Monthly Archives: February 2011

Hail to the Toddler!

Hail to the toddler! The stumbling, pointing, ga ga gaa-ing, smiling, gibbering, bashing, twirling, dribbling little person that rules our lives. In a good way. Yes they scream and cry. Yes they throw wobblies. Yes – that little mouth will stay clamped tight when you are trying to insert wholesome food into it, and yet  dog biscuits and wax crayons cannot be devoured fast enough. But MAN they don’t half make you smile.

 I’d had a rubbish nights sleep due to a painful shoulder, was snappy with my poor other half, and was generally, in a foul mood this morning. And it was raining. I grumpily mooched to the kitchen to make the strongest cup of coffee in the world, and grumpily mooched back upstairs. What greets me at the top of the stairs, peeking through the stair gate, is a grinning toddler with a bra draped over her head whilst triumphantly brandashing  Dad’s slipper in one hand and a sponge in the other.

 So Grace is up then.

 She pauses briefly to laugh at me, then wobbles off happily to busy herself about the bedroom whilst we try to have a lie in. I have instantly gone from crotchety old sow to smiling Mum.

Shouldn’t we all try and take a leaf out of a toddlers book? Maybe next time someone is being a miserable git at work (and I wouldn’t have to wait long) I should go running in laughing with a bra on my head, slipper and sponge at the ready? Or maybe I’d have my P45 on the desk the following morning.

This afternoon, we had an appointment with the bank. We sit opposite a rather old-school, formidable looking bank manager who bangs on about APR, variable rates, and variable interest. I sit and try to nod in the right places, wishing I was more au fait with the world of finance whilst mentally composing my shopping list and cussing myself for being such a stereotypical girl. Husband and bank man deeply engrossed in this conversation when the wee one wakes up abruptly from her snooze and demands immediate release from the bastille that is her pushchair. Off she toddles, right around to the other side of the desk and stares up at the strange man talking to Daddy. Strange man gives her a token nod and tries to continue his bank prattle. Grace decides she has a productive contribution to this consultation and loudly babbles her rendition of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. With actions. Mr bank man is caught off guard and he politely listens, eventually giving way to a broad, genuine smile breaking under the grey moustache. This in turn becomes a game of peek-a-boo around his computer monitor. Whilst Grace wildly runs around the office, screaming with delight at her new play mate, husband and I have little choice but to sit and wait untill the two of them have finished.

Now if I had sung twinkle Twinkle Little Star and tried to play peek-a-boo in the bank managers office, I have no doubt that panick buttons would have been subtly pressed or security called. What a colossal shame that we remember so little of our babyhood and toddler-dem. The time when we are happiest with ourselves, when all the world is a play centre, every song and colour is new, every face is friendly, the whole big wide world revolves around you and no-body minds! They dance with no inhibitions and ask questions the brightest academics cannot answer. The trouble with the world if you ask me, is that we have to  grow up. We forget what it really is to be a child. As a wise woman once said . . .

“While we try to teach our children all about life,
Our children teach us what life is all about.”
~Angela Schwindt


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Listography: Top 5 films

Kate’s listography this week is a toughy! Top 5 films. Like everyone, I’m finding it pretty hard to whittle down, but I shall give it a try . . .

1 – Down By Law. The fabulous Tom Waits proves he’s a compelling actor as well as musician. The story of three different men in a Louisiana prison; a pimp and  a radio DJ both framed for crimes they didn’t commit, and an infuriatingly optimistic Italian who barely speaks english and talks a lot about ice cream. He also has an escape plan. This film has a slow pace (which I like) but it’s an epic journey –  on a small geographical scale. You can’t help but get sucked in as the three lives become entwined and unlikely friendships form. I just love it.

Down by Law Poster

2 – Freaks.

Where do I start? This film was made in 1932 and banned almost immediately due to the audiences screaming and leaving cinema’s on mass at the revulsion of it. Tom Browning, who made the film, was way ahead of his time. He had been a member of a circus in his early years, and much of the film was drawn from his personal experiences. A beautiful trapeze artists marries a besotted midget when she learns of his large inheritance. The “Freaks” decide to accept her as one of them, only to realise her true intents, and they exact a terrible revenge. What shocked the audiences of the time was the fact that all the actors used were genuine. Browning questions who the real monsters of the story are, and the world just wasn’t ready. An awesome film, even now its nearly 80 years old!

3 – Abigail’s Party.

 “Another Gin and Tonic Ange?” Brilliant! I am a big fan of Mike Leigh and it was a toss-up between this and Nuts in May. The whole film takes place in one room. A social satire of the 1970’s middle classes striving to be so much more well to do than they really are, when the WONDERFUL Alison Steadman hosts a cocktail party. So cringy I literally watch it through my fingers – and yet I never tire of it. So, so funny, superb acting and writing – just brilliant. Slap on some Demis Roussos, pour yourself a Gin and Tonic, and enjoy!

4 – Oh Brother Where Art Thou.

I’m a big fan of the Coen brothers but this has to be my favourite. It’s the only film I can think of where once it had finished, I pressed play again straight away and re-watched! Based on Homer’s “The Odyssey”  it follows three escaped convicts in the deep south America of the 1930’s, pursued by a sinister lawman. They escape to find buried treasure – they end up finding their fortune in a very different way. Funny, quirky, weird and a soundtrack to die for.

“Well, there are all manner of lesser imps and demons, Pete, but the great Satan hisself is red and scaly with a bifurcated tail, and he carries a hay fork. ”

5 – Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon 

 This started a re-surge in the popularity of kung fu films. I am a big fan, and had to stop myself putting in a load of old school HI-YAAAAA in this list. I didn’t like the way modern kung fu was going. Less and less martial arts, more and more guns, chicks and Hollywood. This film brought it back to the beautiful skill of the artists with expert choreography and wire work and a traditional story line. Not only this – it’s just beautiful to look at. It’s the nearest thing, I think, to watching a dream and I could see it a hundred times more and not get bored.

 It also has wonderfully strong female leads that DON’T need rescuing and are stunning martial artists.

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Togetherness

“The dog was created especially for children. He is the god of frolic.”

This weeks theme for the wonderful Gallery is Togetherness. I’ve been meaning to blog about my boys for a while and this seemed the perfect opportunity . . .

Fizz and Badger – our dogs –  come and tell me when Grace is upset. They rest their head on my lap when I’M upset and never want to know why. They are joyful when we are, feel our sadness, adore us consistently despite all our faults, and are both infinitely patient with the overenthusiastic toddler that constantly wants a cuddle.

In turn, baby girl is learning a healthy respect for animals and is very gentle with them. When she isn’t as gentle as she could be  – they understand bless ’em and just give me an exasperated look. Being kind to the boys is something we have instilled from day one. And it’s paying off. She adores them and her current favourite place in the world is in the dog bed! (Ah well – good for the immunity I believe.)  

I grew up with Dogs and they were truly the best friends a little girl could have. (Do I sound a bit sad here? I did have actual people friends too – honest) but when I was upset, or when Mum and Dad were having another row, or when there was no-one about to play out with, I had the dogs. Always on hand with a loving wet nose to snuffle in your hand, or paw on your lap, or chin on your knee. And he will never ever ever EVER judge you.

I hope Grace makes lots of friends in her life. I hope she has a select few that are as special as some of mine. But right now, she is learning to build that wonderful canine-child relationship A relationship that very sadly, some hugley  irresponsible dog owners and bad press have many of us weary of. 

I don’t know what I’d do without our Dogs. Yes – they occasionally crap on the carpet/stuff their noses up random people’s crotches/destroy things/get really REALLY excited after a poo (what’s that about?) and bark at the most inopportune times (Nap time) but they are – essentially – absolute gentlemen.

“He is loyalty itself. He has taught me the meaning of devotion. With him, I know a secret comfort and a private peace. He has brought me understanding where before I was ignorant. His head on my knee can heal my human hurts. His presence by my side is protection against my fears of dark and unknown things. He has promised to wait for me… whenever… wherever – in case I need him. And I expect I will – as I always have. He is just my dog.”

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Really THAT Stupid?

 

The new kitchen has arrived! Those that read my pervious post “I want my new kitchen!” will know what a relief this is. BUT – it is not the subject of this particular blog entry. The inspiration for this one came whilst reading the instructions for the new microwave and I happened upon the following warning: “Do not use to dry pets” Honest to God. When I’d finished laughing and reassuring the greyhound he had nothing to worry about – it got me thinking. Just how stupid do manufacturers think we are? It played on my mind all day so whilst relaxing in the bath that evening, instead of the usual book time I get to myself; I found reading the labels on the bathroom products just as entertaining. “Do not use to dye eyelashes or pubic hair” on a hair dye bottle, and “This product is intended for use in the bath and not for consumption” on a bottle of Crème Bath.

 So who are these idiots that sit in their baths “Gee Maw, this here cream-du-bay-ath sure tastes maghty farn!” (Wibble wibble with fingers on lips whilst slurping product.) 

    They’re everywhere. The government is already telling us what to eat, how often to exercise,  what to spend, what to save, blah blah blah – do  they really need to tell us not to microwave our pets? Or not to feed my dog shampoo to fish? Or that herbal sleeping tablets “May cause drowsiness?” Personally I feel that if you’re stupid enough to do any of these things than you deserve everything you get. With bells on. I for one find it a bit insulting. . . “Ooh, look! A can of deodorant! I think I’ll spray it directly into my eyes whilst drying my hair in the bath, chewing on a razor, and give Grave an electric drill to play with.” It’s like a modern-day, consumer-based chicken and egg conundrum: Are these product makers incredibly patronising, or are people actually that stupid? After a fun few minutes googling, I also found the following:

 “Do not use if you cannot see clearly to read the information in the information booklet.” — In the information booklet.

  “For external use only” — On a curling iron.

“Do not use while unconscious.” — On a hand-held massaging device

May irritate eyes.” — On a can of self-defense pepper spray.

Warning: Do not climb inside this bag and zip it up. Doing so will cause injury and death.” A label inside a protective bag (for fragile objects), which measures 15cm by 15cm by 12cm.

Caution: Remove infant before folding for storage.” — On a portable stroller.

May be harmful if swallowed.” — On a shipment of hammers.

And my personal favourite, just for its oddness . . .

“Warning: Do not use on eyes.” — In the manual for a heated seat cushion.

I ask you!

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Your Child’s Schema

Apologies to my blog readers who aren’t Mums – cause this one might be a bit boring.

When I picked up Little legs last week after work, my wonderful child minder informed me that Grace was a “Transporter.”   I was unsure how to process this information. There are many things I  have called my little bundle of joy, but “Transporter” has  never been one of them. Apparently, she also has a bit of “Orientation” thrown in. Upon further questioning, it transpired that said child-minder had been attending a course which involved identifying patterns of behaviour in children and how to accommodate for them through play.  She also gave me a load of bumph on it as I found it all pretty interesting and thought you might too.

Now don’t go giving me all that “children shouldn’t be put in boxes” stuff (metaphorically of course. Literally putting them in boxes it would seem – they tend to quite like) I know every child is different, but my Little G definitely fits the Transporter/Orientation description. So . . . what’s your little one?

Patterns of Behaviour

A schema is a repeated pattern of behaviour which children use to express and explore their developing ideas. There are several types of schema, and a child may fit into more than one.  They include:

Trajectory :

This schema is primarily about movement – vertical, horizontal, or clashing (bringing two objects together). Children with a trajectory schema may like to repeatedly drop things or throw objects. Provide for children with this schema by putting out things like balls and bean bags, building blocks, which children can build up and then knock down, water, which children can pour and observe the movement of, and tweezers and hole punches which enable children to explore a clashing trajectory.

 

Rotation:

The rotation schema is about turning and rotating. Children exhibiting this schema may like rolling, running, or moving in circles. They will often like to draw circular patterns. In order to encourage the rotation schema put out things such as toys with wheels, scooters and tricycles, or activities with a rotational movement such as cogs and wheels.

  

Enveloping:

The enveloping schema is all about wrapping up and hiding. Children may cover themselves or objects with materials, they may paint over a picture with a single colour, or they might make dens or hide under tables. For the enveloping schema, have lots of fabric and material for the child to access as well as dressing up clothes. Also provide lots of paper and sticky tape so that children can wrap things up and cover objects.

 

Transporting:

Most children are moved around a lot. Put into cars, pushed to the shops etc, so it seems natural that they would want to explore transporting for themselves. Children with this schema like to move things. They may also push around prams or wheelbarrows, empty or full. They may carry objects from place to place, often squirreling them away in a bag or container before depositing them somewhere else. Try to ensure you have lots of bags and containers available for the child to use and outside toys should include trolleys,  or wheelbarrows, which children with this schema will love to move around the garden.

 

Other schemas include Positioning (ordering and arranging objects), Connecting, (Putting things together by tying/fastening/ sticking etc) and Orientation (looking at things from a different viewpoint, e.g. upside down.)

Pretty interesting I thought. What d’ya reckon?

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Pure Plagiarism, Part 2.

BACK by popular demand – the copying out verbatim of my junior school story book, found recently when going through a box of things from my Mum’s loft. For those of you who enjoyed the first installment entitled “My Wedding”  firstly – WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU? And secondly, here is another offering from the little me of yester year for your enjoyment . . .

Those that missed the fist one . . . enjoy! To reiterate, this is copied exactly from my  old school book, (with only quotation marks added to make it a bit easier to follow) and it’s very VERY worrying!!!

“In The Playground”

By Elizabeth King, class 3

I like to run around and around in circuls in the scool playground. That is were we play our games. I like doind this BY MY SELF so that no body torks to me and makes me stop. Wen I do stop running in circuls I like to sit on the curb. Then I think I am a froglet in a pond and I think I will jump onto another rock with some more froglets in the pond. Then I say “Oh dear” because I could see a froglet that was all shrivuld up and dry and his eyes stuk rite out. I thought it should go in a hole so I put it in a hole. Just then a man with a black beard  put fat fly on the rock for me. My tail is qwite short. Then I jumped in a hole with the dryed up frog and we watched the ITV news.

Also in the playground I like to play kiss catch. The bit I like best is when I get kissed because then is my chance to say “I am not playing!” so the boys let me free  then I say that “I am playing!” and I run off and giggal to my slef. Aswell I like playing “Boys after Girls” I yuost (used) to play with Pauline but my brother sais she smels.

What the HELL do you make of this one then? Boys after Girls??? Kiss catch??? FROGLETS??? And what is with my obsession with the ITV news? It cropped up in the last one too –  I need a lie down . . .  

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Art Review.

 “A work of art is the unique result of a unique temperament.” Oscar Wilde.

And so it is true. Let us examine the work here before us . . .

“Just what. . . ” we may ask ourselves trepidatiously “. . . is the artist trying to say here?” The skilful intertwining of both the abstract and the subject matter almost scream at one to sit up and pay attention. Contextually – the artist takes us on an idiosyncratic and yet remarkable journey – almost akin to passing through the birth canal itself and thus evoking a strong essence of re-birth. The swift, impassioned strokes of the chalk – a fierce  juxtaposition with the torment of the artist herself, a Miss Grace B of Bolton, Lancashire.

When asked to elaborate on her work, Ms B was quoted as saying:

“A-bwaaaaaah. Ga ga ga ga gawwan, gawwan. Bwee-yeah! Bbbblllllllpppppppppp”

 Enigmatic and Esoteric in her response, we may never know what this work of genius – this phenomenological expression of the artists inner dialect – may represent. Ours is not to question great art. Ours is merely to observe and wonder.

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