The truth about cats and dogs…

pets

We went to see the movie The Secret Life of Pets at the weekend and it got me thinking about the subject in general. I particularly liked the bit where the cat lobs a ball with disdain for her two dog friends and they scatter just as a budgie picks up a laser pointer and the cat then goes crazy chasing the red dot. It’s so true! Cats love a laser dot!

It occurred to me recently that, despite not having pets ourselves, my kids actually know quite a collection of dogs (and a couple of cats) owned by family and friends.

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“Free” childcare

mrs-doubtfire

I’m not entirely sure who bought into this idea first – that a man – a father – could be considered as a ‘babysitter’ to his own children when their mum is (temporarily) out of the house/incapacitated. I just read a funny piece over on Scary Mommy which argues that *some* men can, technically, be thought of as ‘the babysitter’ due to their general attitude to the whole thing (you know the kind of thing – Pringles for dinner, up til 10 on a school night, routines and boundaries often out the window, etc.).

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Why routines for kids matter

inside-out-sadness

On one of EJ’s last free mornings before he started school full time I sat down with him to watch a DVD I had recently purchased, Inside Out. We didn’t really know what it was about when we started watching but it became clear that the story revolved around the inner workings of a little girl’s head and what happens to her emotionally when her parents move across the USA to set up a new home with her in tow.

She begins to crumble, losing faith in her ability to make new friends, enjoy family life or pursue her favourite hobby. Eventually she is so low that she runs away from home. It was at this point that EJ suddenly burst into tears – literally ‘out of the blue’. I hadn’t realised how involved he had become in the story or how emotionally delicate he was feeling after his first few afternoons as a school boy.

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Two years of school run fun

school-sign

Back in September 2014 as a newbie school runner I had no idea that, over the course of the following two years I would experience days that felt like mental torture – the ones when, standing at the school door, it appeared that everyone else had someone to chat to – a close friend or even group of friends with whom to huddle whilst I pretended to be engrossed in my iPhone weather app, tears pricking my eyes.

It felt as though my alienation extended itself to my son who seemed unsure of where he fit in with his class mates and complained of having ‘no friends’. Teachers at parents meetings assured me that this was not the case and that he was sociable and well balanced.

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The Hunger Games (for pre-schoolers)

Hunger games (for preschoolers)

As I was scrolling through my Twitter feed the other day a tweet from a fellow blogger caught my eye (and threw it back). Bloody Bing right? Initially I thought that Dave off of The Dadventurer was talking about the search engine but actually he was, of course, referencing the Mark Rylance-endorsed Cbeebies classic all about Bing Bunny. This triggered off a few responses slating other characters we love to hate and I suddenly had this lightbulb moment: what if Bing Bunny was picked for The Hunger Games? He would, of course be up against the likes of Peppa, Topsy and Tim and the Tweenies.

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Positivity: to share or not to share?

different reactions

Up to now I’ve had no problem writing and sharing both my positive achievements and my thoughts on positive thinking and how it can help, not just me but, in theory, anyone, to achieve a range of things from a greater sense of well-being to reduced stress, better focus on your goals, acceptance of who you are and what your limitations are, working to your strengths rather than fretting over your weaknesses, etc. etc.

However, two things have made me stop in my tracks and re-consider the wisdom, not of thinking and believing these thoughts, but of sharing them with the world – particularly posts or status updates like memes or inspirational quotes which, rather than being personal reflection, could be taken as some kind of self-help guidance to others.

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Changing the guard

black & white at the palaceJust lately I have begun to notice that six year old JJ seems to be having something of a developmental leap forward. For such a long time now he has been stuck on picture books and the only reading he has done has been his homework (Biff, Chip and Kipper books) from school – often under a bit of duress! However we recently went into a local bookshop together with EJ and I told them each they could pick out whatever book they liked. EJ went standard – Blaze of Glory – a picture book based on the Nickolodeon cartoon character, however JJ picked out his first ever paperback – Supercat vs. The Party Pooper by Jeanne Willis.Supercat

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Pursuing Happiness…

The Pursuit of Happiness

I am currently reading Ruth Whippman’s book The Pursuit of Happiness (and how it’s making us anxious) and although I haven’t quite reached the end yet I’m finding it fascinating. As a former Happiness Project disciple I have begun to feel thoroughly de-constructed. A pin has most definitely been unceremoniously jabbed into my little Americanised bubble. I say Americanised, but only half of me seems to be have been converted.

Several times throughout the book Whippman points out the marked difference between the British psyche and that of our Atlantic cousins – the former deeply entrenched in *reality* – with a heavy dose of ‘this is all a bit rubbish’ bubbling under the surface, whilst the latter remain perkily upbeat, optimistic and outwardly positive at all times. She remarks on the way in which us Brits have been involved in a huge sea change towards the American way (citing the changes she’s noticed in the things her British friends share on Facebook these days and the fact that we have also been enraptured by the idea of happiness as a goal we can achieve through activities like yoga, meditation and mindfulness).

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What I learned this weekend

Woodland gardens

For the first time in quite a few weeks I spent the weekend alone. I say alone – actually, child-free. It seems to have crept up on me, this little oasis of free time, to the extent that I’ve found myself completely without a plan. Being without a plan kind of unnerves me, I have to say.

So what did I do with myself? It feels like I have done very little and again that feels like a bad thing.

I took myself for a coffee and went and treated myself to a Pepperberry clothes shop and bought a dress which actually fits.

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Finding time to get some perspective

positivityMy aim in life is always to be as zen as I possibly can, take things calmly in my stride and be the voice of reason. Just lately, however, I have had a really hard time maintaining that feeling of inner peace and reason. Certain parts of my life have been really hard to handle, hard to get my head around, but in the back of my mind, like the buzzing of a dying wasp, is this really strong sense that I need to count my blessings.

The trouble with counting blessings is that you kind of need to have the headspace to step back from the damaging central core of what’s going on right now in order to be able to make that list. I feel like I’ve been getting into a negative downwards spiral which is exacerbated by feeling over-whelmed by the exhausting nature of full on parental responsibility.

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