Tag Archives: Children

Christmas report

We had a lovely Christmas.

The strangelings are still operating on Adelaide time a little, so I didn’t hear the first stirrings until just after 6am, and even then, I turned over and went back to sleep until 7.30am. The girls danced in and showed me their end-of-bed gifts (a hangover from the days of Santa-belief), and then we made coffee and everyone shifted into my parents’ room to exchange gifts. Mostly books and CDs and DVDs. And chocolate.

Breakfast was warmed croissants filled with peaches and topped with maple syrup, with bubbly wine, follwed by eggs benedict, and more coffee. We had a light lunch, and then, the real celebration began in the evening. My lovely uncle was with us, and my brother and his partner and their children joined us, and so did my brother’s partner’s brother, and his partner, visiting from Melbourne. 15 of us sat down to dinner, all gathered around the long dining table, which had been augmented for the occasion. Mum lit the candelabra, and then lit two more candles, for my absent brothers and their families. The lamb and ham and newly dug potatoes and kumara and salads were delicious, but the real magnificence was the dessert table. This year, Mum had 13 items on offer: chocolate terrine and raspberry semi-freddo and two cheesecakes, and mixed berries, and strawberries, and icecream, and cream, and rhubarb summerfruit pudding, Christmas mince pies and black doris plum spoom and brandied fruit salad and Christmas cake. I had three helpings, and the girls had four helpings each.

What made it all so special was the shining look in the children’s eyes. Mum and Dad, with the assistance of my uncle and I, worked hard to put it all together, but for the children, it was all a magical feast, something to savour and remember. I think that when they are old, they will look back on this Christmas, and say, “When I was a child, my grandparents gathered everyone around the table, and we had a feast, and my grandmother served 13 desserts.”

It was a wonderful occasion.

As for exactly what we gave the strangelings for Christmas – one child got a drum pad and drum sticks (‘though no packet of Jaffas*), another was given a Sylvanian cottage, which she loves, and the third was given a remote controlled toy that she had been coveting for months and months.

This remote controlled toy.

(Description: large, hairy, greebly toy spider, scuttles around the floor, and then comes closer and closer to the camera, until the camerawoman disappears in a scream.)

I spent the day being terrified of that wretched thing. The younger Miss Nine was delighted with it. She tormented us all, but her best ‘gotcha’ was during dinner, when she sat innocently and quietly at one end of the table, and waited for her elder cousin to scream. Which she did, very obligingly, when Miss Nine steered the spider underneath the table and onto her toes. Ms Elder Cousin shrieked, and then laughed, all in very good grace, while Miss Nine laughed and laughed and laughed with glee. What a triumph!

What would you do when your gentle, fine boned, delicate little nine year old asks for a remote controlled Mexican red kneed tarantula for Christmas?

* My brothers and I have long had a ritual threat, to give the other’s child a drum and a packet of Jaffas.

It never rains but…

… it pours!

The long term average rainfall for December in Adelaide is just over 28mm. Today we have gotten nearly twice that (so far), with most of it falling in just one hour. Here’s part of the record from the Kent Town observation station (for non-Adelaide people, that’s just outside the CBD).

Weather observations chart.  Various columns: time at extreme left, cumulative rainfall at extreme right.

Extract from weather chart

(Description: Weather observations chart. Various columns: time at extreme left, cumulative rainfall at extreme right.)

There’s a special story in this rainfall record. Time is on the extreme left, and rainfall on the extreme right. Up until 3pm today, there had been no rain. By 3.30pm, 27mm had fallen, and by 3.59pm, we were up to 42mm of rain.

Exactly when all the children were getting out of school. Yes, this *has* happened before.

Perhaps hitting children really is too horrible to contemplate

There’s a new parenting book out by Sue Edgerley, urging mothers to stay home, telling parents to run their families like army units, and advocating smacking children. It’s self-published: evidently no self-respecting publisher would go near it. The Murdoch papers are all running stories about it. Whatever, really. What intrigues me is the picture my local paper, the Adelaide Advertiser, has chosen to run with the story.

Small blonde girl, smacking her doll, which is face down over her knee.

Child hitting doll.

(Description: Small blonde girl, smacking her doll, which is face down over her knee.)

Click here for the story, and the comments. But I wouldn’t bother reading the comments if I were you. Seriously.

The picture tells its own story. Evidently it would be too horrible to see an adult hitting a child, even though it is not illegal for parents to hit children in South Australia. So instead of showing what Sue Edgerley is advocating, they sanitised it by getting one of her proposed victims a child to act it out. I wonder how many people would continue to support hitting children if they could see what it really looks like. It is *not* small, blonde and cute.

I don’t understand why newspapers are giving free publicity to this writer. What she advocates masquerades as “tough love”, but that’s a misnomer. Hitting children is not love at all. It’s violence, perpetrated by big people against small vulnerable people who are perhaps the most powerless group of people in our society. And by giving her air time, Rupert Murdoch and his papers are supporting her. It might be a little different if an established publisher was backing her book, but given that this is a self-publishing effort, otherwise known as “vanity” publishing, I don’t see why it merits any particular attention from the mainstream media.

A photo essay on the Iliad

Troy, built of blocks


Greece, built with Lego, with a solitary figure


Troy, trashed. No people.

Troy redux

Another opportunity for body policing lost

Cross posted

When I was pregnant, I was very careful about how much alcohol I drank. From vague recollection, I think I had a couple of half glasses of wine during my first pregnancy, and maybe three during my second one. Except for the full glass of wine I had on my midwife’s recommendation on the dark and stormy night when my waters broke, but nothing else was happening to indicate that labour might be starting. Seriously, it was a dark and story night: according to the midwife the air pressure may have caused my waters to break.

I didn’t exactly feel guilty about it, but I was faintly worried, and I had to talk myself through the worries. I had completely absorbed the “DO NOT DRINK DURING PREGNANCY” mantra.

Each time, I was worried that someone would tell me off (except for that glass of wine on the dark and stormy night). The excellent Blue Milk has an excellent post on policing women who drink from time to time during pregnancy: Compare and contrast. And see also Lauredhel’s post at Hoyden about Town: Bad science on booze in pregnancy: Women infantilised with absolutist messages.

But it turns out that there is no evidence to suggest that women who have one or two drinks a week during pregnancy do any harm to their babies whatsoever.

Light drinking during pregnancy fine – study

Women who have one or two alcoholic drinks a week during pregnancy do not harm their children’s behavioural or intellectual development, according to a new study.

The British researchers found that pregnant women who drank up to a glass (175 millilitres) of wine, up to 50 ml of spirits or just under a pint of beer a week did not affect their children.

What are the pregnancy police going to do now?

Previous post: Because it’s always better to police women

Why Ms Eleven should be allowed to get a Netbook

Our elder daughter presented us with this essay. I’ve used her blog-name rather than her given name throughout, so one or two sentences sound a little odd, but other than that, I have not changed her work at all. What do you think? Opinions please.

A Netbook is a small laptop with a screen that is about 10 inches across. They have most of the same tools as a laptop. Ms Eleven is a girl of 11 (soon to be 12) years of age, who wants a Netbook for a present. There are four reasons for Ms Eleven receiving a Netbook.

The first reason for Ms Eleven getting a Netbook is that it would help her keep in contact with her friends in Australia. Ms Eleven will miss her friends a lot and having a Net book would help her keep in contact with them. Ms Eleven would also be able to use Skype instead of calling her friends, and so decreasing the family phone bill.

The second reason for Ms Eleven getting a Netbook is that it would free up the computer for parents and siblings. The main computer in Ms Eleven’s household is used for parents’ email, parents’ Tetris, mother’s blogs, children’s email, children’s games, parents’ work, children’s work, and children’s expositions about getting a Netbook. Because of all these different things the computer is used for, the main computer is very hard to get access to. If Ms Eleven had a Netbook, she could use that instead, and it would make it easier for parents and siblings to get to the computer.

The third reason for Ms Eleven getting a Netbook is that she could learn more about I.T. Ms Eleven is close to going to high school, and computers are used often for homework and schoolwork. After high school, is university and/or an apprenticeship. Then a job. All these use computers, so Ms Eleven will find it easier if she already had some past experience with computers. If Ms Eleven had a Netbook she would get to set it up, organise it, transfer information, practise touch-typing, and learn how to use it. Knowing how to do these would be a great life skill, and Ms Eleven can only acquire them if she got a Netbook.

The fourth reason for Ms Eleven getting a Netbook is that it will help with her schoolwork. If Ms Eleven got a Netbook she would be able to research and do assignments more easily. Ms Eleven would learn so much more from school if she wasn’t stressed about having a computer to do her homework on. She would get better marks and better reports, so getting her a Netbook is a great idea.

In conclusion, I strongly believe that Ms Eleven should receive a Netbook for a present because it will help her keep in contact with her friends, free up the computer for parents and siblings, advance Ms Eleven’s I.T. skills, and help her with her schoolwork.

Adventures in parenting #327

Today, the girls walked themselves home from school, let themselves in, and got themselves some afternoon tea. I did not get home until 4.40pm.

The sky did not fall.