Monday, April 30, 2007

First Essay Back

Well, I got my first masters essay back this evening - it was very well received, so I'm stoked! It's a real confidence boost to know that I can write at this level.

Now.... just got to get a topic for the next one....

Sunday, April 29, 2007

st mary's church

I found a better picture of St Mary's on the web, plus a picture of the window above the alter.

visiting the organ at st mary's

This afternoon Sophie, Elanor and I went to check out the restored organ at St Mary's church downtown. There wasn't a picture on Google, but the outside of the church is here, and the choir loft is right behind the rose window pictured. The organ pipes etc are on either side of the window.

We don't know very much about church organs, but it was good fun getting to climb up into the choir loft, and it turned out that someone played some pieces on the instrument and talked a bit about how it all worked. Apparently it's quite a clever/unique instrument. We had a good view of the man playing, and S and E were very impressed that he had 3 keyboards for his hands, and another set for his feet. We also got an excellent view of the stained glass windows in the church, of which there are very many indeed!

You can read more about the restoration project on the church website here. No pics of the organ there either though.

After so much excitement we had to go for afternoon tea to calm ourselves down. :-)

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Rearranging the bedrooms

We have had a busy and productive afternoon/evening. We have been rearranging Sophie and Elanor's bedroom - one of those situations where you think you're finished, but you still have to tidy up the mess created in the rest of the house in the process!!!

It started out because S and E have been wanting a chair in their (small!) bedroom so they can sit and read in the sun. It's the best afternoon spot. So we set off to the 2nd hand shop. We did very well in a short space of time. We got a small padded chair for them, a spare dining chair, an easel for painting for the Little Kids, and a divan bed for Rowena. All for about $45.

We have talked about getting rid of the red bunk set for some time. R, at age 13, is 'over' sleeping on a top bunk and would really rather not be on the bottom bunk either. The red bunks 'eat sheets'! That is, the springs sometimes catch the edge of the sheet and rip it. And they are also better for short kids - a bit low to sit up in the bottom bunk even for Elanor now. So now the red bunks are in pieces in the hallway (and advertised on TradeMe), the blue bunks have moved to S&E's room, and R will be sleeping on (a mattress on) the floor until we pick up her new bed on Monday.

(She's at camp this weekend, so doesn't know this yet.)

If anyone wants a set of perfectly good (if slightly hungry) red bunk beds, going cheap, look them up on TradeMe and make us an offer.

Friday, April 27, 2007


We sometimes have painting at home – perhaps not as often as if the children were older. I have a section of wall in the dining room which I tape up with newspaper and then the A2 paper over the top. The disadvantage is that only one child can paint at once. All the little girls enjoy painting very much, and it can get frustrating for them having to wait a turn, so it's a good thing to do when one is still asleep.

Well, because I have been getting some books delivered from, I have got some nice squares of cardboard packaging which I have carefully removed the staples from and unfolded. Yesterday I took the paints and two of these panels out to the grass for E and I(child) to paint on. This was met with huge delight, particular by E. Lots of poking around in the paint pots, and paint applied (often to the same place over and over). The fingers and hands went in the paint a bit too, so I encouraged them to make marks with their fingers, and they enjoyed this texture also, experimenting with fingertips, nails and palms.

As E is talking a bit more, later in the morning she said 'painting' and we went back to the painting activity, two or three times. As it wasn't windy at all the paintings could be left outside, so they dried in time to go home the same day - often I have paintings stored on the fridge for a week until I remember to send them home.

I would have loved to get a photo, but it is one of the (many) times where you can't encourage the play and exploration AND get the photo - the act of going for the camera spoils the event.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

harping in the holidays 2

We have had some lovely 'play' on the harp this week. The Little kids have been both exploring the sounds it can make, and playing 'peek-a-boo' through and around it. Here are I and G experimenting with sounds, and Elanor playing for us.

Monday, April 16, 2007

harping in the holidays

Rowena has been learning the harp for two years. Elanor has just started this year. In order to encourage practice, I have been getting the girls to leave the harp up in the living room over the weekend (Friday to Monday) and just putting it away while the Little Kids are here. (I think the strategy has helped - at least I have heard more practice than I usually do when it's in a bedroom. This, of course, is the chief advantage of a soft and beautiful sounding instrument!!!)

It's the middle of the school holidays now. Last week I got the girls to leave the harp out so during the week so the toddlers could see and touch it, and watch people have a play, and have an experiment with it themselves. It was very exciting for them to arrive and see such a big, new and exciting piece of equipment in the living room. Responses ranged from excited touching straight away to wary watching from afar, and slowing coming closer and experimenting.

At one point I was playing three adjacent low strings one at a time (like a short descending scale). I(child) must have been watching the strings vibrate, because she would put her fingers on the vibrating strings to stop the sound. When I plucked them again it was a deadened sound. I moved to several other strings, but she kept watching me and moved where she was touching too. This game went on for some time.

I wouldn't leave the harp out in term time. It's quite tall and heavy and I think it needs at least some supervision. One of the school kids can be in the living room during the holidays to keep an eye on it when the Little Kids are inside. But I'll leave it out again this week and see what they make of it again.

I guess our (hired) harp is a similar size to the one in the picture. It is on legs, and stands about 1.4 m tall I guess. Picture curtesy of Google.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Why I teach toddlers.

I'm quickly re-reading John Holt's "How Children learn", looking for specific material to build my evaluative framework for my essay, and I want to share a quote which neatly sums up why I'm in the 'toddler teaching' business.

"A friend said to me after reading this book, 'I always was very fond of little children, especially my own. But until now I could never have imagined that they might be interesting.'
They interest me now even more than when I wrote this book. Watching babies and children explore and make sense of the world around them is for me one of the most exciting things in the world. I have watched them and been with them at many times and places, and I find not just more pleasure but much more food for serious thought in what they say and do than in the sayings and doings of a great many older people. Not to like little children, or find them interesting and enjoy their company, is no crime. But it is surely a great misfortune, and a great loss, like having no legs or being deaf or blind."

School holidays with the Little Kids.

Today was the first day of the school holidays when I had the Little Kids here. Having the school kids and Little Kids at home together is a win-win situation. The Little Kids really adore the big girls, and the school kids love the little kids to bits.

Also, inevitably the Little Kids get a chance to watch older children at new kinds of play, which can be a bit of a puzzle for them, but is also very stimulating, and can lead to new kinds of behaviour. For example, today Rowena and Sophie were playing stick games (which R has been doing in Maori at school, apparently). I helped sing the song ("E papa waiari"), and showed some of the moves I remember from school 30 years ago. R showed what she had been doing at her school, and E (aged 20 months) watched on fascinated - and in some bemusement! E then brought over another toy, the bead 'rollercoaster' to play with alongside out little group. As if to say "I have no idea what you're doing chucking sticks around while you sing, but I want to be part of your group, and I see I can make my own rules up".

Monday, April 9, 2007

My reading this evening

I'm having an excellent time reading for my essay due shortly. More truthfully... I'm having an excellent time reading(!), and I sometimes read some stuff that's relevant to my essay!

I've been reading a masters thesis by Ella Kahu on "Family and paid work: a critical discourse analysis of government policy and mothers' talk". In her research she looked at the document "Action Plan for New Zealand Women", published in 2004, and notes how it talks about women being able to make choices in their lives, then very clearly privileges the choice to be in full-time paid employment over any other choices, such as caring (mothering) roles. Later she is going to compare this with the talk of first time mothers about how they see their (multiple) roles, but I haven't got to that bit yet. It's very interesting, but only tangentially related to my own topic (which is about the devaluation of parent involvement in their children's education).

But at least I have an introduction to the essay now which I think will work. The next part is writing 200 words on each of 8-10 paragraphs to prove my points.

In fact, it's quite a good read just because Ella is a very clear writer, and the "-ologies and -isms" which I have been trying to get my head around (eg, post-modernism, structuralism) she explains as part of her research methodology.

Moral of story: always find a good reason to read the thing you want to read!

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Pears, pears, pears, pears

Extrordinary! It has taken me 14 minutes to connect to the Blogger site so that I can write this post. (I will still have to write and publish the post, which will take more time.) This is why I haven't written more - I seem to be having a terrible time with either my interest connection or with access of the Blogger hostsite. I'm giving serious consideration to Broadband.

We have been away for a couple of days over the long weekend. Grandad has an old farmhouse in South Wairarapa which has a small orchard. Every second year there seems to be a good crop of pears, and this was the year. (I don't know what happens in the intervening year - maybe the tree has a rest.) Acutally, there's more than one pear tree, and the small variety was fruiting this year. (Does that mean that each tree needs more than one year off?) The trees don't get any thinning or pruning, or maybe they would fruit better when they do. This year there were as many pears as we could be bothered picking, but all small to middling.

Because Bern and I are both so busy studying at the moment, bottling pears DID NOT figure high on my preferred activities list. I have an essay due in a fortnight which is starting to worry me. (Hopefully I'll get some actually words written tomorrow.) But I was determined to get some of those pears, so we decided to take a couple of days, spend some time with the girls, (study for a few hours a day!) and get some of the pears.

(We had to wait until the bulls left the orchard. They like sitting under the fruit trees - but you don't feel like picking fruit with 6 or 7 bulls around for some reason!)

The girls lent a hand, and we got a total of 23 jars bottled, which I was quite pleased with. I have, in the past, done quite a lot more, but this was a reasonable compromise between getting some free fruit put away and getting on with study. Uncle Michael also came over for the weekend, so he also took a jar away, but is not too bothered about pears in general.

Nice weather over the weekend too, so the girls had lots of walks.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Elanor's First Reconciliation

Yesterday was Elanor's First Reconciliation. We celebrated the service at St Joseph's church, as St Joe's and St Mary's parishes joined together for the programme. We have been going to St Mary of the Angles this year as the timing fits in better for us.

It was a lovely service. Very joyful. There were about 17 children involved in all. Lots of the children looked younger than Elanor (who is 9) - but Katie just commented that this could be because El has about 2 years worth of height on most kids her age! Anyway, they do Confirmation in the same year as First Reconciliation and First Communion these days, and I think 9 is young enough.

Despite being in a different parish there were lots of people I knew, including folk from playcentre many years ago, from our school and from my MEd course.