Thursday, April 29, 2010


I am posting to now.

I am leaving these 4 and a bit years of posts here.

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Sunday, April 18, 2010

End of Blogger FTP

On May 1st Blogger will stop publishing blogs by FTP. I could migrate to but I don't think I will. I think I'll leave these four years here, and if I get the urge to post in the future I'll start somewhat anew over there. If there are any good reasons for me doing otherwise, do comment.



Tuesday, March 09, 2010

It's 2010.

Things I didn't think we'd (still) have in this, the Space Age:
  • 3D glasses
  • Analogue watches
  • Wool underwear
  • Sunhats
  • Knickerbockers
  • Keys
  • Corsetry
  • Punks
  • Cancer and co.

Things I didn't expect
  • The web
  • Maori renaissance
  • Computers for preschoolers
  • No USSR
  • Bread machines, rice cookers, pasta makers, fruit dryers, popcorn makers...
  • The Urban Chook Fad
  • No monorail

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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Workshop workshop.

Yesterday a subconscious urge struck me and I signed up for the "How to run a workshop" Playcentre workshop on November 19th; now I'm trying to work out why I did that.

Is it about schemas?

In 2004 we at Wilton Playcentre developed a 2-3 hour Schema Workshop as part of its Centre of Innovation research contract with the Ministry of Education and I've enjoyed giving that to Playcentre and other Early Childhood Education people about half a dozen times.

While we were working on that schema workshop I made a chart showing schemas in areas of play*. My chart is popular with people who find it immediately accessible and useful, but I suspect it would be more accessible, more useful, and therefore more popular, if it had some sort of brief introduction with it. Also, when I wrote it in 2004 I put on it everything I knew about schema learning theory at the time but I've learnt some more since.

So a few months ago I started working on my personal introduction to schemas because I'd like there to be something really short that I can give to people who ask me about schemas that they can use in the meantime, while they work out whether they're interested enough in schema learning theory to do any more reading about it. It started as a half-hour workshop that can be part of another meeting and I've given at a SPACE group and a session meeting (a meeting where a whole playcentre can get together to talk about the kids). My introduction didn't stay down at the half-hour length and so it could do with some work yet, and a Workshop workshop might well show me the trick of concentrating and shortening it.

* Schemas in Areas of Play.pdf
Harper, S. (2004) Playcentre Journal 121: pp 18-19
Also in Meade, A. and Cubey, P. (2008) Thinking Children: Learning about schemas pp 27-29

Or is it about something else?

You see, schemas are quite an interesting thing to know about, but I think I'm wanting to write about them in order for what I know about them to end up as a pamphlet so I don't have to be there to introduce them myself: A Letter of Introduction to Schemas perhaps.

What I'd like to stand up on my hind legs and lecture you about right now is Te Whāriki's belonging and well-being, flow, people's passions (of which schemas are a subset) and how desperately they matter when people interact.

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Thursday, September 18, 2008


I just downloaded Te Whāriki (New Zealand's Early Childhood Curriculum) and The New Zealand Curriculum (for English speaking schools), I look forward to reading them together.

At the end of the nineties I spent a couple of years working at BDLC in Bloomington, Indiana, where we used the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)'s guidelines to help us provide a developmentally appropriate, child-oriented centre. When I moved back to New Zealand in 2000 I worked at Kea House (a centre in Victoria University) for a bit and since 2002 I've been at Wilton Playcentre. I've very much enjoyed working with Te Whaariki for the last 8 years and I'm curious about the one-year-old curriculum for schools.

I think Te Whaariki might be a useful document to make a way of life actually. I certainly don't forsee a time or place in which I will want to stop growing up as a competent and confident learner and communicator, healthy in mind, body, and spirit, secure in my sense of belonging and in the knowledge that I make a valued contribution to society.

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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Where I'm at.

I just wrote a letter to a friend I haven't seen in a long time, I want to go to bed and so I'm not going to write a blog post too but I doubt he'll mind me putting it here.
I'd like to write properly, but it seems unlikely this month as Hazel's taking a bit of settling into her second year of school. She's at the primary school I was at, Iris is at the playcentre I was at too. Most people in most of the world and through most of time raise their children where they were children themselves but it still feels odd to me.

I'm about to turn 39. In a very biologically appropriate way I've spent my thirties working with children. Other people's first of all as, of the four years I spent in the US while Sean was in graduate school at Indiana University, Bloomington and I went along for the ride, I spent the last bit working in "daycare". Then we came back here and I puttered around for a year with a couple of part-time jobs, one of which was in "early childhood education" and since then I've been Mum. If Mum is a job it's the best and hardest one I've ever had but we've decided to stop at two (though I wouldn't bet this lovely old sunny house in Northland on that) in order to retain the opportunity for work-life balance.

I'm thinking I might well do some art school courses when Iris gets to school in a year. I have some big scale installation-type projects growing in my mind (eg. a box a person can crawl into and peer out of because the sides are a web of yarns: somewhat related to those nail and yarn pictures of the seventies but less regular) and if I can fight akrasia far enough to get around to tidying the playroom on a fairly frequent basis surely I can get some of them out of my mind and into the world.

I write a blog. Or at least, I text my blog the occasional sentence and form intentions to write more some other time. if you're curious.

If you're actually curious you could read this:

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

I took two small white pills.

"I just forgot, and I think my husband thought I'd made a decision in a discussion we've been having lately."
"Have you considered doing something more permanent?"
Well, having another baby would probably fix the problem for at least eighteen months.
The nurse wrote "Had unprotected sex with husband."
Does the partner make a difference to the dosage?
She offered me a glass of water, but I said I hadn't finished thinking yet.

I'm with Mr. Pratchett; we can't go down both legs in the trousers of time. In some ways that makes choosing easier because once I choose it's part of me, I just am the one who did it that way and I've noticed that I remain smug enough to be pleased whatever I choose. I went to the beach with my family (Hazel's fine but had diarrhea recently enough she wasn't at school). I enjoyed their conversation and their independence, I threw the disc, ran fast and jumped high. I didn't have to carry anybody. I looked at babies with strange concentration.

Mother of two, or three? Fit and getting faster, seeing movies, and role-playing, or busy getting enough sleep for two? Still thinking the same thoughts as I was before but faced with a real possibility they are cast into sharp relief. I'm particularly aware that I could easily become someone who said "Oh, I've done team sports twice in my life. Netball for the winter when I was 12 and Ultimate for the summer when I was 37-38."

Those pills, they've changed the recipe, and they didn't make me feel as bad this time.

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Friday, December 29, 2006


I like New Year's Resolutions, so I'm trying to work out what I have the strength of character to resolve to do this year.


Thursday, December 14, 2006

Hazel's first graduation.

She's my first born, I pushed her out, hot and urgent while biting the stuffed rabbit my great-great-aunt Nell gave me the last Christmas she was alive. She was born purple, with navy blue eyes. She's clever and competent, and in her stories every horse has a different neigh. We've been going to Playcentre together for more than four years, and tomorrow is her last day.

There'll be a cake, and a decorated chair. There'll be presents; she's giving the Playcentre a horse (one hand high), rider, and tack. It's giving her a mermaid top and tail (Iris and I were the representatives of Playcentre who chose the present). There'll be a card with pictures, best wishes and hugs. There may be speeches.

There will be tears.

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Monday, December 04, 2006


Poor wee Iris is squeaking with nightmares, I'm sitting by her and making comforting typing noises while she re-settles.

We started our new role-playing campaign today. I am optimistic about it. We're playing some people employed (or about to be) by the Lucky Ali Detective Agency (est. 2189), but before we got to that the GM gave us a fairly serious action piece using pre-generated characters who broke a guy out of a subterranean and Antarctic prison. My current group is good. Everyone's able to drop into different characters fast and well and so doing various parts of the story/world (whatever it is that we make up when we do this thing that we do) is going to be rather a pleasure. We then got to Tazeem Willoughby (who sprang so oddly fully-formed out of my forehead a couple of weeks ago) and Lucky Ali interviewing the others, the candidates and the current staff of the agency are weird and wonderful, intriguing people all of them. I'm looking forward to finding out more about them, and about Tazeem. Backstage at Hazel's ballet show I've been watching how dancers talk differently from normal people and thinking about how Tazeem (who is a dancer) will use hand gestures and body language a good deal, along with rather stagey facial expressions.

I'm also considering starting a Theatre Thing (dress ups, drama, dance, music, and movement) for pre-schoolers with a friend of mine who's a trained teacher and, like me, spent a long time at Drama Christi. We're just talking it through at the moment, but it feels like a gap in the community, and it's certainly something we could do.

Sweet dreams my cheery little Iris who laughs at my jokes, you deserve them.

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Toilet seat.

I think the girls and I will be buying a toilet seat today, the old wooden one has been cracked for a long time but what with very energetic short people putting the lid down so they can stand on it to flush, it's got to the stage where it bites people who fidget. Iris says she wants a pink one, I'd like a clear one with strange stuff embedded in it (if anyone's seen those available in Wellington do pipe up about where).

By the way, here's a game theoretic discussion of when the seat should be left down and up. I've never minded putting the seat down myself, but then I wash my hands after using the loo.

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Thursday, November 02, 2006

Living in the future.

That family with the two little girls talking to each other on the cell phones across the cafe table? Yeah, that was us. No, they weren't faking it. You want to know why?

They can't type yet.

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Saturday, October 28, 2006

Help me in deliberating.

Should I try to throw a frisbee today?

I'd usually ask Sean but he's at his parents' with the kids.

Factors -
I've been sick since Tuesday and haven't thrown a frisbee since Saturday, when I did it badly enough I felt like curling into a small ball for the kids to pour sand down my neck and I was well then. Now I am probably significantly more feeble than usual and it's windy again.
Assuming the weather would be bad again I've arranged to go to Brick if I'm not going to the practice.
Is the practice even on? There's this huge rugby thing at Ian Galloway Park starting tomorrow and I have a feeling it's closed for ground preparation, if that's true is there a practice at Martin Luckie Park instead? I suppose I should wait until a little later in the morning before trying to find out by phone.

But if I don't go will I ever go?

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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Disconnected, sick, I watch web videos in bed.

Feeling a bit more perky and interactive: Build a kaleidoscope, shave a yeti, throw a ball.

Then go to sleep.

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Friday, October 20, 2006


Get up in front of a crowd of 70 people of any age and entertain them with a story? Sure, I'd happily hop up and start making it up. You want to get married in a week and you'd like me to write and perform the wedding ceremony? I'd confidently start typing. Do the section on baby-feeding for your ante-natal class? I'd be there, breast in hand. Write 200-5000 words on a topic of your choosing? Oh, yeah. Run a creativity centred team-building exercise? Love to, I've got some ideas I'd like to try. Sing acapella in front of a group? My voice would waver, but I'd have a go. Need a brave friend to deal with a white-tail, challenge your basic assumptions, or tell you an uncomfortable truth? I'm your woman.

But I have been a craven girly dweeb when it comes to sports.

You might not remember but my new year's resolution this year was to enjoy playing backyard sports for a healthy body and to avoid passing my sporting neuroses on to my kids. That is, I decided that it was time to get over my fear of organised physical games with rules and success conditions and I started off okay.

And then, this winter, Sean was invited to come along to Ultimate by Housemonkey, Fraser and Mash. They and a whole group of role-playing friends that we've been wanting join played in Karori and practice on Ian Galloway park and it all seemed so nearby and friendly, and I felt like I could imagine the team, with its clever and argumentative women, including me and not being a strange and pitiable token feeble wierdo they'd taken on as some kind of charity mascot. And they're all so encouraging yet blackly humourous, just the kind of people I like.

So I started working through some stuff to get to a point where I could join in a practice. I played tag with Hazel while they were playing (I can run where people can see me do it), I watched bits of games and helped my kids keep score (I can follow the basics of what's happening in a game, even without commentary), and we threw a frisbee to each other almost every day of our holiday (I can throw and catch).

So tomorrow, weather permitting, I'll have a go.
Wish me confidence.

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Sunday, October 15, 2006

We've journeyed

And now we are home. Moab's ears and me are the only ones awake and I think it'll be down to just the ears pretty shortly.

We've journeyed. We've walked and run, we've jumped and hopped and skipped, we've square-danced in Pennsylvania and mermaid-danced in pools all over the place, we've even been taught how to curtsey by Disney Princesses. We've been in 4 cars, 7 buses (single and double decker), 10 planes of vastly varying sizes, several subway trains, 3 hansom cabs, a canoe, and a zillion different Disney rides.

And now we are home.

Last night our plane was delayed because one of the passengers didn't turn up, apparently she was arrested for being drunk and disorderly in the LAX terminal! So then her luggage had to be found, dug out and got off the plane in case it missed her so much it exploded.

This morning we left one of our four checked-in bags on the carousel (by the way, those big merry-go-rounds with the plastic ponies that go up and down are called carousels in the States) when we rushed through Bio-security and all the way to the Domestic Terminal at Auckland airport to almost make our connection but Hazel and Sean had to run all the way back for it. We made it onto the next flight and got to Wellington only 45 minutes late, and I'd even managed to phone Anne, who met us at the airport.

We were away 28 days and we crossed and recrossed an ocean and a continent and 45 minutes was the latest we were for anything.

And now we are home.


Saturday, October 07, 2006

Perhaps someone braver.

My cake was almost finished when Gabriel slid onto the bench opposite me, dropping a satchel at our feet, eyes rolling to the cracked ceiling of the old coffee shop and I knew it was couple trouble.

"I'm so had it with Taylor! Going on and on about wanting me to have babies. You'd think I was some kind of stay-home frumpy earth mother!"
"Wow. Taylor's so ambitious I thought they'd be planning to do it both ways simultaneously and you'd be staying home with the twins." It's old ground but I'm compelled to cover it anyway, "Maybe they're sick of you going to clubs and shooting darts into strangers."
"Hey; I wouldn't let anyone knock me up who didn't love me."
"Yeah, but I don't know how much Taylor cares about that when there's probably half a dozen little Gabriels running around that you don't know about," very old ground.
"Hah! We met at the Lactuca, Taylor so knows we all use birth control. No-one wants a club baby, such a hassle and no idea whether the father has any talents besides slow dancing." Gabriel's beautiful mouth isn't smiling but the bright brown eyes are crinkling in the way that every partner, from me onwards, has found so addictive.
"Baby'd slow your dancing down for sure." I get a sharply amused glance, and a jab of alertness to the pulse. I flush and remind myself I have too much to lose. I take a long sup of my latte. By the time I look up Gabriel's looking out the window, watching the old river flowing past. Above the curve of the cheekbone I can just see where the fine lines of a crow's footprint would be if they were still smiling. I lick my finger and pick up the delicious last crumbs with surface tension.

Still examining the optimistic fish rising for the orange leaves that drift past on the river's current, Gabriel asks, not quite lightly enough for the line,
"You think I'd be an okay Mum?" and turns to look at me. Why do you care what I think? What is the right answer here?
"... with the right person as a Dad, you'd be fabulous."
"Do you think Taylor's the right person?"
"Oh, I don't know. I do think you need someone who'd look after you and the children. Someone who would love them because they were yours as much as because they were theirs. Someone who would stick by you when you were sick and grumpy and all touched out for a couple of years."
"Someone like a best friend?"
I can't not meet those brown eyes, they light, and the question between us burns my words away.

(In Tim's loo there's a copy of Science News with an article about Nico Michiels' research on internally fertilizing, simultaneous hermaphrodites. It tells how, as Nature usually favours the parent who puts less effort into children and has more of them, if you were a hermaphrodite you'd want to be the sperm donor rather than the mother in any given sexual encounter.)

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Sunday, October 01, 2006

Best woman.

Yeah, so there's this wedding today (this took a while to post), and I'm going to be the person who holds the ring with white knuckles until the bride needs it to give to the groom. That person gets to give a speech. What does she say? Maybe she should write a first draft and find out...

Gillian's special, everybody is of course, but I know why Gillian is special. It's because she likes me. That's probably a surprise to most of you because you know why Gillian is special; it's because she likes you.

Gillian thinks about everything, takes special care with each sentence, listens as if we'd been doing the same, and still likes us. I sometimes find that humbling, about once per conversation on average. I certainly think harder and speak more carefully when Gillian is listening.

Dave is special too. When Gillian and Dave were newly a couple, I sent Gillian an email from New Zealand:
"Don't get married on less than 4 days notice unless I'm not invited."
I still don't know how I knew Dave is special, but I did and I feel a bit smug about that.

I wish them as much love, lust, and laughter as their hearts can hold, and these are big-hearted folk.

Well, that went all right. We arrived. The celebrant was better at saying what he meant than any other I've heard. I didn't drop the ring. It rained, and that was okay because the Navajo blessing at the end explained that rain washes away fear and goodness me isn't matrimony scary.

Gillian's family make words; one is even a storyteller, they toasted and toasted, my speech's simplicity stood up well in the company. Though I will admit it's possible that Nancy (mother of the bride) had the best line with "Dave is a person who does not want to be summed up.") Dave's family make music; his sisters and mother sang The Rose in three part harmony, then there was oodles of music, it seemed that two thirds of the guests performed something and then, for a rest, we did square dancing and it was fun.

Now there's a party but someone has to stay with Hazel and Iris who went to sleep in the car, and it's my turn, which is fine because I've had plenty of party level conversations now, what remains isn't really possible: I've finally met Gillian's sister Molly and I'd like to get to know her, but I don't think we could do that at a party. I'd like to bask in Steve's kind company again but if I were there I'd try to steal him away for a walk in the woods and that wouldn't be very kind to the friend he brought, especially when she spent the day amusing my children off and on. I'd also like to take Gillian away from her groom and guests, watch her throw sticks for a dead dog and listen to the happiness in her voice. So I let Sean go to the party, and I thought I might have a different kind of conversation but I guess it's a nice day in Wellington tomorrow because no-one seems to be on-line there now.


Thursday, September 28, 2006

"dreaming of a thousand lovers 'til the world turned to orange and the room went spinning round"

Shel Silverstein wrote The Ballad of Lucy Jordan, A Boy Named Sue, and The Giving Tree. Wow, I'm envious.

"At the age of thirty-seven". I just realised, that's how old I am.

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Monday, September 25, 2006

Yesterday on the plane.

It's not just the cars.
People keep walking past pretending to have conversations but the things they're using as phones are too big: they're talking into remote controls.
Quarters are the same size as our new 50c, but they're worth a little less (thank goodness). I need to clear out my wallet though, I paid for the Serenity comic I got at Denver airport (not bad, but Wash is hard to draw) with a mixture of New Zealand and US coins.

"Your daughters are adorable!"
"Thank you, I made them myself."

The kids are dressed pretty oddly today. Last night Iris wanted to wear Hazel's 30s starlet aqua Ariel nightie, Hazel was willing once she was installed in one of Sean's rainbow tie-dyed t-shirts. We picked them up and put them straight in the car to get to the airport just in time to check in. We didn't dress them then and they haven't dressed yet. Iris has added a cerise velour top and sandals to her ensemble, Hazel purple stripey socks and sandals. Americans are very positive people though, so they say they're cute.

They've been pretty good today, in fact every day, the nights aren't so good but I blame that on the jet lag and the lack of their own beds. It's improving, last night they took a long time to get to sleep but they didn't fight it as hard. Goodness knows how today will go, we had a short flight, we're on a three hour one, and then there's a three hour drive in the evening, plus we're travelling two hours of time zone East (that is, 9pm, when we expect to get there, will feel like 7pm. They'd be perfectly justified in sleeping in the car and then partying until 1am.

Wooo. They just gave me some cheese whip. A pleasure of a civilization in decline.

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