Tag Archives: #theprompt

What I learned from the Kids Strike

#THISislearning collage2So, May third has passed – the day of #THISislearning and the Kids Strike has been and gone. It was an epic day all about education and beliefs and passion and fun and learning. My boys learned masses. Here’s what the experience taught me:

Standing up for your beliefs feels fantastic.

I’ve always shied away from controversy – in life in general and especially on my blog. Except with close friends, I generally keep quiet about my beliefs (especially on ‘hot topics’ like politics and religion) so when I published a passionate post about education six weeks ago it was a huge leap into the unknown. The fantastic, supportive, heartfelt response I had was impossible to ignore though, and I had to follow-through, both with taking part in the Kids Strike and co-running my own parallel #THISislearning campaign. And it felt good – to draw that line in the sand and say ‘something needs to change and I’m going to try my best to make that happen.’ I rediscovered my inner activist, missing since my teenage years. Yes – standing up for your beliefs feels good.

…it also feels scary

Ok, the brave, bold types amongst you might think this is odd, but as an introvert I don’t like drawing attention to myself and as a big-time softy it makes me nervous to place myself in a position where I could get hurt. I’m also a natural law-abider – a bit of a goody two shoes to be honest. But standing up for my beliefs recently has involved deliberately trying to draw attention to myself (running a campaign requires you to say “Hey, look over here! Please join in with this!”), breaking the law (in order to join in the strike) and also putting myself in a position where I could get hurt. The trolls were out in force on the day of the strike. Luckily, I wasn’t targeted but knowing that some of my friends were, and that there were nasty comments being made, put me on high alert. Basically, on all counts I felt out of my comfort zone. It has not been a relaxing six weeks!

The mere act of the kids strike was a fantastic learning opportunity

Ok, with kids, everything is a useful learning opportunity but this point feels important to me because one of the criticisms levelled at strikers was a notion of it being wrong to include kids. I very much disagree – it was an awesome opportunity to teach them about politics, values, beliefs and the ways society works. On the morning of the strike, I took my boys to a nearby school where one of the parents had organised a friendly picket line. I say ‘friendly’ because the head teacher knew all about it and was fine about it, and the purpose was to ask parents for signatures to a letter that was being sent to our MP about the whole thing.

My eight-year-old in particular was so interested in the whole experience of being there and asked loads of questions about strikes and political action. We ended up taking about the junior doctor strikes too. I’ve never known him so interested in politics before. As a parent it felt so important to talk to him about what we value (as his parents) at a time when he was totally engaged.

Doing educational things with kids can be a huge source of joy and excitement.

I suppose this wasn’t really a surprise but the extent of the joy perhaps was. I got together with a friend and with our five kids (two eight-year-olds, two six-year-olds and a three-year-old) we did masses of activities. We looked at a real, disused mill, rambled through the forest following the pipeline to see where it had been dammed, researched hydroelectricity, designed and made our own water wheels (and tried them out in a river), made paper chromatography flowers, read the wonderful Rosie Revere and Iggy Peck books by Andrea Beaty and discussed them, wrote stories and did explosive science experiments. The older two kids took notes throughout. My eight-year-old was really enthused by everything and all the kids were so happy.

There was one point where they were all experimenting with oil, baking soda, vinegar and various other things and as I watched them work together, cooperating, trying out more and more ideas and squealing with joy and excitement, I felt so happy I thought my heart might burst. Ok, they did get a little out of control with food colouring, baking soda, leaves, ramps and bicycles (!?!) but we were outside and it was after 3’o clock so I figured, ‘whatever, let them get on with it’. At the end of the day my boys fell into bed with huge grins on their faces saying it was the best day ever. My six year old said “I give it 100%!”

I did, however, gain:

A whole new level of respect for teachers

We had five kids to keep engaged and focussed. How they cope with classes of thirty kids, impresses the socks off me. Hats off to them.

And a whole new level of respect for homeschoolers

You do this everyday?! I mean, it must be amazing in some ways but surely exhausting in others! Such a big responsibility to have to think up all the activities and keep the kids on point and also to get the balance between being totally child-led and making sure you get enough done… well done, seriously.

All sorts of random stuff that I wouldn’t otherwise have done

When you spend time with kids engaging in their learning, you learn so much too! They ask questions and together you find the answers, you create things you otherwise wouldn’t have created and think in ways you otherwise wouldn’t have thought. It’s really inspirational.

That my friends are awesome

Again, I knew this already but man… from my best mate who was a fab cheerleader the whole time, drew loads of #THISislearning pictures and provided lots of inspiration for a post about activities for kids, to the friend who I spent the day with (which made striking a million times easier as I would have been on my own otherwise), to the friend who read my No, Mr Cameron, No. post and told me how proud she was of me with such enthusiasm that my face ached from smiling by the end of her email, to the blogging friends who joined in on the day and sent amazing messages of support, and the friends who’ve chatted with me and put the world (and my head) to rights over the last couple of days. Not to forget Sophie who, despite juggling a million different things, was a fantastic, eloquent, supportive co-campaigner for #THISislearning. Oh, and my husband who always has my back (I’ll start coming to bed before midnight now, promise!) I felt surrounded by a huge raft of emotional support, I really did. You guys rock.

That people are awesome

At the end of the day on May 3rd and on the following morning I looked though my social media feeds at the #THISislearning hashtag. Wow. The different activities that people had been doing with their kids, the happy faces, the brilliant blog posts, the enthusiasm and dedication to showing Nicky Morgan what real learning looks like… well it was just amazing. Again, my heart kind of exploded (remember how I said I was a softy – I wasn’t lying!) It was just wonderful to see.

And I think I’m going to end this post on that note. An enormous thank you goes to you all.

xxx

mumturnedmom

Linking to The Prompt which, this week, is ‘choice’. This whole experience came from the choice to hit ‘publish on that blog post.

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No, Mr Cameron, No.

No, Mr Cameron, no.
There’s been a post bubbling up inside me about education for a while now, only I’ve not been sure how to articulate what I feel. There’s so much to say.

I keep hearing how changing government standards and expectations are pushing more and more (wonderful) teachers out of the profession. I keep reading about the expectations, targets and tests that are making it harder and harder for teachers to teach in a way that instils a passion for learning into our kids. I’ve read and thought about the impact that these demands could have on the mental health of the next generation; how making school a stressful – or less enjoyable – place to be could damage children’s relationship with education forever. As a parent it worries me. As a member of society it worries me.

We had our school parents’ meetings a few weeks ago and our six-year-old son’s teachers gave us mock SATs papers to look at. I could hardly believe it: five thick test papers covering English and Maths. With a huge emphasis on grammar. With TEST emblazoned on the front and at the back ensuring that any teacher – in the knowledge that telling kids they’re doing ‘tests’ can cause stress – will fail in a mission to pass them off as just ‘some fun’. With one of the maths papers requiring an ability to read and reason before you even get to the actual mathematics. FIVE THICK TEST PAPERS. They’re only six and seven years old!

Then I went into school last week and noticed the handwriting of the kids in my son’s class. I looked and I remembered the papers they were going to be given and my heart sank. How are they all going to manage? These kids aren’t unintelligent or incapable, their handwriting is unrefined because they’re six and seven. They can’t all read perfectly and reason wonderfully yet because they’re six and seven. And the fact that the teachers are unlikely to be able to train them to pass the tests with flying colours isn’t because the teachers are bad – they’re great! But the kids are flippin’ six and seven years old.

The government can’t do this, I thought – they can’t assess all these children’s intelligence and aptitude and potential and possibilities based on these tests. These tests don’t look at how a child’s eyes light up when someone reads them a story or how they can draw a wonderful picture with only a handful of pencils or how they can invent an entire imaginary world with the contents of a recycling bin.

These tests don’t show that that child is awesome at football, that this one can captivate a room with her wicked sense of humour, or that this little boy is really empathetic and kind. Oh, or that this little girl here could one day be a novelist if we don’t teach her, right now aged six, that she can’t write much at all. She can’t write much YET because she’s SIX.

And yet they ARE trying to assess our kids, and these tests necessitate a style of teaching that’s counter to so much research about the best ways that kids learn. A way of teaching that means the rules of grammar take precedence over encouragement to write for the enjoyment of it, or means maths questions must be tackled in a way that no one would ever use in the real world. We have so many talented teachers in this country that are trying so hard to wrestle with the curriculum to make learning as engaging as possible, but the government is making it harder and harder. No wonder they’re resigning in droves. No wonder schools are struggling to recruit staff.

The government can’t do this, I thought.

They can’t do this to our kids.

And then I thought… what if… what if we just don’t let them?

What if on SATs day we parents all agree not to send our kids into school?

Not because we don’t believe in school. Not because we don’t believe in education. But because we DO. We believe, no, dammit, we KNOW it is incredibly important. That it is fundamental to society and that we, as a society, have to get it RIGHT (or heck, right now I’d settle for just ‘not so completely wrong that it makes my eyes bleed’).

What if instead of school that day we have a National ‘Learning Is Fun’ day, where we all teach our kids by giving them exciting, meaningful and memorable experiences?

Where we teach them love of words and stories and literature by reading them great books?

Where we ignite their imaginations with drama and stories and art?

Where we teach them history by visiting interactive museums and talking to people who had real-life experiences?

Where we instil a love of maths or science through practical experiences and experiments?

Where we teach them about the things we love, be they gardening or building or hiking or snorkelling or painting or writing or morris dancing… whatever… in the best way we can?

We do it together, with friends, family or wider communities or we do it on our own, just us and our kids, but everyone does their bit, even if it’s only a tiny bit, to show their children the fun parts of learning and the ways in which it can affect our lives.

And then we share, share, share what we’ve learnt. We share it on social media, on TV, on the radio, in the local paper. We share by drawing pictures and putting up posters… doing pieces of performance art in the street (I don’t know, whatever, just think of something!). We share as much as we can, as widely as we can.

And together we show the government what teachers have been trying to tell them all along if they’d only listen: what really makes children tick, what really ignites their passions, what sets their imaginations free and lets their potential soar.

On that day, we’d do our best to support our country’s wonderful teaching profession. It would be a day when we as parents would say: we will not put our children through this. Our kids deserve better. Teachers and schools deserve better. Society deserves better.

No, Mr Cameron, no.

What if..?

***

UPDATE: I was so overwhelmed by the response to this post that, along with a fellow blogger, I’ve launched a #THISislearning campaign. Please click here to find out more!

*** Since I wrote this post a new petition has been launched at 38 degrees, calling for a SATs boycott on 3rd May. Click here to find out more***

mumturnedmom

This post was inspired by The Prompt which, this week, is ‘Mighty’. I often feel helpless in the face of this government and I got to thinking that although I feel tiny, together we have the potential to be mighty.

You might like to sign these petitions calling for the extension of the Early Years Foundation Stage from “birth to 5″ to “birth to 7″:

This one is on UK Government and Parliament Petitions. If it gets 100,000 signatures it will be considered for debate in parliament.

This one is on Change.org.

Writing Bubble
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Stopping at two

building confidence – #WhatImWriting

Confidence can be a slippery beast. As a writer, I find it can ebb and flow like the tide, rushing in to joyfully knock me off my feet when I’m in the zone (‘Yes! this is going brilliantly!’) and then retreating to the horizon when it comes to showing my work to anyone else (‘Argh! They might think it’s rubbish!’).

waves darkAdmittedly, I’m getting better at keeping my feet wet these days. When I first set up this blog two and a half years ago I published two posts, didn’t mention to anyone that I’d written them (I’m not sure I’d even joined Twitter at that point) then within 24 hours I took them down and ran away from the blog for a whole year… and all because I was too scared of people reading ANYTHING I’d written. Even when I finally plucked up the courage to start writing and publishing posts, it took me a while longer to start posting any of my poetry or fiction because, well… what if people hated it? What if they confirmed my darkest fears and said, “Think you can write?! Ha! You’ll never get anywhere!”?

But I finally took the leap and did post my creative writing and people weren’t like that at all; they were lovely. And that’s one of the things I’ve found in the blogging world over the last eighteen months, in general, people are just that: lovely. They leave lovely comments and send lovely tweets. They support you and appreciate the support you offer them. They become your friends. Oh what a lot of time and worry I could have saved myself if I’d assumed that from the start!

I was thinking about this last week when I was lucky enough to find myself at a confidence building/media training workshop run by Jon Hammond. Now, you might be thinking ‘confidence workshop? Is that the sort of thing where you’re forced to do horrible exercises that make you really uncomfortable in order to overcome your fears?’ And I did have an awful thought en-route to the workshop that maybe I would be made to stand on a rooftop shouting “I’m a strong, confident woman!” to passers-by. Eeep. But thankfully my fears were unfounded and no rooftop declarations were necessary to ensure the sense of confidence I came out of the session with.

statue in paris

NOT me making an announcement from the top of a building (although the likeness is uncanny).

Jon spoke about human beings’ natural fear of new situations (which makes sense from an evolutionary perspective) and how such situations can send us into ‘fight or flight’ mode. Just as our ancestors would have reacted to the approach of a woolly mammoth with fear, we now view the prospect of public speaking – or often any other event that involves a crowd of unknown people – with the same fear. We spoke about how counter-productive this is – you’re never going to give the best presentation or make the best impression on people when you’re viewing them as a hoard of marauding beasts that need to be escaped from or jabbed with a spear!

Although the workshop was based around public speaking I think this idea applies equally well to confidence about writing. Ok, the actual writing bit doesn’t usually have us running scared but what’s the point of being writer if no one ever reads anything we write? And it’s the ‘being read’ that normally provokes those flight or flight responses. Sometimes we give up before we’ve even tried, view our potential readers as those scary beasts and don’t even put our work out there.

He's coming to get you! RUN!

He’s coming to get you! RUN!

To overcome some of this, rather than seeing an audience as a threat, Jon suggested that when meeting new people – or putting ourselves in front of an audience of any sort  – we think of them as friends. That we approach them as ourselves and not put up a false-front based on how we think we should be behaving. That we don’t wind ourselves up beforehand about how awful it’s going to be but instead tell ourselves ‘oh, this is going to be enjoyable, I’m going to have some lovely chats.’ or something of the sort.

Obviously this is easier said than done for those of us who tend to lurk by the snack table at the back. But thinking both positively and logically, the chances are, when you approach people in a friendly way (rather than avoiding conversation and hoping to be mistaken for a pot plant) they will reciprocate. As I discovered with blogging, despite my fear of looking like a talentless idiot, most people don’t remotely treat you this way. If you’re friendly, they’ll be friendly back. And before you know it you’re just talking to friends and, well, what’s scary about that?

Let's be friends (but maybe not lick each other).

Let’s be friends! (But maybe not lick each other.)

Still, when Jon first encouraged us to take this approach I think there was a certain amount of ‘yeah, great, but that’s easy for you to say, you’re all confident and stuff – this comes naturally to you’. And who could blame us? But nope. Turns out Jon’s shy. You’d never believe it because he doesn’t act like it. He doesn’t act like it because he’s realised this approach works and he’s used it… and in using it, it’s become second nature. You know that whole thing about ‘when you act a part for long enough then it stops being acting’? That. Only all you need to do is act like the natural self you are with family and friends. You’re just having the confidence to be that you with people you don’t know.

Another thing that helped me here was Jon’s message to ‘be your audience.’ Whether you’re doing a presentation to a room full of people, going before a small interview panel, or submitting a book to an agent, think of things from their point of view. Put yourself in their shoes. Empathise. It’s much easier to make a connection with people that way and the idea of them as friends immediately feels more genuine.

There was masses more involved in the workshop (and Jon has written a book about his methods if you’re interested) but a final message that resonated for me was if you’re nervous about a situation or a decision, to challenge yourself with, ‘what’s the worst that could happen?’. Many of us live our lives held back by various fears, imagining somehow that if we say this or do that then someone might laugh at us, or be mean, or that we’ll feel stupid etc. etc. ad infinitum. The reality is often far from this and we could be missing out on all sorts of positive possibilities: that someone might find us funny (in a good way) or be kind to us or make us feel really clever or appreciated. We miss out on so much because we’re scared. I know I have done.

But not anymore!

Well… at least let’s say it’s the start of my journey to that destination anyway. I was certainly on a bit of a high after the session. I felt really inspired and imbued with a sense of, ‘Yes! I can do this! I WILL get published!’ Half way through the drive home I almost pulled into a layby to record the awesome ideas of awesomeness I was convinced would take me to my own book signings within the year.

Of course I calmed down and reality set in. Book signings are still a distant dream and my ideas now seem only tinged with a glint of awesomeness rather than being being the all-out dazzling awesome I considered at the time. But, BUT, that little tinge is enough. The fire has been lit under the idea and it’s now flickering away enticingly. A plan has begun to form in my mind. It involves limericks and illustrations and self-publishing. It involves educating, developing and promoting myself. It involves ‘becoming my audience’, working out what they need and how to give it to them. And most of all it involves not being scared.

What’s the worst that could happen? The worst that could happen is that I never have the confidence to try.

And that, my friends, is quite simply not an option.

***

***I just wanted to share this stuff with you. This is not in any sense a sponsored post (although Jon, If you’re reading, I do like After Eights ;) )***

Muddled Manuscript

 

Linking to #ThePrompt which, this week is “To be a… “. Confidence is all about the ability to be whoever or whatever you want to be! (this post also could have fitted with either of the prompts for the last two weeks too but I didn’t get it written in time… )
mumturnedmom

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yellow

When I saw that ‘The Prompt’ over at Mum Turned Mom this week was ‘Yellow’, I figured it might be time to give my daffodils poem another airing. I say ‘my’ daffodils poem but in actual fact it owes rather a lot to William Wordsworth  (since it’s a silly version of his poem ‘I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud’) and a great deal to my granddad with whom I co-wrote it about twenty-five years ago! When I was a child the two of us would often write silly poetry together and this is one of my favourites. I can still remember sitting together one mealtime, throwing lines across the table and laughing at the ridiculousness of it all.

daffodils

I Wandered Lonely as a Puff of Smoke

I wandered lonely as a puff of smoke
That floats from a chimney and over the hills,
When all at once I saw a bloke,
Carrying a mass of daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Swaying along on rubbery knees.

His face was flushed as red as wine
With drooling mouth and vacant gaze,
He followed an erratic line
Staggering in a drunken daze.
Ten dozen saw I in his arms
Stolen I’m sure from nearby farms.

The waves frothed wildly at his heel
Yet he was far to drunk to see.
A passer-by could not but feel
A portion of anxiety.
I gazed and gazed then watched him take
A tumble deep into the lake.

When later on my couch he lay,
In much apologetic mood
Recalling how I’d had saved the day
He was struck with gratitude.
Yet to this day pure horror fills
Me at the sight of daffodils.

 
And in case that’s left you yearning for the original:
 

I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud

By William Wordsworth

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

mumturnedmom

 

Nikki Young Writes

empathy

One of my favourite aspects of parenting (alongside hearing my kids learn to talk) has been watching their sense of empathy develop. Babies certainly don’t come into the world as natural empaths, given that their initial survival depends on being almost entirely egocentric and letting us know what they need, LOUDLY, without a thought for the needs of anyone else.

horses and their boy

My eldest son displaying ninja, horse-whispering skills.

Soon though, they learn the importance of smiling as a means of interaction (and of getting what they want) and, later, that talking is even better. But empathy probably comes a little way down the track due to their firm belief that the world revolves entirely round them. It was only very recently that my toddler stopped assuming that all and any pictures of babies were pictures of him. “Diddy!” (his name for himself) he would shout with delight pointing wildly at a picture of a blonde haired girl on the front of some nappies, or a brunette boy in a magazine. It didn’t matter that they didn’t look remotely like him – to his mind, all babies were most certainly him.

After a while though, children come to understand that others have feelings and that those feelings matter. This is something I’ve always been really keen to promote with all three of my boys. With our first son we were rather spoilt in this department as he’s a naturally sensitive soul who very early on became aware of – and cared about – the feelings of others (both humans and animals). When he first became a big brother at the age of just turned two, his reaction on meeting his new sibling was to kiss him and give him his favourite toy elephant – it brings a lump to my throat just to think of it! These days (aged seven),when we watch a film as a family and there’s an emotional scene in it I can guarantee that his eyes (alongside my own) will be filled with tears.

My second son learnt a lot from his brother and although these things didn’t come to him quite as easily, he has always been concerned with the welfare of babies. He really can’t bear any sort of mishap to befall them.

Most of the time, I love these qualities in my sons. A few weeks ago though, the three of them got nits (yuck) which necessitated a swift application of that horrible oily shampoo stuff. This should have been a reasonably straightforward (if messy) process but I encountered severe resistance when I (foolishly) let slip that the greasy goop was to kill the nits. “Kill the nits? KILL them?!” said son no. 1 in shock, “You can’t do that, it’s wrong! It’s killing wildlife!” Sigh.

Things got worse when I had to repeat the oily-hair process a week later to ensure that all the lice eggs had been got rid of (otherwise they could all hatch out again – I know, it’s truly lovely). “Lice eggs? You want to kill the nit babies? You can’t kill babies!” Said son no. 2 in horror. I think he imagined his hair full of miniature, cute, smiling baby-bundles. I had to do some powerful persuading in order that round two of the ‘wildlife massacre’ could go ahead.

I’m hoping that the nits are gone for good though as I suspect next time I would have three little people standing up for the rights of their disenfranchised pests, given my youngest is now learning all about empathy too. The other day when his big brother was crying he toddled over to him and started stroking his back, “Alright Doda?” he said repeatedly (Doda being how he pronounces his big brother’s name). My eldest was very touched and it definitley helped dry his tears up. A few days later, sitting in his highchair the toddler heard his big brothers bickering in the next room. When they both started crying he tried to clamber out of his seat saying “I help brubbers!” I had to let him loose and he rushed through to administer cuddles (whereupon another fight nearly broke out as both his brothers wanted to cuddle him first… but let’s gloss over that).

If I can ensure my sons grow up without losing this capacity to care for others then I will have achieved one of my main parenting goals. For my lovely, caring boys to grow into loving, empathic men, well, what more could a mother hope for?

Little Hearts, Big Love
Also linking up with The Prompt which, this week, is ‘presence’ (because of the presence of empathy in my boys – I know, it’s a tenuous link!)
mumturnedmom

limerick challenge #23

It’s been a while since my last limerick challenge… nearly two months (I just checked)! The boys have been requesting I write another one for weeks but my brain has been far too taken up with editing my picture books. My manuscripts are out of my hands for the moment though, so I’m free for a bit of silly poetry.

This time my boys asked me to write a limerick about a ‘bird’ but I took the liberty of making it a swift because I’d already noticed that this week’s prompt was ‘gift’ and a rhyme leapt to mind! The illustration is courtesy of my seven-year old.

One day I encountered a swift

Who made me decidedly miffed

When from up in the sky

He aimed at my eye

And sent me a splattery gift!

 

Swift Gift

Prose for Thought
mumturnedmom

 

Nikki Young Writes

milestones

My baby turns two next month. I know I shouldn’t really call him my ‘baby’ as he’s clearly a toddler but he’s my third, my youngest and my last and I can’t really think of him any other way. He’ll always be my baby even when he’s a great, hulking teenager I suspect.baby hand hold

I think my reluctance to give up thinking of him as a baby also has something to do with my experience of motherhood third time round. It’s felt different this time in many ways: more relaxed, easier and with no sense of urgency about getting to the next stage.

I remember with my first son I was so excited at all his achievements and keen for him to move onwards. A walking, talking child is so much more interesting than a baby, after all. With my second son I felt completely ‘in the thick of it’. There’s two years between my first two and the demands of looking after a baby and a toddler were such that I was happy to just get through it. There were many happy moments but I had a definite sense of wanting to move onwards and upwards rather than wanting to slow things down. Day to day life was really tiring!

Third time round it’s been totally different. There’s three-and-a-half years between my youngest and my second-born and since my middle son is an August birthday, he started school mere days after his fourth birthday when the baby was only six months old. So I’ve had plenty of time to sit back and really enjoy baby number three. We’ve ambled through days contentedly (well apart from the extreme sleep-deprivation but I’ll gloss over that) and while I’ve delighted at his development I’ve felt no urge at all to hurry things up. In fact I’ve often wanted to hit the pause button because he’s been such a poppet. He’s been totally doted on by the four of us  – he’s our baby and I sort of want him to stay that way.

So when it comes to thinking of his second birthday I feel a bit odd. Nostalgic almost. I know birthdays are a time for celebration but, well, I’m not sure how I feel about rejoicing in this particular milestone.

So I think I’ll focus my attention on other things. Like what a good fit he is for our family. He’s my third boy and you might assume I wanted a girl this time round (believe me, I’ve been asked that by complete strangers – there’s a whole other post I could write on that particular subject!). While that would have been nice (I assume), the fact is when I considered (while pregnant) the attributes that – in an ideal world – I’d like my third child to have I was unknowingly imagining his personality.

He’s laid back, contented and affectionate, he adores his big brothers, thinks my husband is the funniest person alive and, of course he’s my mummy’s boy regularly racing towards me for ‘a cudooo’ (cuddle) :) The last two years could have been so much harder if he’d been different. He’s awesome. And my older boys have welcomed him into our family with open arms. They’re thrilled to see him every morning and every day after school, they call him a “cutie boy” or a “sweetie”, they taught him to draw, help him build lego… my oldest has even written poetry about how much he loves him! The three of them are an amazing little team. I adore them all and I’m so lucky.

Now that’s something to celebrate.

Linking up with #ThePrompt over at Mum Turned Mom. This week it was ‘celebration’.

mumturnedmom

fevered focus – #WhatImWriting

It wasn’t the week I had planned. I spent last Tuesday reading and commenting on all the wonderful #WhatImWriting posts and, having read all the inspiring comments on my own post, began Wednesday highly motivated to KICK-START MY WRITING YEAR!

On your marks, get set, WRITE

Then fate intervened and I instead spent all Wednesday afternoon holding my poor little vomiting youngest in my arms, kissing his fevered brow soothingly (what kind of fool kisses a vomiting baby’s brow? I mean, that was just asking for trouble… ). I then spent Thursday on a series of conference calls (rather than being able to attend in person due to nursery’s 48 hour vomit-exclusion rule) and playing catch up on all the things I’d failed to do the previous day).

But that was ok, these things happen, never mind, FRIDAY would be the day when I could KICK-START MY WRITING YEAR!

Oh, except my fond brow-kissing came back to haunt me when, you’ve guessed it, I started being sick too. Saturday I was mainly feeling flaky and sorry for myself and Sunday I was spending time with my kids which brings me to today. Monday night. Hmmm.

Still, it wasn’t a total washout as despite having failed to KICK-START etc. in the full-on, dedicated manner I had in mind, I did squeeze in a tiny bit of writing. And I found myself working on my picture books. All three of them simultaneously: re-writing book one, re-reading and tweaking (and self-doubitfying – that’s a word, right?) book two and still bashing out the first draft of book three. And the fact that I instinctively chose to spend my little bits of free time on those books told me something…

Last week I was wondering what on earth to focus on when there was so much I wanted to write. Now I know that – for the time being – I want to focus on my picture books. I’ve decided that my plan for between now and the end of February is to get all three to a stage where I am happy to submit them. I’m also going to work out precisely which agents I want to submit to and what those submissions will entail (Agent Hunter here I come) and then I’ll send them out. After that, it will be a case of waiting for the rejections responses to come back which is the ideal time to turn my focus elsewhere – to one or several of the other projects I’m keen to tackle.

So, I HAVE A PLAN! Not such a bad week after all, then.

Writing Bubble
mumturnedmom

thunder

mumturnedmom

 

She felt the rumble before she heard it: a gentle buzz that set the hairs on her arms tingling. It was a long way off, though; not something she needed to be concerned with. Or at least that’s what she told herself. She concentrated fiercely on adjusting the buttons on her blouse and smoothing the fabric, all the while urging her feet to keep moving. Don’t worry.

Yet the vibration and sound were insistent. A deep, sonorous hum was building, moving closer and becoming more urgent. She paused and closed her eyes as bright flashes of anxiety started to leak their way across her vision. Breathe, she whispered, just breathe. It will pass.

Forcing her feet forwards again, her body soon resonated with the sound: a thundering that shook the ground beneath her. Sweat prickled her scalp and ran in an icy trail down her back. Relax, she urged herself, It will be ok. You can do this.

Finally as the rumble became a roar and the air trembled with shouts and cries, she reached the curtain. Pasting a smile on her face she stepped out of the wings. The lights were dazzling and the calls of her fans escalated as she walked to the centre of the stage.

A hush fell as she picked up the microphone. The audience held its breath. Then as her voice soared out over the concert hall she felt her fears fall away. Anxiety fragmented with every note and drifted away leaving behind only the beauty and purity of her song.

 
Written for The Prompt – this week it was ‘Thunder’

Also linking up with Wonderful World of Writing and Friday Fiction:

Nikki Young Writes