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The words you’d love to hear your children say

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Aaaaah! Chaos

With children back at school, the mystery of what they are doing all day and how they are getting on may be pre-occupying many parents.

Any parent of a school child will be familiar with monosyllabic responses drawn from the question: “How was school darling?”

Wouldn’t it be nice if they just answered properly for once?

Research with a panel of 1,000 parents for communications app ClassDojo,has uncovered the top phrases parents of primary-age children long to hear from their sprogs. These are the top 10.

1 “The toys are all tidied away completely and put in the right boxes.”

Top scorer in the poll at 35%. Wouldn’t it be amazing if the words ‘Tidy Up Time’ accompanied with an enthusiastic grin actually prompted action? Why does it only work in the classroom? Word to the wise: don’t worry about it, just sweep all that toy debris into the corner of the room at night.

2 “Let me tell you about what I learnt at school today.”

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption So… how was your day at school?

Ah so refreshing. Some 27% of parents surveyed said trying to prise information out of our little ones was like “getting blood out of a stone”. But in reality do we actually have the time to listen to chapter and verse on how a volcano does its thing? Probably not – there’s too much homework to supervise.

3 “I’ve got myself ready, so I can go to bed early.”

That would cause a severe and probably fatal case of open mouth disorder (also referred to as gobsmacked disease) in most houses, where parents try desperately to coax their little ones to bed. In fact it’s usually at bedtime that many children suddenly want to talk about their day.

4 “Thank you for tidying my room.”

Gracious comments such as this would go down like a dollop of clotted cream in many homes. What’s more likely to be said? “Why have you messed with my things and hidden all my stuff mum?” Give us strength.

5 “I’ve put all my clothes in the laundry basket.”

Not literally I hope. Just the dirty ones please. Wet towels off the bathroom floor or the bed would be a good place to start.

6 “Would you like to see how well I’ve done my homework?”

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The walk home can be a good time to catch up

Most of us just want to know that our children have (a) done their homework and (b) tried to do it well. But onlookers might be surprised at what a tussle some gentle parental probing in the homework kingdom can cause.

7 “I think I’ve watched enough TV for one day.”

If that was said in my household, I would expect the television to explode immediately afterwards in horror at being rejected after such a long love affair. First rule of parenting; there can never be enough TV.

8 “I’ve already packed my school bag with everything I need for tomorrow.”

Wouldn’t that be nice. No chasing around for a lost water bottle or tie in the morning. Just a smooth and elegant exit through the front door at stupid o’ clock.

9 “There’s a letter in my school bag that you should probably read.”

Ah the letter one. Yes indeed. Usually a collection of crumpled papers appear from under beds and inside socks several weeks after they were supposed to have been read, digested, signed and returned. Hey ho! We can’t all be perfect.

10 “I can see you’re on the phone, so I’m going to play quietly.”

The old phone trick. A really good one to end on. Why is it that the moment the friend you haven’t spoken to for absolutely ages calls up, the little minxes start punctuating the air with dozens of irrelevant questions?

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It took 4 years, 3 miscarriages and 1,616 shots to make this baby

(CNN)This photo is testament to an undying hope in the face of heartbreak after heartbreak.

After four years of trying, seven attempts, three miscarriages and 1,616 injections, the O’Neills say they are overjoyed to welcome their daughter to their family. London O’Neill was born on August 3.
The photo of London was only meant to be something personal for Patricia and Kimberly O’Neill, a reminder of their fertility journey. After almost 55,000 shares on Facebook, the photo has become a symbol of hope for others struggling with infertility.
    “I hope that there’s a couple out there that’s going through what we are that can see that there’s hope at the end of the tunnel,” Patricia O’Neill told CNN. “There’s a light and you just have to get there.”

    They fell in love and wanted to grow their family

    Patricia and Kimberly met almost six years ago while both were working at a daycare. They fell in love and knew they wanted to have a baby together.
    After a year into their relationship, they started trying to conceive in February 2014. Patricia, now 30, said she didn’t want to narrow her window of having a child. During their fertility journey, they married in January 2017.
    Patricia, who has a 7-year-old daughter from a previous relationship, always wanted to have a biological child. Kimberly has a 14-year-son of her own from another relationship. They decided Patricia would carry the child.
    “We just thought it would only take going into a fertility clinic and nine months later, we’d have a baby,” Patricia said. “It just didn’t happen like that for us.”
    The Sun City, Arizona, couple saw a fertility doctor and tried two rounds of intrauterine insemination, neither of which resulted in an embryo. Next they tried two egg retrievals and began the IVF journey with a new doctor. The second attempt gave them five embryos.
    The hope of finally having five chances to have a baby dwindled with each implantation. The couple lost baby one at six weeks. They lost baby two at eight weeks.
    Something was wrong and Patricia’s doctor decided to do some genetic testing. She learned she had a blood-clotting condition called Factor V Leiden.
    It’s a mutation of a clotting factor in the blood, and it increases a person’s chance of developing “abnormal blood clots,” according to the Mayo Clinic. Women with this mutation have a higher risk of developing blood clots during pregnancy.
    Knowing what was wrong, they tried the third embryo and it didn’t take, Patricia said. After a month they tried the fourth embryo and were successful.
    “We were excited. We went in to eight weeks in and we knew it was a boy,” Patricia said. “We saw the heart beat and then we went at 11 weeks and the heartbeat had stopped.”
    Patricia said she was at her breaking point after losing their son.
    “I was done and I couldn’t do it anymore. But my wife and I, we started this journey together, and we decided we would always be together in the hard decisions and she wasn’t done,” she said.

    They finally figured out what was wrong

    The O’Neills couldn’t bear the thought of discarding, donating or not using their last embryo. They found a new doctor, this time one who specialized in Patricia’s clotting mutation.
    They started seeing Dr. John Couvaras, a board certified reproductive endocrinologist and ob-gyn, in summer 2017. Patricia gave her doctor permission to speak with CNN about her case.
    “She wasn’t getting pregnant and moved to IVF and the embryo transfers resulted in miscarriages — that’s a huge red flag,” Couvaras told CNN. He’s been a fertility doctor since 1990.
    Couvaras found a few more things beyond the blood-clotting condition that were making it difficult for Patricia to carry a baby, he said. She had inflammation markers, low vitamin D levels and an enzyme deficiency, all of which contribute to recurrent miscarriages, he said.
    He prescribed Heparin shots twice a day. The blood thinner would help the baby get better blood flow, he explained.
    “When people are struggling, there’s an underlying medical problem,” Couvaras said. He added that Patricia’s condition is common in his world.
    On their try with the fifth embryo, “God blessed us,” Patricia said.
    The O’Neills found out days before a family trip to Disney World. The baby didn’t even have a heartbeat yet, she said.
    “I wasn’t allowed to ride on anything or even allowed to walk. I had to wear a mask the whole time,” Patricia said. “We always feel her heartbeat was formed in Disney World.”
    The joy of being pregnant was followed by fear, she said. They had ultrasounds every two weeks and the technician soon learned to show them the baby’s heartbeat first thing. “You really sit on the edge of your seat at every appointment,” she said.

    A photoshoot that was a long time coming

    Kimberly O’Neill started looking at newborn photoshoot ideas as they started their IVF journey. She came across photos of babies surrounded by syringes and decided to save the needles from each injection.
    “My wife saved every single needle that I injected, all capped and plastic seals around them and everything,” Patricia said. “We didn’t know how many shots we were going to have at the end of it and we thought it was going to work pretty quick.”
    The O’Neills spent $40,000 during their four-year fertility journey. Patricia works in the mortgage industry and her wife works at a bank.
    They knew they wanted a photo of their baby that included all the syringes that it took to get to this point. Once they were far enough along with London, they contacted a photographer.
    Newborn photographer Samantha Packer said she has taken dozens of photos of rainbow babies, which are babies born after a mother has lost a baby to miscarriage, stillbirth or infant loss.
    The couple and Packer agreed the infant would be swaddled in rainbow fabric to represent the miracle of this rainbow baby.
    Packer wanted to make a heart out of all the needles, but she didn’t realize how many needles that was until the O’Neills brought them over. It took Packer more than an hour to meticulously lay out the syringes all pointing in the same direction.
    “The heart symbolized … that this whole painful journey was all to love a child,” Packer told CNN.
    When the O’Neills arrived for the shoot just one week after London was born, they saw the heart-pattern of needles and were overwhelmed, Packer said.
    “They instantly started tearing up,” Packer said. “I think that’s why the photo resonated with so many people. The journey, the goal and the baby, it was a lot.”
    “As soon as I looked at the back of my camera, I thought it encompassed the beauty, the hardship and the love of it,” she said. “It was all worth it.”

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    Britney Spears’ evolution, from 2007 meltdown to Vegas residency

    Britney Spears is keeping busy — and reportedly amassing millions: the pop star recently made headlines after multiple reports revealed she was worth more than $56 million in 2017.

    The revelation comes amid the singer’s 42-date “Piece of Me” tour which began in July and is slated to finish in October.

    For years, Spears’ personal and legal issues have been covered in the press, including a notable 2007 breakdown.

    Read on for a look at some of her memorable moments before and after that episode.

    Vegas residency, Dec. 2013 – Dec. 2017

    Spears’ Vegas residency show, “Britney: Piece of Me,” ran from Dec. 2013 until Dec. 2017, with a total of 248 shows that grossed $137.7 million, according to Billboard.

    During this time, Spears also released two albums: 2013’s “Britney Jean” and the 2016 album, “Glory.” She also appeared on “The X Factor” as a judge in 2012. 

    Michael Jackson Video Vanguard award, August 2011

    Spears was presented with the honor at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards.

    “Femme Fatale,” March 2011

    Spears released another album, “Femme Fatale,” which included the songs “Till The World Ends” and “Hold It Against Me,” among others.

    “Womanizer,” October 2008

    Spears’ single “Womanizer” came out on Oct. 3, 2008 and reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 on Oct. 25, 2008.

    The track was featured on her November 2008 album, “Circus.”

    VMA wins, September 2008

    Spears’ video for “Piece of Me,” one of the songs off “Blackout,” was named Video of the Year at the 2008 VMA ceremony. The singer also received Best Female Video and Best Pop Video for the tune.

    “It’s a cool video, but I think, by far, I’ve done videos that are way better, so I was really shocked that it got the award,” she later reportedly told radio station Z100 at the time,

    Custody deal, July 2008 

    A deal with ex-husband Kevin Federline gave Spears increased visitation rights, People reported.

    The former couple got a 50-50 custody on their children, Us Weekly reported in March.

    “How I Met Your Mother” cameo, March 2008

    Spears played a small role in an episode of the CBS sitcom “How I Met Your Mother.” The episode racked up 10.7 million viewers the night it aired, People reported.

    Health, conservatorship and custody issues, 2008

    Spears was under a court-supervised conservatorship starting February 2008, with her father Jamie and another co-conservator, Andrew Wallet, having control over numerous aspects of her personal life.

    The move came after two involuntary psychiatric holds for the singer in January 2008, the first of which reportedly happened after Spears refused to hand over son Jayden to Federline.

    Spears challenged the conservatorship but it was upheld, E! reported.

    In July 2008, Spears agreed to give Federline full custody of the couple’s children following a public meltdown.

    “Kevin was not [out] to get custody. Kevin’s goal was to set up some kind of template so the mother of his children can co-parent,” Federline’s attorney, Mark Vincent Kaplan, told MTV. “He said, ‘I need to have Britney involved in the co-parenting of the kids, but I need there to be a structure.'”

    VMA performance, September 2007

    Spears was widely mocked for her performance of “Gimme More” at the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards. Some criticized the singer’s sparkly two-piece outfit, while others bashed the star for “freezing” and appearing to be out of it on stage.

    The song was later included on her album “Blackout,” which came out in October 2007.

    Meltdown, February 2007

    Spears went through a very public meltdown in February 2007 before she and Federline divorced later that year.

    According to E!, the “Toxic” singer briefly was at a Caribbean rehab facility, before later shaving her head at a California hair salon. 

    She also went to a Malibu rehab for a day-long stint, before she returned a few days later for a month-long stay, per the report.

    Kevin Federline marriage, October 2004

    Britney Spears and Kevin Federline.  (Reuters)

    Spears tied the knot with backup dancer Federline in 2004.

    The couple’s first son, Sean Preston, was born roughly a year later — on Sept. 14, 2005. A second child, Jayden James, was born on Sept. 12, 2006.

    The marriage didn’t last long: Spears filed for divorce in November 2006. 

    Jason Alexander marriage, January 2004

    Spears was already a pop star and sex symbol — with several hit albums and MTV Video Music Awards performances to her name — when she married Jason Alexander, a friend who hailed from her hometown of Kentwood, La. The union, however, was annulled after just 55 hours.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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    The 10 questions to ask before falling in love

    Image copyright ITV/REX/Shutterstock

    In an age where swipe right means like, a divorce lawyer to the stars says couples should ask 10 ‘critical’ questions before embarking on a relationship.

    Baroness Shackleton, who represented Sir Paul McCartney among others, and University of Exeter academics have collaborated on a study, which looks at the key questions potential lovers should ask one another before embarking on a serious relationship.

    According to the survey, which took evidence from long-term couples, family lawyers and mediators, relationships last longer when built on friendship, respect, shared interests and realistic expectations.

    The survey comes as reality TV show Love Island has become ITV2’s most watched show.

    Viewers have become obsessed with how compatible the couples are, the sincerity of the relationships formed, and which duos are likely to go the distance – after the cameras stop rolling.

    Antics on Love Island have ruffled the feathers of many, with some arguing it gives bad relationship advice to impressionable audiences – showing men and women quick to swap and change their partners when they believe someone else better fits the script.

    The dynamics on the show change from day to day as challenges are set for the “islanders”, testing their compatibility and knowledge of each other.

    ‘He’s not my type’

    The lie detector test challenge, which asks uncomfortable questions which can make or break the relationship, is a popular example of this.

    Maybe the show, now in its last week, is on to something?

    Baroness Shackleton says asking the right questions early on can save a lot of time and heartache.

    Shackleton, who has been a divorce lawyer for more than 40 years, says: “More than 50% of the people consulting me about divorce have said they realised either before or very soon into their marriages, that they were fundamentally incompatible with their partners.”

    That’s arguably not the best time to come to that realisation.

    The lawyer also argues that the best long-term relationships, take place when two people have realistic ideas about what constitutes a happy relationship, shaped by marriages they have seen through their parents or other family members.

    Researchers interviewed 43 couples who have been married for 10 years, or who had separated during this period, and 10 other couples in same-sex and opposite-sex relationships, who had been living together at least 15 years.

    They found that it was important for couples to continually ask themselves the following 10 critical questions in order to build the relationship.

    ‘Good friends make the best lovers’

    Are we a ‘good fit’? According to the survey, many of the thriving couples had started as “friends” first, with an intimate relationship developing slowly. So researchers, including Jan Ewing of Exeter’s Law School, believe couples should question if they are a “good fit” based on friendship first and foremost.

    Do we have a strong basis of friendship? Experts say that an underlying friendship had helped couples through harrowing life events such as bereavement or an affair. The survey also found that separated couples often lacked a firm foundation of friendship.

    Do we want the same things? According to the report, the loved up duos had aligned values, hopes, dreams and expectations of the other partner, and of the relationship.

    Are our expectations realistic? Whilst analysing both samples, scholars found that the successful couples had realistic expectations of marriage and relationships. They knew it wouldn’t be plain-sailing and were prepared to seek professional help, as well as work hard on the partnership.

    Do we generally see the best in each other? These experts think compassion is key and say although compassionate love can take time to build, when it happens – these couples tend to see the best in each other and make allowances when necessary.

    Do we both work at keeping our relationship vibrant? Couples in thriving relationships showed they cared for each other in daily rituals and small regular acts of thoughtfulness that communicated appreciation in ways that were meaningful to their partner.

    Do we feel we can discuss things and raise issues with each other? Carving out time to talk about your day, or deeper level issues is necessary for a prosperous relationship, as open communication fuels intimacy.

    Are we both committed to working through hard times? Couples’ ability to adapt to change is essential to thriving relationships. When couples pulled together during periods of adversity, they often report a strengthening of the relationship as a result.

    Would we pull together to get through stressful times? Researchers found that how people cope with life pressures such as bereavement, an affair, financial difficulties or becoming a parent, particularly when the couple had different parenting styles, is key and requires good relationship skills.

    Do we each have supportive people around us? We all want our family and friends to like the person we have chosen to be committed to. The scholars found that close; supportive networks of family and friends enriched the lives of couples across the spectrum of family forms. Women, in particular, drew substantial support from their mothers, sisters and/or friends.

    So, is there hope for you?

    Do you ask yourselves if you and your partner are compatible? Or do you just fall into relationships blind to what’s driving it?

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    Kristen Bell’s Daughter Singing ‘Let It Go’ Is Pure Toddler Glory

    In 2016, Kristen Bell told Jimmy Kimmel that her daughters didn’t like her mega-hit movie “Frozen” when they first watched it. Clearly, that is no longer the case. 

    On Wednesday, the actress posted a hilarious video on Instagram of one of her daughters belting out “Let It Go.” 

    “No pants, no problem. The show must go on!!!” Bell captioned the video, which appears to show her 3-year-old daughter, Delta, “singing” the song in some casual home loungewear.

    In pure toddler form, she’s more screeching than singing and also has a doll on the floor by her feet. For many parents, the sight was too familiar. 

    “Wait, @kristenanniebell are you filming at my house???” wrote one commenter. “This is so my daughter,” added another. 

    Bell and her husband, Dax Shepard, are parents to Delta and 5-year-old Lincoln. In recent years, Lincoln has also let her “Frozen” love shine. 

    In October, Bell’s firstborn insisted that both she and her mom dress up as Elsa for Halloween.  

    Here’s hoping for future videos of all three gals singing “Frozen” songs together. 

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    Experience: my mother couldn’t speak to me

    I had never felt so lonely; I had no idea what she was thinking or feeling

    My mother, Nathalie, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis just after my first birthday. She knew there was something wrong a few years earlier, as she had started experiencing constant problems with her vision and pins and needles in her legs. Instead of seeking treatment or getting a diagnosis, she chose to have another child;according to my family, she was desperate to have a daughter after having two sons. But after giving birth to me in 1989, her health started to deteriorate.

    Overwhelmed by the pressures that came with being a mother to three children, having to care for other people when her body was failing her, she decided to leave home when I was five years old.

    I still saw her at least once or twice a week and I remember that for my seventh birthday, despite her illness, she threw me a birthday party in her council flat in the north of Paris. The day ended up being a bit dramatic, not because of her MS, but because a friend had somehow stepped in my cake and then walked all over her white carpet.

    As she progressively lost the ability to move her arms and legs, she needed full-time care, so she moved in with her aunt who became her full-time carer. She gradually lost her voice over several months until her ability to communicate verbally ended completely. I was a young child, so cant remember exactly when, but it was as if one day she just lost her ability to speak.

    I would read and watch the television with her, and sometimes she would make gurgling sounds when something made her laugh. We would spend hours in silence together and to show her my love, I would stroke her arm and place my hand on hers, as she lay in bed. But eventually there was no conversation; it was just me sitting on a chair by her bedside, speaking at her. As I sat there, I had never felt so lonely; I had no idea what she was thinking or feeling.

    Every time I left her, I felt guilty because I was healthy. I could walk and talk and had control over my body but my mum had no control at all. From about the age of 10, I wanted to make sure my mother was kept up to date with my life, so I would make books that were filled with pictures of my school friends and photographs of my favourite bands with written descriptions of their music, which I would read to her.

    While she couldnt use her voice, for a while she used her eyes to communicate with us. She would blink once for yes and twice for no when it came to food. But by the time I was 13, that stopped. Although she could no longer use her eyes to communicate, every time I walked into the room, I could tell she was happy to see me. It was as if the white in her eyes became brighter.

    Sometimes we could get her in a wheelchair or sit her in an upright position with support. When the illness hit her the hardest, she would be inbed for days, unable to move an inch, causing bed sores which often led to her being hospitalised.

    I remember the day she died. It was a cold and snowy night in February 2012, and my brother called me with the news. I felt as if someone had punched me in the face. But she was no longer in pain, and to me she had really died when she stopped speaking.

    Six years on, I try to remember the sound of her voice and her laugh, but I cant hear either. I think that in the trauma of seeing her suffering, my mind has erased the way she sounded from my memory. I have some tape recordings of her voice, but I cant bring myself to listen to them yet.I know I will when Im ready and the time is right.

    The silence that was imposed on my mother by multiple sclerosis forced me to be silent about her. I rarely told anyone about her and to this day, not many friends know what she was going through. She lived a life where she couldnt say a word or even raise her hand; it must have taken so much strength to carry on.

    Now, I no longer want to be silent about her and the illness that she faced. I want to acknowledge my mothers immense resilience and courage.

    As told to Tobi Oredein

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    ‘Fixer Upper’ star Chip Gaines shares close-up photo of 3-week-old son Crew: ‘My heart is full’

    Like any proud father, “Fixer Upper” star Chip Gaines is more than happy to gush about his children, most recently his newborn son Crew.

    Gaines shared a close-up picture of Crew on Instagram Friday. In the adorable photo, Crew is seen napping in his dad’s arms.

    “My heart is full…” Gaines captioned the photo, which has accumulated 545,000 likes as of Friday evening. Thousands of people commented on the picture, congratulating Gaines and his wife, Joanna, on the arrival of the “precious” infant.

    “So amazing so much love in such a small package!” one Instagram user commented.

    My heart is full..

    A post shared by Chip Gaines (@chipgaines) on


    “What a handsome little guy Chip & Joanna,” another said.

    “Congratulations! He’s a sweetheart!” one user added.

    Some people couldn’t help but compare him to his other family members — mainly the Gaines’ oldest son, Drake, 13.

    “You can already see the resemblance to Drake!” one social media user exclaimed.

    “He looks like your oldest son!” another echoed.

    “He looks like Drake for sure,” one person agreed.


    However, at least one person argued he looks more like his dad.

    “Your twin!! Congrats and enjoy,” one Instagram user wrote.

    The famous HGTV stars announced the birth of their fifth child — joining siblings Emmie Kay, 8; Duke, 9; Ella, 11; and Drake, 13 —  on June 23.

    Gaines took to Twitter to celebrate the happy news, writing, “And then there were 5.. The Gaines crew is now 1 stronger! 10 beautiful toes and 10 beautiful fingers all accounted for, and big momma is doing great! #blessedBeyondBelief”

    The parents admitted it was going to be difficult adjusting to a newborn schedule.

    “I have forgotten almost everything, so it feels brand new,” Joanna told People in May. “I tell Chip that I feel 25, and in my mind there’s something about it that gives me an extra kick in my step.”

    Jennifer Earl is an SEO editor for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter @jenearlyspeakin.

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    Early rush hour as England expects

    Image copyright Reuters
    Image caption Pubs, bars, gardens and parks are getting ready to host huge World Cup parties

    Rush hour is expected to hit earlier than usual today as England fans race to get home in time for the World Cup semi-final.

    The RAC predicted that roads would be extra busy at 17:00 BST, and that they would be “dead” by kick-off.

    Meanwhile, train firms Southern and Great Northern expect afternoon services to be extremely busy.

    England will play Croatia at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium at 19:00. It is their first World Cup semi-final in 28 years.

    The AA predicts that millions of people will be going home early this evening and, by 19:00, roads will be “much quieter than on Christmas Day”.

    Edmund King, president of the AA, said: “Historically, the biggest TV events and quietest roads in the UK were during the World Cup final in 1966 followed by the funeral of Diana, Apollo 13, royal weddings and Muhammad Ali’s ‘Rumble in the Jungle’. This game will join the list.

    “Rail commuters may also take earlier trains, perhaps worried about delays or staff shortages due to the match.”

    Highways England said traffic dropped by about a third when England played Colombia earlier in the tournament.

    People will either travel home earlier on Wednesday to make it home in time for kick-off – or choose not to travel at all by working from home or watching the match at or near work.

    Media playback is unsupported on your device

    Media captionWorld Cup 2018: How England v Sweden interrupted a nation

    Rail operators Southern, Great Northern and Thameslink urged people to allow plenty of time to travel.

    Virgin Trains has lifted ticket restrictions on its West Coast Mainline trains leaving London Euston station so people with off-peak or advance tickets can catch any train.

    On Wednesday morning, some commuters said the roads were already busy – “almost like everyone is getting in early so they can leave early,” said one woman in Torbay, Devon, on Twitter.

    Meanwhile, the union for shopworkers, Usdaw, has urged employers to be “as flexible as possible” with staff wanting to support England and watch tonight’s game.

    “World Cup success is such a big matter for England fans, it would a real shame if any were to miss it coming home,” the union said.

    About 1,000 workers at BMW Mini in Oxford will finish three hours early today, with the firm’s press officer Steve Wrelton saying it “felt like the right thing to do”.

    And Rolls-Royce in Goodwood will suspend all production early to give its employees a chance to watch the game.

    And the Asian Catering Federation, which represents the Asian takeaway and restaurant industry, urged any fans wanting a curry to “order your takeaway early”.

    Media playback is unsupported on your device

    Media captionHow Gareth Southgate inspired some waistcoat imitators

    The British Beer and Pub Association predicts that the number of pints bought will soar by 10 million during tonight’s semi-final, and it could bring a boost to the economy of up to £30m.

    Chief executive Brigid Simmonds said it was “fantastic news” for the “great British pub”.

    Many people – including staff at Nunnery Wood High School in Worcester – are embracing so-called “waistcoat Wednesday” in honour of manager Gareth Southgate.

    Others noticed the difference on their morning commute.

    British Airways gave free waistcoats to some passengers travelling from London Heathrow to Moscow, along with boarding passes showing a traveller named “football” and the destination “home”.

    Anticipation is reaching fever pitch, with the possibility that England could reach their first World Cup final since 1966 if they defeat Croatia.

    Nearly 20 million television viewers watched England beat Sweden in the quarter-finals on Saturday.

    The winners of tonight’s game will face France in the final at 16:00 on Sunday.

    Hundreds of England supporters have been arranging last-minute trips to Russia after the side booked their semi-final place with a 2-0 win over Sweden on Saturday.

    England catches World Cup fever

    Image copyright Getty Images

    Are you leaving work early to watch the match today? Share your story by emailing

    Please include a contact number if you are willing to speak to a BBC journalist. You can also contact us in the following ways:

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    Breastfeeding: it’s bad for business! | First Dog on the Moon

    Why would the USA oppose a resolution to promote breastfeeding?

    First Dog on … breastfeeding!

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    In honor of Father’s Day, 11 unforgettable books about being a dad

    Image: Mashable Composite

    In pop culture, fathers are too frequently portrayed as the bumbling parent who ruins things that moms then have to come fix. But being a dad is far more complicated (and beautiful, and terrifying, and everything else).

    For anyone tired of overly simplistic representations of dads, we have good news: Literature is really great at painting more dynamic portraits of fatherhood.

    Some books are rueful meditations on father/son relationships, while others are hilarious dives into parenting misadventures. Still others demonstrate how meaningful a found family can be. But no matter what tone and types of characters are featured, books are here to show us there’s no one way to be a dad. In fact, there are infinite ways.

    Here are 11 books that showcase the weird, wonderful, unforgettable phenomenon we know as fatherhood.

    Image: Penguin Press


    Dads give the best presents, but Norwegian writer Karl Ove Knausgaard really takes the cake with his book Autumn. It’s a collection of brief meditations that attempt to capture what makes the world beautiful, all written for Knausgaard’s unborn daughter, his fourth child. “You will experience things for yourself and live a life of your own, so of course it is primarily for my own sake that I am doing this: showing you the world, little one, makes my life worth living,” Knausgaard writes in the book’s intro. You know that phrase, “I wish I could give you the world”? That’s exactly what Knausgaard is trying to do for his daughter, and no, we’re not crying, YOU’RE crying.

    Image: Harper Collins

    Pops: Fatherhood in Pieces

    It’s not the big moments, but rather the small things of everyday life that carry the most weight. In his book Pops: Fatherhood in Pieces, Michael Chabon tries to capture those glimpses that make fatherhood so extraordinary. The book opens with Chabon’s famous GQ essay about watching his son fully embrace himself at Paris Fashion Week, and expands from there with 6 other essays about fatherhood. There is no other way to say this: Michael Chabon is just a fucking phenomenal writer. Whether you’re a dad yourself or reflecting on your relationship with your own father, Chabon’s writing about parenting will tug at your heartstrings. (Bonus: If you want another gorgeous meditation on fatherhood, be sure to read Chabon’s “The Recipe for Life,” an essay about his own dad, published in The New Yorker.)

    An American Marriage

    Much has been said about Tayari Jones’ critically acclaimed An American Marriage, and for good reason — the book does emotional gymnastics as readers dive into the complex relationship between Celestial and Roy, a newly married couple separated after Roy is wrongly incarcerated. But in addition to dealing with amorous love, the book also carries a very important theme of fatherhood. Roy is raised by a stepdad, but (*spoiler alert*) he unexpectedly meets his biological father in prison in the middle of the novel. As Roy meditates on his life and what he’s learned from each of those men, An American Marriage explores what it means to be a dad in America today.


    It’s turtles all the way down when it comes to portraying parenthood in Paul Harding’s novel Tinkers. The book opens with one father on his death bed, thinking about his relationship with his father. Then, as the narrative progresses, Harding flashes back to the dad’s relationship with his dad. The result is a novel that, in just under 200 pages, captures generations of father/son dynamics and the complex ways we conform and rebel against our dads. Connecting it all is some incredible prose about family and growing up.

    Someone Could Get Hurt: A Memoir of Twenty-First-Century Parenthood

    Here’s the secret that nobody tells you about parenthood: Sometimes it can be a complete shitshow. It’s that truth that Drew Magary hopes to document in his parenthood memoir, Someone Could Get Hurt. The book is a collection of tales from Magary’s experiences as a dad, ranging from “getting drunk while trick-or-treating and telling dirty jokes to make bath time go smoothly to committing petty vandalism to bond with a 5-year-old.” Mashable’s Marcus Gilmer says Someone Could Get Hurt is a “raw, honest, sometimes crude and hilarious account of parenthood with a heart at its center.”

    To Kill a Mockingbird

    Has there been a more iconic dad to grace the pages of a book than Atticus Finch, the unforgettable father in To Kill a Mockingbird? Atticus is wise in his own right, but it’s his willingness to let Scout and Jem explore, fail, and learn from their mistakes that takes him to the next level. That’s not to say he’s an absent father. Just the opposite: Atticus always has his eye on his kids and their learning, and he delivers key lessons about kindness, empathy, and justice throughout the novel. It’s this compassion and wisdom that makes Atticus such an iconic literary dad. (The elephant in the room is Go Set a Watchman, where Atticus is old, mean, and racist. But that’s an early draft of To Kill a Mockingbird, so I don’t count it as Harper Lee canon.)

    The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley

    Hannah Tinti’s The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley is a novel about the lengths we’d go to in order to protect our family. The book follows Loo and her father, the titular Samuel Hawley, as they settle into a provincial New England town. Not all is as it seems, however. Though Hawley is quiet, he has a dark past as a smuggler, and his decision to move is an attempt to escape ghosts of his former life of crime that are coming to haunt him. The novel tracks Samuel Hawley’s past (the 12 lives alluded to in the novel) alongside Hawley’s efforts to give Loo a normal childhood. Sure, he may not be a traditional dad, but one thing is sure: He loves his daughter more than anything.

    The Goldfinch

    Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch is a quietly divisive novel. After a literally explosive beginning, the novel follows Theo, a boy who accidentally steals a painting from the Met, as he grows up. The second half of the book turns into a fast-paced art heist novel, in stark contrast to the coming-of-age story we begin with. One of the most unforgettable sections in the book, though, is about Theo’s time in the West Village with gay antiques collector Hobie. Hobie takes in Theo, who’s been orphaned after the bombing at the Met, as his own son. Though Hobie is dealing with his own grief, he becomes a kind and generous father figure for Theo. It’s this portrait of fatherhood and found family that gives The Goldfinch its grounding and its heart.

    Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

    You may be surprised to find Harry Potter on this list, especially considering how the novels deconstruct the myth of James Potter in the later books. But for anyone who says Harry Potter is not a series about fatherhood, I’ve got two words for you: Sirius Black. Despite having perhaps one of the most tragic character arcs of the series, Harry’s godfather Sirius remains a beacon of light shining from the HP Universe. He’s playful, he’s moody, he can transform into a dog, and, more than anything, he loves Harry. And though Sirius is the most notable father figure for Harry, with characters like Dumbledore, Hagrid, Mr. Weasley, and more, the Harry Potter series is filled with models of fatherhood in all forms.

    Image: MACMILLAN

    A Wrinkle in Time

    A lot of weird stuff happens in A Wrinkle in Time. Like, waaaaay more weird stuff than you remember. As the Wallace children (and Calvin) journey to rescue Meg’s dad, they meet darkness incarnate, an evil brain, and a giant, faceless creature named “Aunt Beast.” But at the core of the Wallace’s journey through space and time is Meg’s steadfast love and devotion to her father, who is willing to risk it all to protect his children. Even when he’s not at home, the mere memory of Mr. Wallace gives Meg courage, which is why he’s one of literature’s best dads.

    Sing, Unburied, Sing

    Jesymn Ward’s National Book Award-winning novel, Sing, Unburied, Sing, is a coming-of-age story filled with ghosts. The book follows Jojo and his mom Leonie as they journey to pick up Jojo’s father from prison. As the novel dives into the way we all must confront our pasts, Sing, Unburied, Sing provides a raw look at a vulnerable family trying to stay together despite the challenges they face. Included is Jojo’s grandfather, Pop, a stoic figure who serves as a foundation for the family — but also has his own story to tell.

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