Go the F To Sleep and Other Fables

Most of the time I am a pretty cool mama – I’m good for a laugh, I read endless stories, I play with dolls and pretend shops/libraries/beauty salons/restaurants, I paint, I colour, I cook, I create amazing feats out of play-dough, I make up songs and jokes, I dance around like a lunatic, I sneak in treats, I bounce on the trampoline, I go to the theatre, I put on my own shows, I buy the best presents when I shouldn’t, I am a willing victim to make-up and hair experiments and I’m good for endless snuggles, hugs and kisses.

But then’s there’s the alter-ego.  The “other mama” – who really just gets pushed to the limit and gets fed up.  This anti-mama is rarely seen, but when she does, I take solace that others also are going through exactly the same bullshit that I am. And the proof is here:  I have been hooting with glee over these ‘Picture Books For Parents’ that sum up exactly how I feel at times.

Firstly there’s the current No 1 Amazon Best Seller by Adam Mansbach “Go the F To Sleep“.  This little ditty began life as a Facebook post in June and has solidified the viral e-publishing phenomena, with the book shooting to the No 1 spot a month before it has even been released and has already signed a film option with Fox 2000.  It’s a story of a dad’s particularly trying bedtime routine with his 2 year old daughter.   Can not wait to get my hands on a copy of this!

Go the Fuck to Sleep book

Go the Fuck to Sleep book

And my other favourite is the cautionary tale  “Monsters Eat Whiny Children” by Bruce Eric Kaplan (who happens to also be a cartoonist for the New Yorker) – which is an absolute hoot – about 2 adorable kids who are going through a “terrible phase” and, although their father warns them that “monsters eat whiny children” they persist until the inevitable happens.

Now I realise this all seems far from nice and is certainly not PC – but can anyone show me a parent out there that hasn’t felt these things?  No, I didn’t think so.

If you know of any other parent therapy picture books in the same vein, share them.  It’s all in the name of mental wellbeing and group therapy.

May your weekend be one of smooth sailing and good-tempered fun.

Meg x

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Shared Inspiration #4: Life Lessons Gleaned from Jane Austen

Most will agree Jane Austen is a rockstar.  Her books are hilariously funny, easy to relate to and choc-full of character and wisdom to guide you along your path.

I came across a post (via @GuyKawasaki) by the Huffington Post’s literary critic and Austen aficionado, Bill Deresiewicz which  provides a snapshot into his new book titled A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship, and the Things That Really Matter. 

This post offers 12 very funny, if not brutal life lessons gleaned from Jane Austen.  Here goes:

  1. You aren’t nearly as special as you think (from “Emma”):  You may walk around like the heroine of your very own novel, but you’re no better than any of the minor characters. You know — those dull, ordinary, conventional people you’re forced to be surrounded by.  Take a good look at them: that’s you.
  2. Gossip is the highest form of wisdom (from “Emma”): The most important things in life are the small, trivial, everyday events, the little moments of feeling, that people like to gab about. That’s what the fabric of our years really consists of. That is what life is truly about.
  3. Humiliation is the fastest way of growing up (from “Pride and Prejudice”):  You’re not as wonderful as your mama told you, and the way to grow up is to realize that. Growing up, in other words, means making mistakes. Only it’s not enough to make mistakes: you have to feel them. Those moments of excruciating shame when you really screw up? Cherish them.
  4. Your feelings are not necessarily right (from “Pride and Prejudice”):  Feelings are always about something, and that “something” is not itself a feeling. It’s an idea, a perception of a situation. And because ideas can be wrong, the feelings that are based on them can also be wrong. So relax a little bit.
  5. Don’t believe everything you think (from “Northanger Abbey”): We do not come to things with open minds, we come with all the ideas we’ve already acquired, and we can’t wait to project them onto everything we encounter. Instead of discovering the truth, we end up with a very elaborate theory that bears no relationship to what’s actually going on in front of us.
  6. Keeping your eyes open is the best way of staying young (from “Northanger Abbey”): Forget Botox. Staying young means continuing to be open to the possibility that life can take you by surprise. Curiosity is the true source of joy. If you think you’ve already seen it all, you have.
  7. Too much money makes you miserable (from “Mansfield Park”): Being able to get whatever you want makes you awfully unhappy when you can’t get what you want. And if everything is easy, then nothing really matters. The only people who can feel are those who have a sense of what it means to do without.
  8. Listening to people’s stories is the nicest thing you can do for them (from “Mansfield Park”): A person’s story is the most personal thing about them, and paying attention to it is just about the most important thing you can do. Our stories are what make us human, and listening to someone else’s stories — entering into their feelings, validating their experiences — is the highest way of acknowledging their humanity.
  9. Friends tell friends when they’re screwing up (from “Persuasion”): The true friend wants you to be happy, but being happy and feeling good about yourself are not the same thing. Being happy means becoming a better person, and becoming a better person means having your mistakes pointed out to you in a way you can’t ignore.
  10. Men and women can be friends, because the sex thing doesn’t always get in the way. (from “Persuasion”): Harry and Sally were wrong. Men and women can talk to each other, sympathize with each other, even share their intimate thoughts and feelings with each other, without having to be attracted to each other. Men and women can be equals, so men and women can be friends.
  11. Love is never at first sight (from “Sense and Sensibility”): Lust at first sight, a whole train of fantasies and projections at first sight –sure. But to love someone, you have to get to know their character, not just their body, and that takes time. True love sneaks up on you. You never see it coming until it’s already there.
  12. Arguing is the best thing about being married (from “Sense and Sensibility”): If your spouse is already just like you, then neither one of you has anywhere to go. A friction-free relationship would be a desert. Conflict is good; disagreements are good; even fights can be good. Committing yourself to someone doesn’t have to limit your growth: it can be the door to perpetual growth.
I’m adding a 13th that I reckon Bill may have overlooked:  
13.  There is no Mr Right: No one is perfect, everyone’s got something which
will annoy the living daylights out of someone else.  Mind you, if Mr Right Now comes in the form of Colin Firth as Mr Darcy, my advice is to settle – it’s pretty much as good as it gets.
Mmmmmm Mr Darcy – caio for now, I’m off to watch P&P on DVD.

firth.jpg

You can read Bill’s full post here.  If this is anything to go by his book is a must. Can’t wait to read it.

Meg

Book Crushing: Lucy Reads… “The Curious Garden”

Another book me and Miss 4 and 3/4s have on the go is Peter Brown’s “The Curious Garden”.

This book is about a little boy who lives in a very drab, industrial city.  On a walk he discovers a neglected lonely garden on an abandoned railway line.  He decides to help the plants along and in doing so creates this magnificent garden which has a life of its own and inspires others to join in.

It’s a gorgeous book and it speaks of hope, potential, determination and the power of one person to achieve amazing things.  As you can see above, the illustrations are truly wonderful.

What makes this extra spesh though is that this story is inspired by an actual garden in a real abandoned railway, called the High Line, in Manhattan.  Left decaying in 1980, 2 neighbours took it upon themselves in 1999 to do a spot of guerilla gardening, starting what has turned out to be a magnificent collective of community spirit in “Friends of the High Line”.

My fabulous Out-Laws are in NYC at the moment and visiting this amazing place is on the top of their itinerary – I can’t wait to hear all about it.  This place is truly magical and has become a place of true community spirit, co-opting, collective vision and energy, partnership, design, public art and performance.  You can check it out here:  http://www.thehighline.org/ or by watching this awesome video (wait for the ad to pass, it’s well worth it):

My family and I are gardeners to the core, so this book is totally for us.  But if you aren’t the gardening sort or have had a couple of past tragedies, I hope this inspires you to go get a packet of seeds to sprinkle in your garden or plant a herb in a pot.  Give it a go – with the right amount of attention and love anyone can achieve anything.

Meg x

Book Crushing: Lucy Reads…. “Just Being Audrey”

Ever since I was a little girl, I have had a thing for children’s picture books.  I often find myself deeply moved by the beautiful meaning, humour, wiseness, generosity of these treasures and have a special spot for beautiful illustrations.

Fortunately for me, Miss 4 and 3/4s loves them too and we spend many blissful hours getting our snuggle on and exploring these worlds together.

At the moment we are LOVING  “Just Being Audrey” by Margaret Cardillo.  The story takes you from Audrey’s childhood and details the key moments that made her, her.  It really captures her beautiful spirit, free heart, whimsical character and her kindness.

“Just Being Audrey” is made so much more fabulous due to the magic of by one of my favourite children’s illustrators, the divinest Julia Denos, who is unbelievably talented and special.  You can find out more about her on her blog  http://www.thecinnamonrabbit.blogspot.com

Here’s the book trailer (oh how I heart a book trailer too):

Book trailer:  

This book has now sent us on an Audrey-a-thon – and we have added to this by watching her films – so far we have watched Sabrina and Roman Holiday…. She is really so lovely.

I’d love to hear about your special books:  What’s your favourite book? (note: mine is Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by a million miles)  What are you reading at the moment?  What is your child’s favourite read?

More reviews to come soon x

Happy Easter everyone.

Meg