Monday, January 26, 2009

Finally, some photos...

I've got out of the habit of taking snaps since I am now without my own camera. Anyway, above is a rare, quiet, almost studious moment as H constructs something out of nuts and bolts and Biryani draws.

and here is the result of M and Biryani raiding one of the craft boxes. One of those situations when there is a strange peace in the house, the children are being quiet (and you know something untoward is going on).

and today, after a hard night again with Hz I managed to persuade Biryani to do some more 'water' painting, rather than get the paints out and have to clear them up. When I was looking after an autistic boy while I was a student, he used to spend hours painting the outside walls of his house with just water. At the time I couldn't understand why his Mum needed to employ me as she was a stay at home mum with just one other child. Now I understand..
I felt a bit of a coward at the time expecting Biryani to be happy with no colours (as I scoff at the lack of creativity needed for 'Aqua draw'). In the end although she was happy, as was I if papered walls were avoided, I caved in. All but M ended up having some messy fun (M requested to get them out after supper after everything had been cleaned, twice).
(By me after younger ones, by MIL after S's artwork)

Friday, January 23, 2009

Why we learn..

The effects of the Gaza war have been closer to home. One of M's teachers lost two relatives,and over the last weeks Janaza prayers continue to be held after the Jummah prayer.

But our somewhat mundane but safe life goes on, alhamdulillah, and a post on Always Learning, encouraged me to write a bit about motivation and learning, something I may have touched on before. Don't expect an in-depth analysis, my sleep pattern's still a bit strange at the moment as I deliberate over sleep training versus attachment parenting. Invariably Hz's cuddly body ends up close to mine for much of the night, seeking a bit of comfort.

Anyway, the other day H surprisingly got a certificate for maths from nursery. He'd been away on the day they had a 'Nobelfest' party for the Nobel Prize, and every child was given a certificate for something. M also got a 3rd prize for dictation (a home made mini certificate). My MIL once realising what they were, gave a small monetary award. In H's case he was v pleased especially as he was increasing his savings for having done something he enjoys. M also was motivated to be top of his class, although I hadn't noticed any particular increase in practice before the weekly tests. I remember friends of mine receiving a set amount for each A they got at GCSE. I can't remember being particularly resentful that I didn't get such rewards. Somehow I knew that doing less than your best was not an option. Maybe it was having an older sister setting the example, or the not always overt message that you had to go to University to get anywhere in life.

Ideally all learning should be self-motivating. S checks his spellings quiet carefully when typing stuff on his You-Tube channel, or in the RPG games, maybe knowing the readers are likely to have a negative attitude to any mistakes?

I myself quickly try to find out why Biryani has got cracked lips and read that it could be due to a Vitamin B deficiency (which doesn't surprise me as her range and amount of food intake is v limited at the moment) I make sure she gets her vitamins. Looking something up for a reason, and it's likely I'll remember it too..

The bigger picture, the end goals, are things that are hard for children to always comprehend. That's why we end up dressing some work up with certificates and stickers, with material rewards.

It is frustrating that the brain being like a sponge at a young age have owners who want to use it for seemingly trivial things, like RPG. And this is where I try to relax about how they're doing educationally. S has managed to learn to read and spell in English with a minimal amount of input from my part, why shouldn't the others do the same?

Having said that, I've still managed to order the next lot of Peter and Jane books for H (but only because he seems to like them!).

Monday, January 19, 2009

Missed the action, again..

Apparently a meteor could be seen from our neck of the woods the night before last, but we were totally unaware. S's classmate saw it as he was out in the car. S had heard it was a once in a million years event, so guess we'll have to be satisfied with the video footage!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

History, a pack of lies?

We've had a week back at school, and my own routine has gone rather strange. Hz sleeps v late and then may wake in the early hours or I can manage to pray Fajr before he wakes, then he sleeps again until late morning. So DH , on parental leave has kindly been sorting out the morning school run, and so I manage to get some extra sleep once the morning rush has finished. So I'm living in a different time zone nowadays, strange!

Boys have come back from school reporting mixed messages they are getting from teachers re the current Gaza situation. S's teacher (a self-confessed atheist) informed them that the Jews came to Israel 2000 years ago, so it is their land. Their Islamic studies lecturer advised them not to buy Coca Cola nor shop at Lidl. I am glad my kids do reveal what goes on at school so we can give both sides of the story. In a way it's good to get other people's opinions so that answers to these can be thought through, rather than to be caught unawares. However I can imagine some kids just take every one of their teachers' words as true, and don't discuss it with their parents. S had discussed his teachers comments with his classmates at break time and they had agreed on the unfair bias. Just to add, Lidl has denied supporting Israel. Please double check for yourselves, I rarely shop there anyway.
I can never remember current affairs being discussed when I was at primary school, just in 'history' that the Crusaders went to free the Holy Lands. At least this current massacre has been recorded for posterity and only those with hearts as hard as stone can try and justify it. Here is the Israeli spokesman being put in his place for once .(I remember Channel 4 news was the only mainstream News programme that doesn't have an Israeli bias).

Monday, January 12, 2009

A bit of spontaneity

With an unfamiliar spring in my step, unencumbered by buggies, bags containing nappies and spare gloves, S and I set out for the library. We were out for only about an hour, but with only one child a request like ‘I wish I could throw a stone to see if there’s ice in that pond’ gave no reason to be denied.
Hz ‘s sleep pattern continues to worsen. It was gone 12.20 a.m by the time he slept the other night and then he woke again after only an hour. The miracles of thumb sucking have lost their appeal to him as I think his 2 bottom teeth make it uncomfortable to suck. So what sleep-inducing replacement? Moi! I shall probablyhave to do a bit of leaving him to cry, but shall wait till MIL is not here as I expect she would find it hard to leave him to cry.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Woo Hoo, some photos!

I am now sharing DH's camera as the battery in mine packed up. It's the end of the holidays and nothing amazing is happening. Hz is almost better, lots of pomegranates are being consumed. My MIL has shown me a technique which is a lot quicker to remove the fruit, you just cut it up in to quarters, hold it downwards in a cupped hand and bang the skin with a spoon. Needless to say, when she does it this does work, when I try I still end up having to pick out many of the pieces.
The picture with the phone is an example of how this short lifespan can be wasted so much. Being on hold to the Social Insurance office in order to tell them we will pay back some money is so frustrating. Especially as Hz has only 2 fairly short naps a day, in which I have to decide whether to:
give some one to one attention to the kids with their work,
things I can't do holding a baby e.g. clean bathroom,
go on computer,
make important phone calls.
DH trying to be kind when I mentioned this one day said I should always choose the first option, but things just have to be done.
Anyhow if you want to learn Swedish numbers then being on hold for 20 minutes may be a good way as you are told how many minutes you will have to wait, your position in the queue and how many assistants are apparently trying to help you. I need one, only one! The local office closed down recently and there had been a lovely Portuguese girl who helped me out with all the Parental benefit applications etc but she went on sick leave. So I have to phone them up, the Internet site is limited when it comes to queries.
Anyhow, the cheesecake recipe I've been drooling over has become reality, and is sitting in the kitchen, cooling down. I managed to make it while Hz was awake, although I almost added some of his baby porridge as he was hungry half way through and needed a meal. Talking of drool, Hz is very into blowing raspberries at the moment. he can sit a while now before toppling and is a proficient roller.
Something educationally-related that I have been noticing about M's reading of Arabic; It's following a similar pattern to the English, and Swedish. He has started by having a lot of trouble blending the sounds into words. Now with the Arabic, it's OK as long as the words are short (max 3 letters with vowels), otherwise it just seems too much for his working memory. I remember before the summer it was the same for the Swedish and sometime last year (maybe the year before)it was similar for the English. That's why I'm hoping it will eventually click as it did with the other languages. On the other hand his spoken Arabic sentences sound almost identical to the Rosetta Stone pronunciations, and he does seem to remember the meanings, and aural learner I think.
The boys in the photo are having a rare, prolonged break from the computer to play with the 'Monster cards'. This game went on for ages, well after bedtime (whatever that is at the moment), but I was happy for them to be playing quietly in their room, and I was actually able to hear the reporters giving us continuing horrific news on Jazeera and Press TV.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009


A few minutes into 2009, the rockets flew through the air, making, as on every New Year's Eve, sleep before 1.30 a.m., almost impossible. A few minutes into the annual firework extravaganza and I thought how ironic this was as real, deadly rockets are landing on the trapped inhabitant of Gaza.

Hz has been quite ill this past week, although I expect it would be termed only as a cold by the doctors so I didn't take him in. He's had a wheezy chest, cough and very runny nose, so not wanting to feed so much, and needing a lot of holding. But I cannot complain, he can have clean milk, have his nappy changed regularly and a mother who is not in fear of her and her family's lives.

The fear and desperation on those sisters' faces, the ultimate disappointment in humankind reflected in her words.

But what to do? This situation is one of the peaks in the continuing oppression of a people, a Palestinian sister here in Sweden recounted similar atrocious conditions about 5 years ago and I asked her then what could be done. Oppression is still going on throughout the world even if it's not currently on Sky news; Zimbabwe, China, Afghanistan...

The best I can say is as I concluded then, du'a,

and a frown came over my face as saw the label where our current pack of avocadoes came from, Israel....