free clothes, being on telly and school discos – all what i’ve been up to recently

OK, this blog doesn’t tend to feature ‘newsy’ posts. I prefer to write about issues, thoughts and ideas I’ve been having, rather than over-personalise it, or turn it into some boring online diary. But I’m aware that posts have been a little irregular of late, and the fact is that some quite unusual and exciting things have been happening in Real Life, so here’s a little summary for you if you fancy. If you don’t fancy, feel free to close the window right now (and thanks for the extra blog stats).

Free clothes!

I won a prize draw after submitting my review of Skipton’s retiresavvy web portal! The lovely Mumsnet and Skipton Financial Services picked my name out of a hat to win a £250 shopping voucher which, after much deliberating, I chose to spend at a clothes shop which shall remain nameless and which, in all honesty, was probably the wrong choice but, hey, for the next couple of months I will look extremely fashionable.

TV appearance!

There was a thing on Twitter about chocolate addicts being needed for some BBC documentary and – well, you would, wouldn’t you? Turns out my chocolate addiction is pretty epic, and I’m now going to feature fairly heavily in the programme. Look out for Trust me, I’m a doctor, BBC2, late July, if you want to pre-empt the next day’s tabloid headlines: “BENEFITS MUM USES YOUR TAXES TO FUND OBSESSIVE CHOCOLATE ADDICTION”. They paid me in chocolate, though, so all good.

School disco!

Not only Mister’s first ever school disco, but my first ever organising of one. Seemed to go OK. Most of the essential ingredients were there (sugar-heavy tuck shop, enthusiastic DJ, dance competitions) but it turns out that Time Warp is no longer welcome at your average school disco.

And it seems that today’s kids don’t go anywhere without getting their nails done, so we set up a nail bar and tattoo parlour. (Temporary tattoos of course – what do you take me for?) Actually ‘bar’ and ‘parlour’ are stretching it a bit. A few teachers and parents sitting behind a school desk trying to make chit-chat with the kids probably sums it up more accurately.

Blogs!

Two friends of mine independently started writing blogs within 24 hours of each other. And they are both bloody amazing, if you don’t mind me saying. If it was a blog-eat-blog kinda world, I’d be out of business straightaway but, as it happens, they’re very happy to share cyberspace with me. Please go and read them, I promise you won’t regret it. Kate has an incredible family of 7, through birth and adoption, and shares her adoption story with humour and honesty. Jo is an amazing single mum, widowed, sufferer of MS – and has a lot to teach me about strength, resilience, perseverance, and trusting God through the difficult times. Go say hello on their blogs!

Adoption!

Oh yeah – and we went into a room filled with a whole load of scary grown-ups who weren’t actually that scary and they asked us questions and we talked and talked and then they went and said we could adopt a child. 🙂

Dancing round the lounge (a pedagogical justification)

A picture of a young boy enthusiastically playing air guitar with a toy broom!

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As any parent of two or more kids will know, it can be pretty difficult to find an activity that all your children can enjoy together.

Last year, with toddler Mister and baby Missy, one of the activities which we all enjoyed was dancing. Mister has always loved moving to music and Missy would go all giggly being swung around in my arms as I threw some shapes to Blur, Ben Folds Five, The Proclaimers…whatever we could lay our snotty little hands on.

Over the last few months, Missy has started to spontaneously bounce around whenever music comes on; she doesn’t need to be told. I like to think that this is partly due to the crazed antics of her mother in her first few months!

With my music educator’s hat on, any sort of movement to music is an excellent tool for learning. It was something we were encouraged to do in the classroom, although you can imagine I never had a huge amount of success with the age bracket entrusted to me. (11-18…just the age when you want to make an idiot of yourself in front of your peers.)

For those of you who, like me, enjoy a bit of dancing every now and again, I thought I’d encourage you with some thoughts on its benefits. For those of you who wouldn’t be seen dead choreographing to the music your toddler requests, maybe this will make you think again!

Moving to music has no rules, no set outcomes, no predicted end result. Healthy participation in these sorts of activities encourages creative problem-solving – the antithesis of a spoon-fed education.

Your child is coping with a ‘problem’ (“Music with no choreography…what shall we do?”) and learning how to come up with the ‘solution’ (“I could jump around, then throw my hands in the air, then spin round, then nod my head…”). Of course none of this is being articulated verbally but it’s happening none the less.

Moving to music helps us to gain an intrinsic sense of rhythm. When our whole bodies are involved in ‘feeling’ the pulse, we develop an instinctive knowledge of beats, bars and time signatures. From a young child’s perspective, this gives them a great head-start for learning an instrument later on.

When we move to music we are experiencing that music in a deeper way than by just listening to it. We notice far more about the music’s rhythm, changes in texture, bass line, counter melodies, and so on, because we’re looking for clues that will help us know what to dance. For young children especially, with limited communication skills, dancing is a great way to express what a particular piece of music means to them.

Dancing in an unstructured way in a supportive environment develops confidence and boosts self-esteem. It encourages us to let go of ourselves – and gives us the freedom to try new things and make mistakes. What important life-skills for a young child to start learning!

Add to this the fact that dancing is a great form of exercise, doesn’t necessitate leaving the house and has the potential to entertain several different-aged children at once…and you get a pretty strong argument for dancing round the lounge!

Read more of my musings on parenting, education, family life and faith by clicking here! I promise, promise, PROMISE not to spam you!

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