dear beautiful

I’m just going to have to say it; I can’t believe that it is the end of March already.  Where on earth is the time flying away to?

This month we have loved:

* Discovering a beach which is closer to us than the ones we have been visiting previously and full of fun places to explore
* Listening to Meg read a bedtime story every night to Eli
* Watching Turbo (we love us some racing snails!)
* Getting a new addition in the form of Brody the Rescue Dog
* The weather finally getting warmer, now we can put our trampoline up!

We had a photo all lined up for this month’s project, one of us down at the beach and although it was the better photo I’ve actually gone with one which was taken just yesterday, on Mother’s Day.  I picked it because the weather was simply gorgeous and it’s a reminder that I got to spend the day doing one of my all-time favourite things; walking through the countryside with my beautiful family.

We went to explore the Ribble Estuary which is literally around the corner from our home, and although we got held up with some bug hunting, and my Other Half having to rescue our bug catcher from down a rabbit hole (literally…) it was a really lovely day and one which I absolutely loved.

We also had to take a second shot, a silly faces one.  Apparently, the kids will smile perfectly for a photo if they know that you will also take one in which they can pull their silliest face!

I’ll let you decide which you think is better!

This project is a monthly link up with some amazing bloggers, head over to Dear Beautiful’s blog to see more.


The Blasphemer by Nigel Farndale
‘He had always been scared of flying. Now, the fear is real. A plane crash. The water is rising over his mouth. In his nostrils. Lungs. As Daniel gasps, he swallows; and punches at his seat-belt. Nancy, the woman he loves, is trapped in her seat. He clambers over her, pushing her face into the headrest.

It is a reflex, visceral action made without rational thought…

But Daniel Kennedy did it. And already we have judged him from the comfort of our own lives.’

This book was in a pile given to me by my mother in law and it was this description on the back which drew me in. Mostly because it was so accurate. I had already decided what kind of book this was going to be simply from reading the blurb, had an image in my mind of who Daniel was before I ever cracked the spine and read the first page.

Although the blurb on the back is slightly misleading (it isn’t quite the type of story you imagine it will be) I still thought this was an interesting read, but mostly because the the novel switches between the main protagonist, Daniel, in the present day and his Great Grandfather who was a solider in Passchendaele in 1917 and 1918. The closet historian in me could happily have read just the Great Grandfather’s tale as I found it fascinating.

Now, to what I didn’t enjoy. Although it seems as though the book has been very well researched, I almost got the impression that Farndale had a lot of different points he wanted to make and he used this book to cram them all in together, even when they didn’t work.

There is the historical element, which sits alongside continuous references to Darwinism versus Religion and their roles in society. I’ll admit that at these points I tended to glaze over as I neither fully understood what was being referenced nor felt it was relevant to the plot. I guess that might be my own ignorance.

Then there is the continued references to masculinity and what makes, a man, ‘a man’. At several points throughout the book we are left with the suggestion that Daniel is not ‘a man’ (whatever that may mean) and Farndale tries to challenge perception of masculinity by having Daniel’s best friend be gay but with the physique of a rugby player and his Grandfather, a soldier, as the type to wear silk underwear and dress as a woman.

Did I mention the Muslim terrorist plot, kidnapping of Daniel’s 8 year old diabetic daughter, the colleague who is in love with his long term partner and continually attempts to sabotage Daniel’s career and the continued references to guardian angels….? Not failing to take into account the initial plane crash and you might begin to see what I mean.

The plot is just far too busy and what you get are some great concepts which are not fully explored as there simply wasn’t the time in the pages we are given.

Farndale could have written several books with the material he has and I think this is the issue. It really lets the whole premise of the book down and I was left feeling like I’d been told half of every story.

That said, it’s an interesting concept and I didn’t hate it. I just probably wouldn’t rush to buy another of Nigel Farndale’s books in the future.


I have never been the type of person who was known for my patience.  Whether it’s stage of life stuff (married at 20, first baby at 21 etc etc) or simply not having the ability to sit in a traffic jam without wanting to pull my own eyelashes out, I was definitely back of the line when it came to handing out the gift of patience.

We have some friends who still delight in reminding me of the time we were flying to Berlin and I unleashed my wrath on the barista in the airport who literally took the rest of my life to make a drink*…leaving him quaking in his boots.  I actually only offered to come behind the bar and assist him with his job as he was clearly having such a difficult time of it…apparently it was something to do with my tone of voice.  Go figure.

*possible exaggeration

I am fully aware of my inability to remain calm when I’m frustrated.  The dictionary defines patience as ‘the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, problems, or suffering without becoming annoyed or anxious.’ – I don’t say it proudly but I fail on all those accounts.

Of course, there is no better forum for one’s patience skills to be tested than when you become a parent.  I have spent the last five years trying to remain calm, to not yell or get frustrated with the kids.  After all, they are just being children aren’t they?  But sometimes I am sure that they do it on purpose.  That when children are born they come with a little ‘how to’ manual and number one is ‘how to wind your parents up.’

My parenting kryptonite is repetition.  I’m sure it’s not just my children who do this, who feel the need to repeatedly ask the same question over and over, even when, even when, they’ve had the answer they are looking for.

‘Mummy, can I have a biscuit?’

‘Yes Eli, just a minute.’ *gets up from chair and walks to cupboard*

‘Mummy, can I have biscuit?’

‘Yes Eli.’ *Opens cupboard to find biscuits*

‘Mummy, can I have a…’


That’s my head, by the way, exploding in a grisly parental mess all over the kitchen.  It just gets under my skin.


The logical, detached part of me knows that it is just how children are wired but in that particular moment, oh the eye twitches!

Another bugbear I have is that children just don’t have any concept of time.  So when they take their shoes and coat off and lie prostrate in the middle of the lounge pretending to be a stick, minutes after you have just hustled them to the front door and tried to leave, they really are perplexed at why you are so cross with them.  

Recently however, I’ve really felt the challenge of showing patience to Meg and Eli.  Of not snapping when I’ve asked them to do something for the tenth time that morning, of not rushing them to finish whatever is taking them an extraordinarily long amount of time to do.  To accept them in this life stage, even though some days I feel as though my eyes are going to burst out of my head.

It’s not easy. 

I’m not always succeeding.

But when I watched Meg last week trying to show Eli how to do something and after he’d tried twice, snatching the item out of his hand and doing it for him, in that moment I saw a reflection of myself and I didn’t like it.  I am the snatcher, the ‘give it here, I can do it ten times quicker than you can’ person, the ‘hurry up, hurry up, HURRY UP’ person.  It’s not an attractive quality.

This year Meg will be 5 and Eli will be 3.  I am in a funny predicament because as much as I want them to hurry up in their day to day lives, I also really want them to slow down.  To stop growing up into little people right in front of my eyes.

I want my children to learn patience.  I want my children to learn kindness.  I know that when I am frustrated because something isn’t going as quickly as I want it to, that I am not showing my best to my children.  I am not instilling the right attitude in them.  Which is what I aspire to do always.

So, I am going to try.  I hold my hands up and say that I’m not always going to get it right but I really want to learn how to have patience with my children, whatever the situation and whatever they throw at me because if I can’t learn it now whilst they are small, then how on earth are we going to weather the turbulent storm that is teenager-dom?!

But how, exactly, does one learn to be patient?  I haven’t got this down to an exact science but here are my thoughts:

1. Reflect/Pray
If you are the praying sort, then pray at the moment when you feel yourself getting wound up.  I certainly need to do this more as I know it can alter my mood instantly and turn it away from the things I am annoyed at and on to something much more worthwhile.  If you aren’t the praying sort then simply a moment to breathe and reflect.  Wrangle your mind away from the issue which is winding you up (even if it’s something as simple as trying to do a puzzle with your little one) and conjure up some thoughts about things you can be positive about instead.

2. Imitate Those Around Me
I’ve known a handful of people throughout my life who have just been the most patient people going.  It’s intriguing, how they manage to be so patient over things which would have had me tearing down the walls.  I wish I could spend a day in their heads so I can see exactly what they are thinking at the time but alas, that’s not possible.  Instead I have to just opt for imitation…how would so and so react in this moment etc

3. Take A Timeout
As an introvert,  I need time by myself, to recharge my batteries and deal with the million thoughts bouncing around my brain.  If I don’t get that space then I don’t approach situations with a clear head.  Basically, I’m already worked up before the day has even begun.  Although sometimes it feels selfish, in order for me to be my best, I need to schedule time in to switch off and just be me, by myself.  Even if there’s only time to lock myself in the bathroom for five minutes, if that means I can catch my breath and start again, then it’s worth it.

4. Apologise and Start Over
If I’ve had a particularly short-tempered day I always end it feeling crappy.  I know I should have more patience, be calmer, I know I should be better.  But I’ve come to realise that beating myself up doesn’t actually help me or anyone else.  What I need to do is apologise and start over the next day and try to get it right more often than I get it wrong.  This one is definitely a work in progress for me.  Along with being able to let myself off the hook, I’m also not very good at saying sorry!

Do you struggle with patience?  Have you got any great tips for how to have more patience with children?  I’d love to hear them!


Sticky Fingers Photo Gallery

When I saw that the theme for this week’s The Gallery was ‘Sport’ I was excited.  

Sport was a massive part of my childhood.  I joined my first two teams, playing netball and rounders, when I was in year 5 and I played right up until I left school at the end of Year 11.  When I started secondary school I added tennis, badminton, hockey and running to the list of sports I played and represented my school in.  

In Year 6, I was lucky enough to play on a rounders team which won best in the county.  I did hold on to my medal for a number of years but misplaced it somewhere along the line which has never stopped irritating me, small issue as it seems it’s the kind of thing I would have liked to be able to show Meg and Eli.

One of things I wish I had never done was stop playing sports.  I thoroughly enjoyed the team camaraderie; being good helped too I guess.  I was very lucky in that sport, whatever form it took, seemed to come quite naturally to me.  I know that isn’t the case for everyone but I always looked forward to PE lessons.  However, when I went to sixth form college it just fell off my radar as it didn’t seem as vital as studying for my law exams (see where that got me!) 

So, imagine my disappointment when I went to look through my old photographs for one of me playing sports and I couldn’t find a single one.  Not a single shot.  I almost (almost) called my old school to see whether they kept hold of the team shots they used to display on the wall in the PE department; if they do then there are a number of fetching photographs of me in Year 9 with bright orange hair which I would have just loved to share with you!  Unfortunately I’m not sure that schools even hold onto that sort of thing, maybe one day I’ll ask just in case.

So, I’ve had to cheat and go for a representation of sports that we watch instead.  There is a big divide in our household with my favourite sport being rugby and my Other Half’s being football.  Heaven forbid there should be a clash and the rugby and the football are on at the same time…

For my Other Half football is the only sport he could ever contemplate playing and he still plays it now on a weekly basis.  One of the first things he did when we moved to Southport was hunt out the local team.

But I digress.

When it comes to the topic of football there’s an even bigger division down one half of our extended family…are you red, or are you blue?  

It was the first question I was ever asked by one of my Other Half’s aunts and I was perplexed.  Did it matter?  Well, apparently it did as she made a big deal out of the fact I went for red, when she’s a blue.  I’m not actually a particular football fan but since I made my choice of Liverpool over Everton I’ve never been allowed to forget it!

I shall admit here that the only reason I ever chose Liverpool was because Sporty Spice (my favourite Spice Girl, natch) was a Liverpool fan.  There…I’ve said it!  Now you may mock me!

When we found out I was pregnant with a boy there was a big to do over what team his first football shirt should represent (honestly, they take it so so seriously) – as I’m not actually that fussed I decided to surprise my Other Half on Eli’s first Christmas…

…with matching Everton shirts.

To be honest, whether Eli decides to be an Everton supporter, whether Meg does, whether they both shun football in favour of another type, I hope that sport plays a big part in their childhood.  So many important lessons can be learned in the winning and losing of games, testing yourself physically and keeping fit of course, learning to work as part of a team and also the different skills you have to employ during various sports.

I, for one, have never stopped being proud of my ability to play racket sports with either hand.  I am naturally left-handed but was made to do a lot of things in primary school with my right hand, meaning I’m ambidextrous in some things.  When I started playing racket sports I was too lazy to learn backhand, and instead preferred to just switch the hand I was playing with.  A very important life lesson wouldn’t you agree!?



So, it’s blogging award season and if you are a regular follower of my blog or my social media accounts then you will have seen me allude to catching a couple of votes in the BiBs.  You may even have noticed the funky little badges I’ve placed on my sidebar >>>

‘BiB’ stands for ‘Brilliance in Blogging’ and whilst I’m not sure I’d call my blog brilliant, I thought I would throw caution to the wind.  I know (roughly) how many wonderful people come back to read my blog time and again and for that reason I am sending out a request…if you regularly visit us here, enjoy sharing in our family adventures, or have had a giggle or two at some of our mishaps then please consider voting for Catch A Single Thought.

When I started my blog almost two years ago, I had no idea of what I was doing.  I wanted to write, to keep a record of what we were getting up to as a family; I only read one other blog on a regular basis so I really hadn’t the first clue about what I was getting myself into!

Not only is there a fantastic and supportive blogging community out there but I am still, to this day, stunned by the responses I have had to simply writing about who we are as a family.

There are many fabulous blogs around but I have to admit that I am proud of my little corner.  I often scroll back through old posts and still can’t believe I have dedicated so much time to writing this and that so many wonderful people continue to visit and read.

In terms of asking for votes, I will be terribly British about it, cough, shuffle a bit and then say that if even a fraction of the people reading this took the time to place a vote for my little blog then I might actually stand a (small) chance of making it onto a shortlist…you never know, right?!

If I’m swaying you to my side, then there are a couple of categories where I believe we fit:

– Social Media 
– Family
– Writer

If you think we are suitable for any others than would also be amazing.

You can find the nomination form here and it doesn’t take long to complete.  You do need to know a bit of information about the blog…

– Copy and paste the URL
– My twitter ID is @jjmcglynn
– You can find my old posts on the right hand side bar, just scroll down to find your favourite

This blog has been an amazing journey for me so far and I am really excited to watch it grow and develop.  I wrote a while ago about how I will never compete with the bigger blogs out there and whilst I still stand by that, and I truly love what I have here, I’m not going to pretend that gaining a few votes of confidence from my lovely readers wouldn’t be a nice boost!

Virtual kisses, wine and cake coming round now…