Archive for April 2012


This evening I read the beautifully illustrated story ‘The Rainbow Fish’ by Marcus Pfister to my son.  I have always liked the story due to the sharing sentimentality and the silver scales on the fish.  I even have fond memories of staging a version of the story in a class assembly with a superb bunch of reception children who, if I calculate correctly, are approximately sixteen years old now – but in my mind they are still four years old.

I have to admit that I haven’t really thought very deeply about the significance of the beautiful Rainbow Fish giving all of his scales to the other fish so that would be his friend.  Recently I have read the story a lot and my son constantly points out how unhappy the fish looks at the beginning of the story and enjoys seeing all of the fish playing at the end.  it wasn’t until I summarised the story to my son did I wonder if it was really the right message to give out,

‘The other fish are his friends now because the Rainbow fish gave them all of his scales’.

I began to consider the sad fact that the other fish would alienate and ignore him if he hadn’t given them his fins, so in effect he was forced to give his, ‘most precious possessions’, away in order to gain the approval of his peers.  Fortunately the Rainbow Fish was very happy with his decision and played with his new friends.

We could think in terms of the scales being a metaphor for being kind and not selfish, therefore it is perfectly acceptable to give them away.  What if they were  his favourite possession – does this mean that when my son comes home from school in the future in tears because he has been left out of a game I advise him to take his favourite toys to school and give them to the children so that they will be nice to him?

Children do need to learn how to share but also they need to learn how to stand their ground and not seek approval from others who try to intimidate them by either being forceful or ostracising them.   Children need to be able to share birthday cake, sweets and other small items so that they understand giving things to others.  They also need to respect each others’ toys and play carefully with them but know to give them back.


Alice’s Escapes – New Charity Being Launched Tomorrow!

Dear Mummies, Daddies and anyone who looks after children,

I would like to draw your attention to Alice Pyne a very courageous 16 year old who was diagnosed with terminal cancer last year.  She has decided to pack as many experiences as she can in her short life and compiled a ‘Bucket List’ of tasks she would like to complete.  

So far she has managed to recruit thousands to join the bone marrow donor register, met the Prime Minister and Take That and won many awards with her equally courageous sister who has also overcome many challenges.  Her next venture is to launch her new charity ‘Alice’s Escapes’, which aims to provide special well earned breaks for terminally ill children and their families.  Local businesses around the area have been given the opportunity to donate their hotel rooms, eateries etc. to the charity.

Tomorrow is the launch at 3.30pm outside Booths in Ulverston Cumbria, this really is a charity that I would like to be involved with and have offered my services.  Please look at her blog and you will see how wonderful she is.

Thank you

Sian 🙂 

Public libraries have had to withdraw dozens of long-standing children’s favourites after parents complained they were offensive.
Anxious adults have taken action over stories deemed to be racist, blasphemous, violent or otherwise unsuitable, a survey has revealed.
Roald Dahl was among those criticised, with his Revolting Rhymes and Even More Revolting Rhymes singled out over the celebrated author’s use of supposedly coarse language.

Read more:

I was shocked and dismayed when I read this article this morning, I nearly choked on my cornflakes because I couldn’t believe that Roald Dahl books were being banned in this day and age.  The most shocking part of the whole issue is that parents seem to lack the ability to sensor the books that they don’t wish their children to read themselves.

Books are meant to provoke different reactions in us, if a story makes you laugh, cry, feel repulsed or enlightened about a subject you don’t know much about it has been written very well.  The books causing the most problems seem to be ones written pre-political correctness which means that they do brutalise human interaction and the characters aren’t awfully nice to each other.  This is what makes these stories so wonderful, I haven’t read Tin Tin, not because I would be deeply offended but just because the stories have never appealed to me.  However I have devoured Roald Dahl books and still dream about going to a wonderful chocolate factory and as for Verruca Salt, Gustav Gloop, Mike Tvee and Violet Beauregard going down the rubbish shoots – well it serves them right.  I have to admit to self editing Enid Blyton’s ‘Magic Faraway Tree’, not for my son’s benefit but my own because the old fashioned probably very pretty name in its day, ‘Fanny’, just made me giggle so I called her Fiona.  When I was a child I only thought the word existed as a name and not anything else.

Children love feeling scared, upset and happy when they are looking at stories, we have a pop up Chronicles of Narnia book that has a huge pop up Aslan roaring on the front page, my son has always hidden from the picture scared but now asks to see the lion book so that he can run away and scream.  At the moment there is great concern about boys not being interested in reading and censoring these books will take away a slugs and snails genre of books that are fairly easy to read and have good amounts of string, chewing gum and conkers in them to promote a glint in boy’s eyes.

Another article at the end of last week talks about children getting interested in porn and parents not being able to control what their children access on the Internet and have run along to ‘big nanny’ to do censorship at the source.  If parents continue to push responsibility of what they expose their children to to the government we are going to end up with a generation of zombies who don’t use their initiative or are afraid of having their own ideas. Pioneers in the past would probably not be allowed to explore these days because of the risk involved and the need to find someone to sue if it goes wrong.  When my son is old enough to use the computer without banging the keys he will be under our supervision and will be in the room with us until he has learnt to be responsible – poor boy will not be having a television or computer in his bedroom because that will always be for reading and sleeping in.  He will use a computer in a room that we can access without disturbing his privacy.

Maybe there should be a banned shelf in the library so that ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ can sit on the shelf next to ‘A Clockwork Orange’, hey chocolate orange – delicious 🙂

Public libraries have had…

Perfect Mothers by Carole Moore

I Googled the phrase, ‘Perfect Mother’, and found this wonderful blog.  I think that I am more like an organised other mother not the pristine perfect one!!

I have discovered that my son finds going to the supermarket as exciting as visiting the zoo.  I have to admit that I don’t put him in in the trolley so he is free to roam around – yes I am the mother you saw today calling out ‘Alistair look where you are going, come here, stay near Mummy, no we don’t need all of those biscuits etc.’.  If we bumped into you toady I apologise for my relaxed parenting skills.

The first section of the supermarket my son found exciting was the clothing section, he very flatteringly told everyone that the photograph of a young beautiful blonde model was, ‘My Mummy’, which was sweet if not quite inaccurate.  However I did blush when he pointed up to a photograph of a model wearing a bra and pointed up shouting, ‘Boobies, boobies, look boobies Mummy!!!’, luckily I think only the bemused shop assistant heard him.

When we finally managed to leave the clothes section after a few laps around the shelves it was time to go for the big attraction – food!!.  Generally he is not too difficult to contain at first, as he wants to prove that he is sensible, once the novelty wears off he is off and meeting up with me at the end of the aisles.  He has started to growl at elderly ladies who want to talk to him because he looks cute and will say, ‘I don’t like that lady’, fortunately the ladies are a little hard of hearing and Alistair still pronounces words with a baby accent so nobody gets offended – I have to admit that I do find that embarrassing.

Paying for the shopping is often hair-raising with an active toddler, on this occasion I chose to use the express tills, where you have to scan and pay yourself.  Well that was hard work because while I was trying to concentrate on not scanning things twice or activating the not putting into basket alarm he was twirling about – luckily he is cute so everybody smiles at him, which makes him even more excitable.

Anyway we made it out of the supermarket in one piece, with me vowing to put him in the trolley the next time – but then I remember that he blows raspberries everywhere, grabs people and taps them on the bottom in a trolley so I don’t know which is worse.

Maybe I will stick to shopping on-line – much less stressful but not half as much fun!!!!!

Our bedtime routine has become quite a performance recently. My son seems to have got the beat flowing through his veins and likes to dance as if he is attending a rock concert before story time. He shakes his head and waves his arms about as if Iron Maiden is on the stereo when in fact it is Justin Fletcher or Mambo Number Five. Story time has become a bit of a performance too as he likes to act out the stories as they are being told.

I only have myself to blame for the regular evening entertainment we now experience. It has always been my belief that if a child can confidently use the whole of their body and know what parts of it can do this confidence can be transferred to everything they do. So when he was a little dot doing the side to side dance (you know the one where they rock from side to side without bending their knees) we wholeheartedly encouraged him to get into the groove.

Now as soon as he hears the beat he is off, it doesn’t matter if it is in a supermarket, cafe or even a church. I witnessed his overtness when I decided to join him and his childminder in an Easter service held by a local school in a church. Every time they sang a lively song, Alistair started dancing in the aisle with the kind of ecstasy that only a toddler can muster. He was the only child dancing because the rest were either slightly older or part of the school group. Everyone responded so positively and were quite impressed – I just couldn’t stop smiling.

Once we have done the dancing and put on more relaxing music it is story time. We go the reading corner with cushions and a rug, which is placed adjacent to his bed so that he has been exposed to books since the day he could focus. Our favourite books are ‘The Rainbow Fish’, ‘The Gruffalo ‘, ‘The Smartest Giant In Town’ and ‘Dogger’.

I actually vividly remember having Dogger read to me for the first time in reception class. The class teacher Mrs Murrel read it so wonderfully that I can recall the sheer devastation I felt when Dave lost Dogger and even more so when the little girl bought Dogger. How relieved I was when Dave’s sister swapped her huge teddy for Dogger. Alistair likes to pretend to cry when Dogger goes missing and rejoices when Dogger and Dave are reunited.

Now it is time to wind down after all of the excitement with reading a quieter story without acting it out and finally settling in bed. I have discovered over time with working with children that I am superb at getting them excited and lively but not so good at making them sit down quietly.

I started writing this blog feeling confused about the use of social networking and found Twitter confusing and Facebook quite intimidating. After spending a few months exploring and having a go at using both sites I finally get it!!

As you know I work from home and I am developing my own business, I live in the middle of nowhere and don’t rub shoulders with people who work in the field I am starting to work in so essentially every idea I have has to be processed by me. If it was ten years ago I would be pretty isolated and stuck because I would be the only one and would find it very difficult to meet like-minded people – thankfully the power of technology has allowed me to get in contact with people who have studied, researched and put into actions aspects of my ideas and can provide valuable guidance and the reassurance that I am not a day dreamer.

I was never going to be a cool Facebooker or a witty Twitter so both sites don’t really apply to my personal life but they do enable me to share my passion for my work with like-minded people and benefit from the interaction.

Unfortunately it seems that both services are mistreated and used as verbal weapons against vulnerable teenagers and people. The anonymity works in a positive and negative way – if positively used it is amazing and you can meet fantastic people; however if used negatively people can be victimised and driven to making fatal decisions.

Being of the old school I would probably never access the pages again if people were nasty to me but younger people are conditioned to want to be liked and popular and gaining followers does feel good and losing them does make you wonder why. I have managed to clock up nearly 200 followers on Twitter but only actually communicate with three or four of my followers, the rest are complete strangers that mention subjects relevant to my work.

Teenagers however are essentially like toddlers again in terms of their development as everything is heightened and emotions are so strong; remember waiting for the phone call from a boy you liked? We had the benefit of the doubt as to whether they phoned or not because there was no 1471, answer machines and we didn’t have access to mobiles, computers, smart phones etc which makes any rejection much more public and deliberate.

I don’t envy the pressure teenagers are under to look like celebrities and have lots of friends, in my day there wasn’t that pressure as you had the ‘in’ crowd and the quieter ones and girls didn’t have to wear glamorous clothes if they didn’t want to. You still got bullied and called names but that stopped as soon as you got home to your own territory and they would never dream of phoning you up at home to taunt you because your parents would answer the one phone in the house that you often had to beg to use. Now it continues in to the night and the bullies never tire as opposed to the effort of doing it face to face – you also can’t punch an online bully and the cowards gain strength from this.

It is time that we moved with the times, I have to admit that I don’t know if social networking is covered in PSHE in schools, if it isn’t really needs to be addressed as well as helping children to develop high self-esteem and confidence to deal with social situations in general.

We have a paradox occurring during these times of political correctness as you can get arrested for being negative about someones race, colour, sexuality etc but you can be viciously nasty to other people – this is often demonstrated on reality television programmes – which is not a good example to developing minds – I can’t watch Big Brother because of the accepted nastiness – I don’t understand why people have to be that cruel.

Teenagers may look like adults but they are still children who need to be protected and cherished like toddlers – I sometimes think that you have to provide the most stability and guidance when they are reaching adulthood to help them prepare for the big world and dealing with people.

The world is amazing but it is also cruel, as it has always been except our children don’t need to be trained to deflect the pain of sticks and stones from passing barbarians, they need to be able to stand their ground and deal with the pain of words and negative actions with wisdom and strength.


After reading a blog by, ‘The Unlikely House Wife’, about her children asking her what happened to the princess their father married after looking at the wedding photographs.  I started to think about my costume for a Fairytale party on Sunday and of course Cinderella.

I have a large pink flowery maxi dress that I tend to wear to dress up as a princess.  The dress looks exquisite in the wardrobe and the perfect attire for a princess.  However, whenever I put the dress on it transforms into unflattering mounds of material that tends to billow out in all of the places you would like it to conceal.  Thus resulting in me looking like Princess Fiona as an ogre rather than a delicate princess.

We all know from fairy tales that princesses are young beautiful creatures that  have delightful personalities despite being badly treated, they also scrub up rather well – Cinderella being a prime example of this.  Snow White was so beautiful that her handsome prince didn’t even bother to see what she was like as a person before he decided to marry her.

Most of us manage to be a princess for a day and have a wedding dress in the wardrobe as well as a photo album to remind us.  One thing that we all have in common with Cinderella and Snow White is that we all have done some housework and cleaning at some time in our lives.  Sometimes the dress hanging in the wardrobe feels as if it was part of a fairy tale that we don’t remind ourselves of often enough.  Family, work and being a responsible grown up takes a toll on the princess inside us all and she is confined to the tower forgotten because we don’t make time to treat her well.

As a rule fairy tales tend to refrain from telling us what kind of life the princesses lead after the confetti has been swept away and the glass slippers placed in a display cabinet.

What is Cinderella doing now?  Is she immaculately dressed in clothes designed especially for her?  Has she defied the ageing process and looks as young now as she did on her wedding day?  Has she swapped her glass slippers for towering heels  with a red sole?  Does she wear lots of bling (love that word), have tattoos and is covered in fake tan?

Or is she looking in the mirror inspecting her reflection wondering where the beautiful fresh princess has gone but hasn’t got time to refresh herself because her royal offspring are hanging on to her skirt with yoghurt and mud on their faces wanting to do the hokey cokey?  We may never know.

As for me – I asked my son if I looked like a princess and he told me that I looked like a sausage then gave me a huge kiss and cuddle!

It was about four o’clock on an extremely hot Saturday afternoon when five Golden or Syrian hamsters were sleeping deeply.  Faces peered at them through the glass cooing and ah-ing at the sleepy breathing bodies.  One voice seemed louder and more excited as it penetrated through the glass.  A human was going to take one of the brothers home.  Harry, a golden Labrador coloured hamster, who was sleeping soundly in the food bowl became aware that the attention was directed on him.

The glass door was opened and the familiar voice of the shopkeeper chirped at them and blew gently in their direction.  Five cute creatures opened their eyes and stood on their hind legs. Harry was pointed at so he moved quietly to the corner to wait to see what would happen.  He was sure it was his turn to have a home of his own.  There was a hesitation when his prospective owner’s attention was drawn to his crinkly ears.  Once it had been ascertained that it would not affect his health he was placed in a little box with holes in.  He was still sleepy but very nervous, he didn’t know what to expect at all.

Harry felt as if he had been in the box for a lifetime and started to fall asleep.  His new owner was just getting his new home organised.  The box rose into the air and the light shone in as the lid was lifted.  He walked from the tipped box into his new home.  Admittedly everything was blurred and noises magnified due to his terrible short sightedness and precise hearing.

Harry no longer wanted to sleep due to his increasing curiosity.  He sniffed his way to a wobbly basket which was intended to be his nest but he rejected it because it didn’t make him feel safe.  He sniffed his way to his wheel and proceeded to run furiously on it.  It was a bit annoying really because his owner kept trying to attract his attention by stopping the wheel and putting on a ridiculously squeaky voice.  Adult humans were worse than children.

Thankfully he was left by himself for the evening so he could explore and run in peace.  Lights illuminated the building and the cage moved to another room.  All Harry could see was vast mountains of material then the cage door opened and one massive paw like thing lunged into his new space.  Harry defended himself in the only way he know how by baring his tiny needle sharp incisors and puncturing this irritating human’s finger.  It worked he was placed (or more accurately dropped) back into the floor of the cage.  Unfortunately the human was determined and tried again; this time she got him out of the cage but he dived splat on the floor and growling attempted to get away.  This get away attempt was scuppered by a huge leg resting gently on top of him and hands grabbing him.  As Harry was held in the awkward position of facing his human she wittered things about how they will get on.  He wiggled like a panicking fish out of water until he got his own way and was placed back into the cage.

Harry needed to go to sleep earlier in the night than usual because he had spent all afternoon awake.  He selected the chalet that he had to climb into as opposed to the nest because it was sturdier.  He slept soundly dreaming of burrows and other hamsters he could fight with.

Sleeping areas and toilets are generally easily mixed up when you are ill or drunk and if you are a confused baby hamster.  Harry liked his new toilet so much he filled it with bedding and sawdust so he could sleep in it.  Unfortunately the toilet wasn’t very dark or private so Harry was easily awoken by noise and human eyes.  His owner showed Harry to her friend during the day, he responded by growling until they left, this made them laugh not be considerate.

Harry didn’t make the same mistake again, firstly because the toilet was removed and he also saw sense.  He was given peace for the night and left to settle alone.

One evening Harry was caught and placed into a pink and transparent sphere.  He wondered what on earth it was and started cleaning himself.  Harry started to treat the ball like his wheel and proceeded to transport himself around the lounge.  First he bumped into a patterned material that interested him very much then he barged into a wooden plinth causing orange fish shape objects to swim away from the vibration, he had met the other pets in the house.  Harry didn’t get to know them because he wasn’t interested and besides they were in water.  Harry hated contact with his owner and finally got back into the cage and fell asleep in his chalet.  He dreamed for twelve hours, his dreams?

Well that is another story …

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April 2012

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