Posted by: Shireen | February 20, 2019

A Walk Home

It had been a long day.  I had dealt with a class of 30 five year olds who were restless after having wet play.  I had a meeting that ran over and prevented me from tidying the classroom at the end of the day.  Everything was a mess.  I just managed to sort out the reading planning for the next day before running out the school doors to get the train in time to pick up Little Bee (who by the way is 9 and a half now).  Nothing was particularly going my way on this particular day. Did I mention the rain?

The minute I got to Little Bee’s dance class, soggy and wet, I was immediately inundated with requests for this dance competition and that dance show, discussions of what thickness of tights to wear for the upcoming competition and which colour sparkly outfit to wear on which day.  While I was trying to be Dance Mum of the Year, my daughter was being indecisive about some competition that her dance teacher had asked her to think about and I was trying to send a text to state her decision.  Little Bee said no and looked overwhelmed, so I texted no, trying not to be pushy mum.  Then she said yes and changed her mind yet again, pleading to go after all.  Turns out that Dance Mum of Year had had enough.  The frustrations of the day and the pressure to be on top of all this working mum stuff just exploded out of me.  I snapped at Little Bee and marched us both out of the building.

Usually our walks home from dance are a time for Little Bee and I to connect.  It’s the only time in the week that we get just the two of us so it is precious to both of us.  On this evening, though, I was livid.  Annoyed at my day, annoyed at the thickness-of-tights drama, annoyed at having to devote so much brain time to my child’s dance passion, annoyed at her indecisiveness and just generally, inexplicably irritated at the world.  And as a good Dance Mum of the Year would do, I took most of it out on my Little Bee as we walked (or maybe I should say stomped) home.

She listened, said sorry and tried to explain and listened some more.  I eventually calmed down and tried to see the whole thing from her point of view.  It wasn’t a total loss, but I did feel pretty crap.  We walked on not speaking for a while.  A little voice cut into the stormy silence.

“Mum, is that Orion the Hunter?”  I always love to find Orion when the sky is clear and so does Little Bee.  We stopped and looked up into the clear night sky over the bridge.  It is a rare thing in London to see the stars so brightly, especially after such an overcast, rainy day.

“Did you know… ” she went on, “…that each one of those stars is actually a sun of its own?  They have their own solar system just like ours.  There are so many solar systems in the universe, aren’t there? There is so much space up there, Mum.”

I felt a large lump in my throat.  Who even cares about the bloody thickness of tights, a bad day at work, or even a little girl who is feeling indecisive about a dance competition when there are so many solar systems in an ever expanding universe?  I reached over and wrapped my arms around my girl.  The day was fading away.  After all, we are just dots on this spaceship Earth riding in this swirling universe.

The walk home had been saved by a little girl and her stars.



Posted by: Shireen | March 24, 2017

To Bean, who turned 4. 

Dear Little Bean,

My dearest second child. You, whose baby book has barely cracked its spine, who has been dragged to more of your sister’s after school activities and performances than your own and yet has had all the blessings of being born into a world where you have always had a sister who adores you and the combined love of three rather than two people. I hope this makes up for the lack of baby book! 

Happy 4 years on this spinning Earth.  You will never know how much happiness and joy spilled into our world when you arrived. You taught us how love multiplies with each new addition and that there will always be enough to go around.  You taught your sister about compassion and kindness in a way that we would never have been able to do. She had it all along, but your arrival magnified it.  We watched her heart grow and overflow with love.  You are her most precious thing and we saw a side to her that we would never have seen if you had not come to our family. I thank you for opening up new parts of ourselves.

Right now, you are teaching me about patience….and the importance of being right with you in.the.moment. Play with me, you say. And I have to. Who knows how long you will continue to ask me? One day I’ll wake up and you won’t want your mummy to play cars or dolls house with you…and I will be grateful that I accepted your invite when you were small. 

Thank you for surprise kisses, running cuddles, for Lego bricks on the floor, diggers and dolls on the sofa and your little hand in mine. May your birthday be filled with love, wonder and friends and superheroes, of course! 

Love you, little Bean. 

Mummy x 

Posted by: Shireen | November 18, 2015

Technical issues!

Writing on my phone and published an unfinished blog!! Yikes. Will finish it later, folks! That’s what I get for eating macaroons and writing at the same time!

Sorry to leave u hanging! X 

Posted by: Shireen | March 2, 2015

The crib

So someone from freecycle is coming to pick up the crib today. They are going to take our crib and use it for their newborn baby. I am happy that our well loved baby bed will be used for another happy family. 

F says it’s exciting – the kids have bunk beds and Bean is sleeping on the bottom bunk like a “big boy”.  The kids are getting bigger and we can do more things with them now.

But that crib represented the first few years of our little ones.  The number of nights we sat by the crib, rocking the babies to sleep, laying them softly down, praying they wouldn’t wake and then tiptoeing out (avoiding the creaky floorboard). The number of night feeds by the light of the moon (and my iPhone). The mornings of happy baby gurgles. The nights when we just crept in to watch the beautiful faces of our sleeping babies, wondering how beings so perfect could have come into our lives just like that. 

Of course we still kiss those sleeping faces while they sleep (hopefully) peacefully in the new bunk beds – it is true, there is much excitement and fun ahead of us with the two of them growing up now. 

But I will miss the crib, those first years, hazy with the lack of sleep but drunk on the wonder of new born babies. 

Posted by: Shireen | February 23, 2015

Perfect at not being perfect?

I keep thinking of all these things to write about and then not writing them because I feel like I won’t have enough time to get them all down perfectly.
I need to forget about perfectly. Things are not perfect. They never have been and they never will be. I am not ever sure why I keep trying to get them to be so. I keep trying for perfect and then missing moments of connection that could have been made. I am missing out on writing because I am waiting for the perfect time and space. I think I have realised that is not ever happening. Time and space is not in my reach right now. My life is not perfect but there are billions of moments that are perfect at not being perfect…
…like the time Bean did a great running man whilst having a tantrum.
…and the time that Little Bee over heard us talking about being hung over after a long overdue night out and when she asked the meaning we told her it was when adults are really tired after a late night and then she told a friend at school…”Oh, my mum is always hung over!”
…and when Little Bee made me a paper skirt out of masking tape and copy paper because she said it was because I never had time to go shopping and buy nice clothes!
…or Little Bee when he says, “Allllllright!”
…or when Bean makes us all hold hands and dance in a circle and says, “Happy, wooooaaaah, happy!”
I love these moments and they are messy, covered in avocado and dried porridge and a bit of glue, but they are my messy moments that will not wait for perfect writing.

Posted by: Shireen | February 28, 2014

All About Me…Tagged!!!

The gorgeous Tanya at Bump2Basics has tagged me….and how could I refuse?  The idea is that she has come up with some cool, creative, random questions for me to answer and then I need to think of some random questions of my own and tag someone else.  

So here is what she asked and here is what I said….

And I’m asking:

1. What is the first thing you do when you wake up on a Saturday morning?

This is a funny one….right now I am still nursing the Little Bean, so eeeevvvery morning is the same.  Wake up. Prop pillows. Breast feed my little munchkin.  Then the day begins.

2.  If stranded on a desert island, what one album would you bring with you?

The Miseducation of Lauren Hill.  Or What’s the 411? Mary J. Blige.

In my opinion, these are two amazing, awesome albums that remind me of being in the limbo between teenager and adult, when future was still undecided and I was going to jump in and wallow in it all.

3. If you could go back in history for a day, where would you go and why?

4. What makes you angry?

At the moment, the way teachers are being forced to teach in schools right now.  The way that they are being watched from over their shoulders, the way the curriculum is dictated and the way that old guys who have never taught or even cared deeply about education are now deciding the future of education in this country.

5. If you had the capital to start a new business, what would it be?

I would open a school with a curriculum written with the whole child in mind.  A place where creativity, discovery and innovation have an important role to play in developing amazing students. The teachers would be valued and motivated to teach with passion, rather than being scared about level descriptors, test scores and The Suits that visit classrooms and tell us how to teach. None of this standardised testing, homework for three hours a night, stressed students and teachers.  Instead we will nurture the heart and soul, push for the highest potential in each student and motivate them to work for the love of life long learning, rather than to simply pass a test.  

6. What’s your drink of choice?

Wine, if I am out.  Or a lovely cup of green tea.

7. Are you watching any shows on television at the moment?

House of Cards….F started it and I am kind of watching over his shoulder 😉

8.  What, if any, pictures are hanging on your lounge walls?

Some canvases that Little Bee and I painted together.  Some canvases painted by my cousin, who is a real live artist.  Some canvases that Little Bee painted herself and a family portrait taken by my sister.

9. What’s your favorite book?

Oh my god.  Mean question.  There are too many.  Like Water for Chocolate. The Book Thief.  To Kill a Mockingbird.  The Great Gatsby.  A Fine Balance.

10. If you could change your first name, what would you change it to?

I like my name now, but when I was little I hated that I had an ethnic sounding name in my school of Lisas, Amys and Emmas.  I wanted to be called Jessica or something.

11. What do you think is the best thing about having children?

Being forced to live in the moment.  To forget about the “big picture” and to just exist in this crazy moment of snot, food on the floor and in the hair, poopy diapers because when those are gone, it will mean the babies are all grown up…and then I will wish for these moments back!

Okay – so now I get to tag some other bloggers..I haven’t been in the bloggy world lately, but I have been reading these blogs on my WordPress reader and enjoying them…

Polkadot Palace


Life, Love and Lens



Here are the questions:

1.  If you could take one song/album to a desert island with you, what would it be?

2.  What one piece of advice would you give your child as he/she goes into high school?

3.  What is the one piece of advice that you remember most from your own parents?

4.  What is your dream job?

5.  Would you change anything about what you studied in college or university?

6.  Who would you call if you had only one phone call left to make?

7.  Where is your favourite place in all the world?

8.  If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?

9.  What did you like best about your childhood?

10.  Why/How did you start your blog?

11.  What is your favourite day of the year?



Posted by: Shireen | February 13, 2014

Me and my Bean

With starting part time work when he was 6 months old and having to keep up with Little Bee, and general life at the moment Bean kind of pulled the short end of the stick when it comes to attention.

I feel bad about this if I am really honest. I remember having lots of time to do “nothing” with Little Bee. Just time to bond and time to sit and sing or look at the trees or how the sun shines in the window. Then I would write about it on this blog. SO many posts about “noticing” Little Bee grow. So many posts about being tired, but falling in love with my baby.

These days I feel like I am rushing Bean to do everything. I don’t have time to look out the window because I have to make dinner. I don’t have time to sit and play with our musical instruments because I am running out the the door to take Little Bee to drama class or to the school Valentine’s Day disco or just running to pick her up from school on time. I don’t have time to roll on the floor and play with the stacking cups because I have to get the dishes from the morning done. I don’t have time to watch the naked trees blowing in the gusty winds we are getting this winter because I am too busy getting my things ready for work. And some days I don’t have time to play, because I am too damn tired from parenting two little kids. So I am a grumpy mama and not really much fun to play with anyway.

But Bean is quite an awesome little guy. Flash him a smile and it makes his day….he grins from cheek to cheek and makes you feel like you are the best thing that ever happened. His laugh is the most beautiful and right now, he laughs his head off at lots of things, like throws his head back and belly laughs…so Little Bee and I just love to figure out what will make him giggle today! He loves to just sit in the kitchen when I am cooking and bang out a tune on a mixing bowl with a wooden spoon. He babbles away and when you offer a reply, he is amazed that he has been “understood”! He always has time for a cuddle and if I stop for a minute to just enjoy his chubby baby-ness, it fills me up for the rest of the day. I love the way he gently strokes my cheek as if to say, Hi Mama, you feel good today. Those gentle, kind eyes that say, it’s ok, Mama, you are ok.

having a laugh

having a laugh

So I am going to try and stop worrying about all that I don’t have time for, and start noticing the moments that I do have time for. Like a cuddle after nap, nose kisses, rolling on the cushions before dinner and a dance across the living room if there is time before the school run!

Which reminds me…I had better run!

Posted by: Shireen | February 4, 2014

10 minutes of my day

The time between 2:48pm and 3:05pm is sacred space.

At that particular time of the day, I have just wrestled my Little Bean into his snow suit and into the stroller, grabbed a snack for the Lil Bee, offered some milk to Bean (who always refuses, but hey – a mama has to offer, right?)  I pull on my hat, snood (yes, I said that-) and mittens and shove the stroller out the door.

By 2:45, I am out the door and tripping down the road on the daily school run.  January in London.  It is cold, windy and kind of crap, but here I am hurtling down the road to the school.

2:48 hits and I pull out my phone.  At precisely 2:48, in Oakland, CA, my sister (well, my cousin, but she is my heart sister, you know what I mean?) is getting in her car, putting on her handsfree set and is driving to work.

I get the text.  Call me.

And for 10 – 15 perfect minutes, before I have to pick up Little Bee at 3:05, we cross the boundaries of space and time and are able to somehow fit in details about our lives, our partners, our kids, our mothers, work, books we should read, movies that we have seen, maybe a gluten free recipe or two…and yes, dreams of somehow finding time and money to meet up in real life soon, soon, soon.  We speak in a kind of code.  Unfinished, choppy sentences because we know that the other one will understand.  No extra details – no time for that.  We have to fill in the gaps for each other because there is no time for elaboration.

Sometimes there isn’t enough time to even finish a conversation but at least it is a moment in time (as Whitney would say).  Just a moment to connect.  A moment to say, hey – I hear you and I totally understand.  And a moment to say, I miss you or I wish you were closer or I wish you were next door so that I could come over for hot chocolate and a chat. It is a little pocket of our day that we have set aside to find each other amongst the chaos of life.

We live an ocean away and we can’t meet for coffee.  But for 10 mins a day at exactly 2:48, it feels like she is only down the road.

Posted by: Shireen | January 20, 2014

Will they have Skype in Heaven?

Little Bee has been exploring some deep thoughts, lately.

There has been much discussion about death.  She wants to know why we have to die, where we go when we die, if we become angels, what really is a soul…oh, the questions go on.  We are trying to be very careful with our words, but this is a first for us and we are really just winging it!  I mostly just do the teacher thing and toss the question back at her….what do you think, munchkin?  The death topic disturbs me for the obvious reasons.  I can’t bear to think of a world without my family and I can’t bear to think about leaving them.  But Little Bee is more pragmatic about this, as she is about so many things.  She wants to know how it works and how she can fix it so that it works the way she wants it to.  It is a good stand to take, for a 4 year old.  Things can’t be scary if you can understand and be in charge of how it all turns out, right?

She worries about being lonely after me and her dad die.  She is convinced that we will die in order of age, so this means Dad first, then me, then her and then her baby brother, Little Bean.  After sorting that order out, she then proceeded to worry about Little Bean.  He would be here on Earth while the rest of us are partying it up in Heaven.  After a moment’s thought, her face brightened.  I could practically see the lightbulb above her head.  A solution! We would just leave him my iPhone….we would take my computer with us to Heaven and then this way, Little Bean could Skype with us!  In addition, he could also text us, since Little Bee will be taking her Peppa Pig phone with her.

Excellent!  Situation under control.


There are lovely things too, that she is thinking about.  We usually say a sort of prayer every night just to help us remember the big picture.  We say thank you to the Great Spirit for all that we have, and ask her/him to take care of all of us and especially Little Bee and Little Bean.  Sometimes Little Bee adds on her extras, such as random birthday/Christmas lists, wishes for school the next day, or a request to do some baking.  When the disaster in the Philippines happened before Christmas, we would add in a prayer for all the children in the world to be kept safe.  On that day, Little Bee asked me if anyone else could hear her prayers or was it just Great Spirit.  On the fly, I said I thought that yes, if we listened carefully, we might be able to hear other people’s prayers in our hearts.  Her eyes shone with the amazement of that thought.

“Listen,” she said.  “I can hear Nanni in Canada talking to her Great Spirit too!!”

Posted by: Shireen | November 16, 2013


Little Bee is learning to read. This is a big deal for me.

We take it for granted that our kids will learn to read when they are “bigger”. Well, I guess this means Little Bee is big. She can look at a word, sound out the letters and bam! – there is the word! Amazing!

Learning to read is like crossing a border into a new, wild and magical country. The whole world has opened up at the feet of my Little Bee. Soon she will be able to read anything her heart desires. Comics and novels, road signs and tube stops, letters and emails….the list is endless. And to think of all the pleasure reading will bring her, I am just tingling with excitement for her.

Tonight we read her reading book in bed. When she finished, I gave her a big mama hug.
“Little Bee,” I said. “You can read! You worked so hard to sound out the letters and read the words. I am so proud of you! How does it feel to be able to read now?”
She had a huge smile all over her face.
“Can you see my face, Mummy? That is how good I feel! Happy explosions!”

These are the moments that stick forever in my heart. The day my little girl realised she could read and the words welcomed her in over the threshold.

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