Today it is my son’s 10th birthday.

He is having a happy day and is very excited at entering double figures.

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I have pinned a smile on my face, bought him the presents he wanted and a big surprise too. I have made a cake to his specifications. His brother and sister gave him treats too and he had money from my brother which he says he will save.

I feel strangely sad, a little bereft as my youngest child becomes that much older and more independent.

So I am going to cheer myself up by giving you 10 awesome facts about my boy.

1. He weighed in at a mighty 11 pounds and 8 ounces at birth. We have learned over the years that this bothers him so we don’t talk about it but what a bouncing baby!

2. Always adventurous, he climbed before he walked. No household mountain was too high and I think he will conquer many peak as he lives his life.

3. I have never met anyone who did not like my son. He is socially confident (unlike the rest of us) which makes him very easy to be around. I nicknamed him Charimsa ages ago and it suits him.

4. At the age of 3, he tried to make my terminally ill Mum better with a mini egg. Poignant moment and a sign of the sweet soul that exists beneath his full-on personality.

5. He had the best relationship with my late Dad. He is all boy and my Dad enjoyed that very much. “Stick them up!” my Dad would say and they would have a mock boxing match. Dad was also the one Ramsey liked to read to most.

6. My husband has 7 children in total. I think that Ramsey is the one who loves him most. He won’t have a wrong word said against his Dad and since my Dad died, Him Indoors has become his best male adult friend.

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7. Ramsey has a scar which has ended up being an attractive part of him although he could so easily have lost his eye when he had a fall whilst I was juggling two under two and turned my back when I should not have done so. It is a reminder of challenging days and post-natal depression.

8. Ramsey appeared in advertisments for Tesco and NatWest and saw absolutely no reason to be nervous. He has the most amazing self-confidence.

9. When my son hugs me, it is like the sweetest medicine. I think he has healing powers.

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10. Ramsey is gifted, has a kind heart and excels at everything he attempts. What is lovely about this is that he has not a hint of arrogance.

Did I mention that I loved him very much?

Happy Birthday Ramsey!

Pink Pear Bear

What are 10 ways to be a happy mum? Not every mum is happy all of the time or even most of the time.

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I love my children but there are times when I have struggled so as I hit the teen and tween years, I am going to share some of my lessons on what has helped me be happier as a mum.

1. Have confidence in yourself and your ability to be a mum. People have done it for years so why should you be the one who messes it up? Believe you are a great mum and see what happens.

2. Look at your own individual circumstances. Some mums have a massive support network of family, friends and colleagues. A lot don’t and then try to measure up to those that do. How can you realistically have hot date nights, a fabulous career and look glamorous if you are the one who is always holding the baby?

3. Accept from day one that some people will judge you adversely. I was told I was an inadequate mum when I returned to work when my first son was 6 weeks old. If I was, I also earned money for the family, kept my sanity and gave my parents precious and as it turned our limited time with their first grandson.

4. Try to carve out time for yourself and your own interests. It is a challenge but even if you just insist on having 10 minutes to yourself a day, it can remind you who you are and what you like.

5. State very clearly and in writing if necessary what you need people to do to help you. Do you need your parents to show you how to do DIY or housework more effectively? Would you be happier if your partner took the baby to soft play once a week to give you a rest? Whatever works for you, let them know!

6. Be aware that if you feel sad or fed up with a life a lot of the time, you may be experiencing depressionhappytoday. Take it from one who tried, you cannot get through this without help. Get to the GP (and write down that is what you need for your family or friends if you can’t face going) and access medication or talking therapies. PLEASE!

7. Remember your children will love you anyway. That fact should not be abused but they will celebrate the mum and person you are not some media fantasty mum. Make sure they know who you are because not to put too fine a point on it they will probably give your eulogy one day. It would be good for them to have something to say.

8. If housework is overwhelming, work out a system that ensures the house at least habitable. For me, I started by doing housework in short spurts during telly advert breaks. That was all I could handle at the time but if made me feel more in control and I built on that over time. Just give me a day before you announce your visit!

9. Take every media image of motherhood, research study,parenting book and webiste with a huge pinch of salt. They are tastier that way and for goodness sake laugh at some of them. Always look at who is behind the research or whatever and what is in it for them.

10. Accept that just as you are an individual so are your children. They will develop at their own rate and have their own talents, skills and interests which may not match yours. Celebrate the people they are and make some amazing memories together.

If you think I talk sense let me know and if you don’t forgive this old wife for having her own tale!

Even better, why not put a pin it and add the image below to Pinterest and then a mum who needs a little back-up just might get it.



Jacky Ha-Ha Book

What are my reasons to be cheerful? I have quite a few to share and I know blogging about them is a little overdue.

1. We have got away from the problems in our last neighbourhood. We now live in a place that is safe and secure, full of things to do and that makes me feel great. I love becoming part of a community, having a favourite cafe and browsing charity shops a lot. This place is made for me. I have found my manor!

2. Lots is happening on the home education front. I have acquired so many resources largely from charity shops. We are finding a balance that works for us and I think this will always be an ongoing process.

3. I felt the fear and did it anyway by attending my college reunion. Although initially daunting, it was a total joy to meet up with old college peers. My college is one of the most beautiful places on Earth and to be able to stay there again was a delight. I am now in contact with people I last saw 20 or more years ago and I feel like I am back.

4. Many long-term readers know that I have struggled with depression, weight gain and a sense of having lost huge aspects of myself. I genuinely feel I am back and am excited by what comes next.

5. I am getting proactive on the social media and blogging front. I have set up a new Facebook for bloggers who want to get more out of blogging via peer support, I have a new media pack for PRs and brands. Let’s get it on!IMG_3529

Last September after my daughter had awful issues at school, we decided to home-educate her. Very quickly, her younger brother was staying at home too.

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It has taken me until now to relax about the whole thing. I had no faith in my ability to teach despite having an amazing educational background. What if I damaged their life chances for ever? Let’s face it – I couldn’t even potty train them effectively for long enough so covering a load of topics some of which I might struggle with a bit myself seemed daunting.

On a selfish level, having just about rediscovered a sense of self after the onslaught of becoming a parent, what about my me time? What about my career or business prospects? What about me?

I know many people were interested in our home education journey but I was not sure how much I wanted to reveal. I wanted to get it right and know what I was doing first. I also wanted to fit in with other home educators and was not sure I was “hippy-dippy” enough. So I joined online networks and whilst being inspired by other home educators, ran away from actually joining them in real life and feared what I was doing with the children might not suit the home-educating community.

I have changed my perspective on quite a few things over recent weeks and months. This includes home education I think partly though learning by doing. As we move towards a year of home education, I am reminded of how terrified I was about my daughter’s mental well-being. Now I see a happy, creative, excited little girl with her own strong passions including politics, film-making and story-telling. Isn’t that good enough for Year 1 of the Family on Thin Ice Homeschool?

I also have to give a huge vote of thanks to the wonderful Cerys from RainyDay Mum. I was fortunate to be in her company with my family twice in recent months including on a camping weekend. It was a joy to get to know her a little and I want to make her a a friend. She told me in no uncertain terms how impressed she was by my children. As it was clear she has a fine mind and knows about education in a big way, I actually listened and perhaps more vitally, RELAXED!

I have started reading “A Funny Kind of Education” by Ross Mountney. People advised me to read this ages ago but it has taken me a long time to accept myself an an “official” home educator. I advise anyone embarking on the home education to read this book straightaway. It is down to earth, honest and true. It makes me feel OK and good enough.

So how was starting home education for me?

Terrifying – heart-beatingly scary with adrenalin overload.
Confusing – which home education philosophy was right for us?
Exciting – the joy of our first day of freedom from school runs and what have I forgotten? was superb. We had a picnic in the sunshine and made precious memories.
Guilt-ridden – are we doing enough and the right sort of thing? What if we have a day or two off? What if I allow them to play video games? Arrrgh!
Lovely – no nits all year!
Revealing – used to children coming home and saying little about their days however much I enquired, now they chatter on about their passions with me. Very quickly I learned that my son loves classical music because he finds it calming. My daughter showed that she wants to make films. I knew neither of these things about them when they were in school.

I often wonder what my parents would think about this life choice. I do clearly remember my mum telling me to make the most of the pre-school years “because you lose them when they go to school”. At the time I thought at least I could look foward to that as I struggled with post-natal depression, nappies and bottle-feeding.

Now the fog of depression has cleared, I see what great individual children I have and Fate has decided for now that they spend more time with us and we learn together ever day. I think I want to be “hippy dippy”!

I am going to write a lot about home education from now on – this family matters and I am going to revel in it.

The amazing thing about starting home education is you can make a fresh beginning every day and do it your way.

And then the fun began...

I am becoming more aware of changing my perspective.

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Looking back, a lot of my blogging was about challenging issues such as terminal illness, bereavement, redundancy, parenting issues and depression.

I tried to be open and honest for my own therapy and apparently people found that inspiring. I even got nominated for awards for being so miserable!

I have always said that when I wrote my first Grooving Mums post way back when it was more about trying to find out if I was mad or if there was anybody else who felt the way I did. I did not know that I was opening the floodgates and that actually I was not as mad or as different as I thought.

I hated myself for being fat and ugly.

I have taken charge of my weight and the truth that I now see that I have my own individual beauty.

I was isolated and had no close friends.

I now have many friends and in fact find it a challenge to keep up with them all. That is a big change and it is good to not only have online friends but people I get to see in the real world too.

I thought I would never work again.

I got that one wrong too! I just needed to reinvent myself career wise as many mums do as they try to juggle it all.

I thought it was my fault when my partner looked at dating sites.

I now realise that when someone is a twit, it is all about them. Nothing to do with me at all – I am an attractive, intelligent, feisty, witty, creative and caring woman. In fact if I joined a dating site I would probably be inundated with offers. My husband is a lovely man but just like me and probably you, he gets it badly wrong sometimes.

I thought getting into debt as a student and other financial issues would give me a poor credit history for life. I know about such matters so this was ridiculous of me. I looked at my credit file this week and got the great news that I am creditworthy.

I found housework overwhelming so the house was too often a tip.

These days I keep on top of things enough and if the house is a mess it usually means I have made the choice to focus on fundamentally more life-affirming stuff. My late Mum said her only regret in life was that she had done too much cleaning.

I asked for some particular assistance this week and not one person came forward. Years ago, a friend told me that I had a very good heart and I celebrate that. I would always do my utmost to help where I could and that makes me a very special soul.

Am I bigging myself up? Isn’t it about time?!

So yes I am changing my perspective and I think that is one big reason to be cheerful.