Saturday, December 30, 2006

De-cluttering da house!

I have days like this, when I feel the need for a huge splurge on decluttering. I feel we are drowning in books at the moment. I love books and so does R and it appears we have three children with exactly the same opinion. Books are the one thing that I don't mind buying outside of Christmas and birthdays and they are the one thing that I couldn't do without. However, this is verging on the ridiculous! Each of the children has a pretty packed shelf with middle son being the exception with a hugely "over" packed shelf; he has the books T has outgrown and the books I. isn't yet ready for as well as a bunch of his own.........not to mention we have three bookshelves of our own downstairs!!

So where in the heck to start.........duplicates were first - can you belive we have duplicates??? That is seriously poor! When I first met R. I laughed at him. He used to have all his books in alphabetical order..........where is the fun in that? (Yeah alright Paul if you read this, I know I used to have labels on mine too..........but I was 6 when I did that!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) My shelves were all higgeldy-piggeldy because the enjoyment of finding a book that I hadn't read for a bit and re-reading all the while actually looking for a totally different book was the appeal to me........sort of like being lost in a huge library (*shiver*) . So naturally (being the alpha female I am!!) I got rid of that anality for a start!! The downside of this appears to be we have found ourselves with duplicates.

Second came the "if it ain't been read in 18 months" rule with a large bend in it! After all, that would leave my shelves looking sad and forlorn, and the "why in the hell did I buy THAT?" rule.......for the "Training your Golden Retriever" book (he isn't a retriever for - hmm that is another!) and the "Fundamentals of Obstetrics and Gynaecology" books (well meaningly advised by the NCT or maybe ALACE - but IRL.........get real I am a doula not a doctor!)

Finally came the task of attacking the "Lonely Planet" collection that we have accumulated over the years. We have been to the majority of the places we have the books for (relief!) but there are a few on our shelves to where we will not be going before they bring out at least six further newer editions of the book and thus these are in fact, gathering dust!
Our poor house has breathed a sigh of relief today at the fact that the weight in books has lightened, there is space between some of the books (you know what that means don't you.......!!) and I have made a buck or two selling some of the better quality ones on a second hand site, all in all a day of frugality!

Which is a good thing as R. did my tax return today and what with the little I get a year, because in the US we are being taxed together, my tax is HALF of what I made this year and believe me and you, that was pretty minimal and not to forget the childcare on top. I really don't know why they (the government) want women with children to work? It really isn't cost effective. I know it isn't about the money and we are not badly off, I don't have to work and I am lucky enough to have the choice, but that is not the point. It is the fact that I am trying, I want to contribute to what R. brings in, I want to feel I am contributing to society but 40% tax on my earnings and then the childcare too means I take home less than 15%! For being covered in vomit and pooh and standing on my feet for 36 hours. I am sorry, I love what I do and I should do it from my heart, which, when I am there working with my clients I do........but it don't pay the bills! Okay, rant over. I apologise, there are so many families out there who struggle. This isn't about that, this is about independence and my alpha streak really.

Anyone want some books??????

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

'Tis Done!

Well to a lesser degree........she got finished, just and nearly. She has her cap on and I still need to properly attach all the hair, but at least she was in a playable condition. Problem was, I. had seen me with it stitching over the previous few days and when she opened it she immediately handed it to me; "mummy's dolly"! Oh well!

We took the boys into NYC for a treat on Christmas Eve, and they had a great time. It was very cold and windy at the top of the Empire State building, but a great day for views. We then walked to the Rockerfeller Centre. I have to say, I had a different impression in my head of this area. I thought it was going to be huge, not a small rink on a lower level. It somewhat reminded me of the surprise I had when I saw the Trevi Fountain in Rome. I had always envisaged it being bigger and grander rather than in a back street pretty much.

Today is Boxing Day or the Feast of St Stephen's in the UK and many parts of Europe, here in the US it is a normal day and people go back to work. R. is going into work today and then taking the rest of the week off. Mum and Dad leave us tomorrow. I can't believe their visit is over already and this time we aren't seeing them for nearly a year! We still have a very filled year ahead as we launch into 2007. I have several births lined up for the first two months, and by the time we are eventually dug out of the snow in the Spring we are taking a holiday to the Grand Canyon. We a good flow of visitors throughout the year so I am sure that 2007 will be just as crazy and manic as 2006 was.

I remember sitting in my kitchen in the UK back in January 2003 with my friend, Fred, and having an empty calendar, we used to "complain" about not liking the start of the year and it feeling such an anti climax after Christmas. These days I laugh about that and a part of me yearns for that too. To be able to hold onto these days a little longer would be fantastic.

I don't have any specific resolutions for the New Year. It is a nice feeling to feel a "fresh start" but to resolve to be more x or do more y is too static for my liking, not to mention that I would rather have the option to "change my mind" and that my resolutions come as I learn more, it is a journey!!!!

However, I do have desires for change in the world in 2007 and that change truly begins at home, by wishing for peace in the New Year I would like to see less self absorption by the world and more global thinking, less talk with money and more with feeling, more offering the hand of compassion and less fingers on the triggers, more thinking outside the box and what the results of actions may be even within our own families and communities, and less jumping in with both size 10 boots. I think it was Gandhi who said "be the change you wish to see in the world".

As the countdown to 2007 begins I wish to all of you, a very happy, peaceful and aware New Year. - new years text

new years text

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Armless wenches and hurling competitions

Coffee drunk - 1 cup of brown water -my parents are staying and they bought medium roast - sorry folks, I am a stand your spoon up in it get high on the fumes kinda gal!
Current mood - deranged and crazed but trying to stay sane until after I have taught my class tonight - then it's meltdown time!!
Exercise today - at least 3000 times up and down the stairs with a bucket, endless bending down to clear up toys, chasing dog around kitchen at least 45 times with the latest object of his desire that he isn't meant to have.
Noses wiped - 4726
Bottoms wiped - actually only one today (doing well!)
Laundry done - you have GOT to be kidding me!! My washer is having a nervous breakdown from overuse
Calories consumed - does the left overs of last night's dinner for breakfast count as today's or yesterdays calories?? but currently living off fresh air (those damn scales lie!)
Sleep log - somewhat lacking due to sharing my bed with a vomiting 6 year old. I'd say I had a good run from 10pm until 3am!!

We are sickness aplenty here this week. The end of the school term and the excitement of Christmas nearly always leads to someone being sick. When my sister was little it was always her. She pretty much couldn't make it past the 21st without being ill. She always did the same if we were going on holiday.......a few days before, we never needed to check the calendar, she would inform us of the day by being poorly the night before
Last week it was W, so today it is T's turn. Poor lamb he has a fever and acid stomach. It has taken me most of this morning to convince him to go back to bed (along with chasing after him with a bowl and gallons of water!). I hope he is better by Sunday as we are planning to go into the city to see the Rockerfeller centre and go up the Empire Stat building as a treat, we were intending to go tomorrow - but he is not fit.

I am desperately trying to finish I's Christmas present. As you can see by the picture, she is nearly there apart from arms and a wig!!
Her dress is in the making but I need to get a crotchet hook for her hair which means going out, which means taking a sick child, which I am not going to do, so I think it will be a close call as to whether or not she is under the tree for Christmas, or maybe she will just be naked!! I am pretty pleased with it considering I don't have a machine, so she has been lovingly stitched by hand and just look at those superb pear hips - a proper woman!
Don't worry about the flap on her bonce, a small lobotomy will sort that and you'll never see the scar as it will be under her hair!!
I will post a finished picture if I actually manage it!

And finally, J.K. Rowling has titled the last HP book hoorah!! I suggest you go no further if you don't want to know.......

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -

although according to the illiterate New York journalist who made the announcement on Yahoo this morning, it is actually the Deathly Hollows - if you check out J.K's own website, she has set up a game to help you get to a hangman which eventually reveals the name (hint click on the eraser!). This same mentioned journalist also reports that at one point in the game a Christmas "reef" illuminates - hmmm I suppose she is talking about phosphorescing phytoplankton on the Barrier Reef? (I know, it makes me sound so smart - I had to look it up, I couldn't remember what it was called- not so clever now eh?) rather than this. Still smart arsed-ness aside, I am excited that the book will be out next year, towards the end rather than the summer as originally rumoured - finally laying to rest (no pun intended I hope!) the bespectacled young wizard and his quest against "he who should not be named". Does he cark it? Hmmm she doesn't give that much away, but my odds are on no and that Snape is good but he does pop his greasy size 14 pixie boots, but not after he has revealed some smoosh requiring the reader to vomit into a bucket about how he was always there to protect Harry bleugh......(god there I go again!! I think two days confined to inside the house is messing with my head!) Ach well. Let me know what you think!!

Monday, December 18, 2006


Well it is that time again. The holiday season is upon us.
This year, as with every other, the world has gone mad! People are buying up the supermarkets as if it is the end of the world!! Why? I really don't understand the need. Of course, we will have our organic turkey and veg on Christmas day followed by a steamed Christmas pudding courtesy of my grandmother's mothers superb recipe, which has of course been stirred by each one of us for luck! But we won't eat anymore than we would normally for a Sunday lunch. Every year I cringe more and more when I see the commercial exercise in wealth display that Christmas has become.

I am eternally grateful to be spared of too much glitter and plastic with the wonderful diversity of the school and their approach to the holiday season. With a school full of children from all walks of life, their approach is that of Winterlight, the celebration of the solstice on the 21st and beautiful winter songs, some carols and the celebration of light, this way Kwaanza, Diwali, Christmas, Hannukah are all there. T. has already participated in his choral concert and was so excited and proud to be able to be a part of this and particularly to share it with his grandparents who flew in that very morning and remained awake just to hear him and hear him sing.
Don't take me for a Scrooge or a Bah Humbug, I am not, but with questions being asked of me such as "If Jesus was a Jew, then why do we call ourselves Christian and celebrate Christmas rather than Hannukah?" the more I question why indeed? The more I want to lean more to celebrating this time for just the time it is in the calendar rather than for religious reasons. That said, it is part of my upbringing and heritage that I wish to share with my children, the same goes for the spirit of the big hairy fella in red. I have some acquaintances who feel it quite unecessary to inflict upon children this guy in a red suit who buys presents for "good" boys and girls. For them there has been pain when they found out that this is in fact just a story, a myth, a fable...........a lie? and really there is no such person. Hmmmm..........I respectfully disagree, I remember feeling that Christmas was a magical time and even when I did find out (I don't remember how) that it was in fact dad sneaking around trying not to stub his toe on the door and swear, it didn't spoil the magic for me. I think that is what I hope for my children, when they are ready they will discover, and, just as I explained to mum last night when she asked me how I would approach the topic of hanging (T. is reading Oliver Twist), I would answer all the questions he needed as honestly, without elaborating but without hiding the reality. I will tell him it is a tradition that goes along with Christmas and that it originates from history, Saint Nicholas or Baboushka or whichever fable you believe to be the origins. Each year we put 10 small presents in their stockings, a clementine and a small piece of chocolate just as my parents did for me and my sister and their parents before them and this is not subjected to their "being good" or "being on the list", that is the one part I really don't agree with. I don't feel scarred from knowing that it was all fantasy and I still feel this is a magical time of year to celebrate winterlight with my family and friends.

I have tried to make more of my Christmas gifts this year, I. is getting a doll (fortunately my current client had her baby this weekend, so i have time to finally finish the doll, although she may not be clothed in time!!) and my mum is helping me finish a jumper for W.

Another big part of our Winterlight celebrations is to not only think about our own festivities, but also to think about this time of year for others less fortunate. This year, my children chose to give a kit for a teacher from Oxfam for each of their classes at school. We also find half a dozen toys each year, that are in good condition, that the children give to the Toys for Tots appeal and then we make a hamper up for the soldiers in Iraq. The children of a friend of mine here frame about half a dozen of their art pieces that they made throughout the school year and take them to one of the old people's residences in the town to brighten the walls - I think that is a wonderful idea, so easy and yet thoughtful and the residents will probably be cheered by some brightness and "kiddypics"! One of the teachers at the school always volunteers for the soup kitchen on Christmas day and another friend back in the UK has a homeless person over for Christmas dinner and another friend and his partner are working in Uganda for VSO and not opting for the easy option of returning home for the holidays (I think they are contemplating catching and plucking their own turkey eugh!!!) I am proud to know there are such thoughtful and open people who rise above the commercialism and share their peace and love at this time.

Now I must fly, my younger son is singing in his class concert today and insisted on wearing a shirt and tie just like his older brother had done........there is a tear in my eye!

Have a wonderful, peaceful and restful holiday season !

Monday, December 11, 2006

Water of Life

"Why can't water cure cancer?" was the question T asked on the way home from school today. As we drove into school this morning, many houses had lines of paper bags outside them. These bags held candles which were there to reflect on those who have cancer and it is also a fundraiser for cancer research. The journey to school caused many questions about cancer and who gets cancer and why.
I always find these times in parenting really hard and enlightening. It really stretches my skills and I find myself reflecting on them deeply later on.

Firstly, how far do you go to tell children about cancer? For my children they have yet to encounter anyone with cancer or even a similar life threatening disease (touch wood they won't have to for a while). I don't want to frighten them but equally I don't want to shield them.

I always try with these discussions to be led by them, to answer what they specifically want to know and give them time to process it. Normally (as it did tonight) they have a while to dwell on it, then they want to know more.
I want to be honest as much as I can, so when T. asked if he would get cancer, I said that I didn't know, I hoped not, but I don't know the answer to that. I explained that there are ways he can reduce his chances by living healthily, not smoking or doing bad things to his body, but even then, that is not finite.
He and W. wanted to know what it was, so I told him it was a disease that caused large lumps inside people's bodies that eventually ate away at the good things in their bodies and made them really sick so they couldn't live. So W. asked if Cancer was a monster, (I think the link was that he thinks monsters eat people!!??) - truthfully - yes, Cancer is monster, but the type of monster he means, such as the "Wild Things", then no.
T. then asked why on earth they give people drugs to make them better if the drugs make them sick in other ways - OMG - too smart!! After a full 20 minute interrogation on Cancer (and my knowledge being less than enough!) I was close to passing the buck here, but I think he got it.
"Why can't water cure cancer mum?" he asked - "wouldn't that be simple. You tell me that if I am sick I need to drink lots of water to feel better, why can't people with cancer just drink lots of water too?" I wish sweetheart.............

Another parenting thing that has been making me think recently is an ongoing discussion and circular e-mails I have been sent from well meaning friends about the use of praise and in particular (something the Americans love to use!") "Good Job!" when a child does a task well or completes something.

From what I gather, to use this, is demeaning to a child, it is "training talk" as you would train a dog, rather than talk to another human. The dog follows a command knowing that he receives praise and a cookie on succesful completion. Some real followers of someone called Alfie Kohn actually think that children don't require this kind of positive reinforcement in which ever way it is given "good job, well done, that's great" etc etc, that we should be treating children as adults, not encouraging them to seek this positive praise but rather to achieve things for themselves alone and this is unconditional parenting (I know there is far more to it than just that, but this is the bit that sticks in my mind!) This is just a glimpse of what it is about: Five Reasons article

I think my ball lies firmly within the side of giving positive reinforcement. To me, there are many times when my children do really help, they do work hard on an activity, play together without fighting, sort out arguments and reason with each other, listen etc etc and to me I see the glow of pride when I tell them exactly that.

Sure the praise isn't an "off the cuff" derogatory comment and I do avoid "good boy/girl" as that is not an acknowledgement of their task or achievement, rather it is personal - much like "bad or naughty boy/girl". I try to stay generally along the lines of "you must be really proud of that drawing, or I really appreciate how well you helped me" but to see their faces knowing that their parents have acknowledged their triumphs, their keeness to try and help etc is so important.

Maybe we shouldn't be a society with the need for reassurance in our abilities or tasks, but tell me who out there, as an ADULT, doesn't like to be told they have done something particularly well, a cake or meal was really tasty, or they look nice in a certain outfit. I know I do, and I would think, judging by my children's reactions, they do too. I suppose the crux of this is that if we, as parents, had been brought up this way, and the generations before us, then maybe there wouldn't be the need for seeking out affirmation for what we do...knock on effect. That said, I parent in the 21st century within which, I know for a fact, I often really craved some comment from my maternal grandfather particularly, that I was doing okay. To me, not receiving this, made me feel like there was something missing, that there wasn't unconditional love, there was definitely love, and in his own way, he showed it.......perhaps that is just it though........the feeling that I needed to "aim to please" is exactly what Kohn is all about?

But I see it that, longterm, if you don't give children positive praise and reinforcement when it is deserving, then perhaps we are pushing our children underground, they won't want to come to us with something they have done, either positive or negative, for fear of being shunned or rejected? How will this have an effect when they are 15/6? To me, it seems somewhat cold, conditional and detached. I think I need to read it fully to understand and maybe accept some of his reasoning.

To me, unconditional, attached parenting is all about being aware of my children's needs, for them to know that they are acknowledged and appreciated, even if something took them twice as long as anyone else or they really struggled, to tell them just how much we appreciated their trying will surely encourage their need to be proud of what they do. And besides all that..........I LIKE to tell my children when they have done well or tried hard........Selfish or not, for me, if I have seen the effort, then they deserve to feel that their works are not going unnoticed. Food for thought .......

Friday, December 08, 2006

"What you are aware of, you are in control of...what you are not aware of, is in control of you..."

Today is R's birthday, the ripe (I hope not!) old age of 38!!! Bloody Hell, that's nearly 40! It is wonderfully depressing and equally uplifting to be heading to this stage of our lives. I feel so calm about it all, which is great, as it is only age after all, but I think, the important thing is how I feel we have managed to do so much, see so much and yet still have so much more to do and see and (I hope!) the time to do it. It is weird how these musings come about. This one, was brought about by something that my yoga teacher mentioned yesterday about the moons and the tides and then something clients asked me about last night - "why are so many babies born at night?" - and then also when there is a full moon and turning of the tide?
My thoughts on the first are that it is all down to primitive animal instinct: Babies tend to be born at night because it is safer. Well, when we hadn't evolved it was safer, and probably for many other mammals in the world it is safer. Under the cover of night, a birthing mother can hide from predators and be less detectable.......only not with the blazing lights of the hospital and the leads from the epidural drip - anyone can find ya! However...........blah blah, long story shortened (a bit!), this then got me realising just what a tiny insignificant little imprint we are on the planet, how, despite the fact we think have some control over our lives, so much of what we do is already in place, organised and led by forces far outside our control. This is not to say that it has suddenly dawned on me, I have been aware of exactly who I am and where in the enormous picture I fit into things (I think!) but on an even bigger scale, with the classes I teach, encouraging women to take control and work with their bodies and their babies, much of what they will experience in labor is actually already in place for them from the second they conceived and neither they, their care providers or maybe even the baby, has a say in it.

Yesterday I heard of the Tornado in London - who would have thought it. A street in North London severely damaged and looking like a street in the mid west of the States more than Kensal Rise!! I was heartily glad to hear no one was hurt mind. But there you go, out of our control (well unless you want to start the discussion of global warming and how much we are actually creating this change in the weather systems). R. is very keen on getting permission to erect a wind turbine when we eventually move back to the UK. Obviously not in our house we have in the UK right now, but if we decide to renovate or find a suitable property, then we may try to move over totally to wind and solar power. He is also wanting to change to a Hybrid car. We can't do without the car here unfortunately as we are in the sticks, but at home, we may find we can reduce to one car.

To lighter things -

Tonight we are at Richard's work do - the theme is Casablanca - I am so stupidly excited ( I don't KNOW anyone there, but hell!!) it is a black tie affair and I have the opportunity to wear a "frock" yay! I think the last dress up frock I wore was my wedding dress!! Last year we missed the event due to a huge snow fall that night and my insecurities on leaving the children and then not being able to get back. Of course, Murphy is at work today, it is 12F, bitterly cold (yesterday it was so warm we picked up T from school in the afternnon without coats!!!!!!!!!!!) and it is desperately trying to snow right now. Bugger it, I had me hair done, so it'd better not snow- well either that or I had better get the sledge out of the shed, he can pull me!!!!!!!!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Savvy! Savvy?

My task of the day today is to come up to date with the 21st century !! For quite sometime now R. has been trying in vain to get me to lose my huge paper diary that is my life, containing all my addresses, dates, contacts blah blah and update to a Palm Pilot type of thing so that we can then syncronize our diaries, send e-mails portably etc. (as you can see, I am not up with this, so the lingo is probably far from correct lol!)

My shoulder alignment from lugging around my filofax, has finally been what has made me see sense! I now have an early Christmas present and naturally, all the hours in the day to figure out how to use it! I suppose it is as with everything, 15 years ago, I could never imagine not writing everything down using that little ink stick! today, I type just about everything, my life is now on the computer I suppose, so i guess it makes sense to make the move from pen to stylus!

Of course, there are still going to be the things I will miss about my big black book, the fact that it not only holds all the info I need, it also carries photos of the kids, post it notes, business cards, leaflets of useful things - okay, lots of junk too, and there is no where on my palm pilot to store that! But I guess I won't miss the need to visit a chiropractor to re-align my spine due to excessive weight being carried on my left shoulder!!!!!!!!!

The season of festivities has arrived here, well actually, it arrived the day after Thanksgiving. We are seeing more and more houses decorated already, Christmas trees already up, wreaths on doors and windows and half the shelves of Stew Leonards already empty! What is it that makes people feel the need to start so early? Bah Humbug I am not, I am as excited as the next person, but I have no desire to put up a 20ft inflatable snowman on my lawn just yet (well, actually at all.......but then that IS the bah humbug in me!!) nor fear not being able to find a 300lb turkeyphant to grace my table (after all, the woods are endowed with the buggers!!!) and reduce the smalls to gibbering wrecks because they can't cope with more than a week's worth of build up and excitment.

I am gracefully saved from the cries of "but why???" when asked why the tree isn't going up yet, by R. thoughtfully having his birthday next week, so we have always had the tradition that Christmas doesn't start until AFTER Daddy's birthday and thankfully with the lack of much tv viewing, I don't have to suffer too much "I want" just yet for the latest X-box (or Play boy - as I managed to reduce the school parent's lounge to tears with last week, getting myself muddled over Playstations and Game Boys - oops, see it is that lack of technology screwing me up here!) I know it will come eventually, I don't intend to keep them from it forever, but for now, at 6,4 and 2 they are happy with models, jigsaws and more traditional toys, there is plenty of time for them to become savvy with the latest technology!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

"Don't lose your one else wants it!"

Yesterday T came to me before school upset that he had a pile of work that he hadn't finished yet. His goals for the week seemed daunting to him and I think he felt overwhelmed and unsure where to start. We sat and talked for a while about things he might like to do, break it down into 2 pieces each day, bring some home etc. I explained that even now I have to make lists daily for the things I need to do and often I don't finish all the work I set out to achieve. Other things crop up or I get distracted. I think he felt more positive, he certainly seemed happier last night. It is so important to achieve even small things and yesterday I achieved a pose in yoga (Bakasana) for the first time. It was such an achievement. I have only been doing Vinyasa yoga for about a month now and each time I go, I know I have psychologically set myself goals even if I don't acknowledge them out loud. I know I want to push my body that little bit further, that evening, with that goal successfully under my belt, not only do I now feel inspired to practice it more and more, I managed to write 2000 words on my assignment!! Today my goals are far less challenging, but no less important. By setting small targets, it opens up the opportunities to achieve and feel good about oneself.

Recently I read about the power of laughter. Believe it or not, there are some people who run laughter workshops. Now I enjoy a laugh as much as the next man, but the thought of being made to forcibly laugh in a room full of people really puts the bejezus into me! However, I decided whilst driving the children to school yesterday to at the very least try to force myself to smile at nothing. So while I am grimacing (hopefully unobserved by passing motorists!!) this sign appears on the side of the road: "Don't lose your one else wants it!" Well, what fun! I not only smiled but laughed out loud, which in turn caused the children to laugh too.........laughter is infectious! I am not converted however, I will still not stand in a room of chortling hyenas laughing over the fact that there is nothing to laugh about, I AM going to smile today at absolutely nothing, and if I can't think of nothing, I will at least remember that by smiling it will difuse any situation that might drive me crazy with the children!!

Go on........give it a go!!!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

"If you like orange poop!"

Happy Thanksgiving!

What do I have to be thankful for? Well, amongst many, many other things, I am thankful for my family for being guinea pigs to my culinary compositions! and the honesty of my elder son at his chosen times.

Today, like many others, I have decided to "jazz" up the cabbage and the bok choi and have added a twist to the traditional pumpkin pie!
The former two went down well as we sat down to a Thanksgiving meal at the "posh" table. The kids have come to expect great things when we sit down to a meal at that table. We didn't have the traditional bird, instead I did Nigella's 24 hour pork, (requested once a year by my dh!!) which was somewhat cut short by the flipping oven having a 12 hour automatic cut out switch. Hence this morning when I awoke to the somewhat less than aromatic scent of pork, the oven was only luke warm. Not a prob with a smaller cut of hog though...

I am never one, however, to do things simply. To cook a simple, plain pumpkin pie is boring! So I decided to jazz it up, using real pumpkin from our October 31st efforts and then a cross 'tween a lemon meringue attempt, admired the finished product. Served hot with vanilla ice cream, the kids tucked in as I served up some for R. in the kitchen. Thinking he couldn't be heard, my greatest critic responds to his brother's question of "how is it?"

"It's okay...........if you like orange poop that is!"

Bugger! Better stick to the recipe next time!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The world according to children

"What is the sun?"

"I don't exactly know the science, perhaps we can look in that book you have about the sun?"

"Well I know what it is! It is a huge ball of fire."

"That's right!"

"It started off on earth as a planet, then some people put it into a cannon and shot it into the air and it became the sun."

"That is a great idea, we will have to check if it's true."

"No! Maybe it is God"

"Well, some people think he may have created it."

"No! I mean........maybe God is inside it!"

What can I say???

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Bloody balloons and "Sober Tooth Tigers"

I love the Bronx Zoo. I don't know why as I am not a fan of caged animals, but this zoo has to be seen to be believed. The drive in in itself is fascinating, you come from the parkway into the Bronx which consists of a lot of high rise flats and marshy areas. You can't really believe how a zoo this big will fit into this area, but it does. It is one of the better educational zoos for the children too, particularly along the lines of conservation of not only the animals but the world. The exhibits are hands on for the children, full of really scary and unerving facts such as every minute 150 acres of rainforest is destroyed!! and the animals are living in large enclosures with many enrichment activities to ensure they are not just "rotting" away. You feel you really are getting your dollar to the right place.

Anyway, we decided to go there today as a treat for I's birthday yesterday. We last went in March this year, so it was actually fun to go when it wasn't so busy and some of the animals were in their winter enclosures inside too and we felt that we really got to see the animals rather than someone's elbow or coiffure!

The boys like to follow the trails and feel like they are stepping into Asia or Africa in the various trails. On this particular visit however, we have noticed a large yellow wildlife warning sign with a picture of a tiger as we approach the tiger mountain; W. yells out at the top of his voice "watch out! Sober tooth tigers are here!!!" of course, we all fell about with the images "jusssh fillllsush up wiv anover!!!"

It has been a somewhat calmer day than yesterday when we were awakened at "stupid hour" by the eldest of our children who wanted the youngest awake opening her presents - not a good start! The day didn't really progress much better. We had to fetch the food from the cafe, then pick up some balloons which I had ordered; whilst in the shop picking up the balloons T decided he wanted a balloon and his granny had said he had to put it back. Minutes later however as I am loading into the car, the shop assistant comes out after us asking us if he would return the balloon - I had no idea he had picked it up again, however, he was making no effort to hide it either!! Whether or not he had meant to steal it or had just expected me to pay for it, either way, he had taken it and he knew he was wrong and I was not happy with him at all. We drove home in a less than somber mood as you can imagine to the dulcet tones of the food thudding down between the seat and the back ledge !!!!%^&**)_*)!!!!!!!! Fortunately nothing was spilled, however, the gorgeous presentation was a little scrambled and my mood was deteriorating further!! I explained to T that as a responsiblity for his actions, he would have to tell his daddy what he did.....which he accepted and did, in the interim I burst one of the frickin' balloons on getting them out of the car grrrr! Well you know me and loud noises.........bloody helium sounds like a shotgun!!

Anyway, the party went ahead without hitches (fortunately!) and R took me out to see Casino Royale later that evening putting me back in a relaxed frame of mind (if not a little racing after seeing Daniel Craig with his kit off yum!)

Finally, what is it about children and telling jokes? T, at 6, is starting to have an interest at the moment in jokes, he is keeping tabs on some fairly funny ones. His newest is: "how does a farmer count his cows?" - "With a cow-culator". Most of the time, he tries to make them up and they lack any form of sense, not to mention humour he also feels obliged to ask "do you get it?" and then proceed to explain the "connection"!!!. His younger brother at 4 is even worse, except for the odd occasion where he may not have gotten the hang of a joke per se, but he can certainly make us laugh. His follow on to T's cow-culator joke was "how does a farmer count his goats?" "with a goat-ulator" All together - "uhhhggghhhh"

Friday, November 17, 2006

Mothers, sisters, daughters and girlfriends

What is it with the female species that they have this desperate need, some of them, to stick the needle in and twist? My blog this evening is covering two separate situations, one that is directly affecting my life, the other not so at all, other than I know the "persecutor" and cannot believe she is so shallow.

I suppose the ramble begins with T. and his stage of development. He is having one or two insecurity issues since he started at Elementary this year. I have been working hard to try to hear him out and help him deal with this. It is unfortunately manifesting itself in some rather unwanted behaviours and, if you have any advice, I would gladly listen!!

Ever since he was small and started to interact with other children, he has always gravitated towards girls. He has never been a particuarly testosterone fueled child wanting to play soccer or even ride a bike. He has preferred more sedate activities, reading, lego, his drama club etc. I have had no concerns with this what so ever, other than the fact that I did feel that he may find it hard when he gets older as girls tend to move off on a tangent from boys (and vice versa). After all, boys are smelly and loud (LOL!!!). Girls seem to form more of a tight knit best friend (albeit changeable by the day!) relationship, whereas boys are less this way inclined (this is my general observations, not hard evidence!)

My fears have been somewhat recognised as he is discovering that girls are no longer wanting to "play" with him or hang out with him as much as they used to, yet at the same time, he doesn't always fit in with the sporty bunch, although he seems to have a group of aquaintances who slap him on the back or say "hey" in the corridor (ugg me man!), so I don't feel he is in "isolated geek-dom". The issues of course that he now faces are:

2.lack of understanding of their emotions and in turn having the ability to deal with them, having a totally different brain make up
3.not really knowing where he fits in,

to add to that he has always been the eldest in the class what with the move two years ago too and now suddenly he is the youngest. I don't think in the long run this is going to do him any harm whatsoever, in fact, if he can start to understand this change, it will only serve him well. However, how to help him understand the feminine psyche is another thing altogether!!!!!!!!!

Aside from this, part deux of my situations about girls;

I sometimes log into some of the UK mothering web forums and have done for a few years now, more being nosey, but also as an old friend hangs out there and it has been nice in the past to drop in. However, I have recently been utterly surprised with the behaviour that is starting to become more and more apparent with her. Most recently she seems to have decided to take it upon herself to "out" another mother on the website who has maybe lied, maybe stretched the truth, maybe just feels she needs to convince herself that she is having another boy (her 4th!) when it has been common knowledge that she wants a girl. I don't really care much for the situation and don't feel I am in any position to comment on the pregnant mother's situation having not known her. That said, the "friend" has publically scathed her, called her a liar and is, to be honest, stalking her! I have no idea what is driving her right now other than to say that I am pretty glad she is no longer in my life. Not only that, she has stated that it is innappropriate to lie on public forums to the rest of the "community", having herself in the past, quite blatantly lied and USED that lie, that she is a trained breastfeeding counsellor, (which she isn't). I suppose I am doing no better by talking about it on here, other than to say that I think this blog is far more private than one of these forums and it is a beautiful demonstration of the complexities and oddities of the female mind!

My current reading is taking me to "The Minds of Boys" by Michael Gurian. I would highly highly recommed this to any parent of sons or teachers. It is a great book, both reassuring on the one hand and informative on the other. For me, it has started to connect together some of the thoughts I had had in my mind and some of the observations I have made with the boys. It is making me appraise the ways I speak to, spend time with, play with, discipline or even set up the evironment, for my boys. If you need an idea for a Christmas present for someone with all I need to do, is convince R to read it too!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Does it hurt?

OMG!! Why do people ask such stupid questions? Yes, whilst you poke my gums with a metal stick and cause them to bleed it IS going to hurt and I AM going to flinch or react to it! and no I don't think it is because they are particularly sensitive I just think it is because you are POKING THEM CONTINUALLY WITH A SHARP METAL STICK!!!!!!!!!

This morning in Yoga I managed a handstand - I don't think I have done one of those since 1984!

I was put in somewhat of a predicament however, stand like a lemon to one side and watch all the beautifully strong and toned devotees do their handstands, or, when the class assistant (may I add an extremely handsome, mysterious and sexy looking man!!) offers to hold my legs and put his fist between my thighs (apparently it encourages you to pull in your thighs and strengthen and straighten the pose - yuhuh!?) do I agree? I am running the risk of kicking him in the face (or somewhere else even less agreeable), collapsing in an ungainly 100 and something lb heap on the floor at his feet, or worse can fill that in! However, I feel that sense ran away from me and I agreed! Fortunately, I think the spirits that be were looking out for my dignity and, luckily for him, not wearing the same short skirt and pink knickers I was probably wearing in 1984, (thank fuck for that!)I manage to draw myself into Adho Mukha Vrksasana, continuing my Pranayama (and prayers at this point in time believe me!)for a whole 40 second pose!! Wohoo!!!

Oh and while you ask - yes it hurt!!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Fitting in

Coffee drunk : 1 large
Mood: Nonchalant
Yoga sessions this week: three!
State of home: disorderly demise!

God, if this was all there was to bother me, wouldn't life be simple!! It is Friday people, it is crazy day here at the Beehive. Friday workshop always leaves me feeling that I need more hours in the day, that I have more to say, not enough time for questions!
We have been at school since 7.30am this morning, selling tickets for a concert which the school are hosting as a fundraiser. I never know where I stand in these fundraisers. I like to help, but then feel a hypocrite cos I am not going myself to the event. I realise the school has to raise money and it is important, that said, these tickets are phenomenal and I really would rather put some of the amount of a ticket towards a truly needy cause! Then i shot home for the workshop, then back up to school cos it is a half day today and back for lunch and then we are due at the Doc's in a bit.
T. has a funny lump on the back of his knee. TBH it looks like his bone is at a funny angle. He says it's been like that since birth and doesn't hurt, but I don't know why I haven't noticed it before. Of course, all the horrid things go through my head, but I am sure it is fine so i will just get it checked to be safe.

I was rung last night by a doula friend who is trying to find a last minute doula for a lady. She was due yesterday (VBAC) and has just decided that she might need the assistance of a doula to help achieve the VBAC if at all possible. Apparently she is not getting the support she had originally hoped for from her care givers. I had to pretty much turn her down due to my own comittments, but left her my cell number just in case she went into labor tonight or tomorrow and hadn't found anyone. I hate to think that someone wouldnt have a doula at all if they needed or wanted one, but equally, my head was wondering why she decided so late on and was she really just wanting a doula so she felt she had someone on her side? It is such a fine line to tread as a doula. Part of my role IS that of supporter and advocate, BUT I am not there to take sides and in a situation like this, where a doula is hired last minute, how hard has this been thought through? Where does it become that we are the "scapegoat" for the unwanted c-section by the client, or the "meddlesome doula" who interferes in what is supposedly best for the mother and baby by the care givers? In an ideal world it is much better to meet clients well in advance and build up a relationship, just like a midwife would do. Anyway......I will let you know if I end up being called!
However, despite the hospital not being so supportive of her VBAC, they are going to induce her on Friday if she hasn't gone into labor naturally? Someone correct me, but my training always taught me that a contraindication of pitocin was a previous caesarean?

R. arrived back after a week in Greece at 2am this morning! Then his folks arrive later today and I haven't even made the beds up yet - can you tell I am bothered!! The yoga is working!!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Recipes and Reading

Today's task is to put my new recipes up for you:

There is a real mix here, granola, mushroom loaf and blonde macaroons.
As usual, my method of quantity is somewhat random and tends to be guided by continual quality control!! So please feel free to put your own measurements in along the way and be guided only be taste!!

Mushroom loaf:

You need: 1 onion, 2 cloves of garlic, parsley, about 12 - 14 mushrooms (I used plain old organic button mushrooms, but I think it would be spiced up somewhat with a mix of wild mushrooms!), cumin, broccoli (or your preferred green veg choice), a favourite spice (I used worcestershire, but you could use anything) salt and pepper, two eggs and pine nuts about a handful!

Chop the onion and garlic into fine pieces and lightly fry until golden
Meanwhile chop the mushrooms, broccoli and put into a bowl,
Beat the egg and add that, stir it all well
Add the now fried onions and garlic
Add the cumin and seasoning, then add the handful of pine nuts.

Press it well down into a greased loaf tin and bake at about 375F for about 20 - 25 mins.


You need:
1/3 cup Flax seed, 1/3 cup sunflower seeds, 1/3 cup shredded coconut, 3 cups oats, 1/3 cup wheatgerm (or wheat bran), bran (if you have the wheat germ and bran separately), abour 1/2 cup of walnuts, almonds, pecans or brazils or a combination.

Dried fruit of your choice, honey, veg. oil, vanilla extract,

Put the first set of ingredients into a shallow tray or dish and gently roast in the oven set to 375F for about 30 mins, turn them frequently otherwise they will burn in places.

Meanwhile mix up the honey (1 cup) with the oil (1 cup) and the vanilla extract (1tsp) into another bowl and mix them up. When the nutty mixture comes out of the oven, pour this over it and mix. Then replace back into the oven again, this time for about 20 minutes, make sure you watch it though so that the honey doesn't burn.

When you bring it out, add as much or little dried fruit as you wish. When it is cool store it in an airtight container in a cupboard. It makes about 6 small portions and will keep for about a week.


Blonde macaroons:

this is a vegan recipe and is classified as raw as you only very gently heat them through ensuring nothing higher than 118 degs.

I used:
2 cups of shredded coconut
1/2 cup of ground almonds
1 cup of soy or coconut butter
1 cup of maple syrup.
1/2 tsp of salt.

This really is a trial and error recipe. The first time I made these, although the final product was fine, they didn't stick as well as I would like, therefore, it might be better to add a little more butter or maple syrup, but you must just experiment. I also think that next time I may put them into the fridge before the step that is to follow......

Simply, mix it all together in a bowl and press them into small balls. Put them onto a tray and pop in the lowest oven setting you possibly can get. You are looking for a very very light golden brown to them.

They taste yummy however and the children loved them as a snack. I didn't feel remotely guilty about putting them in T's lunchbox either as the sugar content was low and also raw.

Try them and let me know what you think!!

My current reading list is bizarre at the moment, it consists of a psychology book, a fiction book and a children's book!!
I am currently reading (or trying to!)

Childhood and Society by Erik Erikson
Living to tell the Tale by Gabriel Marquez (living in the time of cholera guy!!)
The Midwife's Apprentice by Karen Cushman ( this is the children's book!)

oh and I have as my spare continually "on the go" book - The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

I have just finished The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards.

Last Thursday I went to a talk at the school about the Elementary programme and one of the questions that arose from a parent was how exactly does a Montessori programme differ beneficially to a mainstream education. I just wanted to share this wonderful analogy and my own thoughts to that:
Imagine a dot to dot puzzle, you are given the numbers and the sequence, but not the connections, that is mainstream education. In Montessori, you have the connections and it is up to the child to make the dots: a young child in Montessori may not know the word square root yet, however, the child will know HOW to do a square root, WHY to do a square root and WHAT NEED there is to do square roots within the greater context of their everyday lives. In short Montessori is a holistic approach to education, the direction of applied learning skills rather than just lists of facts. I think this, for me, sums it up and I feel eternally grateful that we have been allowed this opportunity to submerge both the children and ourselves in this more organic way of learning and thinking. I only wish it were easier for everyone to do this and that Montessori principles were observed and studied during all teacher training courses. Of course the grand scheme of things is far more in depth than that and thinking is very broad and outside the box that for me, has been normal up to now, (ex-state/public primary school teacher!) but if you are ever considering thinking about Montessori even for a short time in your child's pre-school years, go and listen to some of the directors talk about the philosophy, I assure you, your eyes will be opened.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

A calm drone resumes.......

in the beehive. Vent and anger have henceforth been banished to the doghouse (well he doesn't use it,) and aformentioned FIL's will find himself there smoted should my ying and yang be discombobulated during the visitation!

Anyway, to minor things and back in the mode of this blog - rambling!
Today my inner peace has been restored, I have managed to find a great organic veggie cafe to make some party food for Izzy's birthday. I have decided to do away with prancing ponies and fearsome clowns that will probably just reduce them all to tears and instead invest in some class A food rather than the usual contraband that they try to pass off in the supermarket as birthday fodder! I haven't got the time to make much myself this year due to himself being away for some time, and the innies arriving, not to mention my usual week of craziness before hand, so I have passed the buck.......and what a great buck too! I have managed to get a wonderful selection all with change in the bank too! yay! So now, all I need to do is the cake. But as this is always the same, much scoffed cake, year after year, I have no worries about this. All this will be washed down with a yummy berry smoothie, which I. pinched from me this morning and drank the lot !!

However, I think I may also try a new recipe which I will add on to the blog later once I have tried out the proportions this afternoon.

My application to join a children's literature writing course has been accepted, however, my feelings are not sure about this. Not for actually DOING the course, but more for how subjective and selective the process actually was, or is this one of these usual vying for business processes rather than judging on merit. They claim to do the latter, but I thnk before I part with any tuition fees, I will need to research them a little more thoroughly. They claim that you will have a manuscript fit to send to a publisher by the end of the this space!

We experienced true Trick or Treatin' American style for the first time on Tuesday evening. OMG! We went with some friends dressed up (or rather NOT Marla!!) in our costumes. Every house was decorated to the nines, it was like Christmas, only halloween style, all houses were opened to the merriment with one house putting on a film on the side of their house and another had set up a full blown pizzeria/buffet in his seriously had to be seen to be believed. The candy stash was enough to feed several small countries!!! W. bless his heart, was carrying around a UNICEF box trying to collect pennies too. It was sweet to see his little Mr Incredible figure standing as the lone child in a doorway after all the candy seekers had gone, asking for a few pennies for the poor children!! T. on the otherhand asked if the poor could wait until tomorrow, until after he had collected his candy......hmmmm??? I suppose at least one out of three ain't bad so far!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006


The world is a strange and unsuspecting place!

Yesterday I was called by an enquirer who, by short, must be deaf, have a weird fantasy about being yelled at in labor or is utterly utterly understanding and forgiving. I am going to opt for the latter right now, it eases my concience somewhat! After trying for the fourth time that day to return her call from two days prior and only succeeding in getting as far as the darned "bleep" before being hunted down and smoked out by "les", I had finally found a quiet space, daddy was home, so there would be no chance of any interuptions........WHO AM I KIDDING!??? I was hiding in the loo and was leaving a message when all of a sudden all hell breaks loose between I and W. They managed to get past daddy, who by all accounts is not remotely connected to the world and get into my haven screaming like banshees about who was doing what, how, when etc etc.

I am mid message, so press the "end" button, deciding it would be easier to sort this out, then call her back. I have had them all week while himself has been overseas on business, I finally think I have a moment where he can watch them and answer these problems while I call back this i snap! I yell! There is fire, spit, eternal damnation and screeching about how they are going to lose me a client, how I can never find any space to take calls, how my job is never seen as important and my office always seems to become the playroom (or the blinkin' lav!..........I breathe, MrBeehive finally intervenes, calm is somewhat restored........until I look down at the phone which is happily sitting there clocking up the minutes still connected!!

I think the next few hours are beyond scripting. I rang back with a brief apology for goodness knows what she heard of that.....

However.........(see the above!) maybe someone felt sorry finally that I don't have an office any better equipped than the John, in fact that IS it's focal point.

So I spent an agonising weekend, envisaging her knowing multitudes of others, telling them of my incredible outburst, horrendous parenting skills and god knows what else.......after this, I thought nothing else would match......until the outlaws decided to start raking up the leaves as well.

They say that once you get older, you stop trying to please people as much, you say it like it is, you wear purple (actually, I wear it now, so my outlook is probably lower than average!), watching and hearing my neighbour lighting fires in the middle of her lawn on a daily basis, screaming in German at 5am in the morning in the middle of the drive, mowing the lawn at 9pm at night when it is pitch black continually reassures me of this assumption. My FIL managed to surpass all possible understanding of human geneality on Sunday. I am not going to enter into it, suffice to say that his assumptions and lack of tact were outstanding. I am still awaiting an apology before he enters my home in two weeks time......perhaps I will have the telephone demon on standby!!!!

Right, now I need to go back to my previous two posts to start undoing the damage created by this weekend!

Or maybe just a strong Hazelnut mocha will work this morning!

Monday, October 30, 2006

The Paradox of Modern Life

The Paradox of Life Today

"The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints.
We spend more, but have less; we buy more, but enjoy less.
We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time.
We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.
We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom. We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values.
We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.
We've learned how to make a living, but not a life.
We've added years to life not life to years.
We've been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor.
We conquered outer space but not inner space.
We've done larger things, but not better things.
We've cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul.
We've conquered the atom, but not our prejudice.
We write more, but learn less.
We plan more, but accomplish less.
We've learned to rush, but not to wait.
We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less.
These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships.
These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes.
These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill.
It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom.
A time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete.
Remember; spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever.
Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side.
Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn't cost a cent.
Remember, to say, "I love you" to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it.
A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you.
Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person will not be there again.
Give time to love, give time to speak, and give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.
Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away. "
author unknown

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Taking a step back

Okay, my eyes are in my PJ's this morning as the clocks have gone back, but try telling THAT to smalls! Their body clocks woke them up at the usual time with all cries for "bix" and "breakfakst!!" (no, not a typo!)

So darling dh has loaded me with caffeine and taken the little beaks to feed so I can try to download my thoughts.

Over the last ten days at school, we have had visitors from Tibet. Two Tenzins have been here creating a beautiful Sand Mandala , singing Tibetan songs and teaching Tibetan culture and thinkings. The encasement of their visit has been about Life being impermeable, life being too fast paced and materialistic and about how we are actually all impermeable. We are in control of how we choose to live life, BUT we must make that choice to actually LIVE it rather than just getting sucked along in it all (well that is the simplistic version!) We are probably all guilty of the latter and it is trying to take time to sit back and enjoy life that is the harder thing to do.

We have school conferences coming up in a couple of weeks time so prior to this I have observed all of my children over this week and last and it has drawn me to the conclusion that my children are very, very different characters and beings, from each other and from me. It has enlightened me to their behaviour within a classroom environment and helped me assess whether the child I see at home is similar or different to the one I view from behind the one-way mirror. It has also allowed me time to reflect on my own feelings of "letting go".

One of the hardest balances as a parent is to know exactly when to take a back seat and just BE the observer allowing for your child to make mistakes or sort out their battles without any intervention from us.

I am accutely aware that for some of my very close friends in the UK, this is the SAT year for our children and my heart is going out to the agonies that they are now starting to face with regards to the changes in their children's schooling this year.

It is hard in the harsh competitiveness of today's society to keep sight of the fact that at six, our children have hardly had time to play and enjoy the world when we are throwing them into school and for many tests and exams already! Pressure is mounting where the authorities and the "powers that be" are expecting children to react and perform in a manner that is probably way above their childish years.

We are suddenly viewing them with new eyes - if s/he doesn't do well in math or language or literature s/he will be labelled for life, s/he will not succeed, s/he will FAIL! But then surely that is just my point: if we give the child this label of "Failure", how can we expect them to perform otherwise. This works on the same premise as telling someone to "not think about the pink elephant!" What are you now thinking of? Kids aren't stupid, they know the red/blue/yellow table is the table for the performing at the "right" level/not performing at the "right" level table. They are sensitive to differences in themselves and their peers both physically and within their mental capacities at school. It is the story of the child called "It"
Conversation in the street becomes centred around how well x is doing at school, where he/she is in the class (by the window??), what their score was in whichever test for the next 10 years at least!
I appreciate, being an ex-teacher, that we, as teachers, need to have an understanding of where children are needing more help or are excelling and gearing work appropriately, it is important for teachers to liase with parents, but the problem I fear is that these baby exams are actually taking over their crucial developmental years, teaching children what the tests NEED them to know, rather than applied learning techniques and skills.
All of a sudden there is no more regard for how well children integrate with one another, how their social skills are developing, whether or not they know that if you take water and pour it on the ground and then jump up and down you can draw out the worms, playing marbles (they're even BANNED in some UK schools!) finding pleasure in rolling in leaves, because under all this, is the 1 hour of homework each night after a 6 or 7 hour school day.

But the pressure is not just on the child, but also on the parents too. No one wants their child to be a failure, no one wants to feel that they could have helped more or done things differently, no one wants their child to grow up resentful that their parents didn't step in to help out. The point is though, to find a balance, to allow our children to find their strengths AND weaknesses, to maybe assist to the point that we are not letting them fall behind and struggle, but accept that perhaps they are better in some fields than others. Allowing a child to realise that they are not always the best at everything and neither do they have to be, is actually setting a child up for less failure later on in my opinion, equally we are showing our support and pride in what they do achieve and saying "it's okay as long as you do your best" - I am open to hear your thoughts!

I think that what I am saying to you is this: take time to observe, take time to inhale. Before you know it your children will be grown, they will most likely be successful in their chosen fields, your duty as a parent is to allow them time to grow and nurture that growth and occasionally, that might be watching rather than intervening.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Cocktail mania

It has been a manic couple of weeks. We have gone from having 7 people in the house to only 4! However, I don't know where the time goes. My days seem to be continually full despite me thinking at the start of the week I will get time to write etc etc blah blah!
This week started badly
Firstly I went to a class at the YMCA on Sunday morning called NIA, and acronym for something about neuromuscular something or other. I liked the write up: a cross between jazz, yoga and pilates - right up my alley missus! However, what they forgot to add is that I would be the youngest there, dancing to bloody Barbara freakin' Streisand. I don't know whether to laugh or cry. I actually enjoyed it which is the worrying thing and I can fit this into my schedule..... I think time out on this until next week, I'll let you know if I return. Pilates itself is proving a real PITA at the moment as it starts at 11 and ends at 12 and I have pick up at 12 so am finding it a real bind. I am going to attempt Bikram Yoga on Thursday as an alternative.

Monday morning .......I got my first rejection pah! It's not as if I ever thought this first set of attempts would end in a publishing contract, but still, you always have that small glimmer of hope in the back of your mind that someone might like your book as much as you do! I am going on a workshop in NYC in November, maybe the pointers I get there will help. I have no idea really why I want to publish a book so much, other than I really want to achieve something concrete.

I then spent most of Monday sewing puppets for Beowulf or at least trying to help the children sew their own.....which ended up in the former!

I have had an influx of clients as well over the last few weeks with classes and have been teaching twice a week and this weekend I have a half day class and then a comfort measure workshop.

I have also been observing in the classroom this week as we have conferences in November. I always love this part. You stand behind a one way window so they can't see you and you can then watch them and how they are in the classroom. It was I's turn this morning. It was so much fun to be a fly on the wall. She was doing a matching activity at one point, abstract pictures with the concrete object. She picked up a ruler and put it against the picture of the pencil. Then I watched her put her hands over her mouth, giggle, and put it against the ruler. It was like her own personal little joke, she knew it was not the right match and it completely cracked me up, along with her little classmate streaking butt naked through the classroom. Problem is, you have to remember not too laugh out loud as they can hear you!! Apparently she later went on to iron necklaces. I explained that as she never sees me iron (my darling DH does it!!) she has no idea how to iron things!

Last weekend R and T went to watch car racing over at Lime Rock. They had a great day out. It was meant to be a camping event the night previously, but unfortunately it started raining on Thursday afternoon and didn't stop until Friday morning and there was a wind warning issued. The blasted weather is determined to put a halt to this camping milarky at the moment! I sent R along with a set of ear plugs, knowing what a wimp I am with noises and presuming to have psychologically passed this idiosyncrasy on to him. Fortunately he is built of sterner stuff TG!

On Monday afternoon I took W and I dress shopping with me. We have a cocktail party (!!) on Friday night. It is the first event in the school calendar and they generally reduce everyone to mulch with both whaaay too much alcohol on offer and then a slide show of the children at work in these first weeks of school. I decided that this year, as I know the dress code! I was going to splash out. W. was amazing. He is going to be the best husband or partner when he gets older.
"I like that mummy, that's definately you" or "That's you in that mummy but I don't like it!" - okay, so he took the job of "tell me if you think it's me" a little too literally!! I. was too engrossed in her raisins to comment. But job well done I hope!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

I'll show you mine, if you show me yours!

I am sitting here, chuckling to myself. What a mad and crazy day! The boys are currently in our jacuzzi tub pretending that they are "accidently" pressing the on button!
The day started calmly enough, I lunched - yay, that word IS in my vocabulary occasionally! with some friends today minus our sprogs. The intention was to find time to talk without having to race around after our 23 month olds! We met at a Venezuelan beach cafe! Yet another great little find. After totally whetting my appetite with a freshly juiced carrot and pineapple, I then went on to have black bean pancakes, with eggs, corn, goat cheese and avocado. Another fab gem to add to my list of good little back street cafes!!

On returning home the kids were out on their bikes, I obviously was totally overwhelmed by this "me time" and took Izzy to buy some Halloween decorations. Much to R's complete surprise and totally out of character for me - I have harped on for years about this being a weird celebration for kids and how I took umbridge at celebrating spooks and zombies.......I returned with a polystyrene zombie and huge cobweb that is now adorning our front entrance under the oak tree! Seriously.....I think I am having a lapse in old age!! I. decided to call him Superman and took great delight in sitting next to him on the way home in the car yelling intermittently "me love Superman!" So now "Superman" is haunting the neighbours, hopefully eerily lit up by our solar powered lights too and I have my frontal lobotomy booked!

I's birthday is another dawning for me. As you may know, the Americans go big time for birthday parties, hiring entertainers, musicians, real life fairies, singing ponies, pop bands, half of Tenessee and the cast of Pirates of the Carribean. We, being mere mortals, and me having already done my "off the cuff" thing with "Superman" out front, are not really into this for a 2year old! But, the alternative is a house full of small demanding I's all throwing food and intermittent tantrums......hmmm the choice. TBH I think she would be happy with an obliging guitar man(.....Dan my man, where are you???) playing some songs for her to dance too. Problem is, because it is "the in thing" to provide the world each birthday, prices are ridiculous and way more than my pride, sense or pocket will pay. Not only that, the food they provide is pants - not nutritious and I won't be able to eat half of it anyway due to the lactose..........So, I think I will invite a bunch of her pals, put on some of Dan and laurie and get my dancing kit on!

Finally to round off the day, when we are getting ready for bath and W manages to evoke conversation about why his penis gets stiff as he was kindly demonstrating.........Thus this leads into T decided tonight was the night to tell me all about when his penis gets stiff and and the pair of them playing a "my willy gets harder than yours" card! Okay - I think I have finally had enough for the night! This has to be daddy's jurisdiction surely???

Saturday, October 14, 2006


Mr Dan Zanes and Friends !!!
Just take me right back to the track - Jack!

So, we have been dancing and singing and eating hog roast today!! What a great event. We went upstate to Sleepy Hollow - yup same place from the story! to a Harvest Fest at which our pal Dan was a'playin'.
I think the boys enjoyed it, it was a gorgeous day, but bitterly cold, so they weren't saying much. I. on the other hand, had a great vantage point from my shoulders which were used as a rhythmic trampoline!! He even signed our CD - yay! Not that the kids will care a squat about that. However, T was very concerned about the fate of the poor pigs......until he tasted them. "It is really sad that the pigs have to die mummy, but they do taste nice don't they?" - I don't think this one will be a vegetarian if he can get over the concept of animals being slain for food quite so easily at 6!!
We have just gotten back from climbing too. T. was there with the scouts. It was his first attempt at anything like it and I have to say, although he didn't make it to the top, he has seriously lost his sense of fear fortunately and was definately game! He did however, find it really hard to take that he didn't make it to the top when most of the group did. I tried to explain that he has other strengths. He will never be that athletic I don't suppose, but he is keen and that is what makes good team spirit. Hopefully he will one day appreciate this, or maybe one day he will prove me totally wrong? who knows, but for now, explaining to a 6 year old that all people are different and have skills in different areas is not an easy lesson to teach.

We seen two sets of visitors go off to other parts of the US this week, one set to Boston and Cape Cod where they are hoping to go whale watching and the others to Chicago where I overheard there has been some two inches of snow.....yes, that's right, snow!! This was after i had said that it would probably be cold and windy maybe - and it was about 60 here whilst they were staying - talk about a shock to the system!

A huge thanks to those of you that have given money to the Bwindi fund btw. We have currently raised over and above the target and if R's company double it then that will be fantastic. P and V have said they would use the rest of the money to train another midwife as well as the three trainees for the HIV prevention programme and they will then have money to buy the much needed Nevirapine. Once these people are trained, then Bwindi can become an HIV testing centre, so hopefully reducing mother to child transmission from 30 - 10%. This is such a great thing as Uganda is ravished with HIV. If these innocent children can be given a chance, hopefully education put in place and maybe a reduction in the number of infected people, not to mention infant mortality. Apparently 30 - 40% of children die before their 5th birthday in Uganda - isn't that a frightening thought? The great thing about these funds that you have kindly donated is that you know exactly where they are going and by training these people, after P & V leave Bwindi, the effects of this training will still be ongoing.
Thank you

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Our efforts

This is our winking Jack

And an attempt at something slightly more ferocious!!!
We are now up to our armpits with pumpkin flesh. I have roasted the seeds, turned half the flesh into soup for the next six years and the rest will become pumpkin pie eventually!! Apparantly the Native Americans used to dry the skin and weave it into mats, but I have offered the old Jack o'Lanterns to my sister to use as a portable potty for the car, which she refused, so I think I will just have to let them go at this point. But this is truly a veg of little waste!

Confessions and Jack O' Lanterns

Confession 1:

I am 34 and yesterday i went on my first ever Hay Ride!! We have visitors and decided to treat them to the delights of activities in New England in the fall and a few free bruises to boot. So we piled onto a tractor full of hay and went to "pick" -that is the use of the word pick in the sense of just select, not actually pick off the plant! their pumpkins from a field full of them. Rules of selection were: Pick whichever one you want, as long as you can carry it!! Huh! Some adults are such a pushover. We now have three pumpkins that are at least twice the size of a head and weigh probably 4 times as much!! Today's task is to carve them. There is going to be a LOT of pumpkin pie, so forthcoming visitors, be warned!

Last night we went into the city to the India Arie concert. It was a great concert by her, however, her support act left a LOT to be desired. I cannot abide artists that are confused and don't emit a strong sense of who they are and what they believe. This poor bloke didn't know if he was Ricky Martin, New Order, Gloria Gaynor or a Thanksgiving Turkey! We were treated to half an hour (so that's half an hour too long!) of falsetto, groin thrusting, "woo!" and knee skidding whilst R and I couldn't contain ourselves laughing. Sadly he appeared to have a pretty strong fan base within the audience - and I even later spotted two young girls carrying around prized signed photos. Perhaps it is a sign of old age??!! India herself was fabulous. Such a performer! The sound wasn't great, probably just where we were, but these old theatres were never designed for modern day acoustics so she was occasionally lost by the reverberation of the band.

Confession 2:

My second first was a ride in a yellow NYC cab. I know, I know, tis sad, but I have never hailed or ridden a yellow cab. Okay, so that's it, there is nothing more to say, it was no more or less an experience that taking a cab anywhere else in the world, but I just thought I would confess to having done that!

Today I need to go and prepare my carving arm! We have three pumpkins and to, obviously complete our guests' experience, we are going to make these lanterns. That link tells you all about our bizarre choice to name these pumpkin carvings for children after a stingy thieving folklorist. Hence I won't type anymore for today (RSI and all that!!) It is amazing though these days how much things have changed from my childhood (all together = aaaahhhh!) but gone are the days of pleasure in simple faces dug lovingly out of sugar beet (Dad! I'm soooo sorry, pumpkins are a doddle in the face of solid beet!!) these days children are only content with the best

Friday, September 29, 2006

Fridays and Fermented tea

Fridays are always manic in our household.
I seem to be perpetually chasing my tail.

This morning I took the children to school then drove over to our nearest Wild Oats for some snacks for the workshop I was leading, I know, this would be far improved if my organisational skills were such that I wasn't zipping out for this stuff last minute! However, this is me! While in W.O I saw they had some Kombucha tea which I had been hearing people talk about, so popped a couple of bottles into my cart. Do you do that? Go in for one or two things, start off with a basket, then have to change to a trolley cos you get too much!! Well, that's me too! Anyway, digression (perhaps it's the fermentation that is adling my brain as I type!)this is meant to pick up alertness, help boost your energy levels, aid with digestion etc etc. The lowdown is here then I forgot about it.

The rest of my day follows that I finish the workshop at 11.50 with a pick up at school at 12 and probably an 11 minute herding these poor women out of the door, picking up karate kit and lunchboxes, I am now tearing back up to school to get W and I. I rush in out of breath to my poor daughter, the last one standing in the toddler playground and my son, who was about to be ferried back inside with the other Lost Boys, smiling and apologising to respective teachers.

We always eat lunch at school on a Friday so I don't have to do the darned drive back home an added time! Then W. goes for his Tae Kwon Do. Once this is over, I. and I have a disagreement about her being strapped in the car seat, which, despite the fact I tell her this is non-negotiable (yeah right, a 2 year old will obviously know that word!) I do feel for her as she spends a lot of time in and out of the car. We go home for 50 minutes, enough time to diaper change, let the dog out for a run, answer a few calls and e-mails, read a couple of books, tidy up the mess leftover from this morning and then back up to school to get T. He finishes at 3.30.

We are then back in the car, but not before allowing them to run around the labryinth at school - which, they decide to do barefoot - okay so it is the middle of September, it rained last night and there are twigs everywhere, but they are MY kids, so whaddya expect? I call last orders, we all pile back in the tank, back home, ONLY......wait for it. You think the story has ended there??? Oh no. We pull in the drive to the cries of "where's my backpack?" F^YU*&^*&^*

So, through gritted teeth and threats of no snacks cos there won't be time before supper, I return the same blasted route back to school only to find his backpack sat by the grass where he left it, but no lunchbox. So, here I am, serious idiot's head on, combing the school after everyone else (except the teachers) have left for the day finding his school reader and lunchbook, smiling inanely at any teacher I meet and mumbling into my beard about "not having yet made it home!"

SO, to make a long story even longer, the Kombucha is now opened and tried and it is weird to say the least, however, there is a great feeling of "I couldn't carelessness" about the way I feel as I type, so either that is my inner self becoming more and more restored, or I picked up the bottle of Chardonnay instead who knows??? Or rather.................
Who cares?????????

Monday, September 25, 2006

Feminism - part II

So, having finished my recent books I have decided to explore further the discussions of women's issues and in particular, feminism.

For many years I have thought I have hung on the outer boundaries of feminism, being a strong persona who makes her own choices believing that a woman has an equal a right as a man. However, the more I think about it, the more I think the word feminist does not do feminism any justice. For me, the word itself is far too strong a word. It depicts images of angry man bashing or hatred, along with words such as anarchist or terrorist. There is an obvious difference, but sometimes our language is in fact just too black and white. Whilst naturally one's profession often ends in "ist", words that describe a movement or character ending in "ist" for me are too harsh. Perhaps a better way to describe what a feminist is to me, is an advocate for feminine energies.

To me, being an advocate is doing what I do, helping women speak up for their birthing rights, it is being able to make choices as to whether I work or stay at home, or do both and not whether one is "more feminist" that the other. It is advocating for joint responsibility and management of our household and the chores, it is advocating for our sons to be able to play with dolls if they choose and our daughter to climb trees and play with cars. It is advocating for my body and my mind (although I know I lose the latter on occasions!!) and then finding time to reassess and readjust when things get out of alignment. Most people I know advocate some or a lot of feminine energy, so to feel that I fit a "category" of women is actually a contradiction as for me, all women exude certain extremes and it is for us as women per se to see the choices we make (as long as they are indeed choices) as acts of feminism. We may not entirely agree with the decisions or choices, or least choose them for ourselves, but, if the decision is made from the information they have gathered, then truly it is a choice. Read this article I found. I think this perfectly sums up what I am trying to say that even to class oneself as a feminist is itself a choice these days.

What do you think - let me know!

Friday, September 22, 2006


It is quiet! I have given into the bewitchment of the square nanny for half an hour so I can gather my thoughts and write my blog. I had all my past "clients" (friends now one would hope!!) over for coffee this morning with their new (and not so new) charges. So I was late for pick up, then W had asked for a picnic on the school lawn with his friends, so we did this before rushing off to tae kwon do and then home. The mail was left strewn with the dirty coffee cups and enough biscuits to feed an Pinky Dinky Do is babysitting whilst I (obviously!) am washing dirty cups!!! I am now, again, trying to multi task (okay, so NOT washing cups) but chat with a friend on MSN about "sexy-vend" and answer e-mails. T. is going on an after school Friday night playdate tonight. He and his pal had been arranging it since the start of term and it consisted of an hour here, an hour at his friends house and two hours at the local hands on museum!!! Seriously! If we had done all that, it might have been 10 mins after all the driving! So what with trying to keep my head around fast chat on MSN and sexy-vend and Philip Larkin......hmmm Julie, I am losing it! I don't know if my peaceful half hour is exactly that!

Tomorrow is just as manic. T and W have swimming followed by a party and then T is selling popcorn with the scouts in the afternoon. I am going to the gym at 8am YES 8 AM cos there is no other time in the weekend to go. Right now I feel totally motivated about that.......i will let you know if I make it though!

W. made me laugh the other day with his "out of the mouths of babes" comments. Apparently he had seen an Albert!!! There is me thinking "a what?" I have heard of (but thankfully not seen) a "Prince Albert" but "what is an Albert W??" - "it was in T's magazine. It was about the Back Yardigans new movie" - Oh now I get it!!!!!!It is so hard keeping up with "kidspeak" come back Clockwork Orange!

Saturday -

Fall is coming really early this year. It is so noticeable here with the leaves. There is an ethereal beauty to the days. They start foggy then usually pick up with sun shining through the goldening foliage. I suppose with the fact that there has been less sun this year than normal. It is naturally very very beautiful but the sooner the leaves turn, the sooner they drop! Part of me really loves the start of autumn, the foggy starts, darker evenings, wood fires, lead up to Christmas etc, but at the moment we are in a limbo land. Some days it is really cold, particularly in the mornings or wet, other days it is up in the 80s again so I never know what to dress the children in, shorts, trousers??

We have the first of our second year of visitors in a couple of weekends. R's great aunt and uncle followed by my cousin. Mum and Dad are going to be joining us for Christmas this year which will be lovely, well, apart from the fact I am on call for a birth around 17th, still, Christmas can always be postponed a day if necessary!

The children are continuing to entertain this weekend with their funny comments. T, who is proving to finally be understanding why he doesn't have candy often or blue food colouring, was at a party today. As usual the goody bags and party food were of delightfully bright and hypnotic colours. R. had let both of them eat one of the small gummy candies that were in their bag and T took great delight in telling me that "if you want me later mummy, I might be on the ceiling" !!! Don't ya love em?? I's contribution to my book of "Crazy Commentaries from the Little People" was on our drive to the store this afternoon. Each day her vocabulary is increasing and she is stringing together more and more words. As we were driving she kept saying "yak, yak" so of course, I asked her what was "yak". She then told me "daddy's car, smelly, yak"!! Hmmm, tell it like it is babe!! time for a clean out I think!!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Toilet seats are a girl's best friend!

Or so it would appear! I's new favourite fashion accessory seems to be her Dora the Explorer toilet seat. She has taken it upon her self to do some haphazzard "toilet training" of her own!! So who am I to stop a girl when she has an idea in her head?? It is pretty sweet and at times even fairly successful, particularly when I am able to play ball and sit next to her on the throne for up to half an hour at a time when she pulls faces, makes grunty noises, gets off, says "done" or "finished" only to then decide she needs "potty, I need potty" grocery shop this week was going to be done online, only right now, unless I can re-organise the computer to set up in the bathroom, I might not get past the fruit aisles! So if this is the beginning of losing the diapers then it is no great loss, however, the boys did take some time to be dry so I am in the meantime learning many new fruits that I didn't know existed!!

If you are wondering where the information on Patrick has gone, he has now been found a sponsor which is great news, his fees have been paid so he can start his training in November and eventually go back to work in the village - a great resource.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Damn, damn and damn!

Instinct is an amazing thing. One should trust it and stick with it!

I am sitting here today feeling really annoyed at myself for not trusting my intuition. Yesterday i was at the birth of my clients, she had admitted herself at around 11 with some light bleeding, which could have been bloody show. I joined her at 11am and she was 3cm but not really feeling many contractions. To cut a v. long story short, she agreed sometime in the afternoon to her water being broken and then her contractions over the next couple of hours really started to kick in. She was coping pretty well, but kept withdrawing and fighting the contractions and I had a hard time keeping her with me and helping her work with them. Eventually she decided she wanted an epidural so they checked her dilation, which was then at 5cm, and she waited for the anaethetist. He took another half hour, during which time she was getting really intense contractions, which seemed to have a plateau to them ie: lasted a while and then subsided to only give her around a minutes grace before the next one. She seemed to me to be really progressing and then even going through transition where she got panicky that the anaethetist wasn't coming, however, it had only been half an hour. It crossed my mind to remind her that she was doing so well and I was really confused how hard these contractions had suddenly become that I even wondered if she couldn't get through without the epidural, so all I said - kick myself now- is "are you sure you want this". I should have maybe been more audible and suggested a re-examination!!!grrr - mad at myself!
He went ahead and put in the epidural and within 10 minutes the baby's heart rate dropped. It did recover, but they decided to then check her again.....guess what!! 10 !

So this went on for a while with her pushing, actually really effectively considering she had had an epdiural, until she had been pushing for 2 hours. She did have a tetanic contraction at one point so they had to give her a shot of terbutaline to relax her uterus. Gradually over this time the baby's heart wasn't recovering as quickly, he had passed meconium and the doc couldn't feel the cord around the neck, so my thoughts were that he was reacting to the epidural, it was a real coincedence! She and her husband were left to discuss c-section eventually as the doc couldn't get the vacuum as the baby was still too high. He was posterior which I had told her he was when she arrived with back ache so we had been working to try to turn him, but obviously it hadn't worked. So with that, the culmination that the ultrasound had said the baby was at least 8lb6 (since when do ultrasounds talk anyway!?) and the dropping FHT, she was prepped for surgery and her hubby and I doned scrubs. Within 10 mins of waiting, the nurse was back to say that she had had the baby, crash c-section! Apparently when the anaethetist put more epidural into her catheter, the baby's heart had dropped again and not recovered.......not jumping to conclusions here, but......coincedence I don't think so! So now I am mad at myself for what might have been, I keep thinking if only I had told her that I felt her dilation might have changed, we could have gotten her checked and she probably would have had the baby (with some vacuum help maybe) vaginally! Oh, and the baby was only 7lb 13, so trusting the "voice" of technology all the while is not always the best way to go.
She and the baby are fine however so the end result was great. Next time, I will trust my thoughts as it would not have hurt to have voiced them a little louder.