Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Dora the What?

When I was a kid I loved my My Little Ponies (MLP). This is one I used to have It's kinda pony like, it's got a mane and a tail,  maybe it's a bit sappy, but you get the idea. I had a play set that went with them too, it was an apple stand, ponies like apples so that kinda makes sense. I really wanted the hot air balloon so my MLP's could go adventuring but my mum said it was too expensive for a pile of plastic that was made by child slaves. 

This morning I had kids tv on and there was an ad for a MLP. It looked like this.

That's not really pony like, unless it's a pony from the far reaches of outer space. Admittedly the MLP of the 1980s is a rather abstract interpretation of an equine creature but the MLP of the 1980s was seriously lacking in one area. SEX APPEAL. Yes that' right. The modern MLP has been SEXIFIED!  Its body is thinner, its legs are longer and thinner, its eyes are ... well they're kinda hard to describe given that they're on a pink plastic pony, but at a stretch they're sexy!

Wow! That's pretty stupid right!?

So the next ad was for a Dora the Explorer toy. 

But I think I must have missed something somewhere, because Dora is an EXPLORER, not a ballerina! And Dora is a chubby little girl, not a skinny long legged thing. Call me crazy, but isn't exploring, and going on adventures more interesting than ballet? Granted some ballerinas have wonderful careers, and ballet is fantastic, but it's not about cutesy, fluffy tutus, it's about strength, creative expression, often a tragic love story, but not frou frou.

Soooo the next ad was for some strange rodent like thing. It's probably a hamster but we don't get them in Australia as far as I know, we get guinea pigs so for the sake of familiarity I'll refer to them as such.

Finally something that's not sexified! Unless there are some sexy legs hiding underneath that fur. But! There had to be a but (or two in this case) when you look at the play sets, these are apparently SHOPPING guinea pigs! Guinea pigs who like fashion and accessorising! Perish the thought of them just living like normal guinea pigs! ALL little girls love to shop and wear fashion so it's appropriate that toy guinea pigs like it too if little girls are going to play with them. You wouldn't want to stretch the imagination would you. Adventuring guinea pigs would be uncool, no one would like them EXCEPT

BOYS!!! Boys like guinea pigs that BATTLE and have missiles strapped to them!

Yes, that's right. Angry, armed to the teeth, battling guinea pigs!!!

Gee. I wonder why there is such a high divorce rate? 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

How big is a whale and other important questions.

For some time now Spikee has been comparing how big thing are to how big a whale is. I decided it was time to actually show him how long whales are so after some quick googling we found measurements for bluewhales, hump back whales, orcas, whale sharks, great white sharks, and finally the humble dolphin. 

We wrote all our information down on a bit of paper and headed to the park with some chalk and a tape measure. We drew a chalk line to mark the place we started measuring from and then drew another line every 5 metres until we hit the 30m mark, and the length of a blue whale, then we added all the other animals to our line.

He was quite impressed by how big they are, even though he had believed they were bigger, and the rest of us were rather daunted by the length of a great white. I knew they were big at 6.5m, but looking at that distance made me even more certain that I love swimming in pools!

I'm reading the first Harry Potter book to Spikee and he's really loving it. He has traded in his Superman cape temporarily, in exchange for some Harry Potter glasses and a wand. We're going to see if we can find some material and sew him a cape. He loves dressing up so much, far more than Stylish ever did, and this week he is refusing to answer to any name but Harry (given we'd only just gotten used to calling him Superman it's presenting us with quite a challenge)

Stylish has finally decided to give Harry Potter a go, and has read The Philosopher's Stone in two days flat. She's starting The Chamber of Secrets tonight. I think that seeing the movie really piked her interest. We've seen all the movies together, but the final one really seemed to awaken something in her. When asked this morning if she preferred the movie or the book, she had to confess to thinking the book was better. 

Stylish has been so creative with her frog tanks lately. She really adores her frogs. I'm told there are 7 of them, two species. She's been finding all her ferns and mossy branches at the park down the road, and she found a heap of good stuff when we had our snow hunting picnic. 

She also has a scorpion that came home on some drift wood she found at the beach. The scorpion is quite fascinating, it's quite enjoying its' diet of cockroaches (stow aways from Sydney), and we all love seeing it grab hold of them and poison them - maybe we're sadists, or maybe we've just lived with a few too many cockroaches!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Word Count

It seems that Angus has really started talking and I thought I should write a list of his words while I can still count them!

Na Na Na (which is booby for some reason!?)
La la la (like Elmo's song)
Ernie (Bert and Ernie)

Most mornings he wakes us up by saying La La La, so we end up singing Elmo's song to him, every time he's anywhere near the fire he says "ot ot ot ot" very seriously,  and when I'm carrying him he likes to say "up" lots. I just love this stage! I can't believe we're planning a 1st birthday party already.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

My kids could have been at school

Today we woke up with next to nothing planned. We decided to make the best of the winter by taking a picnic lunch and setting out to find some snow. We drove towards the Tahune rainforest and took the Hartz  Mountain turnoff.

It's all dirt road from the turnoff. We probably drove about fifteen minutes up the narrow road until we turned a corner and suddenly there was snow beside the road. There was no shortage of excited squeals from the back of the car. 

We kept driving until we couldn't go any further. The front bumper bar was dragging through snow and it was thick on either side of the tyres from 4wd vehicles before us. We left the car in the middle of the road and clambered out of the car to have a look.

We all threw some snowballs and climbed up the side of the road in the slippery white snow, loosing our footing when we weren't expecting it. Then we built a snow person and decorated it with bark, stones, and my scarf. Angus told us that the snow was "hot" which we assume was because his hands were burning from holding a little piece of it.

After we tired of snow we had to drive in reverse to get down again, there was nowhere to do a U turn safely in the snow.  We reversed a couple of km's and then found somewhere dry to turn easily. Then we headed for the picnic ground.

The picnic ground is such a pristine area, just outside the national park. We set up camp at a table there, ate our lunch, which was sausage sandwiches on homemade bread with baby rocket and home laid eggs with balsamic vinegar, chocolate and shortbread. 

Then we lit a fire using lots of wood that we found on the ground. It was quite wet so it took a good while to get it going, but once we did it definitely took the chill away. It was probably about 5C.  Then the big kids ran around and explored, finding lots of cool stuff down by the river for Stylish's frog tanks, and playing with toy cars, and Angus and A and I kept warm by the fire. Angus had lots of booby. 

In keeping with out new unschooling of food, I handed out liberal servings of shortbread biscuits as we headed to the picnic spot, and Spikee happily ate two home laid boiled eggs for his lunch.

THIS is why we moved here! In Sydney 20mins driving would take us to a large shopping centre ... here it takes us to a National park and in winter, to snow. 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Unschooling all of life

Banana and chocolate muffins

I often say to people that unschooling is easy, it's just LIFE, and with all of our lives we do unschool except one. Food. So now I've decided to take the plunge. What clocked me over was when I caught myself saying "but that wouldn't work for my kids". 

I was instantly reminded of all the people I've heard saying exactly the same thing only about unschooling. It was a light bulb moment for me. Since then I've been going over it in my head quite regularly. I've come to the conclusion that it might work with my kids!

They self regulate bed time, dressing themselves, computer time, TV time ... the only thing we don't unschool is food. I've had the "that wouldn't work for my kids" broken record playing over and over for quite a while now.

Bliss balls with cacao, berries, and coconut

So why do I think it won't work? 
Because my son has a damaged gut and he maintains the unhealthy flora with sugar, yeast, and carbohydrate cravings. However he will willingly eat quite a number of healthy foods, fruit, vegetables, yogurt, eggs, and nuts to name a few. 

So why do I think it will work?
Because the idea that children are unable to self regulate is not supported by common sense, nor any facet of my son's life. 

Why do I want to do it?
Because I believe it will self regulate his eating, and balance his cravings for unhealthy food with healthy food.

So now that I've gotten that off my chest I have to learn more about how it works and do some planning so that we can start soon!

Sugar free berry cheesecake 

Friday, June 24, 2011

Natural Learning: firing on all cylinders!

Yesterday Spikee spent half an hour quizzing us about fire so today we did an experiment to show him how fire needs oxygen.

We got a 3 litre milk bottle and sawed the bottom off it. Then we stuck an candle into a jar so it wouldn't fall over. We filled the sink with water, put the candle / jar in it and lit the candle. Then we covered it with the bottle and watched as the flame went out. We did it again, and this time, as the flame dimmed we took the lid off the bottle and watched it spring back up again.

(Goofy grin anyone!?)

After that we went for a walk to the park. We did the platypus walk along the river and as we walked out onto the lookout we spotted a platypus! We stood transfixed, watching it dive down and come up somewhere new, for about 10 mins before Spikee announced that he wanted to go to the skate park. 

Friday, May 20, 2011

Ebb and Flow

I get about the online unschooling traps a bit, and one of the things I notice is a certain level of guilt about not facilitating consistently at all times. I know that I've felt it too! So lately I've been dissecting it a bit and I have a few thoughts I'd like to share.

First off let's compare unschooling with school for just a moment. When children attend school there are holidays and weekends, and schooling parents don't feel guilty that their children aren't learning during those times (well some might, but we can't cover all bases). Also, schooled children take mental breaks throughout the day, every day they attend school! After all who can sit in a room being talked to non stop and not zone out, at least occasionally? So it's probably safe to compare the ebb periods with week ends or holidays or just plain daydreaming. There's nothing wrong with daydreaming! I bet some of the greatest inventions, novels, scientific theories etc were dreamed up when their creator was tuning out. 

Unschooling parents are most commonly schooled parents. I can make that assumption because the overwhelming majority of people in our society attend the institution for their education. To that end, we tend to have ingrained ideas of what education and learning should look like, and deschooling ourselves is a complicated and ongoing process that I suspect takes longer than we know, and may not ever be truly completed, although we may come close. (actually I think deschooling ebbs and flows too, but that's another post). Sometimes our kids are hell bent on extracting every bit of knowledge they can possibly attain through all manner of sources, and in those times we feel involved, virtuous, we feel as though our choice to unschool is paying off because we can measure their progress. But when they hit that brick wall and the ebb stage take over, us parents often feel a bit wobbly about it all. But you know what? It's impossible to live in a state of "nil learning". IMPOSSIBLE! Even though what they're learning may not outwardly appear educational, or it might not appear at all, they are still learning stuff. They really are!

School analogy: A kid may go to school all day and learn "nothing" (many of us have asked a schooled child what they learnt only to be told "nothing") But on the bus on the way home they learn about bus route, bus fare, reading timetables, it's just that the schooling parent might not notice that and assign it any value, but the unschooling parent does. Using public transport to navigate your way around the world is a really useful and worthy skill.

Right now we're on an ebb period. Sometimes I feel like I should go and razz the kids up, get them off their computer games and make them do something that my previously institutionalised, schooled self deems appropriate. And sometimes in the past I have done just that. But this time I'm not doing anything. I'm not standing in their way, I'm not banning them from Mario Brothers, I'm not telling them to go outside and play, and I'm certainly not handing them text books and expecting them to complete set exercises. Why? Well strike the text books off first, simply by saying that they voluntarily complete work in text books when they feel like it, if I go and force them to do it they won't enjoy the books anymore and they won't learn from them if they're just using them to get me off their case. As for going outside and playing, well they do that every day anyway. They walk the dog, they play chasings, they sometimes play a ball game and most days they engage is some loud wrestling match that disturbs the overall peace of the household significantly. 

I have a feeling we'll soon get flowing again.

the ebb, sleeping near Mario Brothers

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Our classroom this week

our classroom is where the faeries live!

our classroom is where the frogs live

our classroom is cold!

our classroom is reflective

our classroom is in the kitchen

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Gladiator fights in Antarctica!

Spikee has always been interested in history, and he recently discovered Gladiators. In keeping with our "channeling revolting habits into good things" modus operandi we thought this was the perfect outlet for his rough play.

We hired a book about gladiators from the library and discovered that people used to hire gladiators in the days before dvd hire shops. We learnt all about diet, life for fighters, training, various types of gladiators and how they fought and defended themselves and a whole heap of other stuff.

Then we found ourselves in possession of some foam swords and in order to "channel revolting habits" we organised a gladiator day!

The kids made shields and practiced sword fighting, and then A and I took denarii (chocolate melts) and chose which gladiator we'd like to hire. We examined their muscles and asked them what type of fight they entertained with. Then we took them to the Colosseum, placed our chocolate denarii bets and they fought while we cheered from the comfortable seating by the arena. A fun time was had by all ... even those involved in the dramatic throes of death.

Examining the Gladiators for hire. I selected a fine, fit gladiator and named her Gladiola.
The fierce and entertaining fighting!
A's gladiator Titus, is victorious whilst I jeer at Gladiola for her poor fighting performance.
At the end of the games I had won 8 denarii and A had won 10. We were kind ... we fed it all to the gladiators.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Literacy taking off!

Today we went for a drive to the shops and out of the blue Spikee piped up from the backseat "S is for Snake isn't it, Mum". Then he went through lots of words and told us what letter they started with for about another half hour. He is also getting really good at reading numbers thanks to all our UNO playing lately.

Stylish is enjoying guides more every week and starting to form some friendships with the other girls there, and her other friend will be coming to visit for a few weeks at around the time she turns 13. I'm sure they are already planning lots of mischief and steamy talks about spotty boys.

Angus is completely mobile now and crawls about the house baby proofing it for us. He has a new push along walking toy that he loves because he is able to stand up on it and hold on, but he's even starting to let go and balance for a very short time now. He is just off 8 months and is getting his fourth tooth in two weeks (top left), he isn't an easy teether, he's been miserable the poor little thing. He's currently fast asleep in my lap, wearing an all in one polar fleece suit with dinosaurs on it. I'm sure it's the height of baby fashion!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Adding to the family

Today we got some new furry friends for the kids. They really wanted something small and cuddly so we got them a guinea pig each. Spikee has called his "Atomic Betty Rat" and Stylish has called hers "Guiness" although owing to the beer reference she's thinking of renaming it when she thinks of a name.

Poor Spikee came off his bike at the park yestersay and has a HUGE bruise on his face, grazing and a cut the size of a 20c piece on the inside of his cheek. He's also got a badly grazed knee and a cut on his forehead from where the helmet hit the ground and quite frankly I'm very relieved he had it on. I was reading something not long ago about how helmets are no use. Well maybe they aren't in a collision with a car, but for falling off the bike when the dog wants your pink crocs .... they're ace. He would have cracked his skull without it, no question in my mind.

Stylish is very pleased about the guinea pigs, she's been hassling me to get rats for ages and I kept saying no because she used to let them run around the house, but now we have the pink croc chasing dog that's not really an option. The pet shop said the guinea pigs were skittish, but they look pretty tame to me, one in each lap as the kids watch a movie!

Angus is crawling all over the place, he has two teeth through and it threatening to get a new top one any day now. He is really miserable with the teething. He stands up on furniture now and is close to stepping around holding onto stuff. He is making all sorts of baby babble noises and is starting to wave. He loves it when we sit out in the garden and he can crawl around.

Yesterday we took advantage of a glorious Autumn day and drove down to Southport for a picnic. The kids ran up and down the beach finding shells and feathers. We also found dead squid like things that when you walk on them they ooze purple ink. That's why I assume they were like squid, they looked like seaweed other than that! We saw a starfish, and wallaby, penguin, crab and dog footprints which we're sure was edumacational for them. A has drilled holes through many of the shells and the kids are making necklaces out of them.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Welcome to our classroom!

Our teachers are our family!
Our classroom is in the air (cable cars at Taronga zoo)
Our classroom is at the park

Our classroom is in the back yardOur classroom is in the chook shed
Our classroom is in the sun
Our classroom is in the mud

Our classroom is out the front

Our classroom is in the rain forest
Our classroom is a boat in the garden

Our classroom is in the bath.
Our classroom is in the creek
Our classroom is in the SPA BATH!
Our classroom is in the frog tank

Friday, April 1, 2011

School made me feel dumb

But I'm not!

When school started failing my daughter I started to see that I had been brainwashed, and what was worse? I was participating in the brainwashing of my daughter. I believed that the only way to succeed in life was to finish school and get good marks ... but I hadn't finished school and I was still alive! And my partner hadn't finished school, and he was still alive, and most of my friends had either not finished school or hadn't done very well, but they were all smart people who were doing well in their lives.

So why did we all leave school? I left because I was afraid to fail. I knew I was smart enough to do really well if I applied myself ... but therein lies the truth of it. I wanted to enjoy life! I was young and having fun, and school wasn't fun, it was anti social and boring. And my friends who quit had all quit for the same reasons, and those who stayed and didn't do well had failed for the same reasons. Schools aren't for everyone, some people will do very well within the system, but others need to get out and experience life in order to discover their authentic selves. Schools glorify certain subjects (maths and english) but completely devalue others like art, drama, and music. My friends were all smart kids but they preferred and even excelled at humanities, and the institution simply loses those children between the cracks. How sad.

So, back to the subject at hand, and why I believed I was dumb. I went to a school to learn all the things deemed crucial for modern life but I hadn't really learnt much - or so I thought. I was literate, I was perfectly competent numerically, and I had all the skills necessary to acquire any further knowledge I needed, but I hadn't learnt anything about myself or what I was good at. I had also had my literate and numeric abilities completely undermined by all the institutional measurements. But the things I had never learnt, or had forgotten had never caused me a moment's grief. After having a good look at all this I concluded that the emphasis schools placed on many subjects was not proportionate to it's usefulness in real life.

So if I'd gone to school to learn all that stuff, and hadn't learnt it, what was going to make it different for my daughter or my sons? What would ensure that they came out of school with a healthy self awareness of their abilities? There just weren't any answers for those questions, and so there was really only one course of action I could take. I began unschooling my eldest daughter after almost six years of institutionalised learning, and I will always unschool the youngest two.

I know that when they reach adulthood they will have a good and functional level of literacy and numeracy, and they will have a really solid wealth of knowledge on a multitude of other subjects too. Those subjects won't always be neatly divided into categories like maths, english, science, history and geography, but that won't make their knowledge any less valuable.

As a teenager (and even as a child) I thought learning was boring, and when I was reading a book about dinosaurs or animals and learning really interesting stuff, I didn't realise I was learning, because no one had graded this knowledge on a scale of worthiness. No one tested me on it, no one valued what I learnt unless it was taught to me by a teacher. I used to see adults learning and envy them because clearly they enjoyed learning. What didn't occur to me was that they only studied the subjects they were interested in. And they only retained their knowledge because their memory was fueled by interest and practicality. The same goes for children. That is why children forget long division but remember the names of dinosaurs.

But not knowing how to do long division isn't an insurmountable obstacle! You are never too old to acquire new knowledge or skills, and in the mean time there are calculators and the internet and libraries and many other sources where one can obtain the necessary information for living. If not learning stuff at school and not passing exams means that for the rest of our lives we are destined to fail then there are some pretty big problems with society!

When I was a schooling mother I couldn't keep up with the institution in a way that it approved of, I felt like I was forever striving and falling short of the ideals. Neat tidy children, perfectly completed homework, perfect lunch boxes, and so on. I just didn't have the same values, I wanted a happy family and I didn't see how forcing my kids to learn about completely useless and uninteresting things was going to make them happy fulfilled adults. I didn't see how fighting about homework was beneficial to education. I didn't see how any of it was actually going to work as a long term plan because it didn't inspire any internal motivation it was all external coercion and valuation - or devaluation.

So if school left you feeling confused, like you were a failure, like you were dumb or left you with no idea what you wanted out of life, maybe you would have done better unschooling. If your kids are struggling with maths but brilliant at computers, or they can't spell but they are excellent at painting or sculpting, maybe your kids would be better unschooled too! You know the expression "don't put all your eggs in one basket"? Schooling has been used as the only basket for far too long.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Unschooling Monday!

Today was a busy day (like every other day). Summer is in its' last days and the last week or two have been absolutely divine. Perfect weather for walking to a friend's house and picking blackberries on the way, gardening, and also for more mundane tasks like washing and scraping paint.

We were about to throw out an old blanket when Spikee decided to make it into a boat in the back yard and asked me to go boating. So we got an atlas and used the map of the continents to decide where we were going to visit. We visited Antarctica and threw snow balls, Africa and saw zebras and ate couscous, Asia where we ate stir fry with chopsticks and spring rolls, and South America where we spotted macaws and poison dart frogs before a visit to Machu Picchu . Tomorrow we have a few more continents to visit and many more sharks to fight off on our journey. Angus had a lovely time, and the dog did too, all the while driving us crazy.

Spikee has also been really enjoying work books. He decided he wanted a text book at about the same time Stylish announced a desire to do maths out of a book (hardly a coincidence) He has one with letters and one with numbers and his dexterity is notably better now than it was only a month ago. Yesterday he drew his first person!

Stylish is enjoying the girl guides but today staged a little protest by refusing to sing what she describes as the "God" song, about "how he made hills". The teacher was rather unsure what to do because she's never encountered that before (free thinking is disturbing). She has prepared an activity for everyone to do next week, it is of course about dart frogs. She's written a list of scientific names and everyone has to find out what sort of frog they have.

She's also decided to start doing maths, and asked if we could get her a text book. She's plowing through it and enjoying herself a great deal. I'm surprised by just how much there is in it that I learnt at school but never ever used, and have forgotten. Some of the questions are so blatently stupid I tell her to forget about it. Funnily enough, I remember ripping the answers out of maths text books when she was in school. Now I would never need to do that because she does the maths for her own enjoyment, and only uses the answers to help her.

Anyone who says their child would never be motivated to learn on their own should pay attention to this!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

l like unschooling!

I really like unschooling the kids! I've been a schooling mama and it just didn't gel with me.

I never liked washing and ironing uniforms, packing lunches that I knew only ever got thrown out or went mouldy before I could find them, homework fights, waking the baby to get to school for collection on time, having to hand my daughter over to someone else and needing THEIR permission to parent her between 9 and 3 and many many more!

What I like about unschooling, or natural learning, is that we can really plot our own lives. We can go for a day trip or a holiday when it suits us. We can get up as early or as late as we like, and the same goes for sleep. The children can learn about what interests them, and by following their instincts they learn about so many other things that I won't even attempt to list. I am the one who knows where my children are at, and I don't need to wait for a report card. I know that my kids socialise with lots of different children, that are all different ages.

In fact, come to think of it, I think I love everything about natural learning! And here's an update on all the things that have been happening lately.

Angus is now crawling and sitting up and babbling lots, and he is threatening to get a tooth. He loves playing with everyone, and is interested in the pets and all his toys. He loves having a bath with me and Spikee and his favourite bath toy is his bath book.

Spikee is learning lots about how computers work, and he likes doing lots of typing, changing colour and font, navigating his own way around youtube, and some dinosaur games we found on the www. He is still interested in geography and when last seen was wandering around with an atlas telling us where South America and Tasmania are, and that South America is much bigger.

Stylish has taken herself off to her first girl guides meeting this afternoon, with another little girl who unschools about two kilometres from us. She's also bee regularly attending rag rugging classes and making significant progress on her rag rug, which she seems rather pleased with. She's been doing lots of art, drawing horses and frogs, and last week she decided to write an essay about dart frogs. She wrote them most amazing essay, using an extensive show of vocabulary and scientific understanding. I asked her what she would like to do with frogs when she grows up and she told me that she would like to go to South America (possibly explaining Spikee's interest in that particular continent) and discover a new species of frog, and help to classify some other species. She then informed me that there are about 22 new species discovered each year. I am so thrilled with her plan!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The things that go unnoticed

I often blog about the things that are evidently educational and could be used to demonstrate socially valued learning, but what goes on behind the scenes? There must be lots and lots of things that the kids learn that I'm completely unaware of. Here are a few that I hadn't considered.

  • fire lighting
  • social skills
  • vocabulary
  • physics (without the mathematical equations)
  • dexterity
  • self appreciation / esteem
  • music appreciation
  • interpersonal skills
And surely plenty more. It's easy to measure learning in areas such as literacy, numeracy, science, history ... and all the other areas that are taught in schools, but not so easy to quantify the rest until we are faced by adults that have learnt to be human by simply living!

I love natural learning *happy sigh*

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Naturally Learning

Spikee has been playing our new game word pool. We got it at vinnies for $3. The aim of the game is to collect all the letters in your word. Older players can play with up to seven words but we just use one. The photo above is of him after winning a game, you can see his word was "cat". He is also getting really good at playing Guess Who.

Stylish has been spending lots of time with her new friend, and we are starting rag rugging classes next Wednesday at the local design centre. She's also been taking an interest in the portrayal of women in video clips so we've been discussing that a lot. I'm so pleased to see her absorbing (albeit painfully slowly) some feminist critique of her "culture".

Angus is now sitting up and very nearly crawling. He can move from one spot to another but he's not quite sure how. He's at that really gorgeous smilie interactive age and he's piling on the booby fat in preparation for more organised movement.