Happy Tracks in the Snow

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Rest August 4, 2008

Filed under: parenting articles,the kids — paulabrown @ 5:27 pm

So it’s a little known fact that the term ‘let’s sleep on it’ has basis in actual scientific fact; the brain transfers information from the short term memory into the longer term and in the process all the information is organised into the right bit of the brain, thus making full sense of it all. It’s why you must rest and stop from time to time and why any lesson in anything should incorporate a short time to reflect or relax (as in the case of yoga etc).

It’s also why summer holidays are so important to kids and why you often see a giant leap forward at the end of them – not that the learning stuff isn’t important but the time spent mooching about and mucking around is when it all starts to sink in and make sense. So enjoy mooching and don’t worry that you should be doing terribly structured activities!


Boys and volcanoes… March 13, 2008

Filed under: parenting articles,the kids — paulabrown @ 9:50 am


… we made this volcano for Woodcraft Folk and how much did the boys love it…? They were ecstatic! Funnily enough we have a Tatty Bumpkin sticker on the sticker sheet and I’ve never once had a girl pick that sticker. Maybe explosions are a boy thing…?

Instructions for making this can be found on the web or in the Boys Annual or the Dangerous Book for Boys. It’s National Science and Engineering Week this week so get papier mache-ing!



Filed under: celebrations,parenting articles,Tatty Bumpkin — paulabrown @ 9:05 am


If you’re toying with going to a festival check out Festival News or Efestivals

Tatty Bumpkin will be at:

  • Glastonbury Festival
  • Shambala
  • Sunrise Celebration
  • Green Man
  • Ragged Hedge Fair

If you’re undecided about whether it’s a good thing to do with kids, check out an old post of mine on the topic.


It’s the little things February 18, 2008

Filed under: parenting articles,the kids — paulabrown @ 8:49 pm


So when I think back to my childhood it’s the little things you remember. Specifically I think you could categorise them into:

  1. things you did as rituals / routines (my example would be Saturday Sausage Sandwiches – we always had sausage sandwiches at home on a Saturday morning, I can still see my folks in their jeans and sweatshirts, enjoying the start of the weekend)
  2. things that go wrong (the time I made tea by putting teabags – a lot of them, milk, sugar and water into the kettle and switched it on or in Nige’s case the time he ran over his dad’s foot with a tractor)
  3. silly things (parents doing silly things like the old pretending to be the other’s hands trick – one has hands behind back, other gets to be the hands and play silly pranks)
  4. selfless acts (my dad used to break off his cornet and dig out some ice cream and make me a mini cornet, ice cream then promptly dripped all over him but he didn’t mind – I’d already had a cornet of my own I hasten to add or when my mum would give me her bread roll when I’d eaten mine in a restaurant / cafe)

They also remember funny stuff only your family might do. We have Friend Finger (extend index finger in an ET fashion towards person you’ve just been a bit grumpy with in the hopes that they extend Friend Finger towards you in a conciliatory style).

Friends rename food like ‘Dalek Bread’ (=garlic bread in case rhyming isn’t your forte!) and the picture here is of Flat Gabe (clothes laid out in amusing splatted child manner) which we cribbed from some friends who have a Flat Hamish (and also a 3D one). We’ve got very into word play, specifically spoonerisms (par cark, chish & fips, tup of cea etc) and cockney rhyming slang. I guess the point is that there you are trying to make the big picture work and all the while they are focussing on the details, the funny incidents or the time you were really grumpy…


calm after the storm February 1, 2008


So the fifth birthday has come and gone, complete with 34 small boys dressed as pirates and 2 small princesses watching the antics of a grown man dressed as a pirate (aka Captain Barnacle / Mr Brown’s Pig). Turning 5 made Gabe question his own mortality with a lot of discussion about death and the apparent belief that he was now that much closer to his own…

This week also saw me jumping neatly out of my comfort zone to perform in the Bristol Storytelling Festival’s Storytelling Slam Competition thingy. No I didn’t win but I didn’t make a fool of myself either and was even voted for by real people and everything. I chose a Cuban folk tale from Barefoot’s ‘Riddle Me This’ by the wonderful Hugh Lupton – a brilliant book about riddles and puzzling tales.

I have to confess to being one of the transgressors who’s tangled up in the Inland Revenue’s website problems, still haven’t filed my return as it’s still down, painstakingly reconciling stock in and out for the books was fun, especially as I hadn’t kept my records up-to-date. I won’t even bother to say it won’t be like that next year!

Next week is Chinese New Year so I’ll be running all over Bristol doing special Tatty Bumpkin sessions at nurseries, schools and the like with my big papier mache dragon head… Some activities to come on that…


Coming of age… January 24, 2008

Filed under: parenting articles — paulabrown @ 8:36 pm


So my wee boy is now 5, today, and I feel quite emotional (that might be because I’ve heard ‘I get around’ by the Beach Boys – whom I’ve long had a phobia about – about 200 times today as a toy car he got plays snippets of it).

It seems like yesterday that I popped him out (yes I’m one of those annoying women who was still trying to work out if I was in labour an hour before he was out). For him it was emotional as he’d somehow got into his head that by getting older he was that much closer to dying and begged me, while awake for half the night to magic it so he never died. Well I’m good, but not that good.

I came across a few good, practical tips for children that I thought I’d share:

  1. if you ask a child to do something for you need to wait 10 seconds for them to do it, apparently that is how long it takes for them to process it and stop doing whatever they’re doing
  2. it takes an average 30 times of telling / asking a child something for them to get it – if you times that by the 10 seconds you’re starting to get a picture of non-instantaneous action, non?
  3. kids need to go slow, if you find this hard when rushing to pick them up after work or similar, try actually moving really slowly to reinforce this – example was of a woman trying to get into ‘slow time’ that she sort of slow-motion space-walked from the car to the childminders to get into the spirit of it all
  4. beware over-use of forward-facing buggies or car seats as they inhibit language learning – I don’t mean for a trip to the shops, more like spending half the day in one. The problems is, apparently that the child can’t see your lips move as you speak so can’t replicate the sounds.
  5. February is looming and with it flu season. I highly recommend this as a flu prevention: as soon as you feel a cold or flu coming on, make a footbath of a hot water as you can stand with 3 heaped tablespoons of english mustard powder in. Soak your feet for 20 mins or so, preferably while downing high doses of good quality vitamin C (eg blueberry extract or similar), drinking green tea and taking echinacea (but again very good quality).

that’s all folks…


playing outside January 21, 2008

Filed under: parenting articles,the kids — paulabrown @ 10:44 pm


We’ve got a cul-de-sac (isn’t French posh?) opposite us, one where cars don’t reverse in 3rd gear like in our street. The kids can play outside. It got me reminiscing. I used to disappear for hours when I was about 6 or 7 in our cul-de-sac and we even had a street gang where anyone joining had to touch the gang leaders younger brothers ‘willy’ (is there a good word for this appendage?) to join. It seemed quite normal at the time.

I spent some of my childhood in Alberta, Canada and though often minus 40 in the winter we played outside a lot. We lived next to a prairie and hunted rabbit for tea (I was Laura Ingalls Wilder) and ski in the Rocky Mountains and listen to John Denver and make Taj-Mahal shaped ice sculptures and once my parents had the police out trying to find me when I was hidden in the most enormous pile of crispy autumn leaves (I’ve never seen autumns to match those since) for over 4 hrs. What a lark! I’ll be laughing on the other side of my face when my kids vanish like that.

It made me laugh though when we visited a native Athabaskan village in Alaska on a return to that same landscape a few years ago and the kids were all in playing with computer games when there was the most stunning landscape to explore…

Playing outside relatively indendpently (as of old) is really important for independence, getting along with your peers, exposure to sunlight etc. A friend organises Outdoor Fridays for toddlers¬† – morning rambles / toddles and I’m planning to run outdoor Friday afternoons in our neighbouring cul-de-sac and take it over, we might even take turns to do hot dogs each week. We might pass on the initiations though…