Not so secret racism

Sometimes certain political parties dare to darken my door with election leaflets. This is what I would say to them if I wasn’t afraid they’d come back later with more friends/big dogs/guns.

2011_04_09_G2826SassenheimNarcisTussenHyacinthen

I am still different

 

My form may conform
to the local norm
as I open the door to your leaflets
that spew forth your bile
against others and strangers,
that warn of the dangers
of letting us in.
I know that within
I’m what you think is so vile
so I smile.

You see,

With malicious glee
I do all those things you’d expect from me.

I take your jobs
and I live in your houses
I sit in your queue for your A&E
I use your library,
Take up space on your bus
I even vote for my local MP

I say “We”.

I watch your news

I stand in your queues
My car appears in your Google Street Views.

I’m using your water
I’m breathing your air
Flush my wee through your sewers
Your pipes are clogged with my hair

best of all:

I made children
bilingual half breeds
growing like weeds
spreading my seeds
my foreign ideas
shooting roots over years
until decades from now
you will look around
and find Britain has changed
is no longer the same
because I changed my name
and staked a claim
on your country, your land.

I’m sure you’ll understand
I’m sure you’ll forgive
You’ll live and let live
Because you don’t need to fight
someone like me, you’d say -
I am okay, I can stay:

I am white.

(c) Judith Kingston, 2014

 

You can hear me read this at Stephanie Arsoska’s Virtual Open Mic Night.

Clinging on to Bilingualism: “I’m wijzing at the blue auto”

IMG_3858[1]I’ve had to face facts. The kids are barely scraping by with their Dutch. As their only source of input, and an inconsistent one at that, I provide pitiful motivation for speaking Dutch, as I respond just as well to demands for juice in English. And so the idea for our Intensive Language Holiday to my parents was born. Surely 2 1/2 weeks in a purely Dutch-speaking environment should help.

One week in, the Boy is still speaking mainly English with, granted, an increasing number of Dutch words thrown in.

“I’m dol op spaghetti!” he exclaims. (I love spaghetti)
“Look Mama, I’m wijzing at it!” (wijzen = point)
“When he is worden vier then I will be vier as well!”
“We can put it in my mondje and it will be very lekker. I love that dropje!”

It’s not surprising really. Here in the Netherlands where we are all pretty well educated in Modern European Languages, requests for juice work just as well in English. Again, there is no pressing need to speak Dutch to get your needs met.

We discussed just refusing to respond to anything but Dutch, but I could picture the despairing wailing and frustrated crying that might ensue if I had to stop every excitable story the Boy started to insist he laboriously translate every single word of it into Dutch before I would listen or join in his game. I don’t want to make Dutch a chore.

Clearly, though, what we were doing was not working as well as we’d hoped.

This morning I had a little epiphany as we met Opa while we descended their Himalayan staircase. He told the Girl: “Je moet wel het hekje even open doen“, which is to say: “Don’t forget you need to open the stair gate.”

And I repeated for the Girl: “Hekje open“, “open the gate”.

She echoed: “Hekje open“.

It was then that I remembered a friend of mine with a little girl who had a speech delay. The speech therapist taught her how to talk to her daughter to help her catch up. Basically, the message was to do more “child directed speech”, as it’s called. Talk about what your child is doing at the moment in short clear sentences, modelling language they can easily mimic and pick up. Like, for example: “Open the gate”, as they open the gate.

We started to implement the new technique over breakfast. We spoke to the Girl in short sentences, stressing and repeating key words: “Juice or milk?” “Not nice?” “Yummy apple!” It worked wonders on her, and she dutifully parrotted what we said, even volunteering some Dutch words herself without prompting.

It did not seem too effective on the Boy, however, until we accidentally landed on a rhyme. This helped trigger his memory for the Dutch word he needed and he seemed delighted to have discovered that there are rhymes in his other language as well. Perhaps, I thought, he needs games, things with repeated phrases that he could start to pick up.

After breakfast we played a game with pulling and pushing Opa, sleeping and waking up, standing up and sitting down – but the commands only worked on Opa if you said them in the right language. With a lot of enthusiasm we just managed to keep it fun and light-hearted, skirting the edges of frustration with frequent successes, a lot of help and a lot of cheering when they managed to get Opa to wake up or push him back down again.

IMG_3976[1]Then while trying to distract the Girl from running around the living room like a lunatic I discovered another good game, using a Kermit the Frog puppet. I improvised a tiny interactive puppet show.

First Kermit was shy and had to be called gently. Then I changed shy to afraid as that is much easier to say in Dutch. The Boy wanted to join in and spontaneously produced an almost correct Dutch sentence saying “Maar ik ben niet bang” ["But I'm not scared"]. He said ‘scared’ instead of ‘scary’, but the idea was there. We repeated the key words a lot more times, Kermit decided The Boy was not scary and got a ‘kusje‘ (kiss).

Then Kermit was hungry and wanted something to eat. As the Lego was out, the kids started offering him Lego food items (eg. a little tile with an apple on it). Kermit started chewing and then spat it out. “Dat is geen eten, dat is Lego!” he exclaimed: That’s not food, that’s Lego. And so a game was born. In fits of giggles, the kids kept fetching Kermit more funny Lego titbits (a little broom, a small bicycle, a tiny watering can) and Kermit chewed them with enthusiasm before spitting them out in disgust and repeating: “That’s not food, that’s Lego.”

I left them to it after a while. They went off by themselves and continued finding food for Kermit and using the Dutch phrase. Slowly he started substituting other acceptable words into the grammatical construction, like “Dat is geen Lego, dat is een aap“, that’s not Lego, that’s a monkey.

IMG_3984[1]

It is now almost a week since I started writing this and there is definite improvement. The Girl now shouts “Klaar!” instead of “Finished!” when she pushes her plate away at the dinner table, and the Boy was overheard in the sandpit today, talking to two random Dutch boys and telling them in Dutch to dig deeper. Their vocabulary is expanding and occasionally they will say an entire sentence in Dutch.

I think, after a doubtful start, I am ready to call this language holiday a success!

Memories of the best holiday job ever

Today Secrets of the Sandpit is pleased to provide you with a unique glimpse of summers on the beach in Wales in the 1960s. This post was written by my amazing mother in law.

July 2014 208

Whilst recently having a family picnic on a sandy beach in South Wales I was reminded of my favourite summer job when I was a student in the sixties.

I lived in a small seaside town in South Wales and the council employed a number of young college students to work at the seaside. My brother had the job of hiring out deckchairs during the wettest summer for years and after two weeks relentless rain where he had not sold a single deckchair ticket he was laid off and was only employed for the occasional few sunny days during the rest of the season.

I had better luck the year I was employed to care for any lost children on the beach. It was a glorious summer. We were stationed to the rear of the first aid post with an assortment of toys and books and a nice shady area where the children could play until they were claimed by mostly grateful parents. We had a loudspeaker system which broadcast the name and description of each ‘lost’ child along the promenade.

There were a number of other students acting as lifeguards, deckchair hirers, first aiders and a couple of lads who were supposed to empty litter bins and keep the beach clear of rubbish. They spent most of their days riding up and down the promenade in an old land rover trying to look busy.

When I had no lost children to look after I would help out on the first aid post as I had a first aid certificate; we were busy applying sticking plaster to cut knees and grazed elbows one day when a lad came into the room looking rather pale as he had a fish hook stuck in his hand. This was a hospital emergency so the lads in the land rover sprang into action and rushed me and the afflicted lad and his parents to the nearby cottage hospital for the doctors to remove the fish hook.

The lady in charge of the fist aid post had a great fondness for a nice cup of tea and also had an endless supply of home made cake so we all needed reviving by her on our return from the hospital.

July 2014 188Our busiest days at the seaside were the days when coaches of day trippers came down from the valleys for their breath of sea air and a taste of fish and chips. Their children were more likely to get lost as they were not used to being disorientated by the sea and the tide as it crept up and down the sand.

Fortunately the coach drivers always pointed out the place to find lost children or receive first aid so we occasionally had an anxious mother arrive before her offspring had found its way to me in the lost children’s garden.

However we did have a few regular customers who mysteriously got lost just as the pub opened and would remain lost for about an hour while their parents had surreptitiously gone for a drink! I found the best way to flush them out was to announce to the beach at large ‘for the last hour little Johnny Jones and his tiny sister who is crying inconsolably have been waiting at the Lost Children’s Garden.’ Their red faced parents would soon appear to find said Johnny and his little sister enjoying a piece of the first aider’s cake and some orange squash!

It was a happy summer when the sun always seemed to shine, when I did the most enjoyable holiday job of my student days.

Amazing Art

The Boy’s art work has been developing behind closed doors. That is, at pre-school. When he started in January, the only subject matter for paintings that was of any interest to him was, you guessed it, numbers. At home he would draw, stencil, paint and playdough solely to make more and more numbers. Then the numbers would need to be cut out and they could travel all over the house solving crimes and plotting world domination (I may be embellishing a bit here).

I still get a lot of large sheets of paper with numbers back from pre-school. However, other things have started to appear too. Sometimes he brings home a painting of me, or of his sister. Occasionally there might be a rudimentary animal/monster-thing.

Summer holidays now, and finally, one afternoon, I got to witness the New Art. The Boy sat down with his watercolours (LIDL’s finest) and set about making paintings for “everyone”. He spent a good hour or so, producing picture after picture, putting them all on the window sill to dry.

20140729-233544.jpg

 

He made rainbows.

20140729-233601.jpg

 

and a tiger…

20140729-233617.jpg

 

and more and more and more rainbows that got better and better, looking for “violet” and “indigo”, not boring old purple.

20140729-233643.jpg

 

He even tried new techniques, like flicking the paint from the paintbrush onto the paper.

The piece de resistance, which I sadly did not have a chance to photograph before he stuffed it into his tiny backpack for some undisclosed but of course totally logical reason, was a car with a sky above and a road below in appropriate colours.

I just looked on in awe at his flair, his imagination, and his colourful mind splashed onto a whole window sill full of amazing art.

Not My Year Off

Loud ‘n Proud: Independence is Messy

mummy's shoesTheoretically, this whole business of bringing up children is all about teaching them to be independent.

Is it bad that I kind of like them being dependent? Or rather, I would love them to be independent, but I severely dislike all the hassle of getting them there.

The other day I was at a friend’s house, and we fell silent when her nearly 3 year old wandered into where we were chatting, carrying a cup of milk.

“Did you get that yourself?” my friend asked him.

“Yeah,” he told her (to rhyme with “Duh”), sipping his milk.

When we had both finished having retrospective heart attacks, my friend told me that her sons do this more and more often now: they open the fridge, rummage around and pour themselves drinks.

Mine don’t, I thought. I squash that kind of initiative as soon as I see the thought developing in the Boy’s mind. I picture a lake of milk on the kitchen floor that I will need to clean up – and I hate cleaning. Carrying food or drinks around the house? No way, too much opportunity for spillage and breakage. Getting things out of cupboards? Nope. My cupboards are messy and precariously stacked – pulling the wrong item out in the wrong way will cause an avalanche. Let Mummy do it.

The more I thought about it, the more I realised that my children moving from stage to stage, gaining independence, doing things for themselves terrifies me. I get used to the status quo, fit my life around it, and then they go and change things up and mess up my systems. This goes for the Boy at pre-school age, and doubly so for my little girl, who is nearly two.

I like carrying the Girl up and down the stairs, strapping her into her booster seat at the table, putting her in a corner with her Mannies and letting her

Please. Just sit here and play.

Please. Just sit here and play.

play while I work. I like it when she drinks out of sippy cups and eats everything I put in front of her. I like dressing and undressing her, scooping her up and plonking her in the car so we can leave the house ten minutes before we need to collect the Boy from pre-school. I like her sleeping in her cot.

But the time for these things is fading.

Lopen! [walk]” she insists and wriggles out of my arms. She wants to walk herself.

“Stairs!” she shouts, and I am not even allowed to hold the doll or the big book she wants to carry down with her as she takes step by reckless step.

Klimmen! [climb]” she shrieks, and I have to put her down next to the car and tear my hair out as she first winds down her window, then painfully slowly, slipping and getting a better grip, she clambers into her car seat herself and we tear down country lanes and arrive breathlessly at pre-school, catching the teacher with the phone in her hand ready to call and find out where I am.

“Open! Juicy!” she commands, climbing onto the little stool that she has carried into the kitchen herself, plonking the sippy cup angrily onto the work surface. She keeps a close eye on me as I take the lid off, fill it with a dash of juice and plenty of water, and offer it to her, lid off, on one condition: “Sit down! Sit down to drink!” I tell her. She yanks the cup out of my hands again and drains it, standing up on the stool.

She can do it. She’s nearly two.

Tonight, it was like she offered me a choice.

She pooed in the bath.

“Oh! Poo!” she said, surprised.

“No! Poo! Quick, get out!” the Boy shrieked hysterically and climbed out of the bath.

While I cleared up the mess, I offered the Girl the potty to sit on. “Haha! Potty!” she exclaimed in glee. She stood up and sat back down several times. When I had contained the problem and cleaned the most urgent things I was ready to shoo her off the potty and get her back into a nappy.

“No! Potty!” she insisted and walked back and sat on it again. I let her and helped the Boy dry his hair. Then we heard a sound.

“She’s doing a wee!” The Boy exclaimed in delight.

We both hugged and praised the Girl for being so clever. She got to flush the wee down the toilet herself and as a special treat, got to wash her hands standing on the step by the wash basin.

I considered this little vignette she had presented me with: what do you want mother? Do you want to scoop poo out of the bath forever, or shall I grow up and learn to take care of myself, step by messy step?

Of course, like always in parenting, it wasn’t a real choice. She is going to become independent, whether I like it or not. So I will embrace it, and offer her the opportunities to learn and grow that she is so desperate for.

I put her nappy on, and tucked her up in her cot with Pop & her million other favourite cuddlies.

“Tomorrow,” I sighed. “Independence can begin tomorrow.”

klimmen

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Life Game Mysteries: What happens at level 65?

My awesome Dad, inspired by The Girl’s updates on her experiences of life from a gamer’s perspective, spontaneously wrote me this guest post. As you can see, there are some scary changes ahead in Life Game when you get to my Dad’s dizzying heights. Anyone got some advice from the other side of Level 65?

 

Hi Gamers – Old Fogey here!

 

I have been playing the Life Game for almost 65 years without even knowing that I have been manipulating Life Bars. But now I finally realise how satisfying it is to know (part of) the Rules of the Game. I dearly want you to understand my problems being Level 64 without having a clue how to manage the Game. I need help, desperately. Note that I have only recently learnt that I was a RPGer and thus I am only a novice at the terminology. Please help me learn and develop my skills.

I have been searching for people at work who can tell me what is going to happen at Level 65, but strangely there is nobody present who is at Level 65. Searching up and down, they have disappeared! It gets me worried no end. What happens when you attain that level? Do you drop out of the Life Game; is Level 64 the last one? Is Level 65 a deep abyss, a black hole, in which you fall and from where no information returns? Are there special skills to acquire or specific spells to complete the transition to Level 65? Do I need to collect hard-to-get objects in my inventory?

OldFogey1A real puzzling problem is that I used to think that there was a strong relation between the Work Bar and the Money Bar. People have mentioned that there is no work available or carried out at Level 65. How can that be? Empty Work Bar, Empty Money Bar! How will I fill my inventory and Money Bar? But there are no longer any 65-levellers around to tell me where to get Cheat Codes and Hacks.

Fear mounts, rapidly. There is a folklore that in Holland, where I live, there are NPCs called ABP and AOW who will fill your Money Bar automatically each month while you Work Bar remains empty. This sounds absurd and does nothing to alleviate my fears.

OldFogey2Strangely, Gamers who are still at a much lower level keep asking me how I will handle Level 65 and beyond. How can one know if there are no 65+ Gamers around at the Work Place? These low-level Gamers seem to expect sensible answers, but there is no information. Please do you have any for me?

I have heard suggestions that one should put lots of points in the Health and Fitness Bar. This will prevent all kinds of awful things happening to you. Also full attention seems to be necessary for the Good Food and Wine Bar. Paying much attention to the Beauty Bar seems to be a lost cause as your Physical Attraction Bar is already way down.

OldFogey3

Rumour has it that at Level 65 you will get access to new activities and areas. Wish it was true. So far I think I should concentrate on stuffing my inventory with Cuddle Points from beginning Gamers. They seem to thrive on them and hand them out with glee.

Cuddlepoints1It will bear heavily on your Money Bar as presents seem to be obligatory as well – without them only limited Cuddle Points are to be had. According to folklore, such points seem to be necessary to move on to higher levels. Maybe these are only rumours, who can tell?

Well Gamers, please help me in these uncertain times. Level 65 is inexorably approaching even without me making any effort. Without your help, how can I survive and enter Level 65 with confidence and a restful mind?

 

All the best,

Old Fogey

 

 

Potty Training Confessions: 9 months down the line

pottyI have not mentioned potty training on here for a long time.

This has a reason.

Like Mummy K, I find that I write the future. Or rather, the inverse of the future. Writing about anything on my blog, especially drawing beautifully tied-up-in-a-bow conclusions about anything, will almost guarantee that it changes the next day. For example, no sooner had I written about my son’s lack of interest in reasons and how he never asked “Why”, or he decided that maybe that was quite interesting after all and now I can’t blink without him wanting to know why I did that.

Potty training has been the same. Back in November of last year, I wrote that he had pretty much cracked it once he discovered you could make numbers and letters with poo. Almost as if he had been reading my blog and was determined not to let me be too smug, he instantly reverted to soiling his underpants and has not really stopped since. Also, having been pretty much dry in the daytime initially, the novelty of going to the toilet soon wore off and he found that these visits to the bathroom were just an annoying distraction from play or TV watching or Doing Numbers, and he started leaving it just a little bit too late. Every. Single. Time.

washing shortsFor months, we have been going through on average 4 pairs of pants a day. On a Shy Poo day (as I call it), when the Boy very slowly releases little bits of poo into his underpants, squeezing them between his bottom for maximum discomfort and mess, this might be more like 6. The washing seems endless. I am forever hanging upside down scooping poo from a little boy’s bottom with toilet paper, then needing to change to wipes to get the really stubborn bits off (sorry, hope you weren’t eating dinner or anything).

“Remember,” I say when he gets impatient, “If you go to the toilet and do your poo there, Mummy only needs to do one wipe. If you poo in your underpants , it will take twenty minutes and half a roll of toilet paper. Your choice.”

Two months ago we hit a crisis point. I was getting increasingly wound up by the situation. I started getting very angry every time he had an accident – or “incident”, as I preferred to think of it, as calling it an “accident” implies that no one is at fault (thanks Hot Fuzz). I started to feel that he was deliberately choosing not to go to the toilet, therefore doing it on purpose, therefore being defiant. And defiance is a bit of a red rag for me.

Toilet trips became more and more stressful for both of us. We would both get very angry. Things were not improving.

Then two things happened:

1) My husband said to me one day after another toilet related confrontation: “He needs to know you are on his side.” Those words stuck in my head: He needs to know I am on his side.

2) I was idly flicking through my old friend Penelope Leach again, and happened on her chapter on potty training. She suggests that for young children their poo is something they can control, and they will often use it to take some control in a situation where they feel powerless.

I put these two things together:

The Boy is most likely choosing not to go to the toilet, as I suspected. He is doing it to exercise control. Why? Because he feels powerless and he doesn’t feel like I am on his side.

This was a sobering thought.

The next day I sat down with the Boy and I told him: “I am really sorry that I keep getting angry with you about going to the toilet. I promise that I will do my very best not to get cross with you. You are a big boy and you can choose when to go to the toilet. I will leave it up to you. It is your choice.”

The Boy gave a very decided nod and said: “Yes,” in a tone that suggested this was what he had been thinking all along and he was pleased I had caught up.

So that is what we did. There weren’t any more or any less accidents, but we were happier.

cleaning productsYesterday I realised that things were actually very gradually improving. The Boy is taking the initiative to go to the toilet more often than he was. The other day, he even went up without making any fuss and did a poo without any prompting or help, and kept his underpants clean. As the Fairy Godmother remarked, his hit-to-miss-ratio seems to be improving. Maybe it’s 2-3 pairs of underpants a day now instead of 4.

Of course today, while I have been writing this post, he has been burning through freshly laundered pants and shorts like there is no tomorrow and even managed to smear poo on the IKEA step, the bathroom floor and the lovely cream carpet on the stairs.

But still I want to record that I am proud of him. That he is making progress, even if it is slow. He is making an effort. He is starting to care more about whether he is wet or dry.

“My pants are clean! Mummy is soooo proud of me!” he beams, sitting on the toilet.

And I really am.

feet

Linking up to Loud ‘n Proud.

Mannies

The Girl loves tiny people. Happyland, Playmobil, Duplo, Fischer Price – she’s not picky. She loves clutching them in her hand and wandering around with them, making them talk to each other, putting them in little cars.

Mannies

The thing that really tickles me is that she calls them “Mannies”. I think this is her interpretation of the Dutch word mannetjes, which means “little men”.

She’ll walk a tiny Happyland pirate up the stairs, warning him: “Tareful, Mannie!”

Mannie climb

Mannies love climbing. They spend all day going up and down the bookcase, exploring the window sill or the back of the sofa and hopping up on kitchen counters.

mannie bookcase

Mannies are often sad, but thankfully the other Mannies are empathetic and supportive. “Waaa, waaaa. Oh, Mannie cry! What matter, Mannie?”

Mannie2

Mannies don’t always behave as the Girl would wish them to. This one did not want to have a suitcase attached to his head, much to her annoyance.

Mannies get chased by dinosaurs, then make friends with them and go for rides on their back. When asked if they feel like watching TV, a Mannie will always say yes.

Mannies are ubiquitous, male or female, and do not need to be made of plastic.

Oh!” says the Girl, pointing out of the car window at a window cleaner walking by. “Mannie ladder! Haha, funny Mannie.”

 

Mannie walking

Mannie walking

Mannies skating

Mannies skating

Mannies bicycle

Mannies cycling

 

Life Game: Science!

Hey there virtual friends!

Practising for Level 2

Practising for Level 2

It’s the Girl here. Back once more to update you on my exciting new finds in Life Game – giving you all the hacks and cheat codes to help you blag your way through Level 1.

For the past few months I’ve been doing Science! I’m trying to find out more about the mechanics of the world of Life Game, hoping that this will help me level up quicker so I can get to the Terrible Twos (I’ve heard players refer to Level 2 in this way and it sounds pretty badass).

I thought I’d share some of my experiments with you. Maybe they can help you too!

 

Experiment #1: Liquids

liquids
Hypothesis: Water, juice and milk share properties that make them behave in a similar way

Method:
Whenever I am presented with a Drink in a cup, I take a few sips first (of course) and then tip the cup over. I observe and take note of the way each type of Drink affects the environment, including myself, the Brother and the Mummy/Daddy. Then I put the cup upside down on my head and exclaim: “A hat!” and subside into fits of giggles. (That last bit probably isn’t Science but it’s fun)

Findings:
1. Water, juice and milk will all run all over the table, off the edge of the table, into my lap, onto the chair and the floor. They all spread as far as they will go until some spoilsport (*cough* Mummy *cough*) starts mopping it all up.
2. All types of drink will soak into clothing, making it wet. This usually results in near instantaneous removal of the clothing to the Laundry Basket. You can’t get it out of there so you have to find more clothing. Preferably a pirate dress.
3. Whatever Drink you spill, the Brother will tell on you and try to cut your experiment short.
4. Whatever Drink you spill, the Mummy will get very annoyed and start wiping up your experiment with cloths, kitchen roll, tea towels or if things are very desperate, your own dirty juice-soaked clothes that she has just whipped off you. The incident often sparks an interesting question: “Why did you do that AGAIN?” I have no idea what this means, I think “why” comes in Level 3.

Conclusion:
Water, juice and milk appear to be very similar in their properties when spilled. In all cases, things get wet, you lose your clothing and Mummy gets cross.

 

Experiment #2: Height

snakestoolHypothesis: Using objects in your surroundings to get up higher gives you a significant advantage in Life Game.

Method:
I used a variety of objects to get higher up and explore the areas of Life Game that are above head-height. Objects I used were: the Snake stool, various chairs, the sofa, the coffee table, the dining table, the Brother’s bed, various toy boxes and Fat Cat.

Findings:
1. Chairs gives you access to the Dining Table, where you can help yourself to fruit (eat first, ask later through a mouth full of half-masticated pear), but BE CAREFUL! Chairs can topple over and you might end up on the floor again with the fruit bowl on top of you. (Put a couple of apples in your inventory while crying, before the Mummy tidies them all away again).
2. Stools are excellent because you can carry them around and they unlock a whole range of new activities, such as “Help with the Washing Up”, “Wash hands”, “Brush own teeth” and “Do Cooking”.
3. Another warning: The Mummy is a bit of a buggy NPC and is riddled with inconsistencies. Although she claims to want help with washing up and cooking, for some reason when you do Climb and want to grab a sharp knife to get stuck into chopping carrots, this is suddenly not okay and you get re-set to the Duplo.
4. Cats might seem like the perfect height-gain-object, as they are easy to mount and moveable, but they have some serious drawbacks. They wriggle out from under you, run away and hide and, worst case scenario, attack you with their Claws (which hit on a 2 and cause D6 damage. I say stay out of their way).

Conclusion:
Using Climb on an object gives you access to new activities and areas that are otherwise inaccessible, although some objects are more useful than others for gaining height. Also, gaining height causes you to lose influence points on the Mummy who gets cross.

 

Experiment #3: Magic

magic
Hypothesis: When used correctly, a long stick shaped object can be used to change people into animals

Method:
I used a number of long objects (lolly stick, plastic spatula, actual stick) to Do Magic. I did this first by waving the wand in the air and saying: “Ready? MAGIC!” Then I tried: “Magic…. FROG!”. Finally, I tried repeatedly saying the magic words: “A-draba…. BONK!”

Findings:
1. The Mummy did not turn into a frog. I had to say “Ribbit, ribbit” myself to help her out.
2. “Adraba BONK!” made the Brother laugh a lot.
3. The Mummy started telling everyone about my Magic experiments. I then performed my favourite spell for them and they all laughed and gave me cuddles.

Conclusion:
Waving sticks does not change people into animals, but it does make them laugh and give you hugs. It doesn’t make the Mummy cross.

 

OVERALL CONCLUSION:

After a month or two of experimentation my overall findings regarding the workings of Life Game are that mostly, Science makes the Mummy cross, but Magic makes her happy.

 

HTH Gamers, see you again in the next instalment of Life Game!

 

Hugs & kisses,

The Girl

My Parents’ Kitchen

No washing upBritmums Live, a two day blogging conference I attended, is now so long ago that it seems like a far away fairy tale. Did I really spend a whole, uninterrupted night in a hotel room, where on waking at 6.30 out of habit I could just roll over and go back to sleep for another two (!) hours? Oh yes and I suppose I attended workshops and saw friends and things. Although I have let time slip by, I did not want to leave the occasion unmarked on my blog, so today I bring you a poem I wrote during one of the workshops.

I mostly picked the sessions that focused on writing, and thus I found myself in Emily Beecher‘s “Storytelling” session on Saturday afternoon. There were lots of good things to say about this session, but the highlight for me was that she gave us a prompt and then gave us time to write something. 

She asked us to spend 5 minutes writing about our childhood kitchen and then set a timer. Below is what I wrote. What hit me as I thought about the kitchen in Holland in the house where I grew up and put pen to paper, was this: whatever you are doing in your day, you can give yourself five minutes and write something. Really, you don’t need much. You just need to set some time aside. And so I am writing this while stressing about a big work deadline – just giving myself ten minutes (on a timer) to share this with you all.

Rise

Dusky red and mustard yellow;
A warm hub filled with jars and pots.
Overgrown apron brushing my toes,
peering over the edge
of the turban-shaped tin
buttered and dusted
She poured liquid sponge in
and the wooden spoon scraped
– not too well, leave me some! -
filled it up, golden, waiting.
I licked spoon and bowl
watching through the glass door
as the heat slowly spoiled
the perfection
melting soft
on my tongue.

 

(c) Judith Kingston, 2014

Linking to Prose for Thought.