Sunday, May 30, 2010

Not the liturgical dancers!!!!!

This video made me laugh, and perhaps it will give readers a chuckle.

I couldn't embed it so go to this link:

Leonie at Living Without School, who has been writing about liturgical travesties, I hope this cheers you up!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

How high is your voice when speaking to toddlers?

... because my voice goes REALLY HIGH when I'm speaking to our Little Man...

But I just read this at

Speaking in high pitched tones as when they were babies "can impede in their language development in learning how to really talk. Toddlers need to be spoken to like a real person and not ‘like a dog’ anymore. They are smarter than we give them credit for and absorb everything that is said to them. This is a sensitive period for language in children so take advantage of it and model it properly.".
I'm not sure if they mean simply the high-pitched tone or also speaking in 'motherese' to de widdle wums.

I definitely never spoke in fractured English, but my voice at times can reach decibels only heard by dogs ... I think I'll start using more of a normal tone with our Little Man now, except when I greet him in the morning. If you can't go high then, well there's no hope for the world.

Jasper Fforde

Is this name a pseudonym? It reminds me of Wodehouse's Freddie Ftich-Fitch. I'm not sure, but I've just finished reading Jasper Fforde's The Big Over Easy, and I loved it so much I just have to blog it.

Jack Spratt heads up the Nursery Crimes police division and has to solve the case of who murdered Humpty Dumpty. It might sound corny but it makes enough of a commentary on the media, politics and celebrity status that it's not all cheese

It was a bit 'parrallel universe', had a lot of satire, and many moments where you don't laugh out loud but you do go "ha" under your breath: it was a great read.
Over dinner I kept telling ever-patient hubby about it but he's not really into the whole 'it's set in our world but not really' themed books so I couldn't go overboard telling him about it.

The first Jasper Fforde book I read was The Eyre Affair, which I also loved.

Who wouldn't want to jump in and out of books and interact with the characters - as long as they you don't speak with them when they are actually in a scene: you don't want to be written into the book!

The part I always remember with a chuckle about this book is when a Japanese tourist Mrs Nakajima  manages to read herself into Jayne Eyer and decides to settle down in the village where Rochester lives.

I just went to Jasper Fforde's website and it's just like reading his books. Hilarious!

.........And no, I wasn't paid by Fforde to write this....

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

communication development

Since our Little Man turned one this May, his language has started to develop into more meaningful groups of sounds. For months now, he's said 'Ma' and 'Da' - Ma when he's crying, and Da when he's happy or hears his dad coming home from work.

He has now started saying "Ber" for bird. He loves watching the pigeons on the roof of the apartment block next door while he eats his breakfast. He is getting better at repeating sounds like 'ber' after us.

He also picks up anything that resembles a mobile phone and says "hurrow", and he's got "bye bye" down pat.

He has started pointing more (especially at lights), and trying to make sounds to express what he's pointing to.

I love how he compensates for his lack of verbal language through other means. If he wants me to do something like making a scratching noise on the table, he'll guide my hand to initiate the action. If he wants his toy dog, he makes little barking noises. If he wants to go to bed, he gets his dummy and doggy and goes into his bedroom. So cute!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Lake visit

Yesterday we took our Little Man to visit a lake near our place.

It's so beautiful there - a lush haven in the city.

He was fascinated by the assortment of water birds there, including a massive gander, which liked having his photo taken:

I'm glad one of you is looking at the camera!

I had to restrain our Little Man from grabbing their beaks. Dirty things!

Looking out over the water. We really should do this more often!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

How many books at home?

For those who are concerned about their child's potential to go to university, a study (sent to me via Mum) has found that the more books you have available at home, the higher your child's education attainment.

So if your child gets a degree it's not about how well educated you are, it's about how many books you have.

How many books do you need to have to make sure your child gets to go further at school?

The study found that having 500 books made a big difference, but
"Having as few as 20 books in the home still has a significant impact on propelling a child to a higher level of education, and the more books add, the greater the benefit."

The quote below interested me most:

"This book benefit was seen across countries, and held regardless of the parent's educational background, the country's Gross Domestic Product, father's occupation or the political system of the country, the researchers say."

Regardless of parent's educational background, eh? This is most interesting for homeschooling parents.

It puts paid to the idea that only institutionally educated people are qualified to homeschool. Any parent, no matter what their education level should be qualified for homeschooling if they themselves have a love of learning and their child's best interests at heart.

Often when I tell friends that I intend to homeschool, their reaction is "Oh, but you can do it because you're a teacher anyway". In fact, don't teachers make the worst homeschoolers?

In America especially, some states make it compulsory for homeschoolers to have teaching qualifications (if they haven't banned homeschooling outright).

Instead, perhaps it should be compulsory for all parents to have more than 20 books in their shelves.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

A Maiden Upstairs

My sister Bridget has just created a fantastic blog:  A Maiden Upstairs. She'll be writing about a lot of things she does as a homeschooled teenager.

I'm lucky to have her as a sister. Who else could I go to the beach with and quote the whole of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers while playing in the waves?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Does your child eat books?

Last week I was in the library with our Little Man. As we sat down for story time with other mums and kids, I let him play with the book I was going to borrow. He toddled off with it.

Just as the story teller was opening a story about how to treat library books, we all heard a massive Riiiiiiiiipppp sound. Silence. Then a sharp gasp from me as we all turned to see Little Man holding the first page of my book...

... with the rest of the book on the floor.

True story.

Ok so this example is of my child and public property What about books at home?

Kim [sorry, Liz!] at On Giant's Shoulders tells me that her grand daughter loves to eat books, as does my Little Man, although he's more into shredding them. Like the possibly out-of-print second hand Golden books I gave him.

I don't want him to destroy precious books, but I want him to be friends with books, not just acquaintances. I want him to be comfortable with them.

A friend of mine says his 2 year old son covers himself with books at night before he goes to sleep. What better way to get close to your books?

For now, I'm happy for our Little Man to shred, eat and sleep with his (non-precious) books. I think when he gets a bit older I'll start showing him how to be a courtly lover of them.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Courtly or carnal lover of books?

In homage to Anne Fadiman

From the moment I started to read books my parents insisted on their proper treatment.

To turn the pages from the edge closer to the spine was illegal in our home. We were taught to lovingly caress our books and turn our pages from the outermost corner with great delicacy.

Books were not meant to be treated harshly by leaving them face down on the page you were on. Dog ears were punishable offences and we never DARED write in our books (even in pencil) ...

I just lurrrved re-covering my mum's old 1964 Oxford dictionary

... in fact we didn't WANT to write in our books. We were courtly lovers. Any precious book was adorned in a pristine cloak of clear plastic and forever preserved in perfection.

It's different for my husband.

Not long after I met my husband he told me with gritted teeth how he once read a Tim Winton book. He hated every minute of it but kept reading in the hope that it would get better. When he got to the end, he claimed to have kicked the book around the room for several hours.

I had to stop and think for a minute if I wanted to continue my relationship with him.

Cue theme music from Psycho... my husband's copy of Furrow.

Writer Anne Fadiman in a brilliant essay describes herself as a carnal lover of books. To her, books are meant to be devoured in word and physicality. Her son at 8 months would eat any book he held.

She says:

To us, a book's words were holy, but the paper, cloth, cardboard, glue, thread, and ink that contained them were a mere vessel, and it was no sacrilege to treat them as wantonly as desire and pragmatism dictated. Hard use was not a sign of disrespect but of intimacy.

Since I got married I have been known to leave a book face down on my bedside table... but as my dad says, it's just plain annoying to to read a book that someone else has written in. How can you decide for yourself what the main points really are?!!

So what are you, a carnal or courtly lover of books?

Tomorrow: how will you let your children treat their books?
A tale of Public Library Embarrassment

Monday, May 17, 2010

Romantic mood and the two Annes

I noticed that the writer of this fantastic blog has just finished re-reading the Anne of Green Gables books. I must admit also to having just the other week skimmed through the last three of the six books. 'Why skimmed?' you ask.

Well I must have been in a bit of a romantic mood and I wanted to get to the juicy parts.... like at the very end [spoiler alert!] when Anne meets the former flame of Gilbert, Christine, who is now a rich and childless society widow. Anne is eaten up with jealousy and it becomes a bit of a page turner...

I love one quote from the last pages of Anne of Ingleside: Christine is very scornful of Anne having had seven children and no longer writing stories. Anne comments:
"I'm writing living epistles now"

Christine doesn't recognise the quote (ha ha!) and neither did I (oh...)  until I looked around the net and I think it's a reference to 2Corinthians:2-3 about Christians being epistles of Christ, written on our hearts. I do love the idea of the parents helping to shape that living epistle.

The other book I skim read in my romantic mood was Persuasion. The  heroine, also called Anne, in the interests of duty, rejects the man she loves only to meet him again 10 years later and is still in love with him. (Oooh, how will it turn out?!!) The parts I love skipping to are when Anne re-meets Captain Wentworth in Bath and also when Anne's rival, Louisa, falls off the Cobb in the town of Lyme Regis.

It seems that I was not the only one impressed by the Cobb scene. Apparently the first thing Tennyson did on a visit to Lyme Regis was go to see the Cobb where "Louise Musgrove fell".  At first I imagined the Cobb to be only a few steps high, but the full drama of the scene is evident when you see how high the Cobb really is.

Romantic indeed!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Montessori at home part 2

Here is the second video by 'willowtreephoto' describing how she uses Montessori in her home with her toddler. I like how she has kept it all very simple and has been able to do it all within her one-bedroom flat.

I have already tried to do a similar arrangement in our kitchen but I want to be more organised with the placement of his tupperware in the cupboard, with separate compartments for cups, plates and utensils.

Has anyone else out there done anything of this kind?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Montessori at home

Being keen to get our Little Man into independance using the Montessori philosophy, I have been trying to find on the internet ways of bringing Montessori into the home, even at the age of one.

The most helpful link to get me started in orienting our little flat so that our Little Man can do more things for himself is this youtube video below:

This lady has very clearly shown how she has done it with her little son. Really helpful!

Montessori benefits

I was put in Montessori pre-school in the late 70s/early 80s and while I don't remember much about going there except having a lovely Sri-Lankan teacher, Mrs Fernando, but the impact of my going there is still evident.

Back when I was four years old, Montessori enabled me to make my own porridge. Perched on a high stool by the stove top, I would put all the ingredients in and cook it myself, while my parents were still in bed. I also used to organise my afternoon tea (Activite and milk - remember that?) in height order from the Activite tin down to the spoon, before I made my drink.

I also remember not thinking that anything of this was out of the ordinary until it was commented on. Sometimes I wonder if commenting on it made me more reluctant to do it later on (my stubborn streak!). The Montessori philosophy advocates restraining excessive praise of a child's activities, as it draws attention away from the activity itself and brings the focus back to the parent. I think this is a good idea.

Now I have a love and a desire for organisation and having everything in its right place and in proper order. While I don't always achieve this, I have a strong desire for it, which usually brings be back on track before things get too chaotic.

Friday, May 14, 2010

baby development

It's amazing to think that our little one was not too long ago a little helpless baby in our arms.

Now, at 1 year old it's astounding to see him walk all over our flat, pick up and put down things that he's interested in, and babble to himself.

He is at the moment very keen on putting things into other things - something that I hope he has been learning from me as I am constantly putting his toys back into various boxes so that he can pull them out.

He now throws bath toys into the water, moves objects from one bowl to another, puts toys into their appropriate boxes, and less appropriately, puts his drinking cup into his bowl of food.

What I was most thrilled to see him to this week was to place a red straw into a red cup, and a green straw into a green cup. I've been modelling this for a few weeks now and he seems to have caught on!