Wednesday, March 31

The Gallery - Outside my Front Door

Time to make my gallery post for Tara's Weekly Gallery, which this week is entitled Outside my Front Door.

So outside my front door this morning it is tipping it down with rain and howling a gale. But on summer evenings, living on the west coast of the UK, I get to see the sunset from my living room window. I hover about by the window to see what colour the sky is changing to. If it's something pretty, I grab my camera and head down the road to the river, which is literally 3 minutes drive away so I can grab a photograph.

This is one of my favourite sunset photographs because it's not your usual sunset shot, but the powerstation and bridge are a huge feature in my area. Amazing really that something so ugly can be made to look a bit more acceptable when the sun goes down behind it.

Tuesday, March 30

Entertaining the bored

Day two of the Easter Holidays, and my 4 year old declared she's bored. So we've spent the day making Easter stuff.

We are now over-run with a new family of chicks (there are more than you can see here!) and we've made Easter baskets to put chocolate eggs in.

This one was our favourite, although Isabelle did quite like the bunny one she made for her daddy (which you can see in the picture above). Now we need to wait until payday tomorrow to be able to go and buy some little eggs to put inside.

We now have the problem of where the chicks are going to live. I think we'll have to make a nest so they can live in that in Isabelle's bedroom. So now, both we and the table are covered in glue (despite newspaper) and have fluff and cotton wool all over the place! But we had fun, and that's what counts.

To make the chicks you will need: yellow pompoms, orange (thick) paper for feet and beaks, wobbly eyes, glue. Very easy to assemble.

To make the card baskets you'll need: Yellow card, pompom chick (from above), tissue paper for inside the basket.

I wrapped the card around our square toothbrush holder, but any square or rectangular box would do (as if you're wrapping a present, but leave one end open) Add a handle. Stick your chick on the front. I then added some cut out wings and a tail. fill the box with torn up crepe paper and then add chocolate eggs. The bunny was made more or less the same way only (obviously) a bunny's face. (he does have a cotton wool tail on the back too.

Wednesday, March 24


Not 'The Prodigy' as in the band but;

prodigy - noun - a person, esp. a child or young person, having extraordinary talent or ability.

This is one of the words used tonight at parent's evening at school to describe my 4 year old. To be honest, I had to come home and check prodigy in the dictionary (ironic?). She is in reception class as school having started in September last year. She is the absolute baby of the year as she doesn't turn 5 until the 16th of July, the day they break up for the summer holiday. She couldn't be any younger in her year, yet she is at the very top of the class for everything. Her reading is off the richter scale apparently. She is currently (having been re-assessed again after a re-assessment 2 weeks ago) reading books that the average 6 and 7 year olds are reading in the same reading scheme. She has understanding and grasps concepts very easily, has a remarkable memory, excellent vocabulary and general knowledge. She is a very friendly, helpful, kind and caring girl who is very popular in class. (I almost cried when the teachers were saying all this).
Warms your heart doesn't it? It certainly warms mine to think that my 4 year old baby is regarded so highly within school.

She received a Head Teacher's award yesterday for her reading skills, which she is very proud of. (see photo below).

She has been put onto the high achievers register in school and will therefore be given lessons catering to her ability and interest and stretching her a little bit. 

Her teachers are being wonderful. They still want to keep her grounded and let her learn through play, but are prepared to give her the extra stimulus in the areas she needs it in. The fact that the school are aware of her capabilities from such an early age is an excellent sign for me. 

But above all, Isabelle is so happy learning. She's not being pushed in a direction she doesn't want to go in, she's more than happy to take the challenges. Otherwise she gets bored easily.

My little ray of sunshine is becoming a star

Here she is wearing her gold Head Teachers award sticker.

Tuesday, March 23

Bit of an Ostrich

After reading Glowstar's post about The Virtual Revolution web animal test, I thought I'd take it myself.

Apparently, I'm officially an ostrich. My mum has always called me an ostrich due to the, not actually true fact, that ostriches stick their head in the sand to avoid danger. But according to the Virtual Revolution online test that accompanies the TV series, my behaviour online is that of an ostrich.

Fast-moving - We can tell from your results that you are a speedy surfer - one of the characteristics of the Web Ostrich, whose real-world counterpart has an impressive top speed of 45mph.
Sociable - The web is a social place. You take full advantage of this when you search for information by using social networks and other sites whose content is created by its users. Real-world ostriches are also highly social, even keeping eggs in each other’s nests to share the burden.
Specialised - The real-world ostrich is a true specialist, highly adapted to survive in hot, dusty African grasslands. You might not be at risk from lions when browsing the web, but you are still very focused. From your test we can tell you do best when you concentrate on one task at time, rather than several things at once.

It does actually sound about right. I can sometimes have so many things open on my computer that I get lost LOL.

So, The Virtual Revolution website is asking, What species of web animal are you?
They say that over the last 20 years the web has changed the world, but what, if anything, has it done to us? Take part in a unique experiment to discover the impact the web is having on our brains, and discover which species of web animal you are.

So which web animal are you?

Sunday, March 21

A bit of a whinge

How come I am surrounded by people every day, yet feel so lonely?

It's probably just my mood I guess, but at the moment I feel that the main purpose of my life is to help everyone in my family get on with their life. I exist, I provide, I comfort, I support, I wash and clean.... and in amongst all that, somewhere, is me. 

Don't get me wrong, I am happy in my marriage, I have great kids who I know love me, as does my hubby, but why do I feel like I'm here to be a skivvy? Where did I go in amongst this life? I just seem to go from one task to another, running about doing 'stuff' but never seem to get a 'thanks' or 'I'll do that' for a change. The phrase I'm after is taken for granted. I have spent the last week running about doing extra 'stuff' to the normal day to day 'stuff' and have ended up really tired. Fibromyalgia will do that to you sometimes. But what irks me is that when I run about doing all these extra things because hubby can't be arsed is at work and apparently doesn't have the time, and I have to spend 2 hours on the phone between two companies whom neither will accept responsibility for an 'error' the words thank you make a huge difference to the runnee (me), but to get on my case for the one thing I tried to do but after being on hold for 20 minutes, thought.. sod this.. I'll phone tomorrow because it's not THAT urgent, did piss me off somewhat.

This also adds to the feeling of lonelyness, or maybe it's isolation in that I feel like I'm a one (wo)man band. 

I don't see many people, apart from at school drop off and pick up time. I moved here 14 years ago and have made friends, but due to life etc, some have moved on. I don't make friends very easily, not close friends. I find hard to trust people deeper than surface level. This may sound very sad, but during my adult life I've only had 2 (what I'd call) really close friends, and due to them moving away from the area, the friendships sort of vanished once they'd moved on, despite me trying to keep in touch. This hurts to be honest and it makes me wonder was I only worth being friends with when they lived close by, but I guess seeing each other every day and popping in for coffee makes it easier to be good friends.

That all makes me sound like a really sad person... and I'm not. I am generally very happy and chirpy.. in fact, the amount of times I've been told I'm 'bubbly and very smiley' is unbelieveable. I did a sign language class a few years ago and we all had a signed name. The lecturer based the names on a physical feature of each person, mine ended up being smiler (which was nice).

But I digress, I still have this feeling of isolation and lonelyness. It's probably because I don't have a close female friend to offload on. I do have friends but am not comfortable getting that personal with them. I don't feel that it's fair to dump my crap on them.  It's so much easier for me to listen and advise than talk myself.

It doesn't help that my hubby is not the most understanding of people. He's not a talker, he's a problem solver, so talking about how I feel becomes a brainstorming session for him, he has all the answers on how to solve things, thinks he's done a good job in solving my life for me and walks around with a satisfied grin on his face. But telling my mum to 'f the hell off' is not a practical solution is it? So I struggle sometimes to offload on my hubby. When he asked 'what's wrong?' I asked if he really wanted to know, or if a brief answer would suffice. He opted for brief. To which I replied, everything feels 10 times worse than it actually is at the moment. The reply was uh huh and he moved on. 

A lack of respect really gets my goat too (poor goat LOL). Just because I'm home during the day does not mean I want to spend that day picking up stuff that's been left lying around (by hubby - and he really is one of the worlds most untidy people) because he doesn't have time to do it because he works all day. Erm, excuse me, you walked to the kitchen for something, why did you not pick up the mountain of dishes that were sat at your feet and take them with you? or when he's finished whatever job he's doing (very often bike related and stinking of chemicals and the task is done on the dining room table) clear the flippin stuff up! before you move to the next thing. I won't go on.. but you get the idea.

I suppose it's just my mood at the moment. It will pass and life will be hunky dory again for me...... 

sorry for the pity party post. At least it's off my chest now.. and I feel better for it.

Friday, March 19

Food for thought?

I wasn't sure what to blog about today, because I thought that as soon as I start typing, it would end up in a boohoo, woe is me pity party, so I wasn't going to blog. Nothing is really wrong, just me (and that bloody annoying part of the month) so everything feels 10 times worse than it is.. feeling taken for granted, a doormat... etc etc... so I decided to do something constructive to take my mind off me. 

So I took some photographs of some particularly scrummy looking cakes that I know I don't like, so I won't eat them. I had a bit of a battle last night with my other half as I caught him in the kitchen opening the box (I thought I'd hidden them!!). I took them off him, told him off and his bottom lip dropped and quivered giving an expression my 4 year old would do, puppy dog eyes included! But he didn't get any cake, he can have them tonight if he's a good boy LOL.

I hope you like my photograph and if you want to lick the screen, please click on the photo to view it large and lick away.. calorie free LOL

Wednesday, March 17

The Gallery - Red

The Gallery theme from Tara at Sticky Fingers this week is Colour and I've opted for Red with a bit of humour.

I took this photograph of a strawberry a while ago, but it just looked like a strawberry and that was that, so I set about editing it to give it a bit more bite.. as you can see from the teeth LOL.

Just a bit of fun, but I still giggle every time I see this photo. What a sad life I have LOL.

Tuesday, March 16

Competition Success

Wow what a night for me at Camera Club last night!

Last night was results night for our Black and White portrat competition at the camera club. The judge talks about each image and gives feedback on how it could be improved, what he likes and doesn't like and awards a score out of 20. it was a long evening as there were loads and loads of digitaly projected images, but as he was going through each one, he still didn't show mine. Eventually he did. I'd been given 1st place and 2nd place with two of my shots. 1st place was for a shot of my eldest daughter. The judge raved about it and how much he loved it and said that it would also have won the advanced group category.

These are the 1st and 2nd place shots. You can click on them to view them full size.

I was also awarded 3rd place in the prints category for this shot of my hubby, and a commended but didn't quite make the top three for this photograph of my youngest, Isabelle.
I also was awarded my medal for the best overall image in the inter-club battle. woohoo! It says winner! LOL Isabelle is so impressed with my medal she declared it 'fabulous'!

I was also asked if I do photography for a living last night. Oh I wish!! 

So I came home absolutely buzzing last night. All the comments about my photographs were positive. He didn't dislike any of them. It made me realise that I perhaps doubt myself a bit too much, as I don't count portraiture as one of my stronger subject matters. In fact, portraiture and landscapes are my worst areas of photography, but maybe I'm not as bad at portraits as I thought.

So now there is only two more of the monthly competitions before all the points are counted up and the overall winners announced. At the moment, I'm not sure quite where I am in the rankings but I do know I'm up towards the top. Fingers crossed eh? Now, on to find this month's competition entries. It's an open subject, so it can be a photograph of anything. If you're bored at all and want to help me choose, pop on over to my photography website and take a look at my photographs and see what you think is worth entering.

Monday, March 15

Being a Mum

I didn't really get time to sit and blog yesterday so I thought I'd post today about Mothers and Mother's Day.

Being a mother is the hardest job ever that a woman will have to face. You are responsible for another person's life. Before I get shouted at, I know that it's very similar for Dad's but as it's been Mother's Day and I am a Mother, I'm basing this post on what I know and have experienced.

I have been a Mum for almost 25 years, yet I'm still only 41. Shocking!

My first taste of being a Mum was a bit of a shock to say the least. I got pregnant whilst on the pill at only 16 years of age! I was given all the options by my parents, but I opted to keep the baby. I had a beautiful baby girl 6 weeks before I was 17 years old. Now that is a shock to the system, but I coped, quite well if I say so myself, and brought my baby up living on my own in a tiny 2 bedroom council house, but I did ok. My son was born almost 5 years later and he was such a demanding baby from the minute he was born. It took a while to find out that he had a dairy allergy. He was also classed as a 'naughty' child. and had the most humungous temper tantrums. You know that kid you hear screaming all over the supermarket? That was him. Looking back, had I had him checked out I'm sure he'd have been labled ADHD, but I didn't want a lable, it wasn't going to change him. How I didn't murder this child, I have no idea. My mum said she would have done LOL, and that I have the patience of a saint. He's now 19, almost 20 and is the nicest lad you could wish to meet. He's calm and quiet but confident in himself. He's given me no trouble at all through his teenage years, unlike his older sister, but the less said about her teenage tantrums the better. Both he and his almost 25 year old sister have never been in trouble with the police, have had no drink or drug problems, are both working and are both lovely young adults that know the rights from wrongs. 

And then there's my late addition to the family, my 4 year old little ray of sunshine. Yet another shock conisdering my son was 15 when Isabelle was born. That was quite a difficult thing to handle to be honest. I'd got my life back, my two older kids were more or less independent, I was working full time in a good job and boom, I'm pregnant at 36 years old. But her sunny nature, her brightness and her zest for life makes me smile every day and I don't regret having her for a minute, despite feeling tired most of the time, and the sleepless nights when she was a tiny baby.. oh my.. I won't even go there.

Nothing prepares you for the responsibility of raising these little people who are born knowing nothing. You have to teach them everything. You have to teach them the rights and wrongs, only you're not sure if you are teaching them right, you only have your morals to base your guidance on. The panic that is 'have I done the right thing' when you're trying to guide them never goes away, although I must admit, having a third child later on in life seems to make the job so much easier. I am so much more relaxed with Isabelle than I was with the other two. other people's opinions don't matter so much whether I'm doing the right thing or not, I will do what I personally think is right for my child. You don't have to stick to the supposed rules, you do what you think is best. You no longer follow the guidelines in the books that you get so hung up on when you're young and have no clue what you're doing. It's just so much easier.

So it was Mother's Day yesterday. My 24 year old daughter who lives miles away actually managed to get a card to me on time. This has never happened before LOL. She also phoned and said she even shocked herself that she got the card posted in time for it to be here on the day. My son wandered downstairs at about mid-day (lazy bugger) and handed me a card and a toblerone (yay! mmmm) but my little ray of sunshine kissed me awake at 7.30am (bless her!!!) and said I love you mummy, you are the best mummy in the world. How can you roll over and go back to sleep when you've got that in your ear? So I got up and opened my card from her.. the biggest card she could possibly find obviously. She'd written it herself and put billions of kisses in it. Mark said, she chose the presents herself. Yikes! She'd chosen 2 little white teddies and a little blue chick that cheeped (who she named cheeky cheepy and has since adopted and has carried it around since I unwrapped it) A lovely flowery houseplant and a paint it yourself mug, which she declared "I will paint your mug for you" .. oh dear ... LOL. But paint it she did, and it's made it all the more special because she did it and was so proud of the result. As you can see, it has a sunshine and a butterfly (the green and pink thing is the butterfly and the red bit at the front is it's 'tongue' LOL) on one side and a pretty flower on the other side. And if this mug gets broken, I will be mortified! because it was painted with so much love, and she was bursting with pride when she'd finished. No one else is allowed to use this mug under strict orders from Isabelle, and woe betide anyone who dares to 'borrow' it.

I like to think of myself as a bit of a cool mum and my kids have told me so in the past. There aren't many mums who will phone their kids and say "I've just bought tickets to go to the Metallica gig, are you going to get tickets and come too?" hehe. .. and they did come and we had a fantastic time!
My relationship with my own mum is somewhat different. I have a difficult relationship with her. I wish it were different, but in 41 years, it's never changed. Without trying to sound mean, she is a very controlling person. This is in life, not just with me. That is the type of person she is, and I accept that. She likes to have things her own way and likes people to do things her way too. She doesn't seem to understand or accept that other people do things in a different way to her, and she will try to convince you that her way is the right way, full stop! She finds it hard to understand me I think. I am generally a relaxed person who will get things done in my own time, but always in time if you get what I mean. For instance, a conversation with my mum on the phone last week went along the lines of:

Mum: what are you doing on the 27th of March?
Me: (as ever, cautious to committing myself from the off) Um, I don't know, why?
Mum: I'm organising a 40th birthday party for your brother.
Me: (heckles up because despite me arranging a get together for my 40th a couple of years ago, it was ignored due to mum changing plans and organising a surprise 60th for my Aunt) 
Me:I'll just check my calendar to see if we've got anything on.
Mum: (slightly agressive tone) Never mind what's on the calendar, you'll have to cancel it, I'm organising this party and you have to come.

(Now this involves a 4 hour drive each way to get to my mum's)

Me: (checking the calendar), no we don't have anything on that weekend anyway. OK, we'll be there.
Mum: Oh, and I want you to make the birthday cake.
Me: oh..... ok.
Mum: I want a Formula 1 racing car cake and want it in the old John Player Special colours. 

(no please or thank you or could you.. this is an order)

Me: But the JPS colours are black. Will anyone really want to eat a cake with black icing?
Mum: oh, well choose your own colour then but it has to look like a Formula 1 racing car.
Me: OK, I'll think of something.
Mum: Oh, and don't leave it too late to make it.
Me: I won't.
Mum: In fact, you could make it tomorrow and get it in the freezer.
Me: Mum there's three weeks yet
Mum: It doesn't matter, at least it will be done.
Me: It will be done in time, don't worry.

And that's basically how any conversation goes with my mum. I've tried to talk to her about it in the past and explain that I am actually a grown up now and can make my own decisions, but she still tells me how to live my life, what to buy the kids for christmas and birthdays etc etc. I told her the other day that I'm trying to work myself up to take my 19 year old cat to the vets.. she's old and tired and keeps falling over. I know it's time to have her put to sleep, but I'm having trouble making 'the decision'. I said this to mum and all she said was, well go and get it done, and just don't get anymore pets. (what? and why not?) she gave no reason.

Hmmm, well this ended up in a bit of a moan-fest LOL. I did have a lovely mother's day and was told every 5 minutes that I was 'the best' by my 4 year old. 

And now it's time to go and re-fill my newly painted coffee mug.

I hope all you mum's had a lovely mother's day too

Friday, March 12

Gut Instinct

Heather at Notes From Lapland inspired me to write this post today. Heather asks, do you believe in ghosts? To be honest, no I don't think so, but is there some sort of guardian looking out for me? hmmmm, I started to ponder.

I have always had what I call, a very good gut instinct. I have no control over it, I never think about it to call it into force, it just happens. It can happen with people (generally it's people) but it has also happend with certain situations. For example, Mark bought a motorbike a few years ago and he wheeled it into the garden, very proud of his new shiny thing. My gut feeling kicked in and I knew it was going to be a bad thing. He spent loads of money (and I mean LOADS) getting it fixed up and running right, but this bad feeling always niggled me every time he got the bike out. I shrugged it off as I usually do. I never worry about him coming off a bike or getting into an accident (unless he's really late home), but this feeling just wouldn't go away. One afternoon he went for a spin on this bike, but he came through the door 15 minutes later, which isn't like him, he's never less than an hour. He hopped in the door and said he'd had an accident. The bike high-sided him, flipped him off into the air and down the road. I took him to hospital and he'd broken his ankle. The bike was a write off and my bad feeling went. 

But generally, this gut instinct kicks in about people. I've met a lot of people over the years and have had this gut feeling a few times. I try to ignore it and tell myself I'm just being stupid, accept the person for who they are. But every time I've had this feeling, later down the line something has happened involving the person I had the bad gut instinct about. It hasn't happened with anyone close to me, thankfully, but Mark started a new job and got on with one of the guys really well. This guy came to our house to see Mark's bikes and my gut instinct kicked in. This guy became Mark's best friend, but every time I saw him, my instinct made me feel uneasy. I still don't know why, and it even happens if I speak to this guy on the phone. It's really odd. Nothing has happened, apart from he's now moved away and Mark doesn't see him, although they're still in touch via email. I just wish I knew why I have this bad feeling about him.

I have tried to tell Mark that I get this gut instinct, although I never said anything about it happening with his mate, and he thinks I'm a weirdo. I have told my mum though and she has a similar thing although not as strong as mine. I remember mum telling me one time that she went to see a medium with her sister. My mum is a non believer in that kind of thing, but she went to support my Aunt. The medium said to my mum, I don't know why you're here. You have such a presence and aura that if you let them in, the spirits would talk to you and help and guide you, don't block them out. My mum laughed about it, but it does make me wonder a bit. 

Hmmm, now I'm spooking myself LOL. Does anyone else get this gut instinct for bad situations? or am I just a freak of nature? LOL

Thursday, March 11

The Gallery - Think of a Number

For this weeks' Gallery theme, Tara at Sticky Fingers has chosen 'number' as the theme. Oh so many numbers to choose from. My kids ages, my age, how many years Mark and I have been married etc etc... but I've opted for the more unusual again LOL.

I've chosen the number 2, because it's a number that is relevant this week to me. As I may have mentioned before, I love adore going to Oulton Park Race Circuit and photographing the motorsport, particularly the motorbikes. I can't wait until May when the Brisish Superbikes spend three days at Oulton. Yay!!!

Last year, Leon Camier on the Number 2 motorbike the Airwaves Yamaha, won the British Superbike Championship. He's now moved up to World Superbikes so I won't be able to photograph him this year (sadly, cos he's a bit of a hunk!) The other reason I've opted for the number 2 and for using Leon Camier is that the photograph below and 5 others taken by me were added to Leon Camier's personal websitem, with my lil' ol' name underneath for the world to see.. woohoo. I will be famous one day dammit LOL

So here you go, the number 2 - my photograph of Leon Camier on his Airwaves Yamaha. I am quite partial to this shot too because you can see his eyes looking up the track ready for his next move. (click to view full size)

Tuesday, March 9

Can I have a little gloat?

I think I'm allowed to have a little gloat.

For anyone who's been reading my blog for a while, will know that I have a major passion for photography.

Normally on a Monday night I go to our local camera club. (Geek club as my other half calls it). I've only been going since September, but I do enjoy getting together with other geeks photography enthusiasts and we have a monthly competition. Well, last night was an interclub battle. This is where 7 camera clubs all congregate together (our club hosted the event) and have a battle of the photographs. Unfortunately I couldn't get to club last night, so I missed the event. Apparently, our club were just pipped at the post and we came 2nd.

But... I have just received an email about last night which contained a big surprise for me. One of my favourite photographs that I've taken was awarded The Winning Image Medal. This was for the best photograph from all the photographs shown during the evening. I've won a medal!! waaahhhoooooooo. Talk about shocked and very surprised. I'm flabbergasted. and of course, I wasn't there to find out in person.. arghhhh. But I will be able to collect my medal next week, which will have my name engraved on it too... omg!! shocked, speechless and totally excited about it all.

Anyway, here's the shot that got The Winning Image Medal (have I mentioned it before? LOL)

Monday, March 8

What is the world coming to?

I have been quietly getting crosser and crosser with two issues each time I see them on the news. I think I need to get them off my chest, so dear blog friends, I am going to aire the issues here. Please excuse me whilst I rant.

I'm sure everyone of a similar age to me can remember the shocking murder of a 2 year old boy in Liverpool, James Bulger). I was horrified to hear what two 10 year olds had done to this tiny little boy that they'd convinced to go with them for a walk. And then more recently the two boys aged 10 and 11 that tortured two young boys almost to death. This kind of thing really shocks and upsets me. I just can't believe that young boys can take pleasure from inflicting such horrific things on another human being, for pleasure.

But the thing that really has got my goat, is why is it when they are given 'life' sentences, they are released back into the community in less than 10 years??? How on earth did two boys, on turning 18 get released after serving 8 years in a youth detention centre? 8 years???? And now one of those 'boys' aged 27 has been arrested for 'serious offences' and it's been said that he was scared to death and feared for his life at being taken to a real prison for men. Too bloody right he should be!! 

And the two boys that were in the news recently for torturing two other boys, they're being put in a detention centre for 5 years, at which point there will be a review?? 5 years??? 

What the hell is wrong with our judicial system? When did life mean 8 years? How can they give a life sentence and then let them out of jail within 10 years?

Which brings me to the appeal made by Sutcliff (The Yorkshire Ripper). He is appealing for parole claiming that he's a changed man, he's a born again Christian and has seen the errors of his ways. You have got to be kidding me!! How can they even hear his appeal after he raped and murdered (horrifically) 13 women and 7 other attempted murders? They gave him 30 life sentences... they should have given him the lead injection and saved tax payers some money.

I may be missing the point here, but I don't care who it is.. everyone knows it's wrong to torture, rape or murder another human being... so if you do it, you should pay the price and I don't mean for a couple of years.. life is life to me.

OK, climbing down off my soap box, rant over.

Saturday, March 6

My little bookworm

Isabelle started reception class in September last year. She absolutely loves school, but is the youngest in the year. Her birthday this year falls on the last day of school in July, so really, she couldn't be any younger in the year. I was always the same as my birthday is the day after hers. So as she was starting school at 4 years and 6 weeks, some of her new school friends were only weeks away from turning 5. 

Verbally she can keep up with them. I guess this comes from growing up in a pretty much adult world at home. I know we all like to think our kids are intelligent and child genius, but I was curious to see where she fitted in in the grand scheme of things in school, especially being the youngest by quite a long way.

Isabelle is a do-er, she's always drawing, writing, reading books and wanting to know everything, and we've always encouraged her.

Her first parents evening meeting went really well and her teachers have no concerns about her at all. She is at the top of her class for all subjects (yay!).

One thing was concerning me though, and that is her reading. The way it works in our school is that they read to the teacher one day a week, bring the book home and are encouraged to read three times minimum to parents and their book gets changed the following week. They started out with books with pictures and Isabelle had to tell the story. No problem. Then at the beginning of December, she got her first book with words in. She complained that it was too easy. But I know she has to go through the scheme (Biff, Chip and Kipper books are great lol). The teaching staff realised (through my comments in her reading diary) that she needed more. So they sent home two books a week. She was still finding it easy and I felt I needed to have a word with the teaching staff. I was given an ideal opportunity.

As we live in North Wales, our schools teach Welsh and celebrate Welsh traditions. St David's day was on the 1st of March and our school had an Eisteddfod. Isabelle said that she would try and learn the following piece to say on stage. (I nearly fainted when I saw what she had to learn).  Her teacher said, if she can't learn it, don't worry, but Isabelle wanted to try.

So over last weekend, we sat down to read it. She read most of it to me! She'd never read it before, but there were only a few words she struggled with. I was in shock. Here's the piece she was supposed to learn.

St Dwynwen is the Welsh patron saint of lovers. She is the equivalent of St Valentine.

The story of Dwynwen dates back to the 5th century. Dwynwen fell in love with a Prince called Maelon Dafodrill, but her father Brychan Brycheiniog was determined that she would marry another man. Dwynwen was so upset that she could not marry Maelon that she begged God to make her forget him. After falling asleep, Dwynwen was visited by an angel, who appeared carrying a sweet potion designed to erase all memory of Maelon and turn him into a block of ice. God then gave three wishes to Dwynwen. Her first wish was that Maelon be thawed; her second that God meet the hopes and dreams of true lovers; and third, that she should never marry. All three wishes were fulfilled.

She couldn't learn it all, but by the end of the weekend she could read it word for word. I spoke to her teacher on Monday morning and said she could read it. I went to the Eisteddfod on Monday afternoon to see my tiny 4 year old stood in the middle of the stage with a microphone and read the whole passage to the entire school and their parents. Talk about a major mummy moment.

What I'm getting to with this long post, is that her reading was re-assessed after the teachers saw what she was capable of. They could barely believe she'd read this. She has now been moved from stage 2 reading books, to stage 5 reading books. These are the books that the 6 and 7 year olds are reading. And she read the first one to me with no problem. She reads books to me at home all the time and I have to battle with her to read her bedtime story, she wants to read it herself. I'm not quite sure how to keep up with my little bookworm. I do test her all the time to make sure she's understanding what she's reading by asking her to tell me what the story is about. I skip and pick a random page to make sure she's not just remembering it parrot fashion, and I pick odd words out here and there but she just seems to be able to do it with no problem. She'll be reading Lord of the Rings in no time LOL

Wednesday, March 3

Gallery - Beauty

Tara over at Sticky Fingers has come up with a great idea (great because it's photography related.. yay!!)

Tara gives a theme for the photograph and we post a photograph showing that theme and a bit about it.

So, the theme is beauty. I could have gone for any of the shots of my lovely daughters, or flowers or something like that, but I've chosen an obscure one to show beauty because basically, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and this photograph is so ugly it's beautiful in my mind. Actually, the textures that I think I've managed to capture are beautiful and so rich, that's why I'm chosing it for my Beauty themed photograph. It's one of my all time favourite photographs that I've ever taken.

Click the image to view it full size 

Tuesday, March 2

Anybody hungry?

Last night at camera club we had a presentation on creating AV's (Audio Visuals) from our photographs and adding some background music. So I thought I'd have a go myself. This is my very first AV and is very basic. I've had to edit the music to make it fit using software aswell.

The end result isn't too bad for a first attempt. I can play with the slide transitions etc, but I'll have a play with all that for my next AV.

All the food photographs were taken by me (and the food was eaten by my hubby who was hovering on my shoulder while I was taking the photographs!! LOL)

I'd love your opinions.

Monday, March 1

Is it on it's way?

Is spring really on it's way? I don't think so, not yet. My snowdrops have only just decided to poke their heads out from that nice muddy blanket they live in. At least I got chance to use my poor neglected and sulking camera that's barely been picked up since October.

Photo Club Comp time again

A busy day ahead for me. This afternoon (as we live in Wales and it's St David's Day - quite a big thing here in Wales) I have been asked to take my camera and photograph Isabelle's school Eisteddfod (school play). Tonight is camera club and it's competition hand in night, so I will spend the morning swearing loudly and messing up and starting again cutting mountboards and framing my three prints for the competition, not forgetting to email my three digital entries.

The subject this month is mono portraits. So I thought I'd share my selections here, especially as the first three are very dear to my heart.

You can click on all the images to view them full size (they do look better)

This first one is my eldest daughter, Eve. She'll be 25 this year and I just can't believe how fast the years have gone.

This one is my youngest daughter, Isabelle. I think this photograph is a matter of taste, because she is normally such a smiley, laughing little girl, and this doesn't really show her true essence (apparently), but it does show her huge eyes and the more serious, thoughtful side to her. So, we'll see how it does in the competition.

And this one is my hubby. He doesn't actually look as weatherworn as this photograph shows, I've edited it a bit to make him look a bit more 'lived in' although he's getting there LOL. Excuse the grey line down the side, I had to add a bit to get it printed off so that when I frame it I don't loose any of his face.

And now the digital entries.

I can't for the life of me remember this girl's name. She modelled for us one evening for a practical portrait session at the camera club.

This is one of the camera club members. I just thought he had such an interesting face. Again, I've done a bit of editing work on him.

And I have to choose a third entry for the digital section, but I just can't make my mind up. I'm tempted to go with this one of Eve, but I'm really not sure, her eyes look a bit odd.. maybe a bit too white? I dunno.. arghhhh.

Portrait photography is one area in which I struggle a bit. It doesn't come as easy to me as photographing fast moving motorbikes in a race. It might sound a bit daft, especially as people generally sit quite still for a photograph to be taken, whereas motorbikes are usually moving at anywhere from 90 to 180mph when I'm photographing them. Ah well. I must decide on the third digital entry and then get mounting and framing my prints.