Goderich, The Prettiest Town in Canada – Before and After the Tornado

I first visited Goderich when I was 16 on a family holiday to visit my uncle. I fell in love with it and remember it being the first holiday when I had to hold back the tears as I left. Goderich is hailed as the prettiest town in Canada, the sunsets are stunning, architecture beautiful, has gorgeous views of Lake Huron and is green and leafy. Since then I have visited my family there many times and have fond memories.






I was shocked today when I received photos that my uncle had taken. At first I wasn’t sure what had caused the devastation, but it transpires that a tornado hit the centre of Goderich on Sunday. The tornado lasted around 10 minutes but the damage it caused is tremendous. People have lost homes and businesses and there are no trees left around the historic town square.



The bank


Treeless roads

This is my uncle’s old house, where we stayed on our holidays.

My uncle’s workplace.


My heart goes out to the residents of Goderich, how awful it must be to have your home town destroyed over night, like tearing down your memories. It has been on my mind all day, so strange when this happens in a place you know well.

Starting School – A Change in the Relationship


I was asked if I would write a post about starting school. This isn’t a recent event in our household, my eldest started school 3 years ago. Many of my friends are struggling with the thought of their children going to school, fearing how much they will miss them. I don’t remember feeling any great sense of loss but this was probably due to the impending birth of my 2nd child. My eldest starting school meant that I would be able to spend quality time with the baby and get rest when I needed it. One thing that has struck me however when recalling those times is the way in which our relationship changed once she started school.

When you have a baby and toddler you feel that you know everything about them, you are always with them when they do things and understand all their little signals better than anyone else. You as a parent are also the biggest influence on your child’s life. You decide what they are exposed to, what they do, where they go and how they are disciplined and brought up. I felt very close to my daughter in her pre-school years. I wasn’t a stay at home mum but even on my working days I spent time talking to her about what she had done and planning what we would do together.

I think this has been the biggest change since starting school. I am no longer the only influence on her life and many of the things that happen on a daily basis I never know about. When I ask about her day I get ‘fine’ as a blanket response. Yes, she still talks about some things, but I do feel that there is a lot that I miss out on. Helping out at school sometimes helps, you get to know the other children and the routine and teachers. This has been difficult however since having her younger sisters. Being at school takes up a lot of time, couple that with clubs and playing with friends and sometimes you feel like you barely see them. I try really hard to build in quality time, bedtime stories, talking at mealtimes or sharing a game or piece of music, but it still feels inadequate compared to the early days.

I have had a positive experience with school. My daughter has enjoyed school, been sufficiently challenged, enjoyed new experiences and made good friends. She is growing into a wonderful young lady and becoming independent. On occasions we have time together doing things that the younger ones wouldn’t appreciate or be able to do. I look forward to more of these as she grows older.

Once our children start school we are no longer the be all and end all, but we are still a major influence on their lives. They still love and need us, they still look up to us and want us to share in their achievements and interests. We no longer get to spend so much time doing things with them but that enables us to do more for ourselves and appreciate the times when we can do things together. Starting school is a new chapter, bringing new challenges but it is also a time when child and parent alike can gain a bit of independence and build new interests .

Carrot or Stick?

I’ve just finished watching Carrot or Stick ? A Horizon Guide to Raising Kids.  This was an interesting insight into Horizon Documentaries about Child Development spanning from the 1960’s to the present day.

It covers a variety of topics including attachment theory, autism, ADHD, traditional versus progressive classrooms, Piaget and behaviour management. Although there was nothing new in there, for those interested in child development it was an interesting reminder of some of the key theories from the last 40 years and their impact on parenting and education.

The programme raises debates as to whether we can love our children too much, pandering to their every whim and not giving them sufficient discipline.  It also raised questions as to how much and what sort of discipline is best for children.

The general and probably obvious conclusion is that we need a bit of both.  I think however we all need to be realistic as parents – yes I give in a little too often to my children, not because I don’t think they will love me if I don’t,  but because I don’t have the energy to deal with the uproar it will cause if I say no.  Sometimes I think I’m a little too hard on them. There are things I could do better but on the whole I do my best within the constraints of dealing with 3 children and life in general.  Do what comes naturally and your kids will probably turn out ok.

Turning 40 – Aging Well? Comparing Photoshoots 10 years on.

When I turned 30 a friend bought me a photo shoot as a gift.  The photos were stunning and  I’ve always kept one on my wall as inspiration for how I would like to look when I had finally finished my childbearing days.

When I was 30 I felt pretty good about the way I looked, I had just got engaged, was going to the gym regularly, eating healthily and was happy.  More recently however I have come to the conclusion that I have always been too self critical and never really accepted how amazing I looked.

This year I turned 40.  As clichéd as it is, I see this as a turning point.  I don’t want to have anymore children so I now have the opportunity to get my body back in shape, to build a career and to become me again.  I have just returned from a photo shoot for my 40th birthday. In the past 10 years I’ve had 3 kids and 2 miscarriages, I’ve got more wrinkles and spend a lot less time on looking good.  I rarely get a haircut and lots of my clothes are past their sell by date.  However, I have finally stopped beating myself up for not being as slim as I was in my 20’s. For the first time in a very long time I feel good about the way I look.  I think for a 40 year old with 3 kids, the youngest of whom is only 9 months , I look pretty damn good. 

I kept the cat suit from the first photo shoot – I never really believed I would ever be able to wear it again, but today I proved myself wrong.  Ok, I’m not quite as slim as 10 years ago and I did need a bit of help from some Bridget Jones pants but I did it and I think I look pretty good .

So here are some of the photos from my 30th


And the one’s I had taken today proving we can still look fabulous at 40

For anyone who wants a special gift for a special birthday I can highly recommend New ID Studios for a makeover photo shoot.  The shoot includes a hair wash, cut and style, makeup and the photoshoot. A lovely day out and a great way to boost your self esteem.

Losing a Child – Lessons to be Learned

Yesterday I posted about our lovely day out at Glenny Woods.  It was a wonderful day but there was an incident that spoiled the day to some extent.

How many parents have felt that moment of panic when you realise that you cannot find one of your children?  It has only happened to me a couple of times,  in shops when they wander off and are lost for all of 30 seconds before being rescued by a friendly shop assistant.  It may only be 30 seconds but it doesn’t help that feeling of panic.

Yesterday my friend and I had 6 children between us.  We went on a treasure hunt with 4 of the children leaving a 7 year old and 5 year old to finish the masks that they were making.  When we returned there was no sign of either of them. 

Initially I wasn’t worried, my 7 year old is very sensible and I assumed that they were either in the toilet or had gone into another field or part of the wood to play. However, we checked all around and there was no sign of them anywhere.  At this point the staff were beginning to pack up and people were starting to leave.  My friend searched around the woodland leaving me to look after the little ones.  Ten minutes later she sent me a message to alert the staff because they still couldn’t be found.  As I was about to do so I spotted them heading towards the toilets.

I expected them to be upset because they hadn’t been able to find us, but instead they came bounding up with big smiles on their faces.  I explained that we had been really worried because we hadn’t known where they were.  It transpired that some of the teenage volunteers had asked them if they wanted to make a den and they had gone a long way out into a far part of the woods to do so.  I asked my daughter why she hadn’t come to find us to tell us she was going.  She said that she had called and thought we had heard her.

After lots of ‘ but I ….’ type defences, I finally got her to listen, explaining calmly that I wasn’t angry with her but I needed to know that she understood what to do next time.  I explained that if ever she was going to go somewhere and I wouldn’t know where she was she needed to find me and tell me where she was going, not just assume I had heard.

So lesson 1 …  make sure your children have clear ground rules on days out, however sensible you think they are.

The teenagers and staff were very apologetic.  The children had told them that their parents had said it was ok.  Lesson 2…  never assume that a child’s word is correct always check with the parents first.  I am quite sure that this incident will encourage the staff to have  guidelines for what to do if you are taking children away from the main area in the future.

When you are in charge of other people’s children it sometimes takes an incident such as this to teach you how important it is to have rigorous procedures in place.  Years ago as an inexperienced playworker, I took a group of children on a trip.  Before we left we took the register and counted all the children.  We then took the children to board the minibus.  When we got to our destination (not far away) we had a message from  the nursery at the family centre we had just left.  The message said that we had left a 6 year old boy behind.  The boy had decided that he didn’t want to go on the trip and hidden as we had boarded the bus.  We were so lucky that the nursery was on site and that they had taken him in.  From that moment on I always counted children on and off the minibus!

These are the lessons to be learned for childcarers, parents and children, simple reminders that hopefully will avoid that feeling of panic happening to you.

If You Go Down to the Woods Today – 10 Woodland Activities for Children

We had a lovely time today at Glenny Woods organised by our local Children’s Centre. Glenny Woods is a wonderful woodland centre owned by the Scouts Movement.  They have an indoor room with a veranda for when it is wet, an area for lighting fires with bench seating, adventure playground equipment and facilities for making dens.

However, even if your nearest wood doesn’t have these added facilities there are lots of simple fun things that you can do with children.  Try not to rush children on to looking at the next thing.  They may want to spend half an hour looking at a clump of moss or sliding down a muddy bank.  If you really want your children to appreciate and explore nature then allow lots of time and move at their pace (however frustrating this might be).

1. Give children a piece of cardboard with double sided sticky tape on and get them to make a hat collecting natural things.  This could be free choice or maybe have a colour theme.  You could ask children to create a pattern eg. large and small things or find specific items to make their hat.


2. Put double sided sticky tape around the top of your child’s wellies and ask them to collect items of interest and stick them to their wellies.

3. Take magnifiers or bug jars and look for creatures. Take photographs so that you can identify them when you get home.

Look Mummy I found a snail


4. Young children will enjoy exploring the textures of things, moss, long grass, tree trunks, mud.  Give children a textural treasure hunt – find things that are soft, smooth, hard, spiky, slimy, cold, warm, rough etc. Make a feely box containing some of the textured things or use a blindfold and ask children to describe what they are touching.

hands on a tree.

5. Give children a piece of string and ask them to find and attach the following items: something natural, something manmade, something colourful, something heavy  and something with an interesting shape.  Hang a line of string between 2 trees and hang the completed pieces from it to make a natural work of art.

6. Build a fire, toast marshmallows on whittled sticks or bake potatoes in the bottom of the fire.


7. Go on a treasure hunt


8. Play in the mud.  Take tools and  to see what you might find or stamp and feel the texture of wet gooey mud. Find a stick and draw or write in the wet mud, or take large sheets of paper and use mud to paint with – use fingers or sticks to apply the mud.


9. Collect natural materials to make a picture or sculpture .  Make a frame from sticks or stones and ask the children to make a picture inside it using what they have collected. For the youngest children let them arrange leaves into a nest or sticks or stones into a pattern.

Oct 07 045

10. Build a den.  Use sticks and build a den in the style of Eeyore’s house.

You might also want to check out some of these ideas


Finding the alphabet in nature

Fairy houses in the woods

A natural playground

Children Connecting with nature

Mud faces



Listography – 5 Things I Would Change About Myself

I’m new to listography – often having perused other bloggers’ offerings but never adding my own.  This weeks topic however struck a chord with me.  I’m going through a big period of change at the moment and feel that I have had to re-evaluate every aspect of my life.  Couple that with turning 40 and I’m considering who and what I want to be in the next 10 years.  I therefore thought this exercise might be therapeutic and serve as a focus for my journey to a new me.

Having read Kate’s list I was a little unnerved to find that her list could so easily have been written by me.  So here’s mine – the same but different…

1.  To Be More Demonstrative – The comment Kate made about the feeling of discomfort when a close family member hugs you resonated with me.  I think I’m pretty good at giving and receiving hugs and telling my nearest and nearest I love them.  However, I would like to be more verbally demonstrative.  I have always felt awkward when people do or say nice things not knowing quite how to react.   When a person close to me has done something that I’m really proud of I understate my admiration because it feels uncomfortable to greet them with a flourish.  I don’t know how to react when people give me amazing presents so often don’t show how much it means to me. I’d like to be more able to speak my mind.

2. To Be More Confident – I suppose this is quite a big one – ‘more confident at what?’  I hear you say.   To have more confidence in my own ability and not to feel that other people are better/have more to offer than I have, which I think holds me back in lots of areas . To have more confidence in talking to new people, expressing my thoughts and putting myself forward.

3. To Be Tidy and Organised – I hate clutter and would love to have a beautifully clean and organised house and garden but however much I tidy it never seems to make a difference. I try to be organised but still end up losing things, getting out of the door late and forgetting things.

4.To Be More Exciting – I see myself as a fairly ordinary boring person.  I’d like people to look at me and say ‘Wow you do that?’.  I think I’m interesting but my life is not, maybe I just want to be Superwoman.

5. To Be Able to Ask for Help – I often have friends and neighbours who say ‘If you ever need any help just ask’.  They probably hear my usual stressed tones in the mornings as I struggle to get 3 kids out of the house and stop the dogs from barking at all and sundry.  There are few people who I go to for help, I think I feel that I am putting on people if I ask them for things, or maybe it is just that I think I should be able to do everything by myself –   quest for superwoman again.

So there you go – a few things to work on….  One step at a time.