Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas


Sunday, December 23, 2007

What Matilda said:

"Where is four daddy? Where is four? Where is four?"

What she was looking at:


My clever baby...

Philip cuteness factor 60:


...said the little girl

Either Matilda is getting an amazingly vivid imagination, or is getting multiple personalities.

In the past few weeks she has developed several distinctive "personas," people that she likes to pretend to be. This is very important to her, and she will often stay "in character" for the whole day. When she's "in character," she corrects you if you call her Matilda ("I'm Elizabeth!") so we started asking her who she is in the morning. (Alzheimers? Alien abduction? "Who are you and what have you done to my child!")Luckily for us, she has also developed "props" that clue us in to what personality she has adopted. So far we have:

Elizabeth: Elizabeth has two pigtails high on the sides of her head. She is modeled after the actual Elizabeth, a little girl from playgroup. She's about a year older than Matilda, so there's not much difference between them. Matilda comes over and says "I want to be Elizabeth," I give her her pigtails, and then she goes around calling herself Elizabeth. End of story.

Carla: Carla has a little ponytail. She is a baby. She is modeled after Carly, a little girl in a book. Carla says "Yup!" and "Nope!" a lot. Quite often, she wears dungarees.

The Lady: Now this is spooky. I have no idea who The Lady is, and where she got her from. She could be any "lady" from her books, or tv. I also have yet to identify the "props." Certainly, The Lady (said with a certain gravity, so you can hear the capital letters!) is a distinct persona. She is a bit bossy and likes posing and preening infront of the mirror (aaargh!) Matilda has been The Lady for two days now. She has also insisted on wearing a pink t-shirt for two days now, so this could be The Lady's prop -who knows?

Catty Girl: Catty Girl is a cat. She has painted whiskers on her face. She says mew mew mew. Well, she's a cat, so she can't stay in character for long. It's restrictive.

Various other animals: She's been a tiger, a sheep, an elephant, a zebra... anytyhing that catches her fancy.

The Narrator: The Narrator is always with us. She speaks in the third person, and informs us what all the other characters are doing. I suspect The Narrator was developed to help us identify "who she is being" (we were having to ask this question rather often lately.)

When Matilda is "in character" she also speaks in third person. All the time. (The Narrator -see above.)
"I want my vest, said Carla."
"Can I have some cheese please, said the little girl."

And even, on a memorable occasion (last night):

(The Lady is spooky. Seriously. The others are a bit like imaginary friends, but The Lady makes it sound like she's channeling a victorian ghost. Peter and I are thinking of teaching her to whisper "I see dead people...")

Here's Matilda being Elizabeth:


Another game Matilda likes to play, is storytelling; It goes like this:

Me: Once upon a time, there was a...
Matilda: Little Boy!
Me: And his name was....
Matilda: Fabio! (huh?)
Me: Fabio lived with his...
Matilda: Dog!
Me: whose name was...
Matilda: Rusty!
Me: Ok, once upon a time, there was a little boy, Fabio, who lived with his dog, Rusty. One day, Rusty said "I feel....
Matilda: Bored!
Me: So he went and sat into his...
Matilda: car! (goes and sits behind the sofa cushion, that she often pretends is a car.)
Me: Ok. So Rusty's carm was special. He could sit in it and drive it, but to everyone else, it looked like a....
Matilda: Dragon!
Me: So everytime Rusty went out with his car, the people started yelling "Help, help, a Dragon!" and ran away. Sometimes, they were running away so fast that they fell into.....
Matilda: The sea!

You get the picture. It's enormous fun! By the way, Rusty also had two magic sticks (two spoons) and when you hit them, they made "echoes." I love how her mind works.


Not that Philip is not coming on too.
Things Philip can do at 9,5 months:

Crawl (so what else is new?)
Point at things he wants.
Give kisses. He puckers up, leans towards you and says "Mmmmmmmmmmmmm ah!" It's beyond cute.
Say "Cat." Or rather, "K't! K't!" But we think he means cat.
Sign more, drink, and daddy.
Bite! He has two teeth.

Things Philip can NOT do, apparently:

Sleep. Ummm... yeah.



"Quick, let me eat this before Scrabble gets it!" (Happens more often than you think...)


Monday, December 17, 2007

Twelve Tips for Christmas

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Parenting made easy with our tips from the experts (me!)

1. RESPECT your children. By that I mean treat them as you would treat an adult. ALWAYS EXPLAIN why you are saying or doing something. You are the parent, yours is the final decision, but it's common curtesy to explain why, take their oppinion into account as much as possible and empathise with their hurt feelings. After all, you would feel very indignant if someone presented you with an ultimatum "just because they said so." Try: "I'm sorry... I know you really wanted to do x. We can't because if we do, then y. Maybe next time. Let's have a hug" etc etc.

2. PRAISE possitive behaviour. Ignore as much as possible of their negative behaviour, or empathise with it. ("It makes me sad when you get so angry and it makes you be rude to me") Be free with your affection; hugs, kisses, playing, tickles are the things that make them enjoy being with you, and wanting to please you.

3. NAME FEELINGS. (This makes me sad. I know you're angry/dissapointed but... I like it when we do this,it makes me feel happy.) If a child knows the name for what they're feeling, it makes it easier to manage. Matilda is always saying "Make me happy, mummy. I'm a bit sad."

4. DISASSOCIATE NEGATIVE BEHAVIOUR from your child. Say "You're cross, and it makes you act naughty", or "that was naughty" not "You're naughty/being naughty." This makes the child feel they are not *identified* by the behaviour, and can change it.

5. "CONSEQUENCES" INSTEAD OF "PUNISHMENT" Instead of "If you don't go to bed, no going to the park tomorrow" try "If you don't go to bed, we'll have to not go to the park tomorrow -because you'll be overtired." "If you don't pick your toys up, I'll have to put them away -I don't like tripping over them."

6. NO EMPTY THREATS. Always threaten with things you are prepared to enforce. And then do it. Correspondingly, if you promise something, ALWAYS stick with it. (unless it's out of your power to do so, and then apologise, explain and empathise.) It's very helpful to be consistent like this. Pick your battles. Only correct behaviour you find especially problematic. Choose what you want to work on each time. Otherwise they'll get desensitised at being corrected all the time, and will quickly learn to ignore the "background noise" -you!

7. WHISPER. If your child is yelling, try lowering your voice and talking very very quietly. They'll usually have to quiet down to hear what you're saying.

8. HAVE A CHAT. when you have a clash, try to have a chat about it after everyone calms down... Explain (and let *them* explain) what happened, why everyone was cross, and have a hug after the issue has been resolved. Matilda actually asks to "have a chat" when she's upset about something.

9. GIVE TWO CHOICES, and be prepared to stick with whatever they choose. Make sure you're reasonably happy with both choices.
ie: "Do you want to turn the television off and do something nice together, or do you want ME to turn it off?" "Do you want to stop yelling and talk nicely, or do you want to go and yell upstairs on your own? This noise makes my head hurt."

10: HUMOUR is your best friend and is GREAT at diffusing tension and anger. Silly poems. Making a grumpy face. Tickling. Making a performance out of the situation.

11: ASK THEM TO REPEAT what you're saying, or what happened. "Matilda, why is mummy cross? Mummy is cross because... (and wait for them to complete the sentence.)" "If I take your toy away, does that make you happy, or sad? And if you take Philip's toy away, does that make him happy or sad? What can we do to make him feel happy again?"

12: GET DOWN TO THEIR LEVEL when you want to talk to them about something. Kneel down and make them face you, or sit them on your lap. That way they HAVE to pay attention.

13: DON'T MAKE FUN of their man-boobs. (Oops, that was thirteen... Ignore this last one!)

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Friday, December 14, 2007

Story time

Matilda was sitting on the bed, playing with two of my rings. Earlier on,she was pretending that the rings were butterflies. Then she dropped one on the ground, picked it up and continued playing. I transcribed her story telling as best as I could, as it was happening:

We’re back, they shouted! We’re back!

(What are they being, Matilda? Are they being butterflies?)

They’re being aliens. We zoomed to the ground! We landed on the bed!
We’re back, they shouted. We had a lovely time, playing with our friends… We zoomed down to the floor.
(refering to when she dropped the rings on the floor) After aliens zoom away, they have to come back. They used the magic wand, and they flew to the sky… Weee! All zoomed away. And they LANDED on the ground… POP! Is… Are aliens love underpants, on their head and feet?

What have we got??? What have the aliens got, mummy? An underpant…
Just wait and see, they say… They all zoomed away… They got their unterpantses… And they zoomed, and zoomed and zoomed… Then they will be back tomorrow. They were gone, in their aeroplane. Well done! They zoomed, and they zoomed…. And WEE! Over head they zoomed, and zoomed… Then POPPED onto the ground… It made them feel HAPPY!
(sad voice) They were crying… He left the (…) and he made them HAPPY! They said “We’re back, because you were crying.” And they went back in the aeroplane. Yipee! We’re all right! (sings)

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Monday, December 10, 2007

The illusion of normalcy

Today it was my birthday. It was also a horrible, horrible day. Somehow, it all started going wrong in the morning. I kept screaming at Matilda, Matilda kept ignoring me when I was talking to her; the screaming upset Philip, and he started crying too. Matilda was getting upset because I was yelling at her, and she was really whiney, looking for reassurance I suppose -but I didn't have the patience to give it to her. And the cycle of whining and screaming went on and on. The entire day has been so bad, I felt dead inside -I felt like walking wrapped up in cotton wool, I longed to just get under the covers and ignore everyone. I called Peter to whine at him, and I must have sounded so bad that he dropped everything and came home two hours early -he probably thought someone would be dead by the time he arrived if he left it to five.

But then, at some point during the day, in a desperate attempt to silence the whining I put Matilda on my back in the wrap (she wanted to go "in the orange one".) And she fell asleep there (while I was vacuuming no less - I am becoming a cliche!)

The screaming commenced soon after, but for a while... Bliss. Kissable cheeks and long eyelashes. The moments that always get caught on camera, and the ones you remember afterwards. It's not a wonder I'm desperate to have more babies -blame technology.

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Thursday, December 06, 2007


This is Aleksa:

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Doesn't he look a bit like Matilda? The same cheeky look:

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Aleksa just had his 4rth birthday in the orphanage where he has been living from birth. His 5th one might well be in a mental institution if he doesn't find a family soon. YES, ALEKSA HAS DOWN SYNDROME! YES, people with Down syndrome are "mentally retarded." Do you know what this means? It does NOT mean that they will not learn to talk, walk, read or write. Or have friends, make jokes, have hobbies, go to school or get a job. Most people with Down syndrome are in the "mild to moderate range" of mental impairement. THIS MEANS THAT THEY ARE DEVELOPEMENTALLY EQUIVALENT WITH A CHILD OF 7-9 YEARS.

Would YOU send your 7 year old to spend his life in a Mental Institution, unloved and unstimulated? How about your 5 year old? Your 3 year old? Why should Aleksa? (3 years is likely to be Aleksa's developemental level when he gets sent to the Institution.)


Please, PLEASE consider donating for Aleksa or another child... You can do so here. The Angeltree will be open until the 31st of December.

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A few weeks ago, as we're having dinner (chicken thighs, among other things.)
"Oh, the poor chicken. He's crying. He's all alone, and left behind. He's not got any friends, and he's not got any home, and he's not got any toys, and he's not got any clothes, and he's not got any legs, and he's not got any shoes, and he's not got any hat, and he's not got any coat... (cheering up) ...yum yum! Delicious!"

Over breakfast, with me and Peter:
"I am happy."
"Why are you happy Matilda?"
"With my family."

Drawing, she was colouring a page with a brown felt-tip:
"Pop-pop is covered in mud!"

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Back in the days where I had no life and plenty of time to kill, I loved doing personality tests. I ADORE personality tests -they are one of the most glorious time-killing devices out there, and I think I've done most of the ones available for free online (at least the ones that were available two years ago.) None were more accurate than the Myers-Briggs test. It was uncanny.

Tertia's post reminded me of it, and I had to shamlesly lift it and share it with my friends.

I am an ENFP -The Inspirer:

As an ENFP, your primary mode of living is focused externally, where you take things in primarily via your intuition. Your secondary mode is internal, where you deal with things according to how you feel about them, or how they fit in with your personal value system.

ENFPs are warm, enthusiastic people, typically very bright and full of potential. They live in the world of possibilities, and can become very passionate and excited about things. Their enthusiasm lends them the ability to inspire and motivate others, more so than we see in other types. They can talk their way in or out of anything. They love life, seeing it as a special gift, and strive to make the most out of it.

ENFPs have an unusually broad range of skills and talents. They are good at most things which interest them. Project-oriented, they may go through several different careers during their lifetime. To onlookers, the ENFP may seem directionless and without purpose, but ENFPs are actually quite consistent, in that they have a strong sense of values which they live with throughout their lives. Everything that they do must be in line with their values. An ENFP needs to feel that they are living their lives as their true Self, walking in step with what they believe is right. They see meaning in everything, and are on a continuous quest to adapt their lives and values to achieve inner peace. They're constantly aware and somewhat fearful of losing touch with themselves. Since emotional excitement is usually an important part of the ENFP's life, and because they are focused on keeping "centered", the ENFP is usually an intense individual, with highly evolved values.

An ENFP needs to focus on following through with their projects. This can be a problem area for some of these individuals. Unlike other Extraverted types, ENFPs need time alone to center themselves, and make sure they are moving in a direction which is in sync with their values. ENFPs who remain centered will usually be quite successful at their endeavors. Others may fall into the habit of dropping a project when they become excited about a new possibility, and thus they never achieve the great accomplishments which they are capable of achieving.

Most ENFPs have great people skills. They are genuinely warm and interested in people, and place great importance on their inter-personal relationships. ENFPs almost always have a strong need to be liked. Sometimes, especially at a younger age, an ENFP will tend to be "gushy" and insincere, and generally "overdo" in an effort to win acceptance. However, once an ENFP has learned to balance their need to be true to themselves with their need for acceptance, they excel at bringing out the best in others, and are typically well-liked. They have an exceptional ability to intuitively understand a person after a very short period of time, and use their intuition and flexibility to relate to others on their own level.

Because ENFPs live in the world of exciting possibilities, the details of everyday life are seen as trivial drudgery. They place no importance on detailed, maintenance-type tasks, and will frequently remain oblivous to these types of concerns. When they do have to perform these tasks, they do not enjoy themselves. This is a challenging area of life for most ENFPs, and can be frustrating for ENFP's family members.

An ENFP who has "gone wrong" may be quite manipulative - and very good it. The gift of gab which they are blessed with makes it naturally easy for them to get what they want. Most ENFPs will not abuse their abilities, because that would not jive with their value systems.

ENFPs sometimes make serious errors in judgment. They have an amazing ability to intuitively perceive the truth about a person or situation, but when they apply judgment to their perception, they may jump to the wrong conclusions.

ENFPs who have not learned to follow through may have a difficult time remaining happy in marital relationships. Always seeing the possibilities of what could be, they may become bored with what actually is. The strong sense of values will keep many ENFPs dedicated to their relationships. However, ENFPs like a little excitement in their lives, and are best matched with individuals who are comfortable with change and new experiences.

Having an ENFP parent can be a fun-filled experience, but may be stressful at times for children with strong Sensing or Judging tendancies. Such children may see the ENFP parent as inconsistent and difficult to understand, as the children are pulled along in the whirlwind life of the ENFP. Sometimes the ENFP will want to be their child's best friend, and at other times they will play the parental authoritarian. But ENFPs are always consistent in their value systems, which they will impress on their children above all else, along with a basic joy of living.

ENFPs are basically happy people. They may become unhappy when they are confined to strict schedules or mundane tasks. Consequently, ENFPs work best in situations where they have a lot of flexibility, and where they can work with people and ideas. Many go into business for themselves. They have the ability to be quite productive with little supervision, as long as they are excited about what they're doing.

Because they are so alert and sensitive, constantly scanning their environments, ENFPs often suffer from muscle tension. They have a strong need to be independent, and resist being controlled or labelled. They need to maintain control over themselves, but they do not believe in controlling others. Their dislike of dependence and suppression extends to others as well as to themselves.

ENFPs are charming, ingenuous, risk-taking, sensitive, people-oriented individuals with capabilities ranging across a broad spectrum. They have many gifts which they will use to fulfill themselves and those near them, if they are able to remain centered and master the ability of following through.


ENFPs make warm, considerate, passionate partners who are generally willing, eager, and able to do whatever it takes to make The Relationship a positive place to be. They are enthusiastic, idealistic, focused on other people's feelings, and very flexible. These attributes combine to make them especially interested in positive personal relationships, and also makes them very able to promote strong relationships in fun and creative ways. ENFPs take their commitments very seriously, and are generally deeply loyal and faithful to their partners.

There are a couple of difficult relationship areas for the ENFP. The first problem is that many ENFPs have a problem leaving bad relationships. They tend to internalize any problems and take them on their own shoulders, believing that the success or failure of the relationship is their own responsibility. As perfectionists, they don't like to admit defeat, and will stick with bad situations long after they should have left. When they do leave the relationship, they will believe that the failure was their fault, and that there was surely something they could have done to save the relationship.

On the entirely other end of the spectrum, many ENFPs have a difficult time staying focused and following things through to completion. If they have not focused on their ability to follow through, they may have problems staying in dedicated, monogamous relationships. They are so in tune with all of the exciting possibilities of what could be, that they will always fantasize about a greener pasture out there somewhere. If they are not paired with a partner who enjoys new experiences, or who shares their idealistic enthusiasm, the ENFP may become bored. The ENFP who is bored and who is not focused will be very unhappy, and will eventually "leave" the relationship if the problem is not addressed.

Since relationships are central to the ENFP's life, they will be very "hands on" and involved with their intimate relationships. They may be in the habit of constantly asking their partner how they're doing, what they're feeling, etc. This behavior may be a bit smothering, but it also supports a strong awareness of the health (or illness) of the relationship.

Sexually, The ENFP is creative, perfectionistic, playful and affectionate. Their rich fantasy world makes them fun and creative lovers, who usually have new ideas up their sleeves. They whole-heartedly embrace the opportunity for closeness with their mates, believing sexual intimacy to be a positive, fun way to express how much you love each other.

The ENFP needs to be given positive assurance and affirmation. More than one ENFP has been known to "go fishing" for compliments. They like to hear from their significant others that they are loved and valued, and are willing and eager to return the favor. They enjoy lavishing love and affection on their mates, and are creative and energetic in their efforts to please. The ENFP gets a lot of their personal satisfaction from observing the happiness of others, and so is generally determined to please and serve their partners.

A problem area for ENFPs in relationships is their dislike of conflict and sensitivity to criticism. They are perfectionists who believe that any form of criticism is a stab at their character, which is very difficult for them to take. Conflict situations are sources of extreme stress to the ENFP. They have a tendency to brush issues under the rug rather than confront them head-on, if there is likely to be a conflict. They are also prone to "give in" easily in conflict situations, just to end the conflict. They might agree to something which goes against their values just to end the uncomfortable situation. In such cases, the problem is extended and will return at a later time. The ENFP needs to realize that conflict situations are not the end of the world. They are entirely normal, and can be quite helpful for the growth of a relationship. They also need to work on taking criticism for what it is, rather than blowing up any negative comment into an indictment against their entire character.

Generally, the ENFP is a warm and affirming creature who is very interested and able to have an intense, meaningful, close relationship with their mate.

Peter is an INFJ: The Protector

As an INFJ, your primary mode of living is focused internally, where you take things in primarily via intuition. Your secondary mode is external, where you deal with things according to how you feel about them, or how they fit with your personal value system.

INFJs are gentle, caring, complex and highly intuitive individuals. Artistic and creative, they live in a world of hidden meanings and possibilities. Only one percent of the population has an INFJ Personality Type, making it the most rare of all the types.

INFJs place great importance on havings things orderly and systematic in their outer world. They put a lot of energy into identifying the best system for getting things done, and constantly define and re-define the priorities in their lives. On the other hand, INFJs operate within themselves on an intuitive basis which is entirely spontaneous. They know things intuitively, without being able to pinpoint why, and without detailed knowledge of the subject at hand. They are usually right, and they usually know it. Consequently, INFJs put a tremendous amount of faith into their instincts and intuitions. This is something of a conflict between the inner and outer worlds, and may result in the INFJ not being as organized as other Judging types tend to be. Or we may see some signs of disarray in an otherwise orderly tendency, such as a consistently messy desk.

INFJs have uncanny insight into people and situations. They get "feelings" about things and intuitively understand them. As an extreme example, some INFJs report experiences of a psychic nature, such as getting strong feelings about there being a problem with a loved one, and discovering later that they were in a car accident. This is the sort of thing that other types may scorn and scoff at, and the INFJ themself does not really understand their intuition at a level which can be verbalized. Consequently, most INFJs are protective of their inner selves, sharing only what they choose to share when they choose to share it. They are deep, complex individuals, who are quite private and typically difficult to understand. INFJs hold back part of themselves, and can be secretive.

But the INFJ is as genuinely warm as they are complex. INFJs hold a special place in the heart of people who they are close to, who are able to see their special gifts and depth of caring. INFJs are concerned for people's feelings, and try to be gentle to avoid hurting anyone. They are very sensitive to conflict, and cannot tolerate it very well. Situations which are charged with conflict may drive the normally peaceful INFJ into a state of agitation or charged anger. They may tend to internalize conflict into their bodies, and experience health problems when under a lot of stress.

Because the INFJ has such strong intuitive capabilities, they trust their own instincts above all else. This may result in an INFJ stubborness and tendency to ignore other people's opinions. They believe that they're right. On the other hand, INFJ is a perfectionist who doubts that they are living up to their full potential. INFJs are rarely at complete peace with themselves - there's always something else they should be doing to improve themselves and the world around them. They believe in constant growth, and don't often take time to revel in their accomplishments. They have strong value systems, and need to live their lives in accordance with what they feel is right. In deference to the Feeling aspect of their personalities, INFJs are in some ways gentle and easy going. Conversely, they have very high expectations of themselves, and frequently of their families. They don't believe in compromising their ideals.

INFJ is a natural nurturer; patient, devoted and protective. They make loving parents and usually have strong bonds with their offspring. They have high expectations of their children, and push them to be the best that they can be. This can sometimes manifest itself in the INFJ being hard-nosed and stubborn. But generally, children of an INFJ get devoted and sincere parental guidance, combined with deep caring.

In the workplace, the INFJ usually shows up in areas where they can be creative and somewhat independent. They have a natural affinity for art, and many excel in the sciences, where they make use of their intuition. INFJs can also be found in service-oriented professions. They are not good at dealing with minutia or very detailed tasks. The INFJ will either avoid such things, or else go to the other extreme and become enveloped in the details to the extent that they can no longer see the big picture. An INFJ who has gone the route of becoming meticulous about details may be highly critical of other individuals who are not.

The INFJ individual is gifted in ways that other types are not. Life is not necessarily easy for the INFJ, but they are capable of great depth of feeling and personal achievement.

But the best thing, is that according to the profiles, Pete and I are the perfect match for each other. (We knew, but it's nice to be told.)

How about you? What's your personality type? Take the test and then go here to read about your profile -and let me know what it was and if it was accurate!