What Am I?

Last week’s was easy, wasn’t it? ;-) It was a piece of crepe bandage, which I’m sure someone knew all along. Unfortunately, that someone didn’t pop by and answer the quiz! No right answers!  See how you get on with this one.


Milestones – A Week of Firsts

It’s been a busy week for PK who seems to have been going through a big development spurt. He’s had a week of exciting new milestones and it’s been hard to keep up. It’s lovely to see, but it does make my heart ache too – my last baby is really not a baby anymore; at 19 months old he’s well and truly a toddler and showing his independence in lots of ways. As far as possible, I ignore the ages these things are supposed to happen – children develop at their own pace as we know, and are oblivious to what the books say. That doesn’t stop us looking forward to certain milestones and enjoying them whenever they happen.

He’s hit a few speech milestones recently. We’ve been having lots of words from him for months, but he’s now started talking in sentences. Not all of what he says can be deciphered yet, but he clearly knows what he’s saying because he repeats it exactly several times. He’s fond of adding “and” and “but” into his conversation too, with lots of emphasis on them – “Aaaannnnd …..”  BUUTttttt…..” He’s copied this from Plum. Some of what he says is very clear though. One particular phrase that is getting a lot of use at the moment is “I trumped Mummy. Pardon Me”, often followed by a self satisfied giggle (and a green fog).

speech milestones

I said in a recent post that PK’s way of saying “I love you too” was to smile and say “too”. That changed over the weekend when he walked up to Plum, looked at her and said “I uvv you Plum”. I melted. And tried not to be bitter that it wasn’t his Mummy he said it to first (I’m joking – it was lovely to watch and Plum was over the moon. Over. The. Moon).

PK has recently shown a distinct fondness for Mr Tumble too. Plum was given a Mr Tumble annual at Christmas and over the last couple of weeks it has become PK’s prized possession. He carries it with him crooning “Tuuuumble”. And then we realised that he was singing the theme tune. Well, bits of it – “Hello, hello, are you? I see you. Hello, happy name. Yeayyyy!”

Yesterday he came up to me and said “you sign”, and signed it. Unfortunately, he didn’t know what he wanted me to sign, but you can’t have it all. Later, with a little encouragement, he signed “milk please”.  Like Plum and Bean before him though, he seems to have clicked on to signing after he can already say the things he is signing, so uses it as a fun thing to do, rather than a means of actual communication. 

Today, as I write this, he is mastering the art of the knock knock joke. So far, we have got “knock, knock. Who’s there? *something incoherent* yeah!”. Hmn, he’s not really grasped the basics of how they work yet. Give him time.

Another of those lovely toddler milestones we’ve reached over the last week is the beginning of the defiant phase. The forceful “no” and the dropping down onto his bottom, refusing to move in protest at … whatever he’s protesting about at that moment. Thankfully, these moments last all of a few seconds but they are a definite sign that he is going to follow Plum more than Bean when it comes to the “Terrible Twos”. Ahh, I can hardly wait!

What milestones do you look forward to and which have you enjoyed the most so far?



Brain Drain – Top Ten Tips to Beat it this Summer

Have you heard of Summer Brain Drain? It’s the loss of learning that occurs in children over the summer break from school. There’s lots of research that shows that this is a real phenomenon – on average, students lose a whole month’s worth of learning over the break. Some students lose as much as three months’ worth of learning and the areas most affected by this loss are maths, reading and spelling. To combat Brain Drain, teachers tend to spend between two and four weeks at the start of the new Autumn term reteaching what was learned during the previous year. 

It’s a depressing thought, but there is good news – there are some positive steps you can take this summer to minimise or even eradicate the loss for your child, without them feeling like they are missing out on their summer break.  

Beat Brain Drain this Summer

Reading books can help beat Brain Drain

Top Ten Tips to Beat Brain Drain

1. Reading just six books over the break helps retain what was learned the previous year. That’s just one book a week!  It’s important that the child can choose from a selection of books, so do make sure that they have plenty available. One option it to take part in the Summer Reading Challenge at your local library. Another option is to check out this fantastic selection of children’s books (and get 20% discount for your trouble!)
2. Do include books that reinforce learning concepts, especially number concepts. Many children’s books have numbers hidden away in the story, so this isn’t as difficult as it may first appear.
3. Encourage reflection on the books that your child reads. This short book report sheet can help (very short!)
4. Unpack the books through discussion and connected activities, such as a scavenger hunt of things found in the book.
5. Elizabeth of Where Roots and Wings Entwine suggests getting involved in the National Trust’s Fifty Things To Do Before You’re 11 3/4. It is a great platform for children to learn about nature and science in particular, it is also a fun, physical activity for children which will keep them entertained.
6. Elizabeth also recommends encouraging your child to start a collection – coins, rocks, shells, stamps etc. Organising their collection requires a lot of skills and their collection could spark further learning on the theme of their collection – i.e. with coins they could learn about the history of the coins and with rocks they could learn about the science behind rocks.
7. Over on Family Fever, Lisa suggests children who are old enough can research where to go for a day out, including how to get there and how much it will cost to combine several sets of skills into one activity, whilst Rachel from Parenthood Highs and Lows recommends getting crafty by helping children create a scrapbook about their day out.
8. Incorporating essential skills into your holiday can beat the brain drain whilst still having fun. Download this free beach activity – it includes collecting, identifying and sorting shells as well as a great craft.
9. All children love to bake, Joanne from Joanne Dewberry suggests including maths into baking for those who are old enough. When I bake with Bean, I often ask him to double or quadruple the quantities in the recipe I give him. Of course, there’s also the weighing and measuring to be done.
10. Finally, Ashley of Views from an Urban Lake suggests getting out and about in nature. He lists 15 wildlife activities you can do with the children, many of which will incorporate maths and language skills. Some of my favourite suggestions are Geocaching (if you’re a regular reader of my blog, you’ll know how much we love Geocaching in this family!) and fruit picking – both of which are fun and have loads of learning opportunities built in!


So, what things might you do to combat Brain Drain this Summer? I’d love to hear what you get up to.

Raising a Boy – Gender Stereotyping

A few days ago, I wrote a post in response to an article about raising girls – an article which was, essentially, complete tosh in my opinion. Well, guess what? The same publication has come out with this gem and I find it even more ridiculous. It’s just gender stereotyping as far as I can see.

1. There will be planes, trains and automobiles.  

They mention “gender neutral” toys like dolls and kitchens and say that your son will still play with cars and trains. Well, it’s true – they probably will, and so will your daughter. And they’ll both play with the kitchen and dolls too. We have a play kitchen – a red, yellow and green one which was bought for my eldest – my son – and now resides in my daughter’s bedroom. My youngest son isn’t quite at the stage where he’s interested in it yet – he prefers the washing machine.

Are trains gender neutral?

Apparently, only boys are interested in toy trains. And they’re not much interested in other toys.
Image courtesy of John Kasawa / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

2. Boys don’t stop moving.

And neither do girls.

3. Clothes shopping will be a piece of cake.

Assuming you like the small selection of clothes available. And if you do, it’s still only a piece of cake until they are old enough to express an opinion. My eight year old son is much more difficult to please clothes-wise than my three year old daughter. Gender is no mark of how easy to dress a child will be.

4. His fascination with his penis starts sooner than you think.

This is true. Absolutely. My daughter’s fascination with her genitals is pretty much equal to my sons’ fascination with theirs though. Kids are fascinated by their own bodies. Full stop.

5. Roughhousing is innate.

Have you met my daughter? She was the first to be in to rough and tumble in our house. My youngest son is equally physical. My eldest son is far less physical in his play, although more so now than he used to be. It’s not gender specific, you see.

6. You’ll probably make a trip to the emergency room.

I have made many trips to A&E. All of them for my daughter. Enough said.

7. Pee will be everywhere. Everywhere.

Well, you’ve got me there. The hose attachment does lead boys to make more of a mess. Except during potty training when it’s open season for both genders. Ho hum.

8. You’ll learn not to compare your son to girls.

If you’re smart, you’ll learn not to compare children to each other – they are their own person, with unique personalities, their own developmental journey …

But the article says girls are more mentally aware than boys. I’m not so sure. Both my eldest son and my daughter have been exceptionally aware of what’s going on around them, and have a deeper understanding of things than is usual for their age.

It also mentions a mother who says that her daughters would never have thought to do puzzles naked, whereas her son does. All of my children have preferred/do prefer to be naked rather than wear clothes for the sake of it. It’s not a gender thing.

9. The goofiness starts early.

Boy humor can be extra goofy and the potty humor starts as soon as they can talk.” Hmn. Girls, in my experience also find farts funny. Well, my daughter does. I’m beginning to wonder where they find these children in this article.

10. Boys adore their moms.

Yes. Yes they do. And so do girls.


And so, to conclude, I think their article on boys is, essentially, complete tosh too. You’re welcome.


Business Opportunity to Connect Families and Inspire Children

Do you love story and think it has the power to make real connections between people and inspire children (and adults) in all kinds of ways? Are you looking for an ethical business opportunity to fit around your current commitments? If so, and you have a strong entrepreneurial streak and would love to be a founding member of a powerful movement, then you are the person I am looking for.



There is a movement happening in our world today. There is a demand for high-quality children’s content, a desire to connect with others in a real human-to-human way, and a strong trend of local and community-based buying. Barefoot is at the centre of this movement and we’re uniquely positioned to lead it.

Barefoot Books has been publishing award-winning, quality content for children for over two decades, with a strong emphasis on imagination and cultural awareness. We are now looking for people who would like to run their own business to join us as Founding Members of our Ambassador Programme – an opportunity which is only open until the end of October this year. Founding Members will have unique access to the decision makers at Head Office; a real voice in the development of this movement. You can find out more about becoming a Founding Member by reading the full details here.

Being a Barefoot Books Ambassador is a great business opportunity. There are lots of ways to sell the books, apart from “straightforward” selling – craft sessions, storytelling, book clubs, workshops, story and craft groups are just a few. You’ll get a generous commission on the books you sell (30%), as well as free books with every order you place and access to monthly bonuses. You can also build a team of your own, should you choose to do so and help other people launch and run their own successful business.

In addition, anyone who joins us and also joins my team during July and August will receive an extra £30 of books to help get their journey off to a flying start!

100 Home Ed Days (9-17)

I’m slowly getting caught up with the Home Ed Days photos. The children have been away with grandparents for a week, so these photos are spaced out again. So we’re still not doing a photo a day, but we will, eventually, show what Home Ed looks like in our family on 100 separate days!

This selection includes the Tour de France – which went right past their grandparents’ house (though we have no photos of that unfortunately) – but they did go out and see how Tour de France fever had taken over in the towns nearby. Read more