Monday, 18 November 2013

10 ways family life is like "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!"

I'm very pleased "I'm A Celebrity..." is back on our screens. I've always enjoyed the show, Ant and Dec are wonderful presenters. I've realised, there are quite a few comparisons to be made between jungle life, and everyday family life:

1. Bugs and wild animals are always found in unexpected places

2. You go to sleep every night with the fear of being woken by an unwanted visitor(s)

3. You constantly listen to people complaining of being hungry. Sleep deprivation is a common occurrence.

4. Mealtimes feel like a bushtucker trial, homemade meals sometimes get a similar reaction to the horrors being served on the show.

5. Everyday has it's challenges, which can seem like an endurance test. Can you survive homework times 3 without freaking out?

6. As parents, we are our children's personal jungle diary room. We listen as calmly as we can to the "contestants" complaints, and telling tales on each other.

7. You are woken early every morning by strange and inexplicable noises.

8. Finding school ties in a frenzy before school time is equatable to finding the jungle keys in a bushtucker could touch anything in the horror of a child's bedroom.

9. Most families have an "Ant and Dec", friends or family who visit to provide help and advice. These people are always pleased to visit, but secretly, we all know they're pleased to escape "the jungle".

10. Like those who've experienced the real "I'm A Celebrity...", you'd describe family life as very rewarding, but also a relief to escape (once in a while).

Any more to add? I'd be pleased to read your thoughts.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

The return of the Christmas Detectives

 I wrote this post last year, my little Christmas detectives are sure to start their investigations soon. This year I will really have to be on my guard, they'll no longer be Dr. Watson's, I'm sure they'll be  Sherlocks by now! I'm half expecting my son's homemade lie detector to be involved:

The Christmas Detectives

I am normally a ba humbug type of person in the leadup to Christmas, annoyed by all the Christmas hype which seems to start earlier and earlier every year. This year, however, I have to get into the Christmas mindset now, as I am in a bit of a dilemma...
On the one hand, I am very much pro-Santa, encouraging my children to believe as long as possible (case in point, I was secretly delighted when my son briefly fell out with a friend at school for telling him Santa wasn't real). On the other, every year they get that little bit more suspicious, like little Christmas detectives, and it becomes quite tricky to keep up the pretence. I recently saw a novelty Santa door key for sale in a card shop, a nice idea and I was tempted to buy it... until I realised they would all be trying the key in the door and telling me it didn't fit, so it would be yet more stories to invent. I didn't bother buying it

I learned a few years ago, that I cannot use the same wrapping paper or labels, for Santa presents as I do for mummy and daddy presents, my son picked up on that faux pas straight away. I also disguise my handwriting for the Santa labels. Sounds simple enough, but a few days later when they are asking if a certain toy was from us or Santa, it gets confusing.
The reindeer food we bought from a school Christmas Fayre was always put out happily, no issues there. Last year, however, my son was suspicious about the glitter in the food, he figured out that glitter did not seem normal, or healthy, for animals. I got away with that one by saying they were magic reindeer, so glitter was ok for them to eat. I was also told I should be leaving out 9 carrots, one for each reindeer. I told them the reindeer wouldn't be able to fly if they ate too much, so they better just share one. I will also have to grate some carrot and leave it on the floor and plate- they remarked on Christmas morning last year, how it was amazing the reindeer didn't make any mess when they ate. See what I'm up against?

The dilemma: In October I was lucky enough to re-house two baby rabbits from a local animal park. The kids had been asking for a pet for a while, so I gave in. The cost for the hutch, food, hay, toys, vaccines etc soon all added up. There is also the unexpected expense of having to get them neutered, as my two male rabbits turned out to be one male and one female! I made it clear that they wouldn't be getting much else for Christmas. To my dismay, I was told "that's ok, we'll just ask Santa for the things we want." It seems like nearly every day they are talking about new items for their Santa lists, and I am currently trying to think of the best way to handle this. I don't want disappointed children on Christmas day, so "Santa" better come up with a half decent excuse for his lack of generosity soon.
My ideas so far: the elves are on strike... that wouldn't work, because they'd wonder how all their friends still got toys.
The reindeer are sick, and the medicine is very expensive, so Santa can't make so many toys this year...they'd be upset and possibly start a school fundraiser for poor Rudolph and his friends.

No, I think a letter from Lapland is in order, something referring to the fact Santa knows they have two lovely rabbits and they are very lucky boys and girls. Other children aren't so lucky, so Santa has to make sure that everyone gets a fair share of Christmas presents. I'm sure a slight threat of lumps of coal for Christmas next year if they don't keep looking after their pets wouldn't go astray either.

Wish me luck!

Do you have little Christmas detectives at home?  How do you deal with ever lengthening Santa lists? At what age do you think it's time to  let children realise there's no Santa? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Call for children to help "The Bankrupt Tooth Fairy"

"The Bankrupt Tooth Fairy",  is an illustrated, rhyming short story for children aged 6-9 years old. The story tells of Sparkle, the Tooth Fairy, who is sent to find out why children are not taking care of their teeth, and to make changes so that the teeth she collects are healthier, stronger, and sparkly white. Healthy teeth are urgently required to repair Fairy Castle. I'm sure most parents have been asked what the Tooth Fairy does with all the teeth....  

The book aims to be fun and entertaining, whilst at the same time encouraging children to look after their teeth. Sparkle enlists the help of a little girl called Anne, who is delighted to assist with such an important mission. Anne, reveals that she has had four teeth removed, and is eager to help, as she doesn't want other children to suffer as she had. Sparkle and Anne become very good friends as the story continues, teaming up to think of ways to make children eat less sugar, and brush their teeth properly. Children reading the story, will enjoy their magical adventures, learning some tips for better dental care along the way. I also tackle the fact that some children of this age may be doubting the Tooth Fairy's existence, but you'll have to read the story to find out how I approach that issue!

The story ends with Sparkle successfully sending enough healthy teeth to Fairy Land for the castle to be repaired. Sparkle and Anne are sad that their time together has come to an end, but very proud of what they managed to achieve together. The two friends are bound to meet again, as the Fairy King has another mission for Sparkle. The final lines of the book are directed to the reader, a call to help "The Bankrupt Tooth Fairy", by making sure they send healthy clean teeth to Fairy Land. Tooth Fairy Tips are included to help children achieve this. There are also some appealing, comical illustrations at the start of the book; Tooth Fairy Essentials, including a fairy currency convertor and earplugs for visiting snoring children.

A little about me...I am a children's author/illustrator with a Degree in English Literature, and an HND in Graphic Design. I am often inspired by children in my family, the character of Anne is based on my niece. I hope this book will contribute to the efforts being made to improve the dental health of young children. I thoroughly enjoy sharing stories with children, and will be presenting educational school workshops based on The Bankrupt Tooth Fairy. I am keen to support local bookshops, and my book is available from Scotia books in Kilsyth (near Glasgow), as well as from Amazon and Waterstones online. Feedback or reviews of my work are always welcome, and I can be contacted by email ( for further info. on school workshops, or if you are interested in stocking my book.

Finally, my favourite illustration from "The Bankrupt Tooth Fairy",  Sparkle cheekily stealing a spoonful of sugar to protect some teeth: