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, February 14, 2010

Optional extras.

By the way, you can see the girls and me in photos by Shannon).

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On the joys of having bunnies in the family.

  • When we let the rabbits out of the hutch they binky about the garden, this move is a pure and infectious expression of joy.
  • Herbivores chomping away in the borders makes the cat and me feel at peace
    1. If they are at peace then there are no threats to big tough us.
    2. Our hunting-ground is happily full.
  • The cat also likes that they always cede him the higher ground, they seem to appreciate that he always cedes them the choice spots under things.
  • They show evidence of becoming happier to be held.
  • Rabbit poo is like goat poo; "almost appealing".*

* Holzwarth, Werner, The Story of the Little Mole who knew it was None of his Business, (Chrysalis Children's Books) 1994.

Pet rabbit links:

Kids and Rabbits
my favourite introductory text

I needed to know rabbits can show joy before I would consider living with them and this vid did it for me
There's a whole lot more communication stuff out there, my favourite is

Sean found this article quite winning

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Illiterate bookworms

Hazel and Iris have had fevers this week. Iris has watched movies (of books mostly; Winnie the Pooh, Narnia and Beatrix Potter come to mind). Hazel has been listening to books online, perhaps because she enjoyed some parts of The Stars are Comforting on the Concert Programme on the way home from Ultimate last week.

Hazel has listened to all the stories on the Radio New Zealand site that we could find (a bit difficult since the actual link to the Storytime Treasure Chest is broken at the moment). She watched and listened to all the Screen Actors' Guild people reading books at Storyline Online, it was felt that Sean Astin did as good a job as I do of A Bad Case Of Stripes, and that I could learn from his use of props. She has been listening to Storynory stories since, and creating her own illustrations (perhaps she's feeling a bit better, though she's certainly feeling a bit hotter).

I've also found and and a whole lot more promising things appear with Googling for things like "free audiobooks children online".

Me, I like listening to The Wind in the Willows when I'm ill, and I still have my records of it, but I haven't yet got the USB turntable so that I can take it with me on my phone to listen to when waiting for things. However, it occurs to me that I could turn the recorder on my phone on when I'm reading to the kids and I'd get audiobooks of all their favourites: audience participation and all!

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Dinosaur feather notes.

Wikipedia's dinosaur clades Saurischia and Ornithischia are the two basic sorts. 
Wikipedia on dinosaur feathers, maybe feathers arose with Ornithodira, the last ancestor of both pterosaurs and dinosaurs (which includes birds). 
Wikipedia's beautiful tree of life

Fossil feathers head to toe on a dromaeosaur, a close relative of velociraptor and thus, with Tyrannosaurus Rex, a part of the advanced therapods who have bones like modern birds (and sharp teeth not like them). (Science Daily, April 2001)

Tianyulong confuciusi, a feathered Ornithischia. Ornithischia includes armored herbivores such as Triceratops and Stegosaurus. (National Geographic News, March 2009)

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Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Book: Getting Started with Schemas

If you're curious about schemas you may be glad to hear that Nikolien van Wijk's book Getting Started with Schemas: revealing the wonderful world of children's play is, at long last, available! It's not yet listed on the Playcentre Publications website, though it should be available from them by email: 

I bought it from the Wellington Playcentre Shop: 

Wellington Playcentre Shop
Address:73 Kenepuru Drive
Phone:(04) 237 7827
Fax:(04) 237 7821
Shop Hours:Monday - Friday 9.30am - 4.00pm 
Sat 9.30am - 12.00 noon.

and I've also seen it available online from The Arts Centre Bookshop

One line review: it's good as far as it goes, and that is far enough to get started with schemas. 

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Susan Harper is enjoying the Randall Munroe's view of the world again.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Let's get a really tiny car.

Car seats and booster seats do not make my life easier. Without them children are small and squash into the car easily, without them children are people who can walk or catch a train, a bus, or a plane to somewhere to be met by a loved one and a car as easily as I can, this is a wonderful freedom.

But death and internal injuries have only disadvantages.

Dr. Liz Segedin's powerpoint summary of quite a few years of Starship's statistics shows how very much less likely your car is to ruin or end your life if you sit in a booster seat until you're 1.5m tall (Hazel is 1.25m, Iris 1.15m). Booster seat research, Dr Liz Segedin.ppt

The NZ Child Restraints' site's Booster Seats section includes this little gem:

What is "sub-marining"?

When a small, undersized child, (a child who is unable to pass the 5 step test) is placed into an adult belt there are a number of risks that the child is exposed to. Such risks include injuries to the neck, spine and internal organs, as well as injuries caused when the child slides out the lap portion of the seat belt in an accident. The effect of this is known as "sub-marining" and is shown in the image below.


A child will scoot forward in an adult belt simply because they cannot comfortably sit with their back and bottom against the back of the vehicle seat, nor can they sit with their knees comfortably bent over the seat edge.

When a child is uncomfortable, they will find ways to make sure they are comfortable, this means they will pull their lower body forward to rest their knees on the seat edge, leaving a gap behind their back. The child is also likely to place the sash portion of their seat belt behind their neck, since their shoulder is now lower down and the seat belt cuts into their neck causing discomfort.

Useful info for parents.pdf (a pdf summary of how to tell if a child is sitting safely).

Safekids' position statement.pdf They say "It's booster seat time for Kiwi kids" and provide 17 pdf pages of argument for that.

Oh, botheration! Another inconvenient truth.

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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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Monday, June 09, 2008

Wanda Harland's expectant!

I'm not getting around to reading the web much these days, but I'm not at Playcentre where I wonder if Iris is missing Rosa, I'm sitting with Hazel as she doesn't vomit some more (keep not vomiting Hazel; it's a good look) drifting through months of words and it turns out that Wanda Harland's expectant! Omigodomigod!

(Examines self for urge forth to go forth and do likewise... nope, it's still schadenfreude I'm afraid, I prefer other people to do the vomiting.)

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Thursday, March 06, 2008

Flow and some "clear and testable predictions related to its elicitation and control"

This article about Flow answers some of my questions and rings true on some of my intuitions.

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

But mostly I've been knitting.

Tee hee! Lol Blacks.
Aww Iris...
Heh LolCat Bible transliteration.
Hmmm throwings of a disc.


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Food miles: too simple.

I haven't yet digested Food Miles – Comparative Energy/Emissions
Performance of New Zealand’s Agriculture
(2006 by Caroline Saunders, Andrew Barber and Greg Taylor), but it's very interesting. What I really want is a nice little thingy on the shelf next to the food item: $4.29 and 17 utils (prior to adjustment for personal taste) per kilo.

It's a 119 page pdf here's the Executive Summary from p vii.

Executive Summary
• Food miles is a very simplistic concept relating to the distance food travels as a measure of its impact on the environment. As a concept food miles has gained some traction with the popular press and certain groups overseas. However, this debate – which only includes the distance food travels – is misleading as it does not consider total energy use, especially in the production of the product.
• The food mile concept has potential to threaten New Zealand exports given New Zealand’s geographical location. The solution proposed by food miles campaigners is to source food from as close to where it will be finally consumed as possible. Thus as 50 per cent of NZ exports are in food and beverages, of which approximately a third go to EU markets, the potential risk is significant.
• This study looks at the environmental impact of some key New Zealand export products. The environmental impact calculations are based upon a life cycle ssessment (LCA) type approach and include the energy use and CO2 emissions associated with production and transport to the UK. This is a much more valid comparison than just distance travelled as it reflects the differences in countries’ production systems. These were then compared to the next best alternative source for the UK market. The products examined were dairy, apples, onions, and lamb.
• The analysis therefore first identified the farm production system in New Zealand and the relevant EU country which could be used as an alternative source of supply to the UK market. In general, data on production systems and energy use was much more comprehensive for New Zealand than for the alternative EU country. This has led to the New Zealand estimates of energy use and emission associated with production being more inclusive than those for the alternative EU country.
• Comparison of energy used and CO2 emissions between NZ and UK Dairy. The UK uses twice as much energy per tonne of milk solids produced than NZ, even including the energy associated with transport from NZ to the UK This reflects the less intensive production system in NZ than the UK, with lower inputs including energy.
• Comparison of energy used and CO2 emissions between NZ and UK Lamb. The energy used in producing lamb in the UK is four times higher than the energy used by NZ lamb producers, even after including the energy used in transporting NZ lamb to the UK. Thus, NZ CO2 emissions are also considerably lower than those in the UK.
• Comparison of energy used and CO2 emissions between NZ and UK Apples. NZ is also more energy efficient in producing and delivering apples to the UK market than the UK is. NZ energy costs for production are a third of those in the UK. Even when transport is added NZ energy costs are approximately 60 per cent of those in the UK. Consequentially the CO2 emissions per tonne of apples produced are also higher in the UK than in NZ, reflecting the higher energy use but also the lower emissions from NZ electricity generation.

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

I traded my blog for ...

I have been thinking about Geeks on Dates, and I've even got a little further on writing a few of them, but not far enough on any particular one. I could try to blame the virus or viruses that have been plaguing my partner, or whatever it is that has been plaguing my children (each other?), also, I've been going out, I saw both Ed Byrne and Dylan Moran (I doubt they saw me). But really it's probably the new overlocker.

... a new overlocker.
"Yeah, I think I saw a geek crawl out the back door."
sew sew sew.

My next dilemma is, now I'm here will I stay, I should be making fabulous circular skirts of happiness for the children? Just think how much the utter joy of a three year old is worth when stacked up against a snort of laughter in a thirty year old or two? And that snort's if I did anything but read.

Also, while we're doing a little philosophy, what about those choosy fruit flies with their free will? How bad does that make insecticide? (Seems like there might be a brain region evolved to produce "spontaneous variations in fly behaviour").

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Whale Winds.

"Between the coast and the end of the world is what we are here for. Because, here be monsters." Deb has lived in strange place, inhabited by whales. Have a read, I like her non-fiction for the same reasons I like sf. If you like it she's written a book too, it's called The Whale Road by D.K. McCutchen. Now she's raising daughters with my mate Tim.

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Friday, February 23, 2007

Schema fascination.

I've been writing an article for the Playcentre Journal about schemas and transitions (and Hazel cutting stuff up). This is some more thinking around it.

At my Playcentre we use schema learning theory to help us deliver Te Whaariki (the New Zealand Early Childhood curriculum).

Other people say that schemas are repeated themes in children's thinking and patterns of behaviour. I think they are a useful framework we can use to consider the consuming passions of children. This Schema Matrix I had published in the Playcentre Journal a few years ago will give you the right sort of idea and what's more lots of people find it useful in practice.

Children are utterly passionate about their schemas, this makes schemas very useful when dealing with children. Children like people who share their schemas. On session, a free-play environment combined with the children's abiding schema interests provide a lot of continuity for us. Children think hard about their schema fascinations so they learn a lot from their schemas and they become experts in the areas their schemas lead them into. Children are also easier to redirect within a schema than outside it.

I have noticed that children often seem to express very strong emotions with their schemas, I think someone with a trajectory schema will often throw things when furious or jubilant, while someone with a rotation schema is more likely to turn angrily on a heel or pirouette joyfully.

Things are looking up, night before last Hazel was utterly absorbed in dissolving toilet paper in a basin full of soapy water and yesterday morning she was mixing canned plum juice with milk at breakfast (as well as cutting out the lips of people from magazines for her sister). The changing mixtures suggest she might be moving on to processing this major life event as a transformation, which is perfect, and I prefer cleaning up a transforming schema's truly mucky messes to finding my books torn to pieces.

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Thursday, December 07, 2006

Housekeeping hints for slatterns #4

Ooooh, ninja t-shirt folding, now this is addictive.

Of course the kids are scattering today: fabric scraps, old coins, dice, (but not yet food!) and so the house is a tip, but I can tell you, the t-shirts are origami.

(#1, #2, #3).

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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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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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Thursday, September 28, 2006

Things I've done while in labour.


  • Eat at a restaurant (early stages of a long slow part of labour)
  • Take my eldest to our local playground while hanging off trees and yelling during contractions ("Mummy tummy working hard?" "YES! Mummy tummy working VERY hard!")
  • Drink castor oil (didn't seem to speed up the slow one)
  • Machine quilt (brought the sewing machine to the hospital)
  • Eat chocolates
  • Moan, grunt, growl
  • Breastfeed my eldest
  • "I don't think the baby will come tonight but you may as well ring the support people just in case, but tell them to bring their books." (Denial)
  • Bathe (great!)
  • Gaze at a lit Christmas tree
  • Hide my head in a pillow
  • Visualise pushing a truck up a hill with my support people beside me, cheering me on but not helping
  • Bite
  • Demand acapella singing, reading aloud, acupressure, no - different massage, food, drink, ice, cold cloths on the back of my neck, silence and distracting conversation.
  • Move around
  • Wish I could still move around
  • Try not to push
  • Wish I'd mentioned to my midwife that I'd prefer any vaginal exams on my hands and knees
  • Push
  • Poo
  • Bleed on things
  • Forget what people were saying during their sentences
  • Have a baby (twice)
  • Enjoy the boneless sliding of the placenta on its gentle way out (twice)

Both my babies came out fast once I was dilating, the first was late and I didn't start dilating for 10 days of on-and-off-again patches of labour (and having been through "real" labour I can't call that "false" because it was the same). The second was early. I birthed both kneeling, though I wanted to get into a different position for my second as she was part way through and I just couldn't get up. Both were natural and pretty much drug free (I had a little gas when my midwife broke my waters for the first, late, baby. It felt stupid, like why would I do recreational drugs when I was busy having an important baby). The first was in hospital, the second at home. The home birth was fantastic, the hospital birth was fine.

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"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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