The future is theirs

#Blogtober18: Kickass girls you adore #internationaldayofthegirl

Photo: Merika Green

My willful Willow and fierce Faith can also be very sweet sisters when the mood takes them.

For International Day of the Girl Child (October 11th), themed “With Her: A Skilled Girl Force”, UN Women are asking us to “stand with girls everywhere as they inspire, innovate and take charge of their own future”.

Willow is definitely a girl who knows what she wants, and what she doesn’t, and while that sometimes means she’s a bit of a bulldozer, most of the time she’s an excellent hurdler of life’s little obstacles.

Even at such an early age Faith is showing such great determination.  She may have to try a little harder than most to meet her milestones but she also knows how to celebrate them all the more when she reaches them too.

The future is theirs.  (And their brother’s too).



How are you Dad?

#Blogtober18: Just be yourself #worldmentalhealthday

Have you heard of Lincoln Pandas Support Group?

“A small group of mums from Lincoln, with hands-on experience of post natal depression that want to provide a safe, welcoming and warm environment for other mums facing the daily challenge of living with depression.”

But it usually takes two to make any one a parent and, along with Lincolnshire Maternity Voices Partnership, the group is holding an event called How are you Dad? later this month.


Being held on Saturday, October 27th, the event aims to raise awareness, educate and understand the importance of Dad’s mental health.

Mark Williams, founder of International Father’s Mental Health Day and author of Daddy Blues will be the speaker for the evening, sharing his lived experience of postnatal depression and anxiety.

Taking place at David Lloyd Club in Burton Waters, Lincoln, the event runs from 7pm to 10pm and tickets are £10.

Book via the event’s Facebook page here: How are you Dad?



Putting Dyspraxia in the spotlight

#Blogtober18: Gross Motor Skills #dyspraxiaawarenessweek

dyspraxiaa.jpgThis week (October 7th-13th) is Dyspraxia Awareness Week.

It is described by the Dyspraxia Foundation as “a form of developmental coordination disorder (DCD) is a common disorder affecting fine and/or gross motor coordination in children and adults. It may also affect speech. DCD is a lifelong condition, formally recognised by international organisations including the World Health Organisation.”

Hitting the headlines at the moment as the new Doctor Who series features a character with the condition, Faith didn’t need the science-fiction series to tell her that people with the condition can be out of this world with talent because many of her fellow Zebedee Management models continually prove that, whatever challenges their diagnoses present, they can’t help but be fabulous.

Evie H

Evie H
Follow her story on Instagram at @evie_h_2009.

Jade A
Follow her on Instagram @jadekimzebedee

Joseph H

Joseph H
“Joseph was diagnosed about three years ago with Dyspraxia and motor oral dyspraxia” says mum Karen.  “It was quite difficult getting the diagnosis as he has Down’s Syndrome and some of the common “traits” are very similar.  He really struggles with coordination and gross/fine motor skills.  He falls over often and cannot coordinate riding a bike, he can either pedal and not steer or steer and not pedal, he cannot proceed the two together. He can use a spoon but struggles with a knife and fork, and really struggles with things like buttons, zips, writing and balance.  His oral dyspraxia affects the way his lips, tongue, palate and mouth function making speaking and eating difficult and hard work for him. However he will always try his best to overcome any difficulties in anyway he can.”
Follow him on Instagram @joseph_hale_zebedee_model

Kiarni O
“Kiarni was diagnosed with dyspraxia later than his previous disabilities but it is one of them he struggles the most with, it’s a daily struggle!” says his mum Angie.  “He is unable to use knife and fork, constantly trips up or bangs into things, at school he finds it hard to write and keep up with his peers as unable to hold a pen in a tripod grasp so uses a laptop to do his work.  But to the eye it is hidden so raising awareness helps others understand the person more.”
Follow him on Instagram at @Kiarnioxley_zebedeemodel

Want to find out more about Zebedee Management’s journey?  Read: Making the opportunity to be represented



Tail tales

#Blogtober18: Forest creatures #nationalbadgerday

In honour of today’s National Badger Day, the #Blogtober18 prompt is Forest Creatures.  Rather serendipitously the mini ones afternoon drama group provided appropriate inspiration as one of the leaders handed out these fabulous clip-on tails.

A fox, badger and wolf design, the catching tails provided a spirited game of chase.

Apparently the tails are from Flying Tiger Copenhagen so I might just be paying them a visit to get our own set too!

Forest creatures weren’t the only animals the young actors embodied today as Clare Bevan’s poem Queue for the Zoo was also used as inspiration and saw them growling like tigers, skipping like hares and jumping as high as a kangaroo.

Are you a fan of the forest?  Help the Woodland Trust celebrate the power of trees to inspire on Tree Charter Day, Saturday, November 24th, part of National Tree Week.  Click here to find out more.


“Children’s author tells children to learn how to lie”

#Blogtober18: Education #worldteachersday

MMWolfMulti-award winner, former Children’s Laureate, charity founder, OBE recipient for services to literature and supreme teller of tales, Michael Morpurgo suggested the title of this post himself.

Speaking at the Lincoln Drill Hall as part of the Lincoln Book Festival at the end of September, the author of more than 100 books was giving advice on becoming a writer in response to audience questions.

As well as joking about being good at lying – and that that would be the line that the local press would pick up on – Morpurgo also had other suggestions to share.

To live life, listen, learn, travel, meet new people and experience as much as you can was his most heartfelt guidance.

He also recommended keeping a diary or journal of sorts – not necessarily a detailed account of the day but just one or two sentences everyday about something, be it an event, a conversation or an image, that had left an impression.  And not to worry about spelling or grammar or punctuation, but to just get it down on the page.

MMFlamingoIt was advice I’d love my son to hear in future years.  Earlier the same day as the event he had referred to himself as an author and, whilst he may currently need extra support with literacy, it certainly hasn’t dampened his desire to tell stories – which, after all, was an oral tradition to begin with.

A former teacher, Morpurgo honed his talent in the classroom when he discovered that making up his own stories to tell to his pupils was an even more effective way of engaging them than reading those of other writers and clearly his storytelling prowess stretches to both page and spoken tales.

The sell out audience – which included a good smattering of those “dreaded Year 6s” – had bought their tickets on the basis of their love of his books and were rewarded by a spellbinding evening of verbal narration of the factual and fictional, embellished and merely hinted at, extraordinary and everyday that have been gleaned from his lifetime and the lifetimes of those he has encountered along the way.  He even further treated the theatre-goers to a closing rendition of Only Remembered from War Horse, encouraging them to sing-along too.

One of the first speakers to appear at the Lincoln Book Festival some years ago, let’s hope he’ll return to speak at a future event again even sooner.  I’d certainly like the minis to have the chance to hear him when they’re a little bit older.

Today is World Teachers’ Day and this year’s theme is “The right to education means the right to a qualified teacher”.  “This theme was chosen to mark the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), where education is recognised as a key fundamental right.  A right that cannot be fulfilled without qualified teachers.”  Hands up all those who would have liked to have been in Michael Morpurgo’s classroom!



Tale of treacherous travels is a theatrical treat

#Blogtober18: Ditty #NationalPoetryDay

“Stick Man lives in the family tree.
With his Stick Lady love and their stick children three.”

StickManTheatreJulia Donaldson’s perilous tale of a morning’s jog gone wrong leapt off the page on to the stage – and around the auditorium – to the delight of a rapt young audience.

Performed by Scamp Theatre at the Lincoln Drill Hall as part of the Lincoln Book Festival at the end of September, Stick Man saw the author’s rhythmic verse brought to life with inventive staging, puppetry and live music in a mix of styles with the space for the child’s own imagination to join in too.

My six year old enjoyed the chase scene around the auditorium as park warden followed dog followed Stick Man and loved the beach ball being thrown through the audience too and my three year old was thoroughly caught up in the drama of Stick Man’s every increasingly hazardous travels that include him being mistaken for a flag pole, a sword and kindling among many other things.

Advertised as “most suitable for children aged 3+ with their friends and families” I wasn’t sure the more darkly lit than most children’s theatre show would capture the attention of my one year old but she loved the sparkly light effects of the underwater and wintry scenes.

Today is National Poetry Day and the theme this year is Change which the tale of Stick Man certainly embodies so, if you have a copy of the rhyming story at home already, it would make perfect bedtime reading tonight!


Is Stick Man being performed near you? Click here to find out.

Would you like to see more Julia Donaldson tales adapted for the stage? 
Tall Stories will present The Snail and the Whale at the LPAC in Lincoln on Thursday, October 25th.
Freckle Productions will perform Tabby McTat at the New Theatre Royal in Lincoln on November 4th and 5th.

Has this traumatic celebration of the numerous ways a stick could be used fuelled your desire to go on a collecting spree on a walk through some trees?  My previous posts:
Stick Inspiration
The Stick Book
might give you further inspiration on what your woody haul can be magically transformed into – just make sure they’re just sticks and not Stick Men!


The major Malpi

#Blogtober18: Couples #nationalboyfriendday

Did you know it’s National Boyfriend Day today?  No?  I didn’t either until I saw today’s #Blogtober18 prompt.

To answer many people’s next question, National Girlfriends Day is apparently August 1st.

Cowgirlfriend and cowboyfriend

Quite why someone decided that Valentine’s Day or your first date anniversary wasn’t enough to celebrate I don’t know.  Maybe someone’s mum didn’t teach them that sharing is nice and they wanted an it’s all about me day on top of their birthday?

Daddy Malpi and I actually share a birthday so perhaps I shouldn’t be so cynical about the possibility of an all about me day although I’d have to wait until next September for Wife Appreciation Day whereas he’s only have six months for Husband Appreciation Day in April.  And we already have our first date anniversary then so, sorry dear, that month’s already spoken for.

The day he stopped being a boyfriend or fiance and became a husband

We’re very much a quintet rather than a couple at the moment though and have managed about two date afternoons and one date night in the last six years since the minis started arriving.

Perhaps that’s another reason I should welcome any opportunity to put us as a duo in the spotlight a bit more often – after all the mini Malpi wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for us major Malpi – but that’s often easier said than done and most of the time I’d probably just settle for being able to finish a conversation with each other never mind anything more logistically complicated than that.

In a few weeks we will be celebrating our ninth wedding anniversary which means 2019 will be a marital milestone for us – perhaps if we start organising now we could add a second date night to our post-minis’ tally?

How do you make time for yourselves as a couple within your larger family unit?  Let us know in the comments below…

Could Microdating be the answer?  Clare and Paul try it out over on Emmy’s Mummy.



New charity aims to offer better cancer screening

#Blogtober18: Boobs #breastcancerawareness

Can you imagine making something positive out of a incurable cancer diagnosis?

One woman who’s reclaiming her power and doing precisely that is 65-year-old Barbara Delacy-Wrisdale.

Charity co-founder Barbara Delacy-Wrisdale

Following beating breast cancer nine years ago, she’s now been diagnosed with incurable secondary cancer of the liver.

But she’s determined to help others escape such a fate if possible and has co-founded a charity that aims to offer cancer survivors better screening.

Her niece, writer and editor Samantha Curtis, explains:

“Barbara has been galvanised into action. She has founded a charity which she hopes, with enough funding, will be able to offer cancer survivors a full body screening service, to aid the early detection of secondary cancers, should they occur after the five-year all-clear point.

“The Bessy Foundation breast cancer charity stands for Better Extra Screening Service for You.”

Sam has written more about Barbara’s story here – Listen to Barbara and live each and every day to the full, you can click here to like the charity’s Facebook page and, if you are able to help financially, click here to visit The Bessy Foundation’s Just Giving page.

If you’re based near Lincolnshire you can even enjoy a night out while helping to raise funds at the end of this month.  Elvis tribute act Tony Elding will be dedicating the proceeds of a raffle held during his show at Boston Football Club on Saturday, October 27th to the new charity.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Find out more at Breast Cancer Now and don’t forget to check yourself. 



Another year older, another year wiser?

#Blogtober18: All About Me – A Year On

No dear reader, it isn’t my birthday quite yet, but rather the start of another #Blogtober18 – a blogging challenge of a post per day for 31 days either following prompts or choosing your own theme.

In last year’s opening post – On (not) keeping it simple – I wrote about the pitfalls of trying to stuff too much into life.  Clearly, as I start another #Blogtober 12 months on, I haven’t learnt my lesson but the pre-mum me wrote a lot and the current me misses that so I welcome any helpful nudge to remind me to fit a bit more of Karen as well as mum in my life.

I think the bit where I might be a bit wiser though is that I’m slightly more realistic about not completing it – after all I’ve still got June’s #30DaysWild posts to finish…

Last year I had a really good reason to truncate my efforts as Faith’s heart surgery was unexpectedly and suddenly brought forward – Putting the heart into Halloween.

This year I am praying not only that I won’t have such a justification but also to accept that I don’t need one anyway – surely a husband, three kids aged 6, 3 and 1 and two jobs is enough in itself to make anything else come at least seventh on the list?  Simply doing the admin required by school and nursery seems to be a full time occupation and then there’s the large amount of time I seem to dedicate to picking things up off the floor…

Photo: Merika Green

Last year I did manage to fit in a day’s papermaking course and a half-day lino printing Christmas card workshop, both of which I really enjoyed.  The return of #Blogtober reminded me of this and I have now booked myself into an evening’s beginners pyrography event to restart my aim to regularly try out a new craft.  Once or twice a year might not be frequent but it’s regular right?

Do you manage to fit in some “All About Me” time?  How?  And what do you choose to do with it when you can?  Let us know in the comments below…


Seven things I hate about school

#Blogtober17 – Day Five: Education

Before I start on this rant I want to make it clear that I’m obviously grateful for the universal public education offered in this country and that when I was originally bemoaning not getting the school of our choice for our eldest seeing Malala joining Twitter put my complaints in perspective somewhat.

But that doesn’t mean that I have to like all of it.

  1. The illusion of choice
    The majority of people were given a place for their child at their first choice of school.  We were in the minority.  This did not bode well for me accepting let alone embracing that it was already time to lose my first born to the school gates.
  2. The effect on siblings and the family unit
    Full family time was already at a premium due to working hours but now it is almost restricted to the weekend.  Holidays and days out are crammed into the same time and space everyone else needs to cram them into as we all roughly share the same term times.  Siblings are separated for hours each day, younger siblings get dragged along on the school run for no benefit of their own, loose their playmate(s) for most of the week and the freedom the eldest child may have been lucky enough to have known for the first four or five years of their lives is truncated for the younger siblings.  We thought Willow would miss Luke a lot now he is in his reception year but Luke too has also asked when Willow will be starting his school.
  3. Uniform
    I like a team strip but I’m really not a fan of uniform for uniform’s sake.  He has plenty of clothes that fit him already, why are we wasting money and the earth’s resources (the fashion industry is a huge polluter) buying him more in order to deny him the opportunity to be an individual and the opportunity to wear any bright colours or fun designs?
  4. The school run
    All the schools in our area are over subscribed so we knew early on that I would have to start driving frequently and regularly which, considering up until August I barely drove at all as I’m quite scared of the concept, is a very big deal for me.  It creates such a busy time on the roads and siblings get to waste double the amount of time in the car due to the return trip.  Anyone recommend some interesting CDs to listen to?  And my sense of urgency for getting to the school gate on time is rarely reflected in the time it takes the minis to get in and out of the car.
  5. Time
    The school gets the best of my son’s time.  We get the rush at the start of the day, the tired at the end and we’re always watching the clock in between to make sure we march to the sound of the school bell.  They get to see him learn, his wow moments are now shared with his teacher’s and not me and I lose opportunities to learn along with him.
  6. Influence
    Peer pressure and other adult influences will start to make a bigger impression on my child’s outlook.  We’ve already had gender limitations alluded to which I did my best to quash immediately but such labelling can be insidious.  It doesn’t help that he is among the many children who subscribe to the “what happens at school stays at school” line of thinking offering up exceedingly little information as to how his day has unfolded or even just whether he’s eaten or not.
  7. Homework 
    I was one of “those” children who actually asked for homework when I was in primary school even though we weren’t regularly set it then in the way children are now.  As a parent however, I’m not sure I approve of having too much set (if any) for such young pupils.  They already over tired from the school week, have such reduced family time at home or for truly free play, why rob them of more?

I know the answer to some of my genuine concerns rather than just grumpy grumbles would be to home educate which I have considered but, for now at least, he is apparently enjoying school whilst he’s there and his younger siblings can enjoy more of my less divided attention too.

All of this, of course, I do my best not to voice around him and I’m well aware that, after experiencing our first half term, I may well be writing a seven things I love about school instead…