Tuesday, 22 December 2009


We are now allowed to be close to Christmas. I have done all my shopping, wrapped all the presents, organised the food for the hordes who are descending on us (lovely hordes, but still hordes!) and now we just have to wait.

And wait. And wait. And wait.

So what do we do with all the waiting? We tire out the boys as much as possible, and we rearrange their bedrooms! After all, we have nothing else to do at this time of year....!

In fear and trepidation, we moved littlest boy Jonah into the bedroom with Max, and we put biggest boy Toby in his very own bedroom. We had no idea whether this arrangement would work for Max and Jonah, but having a 3 bedroomed house with 5 people means that sometimes we will have to just learn to share! So far, we have had 2 nights where it has worked reasonably well. How Jonah has not disturbed Max when he has woken at the crack of dawn with his blood curdling screams is a complete mystery to me, but disturb him he has not.

Toby is the real winner in this scenario. As the oldest and the easiest child (and I wouldn't have believed I would be saying that when he was younger but little did I know of the stubbornness and defiance that was to come...) he often is left out because naturally our attentions go towards Jonah who climbs, drops, throws, screams, deposits in toilets and fishtanks and Max who is so volatile that sometimes you find yourself pandering to his whims just to avoid a scene (and no, I do not mean a peaceful wintry scene, I mean an epic full scale war scene). This often leaves Toby to his own devices and to give him credit, he copes well with it and is, for an 8 year old boy, mature and responsible. (You wait, just after I've posted this he'll start behaving like a 2 year old again...). I am rambling here... Oh yes, my point is that it was so gratifying to be able to watch Toby sorting and planning in his own little bedroom. To see him create his own space that he can have however he wants was so lovely. He was more than excited and did not stop wittering about it for quite some time. He can play his own music (which, scarily at the moment is JLS!), he can keep it as neat and tidy as he wants and he can display his fossils in the most satisfying way without them being spoilt!

After all the bedroom changes, what is there left to do but wait? And wait. And wait. And wait. Surely Christmas will come soon, won't it?

Friday, 18 December 2009

An apple for the teacher?

Am I missing something or did teachers get so many presents when I was little? Did I just not notice my mum buying presents for my teachers? Or did she not buy them but everyone else's mum did?

Now I know teachers do a sterling job (well, some do anyway...) but I don't quite understand the necessity for the competitive nature of present buying for teachers. Some people play it safe and stick to chocolates, flowers and smellies. Some children staggered into school carrying enormously extravagant parcels today, presumably for their teachers. Of course I think they deserve something for looking after our little angels day in day out, but when each child has 2 or 3 teachers it can become quite expensive. Then I suddenly realised yesterday that Jonah is now at playgroup and so I should probably find some token of appreciation for his playgroup teachers, all 6 of them! If I had bought even a box of chocolates for each teacher of my boys it would have cost me about £45! Attempting to be a bit more creative (and cheap, but don't tell the teachers) Toby and Max made a present for their teachers. Toby made bookmarks and Max made certificates and then I wrote a card for each of them with gushing thanks (I didn't write anything I didn't mean, but it was hard to find the words for one particular card).

Don't get me wrong, I'm very grateful for the work they do, but we just can't afford to compete in the 'teacher gift stakes'. At the risk of sounding like a grumpy old lady, I really do not remember it being like this when I was at school. Did parents buy expensive gifts for their children? Is this a modern new fangled phenomenon? Come to think of it, I don't remember it being such a requirement in Manchester either so perhaps it is a middle class phenomenon.

The good news is that school has finished for Christmas! The bad news is that I now have 3 tired, grumpy, over sensitive boys who desperately need to sleep and rest in heavenly peace but don't seem to quite understand what those words mean. Happy Christmas everybody (bah humbug)!

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Christmassy Ramblings

Illness (mine), coupled with the usual round of Christmas parties / plays / concerts / shopping has meant that I have been slightly lax in updating my blog. These last 2 weeks of term are so unbearably busy. Do the children honestly need any more parties and hyping up? I think not. But it doesn't matter what I think, all the silliness goes ahead anyway!

The potty training experiment has gone down in history as just that. An experiment. We tried it, we cleared up lots of accidents and we put the nappy back on again! Although I felt that he was probably physically ready, on reflection I don't think he was mentally ready. He was totally freaked by the poo on the floor (which then went onto the socks and was walked across the floor - thank goodness for hard floors!) and he also hated the 'big boy' pants. He just refused to wear them. After a morning of following him in and out of the toilet, wiping poo off the floor and trying desperately to limit his hand washing time, he finally brought me a nappy and asked me to put it on him. Which I did! I will try again when the weather is warmer so he won't freeze off his little bits when he has an accident.

Despite my earlier protestings about the run up to Christmas, I am very much looking forward to it. We have a house full for most of it, which I enjoy very much, and I am very conscious that this time with the boys being small doesn't last very long. I want to enjoy it while they are still caught up with the magic and excitement of it. It won't be long before they are teenagers and shut themselves away in their room with their ds (or whatever it will be by then) and so I plan to cling on to what we have now and make the most of it!

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Warning - not for the squeamish.

Today I stumbled upon potty training. I use the word stumbled because that is what actually happened. For the past few weeks Jonah has been asking to go to the toilet and I have been desperately trying to ignore his pleas. I am not ready for this. It is so much easier to put a nappy on a child than to have to take spare clothes everywhere and constantly ask them if they need a wee. Then there are the accidents, which in the case of a certain boy of mine, are sometimes not quite accidental. However, this morning we had a morning at home so I decided to take off the nappy and see what would happen. An experiment.

To my utter dismay, Jonah took to it like a fish to water (excuse the pun). Never have I begun potty training to have the child say on the first day "Mum, need a wee". Both other times we had wet patches (and worse) all over the floor, and little pairs of pants lining the radiators ready to be weed in again. This success, unfortunately for me, meant that I had to carry on with my 'little experiment'.

The most irritating part was the obsession with the whole toileting process. Having never been allowed in the toilet before (not IN the toilet, before anyone makes a silly joke), it has been very exciting and Jonah has spent most of the day hopping on and off the toilet, flushing it, wiping various body parts with toilet roll and washing hands rather vigorously. Then once I have finally managed to extract him from the most exciting part of the house he asks again "Mum, need a wee". At one point, I left him to it because I couldn't bear to watch him splashing water all over the floor yet again. After a few minutes of what I thought was OCD hand washing, he shouted me "Mum! Look!" I went in expecting to discover a mess, a puddle of wee or worse but what I actually found was a poo in the toilet! Not on the floor, not all over the seat, not smeared everywhere, but in the toilet! It made me realise that perhaps my reservations about potty training are because of all the difficulties we have had with the aforementioned child, and I shouldn't expect Jonah to be the same as him. He is a different child, and will be different to potty training. Perhaps I should not expect the worst....

Of course, it is all early days and anything could happen. Maybe today's successes were just a fluke. Only time will tell. There was a difficult moment when we arrived home from school and all 3 needed the toilet at the same time though.....

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Christmas Card Rant

Call me old fashioned, but I like to get Christmas cards that actually show what Christmas is all about. However, I have now been in 3 shops ( which with an escapee toddler in tow is about my limit ) and have so far found cards decorated with snowmen, christmas trees, Father Christmases, wintry scenes, presents, snowflakes, stockings and even a gingerbread man but no Jesus, Mary, 3 Kings or Shepherds. Not even a star or a crown!

It's no wonder that children these days don't really know what Christmas is about! Now I am not against all the other lovely things that we add on to Christmas. I am not an anti-Santa parent, and I certainly enjoy the run up to, and the excitement of Christmas. I tell my boys that Father Christmas is watching them - the ultimate bribe. We have stockings, presents, lights and all the other malarchy. But (and it's a massive but), we also make sure our boys know why we have Christmas. We tell them the story of Jesus's birth and we attempt to explain why it was so important. (Sometimes they listen, sometimes they sing songs over the top of our clearly boring voices about farts and boobies, but at least we try!) We have a birthday cake for Jesus on Christmas Day and sing Happy Birthday to him.

So, what am I supposed to do this year about my cards? Unfortunately I am not one of those ultra organised, super creative people who can make beautiful cards. So, please don't feel offended if you don't get a card from us this year. You will hopefully know that I just can't bring myself to buy a pack of cards adorned with a gingerbread man decorated with baubles.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

My world in miniature

This week Jared is away for the week. He does usually go away for a night at a time, but only a couple of times a year does he do more than that. It is always a strange time when he is away. Strange because life, in a way, becomes much simpler. I don't spend hours in the kitchen creating magical concoctions for them to eat for dinner. We don't have to find any babysitters because neither of us are going out every night of the week. I can say no to things with a legitimate excuse. All I have to focus on for that week is being a mummy.

It is also strange because of the obvious absence. Apart from the morning nose blowing noises, the banging of cupboard doors, the loud burping and 'burp talking', I do miss the noise that he creates. Everything is just really quiet. I also miss having someone to empty the bin and load the dishwasher, definitely a man's job.

The boys behave differently when Daddy is not here too. Toby assumes the role of The Man of the House. He 'helps' with Jonah, although sometimes that help is not quite appreciated by his younger brother. He tidies up without being asked in the evenings. He clears the table after tea. He really is quite a good helper when he wants to be, although when he doesn't want to be it has quite the opposite effect. Jonah has asked a few times where Daddy is, but I tell him he is at work and that seems to suffice. He hasn't worked out that Daddy shouldn't be at work when he asks me at 6 o clock in the morning! Max is missing his Daddy though. He needs his firm hand. Whilst I can provide the loving and secure home, they all need Jared to provide the leadership and we all feel the absence of that when he is away.

It makes me have total respect for single parents who do this day in and day out. I think you must be incredibly strong and brave to face parenthood on your own. I am only doing a few days and it is exhausting, not to mention having to empty the bin... ooops, I just did again...

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Who are you following?

I don't know about you, but I get quite fed up (surprise surprise) about ridiculous images of Jesus. Especially heading towards Christmas and Easter we get these pictures on cards of Jesus with a warm yellow glow around his head, and with perfectly straightened blonde hair that a teenage girl would be proud of, doeful looking eyes and wearing a spotless white dress. Some of our christmas carols make it worse... "the little Lord Jesus, no crying he made"... really? I wish I had a baby who slept in heavenly peace and didn't cry ever.

Is it any wonder that men and boys find it hard to follow a Jesus like this? Would following Jesus mean they have to give up on being real, tough, honest men? Not in my Bible it doesn't. Now here is the complicated bit, in my Bible, Jesus is fully 100 % God but also fully 1oo % man. That means that whilst we should absolutely love him, worship him and serve him as God, it also means that in following Him men can be men! What, they don't have to grow their hair and use straighteners? No, absolutely not!

In my Bible, Jesus spits on someone to heal them (would a girl do that? really?). He gets angry and turns over a load of tables and gets out a whip (a girl would have called it all to order by clapping her hands and putting on a teacher voice). He went totally against the cultural norms and picked grain on the Sabbath, which would have taken a massive amount of courage. He makes a tree dry up and die because it isn't bearing any fruit - rather extreme don't you think? The most courageous thing of all, of course, is the extreme pain he bore whilst being tortured and left to die on a cross. He felt this pain, because he is a man. He wasn't some kind of Superhero. He didn't just magically leave his body so as not to feel the pain. He felt it, and he died in excruciating agony. Of course, he was the ultimate champion and the ultimate in 'Superhero's' because he beat death and rose again 3 days later.

This is the Jesus I want to follow, and the one we want to teach our boys to follow. Not some namby pamby girly frilly portrayal of Jesus, but a Jesus who is the champion, the King, the ultimate in courage and strength, who has gone before them and knows all the difficulties they will face, who can do radical things and make choices that go against the flow.

Monday, 23 November 2009


I apologise for my slowness in updating, but I have been dying (well, if I was a man I would have been...) of a cold since last Thursday so my brain power has been rather reduced.

My very brave and heroic husband phoned the head teacher ( they are FAR too scary for words) and made an appointment for me to see the class teacher after school last Thursday. I was so nervous, not wanting to come across as a pushy mother, but also needing to explain what was going on and try to find a solution.

We sat on those uncomfortable tiny little plastic chairs that can't possibly fit any sized bottom on them and chatted through different ideas of trying to help Max. She has already put into action the ideas, but to be honest I'm not holding out much hope. I think the main problem is Max's lack of perspective in life. Even if most of his day has been good but there has been a tiny amount that hasn't, it is that tiny amount which upsets him and causes him (and the rest of us) huge amounts of distress.

So at home we have been trying to help him put things in perspective. For example if I told him it wasn't sweetie day and he, therefore, couldn't have a sweet he would start throwing furniture and screaming at me that I "never ever let him have sweets and he will never have any for the rest of his life"! Slightly over the top, I hear you all remarking, and yes it is over the top but to Max this is his reality. It is also our reality because this is what we live with most days. Somehow we need to teach him how to deal with life's disappointments but I really am not quite sure how to do this.

The other unfortunate thing in all of this is that he is remarkably similar to me.... I don't know whether you have noticed or not but I am fairly dramatic in my emotions and the things I feel passionate about. This gives me a very good insight into why and how he is feeling the way he does, but it makes it hard for me to know quite how to react because actually if I was him, I'd be throwing furniture and screaming too!

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Wisdom Needed.....

Come on all you who have older children than me, I need some of your wisdom and experience.....

Max is 5. Ever since going into year 1 in September (and don't get me started on my feelings about year 1...) he has been saying he hasn't got any friends and that at playtimes he sits all on his own on a cold log getting a cold bottom (can you hear the violins?). Every time I speak to the teacher about it she dismisses it and says that he is very popular and lots of children want to play with him.

Now I know Max. I know he sometimes lives on a planet entirely different to the rest of us, and I know he sometimes exaggerates and makes things up. I know he is dramatic (can't think where he gets that from...) and I know he is extremely strong willed (or that one...). I also know that teachers have alot of other things to think about than the emotional well being of each child in their class. However, this seems to be becoming worse and worse and is very upsetting for all of us when I have to drag Max kicking and screaming to school.

It came to a head yesterday when, having not seen X Factor at the weekend, I played their new charity song on you tube because I wanted to hear it (funnily enough!). The song, for those of you not in the loop, is the Michael Jackson classic 'You Are Not Alone'. Whilst I was doing this, Max was happily drawing and cutting at the table in the room (thankfully on paper and not on the table, that is Jonah's speciality). As the first verse was sung, Max looked up at me and his eyes filled with tears. His bottom lip wobbled and he burst out "That's how I feel at school! I feel like I am all on my own and I have no friends!". He then proceeded to sob and sob all the way through the song. This, of course, had me in tears too as I cuddled him and sung to him. All the while, Jonah is clambering all over me saying "Mummy crying, Mummy crying!"

When the song finished, I tried to talk to him about how he was feeling and what was actually happening at school. It was very difficult to understand exactly what he was saying, but the main point seemed to be that he has learnt to love his enemies, because that is what is says in the Bible, and he thinks that if he tells the teacher what is going on then he won't be loving his enemies. He was so very upset and I could not seem to get the message across to him that he has to talk to the teacher.

So, this morning I tried to have a "quick word" with the teacher who looked harassed and frazzled already and it was only 9am! She said, again, that he was fine. I will talk to her again after school today. I know that Max is prone to exaggerating things, but for him to sob through a song like he did yesterday, I am sure that there is something happening to make him feel so sad and I want to help......

But How??? Please post ideas below because I am really struggling with this one.......

Friday, 13 November 2009


Why do boys (and grown men, come to think of it) seem to have the ability to turn deafness on whenever the need arises? Here is my conversation at bedtime with Toby, who was reading the Guinness Book of Records at the same time....

Me: "Toby, go and clean your teeth please."

Toby: "The oldest Dad in the world is 92."

Me: "Toby, please can you go and do your teeth?"

Toby: "And the oldest person in the world is 113 years 13 days. And it's a woman."

Me: "Toby, you need to do your teeth."

Toby: "Did you know how old the oldest man is in world?"

Me: "No, I didn't, but please can you clean your teeth because it's bedtime."

..... And the conversation continued until eventually he realised I was actually speaking English to him and he went to clean his teeth. Well, he finally cleaned his teeth after he had stood in front of the bathroom mirror for 5 minutes pulling silly faces at himself.

Why do boys do this? I remember taking Toby for a hearing test when he was 3. I was convinced he had some kind of deafness, only to be told that he had perfect hearing but selective deafness might have been a factor! Even men do this. Have you ever tried having a conversation with a man when he is engrossed in a football match / war film / newspaper? It is exactly the same response! They must be born with an ability to block out the outside world. What a useful skill that must be.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

The Wiggles

Does anyone out there know about these strange men who prance around our screens, singing irritating songs with an octopus and a dinosaur? Unfortunately I do.

And unfortunately for me, I introduced my nephew to them about 5 years ago. Unfortunately for my sister, he became rather obsessed with The Wiggles. So much so, that my sister could not bear to ever see those inane grins and colourful clothes ever again. The reason this is unfortunate for me is because I then went on to have another child. This child, who is now 2, loves singing and dancing. So, my sister has been able to exact her revenge on me by introducing 'The Wiggles' to my 2 year old!

To her glee, I now have him wandering around the house shouting "Wake up Jeff!" and asking me for the 'Piggles' as he calls them. I have to admit that I have slightly encouraged it because it is the only time he will watch the television without having to sit on my lap. I have created a new medical condition called Cbeebies Intolerance. I cannot bear to watch the re-runs of Big Cook Little Cook and others any longer. Having watched it for 8 years, I come out in a rash whenever Chris, Poi or Auntie Mabel comes on the screen. So, on my sister's suggestion (little did I know her evil intentions), I decided that I would borrow her 'The Wiggles' DVD.

Of course, Jonah loves it. Will I regret this? Will we be Wiggles-ified now for the next few years? I sincerely hope not......

Sunday, 8 November 2009


Little boys (and big boys) are fascinated by soldiers, guns, bombs and fighting. They seem to be able to make gun and bomb noises that little girls (and big girls) are unable to make. Guns can be made out of anything, even supposedly harmless items such as bananas, lego and felt tip pens can be made into weapons of mass destruction.

What is it about war that draws the attentions of boys? As a mum, I can never seem to understand how something that is so awful, so tragic, so horrific can be a fun game. Of course we go along with their games, and we even went as far as doing a Bootcamp party for Toby. We gave up a long time ago stopping them from having guns because it didn't matter how much we tried, it was a losing battle. It still doesn't make it any easier for me to understand though.

Is it that their games of war are detached from the reality of war? This morning I talked to the boys about praying for the families of those who have died in war. Max's immediate reaction was to make gun and bomb noises across the breakfast table. It was only when I told him that some little boys and girls haven't got Daddies any more because they were killed in a war, that he understood and became slightly more sober. Toby, being the sensitive boy that he is, understood and was quick to pray. Yet they still play games where they shoot and kill each other. It doesn't make sense to me! Even Jonah lies on the floor and says "I'm dead"!

My thoughts are with those families who have lost husbands, sons, Daddies and brothers. How horrific it is to lose someone you love and cherish through war. After the First and Second World Wars, how tragic it was that a whole generation of children grew up without Fathers. It is beyond my comprehension. All we can do is pray for those families, and pray that our boys will never have to witness first hand the terror and abhorrence that is war.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

How to greet a Lollipop Man

Apparently there is a new way to greet the lollipop man. He is a lovely old man, always there to help us across the road, even in the wind and the rain. Well, most of the time he is, but sometimes he just stands on the pavement and lets us cross by ourselves, which I will never quite understand. He always says hello to my boys though, and I try to teach them to say 'hello' and 'thank you' as he stands shielding us and protecting us from the horrors of the traffic. A true modern hero needs to be treated as such.

That's what I thought anyway, but I am clearly mistaken. Watching my boys waving a polite 'hello and thankyou' and feeling smug that I had finally taught my boys a small amount of manners, I did not take into account the unpredictable nature of a 2 year old. Not any normal 2 year old either. This is a 2 year old who studies his older brothers (aka gurus) so closely that he has perfected the art of being a dramatic, tantrum wielding, rude song singing 5 year old and a teenage-like, incessant-noise-making 8 year old.

I should not have been quite so relaxed and complacent as we crossed the road yesterday. The lollipop man calls a cheery 'hello' and waves at Jonah who is sitting in the pushchair looking as angelic as they come. What is Jonah's response? "POO FACE"!!! Feeling as though the road needed to swallow me whole, I pretended I hadn't heard (which really was quite a stupid thing to do because how can I not have heard?!) and crossed as quickly as possible.

This morning the lollipop man was not quite so cheery in his greeting to us.

Monday, 2 November 2009


My big boys share a bedroom. They have bunkbeds and share their room. Well, I use the word 'share' very hesitantly because 'share' is not the best way to describe their use of the room. They share it when they are asleep and cannot argue over who stands on which part of the carpet, but when morning comes so do all the difficulties. How can it be so difficult to understand "Max, Toby would like to be on his own for 5 minutes so come and play downstairs and leave him alone"? You or I might not find this hard, but when it is a little boy who feels an overwhelming need to annoy and irritate his big brother, this instruction would present quite a problem. Or is it hard to understand this: "Toby, please can you share your desk with Max because he needs somewhere to draw too" ? Obviously when you are an 8 year old boy with a need to be the boss, sharing something that is yours can clearly not happen.

We talked about whether to swap them around so that Jonah goes on the bottom bunk, Max on the top and Toby has his own room. But then we realised how ridiculous that would be. Jonah + bed = extremely high stress levels. We are not ready to put him in a bed yet, and because he wakes up at the crack of dawn every day (and often before the crack), we did not want him to wake Max up at that time too.

So what solution did we find? Desks! After a disappointing trip to Ikea (disappointing because I could not stop and look at anything, but had to race around the shop like it was an Olympic Sport before our boys could wreck anything / put biscuits crumbs all over the floor / climb out of the trolley / steal anything without us realising), we came home armed with 2 desks, 2 chairs and several boxes. We set them up in their bedroom and told them they had a desk each. They had 3 boxes each. Their desks are for them to have "their own space". They are not allowed to touch each other desks or boxes.

The amazing thing was (and you will be amazed if you know my boys) that they sat at their desks for hours! They drew, wrote, read, created, tidied and untidied, made up exams for each other (yes, that is really true!) and loved being there. Even this morning before school they were both sat at their desks! If you did not know us you would take one look at their bedroom which now closely resembles an open plan office (excluding the bed!) and think "pushy parents, fancy buying them a desk each!" The reason for the desks, however, is so much more simple than academic pushing, it is solely for the purpose of reducing the fighting and giving them a small amount of space that is theirs and theirs only.

Friday, 30 October 2009

Bad Mother Day

What constitutes a Bad Mother Day? Let me give you a few ideas......

1. Before breakfast Jonah had a bowl of multi-grain boulders (which he walked around the house with). He then had multi-grain boulders for breakfast. After breakfast he wanted my bran flakes, which I gave him. 5 minutes later he was asking for an orange, which was also given to him (to prevent a tantrum). As we are getting ready to go out, he sees me packing up my bag and asks for a biscuit, which I give him (to prevent a tantrum). When we get to the Country Park, I put him in the pushchair which he is not happy about because the other 2 boys are on bike and scooter, so I give him a biscuit. After our walk, we go to the play area and he opens my bag, finds the biscuits and takes out 2 more. Do I take them off him? Absolutely not. It is, after all, Bad Mother Day. Does he eat his lunch when we get home? Absolutely not!

2. After lunch, Jonah goes to bed and the boys sit down and watch the TV for an hour and a half. When they are bored of this and come to find me, I plead with them to continue to watch it.

3. When they do not go back, as requested, and sit down to watch the TV, they go outside. It is nearly November and Max has on a T-shirt and his boxer shorts. I ask him to put his trousers on and he refuses. Do I battle with him or do I let him go outside and get cold? What do you think? It is, after all, Bad Mother Day.

4. They play outside without shoes on (or socks, in Max's case).

5. When Max comes in to tell me that Toby has strangled him with a rope because he won't help Toby put up a tent, I go outside and tell Toby "Don't be so bossy". Bossy? How is strangling being bossy? I can't even believe such ridiculous words have come out of my mouth.

Does anyone else have any Bad Mother Day ideas they could add to my collection? I have plenty more up my sleeve for another day........

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

"What A Mess".....

.... says Jonah as he walks into the kitchen with hands caked in mud, leaving a trail of muddy footprints behind him. Yes, i think, and you don't really care because you haven't got it clean it all up! What does he want me to do? He wants me to wash the mud off his hands so that he can go back outside and cover them in said mud yet again.

On the plus side (dare I say it?!), they are playing happily and there has not been too much screaming and arguing. This plus, however, has to be weighed up with a rather large minus which is that the downstairs of my house now looks alarmingly similar to the garden with mud, leaves, sticks and other unidentifiable objects sprawled through it. Their clothes literally do look like they have been pulled through a hedge backwards, because they probably have. Not to mention the rainwater that has made their trousers and socks wet enough to have a bath in(because whilst shoes are worn to go outside in, they somehow magically seem to leave their feet once out there and prefer to lie sedately on the grass).

So, do I keep them in and put up with their cabin fever (which is already hitting hard even though we are only on day 2 of half term) or do I let them out and spend the whole afternoon running around after them cleaning up and washing hands so that they can have a blank canvas to make yet more mess?

It's a tricky choice, but seeing as the mess-making also provides me with a small amount of peace where I can look away from the mess and pretend its not there for 5 minutes, I think I'll go with the playing outside option. This, of course, makes me sound like a good mother, but the truth is more on the 'lazy mother' side because if they were inside I would have to play with them to prevent the fighting, but whilst they are outside I can ignore them..... even if it does mean jet washing the house afterwards.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Anticipating Half Term

Half term looms ahead of me. It feels as though I am about to enter a dark torture chamber where I will be unexpectedly ambushed. I know some people love having their children at home for a week, but I find it very hard. The fighting, arguing, destruction and noise are quite unbearable sometimes, well actually alot of times!

Take yesterday afternoon for example. Max asks if he can make a book. This, of course, means that he will not be sitting in front of a screen for a small amount of time which in turn leads to me feeling like a very good mother. The smug feeling does not last long however. As soon as Max has all his pens, paper and other bits and bobs out, Jonah decides he wants to do 'drawing' too. Instead of sitting quietly on a chair and waiting for Max or me to pass things to him, he climbs onto the table, throws the paper all over the floor and then picks up one pen after another and either throws them on the floor or draws on something that is not paper. Max gets cross and frustrated, understandably, and I spend most of the time preventing a major 'drawing on something that shouldn't be drawn on 'incident. Eventually I decide that enough is enough and attempt to make him sit in a chair. This is, clearly, far too difficult for a 2 year old who wants his own way and so he throws the chair across the room ( the strength that a tantrum can induce is quite astonishing) and collapses on the floor, stiff bodied and screaming. All this, just because Max wanted to get the pens and paper out.

It left me feeling more than apprehensive about the week ahead. Every time the boys want to do something constructive (which, lets be honest, isn't all that often!) Jonah destroys it and makes it a stressful time instead. Even when they are just watching the TV, he turns it off and pulls out the plugs for the Wii. To gain their attention he throws things at them, hits them, pushes them and bites them and so they retaliate.

I know that this is a phase, and will not last, but I can't help but feel that the boys are missing out on doing things with us because Jonah gets in the way and messes it up. They are very forgiving and a few minutes later they are kissing and hugging him, but it feels sad to me that we can't do some of the things their friends do because we have a small terrorist in tow.

So, I await the arrival of half term. If there is time between the shouting, fighting and my attempts to control 3 small boys, I will update you with my progress.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Why can't I be like them?

Do you ever think this? I certainly do. Why do we constantly compare ourselves to other people? Or am I the only one that does this?

Am I really the only one that looks across the room in a church meeting and thinks "How do they get their boys to sit so still when mine are rolling around the floor and running round in circles? Why can't my boys be like theirs?" Or "Why doesn't their two year old scream and have major disaster-zone tantrums when they say no to him?" Or "How do they manage to keep their house so tidy when mine is covered in piles of junk and everywhere I turn there are people making more mess?" Or "Why does their child stay in the pushchair and mine climbs out unless I tightly strap in every part of his body as if he has been mummified?" Or "How do they get their child to hold their hand while they cross the road when mine will sit down on the pavement and blatantly refuse to hold on?" Or "Why won't my child eat like other people's children?" The List of Why's is endless.

Then, after we have thought these silly old thoughts, we make the wrong assumption that these other parents are better at being parents than us. They must be. Its logical that they must be, otherwise how else would they be able to get their children to do these things that ours aren't? What we forget is that our children are ours. And they are different to other people's children. Our family is different to another family, and what would work with one will not necessarily work with another. That is not to say that we can't learn from each other and try out new things, but we have to do what will work for our family. Whilst we might pray with our boys in the mornings before school, another family will do it at bedtime. Neither of them are wrong or right, as long as it is being done!

While I write this, my delightful 2 year old is telling me "You stink of poo, Mum". My immediate thought is "Why don't other children say this to their mums?"! Why do we think that other people's children are so much more perfect than ours? It is a strange phenomenon us parents have to deal with..... or maybe I'm the only one - you tell me!

Monday, 19 October 2009


Having read through my last blog entry and spoken to my very honest sister, I have realised that it sounded rather judgemental and I apologise if I made anyone feel guilty about things they really should not feel guilty about! As Mums we always feel guilty about something, and I would not want to add to that at all! Neither would I want anyone to think that I have it all together, am doing a fantastic job of parenting and my boys are perfect.......because the truth is quite the opposite!!

I am going to write more later because the school run is calling me (that joyous of walks where one child screams because he is strapped in the pushchair, one child runs ahead, one lags behind and they all want to talk to me at the same time), but I wanted to make it clear as quickly as possible so that you all know I am very unfortunately not Mary Poppins and nor do I claim to be!

Sunday, 18 October 2009


Yesterday we succeeded in executing the best party we have ever done. It really was fantastic. 8 little boys all dressed up in camo face paint and bandanas, split up into 2 Units with Unit Sergeants to command them. It was little boy (or grown up boy, as my now 8 year old Toby would tell me) heaven. Challenges, hunts, digging for rations, making fire, building shelters, fireworks and throwing water bombs at the Enemy were all part of the proceedings. The Enemy was the highlight of the whole party with an incognito entrance from a friend (THANKYOU!) dressed all in black with a balaclava and gas mask to cover his head, he danced and 'martial arted' in front of the boys and let them throw water bombs at him whilst making scary noises. It was brilliant that the boys could beat a real true-life baddie.

Of course it took an awful lot of preparing and planning. These things don't just 'come together on the day'. I think I actually enjoyed the build up more than Toby did. It made me wonder, what on earth am I going to do when they don't want me to plan their parties anymore? I'll still be making the invitations and they'll have to try and find a tactful way of saying "Erm, Mum, would you mind not making the invites this year?" I'll be devastated!

It made me feel very grateful to be a mum who stays at home. I had time to make invitations, certificates and signs. I had time to focus on it and think about it in a way that I would not have done if I had been at work. I don't want to miss these moments. I want to always be here to make their birthdays days that they will still be talking about when they have children. On the way out of the party, one of Toby's friends said to his mum "They organised it themselves and it was really good!" Why was it really good? It was really good because we know Toby, we know his friends and we know what works with 7 and 8 year old boys.

Kids these days don't know how to party. All they know are the parties organised by someone other than their parents. Someone who doesn't know the tiny details of the things they like, someone who is doing it because they are being paid to do it not because they love the child and want the best for them. This is one way I show my boys how much I love them, and I hope it has made good memories for them. It certainly has for us. My only concern is that, now we have set the standard so high, how we are going to beat it next year.......

Friday, 16 October 2009

New Report

The report that has been published recommends delaying formal education until children are 6. "Hooray!", I hear you shout. But don't be too excited. Whilst this report ticks all my boxes (and other parent's) about education it obviously doesn't tick the government's box. They believe it would be a 'backward step' and 'counter productive'. So, they are ignoring the expertise of those who have written the report, ignoring the pleas from parents like me who's children do not fit the education system, and ignoring the experiences of teachers all over the country.

So, what do I do? I wrote a letter to the Education Minister Mr Vernon Coaker. And here is a copy of my letter.

Dear Mr Coaker,

I am a mother of 3 young boys aged 8, 5 and 2. It was with great excitement that I read the news report about delaying formal education until the age of 6, only to be utterly disappointed when I read that you said it would be counter-productive.

I wonder, Mr Coaker, if you have young children in the school system at the moment? If you had, and especially if you had boys, you might understand how our education system is damaging our children and holding them back rather than inspiring and motivating them to learn.

My eldest son is in Year 3. This year, and only this year, has he begun to be inspired to learn. Whilst reception was fantastic for his learning needs, moving into Year 1 squashed the life and excitement out of him and turned him off learning completely. Every night we had to battle through reading books with him, wondering if he would ever learn to read. Year 2 was not much better because he had to be put through the utter and ridiculous torture of SATS. Was his teacher interested in helping him learn or was she interested in making sure the SATS results were good? The pressure put on him was unbelievable and at the Parent's evening I was told that he "would never be a writer". This, talking about a boy who is interested in the world around him and soaks up information like a sponge, was total rubbish but his confidence in his ability had sunk so low that whenever he had to write anything he would end up in tears. What does a parent do when faced with the fact that their child is not being taught in a way that they can learn? I taught him myself. Every evening after school we would spend working on this together in a way that was far more creative than his teacher had ever thought of. 2 months later his writing had improved tremendously and still is.

My 2nd son is now in Year 1. Reception was a fantastic year for him. He was able to be creative and to learn through play. He could learn by movement and in a way that was just right for him. However again we are watching Year 1 squeeze the excitement about learning out of him. He no longer wants to read or write. He doesn't even want to go to school anymore. In my opinion Year 1 is a total waste of time. The children simply cannot learn in a way that is right for them. Young children should not have to sit at desks reading and writing. They should be exploring the world around them.

Over and over again I hear stories of, particularly boys but sometimes girls, who have been failed by the education system because they are not being taught in a way they can learn. They then become discouraged and lose confidence, only to sink further down. These are the children who leave school without any skills. These are the children who commit crime (I realise there are other factors involved in this). These are the children who cost the NHS because they have depression, and other illnesses as adults. Our children need help. Our children need to play, and to be children. They are not robots who can conform to a set pattern, they are children who start out excited and motivated about learning and school, but get squashed, squeezed and moulded into a box that just does not fit them.

I plead with you to take this report seriously. I am not the only mother who believes these things. Talk to parents and teachers. Don't just make up your minds about this report yet. Read books such as "Boys and Girls Learn Differently" by Michael Gurian. These are our children and they deserve our very very best, yet time and time again they do not receive it.Thank you for your time in reading my email and I look forward to watching the education system change for the best for our children.


Helen Hodgson

Will it make any difference? I doubt it. I doubt I will even be graced with a reply. But who will stick up for our children if parents don't? I have to at least try.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Limited Edition

For one night and one night only, I am going to write in praise of the school. The ever-dreaded parent's evening, sorry, 'Parent-Teacher Consultation' was yesterday. So far though, I have not been consulted on anything so I'm going to stick with calling it good old 'parent's evening'.

I sat down in the usual fear and trepidation in front of Toby's year 3 teacher, waiting to be told he was dyslexic, had adhd, was incredibly naughty etc etc. Why do I do this to myself I wonder? However, this year we have had a wonderful surprise. Toby has a male teacher, which I found a bit disconcerting. When else would you sit alone in a room with a man you have never spoken to before? Toby, though, finds him inspiring, motivating and exciting.

As he went through all the usuals about reading, writing, maths, and how Toby needs to stop chatting with his friends and focus a bit more, I wanted to reach across the table and hug him. I wanted him to know how thrilled I am that Toby has a teacher that teaches him in a way he can learn. I wanted to shout FINALLY!!! Finally I am hearing a teacher telling me the things that boys like to do. Finally I am listening to a teacher who makes learning real and exciting for boys and keeps them interested. However, I am always slightly in awe of teachers and so I very politely told him how grateful we are that Toby is loving being in his class and that we have never seen him so motivated before. What I really wanted to say was "Please can you keep Toby in your class forever?" I wanted to tell him to read my blog about boys, so that he would know we are on the same wavelength. At one point he was describing how they learn about Ancient Egypt and how he shows them gruesome, disgusting things that the boys love, I almost told him about reading Judges with the boys and how horribly fascinated the boys have been with it. I stopped myself, thankfully. I don't want him to think Toby comes from a family of loonies.

The down side to this, and there is one, is that we never stop hearing about what Mr Skitt says, thinks, eats, breathes, makes, believes etc. And we dare not disagree.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Warning - Gruesome Content

The King is surrounded by servants and courtiers, but a stranger comes to him with a secret message. He sends all the entourage out of his chambers and sits alone, apart from the messenger. What could it be? Is he a spy? Has he come to bring secret information? The stranger says "I have a message for you from God."

"Which god?", the rather plump King asks himself as he stands ready to receive his message. In one swift movement, the stranger reaches into his trouser leg, pulls out a sword half a metre long and stabs the King right in his stomach. The sword is pushed so far that even the handle sank into the King's flesh and the blade came creeping out of his back. The King's slimy stomach fat covers the whole of the sword. The stranger leaves the King lying on the ground, covered in blood, fat and other bodily fluids, goes out of the chambers and locks the door behind him.

Whilst the servants all think the King has locked himself in his chambers because he is doing a poo, the stranger escapes far away and tells his people that the enemy is defeated. Eventually the servants realise that even the King does not take this long to poo, and they break into his chambers to find him lying on the floor, dead.

By this time it is too late and the war, which will kill 10,000 enemy men, has begun.

Is this the script for the next epic film? Is this from a violent x-rated video game? No. It's from the Bible. Every single detail is from the Bible. The King is a Moabite King, and the stranger is an Israelite Judge. The 10,000 enemy men defeated were from the Moabite army. This was real life. Real life that is so often dulled down because we don't want our children to know about these things.

So often church is 'nice'. We sing 'nice' songs about love and goodness. We sit in our nice rows and we learn about nice things. How are we going to capture the attention of a generation of boys who are used to playing video games and watching violent cartoons and films? By reading the Bible to them. We need to make it come alive for them. We need them to know that God made them the way they are for a purpose.

Of course, we need to do this within reason and I am not advocating a mass war with blood spilt. But let's let boys be boys in our churches. Let's give them opportunity to worship a God who goes to war; a God who is the champion; a God who is a King riding out in battle; a God who wants to let boys be boys. Let's give them chance to shout, and I mean really shout, their praises to him instead of singing which is sometimes thought of by boys as a girly thing to do. Let's teach them about a God who is tough and strong; a God who is strategic in battle; a God who gives them armour to put on; a God who is their protection. Let's make church meetings a place where men can be men, and boys can be boys.

Monday, 5 October 2009


'Tis the season to find conkers..........

And so I find myself on a cold, windy and rainy Saturday afternoon standing underneath several large trees hunting for conkers. Would I rather be inside in front of an open fire watching a nice black and white film and eating chocolate? Yes! Do I want my boys to know the earthy thrill of searching and finding? Yes! So under the tree I stand, for what feels like hours but is actually not even 1 hour, trying to show enthusiasm for something I totally do not understand. Even Jonah was excited to find conkers and held them in his hand for the rest of the afternoon, not willing to relinquish his conquests to anyone else! Jared was finding huge sticks and hurling them up into the tree to rain down conkers on any passers by. I just put up my hood and wished that I was wearing protective clothing.

Now that children are not allowed to play conkers in school anymore (and don't even get me started on that ridiculous health and safety twaddle - I'm sure you will all know what I think about that), I understand the excitement even less.

There are some things that I will never understand about my boys, because they are boys and I, funnily enough, am a girl. I will never understand the need to make gun / bomb noises. I will never understand why it is so difficult to aim properly. I will never understand why sitting down in a quiet room to read a book is not as appealing to them as it is to me. I will never understand why life is a competition that has to be won. I have to accept that, try as I might, I will never have the mind of a boy.

Not having the mind of a boy though does not disqualify me from entering their world as much as I possibly can. Sometimes I try to enter, but get withering looks from them all because I have tried too hard! Sometimes I try, and I actually get it right! What I have to do though is keep trying because if I don't I will lose my relationship with them. I am the main female influence in their lives, and I have to stay girly so that they can understand the minds of girls. I also have to work hard at engaging them at their level so that they will feel loved and understood.

It is not always an easy position to be in, but this is the position God has put me in and I know that He is the ultimate in wisdom, so I trust Him. I trust Him to give me wisdom. I trust Him to give us all we need to raise our boys to be men who serve Him and follow him wholeheartedly with a dogged determination. There are things that I will never understand or know, but thankfully I have a God who does.

Friday, 2 October 2009


Apologies for my absence. Summer holidays, mixed with business of life, mixed with 3 noisy boys produces not a lot of time for thought. Still, here I am again ready for action. I am still on my mission to make the world a more understanding place for boys to live. Even more so, in fact.

Today on Radio 2 I heard the end of a discussion about back gardens. From what I could gather the main thrust of the discussion was about gardens that are a mess and how terrible it must be for the neighbours to have to look at it.

My mind obviously wandered to our back garden. Well, garden would be too pretty a word for it. Playzone? Warzone? High Risk Area? Those are more fitting descriptions. Our garden is full of tyres of a shapes and sizes, footballs, gardening tools, material (yes it does get wet in the rain), sticks, a trampoline, bikes, scooters, a play house and countless other things. Mess would be an understatement.

One listener phoned into the radio station and said that people (like us) who have disgraceful gardens should be forced to live in a flat. I wondered how old this man was. I wondered if, when he was a small boy, he was allowed to play out in the fields making dens and swings to cross rivers. I wondered if he had space to ride his bike and to carry out daring exploits with his friends. I wondered if he collected sticks, stones, conkers and other treasures, took them back to his den and put them in his custom made treasure chest.

In the 'olden days' of my parent's generation boys could do these things. They could learn about risk taking, they could discover whether it was safe to swing from a certain place or not. They could learn about teamwork with their friends by making shelters. They could catch frogs, snails and other bugs and have races with them. We made a decision when we moved into our house that our garden would be a place where our boys could do just those things, but with the safety of being at home.

One day I might have a beautifully manicured garden that the neighbours would delight in looking at. At the moment though, I have 3 boys who need to learn about the world around them. Whilst it may look like a garden that needs to be cleared out, the naked eye does not see the learning that goes on there. The neighbours who look on will not see one brother helping a younger one to find a frog; they will not see the excitement when they find spider eggs; they will not see how one brother comforts the other when they have hurt themselves; they will not see the fear in a face as they step out for the first time on a bridge they have made and the pride in their faces afterwards when it has worked; they will not know that a 2 year old watches his brother and learns how to ride a scooter; they will not see all the mud pies and other creations that they have cooked and dried in their home-made oven; they will not realise that these boys are playing out in the fresh air instead of inside on a computer game.

I would never ever give up my mess of a garden. It is a garden of delight, wonder, learning and creativity and is worth every raised eyebrow that it receives.

Sunday, 29 March 2009


I have been avoiding writing on here. Partly because I seem to have so much to write that I don't know where to start. We have just come back from a week in Center Parcs, during which I had an ongoing blog being written in my head. Mainly though because I am finding it hard to put into words the things I want to say. Yes, that really is not like me. I am not going to write about Center Parcs in this blog. I'll save that excitement for another day. I am going to write about Parents Evening.

Parents Evening. Just before we went away I attended the 'Parent / Teacher Consultation' for my two boys. Not that there was a great deal of consulting. Having active boys, one of whom wets himself all the time and is rather temperamental, I was slightly nervous. However I had no need to be nervous for my weeing , quirky and apparently clever 4 year old. His teacher likes him ( he is 'interesting' ) and he is doing well . I left her room feeling like a good mother with a genius of a child and went into the next classroom expectant.

My biggest monkey is in Year 2. The year of the SATS. Otherwise known as Silly Absolute Trash for Schools. Can you tell how much I like them?! His teacher ran through all the usuals about his good maths (does not get it from me) and reading. Then she sighed and said 'And his writing.... well, he's never going to be a writer'. I stared at her in shock while she continued about how appalling his writing skills are and the fact that he cannot structure sentences, does not leave spaces between words and basically writes lines of gobbledegook. Trying hard not to burst into tears I asked her if she thought he was dyslexic. She said not. It felt as if she was giving up on him and his skills. At 7 years old she was labelling my son as a person who would not be able to write properly, or express himself through writing.

When I left the school, I cried. If she had spent any time with him she would know he is actually a very sensitive child and would benefit from being able to write immensely. I spent most of the evening and the next day in shock. Then I talked to lots of people and began my plan of action.

He hates writing. He has so much homework each week, which he cries about because he hates it so much. He is not being taught in a way that he can learn. So, I will teach him to write. Instead of doing the homework I am going to spend time with him every night teaching him to write, in a way that will help him, motivate him and encourage him. I am going to document my plan and show his teacher, and explain to her that he will not be doing his homework until we have reached the stage where writing will come more easily to him. At the moment, his homework is a total waste of time. He needs something that will capture him and then he will enjoy writing. I know it is in there somewhere, I just need to bring it out of him.

I am scared about doing this because, believe it or not, I am actually scared of teachers! However it is more important that my boy is taught properly and not given up on at the slightest hurdle. I am staggered that the school will not try different methods of teaching and encouraging and yet again I wish I could home school them, but I know that I couldn't do it. It frustrates me so much that, yet again, I see examples of boys being let down by schools and this time it is affecting my boy in a major way.

This has been a long blog and I had better shut up now. I will let you know our progress as I embark on my next project.....

P.S. I haven't even got started on the SATS thing yet.... you just wait....

Wednesday, 18 March 2009


The anguish. The pain. The slobber. Teething babies and toddlers are not pleasant at all. We have all been living with the growth of 4 (yep, that was 4) new teeth for the last few weeks. And these are not just any old teeth. They are 'eye teeth'. That means they are the worst possible teeth to come through. Apparently the most painful, they also cause all sorts of strange phenomenon like red bottoms, enough slobber to fill up a swimming pool and cheeks that look like Aunt Sally's in Worzel Gummidge.

Do you know the worst thing about these teeth coming through? The thing that is making me more annoyed than anything else? While Jonah is developing these particular teeth, Toby is losing them! Yes, that's right! After all the pain, moaning, crying, disgusting nappies (I won't go into too much detail but pva glue mixed with the contents of a teabag might be a fair description), mountains of sudocrem, a few years later THEY FALL OUT!!! Not only do they fall out, but I have to pay for them ( me, aka the tooth fairy)! And I have to be excited that they have fallen out. "Yes Toby, how thrilling, another tooth of yours that I anguished over and had sleepless nights over has now fallen out"!

Can you understand my frustrations?! The pain of teething is far worse for me this time round because while I've got one child growing them, the other is making it all feel pointless by losing them. How dare they?!!

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Birthday Parties

I am trying to decide what to do for Max's fifth birthday. I know I could do him a fantastic party at home (I'm not bigging myself up, I just know I could!). I have mentioned the idea to him and he is really pleased with it. A Superhero party for a 5 year old boy. What could be better? Wacky Warehouse? Brewsters? A bouncy castle? Something else? The Birthday Party Competition gets on my nerves.

Last year we did a party at home for Max and invited lots of his little 3 and 4 year old friends. None of them knew how to play pass the parcel or musical bumps. They had never been to a 'proper' party before. The only parties they knew were 'soft play' type parties where they run around screaming for an hour before devouring sweet and salty food and collecting a party bag full of 'e' numbers and toys that will break before they get home.

So, I am going to try it again this year. I know how to put on a good party, and I enjoy it. I'm just not sure if it will be welcomed these days when the traditions have all changed. I just hope we don't disappoint lots of little children who are expecting the kind of party they are used to. Do I sound like an old lady? "Parties aren't what they used to be in my day"! Of course, I will still have to put sweets in the party bags. I don't think I could get away with carrot sticks and raisins.

Monday, 9 March 2009


Has anyone ever tried giving their children rice for tea? We had it tonight. It's not the first time we've had it, we probably have it once a week. I may as well just drop it all over the floor and kick it around rather than serve it up on the plates. I don't know about anyone else's floor after having rice for tea, but our floor gets submerged in it. I'm not actually sure if they even eat it.

I try to give my boys a balanced diet, and they do eat really well. We always sit down and eat together as a family. I think it's a really important time to chat through the day and answer any questions they might have about the day's events.

But tonight we had rice. Jonah smiles at us with his most winning grin and then picks up his bowl and lobs it across the room. Max decides to eat 'indian style' with his fingers, except that he hasn't quite got the hang of flicking the rice into his mouth and it ends up decorating his school uniform (yes, I know I should make them get changed but I can't face the battle). Toby doesn't do too badly with the rice, but uses his white school shirt, clean on that day, to wipe his tomatoey sauce covered face and hands.

At the end of the meal I look around and see work. Work, work, work. We don't know where to start with the clean up operation. If we let them get down from the table, they will tread rice all over the rest of the house. If they stay there, they will not only make more mess but the noise levels will reach dangerous levels.

So, we plod through. Toby clears the table, as is his job for the day. Max brushes all the rice from his uniform onto the floor and then sweeps it up with a dustpan and brush (only to drop it all out of the pan again on the way to the bin, creating more work, but at least he tried). Jonah shouts alot, makes red indian noises which he saw his brothers doing earlier, bangs his spoon and pours his drink all over the table. Eventually we clear up.

Tea time is such a peaceful time of day in our house, can you tell? It is important to all be together though, and however tempted I am (which is most days at that particular time) to eat seperately when they have all gone to bed, I know that we are instilling into them important values and teaching them the art of conversation. Even if that conversation has to be shouted over the top of red indian noises and songs about wee and boobies.

Sunday, 8 March 2009


As you may have guessed from previous posts we are a family who follow Jesus. If I don't ever teach my boys anything else useful (but I hope I will!), I want to teach them to follow Jesus with their hearts, souls and minds, whatever that may cost them. This is our priority as parents. Of course they will have the choice, and we would never force anything on them against their will, but we know that life with God is abundant ( that means fantastic! ) and we want the best they could possibly have, which is God's plan for them.

So...... get the point?! This rather strongly worded introduction (apologies if you are offended, but I'm afraid I'm not going to change it!!) leads me to the point of this blog. Stories. As I read the bible more and more, I am discovering that it really is written for boys! Hold your horses all you feminists out there, by that I do NOT mean that is exclusively for boys and girls are not allowed to read it! Boys love gore, they love battles, they love heroes and they love impossible things being made possible. The bible is full to bursting of stories like these. Not only are they true (feel free to argue with me, but I can't back down on that one either!) but they teach us something about God's nature and His relationship with us.

So, I have been compiling my own 'Bible stories for Boys' book (albeit in my head at the moment) and have been busy storytelling to my boys. It is such a precious thing to be able to captivate a child into a story and see them learn from it as well. I haven't read to them from the book itself, I have just told it to them, and tailored it to what I know they would enjoy. For example - David and Goliath. A real classic which most people can tell without hesitation. When I told my boys this story (which they already knew, but they love stories to be repeated) I focused on the fact that David had lots of older brothers who thought he was too small to do anything important. They teased him, and probably gave him the odd wedgie. (I call this part poetic licence). Then we hear about a boy who knows that God is on his side, and so he goes out into the middle of a field to fight a real baddie. Goliath roars at David, and David's army are very worried for him - after all he is so tiny. But, as we know David defeats Goliath, and not only does he get him, smack, in the head with a stone, but he chops off his head with a sword! Blood spurts everywhere and Goliath's tongue hangs out the side of his mouth - he doesn't look so scary now does he? Can you see the appeal?! I bet you were getting into it there for a minute too weren't you?!

What do they learn from this? That stories are not just for girls? That the bible is not for wimps? That God is interested in them? I think they learn a whole host of things (hopefully NOT how to catapault stones at their brothers' heads). There are so many stories in the bible like this, not just the ones we are normally familiar with. So I am going to make it my mission to make the bible come alive for my boys. It is an exciting mission to have.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

No Screen Day

Yet again it has been a while since I updated on here. The reason? In a word, Jonah. He has moved up a level of exploration in the house now and has discovered how to open the door to the downstairs toilet and deposit various items into the toilet which then don't get found until they have been pooed on (sorry, but it is a blog about boys, what do you expect?!). Needless to say, the toilet now has a lock on the outside as well as the inside! I wonder how many more places in our house we will have to attach locks to before too long. He has also worked out how to open the fridge and keeps helping himself to food. Anyone would think I starved the child, the way he screams when I say no. Of course, 'no', is not a word that I am allowed to say anymore and it produces a violent and noisy reaction (which, after having been through this twice already, it washes right over my head).

We have decided to have a day off from 'the screen' every week. We have, of course, had to define what we mean by 'screen' because otherwise loopholes will be found by the loophole experts. So the 'screen' means television, wii, computer and gameboy. Each Thursday we are having a day without them. This decision was made because a couple of weeks ago Toby was playing on the wii and was so tense and aggressive that he was shouting and screaming at everyone. So, we turned it off and told him that he could not watch it for the rest of the morning (it was a Sunday). He screamed, stamped, slammed doors, cried and shouted at us that he could not live without television. So, we decided that we would teach them how to live without it! Of course we are not actually 'living' without it, that would be a step too far, even for me. Sometimes I need them to be still and quiet and the only way to achieve that is to put a DVD on for them.

I have been very surprised at their reactions to 'no screen day'. We explained it to them very clearly and so when Thursday has arrived, there have been no arguments about it or pleading for it. We just told them that was the way it was. They have come home from school and actually played. It has been so lovely to see them playing in the garden after school instead of being inside watching the tv. The dirt that it has created has not been quite so lovely. Today for example, Jonah and Max were making mud pies, and then covering their hands in mud and puting mud handprints all over the patio.

I'm sure that some people who are much better mothers than me would probably be able to live without the screen for alot longer, but for me this has been quite a scary idea. My boys do not generally sit still unless they are watching tv, so it has been harder work for me and I have had to be more organised and have some planned activities up my sleeve. Perhaps if it keeps working we might extend it to another day a week...... I do think our children watch too much television, but I hope that we give our boys a more balanced lifestyle that includes television rather than being dominated by it.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Half Term Musings

We are on day 4 of half term. Thankfully the week has flown by so far amidst a puking toddler, a broken washing machine and to top it all off, a broken dvd player! Needless to say, it has not been the easiest of half terms. There has also been much fighting and gnashing of teeth between 2 tired boys who need to rest but STILL don't seem to be able to sleep later than 7am! However, in the middle of all this action (which is accompanied by noise volume equivalent to a pneumatic drill) I have had lots of interesting thoughts. Well, I think they are interesting but you may choose to disagree.

Having 3 boys, we structure our family life around boy things. As you know, we do lots of walks in the country, bike riding, star wars watching (and playing), garden playing (or just being locked out there when I have had enough!), competitive challenges etc etc. It suddenly occurred to me a couple of weeks ago that actually my boys will need to know about girls. I was listening to a sermon on my mp3 player (yes, really I am not a technophobe!) by a man who has 3 sons and 2 daughters. He was talking about how he teaches his sons about the female variety by using their sisters. For example, girls like to play more gentle games and might not necessarily enjoy chasing around with lightsabres playing star wars. I realised that my boys do not have that opportunity of spending time with girls, and even the friends they have at school are boys. If we carry on with our 'boy focus' when they hit their teenage years, they will suddenly encounter a species who are very foreign to them. Not having been taught how to treat this foreign species, they will then learn from their friends or the media. We do not want our boys to be disrespectful of women. We want them to have good female friends and eventually a wife whom they will love, cherish and honour.

So, we have to teach them these things. Of course, they have me as a mum and my wonderful husband Jared is very good at hugging me in front of them and teaching them through the way he treats me. However I am not their peer and it is not quite the same. We have, therefore, taken some steps to ensure that they do have friends who are girls. We have spent some time already with them chatting through the kinds of games they might like to play when they are with a mix of girls and boys. I have talked to them about my childhood and the way that a girl likes to be made to feel special. This will all of course take years, and I am not expecting an instant change but we need to drip feed them these things. We have to be intentional about these things because otherwise someone else will steal our job of teaching our boys to be the men they were made to be, and the results could be disastrous.

On a lighter note, the broken dvd player actually came in very handy. Armed with screwdrivers of various shapes and sizes, we spent a whole morning taking it apart and making new inventions with the parts! I have never seen my boys concentrate for so long on an activity. 2 hours of demolishing, inventing, testing and creating! It was a very exciting discovery for me and I shall now spend time on freecycle acquiring other old, broken, seemingly useless items so that we can repeat the experience.

Sorry this has not been particularly humorous. Humour, at this end of half term, is evading me. Having spent the whole week listening to jokes about bogeys and farts, and hearing 'poo wee fat bum' chanted over and over again, it is a little hard for me to drag any grown up humour from my toilet humour sizzled brain.

Sunday, 8 February 2009


Well it seems the whole country has come to a standstill because of a few flakes of snow. I know, I exagerate but really, did my boys need to be off school for two whole days?

The first day off was great fun though. We did have lots of snow and we went sledging in the park with lots of our friends from church. Even Jonah (17 months) had a go on the sledge and was laughing, screaming and shouting with the rest of them. My boys loved the sledge, and if I'm honest, so did I! The problem was my screaming. I just couldn't help it, it came out without me realising. So, when I asked Max if he wanted to go on with me, he said "I will go on with you Mum, as long as you promise not to scream because I really don't like it"!!! I couldn't promise that, because as we set sail on our white sea, the scream came flying out of my mouth again! The best thing about the sledging though, was watching families having fun together. The atmosphere 'on the slopes' was fantastic and there were lots of people laughing. In our busy lives today where we rush from one thing to the next, it was a small oasis of re-establishing relationships and spending much needed time together.

However, when we woke up on Day 2, to see a smattering of snow and then listening to the radio to discover the school was yet again closed, I was not a happy mummy. The snow had melted from the previous day and was not settling that morning at all. As far I could tell, there was no reason to be off school that day. The boys were, of course, thrilled that they didn't have to go into school again. It was a long and tedious day in which I was extremely grateful to the creators of the Nintendo Wii. By just past lunchtime though Toby was literally climbing the walls of the house in a desperate escape attempt. So, when Jonah had woken up from his nap we went out on bike, scooter, pushchair and legs and the big boys finally had some freedom! They needed releasing back into the wild! They shouted, rode as fast as they could and released their pent up energy. It was very cold but they didn't seem to notice as they flew down hills, just stopping short at the roads.

So, if the school is closed again on Monday I shall be depositing them at the headteacher's house for the day. Either that or locking them outside. That should do the trick.

Saturday, 31 January 2009


Boys love a challenge. This week we have discovered a new way of getting them to do things. Rather than the usual nagging " Max, please, I've been asking you for twenty minutes, please will you just get dressed" we have begun to set them challenges. "I bet you can't tidy that room up without using your hands". "Of course I can!" they answer and get straight to work! We have used it with all sorts of things this week..... getting dressed without falling off the table, making the beds with their teeth, brushing their teeth with their eyes shut, eating food or drink they don't like with their eyes shut, carrying things up the stairs using their elbows, clearing the table whilst hopping. There are endless possibilities and because boys absolutely love a challenge, it works!

Of course, it won't work forever and is just one of those things that you can only use for a certain amount of time until it stops working, but while it does work we may as well make good use of it! I have told a few of my friends who also have boys and they have tried it with success as well. It is amazing how boys seem to respond to a challenge. Max has even been asking me for one today! I can't possibly refuse when he is willing to do as he is told! If you have boys, try it out and let me know if it has worked for you.

In case any of you are worrying about our fish, the fish terrorist seems to have given up on the idea of killing them and has not plopped anything into the tank for a whole week! It might be early days, but I think the fish may be safe again.

Saturday, 17 January 2009


We had a ridiculously impulsive thought today. We were enjoying our local garden centre. Its lovely there. The fish section is very exciting, especially the Koi carp which bite fingers when they are put in the water. Apparently that is enjoyable. The pets section though was where we almost made our fatal mistake. Fatal in the truest sense. The boys were loving looking at the animals, and there were some very cute hamsters with their pouches full which was really attracting their attention. Jonah was pointing at them and laughing and shouting very excitedly in his own little language. So I made the suggestion 'why don't we get a hamster?'. They really were sweet. We discussed the merits for a good few minutes before we actually realised what we were doing.

Jonah + hamster. Not a good comination at all. When he works out how to open the cage ( which will happen quite quickly ) he will enjoy squishing it, throwing it, holding it by the tail and swinging around the room. A real live toy that moves and makes noise!! So, thankfully, we decided to wait a little while before getting any more pets. When I texted my friend and told her they were very cute, she replied saying 'so are kids when they are tiny and in a cage'. Point taken!

We can't even keep our fish alive at the moment with the small predator about. We did have a death this week. Our silver shark died, and was eaten by another fish. Far from being upset, Toby and Max were very excited that they could see it, half flesh, half spine with it's eyes popping out. They hovered around the tank for a while watching it being eaten and deciding who the murderer was. Eventually it all disappeared. Very very disgusting, but to a little boy it really was quite fascinating.

I hope that none of you are vegetarians. I should have put a warning at the top of the page. 'Some of the content may be upsetting or shocking'. In fact, living with a toddler should have the same warning....

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Fish Tank Traumas

I have not updated for a while. I feel terribly guilty (along with all the other things I have to feel guilty about of course), but I just cannot get to the computer without my little (unhelpful) helper in tow. I am almost at the tearing my hair out point (if it was long enough to get a hold of, but thankfully it isn't) with my young padawan learner. At 16 months he is far more advanced (and I really am not bragging because it is NOT good in this instance), agile, knowledgeable, adventurous and downright defiant than his brothers were. This is not a good combination and results in me spending most of my day following him around saying no. Our house is as childproofed as it could possibly be, and yet he still finds ways around them.

The fish tank is a major source of stress for me. It is on a coffee table. Coffee tables and toddlers should never be in the same room together. Anyway, we cannot put it anywhere higher up because it is too heavy. It has a handy little flap on the top for feeding the fish. This handy flap can also be used for dropping in felt tip pens, dummies, remote controls, and tipping in a cup of orange juice. How the fish have survived this far I do not know. The big boys are great secret spies and do come and tell me the minute they see their brother doing something naughty, but it is usually too late by that point.

He has worked out how to bend his arm in the right way to get it past the cupboard locks in the kitchen, and now enjoys playing with dishwasher tablets and cheese graters. Very safe, I know. He has discovered that if you turn a basket upside down and put it by the hob, you can pull off the rings and they make a great noise. We have to keep all our kitchen chairs folded down because he climbs on the table and enjoys fallling off (one day, when he is a stuntman and earning lots of money I will have to take a percentage). The computer is another attraction. Only the monitor screen is left on the desk because he clicks on all sorts of things if he can get to the mouse, and he pulls keys off the keyboard. Usually, before he does something he knows he shouldn't do (and yes, he does know) he looks at me and gives me his most beautiful, winning smile than melts my heart. My heart is then melted just in time for him to achive his goal.

My boys seem to be getting progressively more adventurous and, in a word, naughty. It leaves me with chills when I think about what he will be like at 2 years old. I am only just recovering from Max's '2's which seemed to continue for quite a while past 2. Am I too soft on him? He is my baby and I know I treat him differently to the way I treated the others at his age. I don't think I baby him, but perhaps I do. Or maybe he is just an avid explorer and wants to know about the world. To be honest, I don't really care why he does it, I just want it to stop!! So, my updates may become a bit more infrequent while I am in this phase. It is no understatement when I say that I don't sit down all day, or that he is into 'everything'. Hopefully the fish will survive another day.

Saturday, 3 January 2009

A very busy couple of weeks later we are now trying to de-toxify the boys from all the junk food they have had. A few weeks ago on the news I saw an item that said that there has been new research that says sugary foods and foods with e numbers don't actually make children hyper. How stupid, I thought, come to my house on a Friday (sweetie day) after tea and see if you think the bouncing, skidding, shouting, running and wrestling is hyper or not. Yes, my boys are particularly active anyway, but after some sweets they are unbearable. Anyway... I digress, I am now feeling guilty about all the food they have eaten and am trying to feed them fruit and vegetables intravenously in their sleep. We'll have to give it a few days to see if my plan works.

Christmas was very lovely. The build up was a bit too long though. On Christmas Eve we decided to take them all swimming to wear them out. We arrived at the swimming pool car park with very excited boys in the car, I switched off the engine and heard Jonah choking. I looked round just in time to see the sick shooting out from his mouth and covering everything in the car. Toby and Max were gagging in their car seats, and we were desperately trying to catch the sick in a blanket - the nearest thing that came to hand! For future reference, blankets are not good sick catchers. So, Jared had to take Toby and Max swimming on his own and I had to prevail myself of the services of Grandma and Grandad for an hour before picking them all back up again. The rest of the day dragged relentlessly and finally we got them into bed, and set up the Nintendo Wii so that we could have a go without them interfering!

Christmas day was it's usual self. I realised how selfish I feel on special days. Why should I have to do what my boys want me to do? I want to enjoy the day all for myself! I tried really hard to set the table up nicely and managed to protect it against Jonah's advances. (He now climbs on the table if there is a chair left out, and with a tablecloth on it is even more tempting.) We decided to eat when Jonah was having his nap because at least that meant we would be able to have a fairly peaceful meal without food being thrown around or very loud shouting for 'MORE'. We all sat down and the boys were being very complementary about my handiwork, 'Mum, this looks beautiful', and I was feeling very pleased with myself and ready to enjoy my meal. Then the cracker pulling started and it all went downhill. Jared pulled Max's cracker so hard that he pulled him off his chair and knocked over a glass of guinness all over my table! I was so cross. 'We may as well have gone to McDonalds', I shouted! Silly really. Why should I expect to have it all perfect when I have 3 boys who just want to enjoy the day?

This has now been far too long. Back to school next week. I'm looking forward to finally having some time to myself again, but I don't want to get back into the swing of everything again. Having a rest has been good for us all. (Except Jared who told me yesterday that he can't wait to go back to work for a rest!!) Happy New Year!