One Moment in Time with Mummy Thomas' Blog

25 May 2018

Dear Friend,

Welcome to one moment in time, a guest posts series, where bloggers share the stories behind special or significant photographs. I am very happy to play host to the lovely Kerry from Mummy Thomas' Blog. Kerry writes passionately and honestly about all things mental health and parenting. Thank you so much for joining me!

I'm going a little off topic here. I usually write about my birth experience and my mental illness. However I strongly believe my depression started the day I found out my pap was dying. He was my closest family member, a best friend and I loved him dearly.

One of my fondest memories of him is when we went off on our adventures to his hometown in Ireland when I was younger to visit his family. When I went round to his house he would have a bag of toffee's on his table beside his chair. I always had one and lost many teeth because of it. Until my adult teeth came through of course.

I used to go to a cafe in town and bring him back a cake. We would have a cuppa and a catch up. Sometimes we went to the bingo. It was a laugh.

As a little girl I would go and sit on his lap and watch crazy western films. I would help him decorate his tree most years and spend Christmas day at his house. He would have a glass of sherry and put an old record on to have a boogie. I miss those days.

It's hard to say but I watched him deteriorate over the years and become more ill over time. It was heart breaking. He slowly became a stranger to me. He wasn't my bright funny outgoing pap that I always knew. He became quite fragile and restless.

He was still my pap in my mind.

When my mum told me that he had cancer I was distraught. I was in denial. I said 'he will be fine they will treat him.'

'Won't they?'

Once I realised it was only a matter of time I watched him slowly get worse and become bed bound. He was forgetting things and sometimes thought I was my mum. She cared for him everyday until his last. She was up there morning and night and I thank her for having the courage to be there for him everyday. She truly is an inspirational women and a wonderful mother. She's the sort of women who always puts everyone else first.

I had a phone call at work to come home quickly because the doctor didn't think he would make it to the end of the day. I have never rushed home so quick in my life. I arrived at his house and there was this strange man laying in my pap’s bed. It really didn't look like him. He was pale and fragile. He was hardly breathing, lying there helplessly.

I will always remember my pap the way he was.

A strong-willed, proud man, who was the most caring loving person I knew.

He passed away that day. I read a poem at his funeral, it was very hard and one of the worst days of my life.

I became very low.

Before my pap became ill we were trying for a baby. We had some news during his illness that we couldn't conceive naturally and that we would have to have IVF. Months after my pap passed away I was due to go and start the procedure. It didn't feel right going ahead after everything that had happened. We had failed fertility attempts and my mum said I should stop being silly and try. So we did and we fell with our little girl.

I still believe to this day that he went up to heaven, had a word and we were blessed with our little girl. Now some of you may think I'm crazy for saying that but we had our scan date through the post and it was booked on my pap's birthday. I have never cried so much. I felt almost like it was a message from him saying everything will be ok.

When I sort counselling after my birth experience I spoke about my pap and said to her that I had this huge guilt feeling because of trying so soon after he passed. I think that stayed with me. I told her I struggled to come to terms with his loss. She felt my depression started there and carried on through my pregnancy. It really was one thing after another. I will say that the past three years have been hell. But I am remaining positive, well trying to.

His favourite bird was a robin. I have had this little robin visit my back door ever since he passed. It comes and sits at the back door and just stares at me. I always wave and it just sits there. I have a bird food table in the garden with food in so it can't be after food.

Maybe I'm being an idiot and you will all think I'm being silly.

But I generally think its him checking on me.

Even if I am being silly it's a great thought to have.

I love you Pap

Say no to SATs

18 May 2018

Dear friend,

I am a teacher... Cut me in half and you'd find teacher written through me (like a stick of rock). It isn't a job to me, it's a profession, a calling. It is something I love doing. I love working with kids...

I consider myself privileged to have taught in the region of 1000 amazing children. I feel the buzz when my pupils learn something new, when they crack something they have been struggling to learn...  Yes teaching is my job but also my passion!

I had freedom in teaching for the first couple of years and worked with an absolutely brilliant teacher. We worked hard to put together interesting topics for our kids and taught a broad curriculum. We knew our pupils really well!

Teaching frameworks were introduced - the literacy and numeracy hours. We became a group of Stepford wives following the routine, sticking rigidly to the timings marked by a kitchen clock on our desk. (Oh wait - we weren't allowed to have a desk anymore!)

It wasn't enough to impose what we were to teach and how. We were then told how to evaluate this learning.

What better way to judge than a test?

Teachers could no longer be trusted to give an accurate assessment of their pupil's learning. We had to be open and transparent and not only would kids be tested but the results would be put out there for all parents to see.

The teaching world shifted with the introduction of SATs and league tables. We were forced to look at our kids in a different way. They were given a mark, graded and highlighted in a list and branded a success or a failure...

I admire those parents who chose to keep their children away from school in protest over the SATs.

Why do I object to the SATs?

  • The results don’t tell good teachers anything new!

I know my kids, I know which ones find 2 step problems in maths hard, who struggles with time and spelling. I don't need a test to tell me that and neither do the kids.

  • Not all exams are well written or organised

The only surprises I've had are the ones where brilliant kids have underachieved because of badly written questions or where a child has got lucky with multiple choice questions (oh yes this did happen - I watched them blindly ticking anything!)

There have been incidents of exams appearing on line and leaked to press and children in tears because of papers that are way too difficult!

  • The tests hold little weight at secondary school

Pupils sit new assessments in Year 7. SATs data from primary school is absorbed into other data at secondary level and teachers generate their own predictions based on their testing.

  • Stress!
Primary school children in England are some of the most tested in the world.

Good teachers go out of their way to make the whole testing experience as stress free and painless as possible but most kids still get very stressed...then underperform... I strongly believe that Primary school children are too young to be tested.

The report, on mental health and wellbeing by the cross-party Education and Health Select Committees pointed to evidence to suggest that academic pressure and the narrowing of the curriculum were having a negative impact on youth mental health.

  • Narrowing of the curriculum

In a report on primary assessment (may 2017) a cross party committee of MPs found that pupils are being taught a narrower curriculum. Schools are neglecting arts and humanities subjects by focusing too heavily on maths and English to ensure pupils pass the SATs.
    ...using Sats results as part of a school’s accountability measures is creating a “high-stakes” system of testing which is damaging teaching and learning in primary schools. - Commons education committee.

  • Love of learning and creativity

I have heard and read several accounts from parents concerned that their child/children are feeling unhappy at school, feeling under pressure, not wanting to go to school. I have heard accounts of parents driving past the school during the weekend and kids announcing, I hate that place or thank god I don't have to go there today! How sad!

Any successful learner has a growth mindset. They have not been taught that learning is about failure and success, but know instead that learning is about progression on a personal journey.

Teach with your heart not to a test or you risk having disengaged pupils and demoralised teachers...

  • You can not apply business principles to people!

It doesn't follow that if we pump the same information in the same way into each child they will all turn out the same results. If you are a parent that will be apparent with your own kids - just look at them. You brought them up in the same house, in the same way, with the same values - are they the same?

You can not treat children like products, or schools like businesses...

People are unique. That is the brilliance of being human, we are unique. We should be celebrating uniqueness and individuality. Encouraging creative thinking. The different thinkers are the ones who change the world, the inventors the scientists the explorers.

  •  SATs do not improve pupils’ learning or raise standards
There is no evidence that the end of Key Stage tests have led to individual pupils reaching higher levels of attainment than they would have done if the tests had not been introduced (Cambridge Primary Review).


The Sunshine Blogger Award

11 May 2018

Dear Friends,

I am buzzing here as blogging has lead me to get to know some truly amazing people and one of the most inspiring and funny bloggers I know nominated little old me for The Sunshine Blogger award.  Lisa Pomerantzster you are a complete star! To receive the equivalent of a blogging Oscar makes me feel like I should be wearing a ball gown instead of my dressing gown. My lovely friend, I am honoured and I thank you!

Now, the point of this lovely award is to get to know a little bit more about bloggers. So here we go... 

My questions posed by the lovely Lisa:

Q1. Do you have a favorite thing, person, dare I say, ‘muse,’ to inspire your writing?
Oh that's easy. My son. This blog is a testament to him, he inspires me every single day to be a better person.

Q2. Why did you start your blog?
I started my blog because my head felt so full of words, sentences and stories that it felt like it was going to burst. I needed a space to breathe out.

Q3. Who is your hero (alive or dead, or even animated) and why?
My grandad was my hero. He was incredibly strong and was a man of very few words but when he did speak people listened. With him I always felt safe and loved. 
I am always drawn to quotes by the amazing Maya Angelou. I really admire the work she did for human rights.

Q4. What drives you meshuggeneh (nuts)?
I really can't stand judgemental people. I get mad when I feel like anyone is judging my choices as a parent or when anyone is being unkind to others. I can not stand injustice of any kind.

Q5. What were you like as a kid?
Fiercely independent and creative!

Q6. Where is your happy place?
The beach, I absolutely love walking barefoot in the sand. I call it my therapy.

Q7. When it comes to gifts, would you prefer to give or receive?
Give, especially when it comes to my family. 
I prefer the gifts made by my children than expensive treats. Although a spa day is always appreciated!

Q8. What’s your very favorite song?
Oh now this is really really difficult as I love music and there are many many songs I could choose. But if forced I would have to choose Stevie Wonder, For Once in My Life. It was the song hubby and I walked down the aisle to after we were married.

Q9. How would you describe that song to someone who cannot hear?
The best day of your live packed into 3 1/2 minutes of pure joy.

Q10. What would your pet say about you, assuming of course, that you have a pet, and it can talk?
Nova, would say, I am my mummy's baby and that means I can get away with almost anything naughty that I do. She is good at sharing food and giving cuddles but gets cross when I bark and jump in the window.

Q11. Any regrets?
I wish I had realised earlier that the best thing you can be in life is yourself. When I was younger I didn't always have the confidence to just be me and followed the crowd too much.

The rules:

  • Thank the person who nominated you for the Sunshine Award and link back to their blog while
  • Answer the questions the person who nominated you provided
  • Nominate other bloggers and give them 11 questions
  • Notify your nominees via social media and/or blogger love, the comment section of their blog
  • List the ‘rules’ and proudly display the Sunshine Award logo in your post

My nominees are: 

My Questions are:

Q1: What piece of advice would you give to a new blogger?
Q2: What is the best mistake you have ever made?
Q3: What is your motivation?
Q4: If you could change anything about yourself would you? And if yes, what would you change?
Q5: Tell me one fact about yourself that not many people know.
Q6: What do you do when you have free time?
Q7: If you could live anywhere, where would you live?
Q8: Who is your celebrity crush? 
Q9: What does your perfect day look like?
Q10: What is your comfort food?
Q11: What was your favourite childhood toy?

Lies we tell our children

9 May 2018

Dear Friend,

When it comes to lying are there really different types of lies? Is lying ever acceptable?

Different theories of ethics approach lying in different ways. Consequentialist theories are concerned with the consequences of lying.  A good lie is one where, the result of lying is better than telling the truth. In contrast, a dutybased ethicist would argue that, even if  the consequences of lying are better, it is still morally wrong.

I must be a consequentialist and I believe that most parents are too. I would argue that Parents tell white lies (good lies); to encourage, to discourage, to warn of danger, to embellish stories and to save their child's feelings.

But in her book, The Key to Calm, Clinical Psychologist Linda Blaire said,
If you tell a lie, you’re almost always doing so to further your own interests, and/or to avoid feeling uncomfortable. Even when you think you’re being kind...

Maybe there is something in that?! I like to think that I am a honourable person but maybe some lies are for my own benefit rather than my children's.

The lies I have told my children...
  • If you eat all your dinner then you'll grow big like daddy 
  • Eat your carrots and they will help you see in the dark 
  • We're almost there 
  • There are no cookies/sweets/crisps left 
  • Your goldfish went to live with Nemo 
  • We'll see 
  • I don't know where your toy/ipad/music player is! 
  • I've run out of batteries 
  • The injection/cream/dentist won't hurt! 
  • I'm leaving now and if you don't come I'm leaving you 
  • Babies are delivered by storks 
  • The cow is having a piggyback
  • I always know when you are lying 
  • The park is closed 
  • Teachers and especially mummy teachers have eyes in the back of our heads 
  • Let's not even get started on the whole Santa/Easter bunny thing 
  • I always know when you are lying

There is no golden rule when it comes to the ethics of lying to your kids.

The expert advice is to give age-appropriate responses, keep their best interest at the forefront of all your decisions, and be prepared for the future consequences of any and everything you say.

Photography @My_Dutch_Angle

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