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.