#FlashBackFriday: Are we encouraging our children to grow up too quickly?

There’s no Throwback Thursday this week, because I published a post for National Poetry Day instead. A version of this post about nursery graduation ceremonies and school starting age first appeared on my old blog. I’ve been in two minds aboout sharing it again, because I no longer feel so strongly about the things that seemed to matter when Munchkin was three.

I reluctantly allowed her to have her photo taken in a cap and gown when she left nursery. By the time she was four, she had changed her mind about dressing up, and now enjoys it. Thankfully there wasn’t a formal presentation, just a children’s party. I even more reluctantly bought one of the photos. It wasn’t a great picture.

Equally, whilst I accept that children in countries with a higher school starting age than the UK do well academically, I don’t necessarily think four is too young to start school. My daughter has thrived at school. She loves spending time there, is an avid reader and has just started doing maths in her own time for fun… I’m beginning to wonder if there was a mix up at the maternity hospital and I have someone else’s child.

A child that I know recently attended her nursery graduation.  I did’t even realise nursery graduations were “a thing”.  It seems they had a lot of media coverage last week, with one camp thinking they’re cute and harmless fun, and the other considering them strange or even pyschologically damaging.  They’re an American import and it’s worth remembering that US preschool leavers are around two years older than their British counterparts and therefore a little bit more mature.

Some pyschologists think the ceremonies place unnecessary pressure on children to achieve.  I’m not sure I’d go that far, but I definitely think they are encouraging small children to do things they don’t understand because adults think it’s cute.  There appears to be a universal belief that all kids like dressing up.  Munchkin would probably refuse to wear the cap and gown since she only likes pink fairy outfits.  I also doubt whether she would walk up and collect a certificate in a crowded room.

Primary school graduation also seems to be “a thing” in some places.  I got really confused when a friend’s child attended her graduation at a local university.  I thought she had an eleven year old genius!  At least children this age know what is going on, and why they’re doing it.  The real winners in all of this are photographers and providers of robes and mortar boards.  They must be making a fortune!

The age at which British children start school is another thing I’m concerned about.  Munchkin’s best friend is an August baby and just slips in to the school year above her.  She starts school in September and she’s really frightened.  Although compulsory education begins at age five, we start schooling our children at four, and I’m not entirely sure why when many countries start compulsory education at age six.  A teacher in one independent school I visited told me that these other countries have, “got it right”.  Independent schools tend to do the best they can in terms of only putting children into Reception when they’re ready, but this opportunity is less common in state schools.  In state schools, there are generally two choices: Start school in the September after you’re four, or miss the first (Reception) year at school and spend the following year (Year 1) catching up.

I think what I’m saying is, the USA can keep their graduation ceremonies.  I’ve only ever attended one and that was my own at university, and even then I felt a bit of an idiot in my mortar board and gown.  However, we could probably learn a thing or two from the US when it comes to starting school.

Photo credit: quinnums / Foter / CC BY-NC


Reblog for National Poetry Day: Dealing with Dementia

A poem – helping children understand dementia

via Dealing With Dementia — Mighty Mama Bear

Since today is National Poetry Day, I’ve saved this week’s reblog. It’s a poem by Jen from Mighty Mama Bear. She deals with the difficult subject of dementia in a sensitive way.

I write poetry myself, but I’m a little nervous about publishing it on my blog in case it precludes me from submitting it in competitions that are only open for unpublished work. I felt Jen’s poem tied in well with my own Sky Man story, which is intended to help children come to terms with loss. Do take a look at Mighty Mama Bear, which is mainly in poetic form.

#ThrowBack Thursday: Oh Sugar!

This week’s Throwback Thursday sees a return to my pregnancy blog. It’s the one where I was diagnosed with possible gestational diabetes so I was a little bit grumpy.

It’s been an eventful couple of weeks, and not necessarily for the right reasons.  Two weeks ago I fainted on the way to work.  As far as I’m aware there was no medical reason for this apart from pregnancy.  Even my blood pressure seemed normal.  Last week I was back at the doctor’s, with what I thought was cystitis.  He told me there was no sign of infection, but my sugar levels were really high – possibly indicating gestational diabetes.  I had the gestational diabetes test early so that the results are (hopefully) back in time for my next midwife appointment.  That was fun!  I had to go to my surgery’s sister surgery because mine didn’t have any blood test appointments this week.  I wasn’t told that I needed two appointments and a bottle of Lucozade.  The other surgery weren’t told that I was pregnant.  It worked out OK, but the nurse had to make my second appointment with a GP because she was about to start home visits, and I ended up working from home because it didn’t seem worth driving to work for half a day.  Now I’m keeping my fingers crossed that at best the results are negative or failing that my baby hasn’t grown excessively so I can still have a natural birth.  (One of the symptoms of gestational diabetes is excessive growth of the baby, which is why that poor woman in America ended up giving birth to a 12 pounder a few months ago.)

As mentioned in my last blog, we’re now god parents. There’s no documentary proof that I’m the godmother.  The only certificate was for the baby, to say that she’s now on the Cradle Roll of  the Methodist Church.  I think this may mean she’s in an exclusive club of one.  The average age of the congregation of this tiny church is about 70 and there is only one woman of child bearing age.

I keep finding out that more and more people who I know are pregnant.  In the past few weeks, I’ve heard that two of my husband’s friends are pregnant (one is due on the same day as me), my cousin’s wife is pregnant (my other cousin’s wife is due to have a baby any day) and the girl who sits next to me at work is pregnant.  The girl who sits opposite me in the office is worried it might be catching!  I also found out that one of the girls at Pregnancy Yoga lives in the same road as me.

By my next blog, I should know whether or not I’m diabetic.  I don’t have a particularly sweet tooth, but I’ll really miss Christmas cake, especially now that my husband has developed talents as a confectioner.

Reblog: 10 things every nursery-going mum should know

You think your toddler will be the ONLY one doing all the learning once he/ she starts nursery? WRONG! You – nursery-going mum – will have a LOT of learning to do as well. Some lessons will be delightful, others not so much. But there WILL be new experiences so brace yourself. 1.…

via 10 things every nursery-going mum should know… — Tales from Mamaville

With the start of the new school term, lots of parents will be taking their toddlers to nursery for the first time so this week I’m sharing a post by Nicole of Tales from Mamaville. Do check out her blog, it’s one of the many fabulous parent blogs I’ve come across since I got more involved with the blogging community.

I can remember every single one of these happening when Munchkin was at nursery. My favourite quote is, “Your toddler will not like to talk about his/ her day when asked, but will tell you EVERYTHING five minutes before bedtime”. This is so true!

Point 6 talks about all the crappy arts and crafts that your toddler will bring home. I’m still trying to work out what to do with the arts and crafts that are brought home from nursery, school and a variety of clubs. Somewhere in my loft is a suitcase that used to belong to my mum. It contains all of my crappy arts and crafts going back to about age three. Some things never change.

#ThrowBackThursday Speeding to Fawlty Towers

This week’s Thowback Thursday sees a return to my 2008 New Zealand travel journal. I wish I’d written a bit more detail as I don’t remember anything about the two couples at the bed and breakfast. I remember very little about Waitomo Caves, although I remember the hotel vividly.

aranui cave waitomo, new zealand, stalactites, glow worm caves

Aranui Cave Waitomo

Keri Keri to Waitomo

Thanks to the laptop, this is the second time I’ve written 9th February.  (Perhaps the original version was better!)  We had breakfast in the company of a pleasant Canadian couple (whom we’d seen the previous day at the Treaty Grounds) and a slightly snooty English couple.  Soon after breakfast, we left for Waitomo.  Our first stop was the Treaty Grounds, because we’d left our copies of the treaty behind the previous day.  We stopped for lunch at a sheep centre, somewhere between the Bay of Islands and Auckland.  There was an unscheduled stop on the Auckland motorway when Andy got caught speeding.  Unfortunately for the rest of the world, New Zealand speed limits are unusually low, meaning that the Police make a fortune out of tourists!

We arrived in Waitomo to discover that we were staying in Fawlty Towers!  Although the Waitomo Caves hotel looks great from the outside, and has views of the entrance to the glow worm caves, it is slightly shabby inside.  It looks as if it was last decorated in the 1970s, with peeling floral wall paper.  That night’s dinner was in the back packers next door, which was much better value than the hotel restaurant.  I almost wish we’d stayed in the back packers – at least it was more modern!  We booked onto the evening tour of the glow worm caves.  This was a good move.  The caves are packed during the day and there are certain areas that you can only visit when it’s quiet to prevent carbon dioxide levels from getting too high as this could damage the caves.  Unfortunately you’re not allowed to take photos in there, so you’ll have to take my word that the rock formations and glow worms (which are viewed from a boat on an underground stream) are spectacular.

Roald Dahl Day

The 13th September is Roald Dahl Day. This post was meant to be a reblog but technology defied me. There was no way WordPress Reader was going to share a Blogger post that was over a year old. Instead, I’d like to thank Debbie for alerting me to its existence. I was going to reblog this post of hers, which talks about how her family celebrated 100 years since Roald Dahl’s birth.

Roald Dahl Books

Photo credit: weesen via Foter.com / CC BY-NC

I hadn’t realised that Mr Dahl would have been 100 last year or even that there was such a thing as Roald Dahl Day. According to RoaldDahl.com, 13th September was his birthday and people are invited to join in with a range of events around that date.

I have been trying to decide which Roald Dahl book I like the most. Those that are most memorable to me are Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Danny, Champion of the World and The BFG. I also think Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator is underrated; I love the idea of a lift that with an Up and Out button and the ability to travel anywhere.

What is your favourite Roald Dahl book? Are you taking part in any Roald Dahl Day events? Please let me know in the comments.

Featured image credit: Christchurch City Libraries via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Writing Update: Submitting and Rejection

I’ve gone a bit off topic this week, with Facebook and bras, so I decided it was time for a writing update. I’ve done quite a lot of blogging over the summer. Although I wouldn’t say I have a blogging schedule, I now post a Tuesday Reblog, a Throwback Thursday – where I re-post something I’ve written in the past, and one or two other posts each week. I’m pleased that I now have over thirty blog followers and almost 200 Twitter followers. It probably doesn’t sound like much to the hard core bloggers out there, but I’m quite pleased as a few weeks ago, I had less than ten blog followers and about 30 Twitter followers.

I’m trying to get the whole week’s blogs scheduled in one go so that I have some time for writing stories. I really need to sit down and write the time travel story that I want to enter in my village’s short story competition. Before I know it, the deadline will have passed and I won’t have done it!

I submitted Sky Man to an agent a few weeks ago. It’s the story of an elderly alien who has settled on Earth but is now returning home. He is like a grandfather to Lily. She and her family must come to terms with his departure. I subsequently noticed that book blogger Read It Daddy had shared some posts about British publishers and agents having no interest in picture books with more than 600 words, including this one from Picture Book Den, so it was no surprise when I got a rejection email. The email offered no opportunities for feedback so I can only assume that the word count was the problem.

I emailed my very helpful creative writing teacher (who blogs as Brainfluff) and she came up with some good suggestions. She pointed out that the comments on the Picture Book Den post include details of publishers who will consider longer picture book texts. So Plan A is to look into submitting to some of these publishers. Plan B involves a rewrite but I’d rather not since I feel the story has the number of words that it needs in order to work properly.

Next week, it’s back to Creative Writing classes for me. That means I’ll have the opportunity to get feedback on my work and the option to do writing exercises. If I can get myself a bit more organised, I might consider dusting the cob webs off the novel that I planned but barely wrote. However, my writing priorities are the short story for the competition and my children’s stories.

If there are other writers reading this, how are things going for you? Have you had a productive summer or taken a break from writing?




Photo credit: Foter.com

#ThrowBackThursday: Storm in a D Cup

This week I’m looking back to my pregnancy blog, and bra buying. What I didn’t write in this post, was a few weeks later, I went to another store and had an equally disasterous fitting. I should have listened to the friend who told me to go to Bravissimo. Little did I know that it’s old hat to add 4+ inches to the band measurement (I always wondered why bras rode up when I put my hands in the air!), as the two shops I visited had clearly done and that the creases at the bottom of the cups were caused by them being too small.

These days, if I need a bra, my first stop is Boob or Bust. This is a website that teaches you how to measure properly. They even have a Facebook group with highly trained admins who will check the fit of members’ bras.

panache bra

I had to take my own bra picture as the library ones gave the wrong message!

In the well known pregnancy manual, What to Expect When You’re Expecting, Heidi Murkoff says that a pregnant woman’s bra size may end up three cup sizes bigger than it was pre pregnancy…she’s not wrong!

My bras were getting too tight and things were wobbling when they didn’t ought to.  I tried measuring myself, but that was about as much use as a chocolate tea pot!  When I checked my measurements on online bra size charts, La Senza and BHS said I was too small to wear a bra, M&S said I was a 34A, an online calculator said I was a 34C and Figleaves’ size guide may as well have been written in a foreign language!

I knew I had to do something, so my not-quite-a-bump-yet and I made our way to the lingerie department of a well known store.  I was told that the bra fitter was currently with someone, and offered a seat while I waited.  Last time I had a bra fitted, it took about five minutes, so I wasn’t expecting her to be long.  After about ten minutes, I saw the bra fitter emerge from a cubicle carrying a white bra with cups large enough to carry a small child!  I texted my husband to say that I was having to wait due to a woman with massive boobs.   Ten minutes later, the well endowed lady’s bra was finally fitted.  The fitter then told me that her shift had finished and someone else would be along to fit my bra.  By this point I was getting thoroughly grumpy.  I’d read the store’s in house magazine twice and nobody had said they were sorry about the wait.

A lady called Holly arrived to fit my bra.  She was very pleasant, and concluded that I was a 34C (and I’d thought the online calculator was nuts!).  Apparently underwired bras aren’t recommended for pregnancy since they can dig in and interfere with the milk ducts (who would have known?), so she brought me a selection of unwired bras to try.  The fit ranged from too loose on the band, to wrinkles at the bottom of the cup, to a strange dimpled effect at the top of the cup.  Poor Holly was despairing (as no doubt was the woman waiting for a bra fitting after me) and went to get her manager for a second opinion.

With some assistance from Holly’s manager Emma, I ended up with a bra with a bit of growth room (I was only 12 weeks pregnant…what if I continued growing for the next 30 weeks?).  They both concluded that I was either a 32D or a 34C depending on the cut of the bra.  A “D cup”?  When I went up from an AA to an A a few years ago, I thought that was as big as I’d ever get.

Reblog: Sharing my favourite childhood books

I loved reading as a child. I always had a book on the go, and I read my favourites over and over again. Harry is 8, and at his age, and younger, I devoured Enid Blyton books in particular. I think my favourite series was the Adventure Series – The Island of Adventure, The Castle…

via Sharing my favourite childhood books with the children — Jennifer’s Little World blog – Parenting, craft and travel

I think this post from Jennifer is one many of us can relate to. I was also an avid reader as a child. I’ve kept many of my childhood books and am gradually passing them on to Munchkin as she becomes old enough for them. One of her favourites is Ming Meets the Farm Kittens by Audrey Tarrant. I believe it’s now out of print, but had charming illustrations, including some that children (first myself, now Munchkin, since I never finished doing it) could colour in. One of the first children’s novels that I read was The Railway Children by E Nesbit and I’m looking forward to becoming reaquainted with the story in a year or two.

Jennifer is an award winning blogger. I started writing for Worthing Mums, thanks to a link that she posted on a Facebook group a few years ago. She’s currently 199 in the Tots 100 parent blog rankings. Just for a laugh, I looked up my ranking. I’m currently 4247!

My Love/Hate Relationship With Facebook

I spend quite a lot of time on Facebook. It’s an easy way of staying in contact with friends and relatives, and I love looking at other people’s photo’s. Facebook has enabled me to get back in touch with old friends, and meet new ones. I’ve found writing opportunities on there. If I’m looking for a recommendation for a tradesperson, or need some local information that I haven’t been able to get from another source, Facebook will be my first port of call.

Unfortunately, Facebook has a dark side. It is a place where people name and shame with little regard for fact or the law. There’s a lot of moaning – I think it must be home to some of the most negative communities on the internet. Certain groups also seem to have more than their fair share of swearing.

Nowhere is this dark side more evident than one of the Facebook groups for my local community. I won’t name and shame, because that’s not my way, but some people reading this will know exactly which group I’m talking about. This group has a split personality. It’s community focused, and there’s some geuinely useful and interesting stuff on there. There used to be some people who posted about local history, but they’ve gone quiet of late. I wonder if they’ve found somewhere else to share information. The group is public, so if you post anything contentious, it’s there for the whole world to see.

The worst thing about this group is the moaning. My husband thinks it has a hidden agenda to make the outside world think we live in a dump. Therefore there won’t be any newcomers and housing developers will stop building here. It has been used to name and shame alleged criminals. A while back, a nice lady tried to start a petition to get street lights in a particularly dark area that no lone woman would want to walk in after dark, and someone told her to use a torch. The person that I’m finding particularly irritating at the moment is the one that moans every time someone requests a recommendation. Surely this is a key purpose of a community focused group? There’s no substitute for personal recommendation – not every tradesperson is on review sites and it’s questionable whether some reviews are reliable.

I’m trying to decide whether to leave the group or stay there in case I miss out on something useful or interesting. It really irritates me but it can be quite handy. I’ve considered setting up my own group or page but I don’t know if it’s worth the hassle as I’d feel obliged to moderate it much more than the owner of the group that upsets me does. I really like the Sunny Worthing page, which was set up by someone who was sick of negativity on the internet. If I did set something up, it would be around a similar premise to this.

What do you think? Have you come across lots of Facebook negativity? Should I try to set up something positive to counteract it?

Photo credit: Foter.com