Posts Tagged ‘life’


February 28, 2013

There’s no Boys’ Brigade for Fainjin this term, to his immense disappointment, and this leaves him at loose ends on days that Pearl has choir.  We have fallen into a routine of taking her to choir, then running whatever nearby errands we (I) might have before settling in at a favourite cafe for a fluffy and a lemon slice.

This morning I reminded Fainjin of our “date”.  “Shall we go to the library later, and then the cafe for a lemon slice?” I asked.  He was very enthusiastic.

“I’m going to choose a book that Pearl will like, and then I will choose one for me!” he said, “And then we can have a lemon slice, it’s so yummy!”  He gave me a great big hug, and I was happy that he knew what was planned for the afternoon.


Then I heard him run to Pearl.  “Pearl!  I’m going to the library and I’m going to get one book that you will like, and one book that I can read.  Mum and I are going to the library today and you’re going to school!”

Pearl immediately protested, and I jumped in.  “Fainjin, you’re still going to school!  We’re going to the library after school, when Pearl goes to choir, remember?”

His face crumpled and he wailed as the truth sank in.  I felt both mean and a bit bewildered.  I never meant to give him the impression he was getting a day off school!

Luckily, he cheered up again fairly quickly, and had a great day at school as it turned out.  And afterwards we went to the library, got some books for them both, and had a lemon slice at the cafe.

© UpsideBackwards 2013.

School’s back

February 15, 2013

Wow, what a busy couple of weeks it has been.  School is back, various after-school activities – but not all of them – have started again, and the morning and afternoon time-juggle has been quite strenuous as I am back at work and coordinating the five of us to all end up in the same place at the same time (ie the dinner table at dinner time!) at the end of the day has been a challenge.

I failed earlier this week, forgot to get them from their three different locations in the right order, and ended up with a couple of extra long bus trips with kids in tow.

Pearl is happy at school so far.  She is in an extension programme which she is really excited about and is preparing for a school camp in a few weeks which will include a horse-riding trip.

Fainjin has had a harder time of it.  He was very anxious about going back because he didn’t want to be in a new class with a new teacher.  He has been “finding the boundaries” with his new teacher, and spent some time in the “reflection room” considering his options.  He seems to have come to some good conclusions, though, and his teacher is happy with how things are going.

Babess is still itching to go to school.  She insists on packing a lunchbox each morning – despite the fact that daycare provides lunch and snacks – and takes it in a school bag.

Only four months to wait…

© UpsideBackwards 2013.

Bloodthirsty Babess!

December 16, 2012

As we left to go out this afternoon, Babess said firmly to me, “I’ve got my sword, and if there are any baddies, I can kill them!”


She repeated her assertion, calmly and confidently (she didn’t have a sword, it was just pretending, but I was a bit disturbed by the violent intentions).

“No,” I said, “I’m not happy with you saying you’re going to kill people.”

“Not people!” she said, “Just baddies.”

A long discussion took place in the car – mostly between the children, with some comments from us – about people, baddies, aliens (what are baddies, if not people? well, they might be aliens!), why we shouldn’t kill aliens either, whether there might even be any aliens, the morality of killing animals whether for food or not, and killing in self-defence.  Then it veered off into resurrection, whether it might be generally available or not, and whether Jesus died again after Easter.

Whew.  Who ever thought going for a Sunday drive was relaxing?

© UpsideBackwards 2012.



Anzac Day 2012

April 25, 2012

Standing in the wind, holding Babess as my hair blows out of its plait and into my eyes and mouth.  Fainjin, proud to be wearing his Boys’ Brigade shirt this year, and Pearl, selected as one of the wreath-layers, looking smart in her Girls’ Brigade uniform.

The familiar words and sentiments of the remembrance service, the tentative voices of people unused to singing outside their bathrooms as the national anthem is played.   (The sense of a missing piece to the ceremony for me, as the Australian national anthem is not sung.  I keep asking; one day I will find the right ear.)

The shivers down my spine as the Last Post is sounded, and the flags – NZ, Australia, Great Britain, Girls’ and Boys’ Brigades, Scouts, Girl Guides – are lowered in respect, then raised again as reveille is played.

The Ode, recited in all solemnity.

The parade through the village to lay wreaths at the other memorial too; the Last Post again; tired children getting cranky with what has become a long afternoon.

And finally, the sense of community as, windswept and chilled, we all gather at a local church for a restorative cup of tea (the children feast on biscuits) and a chat.

Wreaths and flowers at the memorial.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Anzac Ode, from “For the Fallen” by Laurence Binyon, 1914

© UpsideBackwards 2012.


April 12, 2012

Susan Niebur, 1973 - 2012 (photo credit: Kristen, @mommy4cocktails)

Every time I look at the stars, I think of Susan.  We used to talk about the different constellations we could see in our different parts of the world.  She longed to see the Southern Cross one day.  When I look up and see it, I like to imagine her standing next me, looking up too.

Every time I read about advances in cancer research, I think of Susan.  How she tirelessly advocated for new, better, different research, especially into metastatic cancers.  How she participated in clinical trials, and encouraged women to join the Army of Women for further research.

Every time we read a “The Cat in the Hat Knows A Lot About That!” book, I think of Susan.  Her love of science, and her skill for communicating that, especially to children, and how she inspired so many mothers to encourage their children’s questions and help them find the answers.  She gave my kids a Cat in The Hat book, and it’s one of our family favourites.

Every time I hear of a new planet being discovered, I think of Susan.  For all my own interest in science and astronomy, I hadn’t really thought about what a planetary scientist might be or do until she taught me.  And now I can’t think of a more fascinating job.

Every time I taste Whittaker’s Dark Caramel, I remember the first day we met, when I gave her a block as a gift.  She offered to share it, but I told her to taste it first – after all, I can have it any time at home, but it’s not readily available in the US.  She did, and the most incredible look came over her face.  “You’re right,” she declared, “this is not for sharing!” and she tucked it into her handbag.  We both laughed.  I sent her a couple of “care parcels” later, and I know she did share them.

Every time I see a beagle, I think of Susan.  She loved beagles, and fostered rescued beagles.  If I ever get a dog (which admittedly is unlikely), I think I’d like to call it Kepler, after her beloved pet.

Every time I write a blog post, I think of Susan.  She was my very first, and closest, blog-friend.  She wrote a guest post for Kelley which sums up the sort of relationship brilliantly.  She also introduced me to lots of my other blog-friends, including Kelley, Stimey, Jenny, Marty and plenty more.

Goodbye, dear friend.  Thank you for all you taught me, and the friendships you have gifted me with.  You are always in my heart and mind, and I will never forget you.

© UpsideBackwards 2012.


April 2, 2012

Tonight over dinner we mentioned something that happened when Pearl was three.

“Mummy!” exclaimed Babess.  “When Pearl was only three, I was a little born baby!”

“Ahhh, no, you weren’t sweetie.  You weren’t born until Pearl was six.  Even Fainjin wasn’t a little baby when Pearl was three.”

She furrowed her brow.  “Was I in your tummy?”

“No, you weren’t even in my tummy.”

“Wha…?! Did I just appear?!”

While we smiled and tried to come up with an answer to that, Fainjin helpfully chimed in, “We weren’t even babies!”

Then as we started to agree with him, he went on, “We were grown-ups.”

© UpsideBackwards 2012.


March 8, 2012

I got a phone-call at work today, from daycare.  My heart sank.  Usually these calls mean someone is sick.  But the teacher hastily said, “There’s nothing wrong!  I’m calling to tell you about something sweet that Babess did today.”

Babess was with a small group of children on a trip this morning and they were walking through town.  A woman was sitting on the footpath with a sign in front of her.  Babess and some of the other big girls are getting quite interested in words and reading, and they asked their teacher to tell them what the words on the sign said.

They said, “I have no income and no food.  Please help me.”

Babess was quite concerned by this.  She thought for a little bit, and – knowing that they would have morning tea when they reached their destination – asked the teacher what food they had.

“Well, we have some crackers…” replied the teacher.

“Can we please give the lady some crackers?” asked Babess.  Touched, the teacher gave her a bag of crackers, and Babess took them and gave them to the woman.  “Now she won’t be so hungry for a little while,” Babess told her friends.

Apparently the look on the woman’s face was priceless, too.

Afterwards, the teachers had a little chat with the children about approaching strangers in the street, and how it’s ok as long as the adult you’re with has said it’s ok (which is what had happened in this case) but you do have to check first.

Then the teachers called us to tell us about Babess’ charitable nature, and wrote it up for her profile book.

© UpsideBackwards 2012.

Anniversaries and art

February 22, 2012

A year ago today we were reeling in shock.  It’s been a hard twelve months for the people of Christchurch, and their friends and families too.

We remember.  And not just on the anniversary.


Fainjin had his first “art day” at school today.  He did a very good sketch of a sunflower, and a lovely picture of himself driving a spaceship.  The kids drew vehicles of their own choice, and stuck photos of themselves “driving” in them.

His picture really stands out among the others… because his photo is upside down!  We asked him about it, and he explained that in his spaceship, the driver rolls around (a bit like a hamster wheel, I gather).

© UpsideBackwards 2012.


February 18, 2012

Fainjin started music lessons today.  Music appreciation, really – they learn some songs, beat rhythms, learn about different instruments and get to have a go on some of them.  He told the teacher at the start that he doesn’t like music (he was feeling anti!), but when the glockenspiel came out he had a great time.

The Dad drove the car today, for the first time since he broke & dislocated his elbow just before Christmas.  Babess and I did the supermarket shopping, and he and Fainjin drove down to collect us (and the heavy groceries).  The children were so excited for him, it was very cute.  Then they “helped” wash the car when we all got home.

Pearl did all her chores with minimal prompting, including a huge load of dishes to dry.  She tried to get Fainjin to put them away for her, but he wasn’t keen, and Babess helped her instead! We drew up a “jobs” sheet for Pearl for a week.  Her new job this year is to clean the basins in the bathroom and loo each weekend.  Now we have to negotiate the rewards…  The idea is, a certain number of jobs have to be done each week (a high percentage of her “regular” jobs but with room for extra credit) to earn a reward, which might be pocket money or a late night on a weekend or an extra Latin lesson or playing a board game.

The Dad and I looked out the window this afternoon and saw Babess sitting in her “baby swing” sideways, all curled up and looking very comfy.  She was singing to herself in the sunshine.

Fainjin was allowed to stay up a bit later than Babess tonight to watch “Wipeout” on TV.  He loved it!  All those people falling off things into the water, or being smacked about by huge obstacles on the course.  It might become a Saturday night regular treat for him.

© UpsideBackwards 2012.

The threedom to choose

February 14, 2012

Babess decided to wear her princess dress to daycare today.  Who was I to stop her?

I noticed that the gold lace on the hem had come adrift from the gauzy overskirt, at least half-way around.  I offered to fix it another time, if she would change the dress, or just cut it off.  “Just cut it off!” she said, and so I did.  You can’t even tell, really.

Walking through town, passing lots of people on their way to work, she was like a little ray of sunshine, drawing admiring glances and smiles as she paraded in her shining golden dress.  One woman, walking in the same direction as us, said to us, “What a lovely dress!”

I replied, “When you’re three, you can choose your clothes from the dress-up box and nobody minds.”  Babess agreed, saying proudly, “Dis is my princess dress!”

The stranger smiled and said enviously, “I wish I was three…”

© UpsideBackwards 2012.

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