Saturday, December 06, 2008

then what...?

Well as Lucy asked....!

The 'then what?' has turned into a job working with 18mths-3yr olds at the centre where I did my under 2's practicum. It's great starting work in a centre where I know the staff, many of the kids, know my way around, feel comfortable with the philosophy and feel part of the team right from the start. I feel like I've really landed on my feet.

At the moment I'm doing 2 days a week until the Christmas break and then hopefully by the time that's over I'll have my new work permit sorted so I can do 4 days a week. If not I'll stick to 2 until it comes through. The usual seasonal shut-down will no doubt impact on how fast my new visa/permit can get processed so I'm hoping the university get their act together soon and provide me with my graduation letter as I can't procede without it. Oh the joys of online systems, I've had all my grades back (and passed!) but they aren't 'on the system' yet... hey ho. Just as well my current visa lasts 'til the end of March!

I've spent my two days at work this week being called 'mummy' - something I've been getting used to this year as several little ones often use it regardless as to who they are addressing. A conversation over at Clare's the other night raised an interesting point about different cultural perspectives on terms such as aunty, whaea, teacher, grandma etc - Clare had been reading an article which explained that the indigenous perspective (South Pacific? I've forgotten quite where now... but it could as easily be here) was that naming the relationship between people was far more important than the actual names. This fitted in with what one of the mums had said to me this week, that her boy (aged 2) tends to call anyone he feels safe with 'mummy'.

It was quite a leap of perspective for me having got so used to the Quaker use names not 'titles' idea and having in the past been quite convinced that I'd be 'Anna' to everyone and not 'Aunty' (by blood/marriage or friendship) and certainly not Miss/Ms/Mrs. These to me were equated with hierarchy and inequality, not surprising coming from Britain - re-reading Jane Austen recently was a reminder that to be a Mrs was far superior then to being a Miss, and being Aunt.... was indicative of ones place in the family pecking order.

Yet it has to be said, over the last year or so I've found myself using whaea (for older women) far more comfortably than I ever used Aunty and wishing that there was some term that could explain the close relationship that I have with children who technically (to me) in a pakeha sense I'm not Aunty to but in all others I may as well be. Despite growing up in an area where female friends of parents were often Aunty it was never part of our family practice and somehow I still can't quite let go of that term meaning a formal family relationship even though these days it would make sense to just use it!

So for those out there who have considered themselves to be my Aunty or Uncle and who may have been saddened by me dropping that part of their name some years back I'm sorry, I never thought about what it might mean to you in terms of acknowledging our relationship. I'm not sure I'll ever go back to using it in the UK but I guess if I can answer to 'mummy' I can allow myself to be aunty too!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Ok, it's been quiet on here again for a while... but apart from one blissfull weekend between the last assignment being handed in and my final practicum starting I'm still struggling to remember what it was like to have a life that isn't controlled by academic deadlines.

The pressure has been off a bit in that producing 3 'reflections' (about a side of A4) a week plus Learning Stories for the kids portfolios is a bit easier than 2,000 word assignments. However due to a distinct lack of overlap between my personal teaching philosophy and that of the centre I'm at, each reflection tends to end up being a work of diplomacy as well as a commentary on my experiences. My university supervisor assures me that this is good professional development, but after 4 1/2 weeks of it and 2 1/2 to go I'm feeling that there is such a thing as over-development!

I've got my official assessment meeting tomorrow, my lecturer is coming up to visit which I'm really looking forward to - especially after she gave me another A for my assignment! I was a bit worried (having got good grades all year from her) that my last one fell short of the mark a bit and she'd be disappointed. All a bit of a turn up for the books really compared to my previous academic experience where my highest grade was 1% lower than my current lowest! Mind you I haven't got my Arts assignment back yet which may spoil my record...

So right now I'm supposed to be putting the finishing touches to my assessment portfolio, writing about how I meet the 'Fit to be a teacher' criteria (apparently saying I walked home with Elizabeth today - about 5-6km - isn't what they want) and somehow reflecting on the Code of Ethics... as you can see my grades may have gone up but I'm just as bad (good?) at procrastination as I ever was!

Hmmm, maybes a cuppa and a soak in the bath will help wake the brain cells up enough?

Monday, September 22, 2008

an unhurried journey?

okay, okay, it's been a while - but I've discovered that working part time and studying full time doesn't leave much brain space for anything else... strange huh? Anyway, before I get back to writing the best part (worst part...?) of 7,000 words, plus mind maps, text templates, appendices and anything else I've forgotten, in the next three weeks for four different assignments here's something for you to ponder on.... (also known as Appendix III for Assignment 2, EDPROFST 621 - due in on Thursday)

Sigh... not much chance of an unhurried anything around here for a wee while.

Notes on an unhurried journey

When we adults think of children, there is a simple truth which we ignore: childhood is not preparation for life; childhood is life.

A child isn't getting ready to live; a child is living. The child is constantly confronted with the nagging question; 'What are you going to be?' Courageous would be the child who, looking the adult squarely in the face would say, 'I'm not going to be anything, I already am.' We adults would be shocked by such an insolent remark, for we have forgotten, if indeed we ever knew, that a child is an active participating and contributing member of society from the time he or she is born.

Childhood isn't a time when he is moulded into a human being who will then live life; he is a human being who is living life. No child will miss the zest and joy of living unless these are denied him by adults who have convinced themselves that childhood is a period of preparation.

How much heartache would we save ourselves if we would recognise the child as a partner with adults in the process of living rather than always viewing him as their apprentice.

How much would we teach each other... Adults with the experience and children with their freshness..., how full both our lives could be.

A little child may not lead us but at least we ought to discuss the trip with him; for, after all, life is his and her journey too.

Professor T Ripaldi

Thursday, July 31, 2008

spiritual intelligence

Hickman describes how access to the spirit is through stillness, and through experiences in which the mind can be quiet and can make space for the soul - experiences that are similar to meditation. Although we can experience spiritual connectedness through activities such as peace marches or rock concerts, Hickman's notion of access to the spirit is more closely related to becoming 'centred', through experiences such as simply going for a walk, having a quiet 'cuppa' in the back garden, or sitting by the sea - anything where we can give the 'doing' of our normal activites a rest.
(Susan Wright, in Children, meaning-making and the arts, 2003)

Well whenI found this in one of my set texts I discovered the joy APA referencing can bring in a way I'd never before dreamed about! Ok so I still had to use Google (keep up the good work Pete!) but eventually I found the original article by Cynthia Hickman. Now I've no idea if either Susan and/or Cynthia are Quakers or not but they are certainly fellow travellers.

At Yearly Meeting we were challenged to consider just what it was we had to offer - there we were deciding how to celebrate 100yrs of Business Meetings (yeah, yeah, I know...) and we were asked 'we know what Quakers have done historically but but what do we do now?' What do we stand for? If we're going to tell the world (well ok, Aotearoa New Zealand) we're here what do we have to say?

I would like to think that what we offer is a place for people to explore and nurture their individual and collective spiritual intelligence, a gathered community seeking in the stillness food for the soul. As Hickman says

"....people with spiritual 'intelligence' understand that life is precious and therefore sacred and worthy of respect. What counts is the degree to which we can embody spiritual principles here on the material plane. Can we live in balance and harmony, creating generous and loving lives that make a contribution to the whole? Can we express tolerance, courage and dignity as we go about our daily activities? Are we capable of openness and forgiveness?"

Sounds remarkably like 'Advices and Queries' to me.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

community building

I was asked some months back to do some 'getting to know you' activites at the Pre-YM Seminar (9-11 July '08).

It's just as well I'm now used to the Kiwi 'she'll be right' way of organising things... although I'm pretty sure we've planned a few Link Group w/e's in a similar manner (memories of me, Ruth and Susie at Glendevon Rd organising an entire event over just one pot of tea... please don't tell Mina, she'd be horrified!). A couple of weeks before the event I tried emailing round to get an idea of what the other sessions were to be about as I discovered from the programme that my slot had transformed into a whole session entitled 'community building'! Having been to various events over the years where the first night has felt like it has had nothing to do with the rest of the event I wanted to tie things in together somehow.

Well the day before I headed south I finally got a reply! So it was a case of trusting the spirit and hoping for the best. What I had managed to find out was some idea as to who might be there, so knowing we'd have one electric wheelchair and one person with walking sticks 'the sun shines on...' went out of the window as an option (I think the weather was coming to a similar conclusion) - no point giving Marilyn & Chris and unfair advantage!!! I wasn't worried about them, more our squashed toes...

What we did, which was fascinating to hear, was a go round where everyone introduced themselves briefly and then said who in the room they'd known the longest and how, and then someone they'd just, or recently, met. We heard an amazing variety of connections including teacher and pupil, 'Miss New Zealand' and an inspired teenager (albeit some years back!), people who'd known each other since babes in arms or as young girls with pigtails (which raised a laugh), connections through the Alternatives to Violence Programme, retreat centres, peace campaigns, Britain YM Treasurers conference, and Yorkshire Friends Holiday School. Margaret who is one of the current Resident Friends in Auckland was staff at Holiday School when I was there as a teenager!

The interconnectedness of our lives and the different sources of these connections, not just Quaker, did manage to thread it's way through the ongoing conversations of the gathering. I was the only participant under 50 but the energy levels were high! It gave an insight into people's worlds that we possibly wouldn't have stumbled across any other way and by the end of that first session we felt like we all knew each other far better. Many delighted exclamations were made at being someone's 'longest known' and those who were visitors to the YM got many mentions for being the most recent aquaintences so we were all well aware of who they were and they felt well and truely welcomed!

Our sense of community was indeed being built on firm foundations.

ps a note to anyone planning to try this who wants to be a bit more organised in advance - it took us at least an hour to get round about 25 people, but I didn't rush anyone and we had plenty time to play with.

Saturday, July 26, 2008


For the third time in four weeks my weekend has been affected by power outages, at least with a woodstove and a gas hob here we’re better off than we were at Yearly Meeting as at least part of the house stays warm and we can still make a cuppa!

On-line studying becomes a whole new challenge once the power goes off. I don’t usually print our weekly task sheets off in the interests of saving paper, ink and power – there has been a nationwide energy saving campaign going for the last 6 weeks or so as the South Island hydro-lakes dropped to scarily low levels, pity we can’t send them our Northland rain… But when faced with the possibility of losing a days study due to not being able to access what I should be doing our poor little printer was going like the clappers once the power resumed (for the second time) today – just in case!

After last weekend I learned my lesson and remembered to fill buckets for toilet flushing, filled the kettle back up straight away after making a cuppa and am saving anything on the computer every couple of sentences! Thankfully the outages have been relatively short so far and from the news it sounds like we’re getting off lightly compared to other parts of the country where serious damage is being done.

Somewhere out there William is on a plane heading back to Kerikeri via Auckland, we’ll be mightily relieved once we hear he’s landed safely where he should be and hasn’t been blown off course to the Chatham Islands, Dunedin or suchlike. I’m not so sure I’d’ve wanted to fly at all. Mind you assuming he gets to Kerikeri he still has to drive home. It was bad enough just going out to feed the chooks (who were ankle deep in muddy puddles until I moved them) and bring in firewood, it’s definitely a ‘don’t go out unless you absolutely have to’ kind of day.

Hmmm, flickering lights again. Better close the computer down before the power goes off this time methinks…

update: William finally got home about 11pm, the flight to Auckland from Brisbane was fine, but the replacement bus to Kerikeri slow and the route from there home badly flooded, it had taken him about 12hrs at least to get home - about twice what it should have.

Thursday, July 24, 2008


For my Arts paper this semester we had to write an introduction that covered our early experiences in the four aspects of arts that we will cover: visual arts, dance, drama and music.

Reading through what I had written and the contributions of many of my classmates I realised just how big an impact on the rest of our lives those early years and school age experiences have had. All it took in some cases was one person/teacher saying that they weren’t good enough and that was it, end of creativity in that field.

Apparently as soon as I could sit up in my pram my mum put a crayon in my hand and I've been drawing ever since, with varying degrees of confidence over the years - even if it was just doodles in the margins of my lecture notes! However doing still life for what felt like an eternity but was probably just a term at High School knocked my confidence for six, I couldn’t produce the photographic representation that seemed to be required. Perhaps this is why photography itself became such an important artistic outlet for me.

At playgroup (probably aged 3yrs old) I went off drama and 35yrs later I've still not got over it - I had to be a shepherd in the nativity play and stand with the boys in a dressing gown with a tea-towel on my head, I couldn't be an angel because I didn't have blond hair and blue eyes. It probably had something to do with my lifelong aversion to all things stereotypically girly too – I wonder would that have been different if I could’ve been an angel? Possibly not, but the fact that it still sticks out for me like a sore thumb shows just how much it affected my perception of myself, it took well into adulthood before I could accept that someone meant it if they said I was pretty because I just didn’t believe them.

I learned the recorder aged 5 (as did our entire class! That must have sounded terrible…), the flute aged 12 and sang in school/college choirs until I went to uni where the all the groups required you to do an audition and I can't sight read. I never properly ‘read’ the music, if I didn't know how it went I couldn't play it, even though I could tell you in theory what the notes were and how long they were supposed to be for. Sadly the aftermath of an arthritic condition in my early 20's has scuppered any instrument playing as I can't play for long enough to get/stay any good! But I still love to sing, when I’ve voice enough…

With dance I'm far happier ceilidh dancing (Scottish, country, folk, whatever) or salsa as then I don't have to decide what to do! I suspect the dreaded ‘Music & Movement’ sessions at primary school put me off any kind of free style/interpretative dance – I just felt silly and didn’t know what to do, being pressured to think of something on the spot has never been a goer for me at anything!

It’s an onerous responsibility to think that anything I might do could influence a child’s perception of their creative talents for life – hopefully at best I can meet the maxim of ‘do no harm’ and hopefully somewhere along the line do some good.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

getting a 'to it'

Well I came back from Auckland with several posts spinning around my head about Yearly Meeting and the seminar, being back at uni and several other things that had been taking up headspace for the last 10 days or so.

Today was to be the day when I caught up on internet related things having spent my time after returning yesterday afternoon unpacking, washing clothes, reorganising my room to fit the stuff extracted from storage and managing to get hold of my parents on skype.

I had my 'to do' list and was all set to start after breakfast (for once eaten at the table and not multi-tasking at the computer) when the radio fizzled out and various applicances expressed their indignation to us. We had a 'brown out'. The power had dropped so low as to be virtually not there, and eventually gave up the ghost altogether. So, to save aforementioned appliances from deciding to go into a terminal sulk, the three of us went around switching off everything at the wall, and I mean everything - freezers, the works. A task involving chairs, ladders, sticks and balancing appliances at angles that certainly don't come recommended in the manufacturers instructions and would give OSH a heart attack.

The weather was having power surges too - on again off again rain meaning bright clear skies one minute and dim grey light you could barely read by the next.

Power outages aren't exactly uncommon round here during or after bad weather and the thunder storm last night was pretty spectacular. Usually power isn't long returning though so the morning trickled by as we found odds and ends of things to do whilst awaiting showers (ha! for once I'd had mine before breakfast!), the internet, water and electricity in general. The downside of tanked water is an electric pump.... how long can you sit cross-legged hoping the power will come back on so you can flush the loo? Needless to say we gave up waiting long before the power resumed 7 hours later!

Well one small task led to another and eventually I gave in - reorganising my filing has been on my 'to do' list since I got back from the UK with the last bits of official paperwork that needed to be kept 'somewhere safe'. I needed to find my UK police check for work and it wasn't where I thought it was.

So several hours later, having recarpeted the sitting room with paper in the meantime I am now the proud possessor of an organised filing system. I even found my police check, altho' sadly not in time for William to JP certify a copy of it before heading off to Brisbane and presumably electricity. It was somewhat theraputic to chuck out (recycle!) a great heap of defunct paperwork and return what was left to some some semblance of order - which has been sorely lacking since I left Edinburgh.

It wasn't quite the to do list I had intended to clear today but I feel much better for it. Maybe we should have power cuts more often..... I will blog the other stuff eventually though, honest!

Saturday, June 28, 2008


Well for another couple of weeks anyway! If there is anyone checking in regularly still (apart from my parents!) you will have noticed a distinct lack of activity here of late - well I've had 4 assignments to write in 3 weeks, plus being prompt for the local Amature Dramatic's plays and so much relieving at Kindy this last week that I'm remembering (again) why I have no long term plans to work full time if I can possibly avoid it... talk about burning the candle at both ends!

So, no visitors this weekend (I'm hoping Em & Chris have decided camping in this weather is a bad idea and have found somewhere more substantial to sleep!), so far no small boys to look after, no homework to do (well I could start reading next semester's stuff which arrived yesterday but there is such a thing as being over-keen).... It all feels very strange being at a loose end again, I'd almost forgotten what days like this were like!

As it's raining cats, dogs and stair-rods (but still no men) again, complete with thunder storms, an inside day is on the cards methinks. Woodstove, cuppa, good book.... sounding good to me! But I guess I ought to catch up on some housework first, got to feel as though I've done something constructive with my day afterall!!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

my late afternoon routine

Bring in the washing before it starts getting damp again
Feed the chooks, before it gets dark and they go to sleep
Collect the eggs
Pick up the windfall fruit
Pick veges* for tea from the garden
Fill up the firewood basket, whilst it's still light enough to spot lurking wetas in the log pile
Bring in some cryptomaria for kindling if the box is empty
Round up the dog who has usually gone awol sometime during the above....
Cook tea

*kiwi english spelling!

Another day in paradise....

Friday, May 23, 2008

it's dark, and I'm wearing sunglasses...

....nowhere to be by morning though.

I've been wearing sunglasses for about a week now. It's the only way I can cope with the world right now. I've had viral conjunctivitis - 'pink eye'. And if you are wondering what that looks like, well let's just say they weren't up all night thinking of a name for it. What it doesn't describe is the swollen eyelids, the crusty 'sleep', infuriating itching, photosensitivity (and no I didn't want my picture taken either) and thumping headaches.

I hadn't really appreciated how much I used my eyes until I couldn't. All my usual curl up and feel sorry for myself past times were out - reading, films and of course the computer. I managed to sew all the pieces I had cut out already for the next quilt but ground to a halt when it came to cutting more cloth - I'd already sliced two fingers peeling pumpkin and the thought of weilding a rotary cutter when I couldn't quite see what I was doing... well blood doesn't wash off cotton as well as pumpkin so I gave that a miss.

I've spent a lot of time thinking about those I knew who have been losing their sight, no matter how frustrating this last week has been for me at least I knew it would all clear up again. How would I adapt if this was permanent? What would I find to do to pass the time?! I guess I'd get used to it and gain more confident within my limitations eventually but it's scary how debilitating it has felt. I'm not sure if it has filled me with more admiration for those I know who cycle or drive with poor sight or whether it now scares me even more to think of them out there on the roads!!!

Monday, May 12, 2008


My brother Jon gets married in a few hours time - hopefully I'll sleep through the ceremony but I expect I'll be awake for the reception.

Not that I'll be there, I'll be tucked up in bed on the other side of the world and then getting up ready to go to my early childhood teaching placement. Thanks Leo & Aunty Meg for filling in for me =)

It feels a bit surreal really - they've been together so long now (over a decade) that it's not like anyone new is joining the family, Rachel already is family. So much so that I've got forgetting her birthday down the same fine art as I have with everyone else... well not so much the forgetting it per se as forgetting to do anything about it in time - even harder now I've got to allow for an extra 6 days postage!

I'm sad I can't be there with them. But I guess that's the way the cookie crumbles and it's not exactly the first wedding I would have loved to be at that I've missed by having moved to the opposite side of the world either and won't be the only one this year. As the saying goes - you make your bed, you have to lie in it.... which right now seems like a rather good idea! Time for sleep methinks.

And when I wake up my brother will be a married man. Weird.....

Monday, April 28, 2008

remembering Dean

It doesn't feel like it was over 24yrs ago. The memories are still vivid. The stunned silence of the classroom and muted reaction. The quiet tears. The empty desk.

The disbelief. He couldn't have died, he was in school last week.

The anger - that HRI needed to hold jumble sales and cake stalls to raise funds for a bodyscanner that could have spotted what was wrong and thus saved his life whilst Maggie spent several fortunes on nuclear weapons that could never be used and cut back on NHS expenditure to do so.

The indignation - when the vicar at the carol service kept going on and on about it and then expected the school brass band behind him, which included Dean's teammates and classmates, to play - as if his lengthy ponderings had been the usual Christmas offering.

The feeling of helplessness - wanting to reach out to those classmates who knew him far better than I but never knowing how to do so or what to say.

The incredible response at school - the collection box outside Barson's office raised over two hundred pounds, not bad for school kids in 1983, especially considering Dean had only been with us for a few months.

The gratitude - to Liverpool Football Club for the wreath. He'd died from a football injury. It meant a lot to us.

The sense of loss - of someone I'd only just been getting to know but had instantly liked.

And now?

I don't think I've ever quite forgiven that vicar. We only just had enough tissues between us in the choir. It isn't easy singing when you've been crying, and the haunting picture of Stephen's tears has always remained with me.

I can forgive the hospital staff who sent him home thinking he was ok, they did the best with what they had. But it was a wake up call to the realities of politics for me - it wasn't just something on the news any more - it was personal.Cut-backs in health service budgets still send a chill down my spine.

I can't forget. The grief has never really gone away. Every teenager's death brings it back.

Quite who the tears are for now I'm not sure, whether it's for Dean, his friends and family, or those newly grieving, my thoughts are with them - family, friends and classmates.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

weather with me

Rain. Lashing down on the windows, running like a river down the road, drumming out a tattoo on the corrogated iron roof (standard roofing material here). We've had stair-rods, cats and dogs, the works.

It's grey - that dull darkness that ceases to improve after about 8am and then dims quickly back to darkness at the end of the day. Lunchtime traffic has its headlights on, reflecting off the wet surface, dazzling pedestrians attempting to cross the road.

Wind, blustery and billowing, rendering all attempts to use a brolly useless without an inelegant imitation of Mary Poppins being likely.

My inner Brit looks out of the window and thinks 'November...'

But this is Auckland. I guess I'll need a waterproof over my t-shirt, just as well I'm wearing sandals, bare feet dry so much quicker!

Monday, April 07, 2008


Here is something I read this week that I'd like to share with you...

Wairua [Spirit]

Power of the Spirit
- the spark of godliness in each human being
- each is unique
- Mauri [life force] is in all things - animate and inanimate

Spiritual Powers
- Spirit of giving
- Caring for others
- Creating firm relationships

Spiritual Communications
- Every language carries its own spirit
- Every language is precious
- Language must be spoken to be alive

Spiritual Identity
- Land, people and universe are one
- Spirit of the land is in the person

Spiritual Universe
- The source of all energy in the universe is one
- Exploring and discovering is a spiritual experience.

from "Toku Rangitiratanga Na Te Mana-Mātauranga - Knowledge and Power Set Me Free..." by Tilly Reedy in 'Weaving Te Whāriki' Ed. Joce Nuttal 2003.


Even more 'wow' is that this was found in one of my set texts for Early Childhood Education training. It comes from a chapter explaining the Māori origins of the national curriculum for early childhood in Aotearoa New Zealand.

When I first read the national curriculum document I was struck by the amount of resonance with between it and the material covered by the Britain YM Quaker Youthworker course. The more I learn about the Māori principles that underlie it the more I find in common between them and Quakerism, Tilly's summary above wouldn't look amiss in our Faith and Practice.

I think it encapsulates my view of the Spirit rather nicely, there's nothing there I disagree with or even wibble over and as yet I haven't come up with anything missing. Maybe I will if I think about it long enough but for now it will do rather nicely - thank you Tilly.

Monday, March 31, 2008


Over the last decade I’ve had cause to think several times about how disproportional the influence of our childhood experience is in terms of our general life experience. In researching one of my assignments on hauora/wellbeing and identity of infants and toddlers I’ve come across several articles which emphasize the importance of those early years and the effects on the rest of our lives.

It must be said it’s been the later childhood years that have stood out for me as being influential in terms of how I still interpret the world and the people in it, but then whilst my memories date back to being 2yrs old I can’t with any confidence date anything earlier than that, so who knows!

When my godson reached the age of two it made me wonder what experiences he was now having that he would remember in years to come. I’ve come back to that thought again and again since, especially in terms of what impact I have on the lives of the children around me. I guess I should ask him!

I was really surprised to discover some years ago that a son of family friends had lived with us in his last year of school when I was a small child. I had no recollection of it whatsoever, it explained why Mum always seemed to think I knew Adam when I scarcely remembered having met him, altho’ I have plenty memories of his youngest sister.

So how come I can’t remember him living with us for several months but can still remember, from that same year I think, playing ball with a little boy at a campsite in Cornwall? I could even describe the ball, the angle of the hill, the tent (borrowed for the occasion), the nightmare I had one night and the rubbery smell of the lilo to you.

I remember realising that being at the downhill end of a catch game was much harder work than being at the top; especially given my lack of catching ability… maybe that seminal moment is why I remember it? Note to future self – always stand at the uphill end. The years have shown that improving my catching skills didn’t seem to occur to me, hey ho.

Strange things memories and their lasting effects...

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

reflective writing

Sorry about the lack of input here for a while - I was down in Auckland for 3 weeks on my first practicum placement working at a day care centre for 2-5yr olds. To say it was all consuming is somewhat of an understatement! Talk about exhausted...

It was an incredibly steep learning curve for me and my practicum partner Liz. I think I probably learned as much about how I don't want to practice as teacher as how I do, it was certainly a wake up call as to how much the sector can vary. There were some amazing people working there though who were incredibly supportive and made me feel like part of the team which helped balance out those who made me feel invisible.

As part of our practicums we're supposed to reflect on our own beliefs and values regarding early childhood education for our portfolios. Addressing why we think the way we do, what has influenced that - be it our upbringing, schooling, cultural background, personal parenting experience etc etc. It was one of those things where the more you thought about it the more you came up with, it seemed endless at times and if I wrote reflections on all the things I came up with I'd have a very fat portfolio and no time to write my assignments!

My associate teacher commented on how I must've done reflective writing before - well, I guess 18yrs of journalling and/or blogging has mostly been reflective writing! I think being a Quaker encourages a lot of reflection on my beliefs and values, and then there's 18mths of counselling, 7yrs of writing incident reports in a Steiner setting (where every last detail was deemed important) oh and English Literature & Language O & A levels where my poor teachers dragged descriptive writing out of me on a weekly basis... yup I guess it's fair to say I've done reflective writing before!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

lost wellies

Well they aren't on the front steps, by the back door, on the deck nor, as far as I can tell, are they in the shed - however that could take serious exploration into dubious territory to be completely eliminated from inquiries. It's got the modern equivalent of those areas on maps marked 'here be dragons' - you know someone must have been there once upon a time to know that, but they certainly didn't hang around to plot out the details. Just dropped whatever it was and ran...

Whilst Cammi will scoff any food left unguarded for more than 3 seconds she isn't partial to footwear so I can't even blame her...yet. I'll think of a way to do so eventually I'm sure.

So, wrapped up in waterproofs and boots several sizes too big for me I unsteadily headed off to feed the chooks this morning all the while reminded of a photo somewhere of me aged about 2yrs old standing in Dad's hiking boots by our front door. Being someone who has always had an uncanny ability to fall over my own feet in the right-sized shoes (or none) I am completely in awe of the ability of small children to run around in dress-up boots and shoes waaay too big for them without wodges of cottonwool stuffed into the toes. Maybe it's because they have yet to assume that they can't that they still can?

I wonder how many things in life we pass by because we aren't willing to try out something that looks too big for us, and how many we make harder for ourselves because we don't spend that extra time looking for something that fits better?!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Tebbit test

Well it became apparent on Friday that I had passed the Kiwi equivalent of the Tebbit Test when I found myself startling the dog by crying out 'yes!' as yet another England wicket fell. Whereas Chris, who has lived here longer and is half Kiwi to boot sat glumly at the Cake Tin bemoaning the dire state of play and resorting to texting me in search of commiseration...

To be honest I suspect much of the difference between us lies with the fact that he is an England cricket fan and I'm really a TMS one! 'Tis a sad state of affairs for me that I have to rely on Aggers popping into the Radio Sport NZ commentary box from time to time for anything like a taste of it but it's definitely better than nothing - I'm holding out hope for the return tour later in the year for a real dose.

England's cause - in terms of me being on their side that is, not their cricketing - is not helped by them fielding a side I hardly recognise (due to said sad lack of TMS over the last 2 years...) whereas the Blackcaps I can mostly recognise by sight let alone name having joined Chris at the Cake Tin several times when still living in Welly.

But probably the main reason why I'm not really that upset by England losing (other than being suitably horrified at the general lack-lustre performance) is that I've never really minded that much, which given the state of English cricket over the years I've been keeping track of it is probably just as well. It proved good training for moving to Scotland too... they take glorious in defeat to new levels in most sport!

In my book life is too short to have my happiness relying on the ability of 11 men running (or not, as the case may be...) up and down a pitch - but being able to listen to ball by ball commentary has brightened many a long day stuck inside .

Two more hours to go until the second ODI at Hamilton... who knows what revelations today will bring!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

early learning

First day back at Kindy today - the children and I spent most of the morning re-learning where things were as the teachers had reorganised the layout over the holidays.

There is now a pianist on the staff so the piano is more prominant, the 'science' and 'art' areas have been swapped over and the blocks are now in a more 'protected' area - ie no longer on the main route through the building and less likely to be disturbed/knocked over by enthusiastic passers by. The outdoor play area has changed in preparation for total renovation.

Of course there were new children who'd moved up from afternoon kindy too.

It was fascinating watching how the children adapted to the new layout/routines, who stuck to old favourite activities/play things despite their new location and those who stuck to the same location but used the newly located resources, plus of course the adventurous types who'll give anything new looking a whirl no matter where/what it is! It was also a salutary lesson to see how I worked with it too! The new teacher was obviously a big draw - the sandpit was the place to be today. It was reassuring for me though to have some of my usual hangers-on seek me out at various times through the morning and want to sit next to me at mat time - it's nice not to be forgotten about over the long summer holidays!

I had very mixed feelings when a girl came over to me to show off the dress-up dress she was wearing. I suspect, given how shyly she approached, that she had been told to come and show me. It was pink, frilly, sparkly, with a smocked top and a tutu-like skirt. Basically something I would never have been seen dead in at any age. It grates against every anti-stereotyping, tomboy bone in my body. Yet I had created this thing. The top had been donated, the skirt material bought by a staff member - all they needed was someone with a sewing machine to put the two together.... as I sat up til midnight last night finishing off the sparkly trimmings I pondered on the irony of me literally losing sleep to finish it ready for the first day back.

But whether I like it or not some little girls want to be stereotype little girls, they like - even love - pink, they like dressing up as princesses ready for the ball or parties - however as in real life there's a distinct shortage of prince charmings around to court them! I saw that dress on at least four different girls this morning, each time I winced and yet at the same time felt pleased that something I had created was being used and had fun with.

As I embark on my studying (I'm classing this blog post as thought processing rather than procrastination...) it's been good to have such a reminder of how my own values affect my practice and attitudes to teaching. I know if there was only one frilly frock in the dress-ups it would get fought over and that having none at all is not the right solution to that no matter how much I'd prefer it! I can appreciate how easy it is to get stuck into a routine of what activities and people are comfortable to be around. I didn't push a single child on a swing today which must be a first and today was probably the first time I've hung out with the 'girly girls' altho' we were playing a pirate memory game it has to be admitted... well it was a step towards their world, but I don't think I'm up to bathing dollies and playing house just yet. And I think the dress-up corner needs some Bob the builder/Wendy dungarees....

Monday, January 21, 2008


Well today was my first day of school.... again. I started back at uni, a mere 15 1/2yrs after graduating last time. I wasn't a very diligent student student first time round it has to be admitted and I'm far from being born for academia so it was with some trepidation that I arrived this morning in the pouring rain. Thanks Sue for the lift - at least I didn't have to worry about getting there on time!

We started with in introduction to what a pōwhiri is and how it would be conducted. I'd expected to be in a minority on several fronts whilst on this course but finding out that those of us who had attended a pōwhiri before were well outnumbered by those who hadn't came as a surprise to me. Especially given that most there were Kiwis! So silent thoughts of thanks were offered up for the Triennial organisors for their pōwhiri and both Pukepoto School and Te Tari Puna Ora o Aotearoa (Kaitaia) for letting me be part of their Noho Marae (residential event on a Marae).

The feeling of being somewhat ahead of the game slightly increased as all the waiata we were to learn (and of course sing at the appropriate points of the actual ceremony) I already knew from volunteering at kindy - including the A, E, I, O, U song (ah-ay-ee-oh-oo) which I'd heard being done rock'n'roll style just days before at the Wellington Soundshell! (don't panic - we just sang that to warm up!). I had worried when applying that being an overseas student without the benefit of having grown up here would be a disadvantage - as I sat there wincing at the Librarian's pronunciation of Te Whāriki each time he said it (aprox Tay Faahr-iki and most definitely not Tee Fa-reekie!) I began to realise just how priviledged I've been over the last four years to have those around me who have taken the time, and given me the opportunities, to learn about tikanga Māori and Te Reo.

One of the e-journals we were set to find during our Library introduction course turned out to be co-written by Sue who I'm staying with. In the WebCT session we were somewhat put on the spot to give our response to a statement on the message board and I found myself using terminology I hadn't really realised I'd assimilated - I'm pretty sure that came from tea-table discussions with Elizabeth and not the pre-course reading I'd done! The universe smiles on me once more....

When for some random reason (as happens with technology - gigo is a dirty lie....) several of us found our online ids and passwords didn't work on the library system (even though they worked everywhere else...) it was suggested it could be linked to whether we'd got our matric-cards or not yet - some had, some hadn't - 'so much for that working theory' I quipped having been talking about that very thing in the car that morning with Sue... blank looks from those I was sitting with, ah well - I'm pretty sure my head start will fizzle out pretty quickly once we've got going. In the meantime it's reassuring to think that if I can remember things from passing conversations then I've a reasonable hope of retaining information actually studied.

So apart from all the ways in which the universe has conspired to make even being on the course possible (which are multitudinous - many thanks to all those earthly beings who have made this possible - you know who you are - and to the spirit behind them) I am feeling extremely grateful right now for all that has put me in a position to start studying with a lot more confidence than I had felt 12hrs ago!

Thursday, January 17, 2008


...seems to be a recurring theme on this blog; from losing track or the lack of it and the rapidity of its passing to the bizarreness of timewarp experiences...

The end of one year and the start of the next invariably brings about reflection on the year gone by, how life has changed in the last 12 months, 2, 3, 5, 10 years. It seems to be becoming a habit to look back and realise there is no way I could have predicted even last year quite where I would be in life now 12 months down the line, let alone from 5 years ago! As for this time next year? Who knows...

Four years ago I was at the FWCC Triennial in Auckland (16th-25th Jan '04), an event that dramatically changed my life and I think it's fair to say the lives of several of those who were around me. Little did we know then just how intertwined some of our lives would become over the next few years with WGYF and the blossoming of the YF community here in Aotearoa NZ. This weekend I'll be at the wedding of Thomas who was part of both the Triennial and WGYF crowd - looking back his relationship with Rhea seems to be one of the few constants twixt then and now in our lives and them marrying about the only thing we might have been able to predict with any degree of accuracy!

A couple of days ago I visited my cousin George who moved to Wellington a couple of months after I moved north. Last time I'd seen him was when travelling around post-Triennial and I stayed with him in Bangkok where he used to live. He had yet to meet his now wife Vicky and their baby daughter Amelia was a hypothetical pipe-dream. We've never seen much of each other over the years due to us tending to live in different countries but I can remember him being in nappies and various childhood holidays spent together. It's really nice having someone here who has been part of my life since I was four and has not just met but is part of the family I grew up with. The passage of time has given us far more in common in life then we ever had as children.

So yes, if you hadn't worked it out already, I'm back in Welly again - just for a few days, catching up with old friends (and new) before the wedding. Then it's up to Auckland and the first of the on-campus weeks of my course.... eeek! No doubt the year will be gone before I know it and I'll be writing another post wondering just where the year went.... for those of you who had expected/hoped for a christmas missive I'm afraid that yet again that fell foul of the chaos that is the end of the Kiwi year. Getting back here from the UK a week after the last posting date for Europe & the Americas didn't help it must be said and writing a Christmas letter in October so did not figure on my itinerary. Then of course once back there's the wind up of the academic year, the planning of and going to Summer Gathering, the chaos of the festive season itself and before I know it it's mid January... maybe I should just go for midwinter instead! Theoretically I should have more time then, and no doubt an essay to avoid writing!

Fran was telling me last night about a friend's blog post where she answered 40 questions about herself and published her answers for last year too, like Fran I'm not sure I'd publish it all online but having seen just how radically my life has changed in each of the last five years I'm curious to give it a go and repeat it each year - if I can find the time that is!