Who’s homework is it anyway

I have never shied away from the fact that I am not a fan of homework for infant and primary children and told both the boys teachers when I met them and they understand that the boys only tend to do homework if it lights their fire or pushes their button, which isn't very often.  They are 4 and 6 and there are much better things they can spend their time doing other than homework.


But Maxi's homework really hook the biscuit this last couple of weeks.  He was asked to design and build his own model castle.  Hmm my then 5 year old (now 6) was given 2 weeks to come up with a written plan, drawn design and then the final model.  He has had no interest in this until Monday morning, when he saw some of the castle's going in to school and yes you guessed it not one of them looked as though it had been made by a six year old.  Oh no competitive parenting at it's best or should that be worst.  We saw castles of all shapes and sizes, but they all had one thing in common, they were almost perfect replica's with battlements, moats and drawbridges.


Maxi did attempt to have a go at making battlements on his cardboard box at the weekend, but he wasn't strong enough to cut it and me and MadDad so not do our child's homework for them.  So I have had to give in a little and I have sat with him and helped a little in making his castle,  I cut the tubes and held them whist he glued them, but that is where I drew the line.  This is his homework not mine.

I did suggest to him that we made a cake that looked like a castle with upside down ice cream cones as turrets, but he didn't want to, so cardboard model it is.



However, I have put a note in his homework book "Who was this homework for, Maxi or me and his Dad?  I am awaiting the answer.

What are your thoughts on homework at this age?


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Is his best just not good enough?

Harriet over at Plan B, wrote a really interesting post about how far would you trust your husband and as with all great posts, it really got me thinking.  She referenced the post from The Guardian I about being a foundation parent and the fact that woman remain the foundation parent in the household and how this is very 1950's.

The reason it got me thinking is how very different to my life it is.  I was a stay at home mom when the boys were small.  we made sacrifices and returned back to our native North East of England so that I could remain at home and be the boys primary care giver and influencer and look after them during the day, however, this has never meant that I am in sole charge of them and the house and when MadDad steps back through that door he takes on more than his fair share of the work.


When the boys were small he was always in charge of reading, bathing and bedtime, giving me breathing space from a day on my own with one or both of the boys.  In addition he has always done half of the home type tasks, including the bins, dishwasher, garden etc and even does the washing too.  Every weekend I get a lie in and often he will make sure that other things are taken care of.  He will dress the boys, feed them, pop the washer on, do the breakfast pots and ensure that the house is tidy before cracking on with a game with the boys.

We are a partnership and always have been, this has just become stronger since the boys were born.  I learned very early on that I needed to keep my lips glued together and resist the urge to say, let me change that nappy I can do it faster and let MadDad get on with things,  I lowered my expectation of him and the way he did things in the early months, but soon he was doing things faster and if not better than me certainly to a similar standard, just in a different way.   It has continued on in this manner as the boys have grown.  He comes home each night to a cooked meal and we sit and eat together as a family and discuss our day, but from then till bedtime he is in charge of the boys, he deals with PJ's, book reading and we do bedtimes together.

We have rules and we both stick to them.  We discuss the way that we parent and what we expect of each other and we are always honest with each other.  He is a fab dad and a great husband and yep maybe the boys shirts and trousers are not what I would have picked myself, but they always go to bed with their teeth cleaned and a bedtime story. So for me it is a matter of priorities.  We spit the chores and each try and do what we do best, thankfully we complement each other more so now after over 17 years together.  But the other thing is we talk, we set realistic expectations of each other and I have learned that he is a man and he will do things differently and often feel the need to be praised.  So I follow my boys are like dogs plan and I use it on Maddad too (but don't tell him), lots of praise, reward and good food, oh and lots of exercise too!


So my top tips for sharing the load

  • Don't be a mummy martyr, yes you could do it faster and possibly better, but by letting him learn his way, he will be more likely to do it.
  • Be flexible, your way is not necessarily the only way or the best.
  • get your priorities straight, is it key that certain t shirts go with certain trouser, if it is get them out the night before, otherwise learn which battles you need to win to win the war.
  • Set realistic expectations, do you expect 2 stories to be read each night, if so, say so.
  • Learn that it is often about short term pain for long term gain.
  • Talk and listen.  Make sure you are both clear on what your expectations are.
If you find it hard to keep your mouth shut and let your husband do these things whilst you are about, then make sure you go  out and give them the opportunity to get on with things without criticising.  In the long run it is better to have a fair and equitable relatioship.  I am not my husbands slave or the boys for that matter, we a re a family nad for us that means mucking in together and all giving and participating as much as we can. So how does it work in your house?





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A Pause in Lent

The Fab Coffee Lady sent me the adult version of the Lenten tasks.  They came from the Live Life, Love Lent book published by the Church of England Make someone laugh Spend some time in silence Have a meat-free day Give up your place in a queue Write to someone and thank them Light a candle and pray for someone Give someone an apple Have a TV free day and do something you have meant to do for ages Turn off the tap when you clean your teeth Go for a walk in your neighbourhood with a friend Say something nice about someone behind their back Feed the birds Talk to someone new at church Phone or text someone to say goodnight Use local shops rather than supermarkets Put a jumper on and turn down the heating Buy a low energy light bulb Leave a £1 coin in a trolley or where someone will find it Find out about a litter clean up Watch the news and pray about what you see Help a bug out of the house rather than squash it Buy something at a charity shop and reverse haggle Buy Fairtrade Have a conversation with someone from a different generation Ring a loved one Plant seeds where the flowers will be seen Hug someone who needs it Give a friend a good book or CD Find out about blood donation Don't leave appliances on standby Talk to someone about why you go to church Buy something for someone anonymously Bake something to share Miss a meal and pray instead Find out about a church community project Make a drink for a neighbour or colleague Have a conversation with someone from a different culture Make an Easter card for a neighbour Use a buy-one-get-one-free and give the free one away Only fill the kettle with the water you need Do a chore for someone (Good Friday) Read St John's Gospel Chapter 19 Invite a friend to church Share an Easter egg I have been trying very hard to make sure I do one of these each day for the last week and so far have managed OK.  I am finding it harder to process the Easter traditions with the children this year, Mini stopped me in my tracks by asking if Grandma was going to be resurrected, as she was such a special person to us. We have this morning planted an ornamental plum in the front garden in memory of mum, which made me feel a little better about the fact that I have been unable to visit her grave (I am just not ready for that yet).
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Trying to clean like my Grandma

Otherwise know as the P&G 1930's housewife challenge.  I along with other mummy bloggers have been set the challenge to try a day in the life of a 1930's family.  We decided to take this on and use it as a learning tool for the boys. Cleaning in the 1930's I was supplied with some white vinegar, a spray bottle, lemon, bicarb, household soap and cloths.  I have to say that I already have all of this in my cleaning cupboard and use it all and have taken to buying white vinegar by the 5 litres from the cash and carry.  So I did not find this part of the challenge too hard, except the fact that I missed my washing up liquid and my dishwasher.  The hardest part was boiling the hot water to clean everything. Laundry in the 1930's No, No, No.  I am so glad that I have my washing machine and washing products.  This was very hard work, as the video will attest to. Outer Beauty My Gran used cold cream and a flannel to wash her face, which is remarkably similar to the Liz Earle Cleans and Polish system I use today.  I am also not too much of a make up girl, so didn't feel that bad with just powder, rouge, mascara and lipstick.  My issues arose when it came to my hair, which is naturally frizzy at best and when washed with a bar of soap it was even frizzier than normal, so I resorted to putting it in rollers, but I couldn't get the curls to take.  I now know what a wash and set was so popular. I have to say that the beauty challenge left me with some questions about the 1930's woman.  How did they shave or did they shave at all?  Did they have hair dye or did you just have to go old gracefully? I did find this fab video on you tube of 1930 skincare and makeup Food As someone who cooks and bakes from scratch the food aspect wasn't that much of a challenge for me either, however, I really did miss my mixer and my bread machine.  I make fresh bread everyday and rather than make it all by hand I didn't bother.  I also may be the only person on the planet that actually drinks loose leave tea anyway, so that wasn't too much of a chose.  MadDad on the other hand loves coming home to a nice fresh coffee from our coffee machine and was quite put out that he couldn't have one.  Oh apart from cooking the porridge in a pan, I have got so used to heating it up in the microwave using a Pyrex dish.  Cleaning the pan was very hard indeed. No Batteries Required. This was a harder challenge for us as a family.  I use computers day to day for work and MadDad also uses a laptop everyday at work.  The boys both adore their screen time and I thought we would find it difficult to switch off.  However, thanks partly to the change of weather this was easy.  We go to the park after school and then home nad the boys have been going outside to play, followed by quiet time, which has been books, jigsaws and family games.  We have a 6 to 6 rule, which means no screens after 6pm or before 6am for the boys. I also realised that we actually have the radio or music on a lot of the time too and was glad that radio was around in the 1930's! Conclusions We really enjoyed this challenge, it certainly made us aware and more thankful for the labour saving devices of today, especially the washing machine, you can pop a load in and go and carry on with something else.  I know also know just how much I love my dishwasher, microwave and mixer and blenders and how often we use them too.  But I am also aware that I am not a typical modern housewife.  I chose to use natural methods for cleaning, for both environmental and health reasons. As I work from home I have the luxury to be able to cook meals from scratch and cherish my slow cooker for this reason.  I can pop a casserole in it and then forget about it until dinner time. From a beauty perspective, I am not sure what my hair would look like if I had to wash it with soap everyday, so I am glad of hair dryers, straightening irons and conditioner.  I have heard that people use to put their long hair between brown paper nad iron it straight. I like to think that I have a little of the best of both worlds and hope that I can continue in this manner, having a family meal at the table every night, but also utilising the best technology and modern inventions to stay happy, busy and be the best I can be. Some other blooggers have been busy in the 1930's too, including Hot Cross Mum, Mari at Mari's world, Being a Mummy and A Mid 30's Life. P&G have been in the UK for 80 years now and recently commissioned a survey on The Changing Face of Motherhood, which makes very interesting reading.  But the one statistic that stood out for me was that 40% of mums rely on their mums as their most valued source of advice and support.

Procter and Gamble supplied me with a before and after goodie bag and also a Flip recorder.

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Learning through play

Learning through play, is there any other way when children are small?  For me the answer would be a resounding no.  My boys love to play and whats more I love to play with them.

Throughout their lives I have been keen to encourage independent play.  Here they are counting their pennies in their jar.  I didn't ask them to do this, but they both love money and they love counting.  So we talked about how many pence in a pound, the different shapes and sizes on money and also the fact that the queen was on all coins.  We then used the coins like tiddliwinks.  For me this was a fun hour of play, which was driven by them and all I did was answer their questions and joined in their games. As a family we love board games and have a weekly family game night, where choose a game to play and just enjoy each others company, but the boys are learning through playing these games.  They learn numbers on the die, they use their counting skills to move places, their reading skills to check the instructions or read any cards involved and also their creativity depending on the game we choose. There are some great mummy blogs which focus on play including Nurturestore, Playing by the book, Red Ted Art, Thinly Spread and BabyBudgeting to name just a few. This month, over at the Tots100, we’re running a blog hop sponsored by MEGA Bloks. Share your thoughts on learning through play and you can win a family trip to Drayton Manor theme park along with lots of new toys. What’s more, five bloggers who take part in the competition will become official toy reviewers for MEGA Bloks for 2011. Head over to the Tots100 blog for more details.
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A Pause in Lent, giving away, not giving up

This weekend was Maxi's birthday party, which was his first proper party, by which I mean not a tea party at home with just a few people.  There are three children in his class with birthdays all in the same week, so we decided to have a joint party in the local civic centre, with a disco for all three.

One of the issues I have with large children's parties is the fact that they get far too many presents from people and people feel obliged to bring a present, so Maxi and I sat down and discussed the fact that every one would bring a present and what should we do with them.  We decided to let people know that he didn't need anything and it would be fine to give to comic releif and just give him a card.  Even so, he ended up with lots and lots of presents on Saturday. He opened his presents yesterday morning and without prompting he has already given one to Mini and two to the church charity shop. After my post last week on Lent, The Coffee Lady kindly sent me her list of things that children can do over Lent Give your pocket money to a charity Clean up your room and give something to a charity shop Share a smile Say sorry to someone Do a chore or errand for a family member Water some plants or a green space with recycled water Help prepare a meal and find out where the food was grown Write a thank you letter Share a treat with someone at school Thank of three good things and say thank you to God Have a TV and computer free day and do something with your family instead Say please and thank you all day Find out about the countries where your clothes are made Read a story to a younger child Save trees by using both sides of the paper Spend five minutes quietly by yourself Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth Hold doors open for others Give a home-made gift to a loved one Offer to help your teacher with a task Recycle your rubbish Go for a walk in your area with an adult and pray about what you see Show an adult how to do something they can't do Plant some seeds where the flowers will be seen Have a conversation with someone older than you Lend a friend a good book/cd/dvd Find out about children in a developing country Say a prayer for someone who is unwell or in need Find out about life as a refugee and spend the night in a tent (we are very much giving this one a miss - too cold!) Help a parent or carer with shopping Give a lollipop to your lollipop person Feed the birds Pick up some litter Getting towards Easter Make a palm cross and give it away Give someone a Fair Trade Easter Egg Make hot cross buns and share them Polish some one's shoes for them Make or draw an Easter garden in a place that will be seen Celebrate Easter
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A love so strong

Even after all these years I look at you and just melt, but we are more than that. You are my rock, my companion through life and my best friend. You are the first person I turn to in times of trouble and times of joy. I love sharing my life with you, but more than that I love making a life and family with you. I love the way you know just the right thing to say and the right time to say it. You can read my moods better than I can, predicting and intervening more often than not. I love the fact that you have never wanted to change me. I adore the fact you make me laugh. When me and MadDad first got together, a story which I will put in writing one day, he asked me if I needed him.  To which I firmly responded with No, I want you.  Well today My wonderful husband I still want you more than ever before.  So thank you, thanks for being here for me, with me and for holding my hand through life.  I love you.


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A lump in my throat

The shops are filling up with card for Mothers Day and each time I see or hear it mentioned it brings a lump to my throat.  For the first time in my entire life, I do not have a mother to celebrate on Mothers Day and that makes me unbelievably sad.  I want the world to stop and take notice of me.  I didn't want to my my mother in law a card, although today I did and to give MadDad his due, he said thank you and then made me cry by saying he understood just how hard that was for me to do.

The thing is I don't look any different, even though I feel like I am made of china with a large crack down through my heart.  People soon forget that I am still grieving the sudden loss of my mum.  I don't want to make a big thing of it, I don't want to remind people, but I do wish that there was a little more understanding and compassion in this world.  That people could be a little less wrapped up in their own lives that they could see that I too am still hurting.  That my family is missing its matriarch this mothers day.

Tomorrow is my 16 Wedding Anniversary and I just wanted to get rid of this feeling, to put it in to words and to hopefully feel a little brighter in the morning.

Please remember, you don't have to wait until Mothers Day to let your mum know how much they mean to you, even if you don't have the best of relationships, she partly made you what or who you are today.

I love you Mum.

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Now we are Six

Today you turn six.  It seems like somehow we have blinked and all of a sudden I have a six year old.  We have been blessed to watch you grow and develop.  To get small glimpses to the man you may become.

I look at you with wonder at the way you view the world, the ever generous friend, always there to hold someones hand or give them a pat on the back and words of congratulations.

Maxi's last sleep as a five year old

You are an amazing big brother, who encourages Mini ever step of the way.  You give him wonderful kisses and cuddles, but boy the two of you sure know how to fight too.  I guess it is safe to say that you love with passion and fight with the same intensity.  You are not a boy of half measures.

You are talented beyond my comprehension and are a whiz at maths and literacy.  You love sport and enjoy going to football practice every weekend.

But one of the things I am most proud of is the fact that you are happy to be different.  You don't feel the need to fit in and are happy to be the only boy in a plain football top at practice.  You are happy with your longish hair, not wanting to be part of the crowd all the time.  Happy to stand up for what is right.

You would spend you spare time with your head in your DS or on the Wii, but you also love to be outside on your scooter or playing with your friends.

One thing that has stood out for me this year is the way you have copped with Grandma's death with such understanding and perception that I never thought possible for one so young.  You have been on hand to talk to Mini about her when he needs to, to hold his hand and to also bring a smile to my face on the days when I am sad.  Grandma loved you with a love I can not put in to words, you were her first Grandchild, her reason for living.  You stopped her living in the past missing your Granddad, the man we named you after and made her look to a bright future.

I am so sorry that you go in to your sixth year without this wonderful woman by your side, but I trust that she will always be in your heart.

I love you Boo, I really do.  You were a true miracle for me and your Daddy.  We never imagined what being parents would be, we never thought we could love someone in the way we love you.  A love that is so hot, bright and pure, it feels as though I have a second heart which beats next to yours.

So here to another year, lets enjoy being six together, lets grab each day and deal with each challenge as a new adventure.  I am proud to be your Mummy, I am having the time of my life watching you and your brother grow and develop and even better I have so much fun accompanying you on your adventures.



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Everything is so easy if you are 4 year old

Maxi was born in Reading, so he has chosen Reading football team as his and was super excited this weekend by the fact that they were still in the FA cup, but also really upset to find out that he couldn't watch them on TV (as they were not being shown playing), so we listened to the match on the radio.

When Manchester City sored the goal, Maxi got pretty upset.  So MadDad tried to explain the ranking system and said that Manchester City were in a higher league and were possibly the richest football club in England at the moment and this is the conversation that sprung from there.


"Daddy, I might be a footballer when I grow up". "Well if you are then you can look after Mummy and Daddy, as top footballers earn as much as Daddy does in a year in a week!" When Mini pipes in "Daddy if they earn that much money then they should give it to the people in Japan and Africa that need help?" If only the world was ruled by 4 year olds
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