Words of Wisdom

Youth is wasted on the young.

Friday, 30 November 2007

NaBloPoMo #30. Grand Finale

OK Here is my NaBloPoMo Finale!!!!! My last daily post for November!!!! Then the pressure is off. (What is the prize again for doing this??????)

Firstly, here she is aged 10. That's right, only 10. Just before our wedding two years ago.
(wow seems longer than that).And a year later aged 11 with her Dad and I at her Year 6 Graduation.

Phew!!!! And then of course you've seen her since then, growing like a weed and becoming more and more beautiful as the days go by.So that's our journey. From Birth to 12 in 30 days. I am so proud of my gorgeous daughter. Not just because she's a stunner, but because of the person she is too. She's loving and thoughtful, vivacious, hilarious, a good friend, a conscientious student and a reluctant piano practiser!!! She is perceptive about people. She instinctively knows how to make someone feel better. She is well mannered (mostly) and after an explosion of temper (yes, she is mercurial too) she is quick to apologise. We have a few years of rocky roads ahead of us to navigate but I know she is a great person and together with her Dad, her step dad and the rest of her extended family, grandparents, aunts and friends, (and a fair measure of Grace) we will hopefully get her through the tough teenage stuff.

I love you Baby Angel.

Theme Thursday: Cosy

Nothing like sleeping with your hat on for cosiness! I quite like the incredulous doll in the background :-D

For more cosy shots checkout ThemeThursday over at Picture This.

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Still have sleep to catch up on

Well, I finally finished reports at 5pm yesterday. Now onto exams. Revision and writing of same.
Will try and do my Baby Angel post tonight. Mum and Dad are in the country!!!!!!!!! They're in Sydney and will join us here on Saturday. Oh boy oh boy!!!!

Oh and get this. Guess what we are doing this afternoon instead of History? Taknig year 9 to the park to throw water bombs at each other!!!! Is the Year Level Co-ordinator a LUNATIC??? Perhaps simply a masochist. Why does he have to take all of us along for his ride too? There are 12 teachers going. Wish I remembered my camera.

Will report back.

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

NaBloPoMo # 28: Hello? Did someone have a growth spurt?

December 2004 aged 9 and 7 months. At the airport with the hated 'unaccompanied minor' label pinned on her chest. Oh and the haircut from hell according to her! Actually it was a cute hair cut but she would insist upon tucking it behind her ears. Look at the length of those legs!!!!!

7.35am and one class awaiting results from my colleague (grrr) and another just not started yet. Only 10 pupils though.....and ...I fear it will be a late entry.....I gave in at 3.45am this morning.


Tuesday, 27 November 2007

NaBloPoMo #27: Australian Girl

September 2003. Now living in Adelaide Australia, my little pommy girl was making some big adjustments in her life. New school, new friends, more new teeth, a lot more freckles with increased exposure to the demon Australian sun. She was also now a seasoned traveller having started the holiday routine of unaccompanied flights to Sydney to see her Dad. (That nearly broke my heart the first time but that's another story.....)

This photo is about a year after the last one. I think she's losing her little girl chubby cheeks.
I'm not going to get you up to present day in what's left of NaBloPoMo unless I go yearly so be prepared for some radical changes!

Off to school and more report writing. Just how many ways can you say 'needs to focus in class'?

Monday, 26 November 2007

NaBloPoMo #26: Now With Teeth

October 2002 as we were selling our house in England and staying with Grandma and Grandad before making the move back to Australia!

Front two teeth now established. We went through snother messy time on arrival in Aus when the two on either side of the front ones fell out. They seemed to hang in...and I mean hang....for ages!

Will be going very quiet on the reading and posting front now as I am seriously challenged for getting reports in by Weds 9am. Will post pix once a day and that's all. See you all after the crisis.

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Family Outing

"See!? Isn't this better than sitting at home marking and doing reports?" called Himself over the rush of the wind and the vibration of the boat.
"I'll let you know later," I muttered grimly, through gritted teeth as I held doggedly onto the jibsheet, tucked my feet under the toestrap and leeeeeeeaned out over the hissing waves.

Some families go to the zoo, or the museum or for a bushwalk. We go sailing. In a very, very small boat. In twos.

Today was the perfect sailing day for beginners. Himself, Small Boy and No2 Son took the boat down to Brighton and Seacliff and waited for the BA and I to finish up Kidzone at Church and meet them there. I was reluctant. I had work to do. I am already behind the 8 ball! But what can you do? Himself rarely takes time out from work to socialise with the family. So down we went.

"Are you ready to go out again?" he inquired as we arrived. I had brought my marking. I was hoping to sit quietly under the sun tent. The last time I went out on the boat was in Jan 06. I'd had a knee injury since then and the time had never been right since.
"Who, me? What about No 2 Son?"
"He's hurt his thumb on the skimboard...he won't be sailing today."
"Oh, great." (There was no escape)

So, out we went. Not so bad. At least I didn't fall off the boat this time. My first tack was a mess. I let the jib off too late and it got tangled but we recovered. My second tack was worse. In my anxiety to get the jib off and on again on the other side....I did so before we had even turned the boat...........so we stalled.

"OK we could be in trouble here," Himself called as we flollopped about (technical term). The note of minor panic in his voice was disconcerting; he is usually completely in control. The NS14 is a notoriously unstable boat having a narrow, deeply 'v' shaped hull. It would not be a good fishing boat. Capsizing is a common end point. I did not fancy going for a swim. I used my not inconsiderable background in dance to balance us as I let the jib off again and he got us pointing in the right direction. Whew. Dodged that bullet!

The next tack was just about perfect. Apparently we didn't even lose any speed! Practice makes perfect but by now I had had enough. Let's quit while we're ahead. Unfortunately, sailing boats are not like merry go rounds. You cannot simply stop and get off. They're more like ferris wheels. You have to manouevre yourself into the correct position before you can dismount.

So I think we did two more tacks. Both ok, although I was shaking with the effort of concentration by then. Lean out, sit in, quick...back ouuuut....jib on, jib off, leeeeeeean.
Thank the bloody Lord the beach came up quickly. I was exhausted!!!

But wait, there's more! Himself decided today was the day the Baby Angel would be baptised into sailing!!! I had to walk away and sit on the beach while he gave her a crash course. I was sooo stressed! I wanted to give her advice, tell him to come back in if she got scared...to be careful with my Baby...................just walk away Mum, go sit on the beach.
(phu phu phu...that's me hyperventilating)

Of course she did really well. I don't know why I was so worried, after all, this is a girl who has scuba dived, surfed and been in a helicopter: she's way ahead of me!

I sat and watched like a hawk, as if I could have done anything from the beach anyway!! Their tacks were good and they made a few runs in and out before coming back in. Himself was well pleased with her, she was beaming and I was so proud I could have burst.

Unfortunately Small Boy will not have a bar of sailing, being sure that he will be eaten by a shark so his day at the beach consisted of skim boarding and getting the tops of his feet sunburned. Never leave the father to put the sunscreen on.

We look forward to more sailing as a family. In twos.

PS: I forgot my camera today. The picture above is the NS14 with Himself and No2 Son, taken in Jan 2006 on Lake Macquarie NSW. Quite a different state of affairs when you sail on the SEA!!! It looks so calm there....

NaBloPoMo #25: Gaparella

Well, I warned you. The beginning of the toothless period. One gone and one about to go. please note dubious Disney dress now being worn over T Shirts as this was taken in chilly February 2002.

Tomorrow I will zip forward 8 months to when both teeth were in and established. (Phew, a tough time).

Future Flaming Sword!


What an amazing young man this is! A name to remember for the future. He will not fall into the trap of the parents he describes at Knox Grammar School in Sydney. Once more I say unto you.........let your kids fail! Pick them up and comfort them, give them skills and strategies for next time BUT do NOT do it for them. All you do is convince them of their own inability.

Saturday, 24 November 2007

Face of the Future

Well, here is our new Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd aka K-Rudd aka Kevin 07..................

Not quite sure how I feel about it. He has three years to convince me.

NaBloPoMo #24: Six

Aged 6. A girl and her Grandad.
My Dad! Who will be here next Saturday...oh boy oh boy oh boy....

Now it has to be said that from here on in the photos move into the gap tooth, awkward phase and she will not like me posting them. She spent a long time with a mouth full of baby teeth and very big gums through which you could almost see the adult teeth hiding. Everyone else lost their teeth but the BA hung on til she was nearly 7. Once they did fall out the new big ones pushed not her mouth with speed and an exceptional lack of tact or subtlety I felt. It's really only now that she is starting to grow into her teeth.

So, my cute little girl is about to undergo some pretty hefty growth spurts and teeth changes...bear with her.....it all comes out right in the end :-D

Elections: Ouch, those pickets can be uncomfortable to sit on.....

Back from the Polling Booth at our local school. Quite a carnival atmosphere down there at the moment. Its a comfortable, sunny Spring day and optimism is high. For what? I for one have NO clue!!!

Yesterday 'the Polls' were not only split they were almost diametrically opposed. Labour, having run a strong campaign have been ahead all the way, at times by up to 10 points! Yesterday one set of Polls predicted a Labour landslide whilst the other ones showed the gap had narrowed to a margin of 2%, a position from which the Labour Govt failed to win in 2001. So the old Baldmeister, megalomaniac Howard could still come back from the brink.......

How do I feel about that? Errrrrrrrr...........................

Well, like many of my countrymen I think Howard is an arrogant autocrat who is verging on senility or at least psychosis. Delusions of deity.

On the other hand, the country is in the best economic position it's been in for years. We're in the black! Unemployment is at a 33 year low. The hated 'Work Choices' IR policy whilst offending our very nature, suits us as small business owners. The Liberal Government have a proven track record for management.

On the other hand nobody is doing anything about the water crisis or climate change. Our treatment of refugees is draconian and nobody wants to listen for one minute longer to John Howard rant on about our need to be in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But have Labour got what it takes? Will Kevin Rudd, a self confessed economic conservative have the goolies to stand up to the 70% of Labour would be front benchers who are ex Union bosses? What if we're trying to fix something that ain't broke?

And even if I DID want to vote Labour, which I'm not sure I do, how can I vote for the empty headed Nicole Cornes whose sole claim to fame is being the wife of an ex footballer and who, for the first half of her campaign, was unable to explain any of Labour's policies!!!!!??????

On the other hand, our sitting member is an arrogant asshole (like so many of the Liberal candidates)........

oh what to do................what to do??????????

I could vote Independent, but his preferences go to Labour anyway, so why not just vote Labour....cos I'm not sure about them......so just vote Liberal.......but another 3 years of John Howard???? Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

I was so undecided that I actually tore up my ballot paper at one point and got another one. Yes, even IN the polling booth I was unsure as to the best compromise. :-(

At the end of the day, I doubt my pathetic little vote will make all the difference in the world. But tonight will be the telling time. How will I feel one way or another? I guess if I feel secretly relieved I shall know whether I voted with my gut or not. At the moment I am still wriggling to try and get that picket out of my a***. Not that it matters now.

Friday, 23 November 2007

NabloPoMo #23: The Den Under the Stairs

A couple of months off 6 years old and this kind of thing is the favourite game. Take everything out of the bedroom and transfer it to the hall; take everything out from under the stairs and transfer it to the hall. Now transfer many of bedroom contents to under stairs whilst hanging blankets over the bannister to form a wall. Wear most of wardrobe, regardless of weather.

In Australia we call this 'making a cubby'. In the UK it is 'making a den'. In the US I believe it is called 'making a fort'. It seemed to come naturally to the Baby Angel. I have been recently horrified that the Small Boy and his mate from down the road, have no clue as to how to make a cubby!!!! And they are 8 and 10. It is a sad state of affairs. I blame X Box. One day that machine will mysteriously break down and the warranty man will discover the best part of a bottle of nail varnish inside the 'works'. :-D

The other thing I remember from this time is that the boxes of carefully labelled and sorted toys from the family room would all be utilised in a myriad of forms in a game and then they would gravitate back to the boxes. Any box really. In a sort of 'Toy Soup' as my friend used to say. From time to time we would sort them all out again and there would be exclamations of delight as items missing for weeks were uncovered in the bottom of the 'wheels' box.

Off to snooze before trying to knock off some Year 9 English marking. Countdown to exams is HERE!!! :-(

Note to Self

Never drink two cans of Red Bull in a four hour period. My heart is still racing today and I don't know how much actual sleep I got.
Did manage to mark a few maths assignments though. (snooooooorrrrrrre)
Will try to get my Baby Angel post up later today but must now go and mark medieval models and english media homework. Reports due next weds and all the calculations still to be done. After that exams to be written and modified. After that exams to be marked.
Who thought November was a good month to hold NaBloPoMo?????......still, I've stuck with it so far............................

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Thanksgiving: Share a Bit with Us.

OK. It seems like lately all the talk in the Blogosphere is about Thanksgiving and its accompanying traditions. Now we don't know very much about it here, except for what we see in the movies and it occurred to me that, like Christmas, Thanksgiving has had its share of movies with the holiday as the central motif.

So......I ask you........what is YOUR favourite Thanksgiving based movie?

The one that sticks in my mind is a bit bizarre but it made such an impression on me at the end that I wished we had the Thanksgiving holiday to celebrate. It's 'Planes, Trains and Automobiles'.

How about you?

Of Widgets, MacDonalds and Hideous Year 9

So many things to comment on.

Do you like my weather widget? I followed a link off a new page I've been viewing, Ravings of an American Expat in Oxford.

Chris is an amusing Georgia bred (or perhaps just educated...not sure...mad keen GU Bulldogs fan anyway) new father, adrift in the chilly climes of Oxford UK. Not only is he amusing, with access to a fascinating array of music, but his lovely wife is from l'il ole Adelaide. Yes, downtown home of yours truly.

I'm a little concerned about the accuracy of said widget however. It's currently reading 28C and I can tell you from where I'm sitting that it is waaaaaaaaay hotter than that at present. When I was driving to pick the Baby Angel up this afternoon at 4pm it was 38C!!!! Perhaps the widget sensors are located somewhere in an air conditioned meteorology building?

Anyway, one of Chris' posts concerned a protest in a MacDonald's outlet in Paris and it was interesting to see how emotive people became about MacDonalds! Opinions ranged from 'MacDonalds is the spawn of the devil' to 'We heart MacDonalds' with a number of variations in between. One of the reasons for the protest was the 'exploitation of workers' and after a conversation with friends at dinner on Saturday, all of whom have teenage children in the workplace, I got to thinking about the lessons kids learn from their first experiences of work.

My friend was very concerned that her two kids, who started working at 14 years old, had 'good' initial experiences in the work place, lest they be left with a 'poor impression' of the experience of 'work'. She was concerned lest they be the victims of abusive bosses or exploitative multi nationals. After all, she logically points out, why should we pay a 10% surcharge for our coffee on a public holiday when none of that goes into the pockets of the young, usually underage workers? After all, there are no longer penalty rates for working on weekends. What if children are pressured into working more shifts than they want for fear of losing their jobs?

Now I apologise if I am misrepresenting my friend and perhaps I am overstating her view, but I worry that this sort of protectiveness is part of the problem with the youth of today.
(It has to be said however that her kids are absolutely delightful with an excellent work ethic and plenty of initiative to boot, so perhaps her stance has been a good one and we should be looking after our kids' interests in the workplace.)

Neverthless, it is my belief that there are some very worthwhile lessons to be learned by being the dung at the bottom of the dungheap that is employment.

Gratitude is one. When you finally work your way up the heap and can cheeerfully tell your exploitative boss to stick his job...there's a great sense of satisfaction in that. The wonderful feeling when you find an alternate job and your stingy employer reaches into his pocket to 'up' your wages and keep you on.......that is a great moment. There's the knowledge that you can do it and you can prevail in adverse conditions. That whatever is thrown at you, you have survival techniques. That although the world does not owe you a living, the fact that you have worked through some pretty ordinary crud and come out the other end with skills, experience and a reference means that you can probably safely claim a living!

Currently I see a generation of kids for whom the thought of failure is more than they can bear. The idea that they might be treated a mite unfairly is intolerable. They would rather sit in a pit of a bedroom all day with an X Box than attempt to venture into the harsh world where, horror of horrors, they may fail at something. This is what our schooling has prepared them for.

Co-incidentally, Chris from Oxford mentioned something like this in a round about way in a comment on my post regarding the BAs sporting achievements. He refers to the practice today of making sports days 'noncompetitive' so the children do not experience failure or loss. The BA did express some concern to me on the morning of the Swimming Carnival, that she may not do as well as she did at the Athletics Carnival.

Me: Well, that's ok. Just do your best and have fun.
Her: Yes, but Mum......I LIKE winning!
Me:....well..................................get over it!!!!!!!

Himself is a great believer in competitive sports days too. "Children need to learn how to lose as well as win!" he exclaims. Rich coming from him who is one of the worst losers I've ever met!!!!

To sum up; I suspect we do not do our children any favours by constantly shielding them from loss or disappointment. We do not teach them about the real world, about supply and demand, about work skills which can be bought and sold for a price, according to their value. One of my greatest learning experiences was working in a sewing factory in the UK at the age of 19. Not only did I gain sewing skills but I learned to value the University Education which I had put 'on hold' and which had the potential to 'get me out' of that place. I learned that to keep a job I needed to be up on time and work with vigour. I learned that I could not simply say what I thought or what I liked to all and sundry because that had the potential to get me sacked! What valuable lessons in life.

And at the end of it, I had worked and saved long enough to quit and do my backpacking around Europe trip. At the end of it I would return to Australia and resume my studies with a fresh appreciation of the privilege it was to study and I would know that I could 'hold down a job' and use it to achieve my goals. (ie travel) And all these valuable lessons for the princely sum of 69 pounds per week in 1979.

Don't get me wrong. If I thought my 14 year old child was being abused emotionally, physically or sexually in the work place I would be wading in with all guns blazing but a bit of minor economic exploitation? I don't think it hurt anyone in the short term.

Feel free to weigh in here and disagree to your heart's content!! Just leave a comment.

Now, as to hideous Year 9. You know what it's like to walk around Toys R Us with a 4 year old saying "I want I want I want...?' You know what it's like to try and converse with the check out chick while Miss 6 at your heels is asking over and over
"But WHY can't I have a packet of chewing gum? But that's not FAIR. But you PROMISED"??

Well multiply that by 24 and factor in the additional height and attitude and you have my Year 9 History class.

"But WHY can't I go to the toilet? But I NEED to go to the toilet. I'm gonna pee my pants if you don't let me go to the toilet!!!!"

I am feeling better now 7 hours after having released them onto an unsuspecting public with their bladders intact. I think the champagne helped.

NaBloPoMo #22:The Slightly Disturbing Disney Outfit

Christmas aged 5 and a half. The Cinderella dress (purportedly) sent from Australia in the Christmas parcel by BA's lovely Dad . Boa of unknown origins but I do remember she got two that year, pink and white, and I found feathers all over the house for MONTHS!!!

This photo is highly representative of most of The Baby Angels' play for the next few years. She was BIG into dressing up!!! And while previously she had been happy to be Virgil from Thunderbirds or Robin Hood...by 5 and a half it was all about pretty dresses. Nothing to do with me...I made her the Robin Hood outfit!!!!!

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Post Script: Sports Results

Inter School Athletics Friday 16th:
First 100m
First 200m
First Hurdles
First Relay
Fifth discus (she didn't know why they put her in discus anyway!)

School Swimming Carnival yesterday:
First freestyle
First backstroke
First relay
Second with U15 Relay team (she was subbed in cos they were short...she is only 12 mind
you and she won her leg!!!)
and there was something else to do with breaststroke and a dog paddle race but I can't quite remember.

Not bad eh?????

NaBloPoMo #21: Starting School

This was taken by the Head Teacher of Baby Angel's first school in the UK. She walked around and took every child's photo for inclusion on their annual school report. I think it is one of the best pictures ever. It is also one of the only things about her early schooling of which I actually approved.

I'm not sure if she was quite 5 when this was taken. They start school in this part of England at the ridiculously early age of 4. And I mean, if you turn 4 on August 30th, you can start school in the first week of September. Oh well, alright, they may take you in the second intake, in the 3rd week, but that's it. AND after 2 weeks of either mornings or afternoons, you're IN full time.

In your class of course, there may be children who turned 4 the previous December. They're almost 5 and you're only just 4. Now I'm sure I don't have to tell you what a HUGE difference in maturity THAT age gap is, especially if you're a boy!

Of course, you don't HAVE to start them in school that year. You could hold them back a year, after all schooling is not compulsory at 4. But when they start the following year, they go straight into Year 1 with their cohort. That means no Reception class, skip a whole grade, because the funding for Reception comes from a different funding body and you are only funded by them for the year that you are 4. Have you ever heard anything MORE ridiculous in your life?

So let me see, my precious young boy (shall we say for example), has only just turned 4. He can't sit still for 5 minutes and his main occupation is roaring around being a Jedi knight or a train and hitting anything he comes in contact with, with a sword. He hates anything like craft or drawing and is still struggling somewhat with the concept of sharing his favourite toys. Occasionally in the afternoon he still likes a nap. He snacks throughout the day. Birthday parties are stressful for him, especially his own, and usually bring on a melt down as he cannot control the large numbers of children in his house. On the other hand he is loving, affectionate, bright and has excellent language skills. But he is only 4.

Do I start him in Reception with his friends with whom he has played from birth? Even though he will be entering the hard old environment of S-K-O-O-L with it's Phonics and writing programs, 'sit on the mat and listen' time and enforced play (and eating) breaks? At least there is 'free time' in the afternoon where he can choose his activity....unless it involves running around being a Jedi Knight or a train because that would be too dangerous for the classroom. Or do I keep him at pre-school for another year and then at five pop him straight from that wonderfully understanding, individualised and specialist environment into Grade1 where they sit in chairs ALL DAY and there is NO play corner and the only other activity you can do when you have finished WORK is read a book?????????????????????

Do not start me on the Southampton LEA (Local Education Authority) and Portswood Primary School (circa 1999) in particular. Although the above experience did not apply to the Baby Angel as she was that little bit older (4 years and 4 months), was a girl which helps with the whole 'sit on the mat' thing, and was inclined to a bit of drawing and painting anyway (unlike our friend's son), many parents were faced with this kind of choice. Of course, you start them at 4, there's really NO choice, but what a terrible way for their school experience to begin.

The Baby Angel fared pretty well through her first year, although our friend's son did not. He was a lovely little boy, he was just not ready for school and he was on a Special Education plan for behaviour >:-( by the end of Reception. He was also not physically ready for the skill of writing and, being bright, was painfully aware that other children were way ahead of him.
"I am the only one in the class," he sobbed,"Who can't do an S and it's in my NAME!!!!" Fortunately he picked up reading really quickly so his self esteem was not completely shredded. No, that happened to our OTHER friend's son!

Baby Angel on the other hand had another journey. Her first year was ok. In Year 1 however I would ask whether she had done any painting (for example) at school today.
"Oh, Mum," she exclaimed (aged 5), "We don't do painting...we're in Year 1! We do WORK."
Now this may sound amusing until you realise that she was not under any 5 year old impression that cut and paste and making junk model animals for the class zoo was 'work'. No, she meant WORK. In your book or on your worksheet, with a pencil, and get a tick or cross at the end. Oh and what can I do when I've finished? Puzzles? Plasticene? Construction materials? Drawing or craft? Ah yes, read a book. (But I've read them all!!!!)

Being a part time worker at the time, and because she was keen for me to 'help', I volunteered for the classroom one afternoon a week. Woah. What an eyeopener. Baby Angel's teacher was the most delightful, conscientious, caring first year out teacher you can imagine. Her supervisor, the Head of the Infant School (Junior School...ages 4-7) was on the fast track to professional success and hand in glove with the LEA's (and as a direct flow down, the Government's) new drive for Standards in Education. She ran the show.

To put it in context: education in the UK had undergone a radical change. OFSTED, the dreaded Office for Standards in Education and The National Curriculum had replaced the 'touchy, feely', 'warm, fuzzy' school based curriculum of the 70s and 80s. Lessons were to be 'objectives driven' and every child, no matter what age, was to know the purpose of the lesson they were undertaking. This led to stories of OFSTED Inspectors asking Nursery School children what the 'objective' of their digging in the sandpit was!!!!!!!!!!!! (True story..at my Mum's pre-school...child looked at the aging gentleman as if he was an idiot and replied " I'm DIGGING.")

The Literacy and Numeracy hour were imposed. Fifteen, fifteen, twenty, ten, went the chant. Fifteen minutes of whole class text based activity, fifteen minutes of whole class word or sentence based teaching, twenty minutes of independent group work and a ten minute plenary (mustn't forget the plenary.....woe betide you if you forgot the plenary). OFSTED descended on schools for a full week every three years and everyone was put through the wringer from Boss to lowliest Dinner Lady. At the end the school was given a rating and the 'findings' were published in the local press for all to see. Schools were ranked on their OFSTED results and the yearly statistics from their SATS tests (Standardised Assessment Tests??? I can't even remember what it stood for) which were given to every child of a certain age between the hours of x and y on a certain day every year all over the country.

SATS were another nightmare. For 6 weeks before the SATS tests, all curriculum halted while we underwent revision and BOOSTER groups!!! These were designed to get those kids who were not quite up to scratch, over the line for their target level at their age. Talk in the playground, amongst Mums was not of the lovely story Johnny had written but of his predicted SATS level. ("Baby Angel is predicted to get a Level 2C in maths which is just fine although most of her class should get 3A.") In Year 2 my daughter was trained in how to undertake standardised tests. It makes me sick to think of it.

As a teacher, I was dragged into the whirling torrent myself. I celebrated when my half my Special Ed group scored age appropriate results for their SATS. I bought SATS based practice books for my mathematically challenged daughter. I wept with stress and anxiety to my Head Teacher when OFSTED were about to arrive on our doorstep and I glowed with pride when being one of the top 2% of teachers in the country who achieved a Level 1 for their observed lessons. (If I taught at that pace with that much preparation for every lesson...I'd be dead in a year).

My greatest sorrow is that my daughter missed out on her Infant Education. There was no daily art or craft activity (Art...one lesson per week....objective? making tints...children paint in a series of little square boxes adding a bit more white to the basic colour each time.......I kid you not...I was THERE for THAT lesson in Year 1), there was no literature based themes, no conversion of the classroom to a jungle or the barnyard from 'Charlotte's Web'. No classroom pets, no growing sprouts from the top of an egg shell, no dress ups, no cellophane stained glass windows and every week for 40 minutes the children were let out to play on the wooden "Pirate Ship" which was off limits during normal Recess and Lunch for Health and Safety reasons.

I miss many things about the UK. I miss my family. I miss my wonderful friends. I miss the TV and radio! I miss the history all around you at every turn. I do NOT miss the education system for young children. Maybe it has changed? Has it eased up at all? Has the pendulum swung back to a more moderate position? Do let me know any UK readers.

Just to offset this I must add that there was an accountability to the system which was admirable and is often sadly lacking here in Aus. In particular the UK were miles ahead in the priority and expertise they applied to Special Ed. Many of the curriculum materials released to support the Literacy and Numeracy Hours are excellent and I still use them here in Aus. But the day I am told by a Head of Infants that, "If you want sand trays in Year 1 you'll have to go to a Steiner school," I throw up my hands in despair for the loss of our children's childhood and its replacement by government statistics.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

NaBloPoMo #20: Fabulous Four

My Mum and I both love, love , love this age! Mum was a very successful Pre-School (Nursery, Kindergarten...depends on your continent) Director before her retirement and so she is a bit biased as this is the age she dealt with in particular. In fact, the BA even went to her nursery, a fact for which I am truly grateful, especially given the formal nature of the 'real' school she commenced later in the year (more about that tomorrow).

I have actually started a post about other issues but it requires time and thought to put opinions together so it will have to wait. Due to the vagaries of Blogger it will load in date order however so I will put a short post linking to it later. I don't know why I don't start these things on Word.

Meanwhile, the weather widget seems relatively accurate at the moment. It is muggy and warm as I sit here wasting time I should be spending getting my nutritious, low fat lunch together and putting my face on for school.

Let's hope the Year 8s are in better form than the revolting Year 9s yesterday. I have them for 3 double lessons, but at least they are all different subjects!

Monday, 19 November 2007

NaBloPoMo: #19 Easter Tulips

Here's The Baby Angel at nearly three years old. She is a complete treasure. Trawling through the albums full of pictures for scanning, I am stunned by how poor many of the shots are. I don't think I realised at the time. They just helped me to crystallise memories which are clear as a bell in my head; it's only when you try to select for scanning purposes that you notice the fact that she is a tiny dot in the middle of a print or that her face is covered in shadow or washed out by a flash or fuzzy because you were on a train when you took the photo!!!! They help me to remember, but they make damn poor scanning fodder. This is one of the few up close shots so it has actually scanned well.

Now I have lots of other things to post about but I'm just sneaking this in now (during lunchtime) before I get ready to tackle the Year 9 double lesson of History I have timetabled after lunch. Having already had them for 3 lessons before recess I am emotionally drained and may not be capable of posting ANYTHING by 3pm!!!!! As one of them said to me

"Five lessons of history in one day is too much for anybody Mrs A."

This afternoon we're tackling Ned Kelly, the iconic Australian anti-hero. Wish me luck.

Sunday, 18 November 2007

NaBloPoMo #18: Christmas Bubble Girl

Two years and 7 months. Still wearing the wrap around denim dress (I believe in getting wear out of clothes :-D) and about to blow bubbles all over Grandma's cat. This was such a fun age. Mind you I also recall it was when she hit the 'terrible twos'...about 6 months late. At that point I suddenly understood the myth of the 'changeling', the baby that the fairies had taken and replaced with a wicked imp of their own. Who was this monster of a child? Where once you could direct or redirect with a gentle voice and a new distraction, now I was carrying her bodily out of people's houses under my arm! This was the age at which she made the famous remark "She's gone! Good! The fat bottomed old cow." (over heard by a friend and referring to me as I went to pack the car having argued with her about leaving the friend's house). At least her language skills were good.

Gotta go for now. I am being accepted into the Church of Christ as an official member today. So I can run the Kidzone officially :-D

Saturday, 17 November 2007

NaBloPoMo #17: Of Many Schemas

More scanner news. I have moved the settings up to 1200dpi and reduced the scan area. Does it look any better?????

Here she is at 2 years 4 months surprised whilst 'reading'. I love the way they surround themselves with everything they're going to 'need' so they don't have to get up too much! Here we have a blanket (hand embroidered by my Aunt....thank you D), a dolly (dress made by Grandma), some paper with drawing/writing on it (under the dolly), assorted books and easy access to the phone!

There is something grey and cordlike hanging over the arm of the chair which I cannot identify but she was always carting around bits of rope and sundry DIY supplies for no apparent reason. Her favourite activity was putting things in 'bags'. Her foot obviously, as evidenced by the last photo, her head occasionally, assorted blocks, rocks, toy screwdrivers and play money along with a selection of soft toys on most days. We called it her 'transporting schema'.

Or it could have been part of her 'enclosure schema' which involved wrapping her self in things...in this case a curtain ("Where is she????")....before springing out to giggle and shriek hysterically ("There she is!!!"). I have had to crop this photo for the sake of decency which is kind of a shame because you don't get to see the red wellington boots which were her only item of clothing at this point. That was another of her 'schemas'; the 'disrobing schema'. I toyed with the idea of posting a gallery of shots where she is carrying her clothes rather than wearing them. In a number of contexts! The zoo, the park, the front garden, the back garden (not quite so bad).......does anyone else have trouble keeping clothes on their child???????

Nowadays she is pretty good at staying dressed. LET'S HOPE IT STAYS THAT WAY. hahahahahahahahahahaha

I have decided to make my NBPM title congruent with the date so I don't confuse myself (easily done). I am also watching my counter with glee as the days tick down to Mum and Dad's arrival!!!! Now all I have to do is get all this marking done, exams and reports written and my house cleaned and then it will be Christmas.

How's YOUR NaBloPoMo going???

Friday, 16 November 2007

The Garden Afterwards

If you've had a chance (or the interest) to watch the old video I uploaded last night, you will know I mentioned the work we did on that old garden. Well, here are a few snaps from Nov 05, approx 3 years later. The place that the BA ran to in order to show us her swing set was at the bottom of the garden, to the right of the blue seat. As you can see the grass is well established now and there are a couple of big flower beds encircling the upper terrace and a set of stairs leading down through the middle to the lower terrace. Unfortunately, we never had the time or the resources to finish the lower terrace but its always nice to leave something for the other people to do!!!!
In this picture you can see my washing line again (sigh, always full) and the last bed I did before I left. Those are hibiscus in there. I was hoping to create a hibiscus hedge against the wall at the back of the house.

In our current house we still have a long way to go but it is nice to see that you made an impression somewhere!!

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Testing Testing.....

Christina over at Momology was having trouble uploading videos so I just thought I'd try the new blogger upload facility to see how it works. This is a very old video taken in the first house we lived at when we came back to Australia. (circa 2003). The Baby Angel is 7 and a half and we had just got a new kitten. The camera was brand new too! A whole 3.2 megapixels. I felt so 'with it'. AND it took video!!!!!! Gotta love that.

Now it's taking a LooooooooonG time to load so I might as well have a small chat while I'm here. Now that I am focusing on the BA's memory walk I haven't posted much about what's happening in the rest of life lately.
So. School. Whew. Challenging as ever. The Year 11s FINALLY handed up some work. I am teaching a compulsory subject entitled 'Australian Studies' which is actually quite interesting and can be fun but the kids don't engage because they are 'made' to do it. I love my little group of 9. There are some real characters in there. None of them like work too much, well, written work at least, but they all have interesting opinions and wonderfully developing minds and we have had some great discussions. I just wish they could organise their arguments on paper. They have been getting right into the story of white settlement in Australia and the dreadful atrocities committed upon the Aboriginal people. They are amazed when they hear how the population of indigenous people may have been as high as 750,000 when white man arrived in 1788 but by federation in 1901, only 40,000 full blood Aboriginals survived. Massacres were commonplace and the law did not protect the indigenous people from indiscriminate slaughter by white settlers although it was quick to bring them to trial if they retaliated.

The kids here have such entrenched, stereotypical racist views of the Aboriginal people. According to them they get 'too much money' from the Govt and spend it on alcohol and drugs and ought to go out and get a job!!! Watching a few films about life as an Aboriginal person in white Australia has caused many of them to rethink their stereotypes. Finding a job is not that easy when no one wants to employ you because of your cultural heritage.

Anyway, it was encouraging to get some assignments off them yesterday.

Year 9 continue to be boisterous and to contain some of my most worrying pupils. We are doing Australian history there too and covering some similar ground to the Y11s. They are amazed by the injustices perpetrated by the Govt of the time. Aboriginal people could be tried in a court of law but could not give evidence if they where accusing someone else because as non Christians they could not be 'sworn in' on the Bible!!!!!!!!!!!!

WOW. The video has finally loaded. It was 34MB and the limit is 100MB but that upload time (and we have ADSL 2!!!!) was about 10 minutes.

OK better stop rambling. Baby Angel and I had a swim in the pool this evening. It was gorgeous...except for all that water...nasty wet stuff, gets in my eyes.............BUT...very refreshing after our 34C day.

This heat is due to last until at least Tuesday.
OK, now to check and see if the video works.........

Well, I've checked and it does! The garden is a sight to behold. When we moved in (about a month or so before the film was taken) the garden had been neglected for some time. The 'soil' was this awful 'hydrophobic' sand which repelled water!!!! Dad and I worked very hard to get grass to grow and spread 'wetta soil' everywhere to improve, sorry, initiate the water retaining capacity of the the sandy dust. It was hard work. But I must say when we sold it in 2005/6, we had worked miracles in the garden. There were very few sandy patches left and the terrace that you can see, newly dug out, in the video, was well established with gardens and steps. There was still a long way to go but....you know. These kind of jobs are rarely if ever, finished!! :-D

NaBloPoMo#13: Two Year Old.

I just ain't feelin any love from this scanner. I now have it set at 600dpi but my lovely clear analog print has come out like a cubist masterpiece. Grrrr

Here is the Baby Angel at two. Now, I may be biased but I think she is 'bonny' as they say in the north of England.

Do not ask me why she has her foot in her handbag. It is a teddybear head handbag given to her by her great aunt and was a great fave. As a shoe.

She is also wearing her first ever nightie, a present from Grandma on her birthday.

I can't wait for us to get to 4. That's when the digital images kick in!!!!!!!

Hmm. I seem to have got out of kilter with my posts. Today is the 15th but I am up to #13 only. Perhaps my late BSM threw me out!!!!????

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Best Shot Monday: It'sThat Time Again

On Saturday our Annual Pageant came to the streets of Adelaide. It was 34C, hotter probably where we were standing; given that we caught the later train and only got to the city centre a half hour before starting time! The only spots left were, of course, in full sun.

I bravely took four kids. The Baby Angel and her two best buds and the Small Boy for whom it was only his second pageant ever as Himself of course, like many fathers, does not DO Pageants.

It was a wonderful time though. The kids loved it. They were sensible and co-operative and were so swept up in the magic that for the most part they barely noticed the heat. I really felt for this guy though. You can't see in the photo but he was sweatin' it up some!!!

Taking photos in ful sun like that is quite difficult and I am painfully aware of how flat the photos look as I survey my results. Photo on photo of yet another float, marching band or dancing girl. I wonder why I bother really as we rarely sit and look at pictures of past pageants (and yes, I have taken pictures at all of them since we returned) but it is so spectacular that I can't bear not to.Here's some dancing girls who weren't quite getting their legs as high as they did at the start of the route!!!

So what did you do for the weekend? Is Christmas coming where you are?

Got to go. Should be leaving for fitness now. Only two more sessions :-(

little bsm button

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

NaBloPoMo #12: By Request

Firstly, thank you from the Baby Angel and I for all your kind comments. We are thoroughly enjoying choosing these photos and sharing them with you. But today's is by special request of my Mum.

Now this is one of those staged studio portraits which you put on your Christmas card and a series which I thought came out quite well despite the cheesy background. The key is the dress.
At 18 months old it was only just fitting the BA at the time this photo was taken but the shot below shows it's significance. In another lifetime I wore that dress, at the tender age of one, as we embarked by boat, for Australia. My Aunt had bought me the dress in the Blyth markets if I am not mistaken (feel free to correct me here either of you if you are reading). And here I am in all my glory, wearing it.
It's made of organza and has borne up very well over the years I think. Very Christmassy in red and white. There is another sensational photo of the BA wearing it, but I chose this one because she was smiling and, having just got her to do it, I didn't want to revert to a pensive shot!!

I'm hoping the dress will still be around when BA has her babies.

Monday, 12 November 2007

NaBloPoMo #11: Winter Warmers

November 1996, 18months old. Grandma bought us this new coat; I think I still have it in my box of 'treasured and special clothes which I can't bear to give away'.

We're about a third of the way through NBPM and I'm only up to 18 months. Oh dear!!!

Also, I've had a special request from my Mum, who, even with the help of my detailed instructions in the sidebar, would rather give me her comments over an international phone call than leave them here on the site!! So, the next one I post will be at the same age but with special significance.

Speaking of my Mum (and Dad of course) they will be here in 19 days!!!!!!!! Less than 3 weeks!!!
I'll have to get one of those countdown thingy widgets. Does anyone know where I can get one?

Sunday, 11 November 2007

NaBloPoMo#10: Ferry to the Isle Of Wight

September 1996. The Bestie was over in the UK for a visit and we decided bravely to take the Baby Angel over to the Isle of Wight for a day out. Taking the car was expensive and the weather was lovely so we felt that a foot passage, with stroller was the answer.

We packed all essential baby items; drinks, snacks, nappies, wet wipes, changes of clothes....you know the drill....and headed for the quay where we paid the extra money to catch the hydrofoil over, thus limiting the boring travel time which so vexes one and a half year olds. There was only one problem, after sitting for what seemed to be an inordinately long time on the vessel, waiting for it to depart, I thought to ask a steward whether the hydrofoil was running late. He looked at me strangely and it hit me like the proverbial thunderbolt, we were on the wrong boat. The hydrofoil had departed on its 20 minutes run over to the island some 15 minutes before. We were on the slow car ferry which took an hour in the crossing. :-(

Thus began a day so full of minor disasters and frustrations that it has entered the annals of our shared history as 'That Bloody Trip to Isle of Wight'. For one thing we completely misjudged the size of said island. We had thought we would catch a bus over to the other side where there was a lovely beach and spectacular views of 'The Needles'. Unfortunately I had not checked said bus timetables and our destination was eventually determined by the end point of the very next bus leaving as our tiny charge tired of sitting in her stroller and tried furiously to use the main road and bus stop as a playground. This bus, which had seemed a life savers as we got on, turned out to take the most convoluted route across the island EVER and we were trapped in its confines for the best part of yet another hour!!!!

During this trip. The Baby Angel, ever the mover and shaker, decided that she would run up and down the bus. Being a responsible parent I prevented her from doing this for reasons of her safety and the comfort of other passengers. As a result she treated us to a 4000 decibel protest for the remainder of the trip. I tried every distraction trick known to man or mother at least, but that girl knew she was being restrained. She was not impressed.

During this time, the Bestie and I had had no morning tea and lunch was knocking on our gastronomic doors. Whereas we had packed plenty of baby snacks, there was nothing in the bag for us! It was already after mid day. Determined not to be the one to 'spoil each other's day' we gritted our teeth and made harassed attempts at humour. Eventually we lapsed into a grim silence.

We arrived in Ventnor, on the south side, around 2pm. I kid you not. Baby Angel was in need of a nappy change and a proper meal which required some heating by the restaurant or cafe which we expected to find on our arrival. They were mostly shut. Had I mentioned it was September? the tourist season is well over by then and everything on the Island was gearing down. We eventually found haven in a pub/hotel on the esplanade where we immediately breasted the bar and ordered stiff drinks. Everything seemed manageable after that.

The hotel heated our baby food, I changed the BA on the floor of the ladies room (no baby facilities here!!) on a chage mat which I later sterilised, there were few guests so the BA ran happily around the tables and chairs of the empty dining room whilst the Bestie and I relaxed visibly over a bottle of chardonnay and views of the Atlantic.

We managed to spend an hour on the beach after lunch and then we had to brave the return journey. However, fed and watered and spoiling for a nap, the BA was a much more acquiescent passenger and even graced me with her first 'phrase' as we passed by the Blackgang Chine Amusement Park on seeing the waterwheel for the sawmill, "Look Mummy, round and round."
By the time we reached the Quay to catch the hydrofoil (we went to the right dock this time) she was out for the count and the Bestie and I breathed a huge sigh of relief.

On the way back we added up what we had spent in bus tickets and hydrofoil etc and worked out that we had saved ourselves about two pounds fifty over the Car ferry option and saved little time as we had not caught the hydrofoil to begin with!!

But you can see from this smiling picture that the Baby Angel has made the leap from baby to toddler. Stay with us for more pictures from her 'journey'.

Saturday, 10 November 2007

NabloPoMo #9: Summer 1996

Colleen, you are a genius. I hadn't even thought to check the scanner settings. This one wasn't a great photo to start with but I love that hat so much! She would wear nothing but the hat and head down the slide into the pool. I also rescanned the one from yesterday. Is it any better?

Well, maybe not....but it can be made bigger!!!!

Friday, 9 November 2007

NaBloPoMo #8: The Gardener.

Oh I am so disappointed by the quality of these scans. This picture is to die for in real life! I don't know whether it's her little hat, her frilly T shirt, her soft frilly shorts with the huge nappy underneath? Is it her bare feet? Her wheel barrow or the look on her face as she is sprung trying to behead an agapanthas??? This was such a special summer. The previous year she had been brand new and the heat (even in the UK) did not treat us well what with breast feeding and night feeds. Houses in the UK have no air conditioning and are not designed to promote through breezes. In a hot summer they are stuffy and when you leave windows open, bugs come in. And spiders Brittany!! BIG spiders. Try realising at 4am as you finish a feed that there is a palm sized monster trooping across the bedroom floor! You stifle the overwhelming urge to scream (there are after all others asleep in the house....did I mention that I lived with Mum and dad for the first 18 months?) and tiptoe across the bed (can't put your feet on the floor cos it might get you) to put the baby in her basket, then search the room for an appropriate weapon. You spot an encyclopedia of jungle animals (my mother has kept every book we ever owned) and bravely snatch it off the shelf. Meanwhile the monster has disappeared under your desk. Ever so carefully you place your feet upon the floor and peer under the desk. It peers back at you, cunningly wedged in between the side of the desk and the carpet. In one swift move you thrust the encyclopedia under the desk whacking it repeatedly against the side of the upright section so that the sorry spider is mangled into a plethora of smears and stray limbs. You then leave it there to crisp up for a couple of days before asking someone else to vacuum it up.

Meanwhile, your sister, who is staying for the weekend, appears at the bedroom door. The thumping (and involuntary grunts of eeew eeew) have awoken her next door. Upon discovering what has happened, she goes next door and gets her husband to swap beds with her as she has been camping on a mattress on the floor!!!! :-D He's such a laid back chap. He never complains.

That was the first summer. The second summer was much better. The night feeds were over, she was mobile and entertaining; a real little character. She loved her paddling pool and sliding down the climbing frame slide into the water.

Maybe one more summer shot tomorrow before we head into Autumn 1996.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

NaBloPoMo: #7 Summer; About 14 months

Now I am going to go against my own 6 monthly intervals calculation and post a few from Summer and Autumn of 1996 because she was so gorgeous (I think). You can see that from my own youth and skin damage I had learned my lessons; I always had hats on her!!. Pity she won't wear them without nagging nowadays.

I loved these watermelon striped overalls too, made by the Bestie's Mum. You can see they had a gollywog face on the front complete with woolly hair which, given the sensitivity around race in the UK (remember the fuss over the Noddy books?) we had to replace with a badge as I recall. (sorry B's Mum) I took a few photos with lovingly made 'golly' first before we politically sanitized them :-)

(oooo I've just realised I flipped this photo in the scanning and haven't corrected it :-).....)

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Good Grief I'm Marcia!!!

You Are Marcia Brady

Confident yet kind. Popular yet down to earth. You're a total dream girl.
You've got the total package - no wonder everyone's a little jealous of you.

NaBloPoMo #6: One Year Old

Remember I said climbing was next? Well this picture demonstrates that but I have skipped past her first steps (at 9 months!) and gone straight to 'combinations of moves'!!!!!

This was taken on her first birthday; that's Grandma behind her with a balloon! Probably holding her hand too although she never really needed it held. That kid was doing gymnastics in the womb and she has rarely stopped since. Oh, I fib. Turn on the TV and she becomes transfixed to the spot!! To this very DAY :-D

This was one of my favourite dresses of hers. Denim. So practical. Wrap around. Again, so practical. Able to be worn over a variety of all in one, button under tops. Remarkably practical!!!
And very stylish I thought.

Notice she's still not smiling much. She didn't give em away easy, especially for the camera. You'll notice the point in her photos when she starts to smile....hasn't stopped since.

I wanted to say an official thank you to all my bloggy friends who are taking this journey with me. Most of the time I sigh in nostalgia as you post something about your babes. I wish I had had a) a digital camera and b) a blog in those days. There was so much to collect and record.
It is great to relive those baby/toddler/small person days as I watch your kids and read about their antics (probably not the right word but you know what I mean). It actually makes me forget how middle aged I am :-D So thank you all again. A big, heartfelt thank you.

It's funny to think that for such a long time I was sure I would have another baby. I thought I would meet Mr Right and that would be it. I was encouraged by the stories of friends or friends who had had late life babies (one was 47!!). "There's hope for me yet!" I thought. But when I met Himself he let me know early on that he was not 'totin' live ammunition' (sorry, couldn't think of a polite was of saying it) having already had 3 kids.

Initially I thought perhaps we could go through medical routes to conceive, I mean, it's not unknown for these things to be reversed. I was only 44. Only. Then one night, after we had decided to get married, we took the Baby Angel (aged 10) and Small Boy (aged 7) to the pub for a meal. A nice family friendly pub, with children's menus and a play area.....

Well, by the time we got home I looked at Himself and said "I'm too old for anymore kids." I was exhausted!!! If they weren't running around on a Coca Cola high (don't start me on kids and Coke......we don't do it anymore!!! It was an Himself thing) they were bickering over whose sundae was bigger or complaining about the quality of their chicken nuggets. They were bored, they were high, they were tired, they were bouncing off walls. I suddenly realised that people have kids young for a very, good reason!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

But at the time this photo was taken I was blissfully unaware of what life would throw at me. Of the twists and turns it would take and of the blessings that would rain down upon me in abundance.

Speaking of blissfully unaware, until this NaBloPoMo, I was blissfully unaware of the rubbish quality of my scanner!!!!!! The photo I scanned in was as clear as a bell and this image could have been shot through a piece of waxed paper!!!!!!

Onwards and upwards everyone. I'm looking forward to having a chance to go check out all your NBPM posts. (I am so sick of typing that acronym!!!!)

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

NaBloPoMo # 5: Christmas at 7 months

Here she is at 7 months, 'cruisin' the furniture. She was pulling herself up on anything at this stage and the next step was climbing things! I loved this little dressing gown Grandma bought. It had a hood with little 'bear' ears and was the cutest thing!! I think you can see the enormous woolly slippers she'd kicked off.

Monday, 5 November 2007

Best Shot Monday: Especially for You

"Look ........I've arranged these strawberries especially for you." (Mine are the ones on the left).

This weekend was eventful.

There was the footprint incident.

There was the broken X Box game incident.

There was the 'riding the bike without a helmet and failing to tell me where you were' incident.

There was the 'I want to go to Marion with my friends' incident.

There was the Graffiti on the Mailbox next door incident.

All of these meant I had my Flaming Sword in full swing.

I think I shall post on each one separately since I am currently meant to be feeding my child.

Click on the button to see what other Best Shots are around this Monday.

little bsm button

NaBloPoMo #4: Fourteen weeks...if looks could kill!

I LOVE this photo! OK who am I kidding? I have just rejected 50 other photos I also love :-D
This morning, as I was lying, snuggled up and trying to have 'just 5 more minutes' after the alarm went off, I started to try and calculate what monthly intervals I would need to leave in order to get Baby Angel up to her current age by the end of the month. Unfortunately, the calculation sent me back to sleep.

Later, in the shower I got a figure of 6 month intervals although I still haven't double checked it but then I thought...oh b*gg*r it! There are certain photos I just want to look back on and certain time periods which were so amazing and gone so quickly; I will just post 'em as they take me. So this one is 14 weeks.

She spent a lot of time looking at us like this. In my 'new mother neurosis' I imagined that she had been born without a sense of humour. She wouldn't smile, she just examined us!!! With a very dubious look on her face.

"Are you sure I'm meant to be here. With you? You're positive there was no mix up in the hospital?"

On another note, she is wearing a navy blue 'all in one' (I think the in the US you call them 'onesies'??) lovingly decorated with embroidered rosebuds....by moi. I spent the last few months of my pregnancy in the bosom of my family embroidering anything that was not tied down. I even knitted her a Peter Rabbit soft toy and had the pattern for Jemima Puddleduck but never got it done. I wanted to embroider a soft, cream , woolly blanket but couldn't find one so I bought blanketing material, edged it in ribbon myself and made her a blanket!

I made and embroidered bassinet covers, bassinet frills, car cot covers, bibs, socks, hats...you name it. And after she was born, I embroidered a cushion cover for my midwife. Such a flurry of creativity has seldom been seen in these disposable times. Of course it could never last. The last project I started was in 2003 and I am still chucking a few stitches in every holidays.

Here's Peter and the home made blanket.

The Humpty Dumpty bib with rosebud socks and gloves.

The car cot cover with bassinet cover lost in the corner there, accompanied by the all in one she's wearing in the photo and matching socks. The hollyhock hat she wore home from hospital.

I'm exhausted just looking at them all!!! :-D

Sunday, 4 November 2007

NaBloPoMo: #3 Three weeks old.

Here we are having a little chat.......as you do! I used to make little noises and she would respond in turn. It was quite freaky really. She stopped doing it after a while and just came out with random baby noises but for a few weeks there, when she was really little, it felt like there was a genuine conversation. She's still a good talker :-) Can't think where she gets it from!!

Saturday, 3 November 2007

Boys Were Here

On Water Birth

Since a number of you have commented on the fact that we had a water birth, I thought it was worth a mention.

I had never considered it to begin with. Before I was pregnant I was sure I would be a 'give me ALL the drugs' girl but when I moved to the UK I went to Active Birth classes and that changed my life.

The most inspiring little Scotswoman called Bette Duncan talked us through the benefits of letting gravity do the work. She gave us exercises and information, support and deep relaxation and she ran an extra class for those interested in water birth. Previously I had been very cynical about such Earth Mother/Hippie type nonsense. After all, they may come out of one nice warm environment into another but at SOME point someone was going to HAVE to take them out of the water!!!

Bette's class however, explained the other benefits; the use of warm water as a muscle relaxant and for pain relief; the fact that water encouraged skin to stretch and reduced tearing; greater mobility due to buoyancy. In addition to this, in about the third week of classes, a wonderful girl came back to show us the baby she had had just that week. She told the story of her water birth and of the positive experience it had been. I wanted to have an experience like that.

Fortunately, the Midwifery Lead Care Team (who had put me onto Active Birth in the first place) were also advocates of water birth and the local hospital had a water birth pool. We planned for a water birth. The idea is that you have to be a fair way along in your dilation before you can get into the pool, mainly because they have limited resources and need to keep the pool free, so I planned some other pain relief for the interim.

I used a TENS machine which attaches to your back and stimulates various nerves in your spine to block pain receptors. Some people use them for back pain. I don't know how effective it was really but as you pressed a button to 'up' the electrical impulses during a contraction, it at least gave you something to focus on! I also used gas when I was in the pool because you could just hang over the edge and puff on it during a contraction. Don't know if that was effective either, again, it just gave me a sense of doing something and I suppose it improved my breathing which is always good for pain. It turned out that the pipe was not properly attached to the tank for a lot of the time so I don't think I was even getting the gas. Apparently I had pulled so hard on it that it had come away :-D.

The best thing for me was the ability to move around with minimal effort. I just rolled/floated over if I wanted to change position. It was also great to have the midwife pouring jugfuls of hot water over my back to help relax me and ease the pain.

Overall I was in labour (induced..so pretty vigorous throughout) for about 8 and a half hours, four of which I spent in the pool. I can't imagine doing it any other way. I had wonderful midwives and I felt informed and in control for most of the time. Of course very little in this life goes completely smoothly and so I did have a rather extended second stage due to the fact that the Baby Angel was leading with her chin and got herself jammed at one point. I was trying to avoid interventions such as episiotomy and ventouse/forceps so I kept going for sometime (probably longer than was wise given the long term damage to my pelvic floor) and eventually one of the midwives rummaged around and flexed the BA's head so that she tucked it in and made her appearance on the next push.

So that was waterbirth. Its not for everybody but I thoroughly recommend it. I look back with pride on my achievement and what I was able to cope with. I think nowadays we get so much made 'easy' for us that we quail in the face of trial and throw up our hands at the least frustration. I wonder if depression was as prevalent in past times as it is today? There is something rewarding and fulfilling about surviving struggle and proving to yourself that you can do it. It reinforces your sense of 'self'. Who has time to be depressed when facing a challenge to survive?

And on that note I shall go and put my feet up on my gorgeous squashy couch, put on the kettle and sip instant coffee, maybe defrost a chicken in the microwave for dinner and think of skype-ing my Mum in England when the digital clock tells me the time difference is right.

NaBloPoMo: #2 Day One

One day old. One glove off and one glove on. So tiny. All I could do was look at her.