Friday, 22 February 2013


With her sixth birthday fast approaching, I asked Cubling what she'd like for a present.

"I'd like a cat. And if I can't have a cat, I want a rabbit. And if I can't have that, I want a guinea pig.
I want a real magic wand. One with which you can do real magic.
I want a dress with a magic button. When you press the button, you'll become a real princess with curly hair and there's a real prince charming right beside you and the dress becomes a real wedding dress.
I want a Cinderella dress, and a real treasure map"

At which point I finally managed to stop the flow of enthusiastic ideas delivered with sparkling eyes and absolute faith that all of this was a real possibility.

I shouldn't have asked. Something tells me someone may be set up for disappointment.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Review: Polarn O. Pyret children's clothes

In an ideal world, what would your favourite kids clothes look like? What would be the most important feature?

For me, it's practicality (I'm that kind of person and it's top in my adults' clothes list too). Easy to wash, easy to wear, good quality hard wearing so it lasts and withstands high activity usage. And if it could be unisex please so it can be passed on to siblings who may not be both girls as in our case, wouldn't that be good?

I've said it before that I don't like children's clothes that are too gendered. I mean, I do like a pretty dress, and I totally go along with my girls' love of dressing up, playing princess and ballerina. But it really gets me when I go to a clothes shop and there's not one decent girls' coat that keeps them warm and dry rather than look pretty.

So along comes Polarn O. Pyret and sends me some clothes to review, I'm one happy bunny I can tell you. Polarn O.Pyret ticks all the above boxes, plus the clothes are made from organic cotton and grow with your child. It's all about quality, durability and a style which is mostly (but not exclusively) unisex and still looks great on kids.

Bottom line is I'm in love with their range.

Yes, the clothes cost a bit more than other ranges, but if you consider they grow with your child, are hardwearing and can be passed on to siblings even if you have one each... suddenly it doesn't look quite so dear anymore.

So we tried and tested a size 3-4 outfit for Snowflake (who is still in 18-24 months clothes) and although there is LOTS of room to grow into, they also can be worn already. Same for Cubling - size 6-8 years for my 5 year old and already good to go with clearly space to grow into.

And then look at this awesomeness:

And as for Cubling's outfit: It's blue and she says she likes it. That's a first, honest (and I had been a tad worried when the clothes arrived and I saw the stripy blue top). Snowflake is not too fussy with her clothes but has her own views nonetheless and she also gave me a big thumbs up. All bar the flowery print leggings can be washed up to 60 degrees, the fabrics are super soft and pleasant on the skin. The pink trousers (size 3-4 years) are so adjustable that they can be made to fit even my tiny 2 year old and the top as you can see is a bit long but looks snug on her.

You can find Polarn O. Pyret at your local Fraser's or online at and with the offer code in the picture above (just click on it), you'll get 15% off your first order on full priced items. You can also follow PO.P on facebook.

Disclaimer: I received clothes samples to review. All opinions expressed are as always mine.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

You Naughty!

When it comes to my approach to parenting, there's a lot of adjustments and going with the flow, but there's one flow that's just flowing a bit to far. Awful pun I know. I never, ever call my children, or any other child for that matter, naughty. To me that's calling for trouble because it's like a self fulfilling prophecy. If you tell a child they are a, b or c, they will think this about themselves because after all you're an adult and you know and behave appropriately. Plus I don't believe children are born naughty, they are made naughty by bad example or us expecting them to be naughty (of which using the word is one step).

So naughty? A big no no.

Shame my kids don't play game.

Cubling, you naughty! Shouts Snowflake.
No, Snowflake, you're naughty for saying I'm naughty! spits Cubling back.
Mummy, you're naughty, say both whenever I don't do exactly as they wish at exactly this exact nanosecond in time.

And repeat endlessly until they are in bed.

And after hearing about 50 times a day that I'm naughty, I'm no longer the parent who brushes it off and is strong and knows what she's doing. I feel extremely unloved, sad and frustrated.

There is no conclusion to this post, this is it. I've tried ignoring. I've tried explaining. I've told them how it makes me feel a hundred times. I've tried letting them pick a consequence for using the word and following it through. Nothing works. The word naughty is the most used word in our house and you can only guess how much I would like to see it replaced by lovely/loving (lieb).

Happy Valentine's Day, my loves, I do love you so very much, today and every other day, no matter how often you tell me I'm naughty.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

One Parenting Programme does not fit all

This morning, I stumbled across the news that the parenting programme that Glasgow City Council had signed up for and invested in, Triple P, has apparently not worked too well, if one is to believe a research study conducted at Glasgow University.

The main issues are with retention rate, with just over half of parents completing the group programme. While those who did complete the group programme reported improvements in the behaviour of their children, the high drop out rate means that it didn't work for many and we don't know if there are patterns in relation to who drops out and for whom the programme isn't working.

A lot of effort has been put into this programme, including a lot of funding. Having almost completed the online version of it, I'm a bit surprised why this programme was chosen above others. It is a supernanny style programme, working with reward charts and time out, two approaches that at the very least are questionable and not universally accepted parenting styles. In fact, when I got to "time out" and a tantrumming just 2 year old was locked in a tiny space until she would have 2 consecutive minutes of being quiet, I got angry. 2 year olds need to learn about their emotions and work through it with a caring adult, and not be abandoned to their own devices. I'm not saying that removing a child from a situation is wrong, but leaving a 2 year old alone to work it out just defies common sense. On the reward chart bit - well personally I prefer my children to be able to make choices without the carrot of a star, and while I'm sure they work and are a great tool for many parents, they are not for me. A programme that tells me that's what I should be using, these are the tools and don't complain if you don't want to use them because that makes you a failing parent just doesn't sit well with my ideas of choice and accepting different parenting styles, or parent empowerment for that matter.

So while I know that the tools are used a lot and work a treat for many people, the assumption that this is the one and only parenting style, sits very uncomfortably with me. Somehow I have a feeling that this is why many people voted with their feet.

Another reason might be that throughout what I have seen of the programme, it creates an impression of parents not knowing what their doing and needing a parenting programme to be even decent parents. This is patronising, but also simply makes you feel bad. And feeling bad about your parenting doesn't do any good for your parenting skills.

I also know that its implementation wasn't uniform. Some schools were made to run it for P1 parents, others didn't (Making schools run a programme isn't a good idea either, by the way). I once phoned as I was interested and never heard back. In fact, it was impossible speaking to any human when enquiring about it. So I'm not sure how well promoted it was apart from the Stay Positive posters and leaflets that were omnipresent and still are.

Now if you've been following this blog, you may know that I work on a different parenting programme. It's called FAST (Families and Schools Together) and it uses a very different approach, focusing on opening up family communication channels, and positive interactions that are fun and for the whole family. It's about strengthening the parent and building informal support networks, and bringing families and schools together (excuse the pun). Retention rate: 80% on average (though we had over 90% at the last programme I was involved in). Everyone has fun, and both kids and parents want more rather than walk away from it. The more I do it, the more I learn about it, the more passionate I become about it, because it addresses in so many ways simple steps to happy kids and happy parents, and the patronising "this is how you should parent your child" is totally cut out.

So my tuppence worth of advice: Triple P is useful but not the be all and end all of parenting. It would be good to have alternative approaches such as FAST which work in such a very different way. There is space for mutual complementation, rather than the exclusiveness of one parenting programme fits all.

Oh yes, and if there's a school out there interested in seeing how good FAST can be, do get in touch.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

A new Gaelic School for Glasgow

You may have been living in a place for a looong time and yet there's still surprises out there.
And you'd never think that a Gaelic school set to be opened in Glasgow would bring them out.

So when I welcomed the fact that Glasgow's second Gaelic medium school will be opened in 2015 because it's on the southside making it an option for us, a full blown debate ensued. While I was surprised, it was also fascinating because I learned that what I welcomed with naive positivity meant a lot of other things for other people.

I love languages, I think bilingualism is a great gift if you can give it to your child, and that it's worthwhile saving engangered species including languages. I see Gaelic as one of the languages of the UK and Scotland in particular.

But of course, everything is political and shouldn't I know. I've left out the class and the ethnicity argument. And didn't mention Scots in the whole discussion which I admit I see as a dialect rather than a language in its own right (and I really should know better here, having studied under an expert in Scots at uni).

For me, class is a slippery subject. I don't understand it. I don't know which class I belong to or what makes one a certain class or not. I do know I don't speak Scots but that's surely because I'm German and not because I'm middle class (or not, because, as I say, I'm not sure what I am class wise). I understand the importance of the class term for Marxism and Communism and I am a socialist at heart, but that still doesn't help me define who is in or out. Since I last checked I didn't own any means of production other than my shovel and seeds from the seed swap, oh no, here we go again, I really and truly don't know what class I'm in.

I do know that Gaelic is spoken in the Highlands and Islands and hasn't been spoken for a long time in Glasgow. However, there's also a tendency for people from the Highlands and Islands to move here, for people from Ireland, England, Italy, Poland, Pakistan and Lithuania to move to Glasgow. In fact if there's anything linguistically suprising in Glasgow it's how few Scottish accents one hears.

I didn't realise that there's a competition between Scots and Gaelic, in the sense that Scots is the language of the Lowlands that has been surpressed, and Gaelic is the language of the Highlands and Islands that has been surpressed, and that support in the Lowlands for the Highlands language may add insult to injury. In my ideal world everyone would just learn Gaelic and Scots and hug each other.

The real world is that Scots is associated with the working class and Gaelic with the middle class. The association is real even if may not be based on reality (surely Gaelic speakers may be working class?) Probably because middle class parents send their kids to Gaelic immersion schools and Scots is mostly spoken by the "working class" and does not receive the status and support that Gaelic does. An imbalance of power that puts Scots in the weaker position.

I think I get it now. I still feel that Gaelic should be supported as a language at risk of being lost, and that if there is a demand for this in Glasgow (as there is, the other Gaelic immersion school is oversubscribed and I wonder if the fact that it is in the West End has contributed to the view that Gaelic medium education is a middle class thing) that should be harnessed. But so should Scots. And I think it's pretty cool that my non Scots speaking daughter comes home reciting Scots poems and for the fun of it speaks in her made up Scots, which is not that far off the real thing, closer than I'll ever get anyway.

Oh my, it's a complicated world.

Friday, 1 February 2013

I got same!

Snowflake is a big time character fan. Peppa Pig, Hello Kitty, die Maus (a German educational cartoon character that hails from my home town of Cologne), Micky Mouse, Pocoyo- it doesn't really matter what it is, if she recognises a character she gets right into it.

So her latest toy is a Hello Kitty Memory game that my Beloved brought home from his latest business trip to Germany. And today, both my girls beat me at Memory. I think Snowflake would have won if Cubling hadn't ensured that she didn't (she's not a good loser and I went along with it for peace's sake), but considering I played properly I wasn't sure if I should be proud of my 5 and 2 year olds or worried about the poor state of my memory. I'm under no illusions and expect 5 year old to beat me, but I would have thought that I could still compete with a 2 year old, in fact, I would have expected that she didn't know what she was doing. How wrong could I have been. "I got same!" "I find Gleiche!" oh the delight of finding two of a kind.

In other news, her baby locks are off. She is most definitely growing up far too fast. At least she's adamant that she's still my baby. For now.



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