Monday, October 28, 2013

Reed, Gaiman, Gillard and a bunch of weird and wonderful documentaries: A list of links

1. Lou Reed died. And news of his death and tributes and clips of his music are flooding through my social media and regular news feeds. 'Perfect Day' is one of my favourite songs. This version of it, packed with singers and musicians from all over the musical spectrum and used to promote the BBC, makes my heart sing. 

2. Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) is one of the folks stuffing my twitter feed with Lou Reed-related links, including this article he wrote on interviewing the man himself.. He retweets like a mad-man and links to some incredible posts and videos including this amazing Guardian article on the importance of reading and funding libraries (there's a devastating line or two in there about predicting future prison size/needs by looking at the literacy rates of little boys); this PSA video on birth control and sex education; this blog post on how Mickey Mouse shapes copyright; and this video by Catherine Bennett (a made-up pop-star invented by a nine-year-old). 

3. Hooray for The Guardian (Australian Edition) who've taken on Julia Gillard as a some-time contributer. Her first article/essay talks about Labor's future and a need to stick to their guns about carbon pricing as well as the pain of losing the leadership: “I know too that you can feel you are fine but then suddenly someone’s words of comfort, or finding a memento at the back of the cupboard as you pack up, or even cracking jokes about old times, can bring forth a pain that hits you like a fist, pain so strong you feel it in your guts, your nerve endings. I know that late at night or at quiet moments in the day feelings of regret, memories that make you shine with pride, a sense of being unfulfilled can overwhelm you. Hours slip by". She's also just written about the American government shutdown and the need to stop governing in crisis mode. 

4. A small number of Saudi women have taken to the streets, filming themselves driving. Brave ladies all, defying bans and their their government and their menfolk.

5. Gold does grow on trees! No really.

6. I am loving ABC iview and SBS on-demand. I’ve started heading straight to the docos section and have watched some weird and wonderful shows in the last few weeks. Most of the live video links have disappeared but if you can find some of these, watch them. The most amazing is Life in a Day, a joint project between You Tube, director Kevin MacDonald, the Scott brothers (Ridley and the late Tony) and the people of the world. Sewn together - the editing is A-MAZ-ING - from thousands of hours of footage shot on the 24th of July 2010, it's beautiful and banal and gut-wrenching and uplifting. Here's the trailer. Other's that I've seen recently are The Vasectomist (video link still good until November 20) about Dr Doug Stein, a whose mission is to save the planet from overpopulation and overconsumption, one snip at a time; and Men who Swim, about a men's amateur synchronised swimming team in Sweden (and mid-life crisis and making friends as an adult, immigrating for love, etc). If you have a spare 45 minutes to two hours, go and browse. There's some wickedly interesting stuff out there.

7. I may or may not also be watching Sex Rehab with Doctor Drew. This piece by Duncan Roy (one of those seeking rehabilitation) makes it even more interesting to watch, with me trying to pick out chronological errors and Dr Drew's ventriliquism.

Have you seen or read anything interesting lately? 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

New Songs on a Saturday... err... Afternoon (771-790)

As part of my ongoing effort to improve the range of my cultural consumption, I'm casting out for new things to listen to. Part one and an explanation of this musical escapade can be found here

This week I've been raiding the soundtracks from previous seasons of Bones. But, man, some of that stuff is hard to find. So I started at Bones and went fishing from there.

771. Liam Titcomb - 'Landslide' - How can a song be both jolly and sad at the same time? Gorgeous folky/country tune with heartbroken lyrics. (Can't find an official clip - this one's a lyric video)
772. Liam Titcomb - 'Richer Than We Know'.
773. Angus & Julia Stone - 'Babylon'.
774. Coleman Hawkins - 'Think Deep' - Laid back sax.
775. Shock - 'This Generation's On Vacation' - Old, old school punk.
776. Frankie and The Heart Strings - 'Everybody Looks Better (In the Right Light)' - Sounds so much like Blur's 'Money Makes Me Crazy' in the opening bars.
778. Gin Wigmore - 'Dirty Love' - Another one of those UK ladies throwing back to the 60s.
779. Jon Allen - 'When the Morning Comes'
780. Versus - 'Gone to Earth'
781. Wes Carr - 'Been a Long Time' -Australian Idol guy? What happened to his facial hair?
782. Tired Pony - 'All Things All At Once' - Letterman show's backing vocals are dodgy but love this.
783. Tired Pony - 'I Don't Want You As A Ghost'
784. Gotye - 'The Only Thing I Know' - Not my favourite.
785. Kimbra - 'Deep For You' - This sounds so different from her other songs. There's far less of the quirk that I love.
786. Current Swell - 'Long Time Ago' - Does anyone else hear Hootie and the Blowfish?
787. Fun - 'All the Pretty Girls' - Great song but I can't get past how tight that guy's pants are.
788. Sivu - 'Sleep' - Amazingly simple.
789. Sivu - 'Bodies' - Once you're past the long, crazy rambles sampled at the start, the song itself is... interesting.
790. Peter & Kerry - 'I Don't Know' - She's lovely and powerful and delicate. He's pretty good too. Sweet lyrics: "I would have asked you there and then to marry me...".

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Our Kabuki Kid: Kabuki Syndrome Awareness Day

My sweetheart niece, B, is going to turn 18 in a few weeks. But she's graduating high school (TODAY!!) and about to shift into that new, exciting and scary phase of life that comes after both those milestones. We're going to fly up and party with her and the rest of the family and her friends because it's a cause for celebration. 

It's a big cause for celebration. 

Because there were a few times when she was little, real little, when we were worried maybe she wouldn't live to see this. 

Our sweet B is a Kabuki Kid. That's not fatal but it comes with a suite of issues that can cause some pretty damn fatal consequences. 

Never heard of Kabuki Syndrome? Me either until it found its way into our family when she was diagnosed at age five. There's a more in-depth description on wikipedia and at the Supporting Aussie Kids with Kabuki Syndrome site, but the gist of it is this: Kabuki Syndrome is a rare genetic disorder (affecting around 1:32000 kids) that presents with multiple congenital anomalies (such as distinctive facial features and skeletal abnormalities) and intellectual disabilities. It was called Kabuki Syndrome because the kids' face appeared to resemble traditional white makeup of performers in Japanese Kabuki theatrical genre. 

Each Kabuki Kid has their own unique suite of issues, ranging from the mild to severe, and their own road to diagnosis and a "normal" life. 

Sweet B failed to thrive as a baby because she couldn't swallow properly and was constantly throwing up, so was fed via a nasal gastric tube until she had surgery to place a tummy plug (gastrostomy) and to stop her throwing up (fundoplication) when she was just 5 months old. She didn't start eating orally until she was around four. 

At 2.5 years old, they cracked open her little chest and performed open heart surgery to repair a large hole (a 20mm atrial septal defect). Since then she's had around 50 general anesthetics for various surgeries. This kid knows hospitals. 

All up, her suite of diagnoses have included:
  • the original failure to thrive (growth retardation)
  • intellectual impairment
  • low muscle tone and hyper extensibility in her joints (mainly her knees)
  • broad bridge of nose and a harp shape upper lip
  • sleep apnea (both obstructive and central)
  • Pierre Robin syndrome and Velo-cardio-facial syndrome
  • submucous cleft palate (which has not been corrected)
  • pulmonary stenosis and pulmonary hypertension on top of the open heart surgery to repair the ASD
  • perventricular white matter changes in the frontal lobes of her brain
  • mild hearing loss as a toddler (using hearing aids, but now heard within normal limits) and poor vision, wearing glasses since 10 months old
  • persistent fetal finger pads
  • short stature - this little sweetheart is tiny; she certainly doesn't look 17, although don't tell her I said that.
  • problem teeth (crowding and lots of other issues requiring root canals and removals)
  • petit-mal seizures
  • and a long list of behavioural related acronyms including OCD, ADD, ODD and PDD-NOS, which means there's repeated questions (a lot of questions), hitting, swearing, tearing clothes, chewing on things, and panicking, etc.
Sweet B's had it tough. 

But she's also amazed us all with how tough she is, with how determined she is to plow through the world. Thanks to the incredible work of her mum (incredible!) and a huge team of specialists and teachers as well as numerous volunteers and respite workers, she's walking (first with a walking frame just before her third birthday and then with the help of stirrups by 5.5 years) and talking (first with sign, now with words), not to mention swimming and rollerblading and ice skating and riding quad bikes (which freaks me out because she guns it).

All of the Kabuki Kids are amazing. 

It's Kabuki Syndrome Awareness Day today (Oct 23rd) so, please, go check out the SAKKS facebook page, (show your love by liking it). If you want to buy a ribbon or donate, SAKKS will gladly accept your love as well

Monday, October 21, 2013

Spewing in the Supermarket

Dear Boy spewed at the supermarket this afternoon.

In the produce section.

While I picked out potatoes for tonight's dinner.

My first hint of it was Dear Boy calling out: "stinky". And there he was with vomit down his chest and arms, dripping onto the floor, and a look on his face that said: "what the hell just happened?!"

And of course this was the first time since he was born that my magical mummy-bag-of-holding contained no chuckies; no old-school cloth nappies that I use as my go-to for messes and covers and matts and rugs; no tissues. Just one last, lone wipe from his nappy bag and a single scented nappy sac. 

And in the middle of a desperate clean-up and that dilemma of whether to cut and run or pay for the groceries in my basket, I thought of this: 

Have you seen The Money Pit? It's one of those movies we all were happy to watch as a family, the kids laid out in a line on the floor, chins on hands, and the adults on the couches behind us. Sure it's almost 28 years old but the laughs don't age. Okay, maybe some of them do. That laugh at the end of this clip... hilarious.

I don't think I can go back to Coles anytime soon.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A cranky lecturer's guide to better essay writing

I read a lot of essay every semester. Some of them come out of the marking process figuratively dripping in red ink (most of the marking's done online so no more red pen - waah!) and some of them pass through with hardly a mark. In the last batch, I had to write a little note at the bottom of the marking sheet explaining that I wasn't going to return the essay file with comments (as I had done with all the other students) because it just would have been just been punctuated with 'excellent!' or 'great argument!' the whole way through. She received the first perfect score I'd ever given. The highest distinction.

After 10 years of marking essays (holy crud, 10 years!) as well as my experience writing quite a few of them and one mother of an essay (all 100,000 words of it) myself, I think I know a thing or two about writing a good essay. I certainly know one when I read it. And I can pick a bad one in about a sentence or two.

So I'm offering up my top tips for writing a good (or at least a better) essay. My students may or may not have copped this a few weeks ago after I marked 86 essays.

1. Participate. Go to your damn lectures. You enrolled in the subject; you're certainly paying for it. So turn up. Listen. Take notes. If your parents are paying for it - do them the courtesy of turning up, listening and taking notes. If there are tutorials, turn up to those too. Do your damn readings before the lectures and tutorials so if you don't understand a key idea or theory, you can ask there and then. And if you still don't get it, you can keep asking until it's explained to you in a way that you do. The people who write the best essays are generally the ones who ask the questions in class.

2. Be prepared. Read through the essay questions at the start of the semester so you can highlight or make clearer notes about the relevant topics as they come up in your lectures. Start researching hardcopy texts early - all the good stuff that hasn't been digitised is going to be gone if you wait until the week before the essay is due. When there are more than a hundred students competing for the same resources, someone wins and quite a few more miss out.

3. Read the question - all of it. Read through all of the instructions for the essay - not just the essay topic but all of it. Most lecturers include additional information that can help you navigate through the process. Figure out the key verbs in the essay topic - are you being asked to compare and contrast, to critically analyse, to discuss, to debate...? Those terms are signposts for how to address your topic and structure your argument.

4. Do your research. Unless you're specifically asked not to, you are being asked to go beyond the readings you've been given. Don't just rely on database searches, electronic books and journals. Go and find the relevant Dewey or Library of Congress call number and browse through the hardcopy titles in that whole section. Pull them off the shelves and read through the contents and the index. A huge problem with student research is that most only look for sources that support their own ideas rather than casting a wider net to see if they're actually right or wrong. Your own fundamental assumptions shine out of your essay like a beacon. Especially when they're wrong.

5. Think about your sources. Go to the original sources where you can rather than relying on text books that summarise, paraphrase or quote out of context. Don't take the author at face value - being published doesn't make them right or valuable. Interrogate their ideas before you use them. Take meticulous notes and make records of everything you read or look through so you can't possibly mistake someone else's ideas for your own.

6. Have a plan. After you've done your research, figure out what your argument is and stick to it. Unstructured essays sprawl. They stop answering the question and go off on interesting but essentially useless tangents. Take advantage of lecturers who are amenable to checking essay plans. I won't tell you if you've got the right answer (if there is one) but I will tell you if it looks like you're making a logical argument or not.

7. Don't just summarise. Even if you agree with your sources, you still need explain why they're good, trustworthy or "correct". If you've just pointed out their flaws, explain to me why their flaws are less severe than the other sources you could have used. In all of the graduate destination surveys I've ever read, future employers are looking for evidence of critical thinking. They don't really care about practical training because it's almost guaranteed you've been taught the wrong techniques or systems and they'll show you the right way on the job (this is true even in medicine and engineering, etc). They want to know you can think. I do too.

8. Check your writing. This is especially true of international students with English as a second (or third or fourth) language but domestic students often get tripped up here too. Written expression is usually only a small component of the mark but, in reality, if you can't express your ideas clearly, you're going to be losing marks in the other categories as well. When you've been working on a written piece for a while, you become blind to the errors in it - so read it out loud or copy edit backwards (checking each word or sentence for errors). Give it to someone else to read, especially someone who isn't doing the same subject. If a non-interested party can understand your ideas, you've done a good job. Spell check can only do so much for you - it won't pick up that you've used wether instead of whether. There should be no castrated sheep in any of my essays.

9. Hand it in on time. At the right place. There is nothing more demoralising than calculating the late penalties for a great essay handed in late. If you need extra time - ask for it. Nicely. We understand stuff goes wrong and I'll bend over backwards to help genuinely unwell or distressed students get across the line. But I'm not going to give you extra time because you were in Europe for the last three weeks of semester. Or you were in a wedding the weekend before the essay was due. If you misread or failed to read the instructions on when and how to submit - that's your problem. I don't check the offices for hardcopy submission when I've clearly explained it's a digital only submission.

10. Don't be an arsehole. If you are a disruptive jerk in my classes, I'm saving your essay for last. By the time I've read what feels like a million essays, I'm going to come at your essay with all the righteous indignation and raw fury of a lecturer who feels half the class didn't listen to a word she said.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

New Songs on a Saturday Morning (761-770)

As part of my ongoing effort to improve the range of my cultural consumption, I'm casting out for new things to listen to. Part one and an explanation of this musical escapade can be found here.

So... I left a song off the list last week's New Songs post, so here it is to make up for it. Thanks for the Facebook suggestion, Jodie.

760. Allen Stone - 'Sleep' - This is toe-tapping stuff. And great for an early Saturday morning wake-up.

And now onto this week's set. 

761. The Honey Trees - 'To Be With You'
762. The Honey Trees - 'Love and Loss'
763. First Aid Kit - 'Wolf'- For some reason this sounds like California to me, California and a dash of a country yodel. Weird combination, I know, but it works. Thanks to Girl's Gone Child for leading me in this direction. 
764. First Aid Kit - 'Emmylou' - Way more country than 'Wolf' but that chorus is a gorgeous cry and tribute.
765. Emily and the Woods - 'It Was Right There' - So gorgeous. Some of these lady voices are starting to sound the sound, this beautiful harmony of lady voices on both sides of the Atlantic and the Pacific. But they're all still gorgeous. This one is particularly lovely with the simple acoustic guitar accompaniment. 
766. Emily and the Woods - 'More Like Me'.
767. She & Him - 'In The Sun' (on David Letterman) - Poor Zooey looks like a deer in the headlights. 
768. Ellie Goulding - 'Wish I Stayed' - Her voice, her voice is incredible. The high-trilling bird call notes should be annoying but they're not. They're divine. 

769. The Staves (feat. Keaton Henson) - 'Icarus' - Holy moley. What a combination of gentle voices - male and female.
770. Keaton Henson - 'Sweetheart, What Have You Done To Us?' - I'd love it for the title and beard alone. But the rest is so sad and sweet. A touch too James Blunt in places, but the title and the beard make up for it. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

New Tricks (16/26): Pimping my Facebook page

I may or may not have watched a little Pimp My Ride in my day. Mostly during those infant days when there was a lot of couch love as Dear Boy ate and slept and generally lived in our ever-tired arms. I have no desire to deck out my car with a stupid array of speakers, lights, fireworks displays or juicers (?!) so I'm going to have to settle for pimping up my facebook page instead.

On one of my forays into Pinterest, I caught a pin that promised "primping" of one's facebook page, and although the "primps" weren't quite going to work for me, it was easily adapted for Lilybett and Boy's page. Essentially what I wanted to do was add some facebook apps that linked into a few of my other social media outlets, namely Instagram and Pinterest, and then make those app tabs look less grey and dull.


I said... TA-DAH!!

Okay, maybe I'm spending a little too much time on Picmonkey these days but using a font called Budmo Jiggler just amuses me no end.

Want to know how to do it too (the pimping, not the Budmo Jiggling)? It's pretty easy.
  1. Add your apps. The photos tab will always sit in that 1st position but you have three extra slots to play with (two if you don't want to lose the 'like' tab). I used the Pinterest Page App and InstaTab Facebook App. You go through the normal rigmarole of allowing them access and can then load in your specific Pinterest or Instagram profile. The InstaTab app will let you display numerous profiles so you can also add your favourites to the feed. It's up to you who or what or how many.
  2. Adjust the order. Once you've added the apps, click on the pencil/edit icon that will appear in the top right corner of the app. This will give you options to adjust the order of the tabs by swapping them around.
  3. Customise your tabs. In that same pencil/edit list you have an option to 'edit settings'. In the pop-up box you can change the tab's label as well as add your own customised tab picture. These must be 111px by 74px. I made mine using Picmonkey and a freebie chevron pattern from Mel Stampz (Thanks Mel!). Her New Leaf (she of the "primping") has freebie customised tabs if you don't want to make your own. 
I'm still looking for an app to fill the third slot, but I much prefer my homemade tabs to the empty, grey slots there previously. Keeping watching that page for more pimping.

Have you pimped your facebook page or blog lately? Care to share your new tricks?

Sunday, October 6, 2013

4 things that are not fun for a toddler at a park

We're becoming park connoisseurs and have found that many of the newer style parks look fantastically awesome and draw us in, but in reality are designed for big kids and end up being dead-zones for toddler fun. Here are four things that were not fun at the most recent park we visited but are not fun at pretty much any park where they're located.

1. Impossible steps and ladders
2. See-saws that spin and bounce but are too high to get on
3. Rope climbing frames
4. A small house with a climbing-wall roof and nothing inside

This last one was new to us and was briefly of interest to Dear Boy except once he'd crawled inside and stood up there was nothing to see or do.

The park above didn't have them, but I would also add those new toddler swing seats to this list where instead of having a click-on chain to keep the child in place, the seat is shaped like a giant, rubber nappy.

Not fun, park designers. Not fun.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

New Songs on a Saturday... Afternoon (741-760)

As part of my ongoing effort to improve the range of my cultural consumption, I'm casting out for new things to listen to. Part one and an explanation of this musical escapade can be found here.

I'm casing out the Rage playlists again. They've had an interesting run of guest programmers lately

741. Of Monsters and Men - 'King and Lionheart' - Sounds so similar to the previous hits but I'm sold anyway.
742. Of Monsters and Men - 'My Head is an Animal' - Lovely.
743. MS MR - 'Hurricane' - Love her whispy voice contrasting with the industrial echo and bash of the background.
744. MS MR - 'Fantasy' - Weird and all over the place but still a good listen. Maybe I've been suckered in by the electronic clapping and slapping.
745. Mumford & Sons - 'Hopeless Wanderer' - Gorgeous piano intro. His voice is as deliciously sad as always always. Hilarious video with Jason Bateman, Ed Helms, Jason Sudeikis and Will Forte instead of the band.
746. Emma Louise - 'Pontoon' - Late night music for Lovely Husband. 
747. The Vaccines - 'Melody Calling'
748. London Grammar - 'Strong' - Holy moley, she sings. Long and loud.
749. London Grammar - 'Wasting my Young Years' - This lady's voice is incredible. Song's a little 'meh' but she's awesome.
750. Moby feat. Gold Specks - 'A Case For Shame' - Not sure I've heard any Moby since Play - this doesn't catch you like those songs but the featured vocal is great. 
751. Paul Simon - 'Late in the Evening'
752. The Messengers - 'A Song for Courtney'
753. Papa - 'Let's Make You Prengant'
754. Zedd feat. Hayley Williams - 'Stay the Night'
755. Chvrches - 'The Mother We Share'
756. Solange - 'Lovers in the Parking Lot'
757. Bonnie McKee - 'American Girl' - What a god awful song. I was half hoping to hear a Tom Petty cover but this is so hideously wrong. Put some damn pants on. Someone needs to tell the mutton that not even the lamb dresses like this. 

758. Thomas Dybdahl - 'Man on a Wire' - Curiouser and curiouser. Love his gentle, soft voice. This is going to stick with me whether I want it to or not.
759. Britney Spears - 'Work B**ch' - Because I stare at car wrecks. I don't want a Maserati. And I don't want to be called Bitch. Thanks.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Oh hullo, Facebook

Lilybett and Boy has finally made it to Facebook. If you're a Facebook regular, please go and check us out (you can click on the picture above or use the link on the right). Once you're there, please like us (Oh please!). And if you've already liked us, then take the love just one step further and make sure we appear in your notifications and news feeds. Thanks!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Summer, space, Palmer, pigs and Winslet: A list of links

1. My mind has turned towards summer. I am dreaming of it; I’m making plans for holidays and Christmas and visiting with family; I am wishing for the sun as we battle on with 16 degree days here in Melbourne. I’ve been thinking of swimming lessons for Dear Boy for a little while and was going to organise something over the winter but the cost and the timing was never right. He likes the water but I’d love for him to know it better, to understand it and himself in it as he gets older. This piece from The Guardian on the truth about children and swimming made me smile and just a little bit nervous. The final dilemma on who to dry first is eternal.

2. Leading into summer, I’m also turning to exercise with a little vigour than I do in the winter months. I’m going to try out this series of podcasts for runners to see if it helps me get back into the swing of things in time for the Colour Run 5K fun run at the end of November. It seems similar to the Couch to 5k programmes, mixing walks and gradually increasing jogs and sprints to improve stamina and pace. Not sure how long I’ll be able to cope with the instructor’s voice or someone else choosing the music.

3. Dear Boy’s birthday is smack bang in the middle of the summer holidays and I’m trying to decide if I want to give him a little party. Last year’s little family party was the victim of a gastro-disaster, which meant Dear Boy ate cake by himself as the adults lay in various states of ill repose. He won’t care or even remember it, but do I want to throw a party, which would essentially be to satisfy myself or show off

4. I love it when our scientists tick off huge, momentous milestones but does anyone else think it’s irresponsible to just eject machines out into the universe when we really don’t know what (or who) it may hit?

5. On balance, I think I like Amanda Palmer. I don’t like her eyebrows (they scare me a bit) and I’m not such a fan of all her music, just the awesome comedy songs and the piece she plays here. I really, really like that she chose to make her latest (crowd-funded) album in Melbourne. I like her weird interviews and moments and her attitude to criticism.  I love the song she quickly wrote in response to a boob incident in the UK. I love her Radiohead cover in the night-time darkness of life with Neil Gaiman. 

6. I’m also mostly sure I like this pig series (Wilbur 101) on Radio National. It’s a weird one, really, an ongoing series following one pig amongst dozens from birth to plate. What’s weird, I think, is that the listeners, the followers, get polled on decisions that will affect the pig’s short life. Should Wilbur (the pig) be castrated? Yes. Should he be immunised? Yes. When we finally kill the pig, what kind of product should we call it? Ethically-raised pork.

7. I heard the news that Kate Winslet was pregnant with her third child, this with her new husband Ned RocknRoll. My first reaction was about which surname the kid would get. But reactions elsewhere have been vicious. Three children by three different men? How dare she? Let’s stone her. I think I’m biased about the whole situation – I’m my mother’s third child from a third father. I was baby RocknRoll. To me, the idea that having multiple baby-daddies makes her a bad woman or an immoral woman is ludicrous. Quite besides the fact she’s been married to each of those fathers (does that make it better, Judgey Judgerton?), when did the morality police decide that divorcees aren’t allowed to love or procreate any further? This article from Mama Mia has an awesome list at the end about what it takes to be a bad woman in this day and age.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Dear Boy (21 months)

Dear Boy,

You are 21 months old. Three more months have flown by and you are becoming ever more you. I wonder how much of you now will remain with the you of our future, because you now is pretty damn awesome.

You continue to be the world's cleverest little boy in our eyes with your vocabularly and understanding growing exponentially as you take in more of the world around you. You are regularly regaling us with three and four words sentences: "Mummy sit down too" is a favourite as I push you on the swings. My bum doesn't always fit into the tiny seats, but you always want me to share in the rush and joy. Your sweet little manners are also starting to emerge: "Mummy, bless you, achoo" and "more please", "sorry Percy" and "well done, sharing". Your memory for detail is growing too and it's amazing to hear you recite big long lists and pre-empting stories and adding in more and more colour to your words: "See you later, Postie; see you later Postie motorbike"; "garbage truck! cement mixer! ambulance - neena neena!" and "Thomas, Hiro, Victor my friend, Mavis, Dash, spare parts car, log car, weather tracker, James, Bella". You've also started singing your favourite songs: "buuuuuut - frogs a ladidadida a not galumph, galumph galumph"; "up a sky zoom, zoom, zoom"; "Like noise, like quiet" (although you yell the soft, quiet parts).

You've also picked up so many phrases, our phrases, that are hilarious coming out of your mouth, and a little worrying because it makes us sound like completely uncool stoner parents: "Awesome"; "duuuude"; "crumbs, DM"; and "No problem" (which you substitute for yes quite a lot). We have to watch our language as you soak up everything we say and store it away for later.

Your little brain is also wrapping itself around the concept of emotions, sometimes successfully ("scary dinosaur, Mummy"; "happy"; "angry") and sometimes not so successfully ("happy angry, Mummy"). You've also learn a little Bobby McFerrin telling us to "be happy" when we say "don't worry". There's even a few do do dos thrown in there.

When I look at you, you are a beautiful mixture of big boy and baby boy. Next to the big kids, your face, your gorgeously pinchy cheeks are all baby and you ask in your little voice for them to share; next to the babies, and even some of the kids your age, you seem so grown up - telling us exactly what you want and what you like and don't like, putting the train tracks together and zooming round on the bikes. When you wear your jeans and boots, you seem 10 years old already.

We have put away so many baby toys recently and you're picking out the baby books to read far less often. You choose the soft paper books over the board books and ask over and over for Green Eggs and Ham. You're happy to sit on our laps and listen to us read the books with more words and smaller pictures. You love all your Thomas books, the Peppa Pig books and the various dinosaur books we've inherited.

You are covered in scratches and bruises as you rush through the world and your mind flies away faster than your feet can carry you. We've been to the hospital a few times and you now bear a scar under your lip from where you collided with a wooden chair face first. Cut on one side and teeth through the other but luckily not all the way through. Last week you tumbled from the bench outside and split your chin and this morning you walked right into the corner of the bench, leaving a dint in your forehead and the promise of a bruise. We are applying bandaids and arnica and cuddles so often these days.

You are becoming a sweet, cuddly boy who is happy to snuggle in with Mum and Dad, tucking your hands in and laying your cheek on our shoulders. You're also a hit-and-run cuddler, colliding into to us and hugging our legs for the briefest moment then running back to your toys. Your soft squishy toys are suddenly receiving so many snuggles and cuddles too, especially the elephant puppet we picked up at the zoo.

You are all sweetness and seriousness. You smile more than you frown. Although that crumpled forehead frown is still pretty cute.

Do you realise that the next one of these will be for your 2nd birthday? Fizzling fireboxes!

Much love,

Your Mum. xx

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

New Tricks (15/26): 'Twinkle, Twinkle' on the Song... I mean Xylophone.


I am determined to learn the guitar, or at least a few songs on the guitar. But it's a bit tough at the moment to get away to lessons even though money is a leeeeetle less tight than it was previously. I may resort to google to teach myself before the end of the New Tricks project, but for now there's this: 'Twinkle, Twinkle' on a xylophone (or the Song as Dear Boy insists on calling it).

This new trick comes direct from Lovely Husband - the only thing he knows how to play. Who knew the man was so talented. I'm blessed that he has the patience to teach me.


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