are only two days in so I won’t make any assumptions yet. Mushroom seems to be happy at the end of the day, and that’s what matters. Once he is really settled later this month, I’ll let him share his reflections in a new Mushroom’s mouth post, following on from his concerns earlier this year.

In the meantime, here are two alternative photos of the school run 😉

Hitching a ride

Hitching a ride

Letting off steam

Letting off steam

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Conversations with Mushroom #9: The End of the World


Mushroom and  are playing his favourite game: Superheroes. He decides we should both be villans and actually achieve our evil plan (blowing up the world), without the interference of Batman, Superman, Spiderman, pizza-eating Turtles or even the Ninjago Ninjas. I ask him if he’s sure he wants the bad guys to win. He says yes. I wonder whether I should say something, that this could be a learning moment, somehow… But then think I’m probably attaching too much meaning to it. As he would say. “It’s JUST A GAME, Mummy”.

So, we run around a lot defeating all the obstacles the imaginary good guys have put in our way (it’s surprising easy to cut through Spiderman’s webs and sidestep a spinjitsu spin when you’re on the other side of the good guy/bad guy party). Then we have the button that will Blow Up The World.

Me: Are u sure we should press this?

Mushroom: Yes, press it.

Me: You want me to? But then there will be no-one left in the whole world!

Mushroom: There will be, there will be us. Press it.

Me: You press it.

Mushroom: *rolls eyes and presses imaginary button*


Mushroom: *side eye* It’s not a noisy one.

Me: Well, ok. We blew up the world. Now what?

Mushroom: Don’t know. Have a cup of tea?

Me: A cup of tea?

Mushroom: Yes, I’ll make it.

Me: Mushroom, that is such a stereotypically British thing to do! *laughing*

Mushroom: …?

I know we are British but this just made me laugh so hard – it was like something from a movie parodying us… We just blew up the world? Time for tea!




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Summer days and new starts

I can’t believe the summer is almost over! While I’ve been quiet here I’ve not been twiddling my thumbs… I’ve been busy with my work and making the most of the time I have with Mushroom before he starts school – Thursday and Fridays have become so much more meaningful as we are about to lose that special bonding time.

So, here’s just some of what we’ve been up to this summer in photo collage format (hover over an image to bring up a description):


We also visited the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum and Hyde park (all in one day! Which with hindsight was a bit much for Mushroom) and enjoyed a special treat from Parragon books, which lasted all summer – more on that in an upcoming review post. And there were also lazy days, bug hunt days and some random tree hugging (not that I started that…)

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Aw look, it’s a baby tree Mummy!

This Wednesday was Mushroom’s last day at nursery… As he was the only one leaving that day, there was a mini party – he provided cakes and gave stickers to all his friends and there was dancing. I had asked what he wanted to do on his last day and the staff so sweetly obliged. It was lovely as he was so excited about it being ‘like a birthday’ that it wasn’t til much later that he started talking about who he would miss and the sad parts of moving on…

I have to admit, I felt a little tearful myself knowing it would be his last day there… He’s been there for three years and met so many milestones during this time. I can only imagine how the staff feel about this time of year… Every year they have to say goodbye! It must be hard.

So… Now there is just one week left until Mushroom starts school… We are both excited and nervous about this transition. He is struggling with his big emotions at the moment and we’re having a few meltdowns.. I’m trying to help him manage these big feelings but some days I don’t manage them so well myself and we both end up yelling. We also say sorry a lot. I am hoping that establishing a new routine quickly will help, as will lots of focused 1:1 time before he starts… So next week we both have a week off, and have planned a staycation together! Here’s what’s on his list:

  • Pedal boats in Hyde Park with Daddy (Bank Holiday Monday – be kind with the weather please!)
  • A pyjama day (actually I suggested this but once I explained the concept he wanted to have one that day!)
  • Go see a movie with my own popcorn Mummy, not sharing”
  • Go back to the “old toy museum” (The Museum of Childhood).

That’s it! So he’ll get everything he wants on this list and possibly some extra treats along the way – after all, it’s our holiday!

As for me, this time out has had me thinking a lot about whether to continue this blog… It’s very much focused on young children and at the moment, Mushroom likes to see posts about himself online. I’m not sure he’ll still feel this way in a few years. I also feel a bit weird about writing about him so much once he starts school, I think. I’m not sure why and I’m also not sure what the cut off point is for me. I do also want to focus a lot more on my business blog… But I realise I may miss this one if I stop…

So, as I haven’t yet reached a decision I’ve decided I’ll continue blogging here until Christmas, then see how I feel about it then. I’ll be sure to let you know either way once I know what I’m doing!

How about you? What did you get up to this summer? Has the time out given you a new perspective on anything..? Do share in the comments below!



Anna – A Mummy Plus interview

Our last Mummy Plus interview was a little different… As I spoke to GrandMummy Plus Sarah Beeson MBE! Sarah and I talked about her recently released baby advice book, Happy Baby, Happy Family: Learning to trust yourself and enjoy your baby, what is was like working so closely with her daughter Amy and why she thinks we are the best generation of parents yet. There is also a chance to win a signed copy of The New Arrival , Sarah’s memoir of her time training to be a nurse in Hackney in the 70s. Read Sarah’s interview to find out more and comment to be in with a chance of winning!

Anna pictureToday’s Mummy Plus is Anna Hoffmann, who describes herself as “conserving, crafting, cooking, mothering, laughing and living in London.” Anna works full-time as a Paper Conservator as well as running her small business, Kurkuma, selling homemade ‘pretty useful gifts for babies and their parents.’ From handy bandana bibs to personalised pushchair mobiles, Anna’s creations make perfect gifts for new parents. As well as all this, Anna is also Mum to 15 month-old ‘Little C’. I caught up with Anna to find out how she fits it all in.


So, you’re a Paper Conservator. That sounds fascinating. What do you do, exactly?
A Paper Conservator cares for books, archives and works of art on paper. That could be actual remedial conservation if something is damaged, for example torn or dirty, but the bigger part of the work is usually to take care that damage doesn’t occur in the first place – by ensuring historic material is stored correctly, in appropriate boxes and at the correct temperature and humidity and by taking care that it is handled well, or exhibited in a way that doesn’t damage it. I specialised in the treatment of archival material and part of my work is to support the digitisation of archives and books.

How did you get into that and what do you like about it?
I first got interested in conservation because it is a combination of craftsmanship and science. Over the years I realised that I also like planning and implementing bigger projects as well as strategic work. My current job offers both; benchwork and more strategic work. It is a job where I can still learn and grow in many ways.

You started Kurkuma when you were on maternity leave. Have you always been crafty?
I’ve been crafting since I was very little – I started with folding origami boats, went on to making friendship bracelets, was introduced to knitting, crochet, embroidery and sewing by my grannies and my mum and to watercolour painting by my dad. I also did a jewellery making course when I was at school and a little bit of bookbinding – which eventually led to my profession as a paper conservator – and tried things like woodworking and pottery… Now I mainly focus on sewing and do little bit of knitting, crochet and cross stich along the way.

What was the first thing you made and sold through Kurkuma?
Just before I had officially started kurkuma, I made a nursing cover for myself which I took to a mum & baby yoga session. One of the mums loved it and when I told her that I had made it, she asked whether she could buy one! So this was the first item I sold… This mum became a lovely friend and she’s still a good customer. She even comes up with ideas for things I could make!

You returned to work – to a brand new job! – earlier this year after a year’s maternity leave. What was it like settling into a new routine?
Much easier than I expected it to be! I had heard from friends how hard they found it to return to work even if it was only part time, how badly they missed their babies and how difficult it was to settle them into nursery… So when we started, I kind of expected the worst. And none of it happened! My husband and I believe that if you don’t try, you don’t know whether you can actually do it. This is why I applied for the new job and why I started full time – and it works. I should add, it would have been much harder if not impossible, if my husband weren’t such a true ‘50/50-partner’ (great book tip: Getting to 50/50: How working parents can have it all), or if my work wouldn’t allow me to start later than 9am on some days, and finish at 4.30pm on other days…  My profession is a big part of who I am, so it felt absolutely right to go back to work, and to start that new job.

What do you feel your biggest challenges are now and how have these changed?
Eating healthy and fresh food – and preparing it myself! – is really important to me and I had to accept that with both of us working full time, it’s just not possible to cook a proper meal from scratch every evening. Especially when everyone gets home really hungry! It was hard for me to let go with this, I tried a meal plan and then I was stressing out about it – and now we just eat nice, healthy food but not all of it is prepared by us from scratch…

I’m pretty organised when it comes to my work but I’ve always been a bit chaotic with my private files and the household… and now that I’m a working mum it is even harder! I am a bit of a hoarder anyway and with a child there comes so much stuff, so to bring some order to  my house, that is an ongoing challenge. We have a cleaning lady now, which takes away pressure but I’m just so tired at the end of the day or the week that I don’t spend enough time on tidying or ‘life admin’. This is the same for Kurkuma, sadly, and I end up spending far less time on it than I thought I would or than I would like to do because I often feel I just don’t have any energy left for it.

Who or what inspires and/or motivates you?
Talking to my husband and friends is inspiring and motivating; my husband gave me a lot of inspiration around managing myself and how to get the right work done – inspired by these conversations, I’m currently reading a lot on that topic: Authors like Peter Bregman (18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction and Get the Right Things Done) or David Allen (Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity) I find motivating (still trying to put it to practice though). As for my crafty side, fellow crafters and crafty friends are a big source of inspiration for me, both in ‘real life’ and  via blogs and websites. But I can get inspiration from pretty much everything that surrounds me – recently I crocheted a cushion cover in the colours of a London tube station for a friend’s birthday!

How do you manage childcare when you’re working?
Little C goes to a nearby nursery five days a week, my husband and I have a rota for drop off and pick up – and little C has a jolly good time there! When I’m working on Kurkuma (which I try to do at least on some weekends), my husband would do things with Little C, for example a bike ride, so I get some time for myself.

How do you ‘switch off’ when you’re not working?
I have just under one hour’s commute, which is a good opportunity to let the day sink in and get into the right set of mind for what’s next: Family! I recently started a work diary, where I write down thoughts, good and bad things from my day at work and what I could do differently the next day. I do this on my commute back home – it takes only a few tube stops to get it done but the impact is great. It allows me to get thoughts out of my head so I don’t have to worry about it anymore. I recently joined the gym at my workplace and I find that a really good way to switch off or get a clear head – I don’t manage to go as often as I’d like to but whenever I do it, I feel great and can go home with a fresh mind (or start with one if I exercise in the morning).

If money was no object, what would you do with your time?
Probably pretty much the same… I would take more leave and go away more often with my family. I might think of getting someone to do my life admin for me ☺ And then I would take time out from my real life job to put all the ideas I have for Kurkuma into practice!

If you had to describe your son in just three words, what would you say?
Happy, independent, greedy…

And finally…

Complete the sentence: ‘I’m a Mummy Plus…’ in no more than 40 words.
…a happy, optimistic woman who enjoys life, a food-lover, maker of things, a little bit of a hoarder (you never know when you might need that empty glass jar and that piece of ribbon!), an enthusiastic conservator, sometimes too perfectionist.

You can browse Anna’s crafty creations at Kurkuma on Folksy and follow her on twitter @anna_kurkuma. If you find something you’d like to buy, Anna is offering free shipping (if you order from Folksy) to all Mothering Mushroom readers within the UK. Just quote “Mushroom” at the checkout and she will reimburse your shipping costs via paypal.

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.


Sarah Beeson MBE – A (Grand!) Mummy Plus interview

Our last Mummy Plus interview was back in January with Proudly Imperfect Parent Dr.Karen Osburn (from Mom@41), adoptive Mummy to two boys. Karen was very generous as she shared the story of how she became a Mum at 41 and how the reality of motherhood led her to create the Mom at 41 community, ‘Embracing Imperfect Moms Everywhere’. Read Karen’s interview to find out more.

Today’s Mummy Plus is actually a GrandMummy Plus – Sarah Beeson MBE, author of The New Arrival – a heartwarming memoir of her time training to be a nurse in the 70s, and brand new parenting book, Happy Baby, Happy Family: Learning to trust yourself and enjoy your baby, which was launched earlier this summer at a series of events including one I attended for working mums, which was a lovely mix of networking, sharing stories and eating cake! Of course, in addition to writing a baby advice book and two memoir books (part two – She’s Arrived! is coming soon!) spanning her career as one of the youngest health visitors in the country, Sarah is also mum to Amy Beeson, and grandmother to Amy’s Little One, four-year-old Ava.

I caught up with Sarah at her Modern Mothers event and asked her a few questions:

Nursing syllabus and watchIt’s lovely to see you again Sarah. I last saw you at the launch of your memoir, The New Arrival, after which I interviewed your daughter Amy. How has the Happy Baby Happy Family project been different to your memoir?   
Well actually, the baby advice book was the first one Amy and I wrote and sent to agents and Harper Collins responded immediately, offering us the best package. It was Harper Collins that asked for two volumes of memoirs, which we actually wrote after Happy Baby, Happy Family, although The New Arrival was the first published. She’s Arrived follows on from this and covers when I started my health visitor training in Kent.

Writing the memoir was quite different to the baby book! Having my nurses schedule helped to make sure everything was in chronological order – we used to have to write down absolutely everything we learned on this schedule, which was signed by the ward sister. I kept all of mine so this really helped.

Sarah and AmyI asked Amy last year what it was like working so closely with Mum, so… What’s it like working so closely with your daughter?
It’s lovely. We have a really close bond so it’s an enjoyable experience. We talk every day anyway so it’s just that some of those calls would be much longer skype calls to go over the details. Logistically it could be a bit tricky, with us not being in the same place but emotionally we are on the same wavelength, which helps! Amy’s role on the baby book was more of an editing one but with the memoirs, she had much more creative input. She used to come on some of my rounds with me so she has a good understanding of the work and was able to get much more involved with these books.

How would you compare your experience of work and motherhood to Amy’s?
Actually, in terms of parenting, I see many similarities. Amy has a really gentle approach and treats Ava with respect. I think this is so important. All children, even babies, should be respected and treated as people with emotional as well as physical needs. People don’t realise just how much of an effect even harsh words have on children and I’m not an advocate of the naughty step. I think being punitive is cruel. Often, children just need more choices. They have so little control over anything and if they don’t get choices, they can become angry and frustrated. That said, I really do think that this generation of parents is the best yet. We are seeing mums and dads who put their children’s best interests at heart more than ever before.

Sarah and AvaHow it being Grandma different to being Mum?
Oh it’s just wonderful seeing how your own child is with their children. I always used to see grandparents so besotted with their grandchildren and I just didn’t get it until I had my own. And the experience is just so, so full of joy.

Is there anything from your experiences that you would change if you could?
No. You make your choices and try to live by them. I take a positive attitude (although that’s not always easy every day!). I did face many challenges throughout my career as a result of speaking up but I wouldn’t have done anything differently. Parents deserve a good service! It was important to be professional at all times but something needed to be said. Even now, more needs to be done. I really feel for social workers at the moment – they are so maligned, getting the blame when things go wrong and they haven’t intervened and being called ‘awful’ when they do – they can’t win! I worked very closely with social workers throughout my career and most are good people.

Who or what inspires and/or motivates you?
I have always been driven by a vocation to nurse. From the age of 17, I never considered anything else. It was my calling. As for writing the book, I was so motivated that I left work on the Friday and started writing it the following Monday! I worked from 9am – 1pm every day, stopping only for a coffee at 11am. I had a routine and it worked – that’s how I met the deadlines for all three books!

I wrote Happy Baby Happy Family following all the requests for baby advice I received from Amy’s friends after Ava was born that I’d been to Amy by email. I wanted it to be a handy guide for the first year of baby’s life – a sort of health visitor in a book as of course no health visitor could possibly cover everything! The book became my new vocation, although I still love seeing people 1:1 and sharing my advice and experiences through blogs, at events and via #AskSarah.

If you had to describe Amy and Ava in just three words (that’s three each!), what would you say?

Amy – Enthusiastic, Capable, Caring.

Ava – Energetic, Empathetic, Joyful.

And finally…

What one piece of advice would you give to modern mothers today?
Trust Yourself. You know your baby better than anybody else and have his or her best interests at heart.

If you have any burning questions about parenting and would like a direct line to Sarah, you’ve got one! You can just #AskSarah anything via Facebook, Twitter or directly via the website and she’ll write you an answer packed with plenty of advice/suggestions.

Giveaway… Giveaway… Giveaway…

THE NEW ARRIVAL medium cover image - Copy

I have one signed copy of The New Arrival to give away* to one lucky reader! To be in with a chance of winning, simply comment below. If you’d like to add an #AskSarah question to your comment, please do and I’ll pass it on! The winner will be announced on Friday 11th September (I’ll give you the summer as I know many of you are on hols/taking blogging breaks) and Mushroom will pick a name from a hat (I’m old fashioned like that) – I’ll post a photo here to show the competition is closed. Good luck!

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.


*There may be a small charge for shipping if the winner is outside of the UK.


Mushroom Makes… Trouser puppets!

So I don’t know whether ‘Mushroom Makes’ will be a regular thing but I’m sure I’ll be posting his creations from school soon enough and you may have noticed I can’t resist a little alliteration (see?) so a new post category is born!

Last week, Mushroom was lamenting the fact he couldn’t wear a pair of his favourite trousers as he’d fallen in them and they had a big hole in one knee. I asked whether he’d like to recycle them and he was wide-eyed, ‘Make them into something else? Like a bottle or tissues?’ (We have talked about recycling mostly in the context of glass, paper and plastic). I said we could make new clothes and trouser puppets. So here’s a slideshow of our efforts:

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We were very proud of ourselves and the shorts are a firm wardrobe favourite now!



Spot A Lot – Vehicle Adventure | A Parragon Book Buddies review

When last month’s book from Parragon Books dropped through the door, I was excited to show Mushroom, knowing how much he loves to read Spot A Lot Animal Escape, which we received last October.

Spot A Lot Vehicle Adventure

When I opened the envelope to reveal the front cover to him, he immediately said, “It’s like the zoo book Mummy! Do I need to find a turtle..?” I suggested he look more closely at the cover… His face lit up. “It’s diggers [a crane, actually…]! And trucks! And cars! And aeroplanes…!” Yes, Mushroom.

Once he’d studied every picture on the front I suggested we take a look inside…

Spot A Lot Vehicle Adventure1

There was something to look for on every page, just like the previous book and just as with that one, Mushroom loved being the first to find the little dog!

I love these books as a great way to really engage Mushroom in the detail of the illustrations as well as for the gentle storylines … But as I said with Spot A Lot, it’s a little too exciting for bedtime for us! So they make for a great way to spend downtime on days when he could do with a nap (but won’t).

Do you ever spend time looking at books just for the illustrations..? Or do you always read the story..?

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.




Conversations with Mushroom #8: Getting married

Mushroom and his friend (let’s call him Pizza* because he likes pizza and I’ve stuck with the food theme for all of Mushroom’s friends so far) are playing upstairs. The come down, noisily. Both boys are ‘dressed up’ in clothes from the ‘he’ll grow into it’ box from his cousin. These clothes are for 10 year olds and Mushoom and his friend are four. Both boys are wearing jewelry – Mushroom has a Jamaica pendant on and Pizza is wearing one of my old nursing necklaces.

Me: Well, you two are all dressed up!

Mushroom: *proud* Yes, we are getting married!

Pizza: Yes, it’s a wedding.

Me: That’s exciting!

Mushroom: We have to go now.

Pizza: Yes, after the wedding it’s a birthday so we have to go to our party.

Me: A birthday..?

Mushroom: Yes, for the party Mummy…

*Pizza and Mushroom give each other the look*

Clearly, I have a lot to learn about weddings…! 😉



Letting go with Lego

I keep reading articles lately about art therapy and seeing beautiful colouring books for adults. While I do love a stress-busting colouring in session with Mushroom, one of my favourite ways to unwind is playing with Lego*.

For Mushroom’s birthday back in March, he finally graduated from Duplo to Lego, receiving a box of Lego Juniors and a big yellow box. The Juniors box is mostly cars and construction, which Mushroom likes, but our favourite is the big yellow box as it has more variety of colours and you can let your imagination run away with you (well, Mushroom can. He’s the Master Builder in our house).

I’m not a Master Builder

I like to follow the instructions. I use my imagination in my writing and when building with Lego, I  find that focusing on the instructions, looking for the right pieces and putting them together really keeps my mind in the present moment and yes, I feel a sense of achievement with the finished product!

Mushroom, on the other hand, will often just start building and when I say “What are you making?” He’ll tell me “I don’t know yet.” We can sit together in relative silence for up to an hour, just creating.

Have you ever found yourself lost in the creative flow with Lego? We can’t be the only Mindful Master Builders around! 😉

*Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post or a review. I was just thinking about meditation and  mindfulness and Lego popped into my head! We do love it 🙂


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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