Monday, 24 June 2013


As I drove back into the village this morning, all three of my lovelies delivered to their different places, I stopped by the honesty stall. I look forward to this simple place each year. At the end of a lane tucked behind the pond various homegrown plants and flowers are offered up for sale. At the moment there are cornflowers and sweet williams. This morning I spied the first of the sweetpeas which I've been waiting ever so patiently for.

Although it's the dullest and coldest June day, I have the scent and beauty of these flowers to fill the house with a small bit of summer. For just £1.60 I had sweetpeas and a bunch of meadowflowers to make the day bright and cheery.

Last week I was lucky enough to get some plants to fill a few pots up for the handsome sum of £3. Lily was fascinated by the outdoors smells being brought in. Soon one of my favourite flowers will be on the stall. Each year I've had the most amazing dahlia's from here. Later on as autumn beckons there are Robin pears, apples and gooseberries to be had. The honesty stall reveals the signs of the seasons to me and is a lovely place to stop by based solely on sharing and trust.

I get comfort from the fact that there are still parts of our lives based on simple trust and honesty. With our girls, however, we've not always been completely honest. When asked for our opinion on something they've made or done sometimes a wee white lie is better than causing floods of tears. I've said tons of things are marvellous and wonderful. To me they are, but not necessarily to everyone else. 

Yesterday Little Bun made a chocolate cake with absolutely no help from me at all. I was banned from the kitchen.

The height her cake rose to was unbelievable. It also tasted divine, gooey, light and perfectly chocolatey. When I told her it was far better than any cake I can make (and without being big headed I don't think mine taste too bad) I could see she thought that's what you're meant to say, you're my mum. I had to really insist that it was the absolute honest injuns truth.

Then when we started chatting about Miss Rosey's trials for the netball squad that day, the whole concept of honesty went a bit pear shaped. At nearly 13 I think it's time to face the truth about certain things so she can cope with the realities of disappointment. I'd love to keep creating an innocent and perfect world for them, but would be unfair. It's our job to prepare them for each stage of life as it comes up.

Miss Rosey was selected to trial for the county a few weekends ago. When she didn't make it to the team she was so upset. This was her first real disappointment as she's a very able girl who has always achieved what she wants through ability or hardwork. She was told she was put in a year earlier than is normal and she can try again next year. On Friday night we went to her High School sports awards dinner where she won an award for her netball. We were so proud of her and even more thrilled when we won B & B in a hotel on the raffle. Yay. 

Now this is where the honesty bit comes in. Yesterday she trialled for the U13 netball squad for the coming year. She had a load of fun, but put little effort in. Other girls played so much better and so when she asked how we thought she had done we paused for a mo. We could have said fandabby dosey, but that wouldn't have done her any favours if she doesn't get picked. So we took a deep breath and told her as kindly as we could that she's played better and that if she really wants it then dancing in the goal wasn't the best idea. Phheww that didn't go down well at all. What do you think, best to be honest or set them up for a fall? It certainly isn't easy is it.

The last person I need to be a bit more honest with and about is myself. I've been trying to face the fact that I'm unhealthy and need to sort out how I eat. I've always had a great metabolism that meant I could eat whatever I wanted with no extra weight plopping on. I used to smoke heavily before I had the girls too and that helped keep the weight off. I miss breakfast and then grab choc midday when my tummy rumbles. Then I usually miss lunch as I hate stopping for it when I'm on my own. By the evening I'm hungry and pick on biscuits and rubbish. I've suffered from different food phobias all my life and so when I have a plate of food I rarely finish it all which leaves me snacking again later on. 

Now I'm trying to get in charge of all of this as I can't get into most of my dresses. I'm starting the day with a large bowl of fruit, granola, yoghurt and a plop of honey. I'm not sure if this is fattening or not, but it's filling me up and keeping me away from the snacks which has got to be a good thing right. Apart from the knowledge that Little Bun's delicious cake is in the kitchen beckoning me. 

Final photo courtesy of Miss Rosey's history project on the dissolution of the monasteries. In groups they have to make a learning pack for ten year olds. She came up with the idea of adding a soft toy monk to the mix which I thought was great. He reminds me of Brian Lane in New Tricks to be honest.


  1. My your days must be fun-filled. Always adore lovely flowers and plants in the kitchen. It makes my days more lighter. Got my eye on your next posts.

  2. The breakfast sounds great - better than no breakfast! Just go easy on the honey since granola has quite a lot of sugar in it. I also find nice lunches a bore to make when I am on my own so I always try to make a bit extra at tea time and heat that up the next day for lunch - instant and yummy! I once put a brilliant breakfast recipe on my blog courtesy of a fabbie friend of mine:
    I think you did the right thing about the netball trials. I hope I can make wise choices when mine get a bit bigger!

    Eleanor x

  3. I must say I really enjoyed reading this, is true sbout coming to a point ehere we have to gently but truthfully let them know perhaps not always what they want to hear, but the gentle truth.
    I love that you found sweet peas to buy and put in a vase ....I haven' t had them around in forever ... and miss them.

  4. I think you we're right to be honest with your daughter. I was a good opportunity to encourage her to try a bit harder next time. I am all for a white lie about how beautiful their latest work of art is, but you have to be honest with them about the fact that getting what you want in life requires effort. Although she may have been upset at the time, I reckon the lesson will have gone in and that she will try harder next time. Parenting is hard, though, isn't it? But your aim is not to make her happy all the time but to help her become the person she can be.

    I just made myself some granola last night and am eating similar breakfasts to yours. I think it is a great way to start the day!

    1. Glad to hear I'm not alone in making them realise effort is needed to achieve dreams Lise.

  5. Truth is always best. BUT the exceptions being those situations you described, early attempts at..well, almost anything etc. But when your response could affect how people will respond ie their future behaviour then it has to be the truth; we do them no favours by colluding with poor effort or bd behaviour when they want to real achieve something. You did right! (well, in my books, anyway!) And that cake looks blummin' marvellous!

    1. Cake is marvellous and disappearing rapidly Lynne.

  6. Carinissimo questo blog!Rosetta

  7. Oh my its so hard with the honesty thing with our little ones. I have a 9yr old who feels he is invincible and its such a difficult line to walk between keeping their self esteem and confidence vs them becoming complacent and thinking anything and everything is the best and perfect. I wish I was better at it. On the food front, I get extremely evil of I don't have breakfast and a coffee or tea. I have never known how anyone can go without breakfast and still function. I only need a bit of toast but without it I need to put in a darkened room !! Good luck with the healthy eating. Someone told me once that its best to take little steps to change habits and wait until the one change becomes second nature before starting the next. That way we don't get overwhelmed or disencouraged. Lily. xxx

    1. I like that idea Lily of little steps for change. I normally charge in as I'm impatient, but then I fail more easily.

  8. I can just imagine the reaction (fallout!) to that conversation, and don't forget, there's also hormones involved at this age so things can get a little tricky! Your right though, part of our role is to prepare our children for the big, wide world which isn't always as tactful as us parents. We have the added complexity that we have a child who is very literal. We can't infer, deviate, be subtle, it can make things very difficult, especially when you're trying to be honest with them! Wish they came with a manual, but then I rarely read the instructions so wouldn't be any the wiser! :) x

  9. oh Lisa, where do I begin to respond to this great post. I feel a kinship with you having your girls and my Alice going through similar things. I believe in honesty but it is really tricky and sometimes challenging with our children. I have always praised Alice and encouraged her but sometimes I wonder if I have set her up for failure in the real world? I think this first year of high school has stripped away some of that innocence and she is such a softy, I want to protect her all the time but have had to hold myself back and be honest about situations she finds herself in etc. I try to give her my honest opinion about most things but it can be oh so hard, but my mum says sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind as a parent. Not easy though is it!
    I love that your Rosey loves netball, I played in my first team in my last year of school and was goal shoot. I recently rejoined a "back to netball" scheme and play weekly which is good fun with similar aged ladies.
    As for little Bun's baking skills, you can tell her from me it's the honest truth about what an incredible looking choccy cake that is, wow how did she get it to rise so well! I think a cottage industry might be forming there :o)
    Regarding your breakfast, brilliant choice, keep it up. It's so easy to "neglect" ourselves and just grab convenience high calorie low nutrient foods when we are on the go, take a little time out to be kind to yourself and enjoy making a little time just for you and your health. Breakfast will kick start your metabolism and get you hungry for some more nourishing foods in the day. The first thing our bodies crave are sugars when we are hungry, its a survival mechanism, eating the right sorts of food to prevent this is the ultimate aim. Yes to little changes in baby steps and making this habit rather than a "diet".

    I'm loving your honesty stall, these always make me smile when I see them in the country lanes of East Sussex, if only life could be that simple and just all the time, enjoy your sweetpeas and dare I say cake! xxx Penny

  10. Gosh what did she put in that cake it looks amazing!! I too am on a dreaded diet(have been most of my life) am slowly getting there so keep it up, you will be so pleased when you get back into your dresses, although being good with that cake in the house would test even a Brian Lane shaped monk's willpower. At three years old my little one gets told a pile of porkies most days, i see how it will get harder as he gets older and wiser to it! catx

  11. Amazing cake i couldn't stay away from it. I have no idea how many calories are in your breakfast but i know when i make my own granola i put alot of sugar and maple syrup in it so it can't be very good? It taste amazing though, a little of what you fancy wont hurt. Sarah x

  12. Had to laugh at Brian Lane but I can see what you mean. Could I have Little Buns recipe please - I have never seen a sponge rise like that one? I think its best to be gently truthful now they are older and its how I deal with the boys but I always add lots of encouraging comments too! Karen xx

  13. Ok, I am an older but maybe a little wiser and definitely experienced mother of a netballer, now 20 years old. The drive to succeed comes from the child, we can support, encourage and give opportunities but the drive is the Childs alone. It is a very fine line we tread as parents especially around the teenage years, and this is the time as parents we also make huge adjustments. I was my daughters chauffeur, cheer squad, and shoulder to cry on. I was her supporter but NOT her coach, and this is the fine line. We want go teach them, we want them to not make the same mistakes we did, we want them to be the best they can be........but we cannot make them.
    There will come a time soon, when they don't want your helpful input, they get that from their teachers, their coaches, their peers....what they want from parents is a safe place to land. You don't have to praise them as such, jolly them along with white lies....BUT you have to listen without judgement, be on their side and acknowledge that you don't know everything but you know they will work it out themselves because they may have mucked up this time but they will know how to handle it better next time.
    I hope you don't think I am overstepping the line, but I really have been through a lot with my two children and like any person I feel compelled to share my wisdom. You of course are free to nod and smile and move on. :-)

  14. How lovely to see those sweet peas. They were my mom's favorite flowers and always bring happy memories of her.

    Honesty can be such an elusive thing, can't it? "I'll just have one small piece, and go for a stroll after dinner." Or, "Oh, I really don't want to hurt her feelings," when it's me I don't want to make uncomfortable. It's a process for me, more circular than linear, and practice makes progress.

    As for being honest with children, I think the fact that you're looking at this and how you deal with it that's your success and genius as a mother, Lisa. No one ever gets everything right every time, and I don't think that's the point of life anyway. Rather, I believe it's how we behave and how we treat others in both easy and bumpy times that means more.

    Here's my background: 63 year-old American/Californian; Aunt, not mom. I've noticed among my family and friends with children and grandchildren that in the last several decades there's been what I consider an alarming, even damaging, shift to overpraise children and to eliminate the word "No" from adult vocabularies. I see kids being praised for everything from washing their hands before a meal and dressing themselves to making a painting or bouncing a ball. Cries of "Good job!!" are accompanied by adults clapping their hands or offering high fives when these simple, age-appropriate tasks are performed. Call me a curmudgeon, but it wears me out, and I believe it sets kids up with false expectations of what's appropriate. When I was growing up (you knew this was coming) we just did these things, either because they were our responsibilities (change the dog's water, empty the trash) or because we enjoyed them (making art, playing games). We didn't expect gobs of praise from grownups, and I suspect we'd have thought it odd if they'd offered it. Certainly our parents and teachers commented on our efforts, but not in the overdone way I see it happening today.

    The other distressing change I've noticed is that many adults do not say, "No" to their kids. I don't mean they don't tell them they can't have or do something, although that's also part of it. I mean they go to great lengths to avoid using the word at all, as though they fear hearing it will somehow irrevocably damage their children. When I questioned one of my relatives about this, he told me didn't want to limit his daughters' choices. I was present one day when the younger daughter was punching her sister, and when the older daughter appealed to Dad to make her stop, he said, "Why don't you empower her to do the right thing." (At 16, the older daughter asked to come live with my husband and me, but her parents refused.)

    Maybe next time LIttle Bun bakes one of her delicious delights, you can tell her *exactly* how scrumptious it really is, without any embellishments. Enough really is a feast, and kids are freakishly tuned in to any false notes we adults sound. It's a precursor to their teenage years when they interpret them all as hypocrisy. :))

    Lastly, HOORAY for your courageous honesty with Rosie!! You did GREAT!! First of all, her asking you how you thought she did leads me to believe that she was concerned about her performance and already knew the truth. By telling her honestly and compassionately what you thought, you came through for her. She wanted and needed your confirmation of what she already knew, and her reaction was probably more about her disappointment in herself than because of your words. But she knows she can trust you, and that's gold.

  15. I've only just read this post as I was about to, yesterday, when your blog vanished off my list in Bloglovin and only an error page came up saying the whole blog had been deleted!

    At least I can see you now!


  16. No honesty stalls here, but whenever we stay in our friend's cottage in Suffolk there's always one in a farm gate on a lane out of the village. In fact I've seen more honesty stalls in Suffolk than anywhere else I've been in the UK. I wish the North Welsh had embraced the idea!

    One of your other commenters has used the phrase 'gently truthful', which is what I set out to achieve with my own children. I also made a point of not saying negative things without purpose but I didn't hesitate to say them if they were necessary. My own mother is blunt to the point of cruelty and usually says the first thing that comes into her head without modification, I was determined not to inflict that on my own off spring although I'm sure I made my own mistakes.

  17. I've never had a cake raise that well...and it looks delicious! Also, love the plates. Here in our house we call those childhood disappointments "character builders" and yes they can be tough...

  18. ~ I simply LOVE the honesty in your post. Hugs Maria x

  19. Oh lots to comment here! Firstly to put my own head above the parapet and state that I am the Simon Cowell of our house - I tell it exactly how it is and now flowers!! Tough love (I'm not nasty!) but I encourage the children to focus on their strengths...tricky sometimes. I need to confront my own love of cake perhaps...
    I recently read - and cannot remember where - that a man recalled his school days and how the class spent weeks making meticulous models of monasteries in fine detail. They were all as pleased and pleased with the results. When all complete, and lined up, the teacher smashed them to show their destruction ......oh that is tough love!

    Best wishes


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