Category: Little Lessons

Book Review: Momma Don’t You Worry

I’ll be the first to admit, I’m a paranoid mother.  I have unfounded fears about something not nice happening to my daughter when she’s not with me.  When she’s out on a school-trip, I actually count the hours till she’s back safe in our home.  When we’re out walking the dog in our little village, I hold her hand.  I know when she’s with her dad, he lets her run ahead without him, but she’s a good girl. She knows when to stop and wait for her dad.  Somehow she knows that when she’s with me, she’s not allowed to do that.  She holds my hand even without me telling her to do so.

Momma Don’t you Worry by Louie Lawent, is a sweet-very easy book to read to your little ones.  It explains the importance for children to listen to their parents and hold their hands when out in big crowds, without scaremongering.  The words have a nice rhythm to it, which of course will appeal to children, as it did with little T, although I think she was just a little bit too young for the book.

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However, little T still appreciated the story and understood what it meant.  When I asked her what the story was all about, she said “It’s about a little boy who got lost because he didn’t want to hold his mummy’s hand”.  Then she added, “I always hold your hand mummy”.  She certainly does 🙂

The book is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble for only $1.29.  So if you’re looking for a book to add to your collection, or if you have a stubborn little one who refuses to hold your hand, this might just be the perfect book to give to them.

What about you? Are you a paranoid mother too?

Disclaimer:  Was sent a PDF copy by the author of the book for the purpose of this review, however opinions are by mine alone and of course, little T’s as well.

Family Fever

Manic Week

It’s been one week filled with countless activities.  While it’s nice to have little T home from school for a week, it’s also been a bit tiring at times.

I’m wondering why it’s been sort of exhausting, but now I know.  Before she started school, she was okay with doing a few fun-things every other day.  But since she’s started school, she’s used to doing something new every single day.

Before school, she’d be fine with painting pictures one afternoon, baking the next or walking the dog.  Now it’s “What do we do next mum?” even before an activity is over.

On Monday we started it with a  trip to Bodmin to get her new trainers.  We headed to her gymnastics club next, where we had booked her earlier on for extra trampolining lessons which she loved!  Plus, she and her friends earned their first ever badge!

On Tuesday, we painted pictures and put them up on the kitchen wall.  Then took Doc out for a walk and used a longer route.  Back at home, she wanted to help me with my chores, which was nice, except that doing the chores, suddenly felt longer!

We met up with her best friend F and his parents to watch Shaun the Sheep.  She really enjoyed it.  My husband said I laughed the loudest.

The next day, she had a play-date with her best-friend F over at our house.  I can’t believe it’s Friday today.  As I type this, we’re waiting for two of her female friends from school to arrive for another play-date.  Then later in the afternoon, we’re off to Bodmin again for her gym class.

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It’s inset day on Monday, that means they’re going to spend another extra day at home before going back on Tuesday.  Phew.

 What was your half-term break like?

Or

for those who don’t have children or have grown-up children,

what was your week like?

The Reading Residence

A Mother's Story: Heather Von St. James

For us parents, one of our greatest fears (among others) is not being able to see our children grow up.  Imagine becoming a mother for the very first time to a beautiful little girl, she’s everything you’ve ever wanted (and more), then three months later, you’re grappling with the news that you have cancer and only have three moths to live.  How do you wrap your head around that?  Instead of enjoying the next following months nurturing your baby, enjoying every single milestone, you end up miles away from her, fighting for your life with every ounce of strength you have in you.

This isn’t a scare story not one of those ‘what ifs’ you sometimes hear, followed by a hush, an uncomfortable silence and then the sudden talk about the weather.  It did happen.  It happened to one mother, her name is Heather Von. St. James.  This is her story and the good news is that, she is here to tell it too.  As I’m typing this, there are mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, close friends who are living with this very fear we dread.  Hoping it won’t happen to us, to any of our loved ones or close friends.  But it does happen.  It can happen to anyone.

The 4th of January is World Cancer Day 2015 and in honour of that, I am sharing her story.

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Heather St. James was 36, when she gave birth to her lovely little girl named Lily Rose.  After three months, she was diagnosed with  pleural mesothelioma, a kind of cancer that is caused by asbestos.  Her dad worked in construction and as a child, she liked to wear her dad’s work-coat at home.  Unknown to her and everyone, there was a silent killer that clung to that coat.  Years later, it would threaten to kill her.

After a life-saving surgery that removed her left lung, she survived this deadly cancer and is able to care and be there for her lovely little girl.

Today marks her 9th year anniversary of the removal of her lung, which she and her family calls Lung Leaving Day.  You can watch her heartwarming story here:

Heather’s greatest fear is for the cancer to come back,  so in celebration of her Lung Leaving Day, her family and closest friends, get together and write their fears on plates, and then smash them in a fire.  She invites you to join in, identify your greatest fear and smash it.  You can do so by clicking here.

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Have you said your goodbyes to your fears?  I have.  My greatest fear is losing my daughter and just like Heather, not being able to see and be there for her when she grows up.  I know it is an irrational fear, since I am healthy (knock on wood), but I also know that it can also happen to me.  It can happen to anyone (as mentioned already). In commemorating Heather’s Lung Leaving Day, I too have smashed my fears.

What is your greatest fear?

Do share Heather’s story too.

All About Food

This week it’s been all about food for me and my little family, specifically what I’d refer to as comfort food.  And this simple meal composed of a must-have winter warmer, delicious squash soup, a few slices of salami, freshly baked bread, (not in the photo), cheese, and butter would make my day anytime, especially in dreary, wet and grey days in depressing months like January.

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For those who are on a diet, this winter warmer Butternut Squash soup with a lovely hint of chilli is a must-try for you.  It’s easy to make, although you’ll have to make sure that you have ample time to do it, as this recipe requires you to roast the squash for about 30 minutes.  But once you’ve got that one done, it will be an easy and fast dish to prepare.  If you  haven’t tried it, you simply have to.

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In other news, I’ve finally caved-in and have an Instagram profile.  Just like twitter and other networking sites, I was really slow on getting connected.  I just didn’t want to be addicted to any additional site, you see folks, I don’t need another extra one to be addicted too.  Yes, I’m weak.  So if you’re over there, let’s connect!  If you leave a comment, thank you!  And if you’re up for it, please don’t forget to also leave your instagram profile, and I’ll add you up 🙂

What’s your favourite winter-warmer recipe?

Do share.

Top 12 Quotable Quotes on Parenthood

I love this list of quotes from all who were featured last year, 2014 with Chat’s with Mums and Dads.  Sometimes I wonder whether it’s the year to stop doing it, but I change my mind as soon as I read some of the words written here.  I love hearing stories from parents, even if sometimes, the stories are the same.  Often, the words are lovely and wise and leaves me with goosebumps, sometimes with tears.  Read for yourself:

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“I love seeing things through the innocence of a child’s eyes. (You can tell all our kids are still young, can’t you?) We so easily become jaded and cynical as adults, but to children something as simple as a bus ride is a magical experience, and to them everything is possible. Being there to guide them through this amazing world of ours is a privilege”

December: Tim of Slouching Towards Thatcham

“That those little people (kind of big now) need me. They really do. Even my 19-year-old man-child will come to me when he is sick, when he is sad or when he just needs a hug. It feels so good to be needed”

November: Tracie of Life in the Whylde West

“Don’t get too hung up over “rules” and “right ways” of parenting – it merely contributes to anxiety on both the kids and yourself. Just set broad parameters for acceptable behaviour, then it is all about setting examples by your actions. This is because children, well at least mine anyway, rarely hear but often do what they see”

October: JD of Jogging Dad

“That it’s not like in the movies. They don’t sit still during dinner. But that’s all right. Don’t sweat the small stuff”

 September: Jhanis of The Vanilla Housewife

“The small things like coming home and seeing their excited faces at the window and getting smothered with cuddles as I walk in the door everyday. This is something Mummy doesn’t get because she is always around”

August: James of Daddy Space

“I was told to lead by example. This is a tough job especially when you’re fed up to the back teeth with the kids. If you end up shouting, then of course your child will learn to shout back. If you hit them (which I don’t do by the way) they will learn that too. It’s hard, but we’re all human, and I’ve yelled at Lily plenty of times, then told her not to yell at me! Note to self: lead by example!”

July: Josanne of My Kids Rules

“But being away from them, and feeling that gigantic hole in my heart as I sit on a plane, that is the one thing crappy thing about being a dad. You know those moments when you realise part of your essence is missing”

June: Pieter of Ah Dad

“Where is my magic wand? I hate the days where it feels like I’ve failed because I just don’t know what I’m supposed to do or because I can’t fix it. I want the magic wand that gives me the answers and cures all that is wrong! Sometimes it was when he was sick, and sometimes it is because of something he is going through, I just want to make it all better!”

May: Kate of Did that just happen blog?

“It’s awesome. You want more? Well I think it can probably be summed up in the feeling you get when you open the door in the evening having been at work all day and 2 crazy toddlers come running into the hall shouting DADDDY! I love being a dad, I love seeing them develop and learn things, I love their laughter and how you forget all your worries and stresses around them”

April: Ben of Mutterings of a fool

“Pick your battles.  I have control-freak tendencies which if I don’t keep in check, could send our home life into a frenzy! That’s why choosing which battles to pick and being purposeful about this, is something that I try to do on a daily basis.  Does it really matter if their bedroom is a tip during the week?  No, they can tidy it at the weekend and I will count to 10 on entering Monday-Friday!”

March: Suzanne of 3 Children and It

“I love the unpredictability of having a child. Jackson makes me laugh all the time. I like watching him grow and seeing how much progress he seems to make so quickly. I like the fact that however hard it gets there is still unconditional love between the two of us. I suppose part of me enjoys the challenge of turning tantrums and bad behaviour into more positive outcomes too. I like to help him learn and I enjoy all of the lessons he teaches me without even knowing it, too”

February: Ben of Life as a Widower

“I wish I could tell myself to enjoy the early days and cuddles without worrying, they go so quickly! When I see people with tiny babies sleeping on their chests I feel sad that I ever thought it was more important to get them to nap in a basket”

January: Katie of Hurrah for Gin

If you haven’t heard or read any of the bloggers featured on this list, then you are missing so much!  Do check them out and their interviews.  They’ll make you laugh and cry, some may even do both and f you wish to be featured too, please get in touch with me (deanbwordpressblogs@gmail.com).  I normally feature bloggers whom I really admire, read and follow, but would so love to discover new ones too!

Click here if you want to read 2013’s Quotable Quotes on Parenthood.

And also I started Chats with Mums 2015 with a bang!  Do read the lovely Adele of Circus Queen on her thoughts of motherhood and other tales.

This week Little T is learning …

patience

 

I’m sure she’s not the only little one who wakes up everyday and asks “Is it Christmas yet?”  Followed by “Is it tomorrow then?” which is funny, because you’d think by using advent calendars, they would get the gist of how many days more till the most festive day of the year.

Everyday, we smile and say “Not yet, sweetie” Followed by “It’s ____ more days before Christmas.

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And there’s also the incessant interrogation MI5 or the CIA would be proud of: “Do I have presents under the tree?  Did you buy me a Christmas present mummy?  Can I open my Christmas presents now mummy?  Is this present mine mummy?”

This happens every single bloody day.  You would think she’d get tired of asking, but no!  The questions never shorten, there are days the litany seems even longer.

Five more days to go! …

How are you guys holding on?

The Reading Residence

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas …

Well, at least at the Trelawney garden centre in Wadebridge down here in Cornwall.  I’ve also been reading a lot of blogposts about Christmas shopping and the appearances of Elves on shelves.  Sadly, in our little household, nothing Chrismassy has happened yet.

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I knew it was going to be all about Christmas at Trelawney, that’s why I like going there.  I wanted to mooch around and just see what they have to offer this year.  I was really tough on myself though, and refused to pick up another Christmas ornament.  We have way too much already, especially for such a small house.  I’m wondering though how much this resolve will last.  Let’s see.

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To our surprise, the Father Christmas in Trelawney was already accepting guests!  We took little T last year and her best friend F to see him.  We were expecting her to say no when we asked if she wanted to see him.  To our surprise she said yes, but after a little play at the playground.

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And up she went …

Trelawney has a lovely play-area for kids.  They have a little train-station, a wooden train, a slide and other playground paraphernalia children love.

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And down she went …

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Hopped on a train and then it was time to meet her first Father Christmas of the year.

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But first for the “sleigh ride” to the North Pole.

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Little T seemed to enjoy this ride better than last year.  I have no idea whether she remembers the last time, she didn’t say anything at all.

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And then she was funny, refused to go in, we actually had to force her!  She also answered his questions with “I don’t know.  What’s your name?  I don’t know.  How old are you?  I don’t know”.  She’ll be lucky to get a present from him!

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But Father Christmas must have decided she was a good girl because she was told to choose a toy at the shop.  Guess what she chose?  Yep, those glittery pink Princess shoes which she wore from the car into the house.  And guess what, it broke.  Good thing my husband managed to glue it back together.  Yay for glue and dads who glue toys back together!

What about you?

Is it Christmas yet in your home?

An Invitation: Dwelling in Possibilities

Last year, I stumbled upon Coursera, an education technology company where you can take free online courses in any topic you’re interested in from literature, science, humanities or business courses.  They run in partnerships with about 80+ top Universities in the States.

I was over the moon when I saw that they were doing a Modern and Contemporary American Poetry course ran by the University of Pennsylvania.  I love poetry.  As a student, I used to write poems and I also read more poetry than prose, that all changed when I became an adult.  Anyway, I quickly signed up for it.  But then opted out when I realised that the course was already running.  I wanted to start it from the very beginning!  Thankfully, they do this course yearly.  I signed up again as soon as the course re-opened.  Then forgot about it, till they sent me an email to remind me that the course was about to start.

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It’s been almost a week now and I’m really happy with the course. Admittedly though, I’m still a bit overwhelmed with the whole course.  I wasn’t expecting it to be as intensive and time-consuming (in a good way) as it is.  We’ve started with Emily Dickinson whom I’ve always been a fan of and Walt Whitman, whom I’m happy to get to know again.

I’m enjoying the course a lot, though I’ll be honest, it also reminded me of how I used to hate dissecting poetry when I was a Literature university student.  Young as I was back then, I wanted poetry to be left alone and not be scrutinised and treated as if it were an exact science.  I still feel the same, but the only difference is, I don’t have to worry about passing the course and that’s a very liberating and happy feeling.  For once, I can enjoy the subject without losing sleep over a grade.

AN OPEN INVITATION

So I invite you all, mums and dads or anyone who may have the free time or the desire to learn or re-acquaint themselves with subjects they’ve always been interested in but for whatever reason failed to follow through with it.

Yes, it will be difficult and sometimes I find myself thinking “What on earth have I gotten myself into?”  I listen to lectures while loading up the dishwasher, print out readings and read them while waiting for my daughter to finish her breakfast, before running her down to school.

One thing is certain though, you will re-acquaint yourselves with the person of your youth.  The one who dwelled at possibilities, the fearless and even arrogant you who thought you knew everything.  Yes, that one.

And it’s not just Coursera in the States who is doing it.  In the UK, you have Future Learn.  I did their Creative Writing course a few months ago and absolutely loved it.  And the best bit about these courses is that they are all free!

Don’t say you have the time or the energy.  If you feel the NEED to do it, sign up.  Do it for yourself and Celebrate yourself. As the Great Walt Whitman wrote :

There was never any more inception than there is NOW, Nor any more youth or age than there is NOW, And will never be any more perfection than there is NOW.

I also love what Al Filreis, Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania and is also the Director of the Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing at the same university.  He also happens to be the main moderator of the ModPo course with Coursera.  He said in the very inspiring video introduction of the course:

The goal is – learning how to un-do the way we relearn to read.  To re-socialise ourselves into shifting our attention with language, so that language doesn’t simply function as narrative … There’s plenty of that out there.  Take this course because you’ve spent too much time thinking of language as a utility and not enough time as thinking of language as self-making.

I love those words … “Language as self-making” and if you’re a mum like me, who feels as if she’s lost a little bit of herself after giving birth, giving the career-up those words are like a lifeline being tossed back at you and if you feel the ModPro (Modern Poetry) course isn’t for you, there are lots of different courses, I’m sure you’ll find something that will suit you.  Don’t get me wrong though, just because these courses are free, don’t be fooled into thinking that it won’t be as demanding and work-intensive as a paid one.  Admittedly, my heart skipped a beat when I saw the syllabus and schedule and worried that with a 4-year-old I won’t be able to keep up.  There are quizzes to take and also essays or writing assignments to submit.  BUT I’m digging my heels in and will plod on with the course.

It’s been about 20 years now since my University days, and I know this is only a ten-week course, but it certainly feels like I’m back in a classroom again.  Only it’s for pure enjoyment and love for poetry – isn’t that great?  I certainly feel alive again and that folks is the best feeling!  So while little T is off to “big-school” her mum is re-acquainting herself with some old friends – Emily Dickinson, it’s lovely to read you once again and yes, I’m certainly dwelling in the possibilities …

Linking-this post up with #LoudnProud

3 Children and It
What about you?
Would you be interested in doing something like this?

K is for Kids

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Just like last alphabet photography project post, this was also taken about two years ago.  It was a lovely late spring, warm enough to wear short and cool enough to sit under the sun without worrying about sun-stroke.  This is one of my favourite photos of little T with her friends.  They look like little grown-ups just hanging out together or as the young ones say “just chillin”.

Incidentally, the four of them are all going to reception class together, although T is the youngest (her birthday is on the 26th of August) and will also probably be the youngest in her group.  These kids are growing-up way too fast.

Linking-up once again with the lovely Charly’s #alphabetphotographyproject.

Quotable Quotes about Fatherhood straight from the mouths of Dads

Since it is Father’s Day, I’ve compiled a list of my favourite quotes about fatherhood from all the lovely fathers who have been featured in Chats with Dads.  These words are straight from the mouths of the best of the dad bloggers out there.  If you like reading blogs and haven’t discovered any of them, you better discover all of them now!

These dad bloggers are funny, witty, poignant and touching.  They all write with a heart.  All of them are a definite-read:

I love the moment I walk into the house after a trip away or a day at work.  My daughter will be the first to come running, arms pumping furiously, huge dimpled smile, curly hair bobbing. She will crash into my knees, sticking like a limpet to my legs and screaming with joy.

My little man will come crawling soon after, head down, hands slapping on the floor, little bottom waddling like a duck, big gummy grin, squealing with happiness, arms outstretched imploring for a hug.

I literally get bowled off my feet with a tide of pure, sticky joy.

It is at these moments that I’m reminded that fatherhood is the most important job in the world.

It is these moments that I want to last forever.

– June 2013 Chat with a Dad: The Secret Father.

 What do I wish I knew before becoming a dad? It’s a difficult question. If I knew all the problems I was too face in life, I might have decided, the time was never right to have any children at all. So for me, blind ignorance was best.

I have a great dad, so I tried to teach, nurture and discipline my children the same way he treat me. I didn’t always succeed.

– August 2013 Chat with a Dad: Pecora Nera

I love watching them grow, develop, and discover new things. The precious moments when they laugh uncontrollably at the strangest of things. When we’re playing on the floor and I’m lost in their weird and warped imaginations. And from a selfish point of view when they assume I know everything and then believe whatever gubbins I tell them.

November 2013 Chat with a Dad: Mark of the Adventures of Sonny & Luca

I love the unpredictability of having a child. Jackson makes me laugh all the time. I like watching him grow and seeing how much progress he seems to make so quickly. I like the fact that however hard it gets there is still unconditional love between the two of us. I suppose part of me enjoys the challenge of turning tantrums and bad behaviour into more positive outcomes too. I like to help him learn and I enjoy all of the lessons he teaches me without even knowing it, too.

 February 2014 Chat with a Dad: Ben of Life as a Widower

It’s awesome. You want more? Well I think it can probably be summed up in the feeling you get when you open the door in the evening having been at work all day and 2 crazy toddlers come running into the hall shouting DADDDY! I love being a dad, I love seeing them develop and learn things, I love their laughter and how you forget all your worries and stresses around them.

April 2014 Chat with a Dad: Ben of Mutterings of Fool

Having kids.
Having someone love you unconditionally.
Having someone whom I love unconditionally.
Having someone teach me more about myself every day.
Having someone who makes me want to be a better version of myself.

June 2014 Chat with a Dad: Ah Dad

And here’s one of my favourite photos of little T and her dad walking towards each other in the headland:

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And lastly,

Happy Father’s Day to little T’s dad.  

She’s lucky to have the best Dad in the world! – as well as all the dads out there of course (especially to the dads who have been featured above)

 A special mention also goes out  to my own dad, whom I miss so much.

Have a lovely Father’s Day folks!