Archive for the ‘pearl’ Category


February 2, 2015

“Roast for dinner?” Pearl asked, looking at the meat in the pan surrounded by veges. “Beef?… lamb?”

“Yes, beef,” I replied, just as she continued, “I don’t think it’s pork or chicken.”

“So cow,” she decided.

“Well, probably a steer, actually,” I remarked, and she looked at me quizzically.

“Doesn’t beef come from cows?”

“It comes from a cattle beast, yes, but mostly cows are kept for milk, and bulls or steers are kept for meat.”

I half-expected a question about bulls vs steers, and mentally prepared myself, but instead she said, “So… cows are girls and bulls are boys, right?”

“That’s right.”

“So… what are they? I mean, you have men and women and together they’re humans, so what are cows and bulls together?”

“Cattle,” I repeated.

She rolled her eyes, a skill she is ever-improving upon. “That’s just confusing. Why don’t we just call them all cows?”

“In that case, why don’t we just call all people women?” I countered.

She paused, and a gleeful light came into her eyes.

“That would be… AWESOME!”

© UpsideBackwards 2015.


Christmas Eve – a cautionary tale

April 6, 2014

Babess is a writer.  She’s always writing little stories, and I’ve given her an exercise book for her “home stories”, just like the ones she has for her stories at school.

This is one she wrote towards the end of last year, clearly taking some parental, um, “encouragement” to heart.

I’ve kept her spelling, but explained it where it might be necessary.

Christmis eve.

One night there was a gerl ho (who) didi’t go to bed her Mother called Santa and sed don’t do eny presints for the littil gerl so he didi’t gev eney present’s for her but he left a noet for her that sed be good but she thoht she hd been good all the time but she got it she didn’t go to bd so nexst Christmis she was good and she got a wond (wand), slepers (slippers) sollvorens (Sylvanian Families) and they all lived hapreley.

Lot’s of love from Babess.

© UpsideBackwards 2014.


February 17, 2014

Pearl started at a new school this year.  It’s an “Intermediate” school, for Years 7 & 8, which is common here between primary school (Years 1-6) and secondary school (Years 9-13).  It’s not universal – there are schools which go from Year 1-8, for example, and some even from Year 1-13, but in our neighbourhood most kids go to intermediate.

She was apprehensive.  A new school, with a uniform, kids she doesn’t know (although of course she does know several – just not all of them like she did at primary), teachers she’s never met, a changing timetable – they have some new subjects: a foreign language (yay!), technology, cooking, and so on… it was all quite daunting, as well as exciting.

But she loves it there.  She has been there three weeks and is revelling in it.  She loves the new subjects, the opportunities and the new friendships.

We’re pretty impressed with the school too.  Today we got a postcard in the mail.  It was from Pearl’s teacher.  The school has its own postcards, featuring students’ art – that’s pretty cool.  The handwritten note on it told us that Pearl has been doing some excellent writing.  It gave a specific example and described the piece she’d written as “stunning”.

I was a bit stunned myself.  What a wonderful idea – much nicer than a phone call or email.  I asked some other parents today, and found that this seems to be something of a policy – when a teacher notices something outstanding, they send a card to the parents.  I heard of one involving a particular example of sportsmanship.

The thoughtfulness and positivity of this practice speaks volumes to me about the culture of the school.  I’m really looking forward to the next two years.

© UpsideBackwards 2014.

Breakfast with more twittering

December 16, 2013

Breakfast conversation is often interesting in our house. There was the memorable morning when Pearl, then aged 7, asked, “Mum, what’s philosophy?” and just a few days ago Pearl and Fainjin were discussing Gorgons and the Minotaur.

This morning started much like any other. Fainjin began by telling me about a cartoon he had seen set in Egypt. He was describing the “Stinks with no nose” which I quickly worked out was the Sphinx. Then he said his class was reading about Ancient Egypt now  – they’re really working hard on mythology this term! I asked what he knows about Ancient Egypt, and he said, “Well, someone wanted the biggest pyramint but the servants had to build it.”

This is the kind of situation where I really love twitter. I happen to “know” someone via twitter who is an Egyptologist. We’ve never met. I knew she would find his pronunciation cute, and be chuffed that a 6yo was interested in Egypt, so I tweeted to her.

Before I knew it, I was passing information from her to both Pearl and Fainjin, and they were sending comments and questions back.  I was surprised at how much Egyptian mythology they both know – much more than I do! We learnt that “Ra sent his daughter to get rid of all the humans because they annoyed him, but changed his mind at the last minute…” and Pearl immediately said, “Oh, was that Sekhmet?” (it was) and Fainjin chimed in, “Yeah and then she turned into a lion!” (she did).

The kids found out lots of cool facts they hadn’t picked up in their own reading, and came up with all sorts of questions (like, was there an Egyptian god of snow & ice? – no, but Seth, god of chaos & anarchy, would probably look after that. (I reckon he has a hand in the kids’ bedrooms, too…)). It was much better than anything I could have dealt with on my own – there would have been an awful lot of “I don’t know” and “I haven’t had enough tea yet to even think about that”.

Now Pearl is wondering whether she can nominate Ancient Egypt as an “inquiry topic” for school next year, or perhaps as a “passion project” for her own research.

Thanks, @GrumpyYetAmusin – it was great fun having breakfast with you this morning!

© UpsideBackwards 2013.

Spelling homework

November 26, 2013

Pearl was casting around for something spelling-related to do for her homework.  Apparently she’s finished her “list” so she was asking for something to doooo.

I pointed her to my dictionary shelf, and said, “Find some interesting words and write about them, or write a story using them.  Better still, look in the Dictionary of Etymology and look up word histories.  It’ll be like the Word Hunter series you like so much.”

She liked that idea, and sat down for a fair while with my dictionary and a piece of paper.  Later I looked to see what words she had chosen.

The first one was “etymology“.

© UpsideBackwards 2013.


Hooray for mathematicians!

November 16, 2013

Our school celebrates both academic and sporting success.  Children who do well at athletics and swimming get to represent the school at regional and national competitions; children who do well at maths and English are invited to participate in national and international competitions.

Pearl took part in three of these: two for mathematics and one for reading comprehension.  She did us proud in all three.  Of course, we were proud just to have her selected to participate!

Yesterday Pearl and the other scholars were presented with their certificates at a senior-school assembly.  I was struck by the genuinely joyous celebrations of their peers.  Some children got certificates for “participation” or “merit” and were soundly applauded.   But those who received “distinction” or even “high distinction” were clapped and cheered and the crowd went wild.  The pleased blushes of the kids standing up the front were matched by the proud grins of their parents sitting at the back.

I hope these kids will continue to celebrate and recognise academic and scientific success.  They’re being trained well.

© UpsideBackwards 2013.


April 18, 2013

Tomorrow Pearl’s class is having an “Electronics Day”, where they are allowed (but not required) to bring an electronic device to school to use in their afternoon free time.  This is a reward for lots of hard work in a long term – tomorrow is the last day of term.  They’re also having a shared lunch (also known as cooking homework for Mum – Pearl wants to take cinnamon buns so those are rising as I write).

We heard about this E-day during the parent-teacher-child conference, and I was initially baffled as to what Pearl could take for it.  We don’t have much in the way of child-friendly electronics.  No game machines, i-pods etc.  But Pearl’s face lit up.  “Mum!  Can I bring the e-reader?”

“Oh!  Yes, you could take my e-reader to school,” I agreed.  Pearl explained to her teacher that we can load library books onto it.

He grinned.  “So, for electronics day, you want to bring a book and read it?  Great!”

© UpsideBackwards 2013.

Something beginning with b

March 10, 2013

We had a longish drive home, and the children were playing I Spy.  They’d all had several turns, and Pearl said, “I spy with my little eye, something beginning with S”.

Fainjin and Babess took several guesses.  “Nope!” said Pearl.  “I’ll give you a hint, it’s inside the car.”

They each took several more guesses.  After a loooong time, Pearl smugly revealed, “Ha! I was tricking you!  It’s not inside the car!  Guess again.”

“Pearl?” Babess said wearily.  “When you see this bored look on my face, it means: I’m bored.”

Game, set and match to baby sister.

© UpsideBackwards 2013.

Snails and puppy-dog tails

January 27, 2013

Pearl & Fainjin were walking with  me, home from the supermarket, and conversation meandered as it does.  Fainjin said something about dinosaurs, and Pearl erupted in frustration.

“Dinosaurs! Nothing but dinosaurs!  Don’t boys ever think of anything else?!”

Fainjin, lost in a world of his own (full of dinosaurs, no doubt), didn’t seem to hear her.

“Oh, I’m sure Fainjin thinks about other things,” I said mildly.  “He likes spaceships, for example…”

Fainjin’s ears pricked up at the word “spaceships”.  “Yeah!  Rockets and aliens!”

“What else do you think about, Fainjin?” I encouraged him.

“Crocodiles.  Sharks.  Lego.  Snakes.  Dinosaurs.”

Pearl gave us a disgusted look, and we walked on.

© UpsideBackwards 2013.

The longer-lasting Christmas present

January 18, 2013

Our Christmas present to Pearl was horse-riding lessons.

She has been pony-mad forever.  She had her first ride at the age of 9 months, although to be fair I don’t think she was quite pony-mad then.  I’m not sure she was really aware of what was really going on, even if she did seem to enjoy it!

By the time she was 4 and we visited friends who had miniature horses, she was definitely keen.  She just couldn’t wait to get there and see the horses and have a ride.  It was all she could talk about for weeks before and after.

And so it has been, ever since and forevermore, it seems.  We have taken her for pony rides on her birthdays and other occasions when we can.  There aren’t any equestrian centres particularly close to us, so it’s always at least a 45min drive to go riding, which has precluded any spur-of-the-moment outings or regular lessons.

This year we decided that the passion has been long-lasting enough to warrant more effort on our part.  We gave her five lessons for Christmas – not very many, but they are expensive, and somewhat difficult to get to.  She’s doing all five lessons in three weeks, which should give her a bit of a base to work from.  I’m hoping we’ll be able to organise a couple of lessons each school holidays.  It’s a shame we live too far away for her to be one of the kids who hangs out at the stables and helps clean up and learns by osmosis.

The second lesson was today, and she is having a ball.  She is learning a rising trot, and is so proud of herself riding around the ring with her arms outstretched (look Mum, no hands!), remembering – or trying to – to keep her heels down, toes up, back straight, look ahead, keep the rhythm.

Fainjin was pretty impressed, watching her.  Then he turned to me and said, “Pearl has had a long turn. I want a turn on the pony as long as she had.”


© UpsideBackwards 2013.

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