Thursday, January 29, 2015

A Beaut' Book...not about sanitary products
The 10pm Question, Kate De Goldi
First of all, let's explain that post title.  When Bea recommended this book to me (repeatedly, while she read it), I heard the title words all blended together, and stored the soundbite of her rec, not a visual.  She referenced it casually a few times, and each time, I heard, "You really should read The Tampion Question."  She didn't exhort me, shake me by the shoulders, or elaborate about what made this book something I needed to get my hands on, she just kept saying, by title, it was one I'd like.  Perhaps the third time, I asked her to please spell it out, because when you've only heard the title, it sounds a little like I really need to get reading about sanitary products.  She cleared that up.  10PM.  What sealed the deal on me chasing up a copy, was learning it was YA!  Now Bea knows what information to lead with.  That's a good'un, or that there'll be spaceships.  Or clonesAndroidsA great love storyBeautiful writing.  Take your pick.  THIS BOOK DOES NOT HAVE SANITARY PRODUCTS OR SPACESHIPS.  For those of you who have been skimming then skipping my sci-fi-fanning, this is not that.  This is entirely different.  And wonderful.  Let me start by saying, this is a five out of five book.  Here's why:
  • The 10pm Question is set in New Zealand, and it casually, authentically and sweetly integrates kiwi content, all of which adds meaning and value to the narrative, as opposed to the awkward insertion of token tidbits here and there, or spinning the spotlight on some of the country's darkest tales for shock value.  I am so tired of our big hitters featuring a pohutakawa for the sake of having some native flora, or worse, featuring abuse or mass murder.  I get that there are stories there too, but this is the kind I want to snuggle down with.
  • The poetic language provides injections of wit, whimsy and beauty.  This is great writing, guys.  De Goldi is generous with her colourful vocabulary without being showy.  It's motif and theme-rich too.  This book is a NZ English teacher's dream!  AH!
  • There is a constant, gentle humour.  For example, you learn the cat's name in the first paragraph; The Fat Controller.  /slapping leg
  • I think The 10pm Question is like a contemporary kiwi mixture of Okay for Now (one of my favourite books) and Stargirl...only edgier than either of those.  And yet gentle, like the first. 
  • I am in awe of the journey I made with these characters.  My feelings towards each blossomed.  Initially, I felt pity for the main character.  I grew to admire him.  
  • Information is given, then seamlessly reincorporated as something we understand to be part of the world of the book.  Routines are savoured; in-jokes become inclusive of the reader.
  • I felt refreshed to find myself transported to such an authentic adolescence without finding myself bombarded with an excess of sex, drugs, alcohol and all of the other things that "teenagers do" so therefore, a book wouldn't be authentic without?  Garbage.  Yes, Frankie (the main), is younger than some protag's, but he is still in the time of "the stirrings," yet things are so much more tactful.  This feels like a "real" teen book without being repulsive to me.  I think mid-teens would be a fair time to read it.  Yeah, guys?  There's a little cussing (mostly blasphemy), and some minor mature references, and overall, I think the message is for slightly older YA (I wouldn't file this in Children's so much as YA and Adult).
  • Frankie, as narrator, is highly intelligent and interesting.  I found all of the characters had depth and were interesting.  And they were all flawed!  So, so impressed.
Only negatives:
  • Initially I listened to this as an audiobook available from my city library.  Big mistake.  I wasn't fond of the reader's voice.  Not even a little.  I respected his talent for switching between different voices, but the problem was, I didn't like any of them...nor his intonations or delivery of dialogue.  He was ruining the characters, for me.  I'm sorry, Reader Dude.  I realised, while listening, that I was screwing my face up and shaking my head and repeating each line in my mind -- sometimes aloud -- the way I thought the character would say it.  My advice: Don't get the audiobook!  Read it!  These characters are clever, and I found the reader's delivery of their speech so over the top and whiney that they all always sounded irritated.  When I read it, I heard a lot of tongue in cheek and love behind the teasing lines that the recorded narration lacked.  When I went into the library and lent a hard copy, everything was so much richer and better.  Bye bye nasally high-pitched man, hello my superior imagination and lack of humility.
  • It's a slow start.  But I don't think I'd change the end, it all felt just as it should be.  The right entrée for the main that's served.  It's a gentle meal.  It's not my usual preference, is all. 
Overall, I am very impressed with this book.  I found it touching and tender.  It dealt with potentially upsetting subject matter with hope and delicacy, teasing things out with magical alternations between frankness and subtlety, humour and sincerity.  If you read this book, I want to talk about it.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

All Three

Stopping for a snack during a town walk, wearing squints and sorta-smiles; tops.  Left to right: Esky (Sporting short hair! AH! Also clip-ons), Ivy, Mia.
Ivy, Mia and Esky -- big sisters adoring the youngest.  She does have a broom.
Having these three along for company makes everything more fun.  Here they are eagerly watching our vehicle's turn at the vehicle testing station (for our car's Warrant of Fitness).
There she is.  Aw, Thimba.  (That's the car.)  Kids: Esky, Ivy, Mia. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Esky Empathises

This lass is 5.5 years old:
    Before the big haircut.
    • Esky is now very speedy on her bike, without training wheels (she got the hang of it just after she turned 5 -- after seeing one of her peers had mastered it, she tried in more earnest).  She was so proud of herself after she rode 10k on the beautiful harbourside cycleway, with Haki.
    • She is willing to delay gratification, especially with treats.
    • She often volunteers for things -- even when you can see she feels some anxiety about it drawing eyes to her -- her desire to help overrides any timidity.  She confidently accepted her first speaking assignment in our church sacrament meeting, at age 5 (Nov, last year).  She wants to be big, please, and perform, but she pulled out many of her nerves-management-quirks to get through (speaking in a whisper, tugging her hair, fumbling with her lips, rubbing her eyes).  But she did it.  
    • Esky loves jewellery.  She likes to wear clip-on earrings, one ring, and a bracelet.
    • She lost her two top teeth well before Christmas (her bottoms went months earlier), and her new ones are growing in nicely.
    • Esky has had quite a few hair-trims already (Haki and I agree, when the bottom wisps reach the toileting wipe zone, it's not good).  Recently, she said she would like to go a little shorter, to make brushing easier (I have often suggested a haircut as a natural solution to her aversion to brushing).  So the haircut happened.  She is thrilled.  I'm still recovering.  Donating her locks helps a teensy bit.
    • When she doesn't join Ivy in the morning, looking at books (and starting to read some of them), she still goes for the train set.  She loves that set!  She also prefers to set it up when Mia is still slumbering.  Other favourite Sans Mia Activities include: playing with Lego, taking inventory of the supermarket minis, and playing card games.
    • Esky leaves flowers in her wake.  A daisy woven into a window latch here, a miniature bouquet of dandelions in a cup on the outside table there.  She loves to adorn all the things.
    • When she sees something she really likes, it takes her breath away!  She often exhales her response, "It's so beautiful!" being a common phrase.  Horses and horse things illicit this response more than anything.  A black, stuffed toy horse recently garnered the Gasp and Praise, and she engineered its purchase through pooling her remaining Christmas money with Ivy, and promising a turnabout system.  It has held fair, thus far.
    • She has proven herself a competent kite flyer.
    • Esky is very, very empathetic.  Every book, recount and movie, she translates to herself.  When we were reading about housing in India, Esky looked up at me, concerned, from the page depicting and describing slums in Mumbai.  She asked, "If they have so few things, do they have blankets?  Do they get cold at night?"  Me: "In some parts of India they might get cold at night.  Part of India is a desert, and the desert can be extremely hot and extremely cold."  Esky: "If I lived there, what I would do, is get a coconut and make a needle from it and sew together leaves to make a blanket."  Me: /blink blink.  I refrained from commenting on the unfortunate unlikelihood of finding coconuts in the desert parts of India, since they prefer the tropical climate of the coast. Also refrained: laughing. Her imagining was too rich and specific to interrupt.
    • She is still home-schooled.  We are happy.  I mean, she clearly has survival instincts locked in, already.  We've got this.
    • Around a month ago, we were laying in in the morning, and Esky pointed at the ceiling in the bedroom. This ceiling:
      Moving her entire arm as she pointed, she said, "3 times 2 is 6 and 2 times 3 is 6!"  /glee.
    • Sharing Christmas with this child is a delight.  She focuses so much on wrapping small treasures for others, thrilling at simple traditions, queuing carols on Spotify, and the stories of Christmas.  We studied Saint Nicholas and the Nativity story together this year, and she really got it all.  She would suggest we "be anonymous" when we baked enough to share with others, or explain to her sisters the parts we do and do not know about the place where Jesus was born.  I still marvel at her assumption about letters to Santa, last Christmas.  So Esky.
    • She still has regular nightmares.  Sometimes she tells me about them before she is all of the way awake.  Esky: "I had a bad dream. When I have a bad dream I try to wake up but I don't always have the key; sometimes it's locked."  That's rough.
    • Esky: "I prefer animals on all fours, because animals aren't really anthropomorphic, you know?"    Aw.  Poor Lily!  Remember your sweet (admittedly anthropomorphic) crochet elephant?  You know the one?  You shared stories with her, shopped with her, nursed her, found comfort during hard times with her, and now?  She stands wrong.  And wears clothing.  Alas, they all choose their own course, these chidluns...and it's a changing road.  /sigh
    After the big haircut.  With a lion that is on all fours.
    Last post on Esky here.
    Before that here.

    Monday, January 26, 2015

    Ivy Dreams

    I answer your accidental "Who me?" pose, child, with "YES, YOU!  SCRUMPTIOUS YOOOOU!"
    Ivy will be 4 years old in 3 months.
      • She still loves trains and Thomas (see picture, at top).
      • She does an excited dance where her arms roll an invisible playdough sausage vertically in the air (back and forth between hands) while high-knee-running on the spot.  I love it.
      • She is crazy about milk, cheese, bananas, yoghurt, and carrots with dip.
      • She is generous with her laugh while watching movies.
      • Ivy often wakes first in the morning (we are usually all in one bed, by this stage).  She lays there quietly for a while.  Then she whispers, "Can I please go look at books now, Mama?"  So sweet.  She sits in a patch of sunlight and turns pages for half an hour.  MAGIC AGE!  
      • When Ivy returns, post-peruse, she still asks if she can touch Mia.  She is bursting with desire to hug and kiss her little sister.  When the youngest does awake, Ivy sometimes wakes Haki to tell him so; "Papa, Papa!  Mia's awake!  You can touch her now!"  As though he was hankering for the his sleep.
      • She continues to amaze me with her fine motor skills. 
      • She has become reliably generous and helpful.  When asked if she would like to share a bite of this or fetch that, around a year ago, she would say "No thanks."  No longer.  She's a sharer and a fetcher. /round of fist pumps
      • She is excellent at recognising all of her letters, but says she can't read yet (she leaves sounding out to Esky, even though I think she could probably start trying).
      • Ivy often asks if she can go outside and sing.  She then walks around in no obvious course or pattern singing.  Yup.
      • She also enjoys playing music.  She is very serious about her piano playing, in particular.  She tells me she isn't interested in learning to read music yet, but she plays consistently, with two hands, for about 10 minutes at a time, sounding careful chords and accompanying melody.  I've never seen anything like it.  It's something to behold.  There's no mashing, but there's no recognisable song either.  Once, when one of Ivy's friends was telling Ivy about how she plays the violin and is learning to play the piano, Ivy responded, "I play the piano!"  Her friend said, " you don't."  Ivy declared, "But I practise every day!" and marched off.  She feels what she is doing is very real and important.  I like listening to it.  When short a piano, she often "plays the piano" with gusto on a seat back, a cushion, a book, or her lap.  
      • For the past few months, Ivy has commenced wailing 1.5 hours after she goes to bed.  She sits up, squirms, looks frightened, points around the room, and cries inconsolably.  She is not awake.  I have discovered that taking her to the bathroom appears to disrupt the night terror we have concluded she is having.  I do believe a full bladder triggers the nightmare.  It is like she is trapped in a cycle of feeling discomfort, then having this bad dream.  Once she has relieved herself, the dream never reoccurs in a night.  What I find most saddening, is how she describes these dreams the next day!  When she is lucid (because she doesn't answer me or even seem to see me, during these episodes), I've asked her about her dreams.  She says, "I dream about Stainstain.  He is a wicked king."  She has told me some of his wicked deeds, and assure you, she's on the money with his descriptor.  It's fairly disturbing...  What I find oddly fascinating, is that Stainstain has a theme song.  She sits at the piano and plays long, strong bass chords and says, "This is Stainstain's song."  Woah. 
      • Many of the other songs Ivy plays have invented, abstract titles.  Two days ago she played me "The Nanopeg Song."  I have explored many of her abstract words in attempt to establish if they are in fact Mondegreens or slurs, but nope, they're just Ivy neologisms.
      • Ivy's names for characters and animals in pretend play are also usually abstract.  She came to me earlier this week and asked me to help her with the zip on the back of her dress.  I did.  She then smoothed it from the waist down her thighs, spun to me and said, "I look like Masika in this dress."  Me: "Who is Masika?"  Ivy: "She's smaller than Nasina."  Got it.
      • I love when kids lock a definition in that isn't quite there, don't you? One of Ivy's this year: "A whale can't be a pet!  It doesn't have fur."  "Pet" apparently meant an animal companion with fur.  We've gone over possible fur-free pets since, but it blew her mind.  I think she still finds a fur-free choice unorthodox.
      • She is still pretty stubborn about toilet use.  I.e. Some days, she is still trialing her theory that toileting is unnecessary.  Ever.  Even as she squirms, cross-legged on the floor, she is determined not to go.
      • Much of Ivy's parts add to create a very creative sum.  I enjoy hearing and seeing the things she comes out with so much.  I'm often surprised.
      Christmas morning.
      Last update on Ivy
      The one before that

      Sunday, January 25, 2015

      Mia at 1.5ish

      Christmas day; pretty jazzed...about one of her sister, Ivy's, gifts.
       At 20 months:
      • Mia is done slurring only a small smattering of words and can now copy most things we suggest.  Before she reached this state of constant vocabulary expansion, she added some great words to her arsenal (previous words here), including: morning!, two, horse, cool, apple, 'nana, hug, whe(r)e'gone? "pee-a-oo," cat, p(l)ay, let it go, bed, sock with a "d", again, mine, pig, "I stuck," Thomas, t(r)ain, come on, happy, pull, water, bird, "I come," "sowwy," Amen, shoes, other side, sleep, cheese, caps, bubble, water, tidy, milk, baby, you okay?, poo, toot, hurt, dirty, tidy, and nose.
      • Whenever anyone bumps something, coughs, trips, drops something, groans a little, or in any way expresses discomfort (including sarcastically), she loudly says, "You okay?!" with a sweet high rising terminal.  She also offers "hug?" with her arms wide, sometimes after your injury or incident, something just for fun.
      • Favourite foods: corn on the cob, yoghurt, eggs, most meats. She doesn't like licorice - which the other two did, at this age.
      • She will swing on a swing indefinitely.
      • She still brings shoes to us, suggesting she wants to go outside.  She now says, "Shoes.  Outside." instead of simply physically cueing us. She then brings a pair to each family member and places them in a pair in front of them.  Usually matching, in size.
      • If she can't be outside, she loves playing with the wooden train set.
      • Mia is day-weaned, and in-the-night weaned (later than the other two).  We will soon drop the last, singular, farewell feed.  /sigh
      • She has discovered how to put her window down in the car.  I derive great pleasure from turning the window lock on and off from the front and catching her corresponding expressions of consternation and joy.
      • When I say I need to change her nappy, Mia brings me a new nappy, the wipes, and talcum powder.  She returns them all for me afterwards too.  She also enjoys dropping dirty clothes into the machine.  I enjoy watching her.
      • She love love loves going on trampolines.  It will be more fun for me in a few months.
      Post-chocolate icecream-filled cone for my birthday dessert.  The forehead splatter slays me.
      The last time I posted a Mia update (15.5 months)
      Before that (just over Age 1)
      And the last video of her (just under Age 1)

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