My Helpful Little Elf


When first I found a place to live
And moved out on my own,
I sighed at all the housework
That was mine to do alone.

Even though I loved the thought
That it was my own space.
I really wished for little elves
To help me clean the place.

Flash forward just a year or ten
And suddenly there’s you.
My little elf who wants to help
With any work to do.

If you come across a mess
You always grab your broom.
Then sweep all of the dirt and dust
Around and round the room.

You collect up all the washing:
The shirts and pants and tights.
My conscientious helper
Who rarely sorts the whites.

You really love to spray and wipe –
Though usually you spray,
Then think of something else to do
And so wander away.

You just adore the washing up,
The soapy suds that splash.
But every now and then I hear
An old familiar crash.

There’s little doubt about it;
Chores were easier before.
But anything I do with you
Could never be a bore.

Your helpful heart is joyous.
You do it all with flair.
And frankly if there’s mess about
I really couldn’t care.

I never saw the magic
When I did it all myself.
So I’m writing this to thank you,
My helpful little elf.

Prose for Thought

The Wisdom of the Nanny Goat


“Nanny Goat, the kid is wild!
My hair is filled with greys!”
The Nanny Goat just nods and says,
“He’s going through a phase.”

“The kid just won’t be still at all,
Makes playgrounds of cafes!”
The Nanny Goat just grins and says,
“He’s going through a phase.”

“The kid is now a parrot,
Repeating every phrase!”
The Nanny Goat just smiles and says,
“He’s going through a phase”

“The kid forever wanders off
When we’re out he always strays!”
The Nanny Goat just laughs and says,
“He’s going through a phase.”

“I try to be so fair and kind,
But he still never obeys!”
The Nanny Goat just snorts and says,
“He’s going through a phase.”

“This kid is just so stubborn.
He’ll never change his ways!”
The Nanny Goat just whoops and says,
“He’s going through a phase.”

“I don’t see why it’s funny,
YOU take him for two days!”
And let’s see then if you still think
He’s going through a phase.”

“Of course my dear, I’d love to!
A Nanny has her ways.
I’ve got tricks to help him when
He’s going through a phase.”

I miss his every fibre.
Eternity; Two days.
I hurry back and don’t care if
He’s going through a phase.

“The kid was simply perfect!
A sweet angel,” she brays.
“Of course it may not last with you,
It may be just a phase.”

“Thanks for that!” I retort.
“But you have earned your praise.
How do you always seem to know
When it is just a phase?”

“Don’t you see!? A Nanny Goat
No longer must trailblaze.
For I was you and you were he
And it was just a phase.”

“Blink and you will miss it.
That crazy, glorious daze.
His childhood will be fleeting,
It’s really just a phase.”

A Bit Of Everything

The importance of nursery rhymes

Have you heard the old Woody Guthrie song “Grassy Grass Grass”? It starts off “Grassy grass grass, Tree tree tree, Leafy leaf, leaf, One two three.”

You can hear Pickles doing that line here:


Yes, Pickles has started reciting the poem. A lot. Whenever we go outside, eating breakfast, in the car. Sometimes I’ll hear him just singing it to himself in bed. He has it stuck in his head and so consequently it is also stuck in the heads of the rest of the family.

When he was learning to speak, Pickles’ emerging language came in rhyme patterns.

“Cat” “That”
“Duck” “Truck”

I don’t know enough about typical language development to know if this is what usually happens, but it wouldn’t surprise me.

Kids seem to have that ability to pick up rhythm and rhyme. They are naturally drawn to it. So many children’s books are written in rhyme. You can read about some of our favourites in The Reading Corner.

And then there are nursery rhymes.

Knowledge of nursery rhymes in very young children has been shown to be a predictor of success in a whole range of skills that are developed later on, such as reading and spelling.

If you think about it, if you can have an even basic understanding that duck rhymes with truck, you also have a basic understanding that words are made up of different sounds. Tr-uck. D-uck. So two completely different words might have similarities in their component parts.

Of course, your two year old reciting Humpty Dumpty is not going to be considering any of this. Nor should they. Two is a time for play. But you are laying these foundations for later.

In a 1989 study, Bryant, Bradley, Maclean and Crossland wrote:

“All in all, our results have shown a powerful and lasting connection between the children’s early knowledge of nursery rhymes and aspects of their linguistic development later on. The nursery rhyme scores are connected to the development of phonological sensitivity over the next two to three years and, through that sensitivity, are linked to the children’s success in learning to read and spell as well.” (pp. 426-427)

So, you may have noticed that I’ve done a bit of reading on this topic. I know, I’m a big nerd, but I find it so interesting!

Here are some things I have learned:

1. A fun way to introduce your child to rhymes is to invent your own. Use words that your child already knows so they can join in even for parts. So, when Pickles was saying “Duck, duck, duck, truck truck, truck” I used to say this rhyme to him in the car when we saw a truck. He loved it.

Duck truck

2. When you are reading a rhyming book that you have read a few times, leave space for your child to complete the end of the rhyme. This will become their favourite part of the book! The more you can involve your child in reading, the better.

3. Add music to your nursery rhymes. Try this one.

Hickory dickory dock

4. Play around with rhymes. When we arrive home, I’ll often say some variant of the “To market, to market to buy a fat pig, home again, home again jiggety jig” rhyme. Today for instance I said “Home again, home again sniggety snig”. Pickles immediately picked it up. “Silly old Mummy! You said the wrong words!” Despite being called silly and old, I loved it. This is exactly what I want him to start being able to pick up.

5. Add movement to your nursery rhymes. Try this one.

humpty dumpty
As with any activities you are doing with your kids, only persevere if they’re enjoying it. Childhood is about fun! The best thing about music, books, and nursery rhymes is that they can be a lot of fun too.

If you’re a nerd too, you can find these journal articles (and many more!) online:

PE Bryant, L Bradley, M. Maclean and J Crossland, “Nursery Rhymes, Phonological Skills and Reading” Journal of Child Language (1989) July, p.p. 407-428.

Jonathan Bolduc and Pascal Lefebvre, “Using Nursery Rhymes to Foster Phonological and Musical Processing Skills in Kindergarteners” Creative Education (2012) Vol 3 No. 4, 495-502.

Advice From The Heart
Little Hearts, Big Love



Over in the corner
Underneath the tree
There’s a shiny silver present
That’s been wrapped up just for me.

It’s been sitting over there
For more than a whole week.
If I unpick just the corner
I can take a little peek.

This sticky tape is tricky
I’ll pull a little more,
And then I’ll put it all right back
The way it was before.

On no! I pulled too hard.
There’s paper on the floor.
I can see my present now,
But Mum is at the door!

I think that she’ll be cross.
And Father Christmas too!
He’ll put me on the bad list
Although it isn’t true.

I really am a good kid.
(My Nan says I’m a joy!)
I only wanted just a peek
At my new Christmas toy.

The only thing to do
Is to hide behind a chair.
If I stay perfectly still
Mum won’t know I’m there.

She comes into the room
And cries out “You’re so silly!”
I think that I’ve been caught,
But she’s looking right at Millie.

Patience is a virtue?
I don’t agree with that.
Check all your presents early,
Then blame it on the cat!

A Bit Of Everything

What do you do all day?

I can’t understand parents like you.
If you don’t mind me asking, what do you do?

My face flushes red. I’m not really sure.
It’s certainly different from my life before.

I drive trains and buses, trucks and cars,
Build my own spaceships and fly to the stars.

I scrub and wipe and pick up blocks,
Wash shirts and pants and piles of socks.

I’m a tiger, a frog, a monkey, a goat.
I sail away in a pea green boat.

I make meals and snacks; most earnest of cooks.
Read hundreds and thousands and millions of books.

I sing and I dance and I play the drum,
I answer every “What’s this, Mum?”

I do the shopping, unpack it on shelves,
(With “help” from two mischievous elves!)

I walk to the park and push the swings,
And supervise all of the trickier things.

I’m a doctor with special first aid supplies;
Kisses and cuddles and drying of eyes.

I splash in water, make castles in sand,
My artistic skills are in high demand.

I clean and dress as little ones wriggle.
I smile and sigh and grumble and giggle.

And when night time falls after all of this;
I seal the day with a goodnight kiss.

Prose for Thought
Happy Diaries

Oh Bunny, Where Art Thou?


For a little while today Pords couldn’t find her very favourite toy rabbit. She was inconsolable. We found him in the end thankfully, but the episode gave me a little insight into her world.

Oh Bunny, Where Art Thou?

Have you seen my bunny?
His fur is soft and grey.
I just can’t seem to find him.
Perhaps he’s run away.

Although Mum tells me not to fret.
And Pickles thinks it’s funny.
It’s a terrible, horrible, monstrous thing
For a girl to lose her bunny.

My lip just won’t stop trembling.
My mouth can only frown.
My heart is close to broken.
My world is upside down.

It may be sort of tricky
To really comprehend
That I can’t be without bunny;
He’s my very dearest friend.

From the day that I was born
He’s been always at my side.
What could I have done
To make him want to hide?

Oh Bunny Love where are you?
Please come back very soon.
It’s not the same without you.
I love you to the moon!

But who’s that with my Daddy
With fur so soft and grey?
It is! It is my bunny!
Oh Dad! You’ve made my day!


Before You Were Awake

It’s 6:14am. Last night was the first time that Pords slept through. Hip hip hooray.

Yet for some reason I woke up with a jolt at 4:47am terrified that Pickles has been eating too much bad food recently so I got up and since then I have been peeling, chopping, steaming, and arranging a rainbow of fruits and vegetables.

Now that I’ve filled boxes and plates and eaten my own breakfast and had three cups of tea I’m sitting at the kitchen table in a completely quiet house.



Any minute now the day will begin. Mum! And I probably won’t even remember what it was like to sit in silence. Mum! So I’m recording this as a testament that there is such a thing. Mum! And as a reminder to myself to try to get up before the day begins and have a cup of tea in peace and quiet before the world is filled with Muuuuummmmmm!!

Don’t worry, I haven’t gone completely mad because I’m still at the point of realising that being up chopping vegetables before 5am is completely mad. That’s catch-22 isn’t it? You can’t be mad if you know you’re mad. I’m the Yossarian of health kicks.

I certainly won’t be repeating the 4:47 food folly. Particularly when 3/4 of my labour ends up rejected. But I do recommend a quiet house. It’s good for the soul.

Before You Were Awake

Before you were awake
I had a cup of tea,
And sitting all alone
Was quite pleasant company.

The house was still and silent
I could listen to a thought.
(Although frankly on that front
There’s not too much to report).

I really love our noisy days
When you’re up and around.
Your busy, chatty, crashy play
Makes for a happy sound.

But sometimes for a little change
I like the quiet too.
And so from now I’m going to try
To get up before you.

I’ll tiptoe to the kitchen
And sit down quietly.
So before you are awake
I can have a cup of tea.

A Bit Of Everything

Happy Mama Happy Baby


The Days That I Like Best

We don’t have time for one more time,
We can’t stay for again.
Hurry up and find your shoes
Before I count to ten.

We don’t have time for one more swing,
We can’t stay for a slide.
Come on now, I’ve work to do,
We need to go inside.

We don’t have time for one more book,
We can’t stay for a rhyme.
Please don’t stand and argue;
I haven’t got the time.

We don’t have time for one more dance,
We can’t stay for a song.
Let me get your bag for you;
You’re taking far too long.

I listen to myself sometimes,
And try to understand.
Just when life got so busy;
This wasn’t what I planned.

We rush and hurry through the days,
Always far too stressed.
But the days that I make time for you,
Are the days that I like best.

Prose for Thought

The Firsts You Miss

Watching a baby develop has got to be one of life’s greatest joys; being there for all of those incredible firsts. It’s simply magical.

But when you’re a parent sometimes it’s easy to get hung up on the firsts you miss.

As babies do, Pords has been going through an amazing period of development. She has been getting around for a little while now and trying to climb on everything, just like her brother used to do (still does!), but she has just recently started trying to take steps while holding on to furniture. She now waves at appropriate times (rather than just randomly). She has been trying to get the hang of clapping and has just mastered that too.

Every day she does something new. It’s just wonderful to watch.

My husband saw her stand up for the first time the other morning. He called me in excitedly and said: “Look, she’s standing!” I had been busy doing something else and so, quite dismissively, said “She’s been able to do that for ages!”

That same morning she waved goodbye to him as he left for work. He said: “Is that the first time she’s waved?” This time I was a little less curt about it but still had to say no. “I never get to see any of the firsts,” He said sadly.

The truth is, even as a mostly stay-at-home parent, I don’t get to see all of the firsts. I was at my parents house and my Dad said “She’s clapping!” I thought he just meant the awkward hit-and-miss clapping that she’s been doing for a little while. But later she crawled over and started clapping again like she had just seen a brilliant show. Of course, first applause deserves a hearty applause. She was probably clapping herself; she had surely earned it. But it wasn’t the first applause, it was the second. I’d missed the first.

For a moment I was sad, just as my husband had been. But then I thought about it. Maybe she’s been clapping for weeks. Practising in secret in her cot at night. Fact is, it doesn’t really matter. As she grows I’ll be there for fewer and fewer of her firsts. But I’ll still think she’s spectacular when she tries new things. I’ll still support her when she needs help to learn. I’ll still applaud when she gets it right.

I can still marvel and find happiness in every little thing she does.

When her Dad got home that night, I told him that he had in fact seen a first that day. He had witnessed the first time that she waved to her Daddy. And that was a very special first indeed.

Your Firsts

Happy Diaries

Car Ride

I was in the car by myself on the weekend, which doesn’t happen very often these days. I caught myself pointing out a digger that I drove passed. Out loud. To no one in particular.

Then, when I got where I was going, I realised that I had also had the kids’ CD playing the whole time and had been singing along.

I think these are definite signs that I need to get out more.

It was was particularly amusing (horrifying) given a similar incident that had happened the week before that I had posted a poem about on Facebook.

Car ride

I find the psychology fascinating. When I get little glimpses of myself like this it makes me think that parenthood has completely rewired (melted) my brain. It’s amazing that I can ever hold an adult conversation at all. I wouldn’t be surprised if one day someone just comes clean with me and tells me that I’ve been speaking in Seussian rhyme for the last two years and everyone has assumed I’m mad.

It’s not all bad news of course. Having this sort of perspective is quite refreshing. It’s nice to pay attention to all the little details that a child would notice. When Pickles goes for a walk he literally does stop and smell the roses. He takes delight in lots of things that most adults would probably just walk straight passed.

I’m happy to encourage and nurture this quality in my children by helping them to notice things. I also think it’s a good thing if I stop and smell the roses even when Pickles isn’t there to lead by example.

But there is probably a time and a place for it. I probably don’t need to be noticing things out loud to myself in the car. Hopefully at some point my brain will be able to snap back.

If it ever it does though, I really hope that a little spark of that childish wonder remains.


A Bit Of Everything