Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Comparing Children



I've been struggling with a few things for a while, when it hit me one day that the real struggle was that I was comparing my children.

Comparing them to each other, and to others...

Everyone knows you're not meant to do that, and I should know better...but I *do* compare.

Not always in a negative way...more like noticing that J-Man did such-and-such earlier than Princess, and Princess did this other thing earlier than Tombliboo, and so on.

Half of it, I think, is that I have such a good memory for incidental things...like when the babies took their first steps, or when J-Man started counting or read his first word, or when Princess started doing puzzles or began dressing herself, or when Tombliboo first used the potty.

But none of it is overly useful. For one thing, it breeds a sort of competitiveness- I'm wary of it, so I don't think it has been damaging...but lately, I have been worried that J-Man spends the hours in his day in a different way to most children, and very differently to his sister. It's bugged me because of issues of health, and of power-usage, and wondering about squandered potential.



I've worried that Princess is not yet reading, and more than that- she seems utterly convinced she cannot read, and therefore has no reason to attempt it. I've thought about where J-Man was at the same age, and the enormous discrepancy, and while I have seen that she is still on a level with children her age, I was not relieved.

And I've worried that Tombliboo still won't use the potty for poo, and is still happy enough to pee in his pants- where his brother and sister (not ec'ed, gently but conventionally "toilet-trained" at their request) had these things sorted by this age (24 months).

Such a lot of worry...such a lot of questioning myself and my beliefs about how children learn....wondering what on earth one could do to change these things, and feeling powerless because I do believe in the inate ability of children to learn what they need for their lives without artificial contrivance, or parental interference or any coercion.

I'm too tired to think things through properly at the moment, and have never been a deep thinker in the first place. It was just sitting with me...and it's not a nice thing to think.

And then it hit me...hallelujah!

Whenever I compare my children to others, whenever I don't accept (and adore) who they are right now...I am effectively saying they are not good enough, not quite complete, "less than", actually they are a disappointment.

And that is assuredly what they are not.

I must have known this before, and I'm not sure what changed...but I know it properly now.

I am loving the unfolding, and unfurling, the growing and learning I see...maybe I had stopped noticing it, stopped looking for it, got too caught up in the "end result" rather than this day, this hour, this moment.

J-Man explained the fractional reserve banking system, as well as the likely effects of peak oil to his guild members on WoW the other day. I only just learned about those things this year...is his potential being squandered? I don't think so.

Princess is not reading at double her chronological age like her brother was...but by 6, he had already stopped reading, where she still adores books- would love to visit the library every day. Watching her learn to read is fascinating...watching her learn anything, and wondering why "today" was the day, and what made the switch flick, is fascinating.

Tombliboo has begun to take his pants off and run to the potty, calling out "Where'd it go, where'd it go?", until he finds it (why oh why don't we leave it in the same place??). He used to only take his pants off *after* he had wet them. He is dry every night, and most days as well. I wouldn't say he's a grad yet, even for pee, but he's on his way. He's learning at his own pace, and in his own way.

All three of them are learning all the time, even when I don't see it, even when they are not aware. So, I'm back...and I'm loving it :0)

"Way more happy than just pleased"



Princess has been paid again for a tv ad that was filmed a year ago...they have decided to run it again this Christmas. I got so excited about her getting the thing she most wanted in the world (a Polly Pocket Mall), that I went and got it for her right away.

Dh thought that was so weird, and that I should have allowed her to have the excitement of going to the shop herself. I was certain it was what she most wanted, and that it was only part of the payment she received -so there would be plenty more shopping-opportunites. Still, I felt awful, when I realised that was precisely what I should have done.

Still, when she got home from friends (having had a fabulous time), I showed her the purchase, and she was ecstatic!

I said, "I'm so glad you're pleased Princess"...where she said, "I'm way, way more happy than just pleased!"

She has loved getting a few more bits and pieces she wanted.

I suggested she might like to get something for J-Man, after she purchased Tombliboo another (soft toy) Hippo he has wanted for a while.

She said she planned to, and she was going to buy J-Man a big bag of lollies. She has no real concept of money or the value of different things. I said J-Man might feel a bit stink about getting a bag of lollies when she had been paid quite a substantial amount.

She said, "Oh, yes- well, then, I'll buy him *two* bags!" (lol).

Princess says the most lovely things...like that I'm the best Mummy in the world, and yesterday commented, "Some days mothers probably wish they weren't mothers, aye Mum?"

I said that some moments are harder than others, but that I loved being a mother...she said, "Oh! I didn't mean you- I know you love being our mummy!"

I had also decided to take the kiddos to McDonald's for breakfast...mostly because we never do that, and we were out of plenty of stuff, and we were running short on time, and I also had plenty to do, and wanted it done early.

On the way, Princess said, "I can pay for the breakfast if you like, Mama."

I was about to say ,"No, it's OK- Mummy will pay", when I thought I shouldn't knock her offer, so instead asked, "Would you like to?"

She blew me away, by saying, "Oh yes! I'd be honoured."

Honoured to buy the family breakfast? What a bizarre, but lovely thing for a little girl to say.

Some days I wonder when she will "get" money, but mostly I love that she doesn't- that it is nothing to her, that the packet of bubblegum the agent sends with her cheque is more exciting than the cheque itself.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Saturday- Grey Lynn Festival

We headed out to the Grey Lynn Festival today for the first time...what a lot of fun we had.

We met our friends N and B(22 months) and ate a picnic lunch there.

We wandered about the stalls, and the kids had a ride on a bouncy slide.



There were so many tents/stalls, and it was a blast looking through them- and being amazed at the creativity of people. We all enjoyed looking at he native instruments, and J-Man bought a pan-type flute, and a really cool whistle for Princess.



Tombliboo really enjoyed looking at this worm farm. He dug around in it with a stick as well, and there were people looking on and exclaiming over how cute and brave he was (lol). He kept saying 'I saw some-ping, I saw some-ping", and it was all very exciting...



There was a cool giant red fish at he Greenpeace stand, which the kids enjoyed...



J-Man was really keen to have a go at being the person inside it, and asked if they would mind if he had a turn (a very hot, red and sweaty man had just come out), and they agreed!

J-Man the Fish...


We stayed for ages watching this man with his fabulous bubble wands...



Then Tombliboo stayed for ages watching this man sing and play his guitar. (He also then tried to take the money from the man's coat which amused osme onlookers).

Next we went to the Ukelele Festival primarily to drop Princess off with friends (she is spending the night away), but also to support our friends' children who were performing in it. It wasn't overly exciting, but still fun catching up with friends, and seeing new things.



Tombliboo kept going like an energiser bunny and finally crashed on the way home...and has spent most of the evneing asleep...meanwhile, dh, J-Man and I are hanging out on computers. J-Man (nearly 10) is getting married on WoW on Tuesday (lol), and is having a Bachelor's Party tonight...too funny.

Sad

Yesterday Princess, Tombliboo and I went to the supermarket early and I was struck by how many Intermediate-aged kids (10-13 yrs olds) were walking to school, eating garbage.

Now when I bought lunch when I was that age, I also bought rubbish, so I don't mean to sound too self-righteous. But it was a different *kind* of rubbish.

I used to get a luncheon and salad breadroll, a doughnut and a Zap (strawberry or chocolate flavoured milk) for $1. I still remember because I remember the day it went up to $1.05c and I had to decide which of my three faves I would not be able to buy that day. The same "meal" would cost at least $5 today. Not particularly healthy, but not Twisties and Mountain Dew like I saw kids consuming yesterday.

Now I wonder if these diets are contributing to all the problems I hear about schools...children getting bullied, children being bullies, teachers getting abused.

It has to have an influence.

The number of chemicals and nasty additives in food today is quite disgusting...and, noone has bothered to check what reaction a "cocktail" of these chemicals will produce. Nor has anyone (as far as I know) researched the effect on our bodies of consuming these additives often and over a long period of time (years).

I have read that the *entire* human population will react to msg at some particular dose. Some people, like us, react afer a very small dose- but the whole world does react, so why is it in our food? And what happens when half (or more) of a class have been eating the stuff for breakfast?

This is a great website for finding out more about msg in particular.

The "numbers" to avoid flavour enhancers like msg are

Glutamates incl MSG 620-625

Ribonucleotides 627, 631, 635

Hydrolysed Vegetable Protein (HVP)

While you're at it, some other additives that are especially problematic, and very good to avoid are

COLOURS

102,104,107,110,122,123,124,127,128,

129,132,133,142,151,155

natural colour 160b (annatto)

PRESERVATIVES

Sorbates 200-203

Benzoates 210-213

Sulphites 220-228

Nitrates, nitrites 249-252

Propionates 280-283

SYNTHETIC ANTIOXIDANTS

Gallates 310-312

TBHQ, BHA, BHT 319-321

ARTIFICIAL FLAVOURS

No numbers since they are trade secrets

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Wonders of Baking Soda :0)

Here are the current uses for baking soda in my home...

1. Toothpaste! Yes- I know, it tastes completely disgusting...but Wow! After my second brushing, dh confirmed what I thought I was seeing in the mirror- my teeth are whiter! Incredible stuff. I have been using unconventional toothpaste for a while, but lately I have begun to think that we are merely swapping nasty products for ok ones, but still "*products*...still stuff we need to go and buy from a shop...I'm not relaly happy abtu that for myself, happy enough for the children for now- because, really, I can't see any of them agreeing to brush with baking soda ;0)

2. Deoderant/anti-perspirant! I know, sounds crazy...but it works, boy-oh-boy does it work! Here's the thing... I tried going wihtout deoderant a few years ago- it did *not* work. It wasn't tooooo bad, but it was a pain, and I really couldn't get it to last for the day...and I didn't feel comfortable leaving the house. We changed to non-aluminium (crystal) deoderant, and that does the trick reasonably well, as well as any conventional deoderants anyway...and that's another thing, none of them really worked with me anyway. Maybe it's the breastfeeding, or maybe becauseI am overweight- I don't know...but I stink! I can shower in teh morniong, apply deoderant, and still smell by 10am :0(

In fact, I had begun to suppose the smell (of me, laas) was trapped in my t-shirts, and that was that. I tried using baking soda (applied damp in armpits) on Saturday, and I still sweated- but there was no smell...I only put it on once, and all day long, I didn't stink, not even once...wow!

3. Shampoo! We ll, I tried this a few years ago too- and it did work, but I go all fussy (and mopey) about the fact that my hair didn't smell nice...how silly...but that was me then, and I have changed (and I also have some good essential oils). We changed to organic shampoo, which still had nasties, and still didn't suit my scalp. We changed to all-natural shampoo soaps and have been reasonably happy since (though the soap does build up, I htink). The difference between then and now, is also that I thught I needed to wash with baking soda (bs) and apple cider vingear (acv) every day...I don't.

Last week, I washed my hair once with bs, once with acv, once twice with water....it looks lovely, it feels soft, it is definitely not smelly, and certainly does not look unclean. I'm also trying to change my "under 5 minute" showers to under 2 minutes.

And then there are the standard uses...cleaning pots I neglected too long ;0( and making volcanoes for the kiddos, deoderising the carpet, making banana cakes and cleaning the sink.

Currently the rest of my supply is languishing on the lounge floor, where tombliboo got it while I was in the shower- I suppose I hsould be pleased he was trying to clean.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

When your toddler seems unusually quiet...

We bought a bubble machine!










What a lot of fun we all had (and bubbles floating down the street)...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

J-Man is Level 70!




J-Man leveled his main World of Warcraft character up to level 70 on Tuesday night!

That is the top level...at least until the new expansion pack is released at midnight tonight.

So proud of him :0)

He has been torn between wanting to level up, and knowing he also wants to spend more time with his family. He actually told his guild members last week that "WoW is getting in the way of his family time"...too sweet.

I think a balance can be struck. There is no way I would want him to give up a game that gives him so much pleasure.

He and Daddy will be going to pick up their pre-ordered copy of Return of the Lich King tonight, and I don't think they will be going to bed early tonight!

Photo Note: That t-shirt has a caption..."You want me to go outside? Is that a secret level?"

We saw Thomas!



We went to the Glenbrook Railway Station for a special day. Tombliboo is really in to trains, and we have been meaning to go for (literally) years anyway...so it was perfect.

J-Man wasn't so interested in going on a steam train (he went on one when he was 2), so he and Daddy stayed behind to chat, and watch trains. Princess, Tombliboo and I went on the steam train with our friends J, M and little J (22 months).

It was wonderful- everyone had a great time. Tombliboo loved being on the train, and looking out the window. Mostly, he liked to stand on the bit between the carriages, looking through a gate at the tracks whizzing by.



One of his favourite things to do at the moment, is ask, "How many?" then proceed to count. Where he used to be able to count to 1 or 10 (often missing 5), he now counts "1...2...6", which is kinda cute, and kinda weird as well. He enjoyed counting trains, and pointing out their eyes, and noses etc.



We went home with our friends, while Daddy and Princess went to the bach for the rest of the weekend. They had a wonderful time, Princess had been wanting to get "her turn" alone with Daddy since J-Man had had his. She was bursting when I told her it was time. Daddy loved it too...there is somethingso very special for parent and child about some time alone together. It made me kinda envious of my dh, but I'm sure I will get my turn (htough Tombliboo does look set to breastfeed until he's 11, lol).

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tombliboo is 2!





Our special little fellow turned 2, and we had a great day celebrating him. (I had woken up at 2:35am- a minute before his actual birth time, and given him a kiss and an extra special snuggle).

It was a different day than we had planned (meeting friends at the zoo) because he woke up with spots all over his arms and legs. He had had some (what we presumed were...) fleabites on his knees the night before, but they seemed to multiply as the evening wore on, and in the morning there were loads of them.

The rash on his arms looked different- not like bites, and I started to panic about what could be wrong (have we not had enough worries the last couple of weeks??). I imagined he must be getting measles, since our other chidlren have had chicken pox and I knew it wasn't that.

We took Tombliboo to the Dr for a diagnosis, asking that our friends stand-by rather than leaving for the zoo, but the Dr couldn't tell us what it was. He said the most likely diagnosis was a post-viral rash, but he mentioned some other possibilities we didn't like the sound of- so opted not to (possibly) infect our little friends.

I felt awful since we had said we were going to the zoo, and we had also told him he would be seeing his friends. I know, logically, he probably doesn't really care- but it feels like I lied (at least that is how I imagine a 2 yr old might see it).

He got some super-cool presents...we bought him a Thomas train, which he instantly loved. I think the rest of us might have dropped off the face of the earth at that point, and Tombliboo wouldn't have noticed (so long as we left a pair of "boobahs"). Daddy joined the tracks up to our other wooden train set- this is why Dads buy train sets, you know (and he thought he wanted a slot car set, lol).


I got the cake made, and for the first time since Tombliboo's birth- I was happy with it.


We all puddled around home, being attentive to Tombliboo (who, as I hinted at- didn't notice). Daddy was spending the day with us (he always takes the children's birthdays off work).



In the afternoon, we went to a park and out to a toyshop for Princess to pick up the present she purchased for her little brother (a Limited Edition Gold Thomas train). J-Man had bought him a Russ Hippotamus (Tombliboo says "hippo" or "hippy-poh-ee-miss" soft toy- Tombliboo had tried to take it from the shop a few times, and on the last occasion J-Man had promised he would buy it for him on his birthday.




I was really proud of them...

last year, I gave them money to choose something each that they would like to get their little brother. This year, I didn't think we would have the money, and I said the train set was from all of us- but they spent (more than) their fortnight's pocket money/allowance on the present they thought he would most like. It wasn't like I remember my brother buying things for people that *he* would like, lol...they thought long and hard about what Tombliboo would most like- and they were right- he loved their presents.



Princess made him a nice card, and J-Man downloaded a birthday song for Tombliboo to listen to on his PSP (he recently spent the last of his ad money on a 2nd hand PSP).

We spent a long time at the park, and it was a lot of fun. It was back home to the trains, while I got dinner ready, and after dinner we did the cake.

Tombliboo was adorable- he was *beaming* as we sung, and he knew what the cake was (unlike Princess on her birthday lol). He cut it himself, and we all had far too much (well, it was a honey and date cake- sugar and colour free, so the "big" kids mostly just ate icing). It was actually very nice, but dh remembers well his dislike of dates at their age.



The evening was more trains, and Tombliboo wanted to watch Scooby-Doo and the Care Bears, which we did. He fell asleep around 10pm, and I carried him to bed. I stared at him for a very long time, busriting with love for this wonderful little person we all adore- and promising him a trip to the zoo a soon as we can.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Thursday



Tombliboo has been almost back-to-normal today. He's still quite pale, and easily tired, but he has run around outside, and gone exploring/climbing for the first time since his illness.

He was fairly tired by late afternoon, and he didn't want to walk to the shops- he had his very first ride in a pushchair. Actually, I would have been happy to carry him in the sling, but he had been playing around with the pushchair today. He worked out how to buckle it up, and liked to sit in it it and wait for someone to push him (crazily) about.

When it came time to leave, he sat himself in there, saying "shopping...this one!"

It was a whole lot easier at the supermarket, I have to say...but really I would have preferred that he was ransacking the place. There is something a teensy bit disturbing about seeing a normally-active toddler perfectly happy to sit still at the checkout.

It will be his birthday soon, so Princess has busied herself making him a card today...and has begun nagging her big brother about doing the same. I shouldn't call it nagging, I think it's sweet...but Daddy and J-Man don't.

I finally made a birthday cake for Dh's (belated) birthday. J-Man insisted we sing "Happy Late Birthday to You", and it was a nice surprise I think.

Fireman Tombliboo




There was a power cut down our street, due to a burning power-box. While the firemen waited around for a lines supply person to come and check it out, our kiddos got to sit in the fire-truck!

Daddy was home (wanting to be close to Tombliboo) and he said, "Just another homeschooling bonus".

Tombliboo managed to get the RV working, though noone thought he could possibly have had time.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Update

Tombliboo hasn't had another seizure since Saturday. He;s not himself, but he's coming right.

He is quite pale, and has little energy- for instance, we walk up to the shops nearly every day, and he walks the whole way without incident. Yesterday he needed to be carried before the end of our street. He is scratching his head a lot, as though there is something in there that he can't get out.

He is eating a little, breastfeeding a lot. His temperature starts climbing around 4:30pm, but it hasn't gone over 38.4 since we got him home from the hospital.

We have had some fabulous advice from other unschoolers about how to bring a temperature down naturally, and which homeopathic is particularly effective in healing Tonsillits (Merc Sol).

DH stayed home from work yesterday to be with Tombliboo, and also because he didn't think he could possibly concentrate. He spent a lot of time with Tombliboo, just doing the things his little son likes to do.

Tombliboo hasn't gone outside much at all, which is his usual favourite thing. He isn't moving much, and that is really odd to see.

A friend who's child had febrile convulsions said he bounced back quickly, but his energy levels didn't return for a month.

We're also worried about how much was *done* to him without his consent, and how long the emotional implications of this experience will linger.

In other news, Princess and I weren't feeling well last night, and she vomitted *everywhere*. I've been really lucky with my children- they vomit about as much as I do (hardly ever), but Wow! I think we made up for it last night.

She was so sorry she had vomited on the carpet, and made a mess. She had been coming to tell me she thought maybe she would be sick, and it just came.

Poor little darling, but today she feels fine. She isn't eating much, and only wants to drink water- but she says she doesn't feel sick.

We're trying to talk to the "big" kids about the weekend, knowing how scared we were, and how much more so they would have been. Meanwhile, everything seesm a bit on-hold while we wait for Tombliboo to come right. We're keeping him quiet and happy, not hard since he has so little energy, and hoping he comes right a bit by the weekend so we can take him on a Thomas train.

If I get to it today, I will make a birthday cake for dh- but right now I'm over-run with washing, and still have dishes on the bench since Friday (not as many, but theyr'e still there all the same).

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Tombliboo

Tombliboo (nearly 2) had a fever on the early hours of Saturday morning, but woke up reasonably happy. He wasn't interested in eating, or moving much.

We visited friends, and on the way home decided to buy a thermometer since our one hasn't been working for quite some time. The kids were hungry, so I decided to get them a sausage in a bread from a fundraising stall, so they would be comfortable while I dashed in to the shop.

I was watchign the world go by, waiting in line, when I heard someone call out "Can someone please call an ambulance for me?"

I looked over and sw it was dh, and my first thought was ,"What a silly duffer- what woudl he need an ambulance for". I walked away from my place in the queueu to see what he was up to, and saw him slump to the ground with my baby foaming at the mouth, eyes rolled back in his head, limp but jerking. It was absolutely the most scary thing I have seen in my life *ever*.

I ran, and everything suddenly seemed in slow motion. I didn't handle things well, I was a mess. I had no idea what to do. A kind lady took charge while others phoned for the ambulance. The ambulance arrived very quickly, and we were off to hospital. My baby's first ride in an ambulance, and he knew nothing at all about it. DH drove behind us with J-Man and Princess. Tombliboo was still blueish, and very groggy, his temperature remained at 39 for the trip, though he was naked and had paracetamol.

After a while, dh and the kiddos went home, and I stayed with Tombliboo under observation for 4 hours. The nurse (who was unkind as soon as we admitted Tombliboo was unvaccinated) insisted it was routine because he wasn't immunised. I argued about that, and she eventually conceded that the treatment would be the same for a chld who had had vaccinations- because after all, a vaccination does not guarantee immunity (actually, the statistics about how many children are immune after a vaccination are frightening, and was one of the largest contributors to our decision not to vaccinate Tombliboo).

Still it seemed I had made a bit of an "ememy" since obviously I was meant to bow and scrape and assert that she must know everything. She was quite rude, and had dh questioning himself over how he had handled the fever (which was excactly as I would have done for Tombliboo, or myself).

Anyway, she didn't pop in after that, and eventually I asked if we might be able to go home...Tombliboo was not quite right, but I igured he was just as well off at home as in the emergency room alone. Besides that, I was starving, thirsty and needed to use the bathroom (but coudn't since Tombliboo was on me, and cried if I moved). She said we could go at 6:30pm, and I let dh know. I saw her at 6:30pm and asked if all was well, and were we free to go. We were, and when dh arrived at 6:45pm, I went to see her at the desk, and asked again if everything was alright, and was it ok to leave. She said, "Yes, Bye", and so we went home.

Tombliboo fed three times in an hour, and we had a nice cuddle with him on the bed as we made it.

He was on my lap as I went to check e-mails, and he was kicking the computer desk. I didn't think much of it, because for some reason he likes to do that (he has bruises on his shins, and still he likes to kick the desk!)...I put my hand on his leg to gently reqest he stop, and I realised it was more of a jerking movement than a deliberate kick. I looked in his eyes, and they were rolling. He made funny grunting noises, and I thoguht for a second he was tryign to tel lme about what had happened earlier i nthe day- then I clicked it was happening again. I called for dh who ran and took over. I thought I woudl be reasonably good in an emergnecy- I'm not. I watched afor a bit with no idea at all what to do. I called an ambulance, but was screechign to much to be undertood.

We needed to put Tombliboo on the floor, on his side, and let him fit. It was truely horrible to watch, and indeed I didn't think I *could* watch. I ran about collecting the thigns I supposed we would need for another trip back to hospital (not for me the Woman's Weeklies from 2003).

J, M and Baby J happened to arrive then to see if Tombliboo was OK, and took J-Man and Princes home for us. Tombliboo and I went for our second ever ambulance ride, and he had his eyes closed and teeth clenched, making odd irritable noises the whoel way. dh followed behind, and we got back to the hospital a little over an hour after we had left.

It turned out we had not been meant to be discharged at all. There was concern over the fact that Tombliboo had a fever with no apparent focus (cause). He had to have a chest x-ray (multiple x-rays), and that didn't go down at all well since he had just managed to get to sleep.

Next, he needed to have blood tests, which were horrendous. They wrapped him up like a Mummy- dh, a nurse and I had to hold him down while the docotr tried to take blood, but failed. She got a vein in a different spot, and managed to take blood. By this time, as you can imagine, Tombliboo was a wreck. So were we.

Apparently it is unusual to have 2 seizures in one day, though not in one illness. dh went home around midnight to try to get some sleep, and I woulddl call if we heard anything, or if Tombliboo had another convulsion...Around 4am, a doctor noticed pus on his tonsils, a diagnosis of tonsilitis was given, and I felt a lot of relief knowing there was an actual reason for the fever (because I was starting to get a teensy bit frantic about the possibility of it being something really terrible).

Tombliboo got up for the day then, and enjoyed roaming the halls of the emergency room. He had a splint on his foot where a line was in for more bloods (if necessary, or other medication). Evnetually he grew tired (I was exhausted, having sat with him not daring to take my eyes off him for more than a few seconds lest he turn blue again), and was happy to go back to the bed with some stories. Actually, he wanted *all* the stories, and was quite upset when I suggested he leave some for the other children.

He was very happy, though tired, when his temperature seemed to go up suddenly. I mentioned it to a nurse but she didn't seem inclined to take his temperature because it had been good through the night, and he had been running everywhere not long before. Still, I coudl tell it had gone up, so I kept a close eye on him- and he started to turn blue again. I alternated between looking at where the emergency button was, and his little face, and trying to talk to him to get a response. Thankfully, he didn't have another fit, and his colour returned once we managed to get some paracetamol in to him. This was no easy task...it never has been, to be honest, but I don't think his hospital experience will help matters. Their way to get reluctant children to take the medicine is to hold them down, and force their mouths open. They squirt the medicine in with a (needle-less) syringe, and as the child screams and tried to spit it out, they blow in their faces to force them to gulp the medicine.

We left the hospital around 11am this morning, and went to pick the kiddos up. The rest of the day has been very quiet. Tombliboo has been reasonably happy- but not *at all* keen to have *anything done to him. (Who could blame him?). Getting medication in to him is horrific, and even checking his temperature is a nightmare. I think he needs to be left alone for a while, and yet it is all too fresh to ignore the possibility of a new fever, and a possible new convulsion.

Finally he is resting now. I think we're in for a rough night.

Spooky Party

In NZ, Halloween has not been on most people's radars for very long at all. The driving force in promoting Halloween is most likely The Warehouse and similar chain shops- why not add in another reason to buy before Christmas?

Naturally children are not going to say "no" to the prospect of free lollies, and who doesn't like to dress up?

I'm not even slightly interested in having my children roam the neighbourhood, and they haven't been either. We had plans to go to a Halloween Party for homeschoolers, but it fell through, leaving us wondering what we would do instead.

J-Man and Princess already had costumes, and dh and I had bits and pieces toward one as well. In previous years, we've pretended it wasn't happening, gone to a Light Party, watched "spooky" movies at home with lots of lollies, and last year the kids came to the lounge door to find Dady dressed up as someone different (and dishing out different treats) each time. It was a hoot.

Anyway, we decided to invite a few people over. We *never* do that. We *should do it! I always think the house is too much of a tip, but finally clicked that if I carry one waiting for the "magical" day when everything is "just so"...noone will ever come over!

Several of our friends already had plans, or are not interested in marking Halloween- really, we were just wanting to see friends, but we're all on a journey.

In the end, we had Tombliboo's friend J21 months, S7 from across the road (Princess' friend) and J11 (J-man's best friend), and Nana which worked very nicely.

The children went to a Trunk or Treat evening first off, which noone particularly enjoyed- mainly because there were enormous crowds (you get that when you advertise on the internet) and the promised goodie bags and all been given away before our children got there...to be continued.

We had spent two days decorating the house- everything takes longer with a toddler in the home...I often say "everything I do, I do it three times", and it is true.

The lounge was decorated with black wool and silver string. We had big bats cut out of black paper, and big jack-o-lanterns cut out of white paper painted orange. Princess really enjoyed doing that- the whole thing was exciting for her, and she was "at me" every few minutes to get on with the next thing.

We made a sign saying "SPOOKY" and decorated it with blood splatters, which even appealed to J-Man. We had orange and black balloons, and we defaced the framed photos of the children with washable markers. It was a lot of fun.

DH mowed a jack-o-lantern in to the lawn- he is frightfully good at stuff like that, and now we are hanging out for Christmas where he will do a tree, and Princess wants him to do an easter egg at Easter. I was quite certain she woudl ask for an Easter Bunny, and that would be not very easy at all.

The bit I really loved was dressing up myself. I had a witch hat with long black hair attached, and a beak-like nose, and face paint. I wore a long dress that wasn't really black, but looked it in the evening. I terrified some neighborhood chidlren when they came to t he door- well, I didn't really, but I pretended to if they were older. One group of boys around 10-12 yrs said I frightened them, and they were loving it. They came back later in the evening for another look...mwah-ha-haaaaaa!

I blew up 100 water balloons, and drew a bat and jack-o-lantern on our fence to use as targets.

I made "party bags" our of some cans in the recycling (very well washed), and covered with orange paper, and a jack-o-lantern drawn on the front. They had baloons, and body parts, elephant snot or Monkey Poo lollies, wrapped Toffees, lollipos, and snack sized chocoalte bars (and even some playdough added by J later on).

When the kids got home, they were very surprised to see me lookign so gross, lol, and we got straight in to our first activity...colouring oranges with black vivid marker to look like jack-o-lanterns. We had a huge pumpkin we were going to cut, but didn't have time.

J had made a big bucket of (disgusting) slime. We pout magnetic numbers in the slime, and he kids reached in to grab one. The numbers corresponded with a paper worm- either saysing "TREAT" or to do some other spooky thing (Trick), lkike 'Scream lie ka Banshee". J-Man picked that one, ansd I was pleased, because he particularly lieks ot scream liek a Banshee. This of course got Tombliboo going, and the noise was a teesny bit ott (over the top), but so much fun.

Our friend A had brought loads of plain biscuits with lots of coloured icing, and everything imaginable to put on top. The children made fabulous works of art which I had to clsoe my eyes to when I thought of them actually ingesting all the chemicals...but it was a huge amount of fun, and even the toddlers made biscuits (and thankfully weren't interested in eating them).

We had lots of food on the table (fresh asparagus rolls, ham roll-ups, corn chips and salasa, potato chips and homemade dip, a platter of fruit, and a jack-o-lantern filled wiht lollies. J had made "Gingerbread Mummies' which were brilliant...teeny men, with white chocolate drizzled on to look like bandages, and silver cachous for eyes), along with pretend spiders, lizards, snakes and frogs.

We all had a load of fun, and it was so good to be with friends...especially such good friends :0)

PS: Our camera is repaired, and we will get photos soon...J took a few of this night for us, which I will add when they are received.