Nakedness Dens and Food

My life with four little boys

Being “one of those mums” Attempt #4 – The Decorated Memory Box

At the risk of sounding like I’m making the-dog-ate-it-type-excuses for turning this one in late and for it being such poor quality, last week we kind of entered a twilight zone involving room-fulls  (Is that a word? It should be. Coz that is what they were. Not just lots of rooms that were full, but each room held like a room-FULL… as in a quantity… anyway… ) of washing due to a week away that was punctuated with, and proceeded by, many various illnesses effecting different family members at sporadic times over about a 10 day period. I genuinely didn’t think I would ever get my kitchen floor back and would be destined to climb over piles of dirty clothes, sheets and duvets in front of my washing machine for-EV-ER!

But.

As an apprentice one-of-those-mums I was determined not to let the situation stop me from being… er… one-of-those-mums! Racking my brain for something really, really, easy to do with the boys I remembered son #1’s homework. (Yes. Homework. In the summer holidays. Don’t. Get. Me. Started. Seriously. The education system in this country probably deserves a full scale rant in a post all of its own, so I won’t start one now. But yes, for whatever reason you choose to believe, my nine year old son was given homework over the summer holidays.) One of the tasks set him was to keep a memory box which actually, even I have to admit, is quite a nice idea, and so as not to make him feel too bad for having homework when his brothers didn’t I decided to suggest they all keep one – the big ones that is. Up until now, they had been plain shoe boxes. But, cue one-of-those-mums armed with a plethora of sticky bits, paper bits, drawing bits and cutting bits and I present to you… *Decorated* memory boxes… (I did warn you this one was of poor quality…!)

 

The Travel Log –

I am almost too embarrassed to write any more on this one. I mean, it really is fairly obvious. Basically, each child was given a shoe box in which to collect things that were significant to them – e.g. the wrist band from the caravan park we stayed on, shells from a beach visit, a flyer from the holiday club they went to. And during this activity they used various “bits and pieces” to decorate the box as they wanted. Two used wrapping paper and one coloured copier paper. They all used stickers of different kinds but one of them also found and printed off some pictures he liked on the computer to use. The photos below (not that you need them to illustrate the explanation) show what we got up to – It might be worth pointing out that if you want to copy this activity yourself, the nakedness is optional!

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So simple. The boys had a great time personalising their boxes. And you can fit it in easily between sorting out washing loads!

 

The Review –

Success Rating: 5/5 – not much to go wrong here really

Fun Factor: 3/5 – yes the boys enjoyed it but admittedly there are probably more exciting things to do. I think the fun factor is actually in the concept of the memory box as a whole rather than just it being something else to decorate for no apparent reason

Cost: 5/5 – dirt cheap 🙂 The shoe boxes came from a local shoe shop for free – just go in and ask. And everything else I really did just have around the house

Should you try it?: Yes, if your little ones are old enough to understand the concept of a memory box, I think its a great thing to do one over a long holiday period, and by all means stick a load of “stuff” over it to add to the excitement!

 

So there you go. I do feel that what I lacked in imagination (and time) last week I made up for in sheer determination given what I was up against, so I’m claiming extra one-of-those-mum points for that… (thank you very much, don’t mind if I do… ) and for having everything I needed by rummaging around in drawers at home… (oh yes I did clever old me!) But hey, look, I promise the next activity is A LOT more creative so please don’t give up on me yet! I am learning , really I am. No. Really I am. Seriously. I am. OK. Struggling to not sound sarcastic now so signing off.

Not-one-of-those-mums-trying-to-be-one-of-those-mums

Helen -x-

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Being “one of those mums” Attempt #3 – The Noodle Lightsaber

So. School holidays week 3 and it was time to do cutting and sticking! But don’t panic if you’re more like me than a Blue Peter presenter, if you want to give it a go, I really can testify to how easy it is. Courtesy of a fab idea by fellow villager Julie, I present to you, noodle (the swimming kind, not the pasta kind!) lightsabers…

 

The Travel Log –

The aim was for the boys to make a single and a double lightsaber each. Now I feel it only fair to point out that the inspiration for this fell firmly into Julie’s court here as what I know about Star Wars, despite having a house full of small and not so small boys, could be fitted easily onto the head of a tiny pin. So I was most definitely following somebody else’s lead with this craft. We started off making the double lightsabers (I don’t even know if that’s the technical term for them but it’s the one I shall stick with coz it makes sense!) by sticking silver masking tape in the middle all the way round. Then all the boys had to do was decorate the silver section appropriately with coloured tape and stickers. And voila!  

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The smaller ones were made by simply cutting the noodles in half (which was more successful with a bread knife than scissors) and sticking the silver tape at one end for the handle before decorating as per before. As you can tell lots of artistic license was used with design but they were all very proud of their efforts!

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And they had great fun putting them to good use in the garden too… 🙂

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So there you have it. I told you it was easy. All you need is a big enough garden to let them run around whacking each other in for a while (which Julie has thankfully) and it’s the making of a fun afternoon! In fact, at the risk of sounding smug, we even turned it into a Star Wars Day (well, what else are you gonna do with a bunch of boys in the school holidays?) with Star Wars colouring and a Star Wars DVD with popcorn too! Really felt like I earned my mum-of-boys brownie points on this one 🙂

 

The Review –

Success Rating: 5/5 – yes, total success. Lots of light saber-star wars-type making and playing = lots of happy boys 🙂

Fun Factor: 4/5 – Only dropped a point because the initial taping was very adult-led and time consuming so the boys did get a bit bored but once they could be more involved they loved it

Cost: 4/5 – even if you are a signed up member to the “one-of-those-mums” club you’re unlikely to have everything you need just knocking about for this one. But pretty much everything I was assured came from the pound shop, even the noodles, so not too costly at all.

Should you try it?: If you have Star Wars fans then YES! Otherwise, stick to using the noodles for swimming!

 

Right. No craft next week as we’re off on our family holiday and, as much as I am enjoying this experience, I’m really not going to pack the sticky back plastic, scissors and glitter glue.. even if I had them… which I don’t… but you knew that anyway! In the mean time I’ve got my thinking cap on already for the week we come back. Any other local villagers want to join me…? Go on. You might surprise yourself!

Not-one-of-those-mums-trying-to-be-one-of-those-mums

Helen -x-

 

 

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Being “One Of Those Mums” Attempt #2 – The Water Wall

Week number 2 of our school holidays and still glorious weather (shhh…. don’t remind the shiny thing in the sky that this is England in July or it might go away!) so I decided on another sun friendly water craft activity to have a stab at. Again, fellow villager Julie and her son joined us in the mayhem and we spent a rather enjoyable afternoon together making a Water Wall. I found the idea here at Happy Hooligans, which gives a much better set of instructions for you to follow than my “travel log” in case you want to try it yourself  http://happyhooligans.ca/water-wall

 

The Travel Log –

Now this one was really fun to do and totally within even my capabilities. A really simple way to re-use bottles, tubs and pots from the recycling bin in a creative way. After explaining to the boys what we were making (persevering through a few initial blank looks… which I know how to deal with because it happens a lot when I attempt to talk to my boys…) we had great fun planning, designing and making different sections of our water wall out of all the bits and pieces I had been collecting over the previous few weeks. As well as the recycling I also spent a few pounds on some pipe-joiner-type-plumbing-things (what IS the technical term for those pieces?!) and bought out the faithful duct tape to fasten things together where necessary. In the main everyone really enjoyed this bit. I think it helped that it was so “hands-on” from the off unlike the previous Water Pillow activity. The children got the idea really quickly and came up with some fab suggestions. Whilst we did have to navigate our way through a rather lengthily discussion with my 9 year old about why gravity means that whatever you make, the water really won’t be able to go up hill (Seriously intense child. And exhausting. And yes that is him in a police officer’s costume; well what else do you wear to do craft?!) it held their attention for quite some time.

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After we had made a few main pieces we started assembling our water wall on a garden fence. The blog I was following suggested using staples however I found that these were not able to hold everything in place so we ended up using large drawing pins instead (which I just happened to have in a drawer somewhere… I KNOW… get me!). Incidentally, the blog also suggested that you might have some pieces of wood just laying about somewhere to “knock something together” for the wall bit but we all know that I’m not the sort of person who does, so my fence had to do – which it did actually, rather magnificently in my opinion!  We kind of built and tested as we went along to make sure all the holes were in the right place and water could flow easily. And the boys particularly enjoyed holding the hose pipe during the testing whilst the mummies moved things around as this invariably meant giving us a soaking at the same time! As we built it we made more pieces to compliment what we were doing and ended up with the creation you can see in the photos. It certainly captivated the boys on a hot summer’s day and my 9 year old (once he had calmed down from our “discussion” about the limitations of gravity) even extended the activity by making a “shower” using the bird table – which he was really pleased to be able to use to help cool himself down! Coupled with the inevitable water fights and break for an ice lolly doing this activity occupied everyone for a whole afternoon.

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The Review –

Success Rating: 5/5 (really rather impressed with how it all turned out. Although, might have been a different story if we had tried to accomplish the same when my 10 month old wasn’t having a long nap! Actually, whilst my little one slept through the whole thing, and I deliberately planned it this way for the older ones, I see no reason why a smaller water wall wouldn’t be suitable for some fun water play with tinies, as long as it was put together in advance and built on a safe surface)

Fun Factor: 5/5 🙂

Difficulty Level: 2/5 (slightly more involved than the making of the water pillow last week but still not that difficult at all really.)

Cost: 5/5 (Negligible if you only use what you would otherwise have recycled plus staples or pins to attach everything. The extra bits I added cost £6.20 for 5 pieces from B & Q but a better parent might have such things “knocking around” somewhere!)

Should you try it?: YES 🙂

– Well I think so anyway. You of course might feel that pinning a load of old margarine tubs and plastic bottles to your fence is an odd thing to do. But trust me, it works!!

 

So that’s me done for another week then. It’s all going rather well so far. Hope I haven’t peeked to early…

Not-one-of-those-mums-trying-to-be-one-of-those-mums

Helen -x-

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Being “One Of Those Mums” Attempt #1 – The Water Pillow

So, this week began the long school summer holidays where we live and thus signalled my even longer journey into the land of being “one of those mums” (see previous post!). Given the glorious weather we are currently enjoying I decided to get going with this sun friendly “craft” activity which I found on a friend’s amazing blog (who is “one of those mums”) here http://http://eaglemum.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/giant-water-pillow.html

Now this is my kind of craft as it involves no paint, sticky back plastic or toilet tubes. It was basically set to involve two polythene sheets taped together with duck tape and filled with water to form a large water pillow. Even I could mange that surely?! Just to make sure, fellow villager Julie and her son joined me in the task…

 

The Travel Log –

Although the idea was to stick two sheets together laying one on top of the other, due to lack of space we folded a 5m x 4m sheet in half instead. My friend’s blog features her four beautiful children all excitedly taking part in the making process however, we have obviously birthed a different breed as our 5 little boys struggled to find the rolling over and sticking the sides down bit interesting enough to hold their attention. Although they showed more excitement when the hose pipe appeared (much more interesting than duck tape admittedly!), the novelty of filling up the pillow wore off after a while so the reality was that the mummies made the pillow whilst the children occupied themselves with water fights and paddling pool rather than us doing the making together. I did manage a couple of snaps though whilst they were still keen (and yes that is my friend’s little boy wearing pants and wellies; why not?!)

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By the time we finished the making – which took quite a bit longer than we wanted it to – the boys couldn’t wait to start exploring it; rolling, crawling, jumping, running, sitting and plenty of squealing 🙂 I loved watching my 10 month old explore the sensation of crawling across the water and become captivated by the moving water underneath him. Whilst the older boys simply loved jumping up and down and running on it. It was great fun… for all of about 10 minutes… until we noticed a rip and spotted the leak! But then it was great fun getting wet and splashing about on top of it too. One thing we also managed to do post ripping (by a make shift repair job and rolling over the holes as we held it) was to take it in turns to stand at one end whilst everyone else lifted up the other end to create a wave effect inside the pillow for jumping over, just like at the sea side – the water even made the wave sound which both the mummies found very relaxing! So, although it didn’t last as long as we hoped it would (not sure if we could have used more heavy duty sheets to avoid the early ripping) it was still a success of sorts. And we then used the other sheet we had to make a slide with water and baby lotion which the boys had great fun slipping and sliding on too long after the pillow (and clothing) was no more (do we get extra points for using creative thought in the face of craft based adversity…?).

 

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The Review –

Success Rating: 4/5 (Even though the pillow didn’t technically succeed for long, the activity as a whole was fairly successful as it turned out, when coupled with other water play. If it had survived longer I would have given it a 5)

Fun Factor: 5/5 🙂

Difficulty Level: 1/5 (Even I could manage rolling, sticking and filling!)

Cost: 3/5 (For the length of time it occupied them for, it was probably quite expensive, but I may have felt differently had it not ripped and come to a premature end. The polythene sheets were £4.48 each and duct tape £8.98 from B & Q so £17.94 in total)

Should you try it?: YES 🙂

Go on… you know you want to!!

 

So that’s me signing off then….

Not-one-of-those-mums-trying-to-be-one-of-those-mums

Helen -x-

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Just not “one of those mums”

My dear mum used to say “give me 6 yoghurt pots and ask me to turn them into a castle… and they will still basically look like 6 yoghurt pots!” She used to dread my sister and I coming home from school with the “our Easter Bonnet parade will soon be upon us…” or “your child needs to provide a costume to dress up as a bumble bee for our play…” letter. She would struggle to assist us with homework that involved any level of model making or artwork. And she certainly did not sit in a chair of an evening and darn socks. Well, the apple as they say, never falls far from the tree and I, in fact – I know my sister Wendy will not mind me saying this – neither I nor my sister have inherited an abundance of “artistic flair” when it comes to traditional “making things” type activities. I am sadly not as excited as my sons are about them bringing home Beavers and Cubs badges to sew on to their uniforms. I go straight to Amazon in order to provide a costume for World Book Day (which, while we’re at it, let’s face it, is more about what mum can find at the bottom of the dressing up box and “will do” than about any 5 year old’s “favourite” literary character….) and hide from the fellow mums trying to recruit bakers for the PTA cake raffle at my sons’ school. I’m simply just not “one of those mums.” You know, the kind that can rustle up a creative art project on a rainy day, “run up” a quick PE bag in an afternoon on the sewing machine from bits of fabric found in the bottom of a wardrobe or coach my children in the art of making a model of a structure out of everyday materials for their homework (Seriously? Really? Come on teachers, give us a break!).

So, if you are “one of those mums” or even “dads” then I applaud you. Congratulations. I stand in awe of your abilities and feel mostly inadequate in the shadow you cast in the school playground holding your costumes, models, home-made PE bags and perfectly baked cakes. And in the main I actually don’t mind. The world will not come to an end if I have to ask Granddad to help with the model making homework or ask my mother-in-law to sew on a badge (see previous blog about my village). And think of my contribution to the economic recovery with all my purchases of ready-made costumes, shop bought cakes and new socks without holes! (You’re welcome…)

I say “in the main” though because actually, deep down, I would at times quite like to be “one of those mums”. Just sometimes. One of those times is when playing with my boys at home. In complete contrast to their mother, they LOVE making stuff, creating things from their imaginations and getting messy. Whether it involves paint, glue, mud, water, sticks or cooking ingredients they love to get stuck in. And if I’m honest, on the few occasions that I have forced myself to embrace it, whilst I wouldn’t go as far as to say I enjoyed the activity in itself (have you ever tried baking with 3 boys under the age of 8 and then trying to clear up the mess afterwards?!), I did really enjoy the experience of having fun with my boys and seeing what we could learn and achieve in the process. And it kind of, rightly or wrongly, made me feel like I was doing something parents should just sort of be doing.

Now one of the benefits of social media is that you are never far from an annoying parenting blog (sorry!) showcasing allegedly really easy craft activities to do with your children. You know the ones: “25 crafty rainy day activities” or “10 things for your monsters to create outside”. Some of them even layer on the additional guilt factor: “15 things you should do with your toddler to get them ready for pre-school” or “A lack of craft can lead to more aggressive children. Do these to avoid the trap…” All of these blogs assure us mere mortals that they really are super easy honest and will occupy our little darlings for hours on end. Oh and cheap too because most of the stuff you are bound to have just lying around the house apparently (this will presumably be because as “one of those mums” you already have a bulging sewing basket of useful apparatus, a cupboard full of art materials and a pantry stacked with so called basics for all that home baking you do). So, in what may well turn out to be an impulsive moment of stupidity I have decided to put some of these ideas to the test. Over the school summer holidays I am going to attempt one crafty activity from these blogs with the boys each week. I am going to embrace it, commit to it and have fun with it. Well, I am going to try anyway. And if the projects all go disastrously wrong I shall just pretend it’s all part of the enjoyment. Which it kind of is. I think!

I have already started to collect things that I might need (because as we have established I am really not “one of those mums”) and am trawling the internet for interesting and achievable sounding projects to have a go at. And just to make my life a little bit more stressful (!) I hope to be able to blog about each one as I go. Below is a picture of the box of stuff I have started collecting, for no other reason than the fact I need to practice how to upload photos into my blog so I can share more effectively the fun/trauma we are having!

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I have also invited one of my fellow villagers to come join us on our adventures (also making it harder for me to bottle out!) and if you are local and want to come too do let me know; the more the merrier! Or if you have any “super easy craft activities” you think we should definitely try do share them. I am hoping to do as much as I can outside, weather permitting to get everyone away from the dreaded screens… and to help with my general “tetchiness” about the boys causing too much mess inside!

So, wish me luck. Keep an eye on my blog to see how we’re getting on. And please, please don’t judge! Remember: I’m just not “one of those mums”.

 

Helen -x-

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Pass me a megaphone: I wanna tell you a secret

Apologies that it’s been a little longer in between posts than normal. I have numerous excuses for this, all of which can be filed within the folder labelled “family life”. Over the past month I have either been up to my eyes in Dr. Who paraphernalia for son #1’s birthday party (currently looking at a 6ft dalek in the hallway and continually tripping over cybermen in the conservatory) or fending off the dreaded d & v bug (one of the challenges of larger families is stopping the spread of germs as they play some kind of Olympic style ping pong match between children). My I.B.S. symptoms have been playing havoc with my insides (and our bathroom schedule in the mornings… but you don’t need to know any more about that…!), son #4 has been teething and husband has been away with work… A LOT. I think I’m just about emerging through the haze, although don’t ask me when the sheets were last changed on our bed! And of course now we’re heading in to the last few weeks of term when costumes need to be sorted for the school play, forms need to be returned for school trips, performances, recitals and sports days need to be attended, the annual school fayre needs to be volunteered for and summer cub camp needs to be equipped with labelled just-about-everything and lessons given in how to repack a bag! Plus I seem to be constantly with medical professionals for one son or another and meanwhile the things-to-do list seems to be getting longer and longer taunting me with what I’m convinced are actual proper spoken insults every time I walk past it. You know, sometimes, no A LOT of the time, mummying is a lot like being a juggler on a treadmill and sometimes, no A LOT of the time, it feels like I am either going to drop a ball or fall off backwards in a comedy Miranda-style exposé! In fact sometimes I do.

I often get comments from people after counting up the number of children I have along the lines of “I don’t know how you do it” – well, here’s thing, the secret of how I do it is this – I don’t! Not on my own anyway. That’s my secret. There you go. I don’t do it. And the more I speak to other mums, the more I realise that actually most of us aren’t doing it – not alone anyway. Those mums you see out and about coping so well, achieving so much single handedly… they’re probably not, or if they are they’re hiding a lot of tears behind closed doors at the end of the day. But, and here’s the light bulb moment, that’s ok. To not do it alone I mean. It’s better that than the tears. You see this family stuff isn’t meant to be done in isolation. You may have heard of the African proverb “it takes a village to raise a child” – meaning that bringing up a child should be a communal effort. Well I totally believe it’s true. The villages we operate in may look different in our time and culture, but we still need one. And our children actually benefit from one. Whether it’s grandparents, friends, paid childcare, neighbours, health and educational professionals, support groups or social media, mummying (indeed daddying too) is supposed to be done with others. My “village” currently consists of my amazing dad, my generous in-laws, understanding friends with children of their own, loyal friends without children at this time, extended family members, our neighbours, my children’s teachers, our GP and related services, various social media which makes me laugh, feeds my soul, gives me tips and nourishes my brain, our faith community, childcare providers/activity leaders and fellow mummies on the same journey. From my village I have gained everything from coffee and cake to babysitting, from D.I.Y. help to a shoulder to cry on, and from medical advice to playdates for the children.

It has taken me a while to realise this (and probably it’s only by son #4 that I have truly relaxed about it) but no one is and no one has to and indeed no one can be supermum. I hung up my cape and tights a long time ago. Actually I think if I was ever wearing them they would have definitely fallen off around the birth of son #2. And I reckon I’m finally OK with that. It certainly beats the exhaustion of trying to live up to what I think everyone’s expectations of me are. But it gets better too…

Recently, I was incredibly humbled when some friends of ours who are going through the adoption process told us that they had mentioned us to their social worker as people who they include within their network of support – which I guess is another way of looking at the whole village thing. Now when I’d got over the surprise that someone else thought us stable enough to be of any use whatsoever when it comes to their parenting (especially having witnessed first-hand the end result of our attempts) I had another light bulb moment. The great thing about being in a village is that we get to be there for others too. It’s not about knowing it all or having everything perfectly sorted. It’s definitely not about being supermum flying in to save the day or make pronouncements about other people’s domestic issues. It’s just about doing life and raising children together, as community, as friends, as extended family, as society… as humans! It’s about sharing our messy, mundane, complicated, joyful, challenging truthful lives and (at the risk of sounding terribly new age-y) “journeying” together. I know I am incredibly grateful for everyone who is in my “village”, or my support network if you prefer, as I muddle through this being a mummy thing and I hope that others feel that I can be part of theirs too.

If you come to my house you might not see well-made beds, a nicely weeded garden, show home tidy rooms or neatly turned out children. But if you look closely through the piles of washing on the kitchen table, around my dad mowing the lawn, past a friend returning one of my sons from after school club, over the top of the other boys half naked in amongst the Lego bricks and beyond my mother in law sewing on badges to my son’s Beavers uniform… you’ll find a kettle. And biscuits. And me… with fully in tact sanity (well, as much as it has ever been!) a sense of humour (most of the time) and a willingness to share.

So that’s my secret. That’s how I do it. I do it with help (and biscuits!). And I hope I help others do it too (or at least turn up with the biscuits!).

Much love my friends

Helen -x-

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From Bob The Builder to Booyakasha (via the washing up…)

So, this week my husband and I were totally shamed into doing the washing up by our 8 year old son! No kidding. You see on the day in question we’d had visitors for tea the night before and had put a couple of grill pans and larger pots in to soak (you know, the ones that are really gross that you put “into soak” not because they couldn’t actually be washed up if you really tried, but in the vein hope that someone else will wash them up the following day…. Just me? Ok then. Moving on…). Following a lovely chilled out morning with the boys watching the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle film* with the curtains closed and bowls of popcorn, Jacob went into the kitchen and came out with a serious expression on his face. “Don’t you think me and daddy should do the washing up now?” he asked with sincerity. “Because it’s gonna be lunch time soon and we could do with, y’know (and I’m quoting here), clearing the decks!” Before I continue I think I better clarify that we did indeed clear up our mess in the kitchen without relying on the help of our eldest son but it has reminded me how easily my boys pick up on and repeat back what is said around/to them. The exact same son has also come out with “just to make you aware…”, “I’m going to count to 3…” and “well technically…”. Then there is the time I told off son number 2 for talking to son number 3 in an angry way only to be retorted with “well, that’s how you talk to him sometimes!” I could say nothing because it is true. Son number 3 is particularly challenging which is what prompts so much of the “angry” talking evidently overheard by his brothers – probably the subject matter for a separate post but suffice to say here that it’s usually him you can rely on to come out with the swear words. Now I hasten to add that he doesn’t pick them up from his parents. In fact the other day Jacob told me that he and daddy had to take a break from building his lego set because daddy had told him he was in danger of “using some words that I’m not allowed to hear!” – Which I think constitutes good parenting.

When they started school I soon realised that I didn’t have complete control about the language that influences my boys and consequently what they repeated at home wasn’t limited to what they hear from us. With the rise of American cartoons into their stratosphere too, I sometimes wonder who it is that I can hear coming out of their mouths. And whilst I often know exactly who it is coming back at me (nothing like having kids to hold a mirror up to your behaviours) at other times they seem to be trying on all manner of other people for size, from best friends in the playground to the Almost Naked Animals (example of aforementioned cartoon if you’ve not had the pleasure) to some random American kid they have found on YouTube playing Skylanders. Currently I appear to be living with little people who frequently use all manner of phrases including, “pretty awesome”, “check out these guns (with accompanying strong man pose)”, “O maaaan”, “let it rip duck (American accent rather than Nottingham one… that would sound altogether different!)”, “so lame”, “riding on my warthog (no, I don’t know either!)” and “booyakasha (yes that is how you spell it apparently. I checked on the Ali G website. Yes I really did. You’re welcome.)”. It only seems yesterday that they were over-flowing with Bob The Builder catchphrases and taking immense pleasure in counting out loud down the stairs to practice their numbers. But these days they are more likely to be full of talk about “wedgies” and telling me to “give it a while” when they come out of the toilet (for which I blame their dad entirely for both the action and the accompanying language!). Oh where did my babies go? 😦 Now, whilst it comes as no surprise that my boys are little linguistic sponges, it still comes as a bit of a shock when they start experimenting with what they are absorbing. I can only hope that when these years of soaking up and filtering out are done and they finally emerge talking as themselves, Jacob at least remains just as keen on doing the washing up!

Helen -x-

(*Yeah on that… it’s actually quite a good film… you’d be surprised. Either having to share my life with so many boys has drastically changed my judgement, or it’s because after so many years of cbeebies it’s a relief to finally be watching something with a little bit more of a plot 🙂 )

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Confessions from the front line

I’m coming to this entry a bit like how I imagine musicians must feel about making “that tricky second album” after positive reviews of the debut… (and in case you’re wondering, there the analogy ends as in NO other way do I compare myself with musicians of any kinds). I have been really overwhelmed by all the encouraging and lovely things people have said about this blog so far. It’s very humbling to know that so many have given their time to read the ramblings of this ordinary mum just doing ordinary mummying… to varying degrees of success at that.

This week, following a post I spotted called 10 things (almost) every mum does (hopefully that was link to it if it’s worked!) I got to wondering what everyone who read my last entry would really make of my take on parenthood if they knew what would be on my list of things. And I thought it best if I confessed these things at an early stage of blogging so any would-be-followers can decide whether to Pin this to their “parenting” to their “parenting mistakes” board on Pinterest. If you have found my “About Me” section you will already know that I admit to hiding from my children to eat chocolate bars in the pantry. But what else?

Well, here goes…

10 Things this mum of four boys is guilty of on an often regular basis:

1. Eating their sweets and then telling them they already had them (only works for son #2 and #3 as #1 has the memory of an elephant!)

2. Pretending to need the toilet so I can sit down and have a few moments peace (less successful now the lock on the door has broken)

3. Suggesting they use my back as part of the obstacle course for their cars so I can lie down in the middle of it (and actually, a car being pushed up and down your back has a surprising hint of having a massage… if you try really hard to visualise it!)

4. Heavily influencing their love of Dr. Who (Especially the David Tennant years) even though in public I always blame their dad for it.

5. Discouraging standing up wees, even if they are showing an interest, until everything is the right size to avoid excessive spillage

6. Suggesting a third PJ day in a row during the holidays to cut down on the amount washing

7. Instigating a game of sleeping lions so I can sneak a quick nap

8. Being secretly pleased when they started preferring the Gents to the Ladies, forcing my husband to handle toilet trips when we’re out (not my fault I get to wee in peace devoid of running commentary for the general public these days)

9. Forgetting I’d put them on the bottom step and accidentally leaving them there for 20 minutes longer then they should have been (only done that once. Ooops!)

10. Pretending not to notice them comparing each other’s willies… again! (*sigh*)

So there you have it. Still with me? To be honest I had trouble cutting it down to just 10. If only to make me feel slightly better, I’d love to hear what would be on your list… if you’re brave enough to admit it! I’d also love to hear from parents of little girls to see if there are any differences (other than the obvious toilet/willies related ones!). So, consider the gauntlet thrown my friends… time to fess up if you dare 😉 Oh, and by the way, you will no doubt notice that I have now added a form type thing to my blog so all you lovely folk who tell me they had problems leaving a comment on the last post should fair better this time – so no excuses!

Helen -x-

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The all important first entry: introducing nakedness, dens and food

So, I understand it could be considered a little risky to use the word “nakedness” in the name of my blog, but it simply had to be in there. No, it really did. For anyone who may have stumbled across this but does not know who I am, I have the somewhat experiential task of being a mummy to what I consider to be a small tribe of little boys; experiential because it is something you can only really know anything about through experiencing it first hand, experiential because I am basically experimenting and making it up as I go along on a day to day basis and finally, experiential because when it comes to parenting such a large quantity of little guys (four of them by the way), it really can be a full frontal assault on all five of one’s senses! What’s this got to do with nakedness? Well, there’s nothing like having children to bring you back to the basics of life. And when it comes to my boys, I have said for a long time (one of the few things I know to be true rather than the often transient so called “keys” to parenting) is that nothing makes them happier than being allowed to be naked, build dens (inside or outside) and eating – and if I can combine all three then I’m really onto a winner. Hence, if I was ever going to blog about my parenting experiences, it was always going to be entitled Nakedness Dens and Food!

Now, admittedly, I think we all love a den don’t we? I reckon young, old, male or female, given half a chance we’d all take up an opportunity to sit under a blanket balanced precariously on top of the backs of dining room chairs with our favourite drinks and snacks, cushions and a good book once in a while. And when it comes to food, I do appreciate that whilst the saying is “a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” when it comes to children, I know boys and girls can be equally as fussy about what they are prepared to put in their mouth so I couldn’t possibly conclude that ALL little boys love food. It’s just that my lot seem to have been born with a sense of priorities which states “above all else: EAT!” (They’re always the children at parties that are the last ones to leave the table of food, and exit with a handful of extra cakes and crisps shoved into their pockets… you’d think they’d never seen food before!) But when it comes to nakedness, and again, I can’t pretend to be the final authority on the matter, I’m sure there are exceptions, but it does seem anecdotally at least, boys of all ages love the chance to throw off the shackles of clothing and let it all, ahem, hang out whenever the chance presents itself! So out of all the words included in the title of this blog, nakedness is the one which I am absolutely certain, will prove to be indicative of the literary pictures of my life with boys.

But there is another sense in which I use the word “nakedness”. As I have mentioned, I freely admit that I am largely making it up as I go along. Despite the explosion of different parenting fads and techniques freely available these days on which to draw from, I am definitely no expert when it comes to parenting… or little boys… or for that matter being a person in general (which I often find just as challenging to be completely honest). I hope however, that in exposing my journey in such a public way, being open with my successes and failures, joys and sorrows, triumphs and tantrums… others will feel encouraged that “it’s not just them” (unless of course the converse is true and it is just me and then for the safety of my children do feel free to call the relevant authorities!) that doesn’t get it, who struggles to make a particular method work with their child, that feels like the whole world is judging their pitiful attempts at dragging up a half decent human being.

So here it is, *insert fanfare if you like* my blog. A small window on how I do being a mummy to four adorable, energetic, challenging, inquisitive and yes, often naked little boys.

Welcome then, to the bare (see what I did there?!) truth of one girls attempt at entering the world of nakedness, dens and food.

And so we begin….

 

Helen -x-

 

PS. I promise to add more content and pictures and stuff… just as soon as I work out how!

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