Straddling the borders (of acceptable pronunciation)

I grew up on the border of America and Canada. So a lot of my cool childhood memories involve being in Quebec, Ontario, etc.

My kids are growing up on the border of England and Wales. So a lot of their cool childhood experiences involve being in Wales.

I grew up seeing signs in French and English, they are growing up seeing signs in Welsh and English.

There’s no real point to this except to say that I noted the parallel the other day and thought it was sort of cool. And that the accent of my children leaves no doubt they are not Welsh, but my accent means that every British person I meet asks if I’m Canadian.

(In other semi related areas, I’ve never met a British person who couldn’t pronounce ‘Chicago’ correctly, yet I’ve never met one who said ‘Michigan’ the right way. It’s Michigan with a Chicago shhh sound people. The way people say MITCHigan sets my teeth on edge.)


When past and present collide.


Even when we go back to places we’ve been many times before, it always feels new.

Last October we were here, barefoot with woollen hats on our heads, feet buried in mud. Today we were here and, yes, played in a stream, but we also went out into the river. People were puppies, people were putting on performances, people were getting splashed by exuberant dogs.

I look at my children and think about the wonder of their childhood. It’s all the best parts of my childhood…except, and this is the important bit, it’s just best bits. Not only what I consider the best, but what each child chooses to be the best. With no time constraints or pressures to achieve certain targets by certain dates, we are free to be flexible and explore.

Explore ourselves, explore friendships, explore our passions. These things might happen under a bridge, naked, in the woods. Or they might happen snuggled on a beanbag watching a bit of Stampy.

I don’t want to live vicariously through my children. I want them to have their own lives, discover and pursue their own joys. But while they are still little (though they’d not agree they were little!), I’m lucky enough to journey with them much of the time.

And happy when their laughter and games remind me of my own childhood. So much of it was spent wading up streams, or alone deep in the woods, or creating crazily dangerous games with my sister. These are the golden joys of my past, and I’m so lucky my memories are prompted by watching my children jump and splash in the present.

Snappy snippets.


‘M, you were not born to be mean. You were born to be nice, like me.’ -S

‘I wouldn’t kick them to death, sweetheart. If you do that you won’t be getting grapes, you’ll be in prison.’ – me


‘I treat bumpers like they were meant to be bumped.’ – my friend who made me a gorgeous omelette (heaven), and then a few hours later had to rescue me when I was totally wedged in on her road (hell)


‘(Says anything relating to any conversation here and then concludes with) OR WHAT?’ – M


‘Was that a dance, or did you just fall?’ Asked to me by another friend, who heard my feet scrambling for purchase in the gravel filled hole I fell in. I love that she knows I may just started dancing.

I also never want to forget the numb look of panic/incomprehension on a cafe worker’s face when we asked if they had ice cream. She just froze in place, not blinking, and after about thirty seconds said, ‘Normal ice cream?’ before rummaging in a freezer (and I saw her touch an ice cream container) before saying that no, there was no ice cream. We spent the next forty minutes outside all taking turns trying to buy ice cream from each other and practicing not blinking or making facial expressions.


My bestie of old: ‘S, what does the fox say?’

S: …….. ‘Do you know what vanilla ice cream and strawberries taste like?’

Why, yes, I may just be that hippy parent YOUR parents warned you about.


And so there we were, trooping through the woods. Running from the ringwraiths, climbing trees, finding stuff to stick to art pictures. Making fake campfires, pond dipping, seeing our first tadpoles.

Laughing with friends, eating, sometimes fighting. Stick swords flashing through the air, children balancing on small wooden platforms almost as tall as they are, learning to leap from post to post.

We wandered to the river. My two ended up nude, except for their sturdy little adventure sandals. Jumping and balancing, making rock towers, wading up the river to see what happens around the bend.

I marveled at their easy, unselfconscious frolicking. Their sun dappled skin changing from creamy white to the soft green of reflected leaves. Ripples and patterns dancing across bare legs, water droplets rolling down strong legs and soft skin.

Playing naked along the riverbanks, sliding down muddy hills with bare bums. Friends making up quirky rules to even quirkier games involving sunshine, clouds, and standing on rocks.

This is the marvel of childhood. Trees to water to food to play. Repeat as necessary, repeat all day long, run free and climb logs and expand.


Put the money in the pot!

S has taken to doing occasional performances for money. You know, playing a recorder and earning 10p, that sort of thing. Today she insisted we all take turns performing in the garden (us and some friends who thankfully have not excluded me from their lives, despite my tendency to Get a Little Bit Ca-ra-zay).

My performance started as a simple song and dance, and somehow morphed into something like…

Put the money in the pot.
Put the money in the pot.
Put the money in the pot if you like what I got.

That’s when I realised a topless elderly neighbour was watching with mouth open.

My friend said, ‘Your neighbours must love you.’

Maybe they do, maybe they don’t. All I know is he didn’t throw money over the fences at me, which was a mild disappointment.

Babywearing twins (or siblings!): two in one wrap.

I’ve got a whole list of ‘prerequisites.’ By that I mean, posts I feel like I need to write before I can work up to the concept of all the differing and fabulous ways of babywearing more than one kid at a time. But it’s this big backlog and feeling of ‘I ought to’ that chokes me. So, much like babywearing can be, I’m skipping right to a tandem wearing post!

I believe this carry was invented by a mama named Wraparoundjoy, but I could be wrong. I was overexcited and made this babywearing video on what must have been only my third attempt at this carry. I got much better as time went on, but never made another video. So, apologies for that!

I believe this is called the ‘wiggleproof’ – whether that refers only to the back carry shown or the entire thing, I don’t know. What I do know is this is a solid, comfortable carry that is a lot easier than you might imagine. You will probably need a wrap about a size up from your normal size if your babies are big or are actually toddlers!

This is obviously the carry to use if you’ll be wearing for awhile – say, a walk, or shopping, or just needing to get somewhere. It’s not convenient for getting one kid down and popping them back in, so consider this the ‘pushchair’ of wrap carries.

If you are not familiar with back carries, it is best to practice a back cross carry before attempting this one! A baby on the back should be seated much like one on the front – plenty of fabric under the bum, legs spread, knees up in line with the bum.

With no further ado (but with absolute recognition that you can’t see how I am preparing babies on the floor for a back carry, and I think I WILL make an update video on that, either using a toy or a four year old as the ‘baby’!):

Do let me know if this brings up any questions for you, and I will try to answer either directly in the comments or in a new post. Happy Friday, and have fun experimenting with this awesome tandem carry!

One day (phew!)

Sometimes I forget how awesome it is to have mini adventures, just the three of us.

Today we went to a nautical/pagan storytelling, had a picnic by the water, and rode the boat taxi across the water and back again.


They bought baby hedgehog toys with their pocket money, and used them in a circus they performed around giant land bound anchors. (Anchors taller than me. And I’m tall.)

We wandered onto the platform of an abandoned railroad line. Some of us hopped along the track itself, feet jumping over bright wildflowers and sun warmed track.

We went up to Aardman Animations (the Wallace and Gromit people!) to have a nosy in their windows. They always have cool miniature figures and things in the windows, and huge statues and bits of movie set in the main reception. Today we spotted all the mini Gromits (and you probably don’t know what this means. I must write a post on this!) and it was awesome.


We’ve looked in those windows a lot, but never noticed there was a boatyard right across from them. So of course we ran over to watch men working on two huge wooden ships.

Eventually we got in the car to head home, but decided to stop in a fab place (that probably also needs its own post!) we drive by every day. We had our second picnic of the day deep in the trees, then found a ‘stage’ along the river. I was the audience for various shows and songs, and then the nursemaid when stinging nettles struck (dock leaves grow right next to them and those ‘helper medicine leaves’ are well known and worshipped by both children!).


Now we are home. It’s not even three pm. I wonder what the next few hours will bring….

Sinking mud: Britain’s answer to the Grand Canyon, Niagra Falls, and other natural wonders of the world.

A childhood in the UK is uniquely placed to offer children the chance to explore being on the edge of sinking mud. Halfway between joy at the ultimate mud experience and terror that you will legitimately need to call out the rescue services.