Category: Mary

Ballerina Mary (by )

Bless her - I need to sort new ballet classes for Mary - she informs me her shoes are now too small so she can't practice in her room properly anymore and she wants to be really good when she goes back - main issue all the "schools" I've found seem obsessed with putting shows on which I don't think is a good attitude for ballet and certainly wasn't the attitude of the original class (one of the reasons we picked it).

We all loved the dance school at the Guild Hall but her orig ballet teacher had a baby and has moved to Bristol and that was before the summer :/ Am I being over cautious? Elderly ballet dancers I knew thought that pushing shows too early was bad news for proper technique.

The school the teacher recommended is in Cheltenham which seems a bit of a trek every week with everything else the kids get up too :/ Again part of the attraction of the orig class was I could walk to it if Alaric wasn't here, which I did several times. I was hoping the drama group would fill the gap but she still wants to ballet her little heart out and I often find her in her ballet outfit doing summersaults on the trampoline or lining her teddies up to show them how to dance.

I don't think she's talented as such, she's just a bouncy 6 yr old who happens to love ballet and has done since before she was out of nappies so I don't really want her to be getting stressed about shows but to be having fun and learning about her body and exercising in a way she truly has a passion for :/ I never did any of the dance malarky as a kid so am kind of wading about in unknown waters.

Horrid Henry isn’t Horid (by )

There is an article on the BBC news website asking - Should Parents Ban Horrid Henry?, my response to this is... NO.

Horrid Henry is not actually horrid - pretty much as soon as you ask should you ban a book the answer is NO (even bad books that really shouldn't exist should not be banned they should be watered down with lots of other books and besides if you ban them you have just made it more likely that impressionable people will read them as they are now EXCITING, it's what I call the prohibition effect).

The stories have progressions where the kids fight and resolve differences and get around issues such as dyslexia and ADHD etc... and the insecurities that brings for kids etc... they are a positive thing. They also covered headlice and all the other little things that dominate a child's world, yes they contain toilet humour but lets face it 6-12 year olds tend to love that sort of stuff (regardless of gender), just pomp loudly in a room full of kids and you'll see what I mean!

Jean's read all the books and for Mary the Too Cool for School episode/film thingy was immensely important as a confidence builder. In the article the actors main issue was that his kid started kicking up after watching it - my take on that... kids go through phases. Jean started kicking after watching Ben 10 the animation - this was a time to teach that you can't just blanket copy what you see.

Also the books have the easy read high content thing going for them which is exactly what reluctant readers and those with things like dyslexia need. They need a story they can get their teeth into and in this case they will often identify heavily with the protagonist i.e. Henry but it is not so bulksome and wordy that they will feel they are grinding their way through them.

Yay so Horrid Henry is not actually horrid!

The Folk Museum (by )

The Folk Museum (rebranded to the Life Museum) is Mary's favourite museum - it is a great local treasure full of local history and fun activities for the kids, behind the scenes there is a lot of curation and looking after the collections. The building itself is a beautiful wooden beamed structure that is hundreds of years old - sadly this also means it is expensive to maintain.

And so what with cuts and austerity and a struggling council the heartbreaking news that they were going to close the museum was not so much a shock but an expected blow. The museums do relatively cheap activities for the kids and the staff are lovely but the news had already reached me that the staff had been slashed in number over all three council run buildings (two museums and the Guildhall).

This is the museum where Mary left her money baby in the wendy house and the staff went out of their way to return it too us.

So obviously I'm not the only person who feels ill at ease with loosing this local resource and historical gem and a petition was soon up and running - you can sign it here. Since it was started up the Civic Trust have said they will take it on but if that is the case then it is doubtful that they can afford a curator so there would be no one to manage and maintain the collection. Curation is not just about labelling things and putting them in shelf displays - it is also about making sure things are kept in ways that do not damage them - with out a curator then the potential damage is pretty high (mind due the roof leaks so if that is not fixed then the damage will be damn high too).

Added to all this is the fact that historic buildings that are not wanted by the right people tend to go up in flames around here - recently there was three fires in one night - all targeting local old pubs with development issues.

Jokingly me and my friend suggested we might need to make a human shield around the museum - we were only half joking :/ I wish I was rich because I would buy it and fix it and pay the staff and make it free access and have a mini hackspace and little science/education bit in the new building out the back in garden. I'd hold talks in the cafe and stuff like that.

The Journey (by )

Mary entertained on the train with a fidget spinner

The weekend was complicated - we were down in London visiting family and Alaric was due to fly to the US meaning me and the girls would be heading back on the train - everything was pre-booked.

It was an early start which included Dad cooking pizzas for me and the girls to take on the train and having made us bottles of water in the freezer etc...

Al saying goodbye involved lots of hugs and snugs and in truth we weren't far behind him in leaving the house. Dad gave us a lift to Upminster Station - I had thought the Fenchurch Street Line did not run at the weekend but it did and we would have been in plenty of time for it... if I hadn't had to get Jean a ticket for the underground and the queue was pretty extensive!

The next wasn't for ages so we bought some crisps and drinks for our high adventure and went and sat on a District Line Train. We ate pizza that was still hot and due to a chance question by Mary on Gidea Park we ended up deep in the throws of family history which took us pretty much all the way through to zone one!

Now I had been in London on Wednesday and Thursday - I knew the train lines were broken but what with the head injury and things I just kind of forgot (not about the fire but just about trains). I hadn't even registered that the train was only going to South Ken. meaning we ended up at South Ken with me and Jean trying to work things out... back on the district line we went to Embankment were on the way in Mary had asked why everyone was getting off :/

Mary was beginning to get restless - we'd eaten our lunch and the trains were getting more packed so I told her a story - How Mary Became the Gap Toothed Monster! There was giggling and fluroshes added by her toothlessness herself.

I was a bit stressed - I was already struggling with understanding the tannoy and being able to read the signs and Jean was trying her best but just doesn't know the system - between the two of us we managed to get on the Bakerloo Line - all three of us sat on two seats - many were standing because it's the underground. It was hot and airless and Mary began to fret - we put the drinking water on her head and assured her there would be ice cream at some point in the journey.

Oh yeah on the District Line she'd broken out in uber energy and shimmied up the hold on to pole. Fidget Spinner was for the win for getting her to sit down - Jean tried to scare her into sitting by saying trains crash - I snapped at Jean because when you are on the train you don't really want to think about that or at least at that point I didn't.

And the train stopped in the tunnel, the District Line had done this lots too. Mary was excited that we were actually underground. We got into Paddington with 20 mins until our "big train" so we bought ice creams - I couldn't work out the self serve till - I couldn't work out which ticket got us through the barrier - I did get coffee.

I am paranoid about travel so had given myself an extra almost 2 hrs to get across London - good job really!

We found our seats, terfing the poor welsh dude who fortunately got another seat - the train had people packed in the vestibles which made me feel bad when I had to ask them all to move so I could go a loo! But I had been on packed trains for several hours at this point.

The girls ate their ice creams, we had little chats with the welsh guys and the guy next to us offered to lend Jean a charging cable for her phone which was lovely even though we declined.

This is my fidget spinner:

Mystic Flower Fidget Spinner

It kept Mary quiet long enough for me to reset my brain a bit though her and Jean fought over who was going to get to play with it and Jean dismantled it which grumped me!

I love the fidget spinner - Alaric bought it for me - it is a beautiful thing.

We then played the Story Telling Game - were we each say a bit of the story and pass it on - Jean tries to pull the story into scifi and Mary always adds magic and fairies and I have to thread it into something coherant - they often take unexpected twists and Mary really enjoys telling them DRAMATICALLY!

And she had an audience.

We got through to Swindon on origami - Mary loves origami so spends ages folding her own shapes (which she then tries to teach you how to fold!) and I had also made some little modules she can fit together to make bigger structures including a snake 🙂

I was pleased with myself as I managed to fold a tetrahedron or three sided pyramid - I am working on modular origami at the moment as I wish to use it in various workshops.

Pyramid Origami

And then we were at Swindon... were there were no connecting trains :/ There had been nothing about this at Paddignton - as none of the other passengers knew anything about it either! The poor station lady had to explain over and over again the two ways we could all get to Gloucester, Stonehouse etc... depending on where we were going. It would be faster to go to Bristol and get a train back from there - we opted for the bus/coach because it was half an hour till the next train and I wasn't sure I could cope with more changes and platforms and I don't have good previous with getting back from Bristol when tired etc... having found myself heading "up north" on several occassions and the notable time I ended up in Wales.

A fellow passenger - a lady who spoke very little English made sure I knew which bus to get on with the children which was lovely.

There was aircon on the coach - we blasted ourselves with it and ate nibbles... and got stuck in traffic and Mary had a melt down arching her back and thudding into the seat. I managed to calm her down though she wasn't really quiet at all for this journey until she flopped her head on me and dozed a bit. To be fair by this point of the journey I kind of wanted to join her and Jean had retreated into her iPad.

The walk home was hot - there was more water poured on heads and Mary had her second melt down when she realised we were walking home via the "stone bridge" as she just did not want to go that way. She was throwing a massive wobble shouting and flouncing and then I said "do you need a hug" and she nodded and climbed up me for a hug and... burst into tears... she wanted her daddy back.

We all walked together - Jean had been going to go on a head but a) realised she had a "kids" rucksack on and b) felt Mary needed big sis to hold her hand. We bought second ice cream from the corner shop and were home.

The Gap Toothed Monster (by )

Mary would like everyone to know that her tooth fell out a while ago - well actually it was a day or so ago but to a six year old that's a long time you know!

The gap toothed monster!

The tooth was put safe and sound in the tooth pillow that Daddy went and found, this tooth pillow was made by Mum, for big sis Jean when she was young.

It's pink and blue with a giant white tooth, and a space to write letters asking for Fairy Proof. Mary put the tooth inside hoping for a coin to spend on fair ground rides.

Mary the gap tooth

But when she awoke there was no money, just the tooth so she ran to tell her mummy, "The tooth fairy had some wing trouble last night, and that slowed down how fast they could make their flight." Daddy said, "We'll try again and don't put it too far under, the tooth fairy is rather small, and doesn't like to have to crawl, all the way under a sleepy head to delivery a coin whilst your in bed!"

Mary The Gap toothed One

"Ok," said Mary, "I'm no fool, I don't want to make the poor thing crawl," and so she put the cushion tooth and all, next to her bed making sure it could not fall. And sure enough in the morn, there was a glint in the first rays of dawn.

Mary gap tooth

It was a coin where the tooth once was, a whole pound too just because... the tooth fairy was rather late and so had decided to double the rate. So now the Gap Toothed Monster is quids in, or was - there are now a lot of sweet wrappers in the bin. She'd better wash those toothy pegs well, fairies don't come for rotting teeth that smell!

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