Monday, June 26, 2006

My dogs, Rover and Raisin Dog.

Hazel said she was our new puppy, Iris and I called her Rover. She said she had hair like her own hair but all over. We found the above picture. Iris's eyes shone with unshed tears so moved was she by the intensity of the joy in the game of having a puppy, and then Rover (very realistically apart from the descriptive commentary) had enough of being hugged and wandered off. Shortly afterwards Iris decided she'd be a dog too. I asked her what kind and she was very vehement
"I am a Raisin Dog. I am a dog that looks like a raisin."
I didn't know what breed that might be so I asked google images for a "raisin dog" and Iris told me that the pugs were raisin dogs but that she wanted a picture of her on grass. We found the one below and my Raisin Dog delightedly retrieved small items of clothing for some time. Iris has a stuffed toy which might be supposed to be a bull dog of some sort but it's a raisin dog now and she's using it as a pillow despite its old-fashioned firmness.

They found it difficult to resist chasing the cat. Moab eluded them by going into the play tent and going to sleep on the little bed they had made in there for dogs to sleep on. My dogs don't sleep much it seems, back when I had kids they didn't sleep much either.

Behaviour management, everyone's favourite job.

My sister and I are very good friends, we stood up for each other at our weddings and were there at each other's births, she is my children's testamentary guardian and I would trust her with the world. My mother partially attributes this to the fact that when we were fighting over something she would take it away and give us a common problem to unite in solving. Seems likely enough that it would help, so I've always thought that I would do the same if ever I had children.

It's hard to do though. There they are, coming at me with carefully thought out rationalisations and reasons for their claim, or crying and pleading and I say
"Well, if it's causing problems I guess I'll have to take it away for a bit while you talk to each other about how to use it,"
knowing that it will be unpleasant and loud and neither of them thinks it's a fair or wise judgement. I remove it anyway and try to help them negotiate or get over their anger and grief and remember that my sister and I hardly ever gang up on our mother nowadays.
Behaviour Management
Problem Solving: use when two children want the same toy etc. or when you didn’t see what happened.
1. Make it safe
2. Get down to the children’s level
3. State problem
(e.g. “I see you both want to play with the digger.”)
4. Ask children for a solution
(e.g. taking turns or get another toy.)
5. Pause to give children a chance to think it through.
6. If nothing forthcoming offer a choice or solution.
7. Check that both children are happy with the solution.
8. Carry out solution

Physical Behaviour: e.g. hitting, biting, excluding
1. Make it safe.
2. Get down to the children’s level.
3. Give firm unemotional message
(e.g. “No. Don’t hit. It hurts.”)
4. Lead offending child to the side and turn away (inclusive time out).
5. Make a fuss of victim.
6. Talk to offending child. Recognise their feelings and talk through how they could handle the situation better next time.
7. As soon as possible find an opportunity to comment on good behaviour of offending child.
Do not give long lectures, do not let offending child get a successful outcome (e.g. keeping the toy). Do not remove offending child away, only to side of play.
I found these words on a poster at Kelburn Playcentre. They don't include taking the contentious item in so many words but I generally find it's part of making the situation between the sisters safe, otherwise they're likely to keep snatching and tussling until someone gets hurt.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

My kids love YouTube.

I think they like how brief the movies are, and the way we can find ones devoted to their exact interests of the moment.

It all started with that cat herder video. They saw it once and then, whenever I was using the computer, they'd ask to watch the cats on the computer. That led us to look for "other silly cat pictures", and "are there any kids on your computer?" and "What about kids dancing?" and we had discovered a whole pile of kids' ballet when the Best Find came along: Chainer, who runs up walls and dives over things and Hazel and Iris can watch it about twice before they have to run around and around the house diving over a giant teddy bear onto a foam mattress.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Welcome little Veronica Eve.

My friend Johanne had her 6th baby this morning, she was 10lb 1oz and they are both very well. Perhaps they're sleeping cuddled up together in the narrow hospital bed even now. Hazel was utterly thrilled to hear of her safe arrival, and said to txt her that she loves Veronica Eve.

There's no magic quite like biology.

Spots, splats, drips, and Ani Difranco.

Oh, it's a good thing we're all saints here. Especially since Hazel's got spots and both kids have diarrhoea, Iris isn't making it to the toilet in time, and last night she peed all over me. Could have been worse I keep telling myself, could have been the diarrhoea. Meanwhile the dear old painter has been trying to fix the flashing round the chimney and last night the leak filled a 10 litre paint bucket. He hopes he's got it now, so do we.

Our salvation is an inner sprung mattress on the floor in the playroom and dancing music. What the kids and I would do without somewhere to bounce and music that brings back to me the best and worst of the days before responsibility I know not. But where can that Abbasolutely cd have got to?

Monday, June 19, 2006

One sees what one is interested in.

The girls like to talk about ballet. Iris put her hands up over her head and on tiptoes she twirled saying, "This is ballet Hazel, they go around and around."
Hazel leapt a great long leap with graceful arm movements and said, "Iris, this is ballet, they go whooshing along when they jump."

I'm interested in schemas so I saw Iris thinking about rotation and Hazel thinking about trajectories.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

I turned my back and pop culture got wierd.

So I walk into an average, if over-gadgetted lounge, and discover there's this game, with computer generated guitarists doing covers in someone's playroom and a dinky little plastic Gibson instead of a joystick. As the player's score rises the band plays better venues and their friends clone themselves to fill them.

Once I got over my dire amusement, I realised that as a mother I am grateful that it tells a story rewarding musical success rather than violence and crime. What a nice game.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Part of the job.

"A preschool activities fun class to develop the foundations of physical activities such as running, jumping, climbing and balancing. Tumbling Tots aims to increase children’s confidence and self-esteem through physical challenge and achievement and to encourage co-operation and interaction with other children".
From the Feeling Great website

When we first started Tumbling Tots at Karori Rec Centre about a year ago I was impressed with the fact that the leaders demonstrate the equipment. I could see my daughters watching them carefully and trying to perform the same actions, which raised their level of performance, and therefore confidence and achievement considerably simply through clear understanding.

However I've been getting progressively more disappointed with my children's Tumble Tots classes at over the last year. Usually there are two leaders, one of each sex, and the man demonstrates while the woman describes what he's doing. This teaches that appropriate female behaviour is sitting and talking instead of doing, which is not why we pay to come to a gym with our daughters. Originally I used to go on a Thursday morning and when I talked about how much I would appreciate them sharing the demonstration the female half of that team said her back was too bad to demonstrate, and once a different woman came and she did demonstrate. We rescheduled our lives in order to go on a Saturday to avoid the woman whose disability prevented her from being an active female role-model.

But Saturdays have been no better and today was worst of all. There were two women leaders and neither demonstrated. They both sat in the circle with the children and one described the circuit in words. They then stood together and chatted while the children tried to guess what they were supposed to do in each spot. It's hard to feel confident when you don't know what you're trying to achieve.

This lack of respect for their own programme isn't good enough. They need some attention from management and a workshop that includes the importance of modelling in the role of teaching young children and a refresher about the importance of showing rather than telling.

But I don't think I have the patience to wait for them to improve.

Thursday, June 15, 2006


We're in bed, I'm very carefully not listening to the pouncing out in the corridor when Sean turns to me and says
"I did the bird, I think you might need to do the rat."

I proceeded around the house on the lookout for Moab and his latest victim when they came hurtling over my foot. After a few pounces of my own I got a yoghurt pot over the mouse. I posted it out the cat flap and locked Moab in.

Perhaps we should let Moab get fatter and more complacent again. This newly effective hunting is inconvenient.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Spammed with compliments.

I've just turned on the option to check that you're a human before a comment is accepted. I had just got 7 anonymous and generic comments sprinkled through the blog with links back to various commercial sites.

Sliding into middle age on a puddle of phlegm.

I was in an idyllic lakeside bach on a sunlit holiday with some friends and I woke up on the morning of my 25th birthday suddenly able to do Bill the Cat impersonations. It was the envy of the entire company (we were a simple people then, given to making our own fun in all its ribald lowness). In recent years I have been underutilising this precious gift. I have let it slip away. Now I am coughing up phlegm enough for three impersonators and yet my style is too mannered for even one.

Alas, how gravitas sneaks up on one without warning. It was but yesterday (well, Friday) when I was sagely agreeing that of the few things that are important even fewer require grim grown-upness, ah yes, often silliness is sensible and acting with propriety prescribes acting playfully when playing is proper.

Ack! Ththbbthtthbt!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Lightening to the mind.

Falling from far above the ordinary pizza boxes,
Falling past the family far from its best,
Falling with a sharp and sudden vertigo.

Rails knot to wreck
Every thought-train
I was running.

Mind lightning grounding;
Lightning grinds in my mind.
My mind halts.

I see my spouse.
One thousand and one, one thousand and two, one thousand and three, one thousand and four, one thousand and five, one thousand and six, one thousand and ...
I do like a good storm.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Happy thoughts.

We're still all ill. It's not fun. The kids are finding it difficult and I'm short on patience and probably every other virtue except sobriety. Occasional visitors mercifully save us from suburban neurosis but have demonstrations from the why-to-use-contraception poster family to put up with. Sean tells me it could be worse and escapes into his book, it's about financial risk management. I think about fairies, an improbable far future, and read my blog to remind myself of the highs of parenting.
"And orbiting the roundabout in many red sports cars are long-legged blondes..." from someone who still has an urge to win in role-playing but I'm going for misere and interject,
"With the faces of bats."
"Oh, think happy thoughts," comes a voice of quiet despair from someone else.

From The Ace of Spades at the last Kapcon (XV).

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Don't whine while I'm whining.

I'll be making a medication spreadsheet again, the girls have chest infections, and Hazel has an ear infection. They are clingy and pathetic, they were clingy and pathetic yesterday too, and in the night. Hazel's coughing up like a Persian cat who dines on whole Angora rabbits. I'm trying not to go spare wiping up little pools of phlegm and being sat on. But, on the bright side, Moab's feeling better and I can play with the computer while they watch Dora for the hundred and twentieth time.

Oh blast. I just coughed.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Schemas in fairy tales.

I registered a game for January's Kapcon today. The characters will be fey folk and they'll have schemas. Which means I'm now trying to analyse stories of fey folk from a schema-spotter's point of view, which has to be good for my Noticing and Recognising skills (this is ECE jargon for noticing and recognising stuff in ECE).

Rotation: turning, stuff whirling around, whirling, Rumplestiltskin's hole in the floor and campfire dance.
Transforming: fey gold, pookha and such, Rumplestiltskin didn't have this schema although he had this ability, if he'd had the schema he wouldn't have wanted any payment.
Trajectory: flying, stuff flying, elven archers.
Transporting: moving a whole lot of stuff to an incongruous place, stealing.
Enveloping: wrapping stuff up, hiding gold (Leprechauns).

Any other ideas? Some other schemas include One-to-one correspondance, ordering,

I should go and get my A Field Guide to the Little People and read it with some bookmarks available but it's lazier to google around wikipedia instead.

But they'll be wanting a world to be in and something to do as well. I've been thinking that substituting a changeling because they need it to save their world would add a pleasant moral thickness as the characters' good would be rather different from involved human family's good. And where? 1986 Wellington? 1996 Bloomington, IN? 2006 Wellington? Somewhere more like the fairy stories are set?

That's nearly enough plotting, if I run it for some imaginatively independent friends fairly soon I can surf in on their ideas instead of inventing the whole kit and caboodle. A few volunteers?

Now all I need is to choose and swot up on a system. Bleaugh.

Gosh, I'm so busy getting my procrastination out of the way anyone would think I had a talk to write.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Ruth's bach at Hokio.

It was a huge kerfuffle getting there, but once the kids were asleep cuddled up together and I was sitting in the calm bach kitchen, tummy full of Green and Black's Hot Chocolate, listening to Country Life on National Radio it seemed worth it. The cat stayed at the vets' cattery, the stick insect had a nice big lid of water and some Kanuka. The children said their plans for the holiday were to play and play and play and play and play and then play in the sand dunes and play in the sand and play on the beach. I think they acheived that.

My plans were similar. On Saturday Babs and I wrote the slides for our Rainbow In My Head workshop on Attachment Parenting. For fun we had thought we would do them on a laptop in a cafe as if we were smartly dressed professionals during the week, but, of course, kids intervened. Babs' baby decided not to have any breastfeeds that whole morning and so she needed to be on tap for when he noticed his hunger. So we spent a glorious sunny day typing in the back room, but we laughed enough that it counted as play for me.

On Sunday Sean and I left the children there with Anne and popped in to town for my role-playing, a few hours of car conversation and to drop a big lump of driftwood off at Playcentre.

Today we dawdled about getting ready to go.

Here are two stories Hazel told me one morning while we were pretending that I was Flora (the little sister) and she was Hannah (the big sister) and the canopied bed was our spaceship.

The Bad Bear

Deep in the forest there was a bad bear and this bear ate up children but was scared of adults. One day he saw a kid walking with an adult into the forest. He decided that he would chop the child's hands off and then he would eat her, leaving the bones out, but fighting with the adult. But then he ate the adult; forgetting that he ate children not adults and he ate the kid, every single kid and adult that he saw he ate from then on. But one adult and one kid didn't go into the forest at all
They were sensible, they were sensible,
They were sensible, they were sensible,
They stayed away, from the bear,
They stayed away, from the bear,
They stayed alive, they stayed alive,
Anyone who likes dark they should go
Into the dark forest
Into the dark bear's belly.

(The last part is a song.)

The Baby who Needed Looking After

Once upon a time there was a baby who needed looking after who was just a toddler. In the daytime the baby went to creche. She played in the water and washed her hands in a basin of wavy salt water. People looked after her there but people didn't at her home. When people came to pick up the other children she reached her arms up to be picked up but the adults said,
"I'm sorry but my family is full of children."

And then one day as she was walking along the path back to her home on the other side of the wood a wolf swallowed her whole, but luckily she took the teeth into the belly and then she came out with a family who the wolf had swallowed already. They waited for nightfall and as it yawned and wasn't looking they leapt out of its mouth leaving the tongue behind them so it could still lick ice-creams (but it couldn't bite anymore because it didn't have any teeth anymore. So it couldn't be able to bite its favourite foods, but maybe ice-cream was its favourite). The family said
"You can be our toddler" and then they bought a pink dog.

Thursday, June 01, 2006


Iris has started to ask for her glasses for reading. She pretty much only will wear them for close work but she's happy to do so for that.

Hazel is about to go up to Preschool 3 in swimming where she will be learning breathing among other things.

The painter put the second yellow on the bay window today "To generate a bit of enthusiasm," he said.

Moab's neck is healing and he's taking his pills nicely.

Our laptop won't talk to the world, which means my email is down and I'm using the pda now and wishing I had its keyboard working.

We have a stick insect and her eggs in a cage. We are hoping for nymphs rather than another fascinating but cruel lesson about Nature's rosy smile and carmine claws.

The kids have imaginery dogs whose poo is delightfully unscented.