being female.

“Mummy, Mummy! I just saw a lady riding a motorbike. Completely on her own!”

And these aren’t the only words that Ruby has said recently that make me wonder what is actually going on with the world?!

Why is it that what is absolutely nothing to me (of course a woman can ride a motorbike on her own!), is so shocking to my five year old daughter?

“That man is wearing a pink shirt.”

“Henry is playing with my dolls”

“I can’t play football, don’t be silly”

“That is not for me, it’s for a boy!”

I have always tried to avoid gender stereotypes with both of my children, but never made a big deal of it. I put Ruby in babygrows with colours that are traditionally thought of as ‘boys colours’, I buy Henry dolls because he likes them, I let Ruby run around in the mud, climb trees and razz around on her bike. Because that is what she enjoys doing!

I work. Pretty much full time. I worked all the way through both of my hyperemesis-filled pregnancies. I walk into male-dominated property industry meetings every day and smash them. I love football and rugby. And so does my husband. He works full time. We share chores (granted, I do most of the housework) and he cooks and takes care of both of them just as much as I do.

So why is it that she still has a warped view of what it is to be female?

Is it in-built? Is it people at school?

It certainly doesn’t come from me, or from any of our family members – two of her wonderfully clever, talented and totally empowered Aunties bought the same book for her for Christmas – “Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls”.

Showing me that they share my desire to raise Ruby knowing that being female is more than fluff and flounce, more than giggles and boys, more than having babies and keeping house.

Not that any of those things are bad. Quite the opposite in fact. Anyone who knows me knows that. Nothing is better than getting dressed up and going out for drinks and giggling with your girls!

But I want her to grow up knowing that to be female is to be strong. To be miraculous. To be brave.

To be anything she wants to be and do absolutely anything that she wants to do.

So when she says things like she said this morning about the woman riding the motorbike, I will always turn back and tell her exactly this:

Yes, Ruby. Women can do anything they want to do. We are amazing.

And we truly are.



Do you know how much I love you? Probably not, with all the shouting I seem to be doing recently. 

You turned five two weeks ago, and declared to me and your Daddy that since you were now a “big girl” there was no need for us to worry about you anymore. 
I smiled inside as I told you that I believed you. That I knew that it was so true that big girls like you can look after themselves, that big girls like you are strong and brave and so very clever. And I smiled as I told you that you might just need to keep me around for a little while longer though, because whilst you might not need me anymore, now that you’re five and all…I still need you. 

And how true that is my darling girl. 

I need your smiles. 

I need your cuddles. 

I need your laughter. 

I need you. 

You see, I think I’ll always need you my love. To remind me how precious life is and to keep me going when times get tough. 


Gosh, I can’t believe that you’re five already! 

I looked back through my old posts the other day and found four. My letter to you from one whole year ago. And whilst the shock that yet another year has gone by already is still the same (about as bad as finding that additional wrinkle on my face, or your Daddy pointing out a grey hair in the back of my head!), and the question “how did we get here already?!” remains…somehow five doesn’t seem too bad. 

You are reading. So brilliantly. 

You are writing. So neatly (massive brownie points from your neat freak mother there!). 

You sing at the top of your voice and you don’t care who hears you. 

You twirl and skip whenever you can. 

You love your brother so fiercely, and probably wish he didn’t exist so fiercely too! 

You are becoming you. 

And it’s a thrill. 

It’s bloomin hard work, because you’re stubborn as a mule and so very opinionated, but you make life better.  You make everything better. 

So, from one pain in the backside to another…welcome to being five. I hope it’s all you dreamed it would be. I hope you learn so much and dream so big. 

Happy Birthday Ruby Roo. 

I love you so much, forever and a day, xxx

the test.

We are definitely being tested right now.

Someone, somewhere thinks it’s time to give us a right good kick up the backside.

It’s like they’re saying, “Oh, so you think you’re having a good time!? Here’s ten tonnes of melodrama, stroppy almost five year old and a whole heap of guilt just to ice that cake of yours!”

Thanks for that. Whoever you are.

Ok, so I’m being dramatic.  

I guess the first thing to say is that I know my daughter is not naughty.

I know full well that she is a gem, and that she is so lovely.

So the next thing to say then is this…

How do you discipline someone who is, on the whole, really lovely, when all of a sudden they start constantly doing things to upset their little brother? When they just refuse to listen? When they backchat you all the time? 

Yesterday I tried some discipline. Yesterday I followed through on the threat to send Ruby to her room if she continued being naughty and didn’t eat her dinner properly as she had been asked to.

And my word. The tantrum that ensued was immense.


I instantly felt absolutely awful. Like the worst Mummy in the world.

What had she actually done wrong? Was I overreacting? Had I made a mountain out of a molehill?

I am still questioning myself, even now, 24 hours after “the incident”.

Because this is what being a parent does to you.

The worst thing about it all was that when she had actually calmed down and I started to talk with her about what had happened and why I have to start following through on punishments with her, was what she said to me.

She wailed, “But all I ever want to do is make you happy. And all you do is yell at me.”

Is this true? Have I become the worst Mummy in the world? Are the thoughts I have at the back of my mind actually true?

I cried.

I cried in-front of my daughter.

And I hugged her and squeezed her and told her the following:

“I love you. I love you more than I have loved anything or anyone in the whole entire world. I love you so much that sometimes my heart feels like it will burst. You also make me more cross than I feel I have ever been. Not because you are naughty, but because I want to do the best job of being your Mummy that I possibly can. So that you can become the best grown-up that you possibly can.”

Her breathing became slower and we hugged even closer.

“It’s not your job to make me happy. It’s my job to make sure you are happy. To keep you safe and to show you how to be the best Ruby that you can possibly be. Do you think I would be doing a good job of being a Mummy to you if I just let you do all those things that are naughty, or dangerous or mean to Henry?

She said no, and that she understood.

And we hugged even closer and I told her I loved her some more.

This kind of thing doesn’t happen very often. In fact it’s really rare that she is this “naughty”. Like I said, I know my daughter is a lovely little girl.

So when it does happen I find it difficult. Really difficult.

Parenting is no easy ride, and whilst it’s fair to say that we chose to put ourselves in this situation, it’s also fair to say that sometimes? Sometimes it is so hard work. And that’s alright. It’s fine to think like that. 

Her behaviour is testing us to our limits at the moment. But we crack on, and today has been a much better day.  

We are doing the best we possibly can, and hopefully in years to come when all this is a memory and I am wishing, wishing, wishing that we could have this time back again she will understand that she is the most precious thing to me.

I love you Ruby Roo.



arguments with a four year old.

Our daughter, as many of you will already know, is four.

Our daughter, as many of you will know, is also very strong-willed and a feisty little creature.

This basically means the following things:

  1. She knows best
  2. She doesn’t listen to a word we say
  3. She will pretend to listen whilst rolling her eyes at you
  4. She knows best
  5. She throws monumental, melodramatic (and somewhat hilarious) strops from time to time
  6. She flicks from loving her brother to wishing he wasn’t around faster than you can blink
  7. She knows best

She’s a teeny weeny wolf in the most angelic of sheep’s clothing. With a head bob and plenty of “sass” that comes from one too many episodes of My Little Pony!

She’s awesome. She’s kind. She’s clever. She’s frustrating.

She’s Ruby.

There are the usual little arguments that I’m pretty sure are standard for any parent of a four year old…you know the ones, no you can’t have chocolate for breakfast, too much TV will make your brain mushy, no you can’t have chocolate for breakfast, please put your shoes on, I’m sorry but Jamie can’t come to live with us as his mummy would miss him too much, no you can’t have any more chocolate as you’ll be sick…and so on and so forth.


But last night, and I have to admit quite often recently, her sass turned into being just plain mean to her baby brother.

And as a result, last night we had an argument that was bigger than the usual ones.

Last night she ended up in her bedroom in tears.

And last night I felt more guilt than I have ever felt after an argument with her. Ever.


Because I lost my cool. Because she cried so hard and because, last night she looked at me and said, “Does this mean you don’t love me?”.

And that, quite simply, broke my heart because oh Lord, do I love her.

I love her so, so much.

But the thing is…when I see her nastily growling in the face of her baby brother, or snatching toys from his hands just because he is enjoying himself, or laughing when he falls over, it kind of makes me cross.

And it makes me sad, because I don’t understand where that comes from. Is it normal?!

Ruby has never been that child you see. Sure there have been moments, but in general she’s had glowing reports about how good she is at sharing and we are always being told how kind she is. So why is it then, that all of a sudden she seems to have designated Henry as public enemy number 1?

Listen to me please. Stop doing that. Behave yourself.
You’re doing so well at sharing. That was so kind. Thankyou for being nice to Henry.

I’ve tried all the tactics, and I could spout ToddlerCalm, How to Encourage Sharing…all the parenting books you like… back at you, but I’m still no closer to cracking this one.

And this is the one that causes me to have arguments that make my four year old think I don’t love her!


So much has happened to our little family over the last 19 months since Henry arrived. Meningitis, starting school, we’ve moved house, I’ve gone back to work…and I guess all of these things are taking a toll on all of us.

I don’t know if how I parent is the best way to do things. I tell her I love her every single day. I worry constantly about what she thinks and feels. I spend ages explaining why we’re doing things the way we are. I talk with her after every falling out and we forgive and forget. I wonder every time we fall out how much of all of this she will remember, and how it’s affecting her “future self”. I fret about whether we should spend more time with her on her own, without Henry around. I worry about their future relationship – I want so much for them to be friends. I feel incredibly guilty about arguing with her – shouldn’t I just be loving every single minute I have with her instead!?

Shouldn’t I find it easy to take the upper-hand and just let it all go?

Maybe? Probably? Definitely?

There are lots of things that I don’t know about our four year old and how best to parent her, now and in the future. And I am hoping that this, like other triggers for arguments, is just a phase.

One thing I do know for sure is that I love her so much. I am so proud of her and how she has handled all the changes that have come her way recently.

And that will never change, no matter how many times she rolls her eyes at me!

Any advice? Sibling rivalry getting you down too? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Speak soon x

sick tsunami.

We’ve had a bug this weekend. A nasty, horrible, sick-inducing bug.

I think, well I know, that it started mid-week with Henry…who was ridiculously sick all over everything but was then, by some strange miracle, totally fine. Ruby then sat on the sofa all afternoon on Friday, subdued and not her usual self complaining that she felt poorly.

And then came the sick.

Bucketloads of sick.

Luckily I dodged the bullet on cleaning it up as she was fantastic and ran to the toilet before any of the sick actually came out. The poor thing was a little traumatised by it all, but not more so than her Daddy who was completely baffled by how much sick can come from one so small.

We were due to travel to Aberystwyth this weekend to visit Mr O’s brother, his new wife and the youngest Oliphant and his fiancĂ©e were coming along too for a right proper catch-up. So, being generally very excited about a weekend with our brothers (wine, chat, good times!) I shrugged off the sick-fest and packed the weekend bag ready to set off bright and early on Saturday morning.

And then came more sick.

But this time the sick was from me.

Now, I know that I am not alone in severely disliking being sick. I mean, who actually enjoys it, right!? But this?! This I really did not enjoy. I cannot believe how sick I was.

Nevertheless, I spent a whole day in bed on Saturday determined to feel much better in the morning so that we could drive to Wales to see everyone on Sunday. How utterly naive of me.

Those with older children, or those that have tackled a bug before, feel free to chuckle at this point – because on Saturday night things got even worse. We literally had no idea what was coming!!

Henry wouldn’t sleep. We’d tried all the usual tricks except for the one where I stand and cuddle and rock him until he goes dopey…because I literally couldn’t stand up for more than a minute without feeling like I was going to die (how we thought I would be better in the morning I have no idea!). Eventually, through some minor miracle he finally went to sleep, so we breathed a sigh of relief and I planned to shift myself off to bed to try to feel better for Wales.

And then came even more sick.

A sick tsunami.

More sick than either of us put together have ever seen. In our lives.

“Muuuuuuuuuumy! Mummy, I’ve been sick in my bed!”

Oh bloomin’ heck.

Poor Ruby was covered head to toe in sick, and her bedroom looked like a scene from The Exorcist. And then Henry woke up screaming.

So, I showered the little sick monster with one hand whilst I bounced Henry on my hip, all the while trying not to be sick again myself and trying to make light of what was a pretty manky situation. She was crying because she realised pretty quickly that this was definitely the end of our plans to go to Wales and Henry was just looking at me as if this was the funniest thing he’d seen so far in his short little life.

She has woken up today completely fine. I however am still feeling like something that was dragged up from the pits of hell, and the fact that I haven’t been able to eat all weekend has made things even worse as I feel so lethargic and fuggy.

Spoiled plans really upset me, especially plans that I have been really looking forward to. We don’t get to see Mr O’s brothers very often, and so the fact that we’ve not been able to see them (and still haven’t been to Aber even though Drew has been there for a VERY long time) has made me feel very upset. We must, must get a new date in the diary, and soon.

Thankfully, this time round, Mr O hasn’t picked up the bug so he has been wonderful looking after the children. There are little parcels of left-over food that will never be eaten all over my poor fridge, the sitting room is a disaster zone, the children look feral and I’ve heard nothing but moaning about how hard it all is from him – but yes, he has been wonderful whilst I’ve been sobbing, whinging and generally moaning about the fact that I’m poorly sick.

Oh well, another week starts tomorrow – August already!

Speak soon x









Our four year old is in bed after a thoroughly wonderful day.

How is it that we have a four year old? How is it that our baby is suddenly a little girl? How, when I can remember her birth like it was yesterday (all 32 hours of it), is she now a walking talking miniature version of the person she will eventually become?

Sure, I know how time works. I know that there have been 1,461 days since she bounded into the world all scrumpled and baggy-skinned, screaming and eyeing me up with her amazingly beautiful eyes that were so dark they looked purple. I know that there have been 3 other birthdays…one where she didn’t have a clue what was happening and hid under the table, another where she was happy to eat aaaaallll the cake and last year’s family, at home party, where she actually really would have liked a “proper party mummy”. All of them have been equally as baffling to me as this one and, sadly, I know that time will never, ever, stand still.

I often find myself wishing that it would though. Find myself wishing for a second that I could capture her and keep her just the way she is now for eternity. Or re-wind to soft, yummy baby snuggles, cheeky first words and big, beaming smiles from the side of her cot when I went into her room and scooped her up each morning. I wish. I wish. I wish.

We had a wonderful day today. The joy she radiated was infectious.

“I’m four now!” she beamed. So excited. So unaware of anything wrong with the world we live in. So completely thankful for every single present and every single card she received. Sharing her presents with her baby brother, and enjoying seeing him have fun with her balloons (until she wasn’t anymore, and then he got told off!).

A day full of smiles and laughter (and ice-cream) with a lovely little friend that I hope she’ll have for life.

Maybe I shouldn’t wish to keep her just as she is after all. For what would I miss out on if I did? All the joy inside her that is still to come. All the smiles, laughs and stories (oh the stories!). All the stresses, tears, tantrums.

No. Let me just enjoy every single second of it all and relish in the anticipation of what’s still to come. And try to remember this when the latter is more prevalent than the former!!


The start of brand new adventures.

What’s your next adventure going to look like? Let me know!

Speak soon x


garden time.

This weekend has been lovely. I think.


We had Mr O’s parents with us for the day on Saturday…they arrived after the standard weekend dancing and swimming lessons, so we had lunch and then wandered into town, destined to buy sandals for Ruby and print off a gazillion posters and flyers for my book stall at the Lichfield Bower on Monday. A bbq involving lots of forced “ooohs” as Mr O tried his best to grill chicken whilst fending off the curly haired one before she burned herself followed, and then there was a great game of Scatch and of course the obligatory tantrum once told that no, she couldnt have wine with dinner!

Today was a nice, quiet day in comparison. I say quiet…but it’s never quiet with boo boo and bobbins around!

Thinking back to the days of old when the hubs and I used to get up late, eat long lovely lunches and drink wine in the garden all day, I laugh when I even think that the weekend has been “quiet” these days!

Ruby has flipped from sweetheart to devil so many times this weekend. And so my thoughts have mainly consisted  of…What did we do now?! Can I run away and hide?! Please!? The stroppy little madam isn’t even 4 yet. She is well and truly a threenager.

Still, even though our garden is quite possibly one of the least attractive places on the planet (and you have to sit near the bins to eat your bbq) I have actually really enjoyed spending time out there this weekend.

Henry ate grass. Ruby climbed the tree. Mr O finally cut the grass.

Yep. This weekend has been lovely.