Thursday, 26 September 2013

Happy first birthday LIFE AS IT IS

26 September 2012 is when this blog began. Where's the year gone? Documented, that's where. I like having the memories written down. I like having a place to dream. To reflect. To share. I hope you like it too.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013


It all started when my girls began fighting to get my attention. No I mean fighting. A swipe here. A bite there. It had been going on for three weeks when I reached breaking point. I finally realised I needed to turn their behaviour on its head.

Little did I know that enlisting the help of Amanda Noble-Simmons, designer of the fabulous 
RADICAL REWARD CHARTS would prove so helpful. 

I think that's because Amanda's reward charts are so incredibly positive, and incentive driven. For example, children only ever go up the chart. Never down. And captivatingly, the chart can be personalised i.e. the child watches a cut out photo of themselves climbing up to the reward.

Indeed, there's so much incentive for good behaviour, it's no wonder I now want to share them with you. 

Monday, 16 September 2013

Positive parenting and the power of PRAISE

Writer & blogger (but mostly a mum), Emma Oliver ponders over the importance of getting it right as a parent when it comes to praise and positivity...

Something Esme (my musing four year old) said recently has bothered me. She told me that a child at school had whispered to her, "I'm not very good at anything."

When I asked Esme what her response had been, she shrugged and said, "I didn't say anything Mummy." Of course she didn't, for this is beyond a four-year-olds’ emotional and social capacity.

I took a positive angle and said to Esme, “I bet that child is good at something... I bet they’re good at running.”

Indeed, I expect that child is good at lots of things. Though perhaps they just aren't told enough?

It got me thinking about the importance of praise. Do we as parents instinctively praise our children? Always? The honest answer is probably not. But we really ought to, and here’s why.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Thought-provoking sister Kate (5) and oregano oil

Sister Kate lives in Ecuador. She lives a most health-orientated lifestyle and sends the most thought-provoking emails. Her latest is a health tip regarding the benefits of oregano oil. Read on...

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Product review - Little Us dolls

...Meeting Little Us - 'dolls just like me'.


Price: £9.99

Age suitable for: two years plus

Height: 12"

When I was asked to review the recently launched Little Us rag doll range for two-year-olds plus, I wasn't sure I was that bothered. But when I took a look at them online, I instantly fell in love and said 'yes please' to the offer. I knew my girls would 'get' them.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

FURTHER TRAVEL TALES - 911 & the hand of reality

In a near forgotten past and in a life before children, there was a young girl who wandered without bags under her eyes but with a bag on her back. Here she returns to notes she made while visiting New York City in 2003  

As I leave the Manhattan hotel for the morning, I join the excitement, for just outside the midtown building are two of New York’s finest. It is clear that they are both enjoying the attention they are receiving. 

Proud of their N.Y.P.D. status, they happily parade in front of the foreign fan club who are beginning to form a crowd around the patrol car. Its lights revolve and it shines as the snow blizzards down upon it. The siren stops before it has really begun, several times, purely for the entertainment value.  

The young one looks to be in his late-twenties. He is half the size of his colleague. Consequently he has the better looks, more defined. He is posing in the photos whilst the other takes them. He grins for yet another picture, and his gleaming badge matches his teeth. Thrilled with their Kodak moment another New York tourist is already having a nice day.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Who could ever forget - some thoughts of 911

The Syrian crisis is on my mind tonight, probably down to Jon Snow's brilliant programme this evening... along with the fact that tomorrow is 911. Thank goodness missile strikes are now likely to be averted.  

And I'm reminded of how 911 hit me ten years ago exactly while on a return trip to Manhattan. To a city I know so well and love so much. A visit to New York, New York in 2003, that led me to put together a piece of prose. The theme of which is irony.

Having seen the television images of the Twin Towers falling, having visited Ground Zero, having sat on the Staten Island ferry and looked back towards a seemingly void skyline, the following article relates how the reality of 911 finally caught up with me.

Expensive musings of a 5YO

Watching CBeebies this eve, there was a clip about a little girl looking after her pet horse. At the end of it, Esme pipes up:

E: I want a pet horse Mummy. Right now.


Oh dear. We're in trouble.


You may be forgiven for thinking Halloween has come early this year. 

LIFE AS IT IS - All change once more

Looking forward as Autumn arrives & Winter awaits

And so our fabulously long school holiday has drawn to a close. My girls' had their joint birthday party - a day which has come to herald the end of the summer in our home, and now September is upon us. And with the new season apparently comes the glam grunge look. I'm so relieved! 

Esme has returned to school and life is all about change once more. No longer waking late and deciding to head to pond, river or beach. We are all about the school shoes, the lunch box, and the hair in pigtails. But it's not all uniform... 

Now that the Autumn is nearing, we turn to other things, such as changing leaves, and stomping and stamping about in those that are fallen, printing and rubbing with those we collect. Long walks in the gold and auburn countryside, followed by hearty stews from the slow cooker, and delicious warm drinks.

Halloween, fireworks, and the run up to Christmas is so much fun. Let's not be sad about the sunny long days melting away. With so much to celebrate, let's look forward and welcome the change that is upon us. 

Bloody cold though. Heating on yet anyone?!

Monday, 9 September 2013


Lyme time

Lyme time

It’s just a stones throw to the sea to throw stones.

The RNLI station is selling bait and buckets, and before long we are there beside the boats, camped out on the Cobb dangling all our hope on a string. But oh you fickle crabs…. Never mind, we’ll get you back by eating your caught cousins for lunch one day soon.

And anyway, we’re moving on to the beach; the white sands already in reach. Caw caw the noisy gulls cry, riding high on the breeze… Esme looks up momentarily, then lets go of my hand, running to a dazzling blue sea. Sofia follows suit, losing her hat in the process.

Ocean’s edge you’re inviting, we four splash there with you. Then lie and relax, and then swim again. It is what we’re here to do. 

Oh and buckets and spades and sticks and shells, digging down deep to create. And our sand covered toes play peepo; all lay hiding in wait. Then we bury each other one by one and Daddy almost disappears. How we laugh before eating sandy ice cream.

Grab the nets we’re off to explore. 
Under rocks, over pools, along the seashore. 
Washed up this, and tossed there that. 
A crab leg, a Blenny, Sofia’s lost hat.

'Hey', shouts Esme, 'let’s fly our kite,' and we run to find the right spot. We wind it out and up it goes and I'm blown away at how she makes it dance so beautifully. My big girl that only at Easter was afraid of a kite! Meanwhile, Sofia you scream and scream as you wait impatiently for your turn!

Just as well it is a short walk then after the day, back to our retreat. Time now for food, but what are we going to eat? Look there, the fish shop has our tea… a pint of scooped up prawns. Yes, that'll do us easily. 

Method: Cook with garlic, lemon and salt. Drink with wine. Try not to gulp.

As sunlight fades and twilight rests her head once more upon the bay, I gaze, and think no wonder I, we, love coming here. No wonder. And the kids sleep endlessly; all that sea air. 

Simon and I revel in the fact that we are out of contact.

FOOTNOTE: This is pretty much how we spent each and every day of our wonderful holiday.

Thursday, 5 September 2013


It’s been a long drive and I dig into Simon’s leg with the exclamation, “Look at that welcome Baby.”

Bunting triangles - so high they deck the sky,
zig-zagging a nautical blue and white, at such a height,
tacking cheerily through Dorset's twilight.

I can’t wait to see the place I harbour such affection for, bathed in sunshine. This place, this British town, beside the seaside.

Beside the sea turn right at the roundabout, up that street, beyond the bowling green: there’s our retreat.

We’re finally here and out the car… smell the tide.  Hooray, three cheers. We’ve arrived. Children and parents somewhat bleary eyed.

Oh buoy, oh buoy; look back to the harbour. The fishing boats, resting now, heave up and down, stern and bow. The sailing masts that sit in between them talk to each other in tinker.

Kids quiet, tucked in and snoozing, and from where we sit, Simon and I can see it all. Including that instantly recognisable wall. You know the one? Once cloaked in Meryl Streep… That film that made us all so weep?

The sea is sparkling. Dancing. The daylight is dimming and lights like a row of tears all a-blur are flickering: Gold bulbs, the corn on the Cobb.

We sit and drink in the view until slumber hijacks us both. And as I slip into sleep, I’m sure I hear the breeze through the open window whisper, “welcome back.”

SEPTEMBER & back to school (2)

Absolutely we were all ready.

Seeing Esme smile as she came out of the classroom, put me on a high for the rest of the day.

SEPTEMBER & back to school (1)

Esme Grace went this morning, pigtails in place.
Hello all. Goodbye Mummy.
She never looked back.
I was very proud.

I kept myself in check. And busy.
And as it was a stunning 30 degrees (September?!) 
I packed up a picnic for Sofia Faith and I.

Of course I realised Esme was missing immediately... 
It was so quiet in the car.

We arrived at Frensham Pond.
Fia stood splashing in the water, then sat playing in the sand. Having fun. Some time and space of her own. The first in six weeks. 

I relaxed.

Perhaps it was time. Perhaps we were all ready.

After all, the peace and quiet has been rather welcome!