Today is a cheerful day.

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1. I got a lie-in as Him Indoors is on late shift today so he could do family stuff until I decided to bid farewell to the duvet.

2. I managed to feed the children altogether at breakfast time. This very rarely happens due to their differing tastes and their unwillingness to eat together sometimes. My youngest son is of the view that the other two children’s eating styles are disgusting.

3. I fixed a technology issue that was proving troublesome.

4. I contributed some ideas to some special people.

5. I had email contact with a very lovely friend and we always have a giggle too.

6. I feel on top of things.

7. I have enjoyed cuddles with cats.

8. I have had a walk in the sunshine.

9. I have seen the nurse who says my blood pressure is superb and that my weight loss is amazing. That made an already cheerful day even better.

10. I sat in the garden and had a drink whilst my son enjoyed a snack.

11. Quite by accident we met a fellow home educator and joined the Wildlife Trusts.

12. Him Indoors won’t be back until later which means I will get an evening in charge of the remote control and doing my own thing.

13. I feel confident, sassy, chatty and positive about the present and the future.

Now that makes for a very cheerful day.

Is your child upset about Zayn leaving One Direction? Our new agony aunt Molly Coddle has some words of advice for you.

onedirection

There is no doubt fans feel a real sense of loss.

What can you say to your child if they are devastated by the One Direction News?

1. Zayn leaving One Direction as a voluntary act. This is what he either wants or needs.

“I am leaving because I want to be a normal 22-year old who is able to relax and have some private time out of the spotlight,” he said in a statement posted on the band’s Facebook page.

If you really care about the band members, wish him well as he continues to his next chapter.

2. The band is staying together. One Direction might now to be Four-fifths direction but the band will play on.

3. It is a sign of strength to express feelings. Crying is an OK thing to do.

4. Seeking support is also a great thing to do in life. Encourage your child to reach out for your support and that of peers.

5. It will be a very lucky parent who has not experienced a loss of some sort in their lives. Empathise with your child and show them that you do understand.

6. Zayn leaving One Direction has led to negative things happening as people respond to the news including encouragement of self-harm. Make sure you are clued up on this and remain vigilant. Don’t be afraid to have a discussion about such issues. The MIND charity has helpful information about self-harm.

7. Encourage your child to find a balance between being online and getting out in the fresh air or doing other things. It could so easily become obsessive to sit taking part in the outpouring of grief online so a good balance now is even more important than usual.

8. Ask your child directly what would make them feel better and how you can help.

9. Ask your child what might happen next? Solo careers, changes of direction (no pun intended)) reunions in time – the world really has not ended. Gently remind them that there was a life before One Direction. Zayn leaving One Direction may in time be shown to be the best thing for himself, the band and others.

10. If the grieving behaviour continues or you have concerns, teach your child the right way to live life by reaching out for the support that is available for your parenting and for their mental health.

When Culture Club split up for the first time, I was a teenager. It was very upsetting and especially as Boy George was clearly not well or engaging in the best behaviours. Decades later Boy George is still alive and the Culture Club dramas continue. Life really does go on.

My next upset was when Freddie Mercury died. I can still cry about this all these years later and that is OK. I celebrate his life and music. I share it with my children. I try to incorporate some of his wisdom into my own life in a very small way.

As for my daughter, she is happy about the One Direction news as she has never liked the group. She has never being one to follow the crowd and I guess in that she is like Zayn although I have no intention of sharing that analogy with her.

How do you help your child cope in situations like this?

Welcome guests inside with this sophisticated sweet potato recipe for patties with grilled bacon and poached duck eggs.

sweetpotatoducky

A dish that looks as good as it tastes, with a rich duck egg that sits elegantly atop a crunchy patty and crispy bacon, it’s sure to become the star of the party. Dust with paprika for guests who crave a touch of spice or omit the bacon for a delightful vegetarian dish.

Sweet potatoes are a tasty vegetable that can be enjoyed all year round, and are also low in fat and high in fibre. They’re packed full of anti-oxidants and vitamins A and C, and count toward one of the 5 a day.

The Love Sweet Potatoes campaign is designed to tell consumers about the benefits of sweet potatoes and the different ways they can be used in everyday meals. The North Carolina farming family at Scott Farms is behind the campaign and has been growing sweet potatoes for over four generations. They are now the largest importer of sweet potatoes into the UK.

Sweet Potatoes and Bok Choi Patties, Grilled Bacon and Poached Duck Egg

Serves 4

Per serving

508kcal

24.2g protein

36.1g fat

8.3g saturates

41.5g carbs

9.1g sugar

3.8g fibre

2.8g salt

1172mcg vitamin A

Ingredients

450g cooked sweet potato, mashed

Crushed black pepper, to taste

1 small bok choi, finely sliced

1/4tsp smoked paprika

¼tsp ground cumin

1 garlic clove, chopped

1tsp honey

1-2tbsp polenta flour, plus extra for coating

Oil, for frying

8 rashers of dry cured bacon

4 duck eggs

2tbsp white wine vinegar

Extra virgin olive oil

Method

1. In a large bowl combine the sweet potatoes, pepper, bok choi, smoked paprika, cumin, garlic and honey together with a little polenta flour.

2. Adjust the seasoning, split into 4 equal balls, squash them down and coat with some polenta – this will help to make them nice and crisp when cooking.

3. Place a large pan of water on the heat and bring to a gentle boil. Add the vinegar to it. Crack the eggs into 4 individual dishes, ready to be poached.

4. Shallow fry the patties for 3-4 minutes on one side. When they are ready to be turned, stir the pan of water and gently pour the eggs into it, one at the time (the water should be simmering and not boiling).

5. Cook the patties for 3-4 minutes on the second side. When they are ready, so should be the eggs.

6. Gently remove the eggs from the water and drain on some kitchen paper.

7. When you are almost ready to serve, place the bacon on a rack under the grill and cook until crispy. When cooked, remove and keep warm.

8. Place the patties onto four serving plates. Cut the bacon rashers in half and arrange four halves over each sweet potato patty. Top each with the poached eggs, drizzle with a little oil and serve.

Tips:

· The polenta can be replaced with breadcrumbs

· If you are a meat lover, add either some black pudding or chopped chorizo to the mix before shaping it into patties

I am a big fan of sweet potatoes. Do you have a sweet potato recipe to share?

clairejustine

There is lots to smile about this week. I am positively full of happy thoughts.

happytoday

1. After a disappointing Mothering Sunday, the family went into overdrive to make it up to me so there were flowers, cards, treats and new clothes.

2. I can now see a real difference on the weight loss front and so can other people. I am on track to look reasonable by the end of June and positively wonderful by December.

3. My son has tidied his room even under the bed!

4. My daughter says she is happy because she is full of random awesomeness!

5. Him Indoors has had a pay rise – the only one in his team to do so.

6. I have tried assertiveness with good effect.

7. I have new and very funky purple microwave.

8. We had such giggles as we all tried to stand in our odd socks in a box to mark World Downs Syndrome Day.

9. I had a charity shop raid coming out with good books and a very “mutton dressed as lamb” biker jacket with stud detailing.

10. Home education seemed to turn another positive corner with my son enjoying a literacy exercise.

11. There was an Eclipse and the world has not ended which is great because I am starting to love this life business.

What are your happy thoughts today?

It is World Down Syndrome Day 2015

It is a date to focus on sharing information, support and personal stories.

So, how can you get involved in #WDSD15?

Wear your funkiest socks #lotsofsocks

We tried to think what to do to have fun with socks. My son suggested sock puppets, I though I might dust with socks on my hands and my daughter thought about wearing socks in her hair. In the end, as we had bought a funky purple microwave, we tried to see how many colourful socks we could get in the box. Daddy did not quite fit and fell backwards showing the bottom of his mucky socks.

socks

It’s a way of showing our individual differences, and of gaining attention so that you can engage people in conversation about the day and leave them a little wiser about the condition.

Donate as you Text SOCK £1 to 70070.

Just £1 is all it takes to make a difference to the Down’s Syndrome Association. Money goes towards medical research, support for families and educational resources as well as campaigns that benefit us all. Downs Side Up is fundraising on their behalf this year and I am proud to call her my friend and to have shared a cuddle with the lovely Natty. I am also proud of Mia for her great work on the awareness-raising book I Love you Natty. The family are giving a donation of £2 from every hard copy of I Love You Natty sold during March to the Down’s Syndrome Association and you could do worse than buy a copy for your school or home. It’s also now available as an iBook.

Keep Active

The focus from the charities this year is on keeping active for health and wellbeing.

You can share your photos and stories, as well as your sock selfies using the hashtags #lotsofsocks #WDSD15 and #TeamT21.

My youngest son always has to be different but says you get a thumbs up for him for putting your best sock forward for such a great cause.

socks2

To find out more please visit my friend Hayley’s blog at DownsSideUP