Entering the world of picture puzzle books

register to join launch group

I’ve reached, gulp, that age where most of my friends have children, This is actually great as three years ago my own little boy was born and my friends all seemed to have babies at the same time.

He’s now three and a little too energetic for me but we get along. He runs around me and when I catch him, he gets cuddles.

He has now started to like puzzles and I want to give him some practice with counting, reading as well as tracing letters and numbers. I have been buying him puzzle magazines and realised I could do the same thing but wouldn’t it be nice if there was a story running through it?
Minkie 1 reduced size front coverWhile playing with a drawing app on my tablet, I came up with a little blue monster called Minkie. My son loved him so much, I did some more designs and came up with some stories. I’m not sure if this is TMI, but he got so fond of dear Minkie that he refused to put his ‘night-time pants’ on unless we drew a Minkie Monster on them. He then danced around the bathroom singing, Minkie on my winkie, Minkie on my winkie!

Anyway enough of my son’s strange habits. He will get me back for this I’m sure several times before he grows up (I’m easily embarrassed). I have finished one of the stories, tested them and I’m starting the launch phase of the picture book. To this end, I am looking for some friends who will help me launch this book in style.

In exchange for a review on Amazon during launch week, I am giving away free PDF copies of the book. These can be instantly downloaded when you register and select Launch Friends from the register page. I am also giving away an Amazon gift card to one reviewer chosen at random and a few other goodies.goodreads cover minkie space coloring book

As an added bonus, anyone that registers at my site, (you don’t even need to be a Launch Friend) can download a free MInkie Monster coloring book based on Space Puzzles: Minkie Monster and the Birthday Surprise.

Go on what are you waiting for? If you have kids of up to 6, visit https://minkiemonster.com/ to get the freebies!

Raspberry Ripple Cheesecake – No Dairy, no Citrus and No Bake!

The coconut, raspberry ripple cheesecake that tastes nothing like coconuts!

cheesecakes

Are you allergic to dairy? Have you been craving a squishy dairy-like pudding? No fear, this desert was designed for you. This recipe is also suitable for vegans.


Ingredients

For the base

  • 125g Vitalite (or butter if you are not allergic to dairy)
  • 150g Chocolate Chip Cookies (I used Foxs Chunkie Cookies Dark Chocolate)

For the Raspberry Puree

  • 200g Frozen raspberries
  • 60g icing Sugar

For the Cheesecake

  • 1tsp Vanilla extract
  • 400g Cream Cheese substitute (I used Vialife made from coconut cream but you can use Tofutti)
  • 200g Caster sugar
  • 320g Coconut cream

Anything else

  • You will also need lots of mixing bowls, measuring scales, rolling pin, whisk. sieve.

The Base

Step 1: Put your biscuit of choice in a plastic bag and whack it like it’s an ex-boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife.

Step 2: Melt the Vitalite (15 seconds in the microwave) and mix it with the cookie crumbs.

Step 3: Add the base to your individual dishes and put them in to your refrigerator until you are ready to fill with cheesecake.

The Raspberry Ripple

Step 4: Defrost the raspberries if they haven’t already done so and mix in the icing sugar until they look like pigeon poo.

Step 5: Push the raspberries through the sieve to remove seeds and put to one side.

The Cheesecake

Step 6: Empty the Cream Cheese into a bowl and give it a stir. If you can fit in a few gym sessions before doing this step all the better.

Step 7: Add the caster sugar and vanilla into the cream cheese and mix thoroughly. If your toddler hits your arm while you are pouring in the vanilla don’t worry it will still taste fine.

Step 8: Take out the coconut cream from the fridge and whip until there are soft peaks or you are seriously bored with beating it.

Step 9: Fold the coconut cream into the cream cheese mixture. Tip, don’t accidentally get your finger in the mixture. It is seriously distracting how awesome it tastes at this stage.

Step 10: Take out the dishes you are putting the cheesecake in and add three quarters of the mixture on top of the base you put in earlier.

Step 11: Dribble some raspberry puree in each of the dishes.

Step 12: Add the remaining cheesecake mixture to the dishes.

Step 13: Drizzle some more raspberry puree on top and add a raspberry for decoration,

Step 14: Put the dishes back into the refrigerator to set for at least a couple of hours. Get some handcuffs and cuff yourself to something away from the puddings until the time you planned to eat them.

Step 15: Eat and enjoy!

Q&A: Organising hard and paperbacks in the home.

qandasmallQuestion:  Home Design: What is the best way to organize books if I don’t have a bookshelf?

I don’t have money to invest in a bookshelf, but would like to better organize my books! I have perhaps 3 bookshelf worth of books, and would like to be able to browse them.

You could always box them up out of sight and use software called Calibre to catalogue your books. You could then browse them like a library catalogue but on your home computer. 

Calibre is very versatile and you can not only catalogue your ebooks but also your paperbacks, hardbacks, CDs, DVDs etc. Pretty much you can catalogue anything using the software.

I did something similar to this when I ran the English Audit Commission library. All our books were boxed up in temperature controlled underground caves near Bath. If anyone requested a book, I would look up the book’s location in the library catalogue. If it was in the boxes, stacked up in Bath, I would request that it be sent direct to the client. I had a very tidy library!

Calibre is very like a library catalogue. I love the ability to flick through the covers of my books or browse through genres, authors etc.

You can even use the isbns on the back of the books to get Calibre to automatically catalogue the books for you. All you need is a barcode reader, which an Android phone and probably an iPhone could do for you. You wouldn’t even need to buy a dedicated barcode reader.

A Simpler Guide to Calibre 0 catalogue ebooks and paperbacks
A Simpler Guide to Calibre has a chapter on cataloguing paperbacks and other physical media

While cataloguing, just type in the notes (or tags ) fields the box number and/or location where you put your paperbacks and you will easily find the book again in the future, just by browsing or searching your collection.
I have a chapter in A Simpler Guide to Calibre which goes into detail on how this can be done.

see question on quora
ceri's q and a

Q&A What is it like to have loss of eye sight?

ceri's q and aThe question: What is it like to have loss of eye sight?

see question on quora

ceri's q and a

 

Toys are taking over my life!

Spiderman faces off with Darth Vader
Spiderman faces off with Darth Vader
Copyright Ceri Clark 2015

I have a confession. I seem to be becoming a toy hoarder. My toddler sees a toy and I just ‘have’ to get it.

The latest additions to our toy family are the potato head family.

Now you may think one potato head is enough. Well I agreed with you but I wanted some extra bits to promote our toddler’s creative side. So bought the tub. This comes with an ‘extra’ potato head. The cynical side of me says they do this to fill the tub but give you fewer accessories which means you want to buy more.

…so I bought more. We are now the proud owners of no less than eleven of them. How? you may ask. Well it was an eBay auction to good to miss. So we not only have the standard potato heads but we now have baby, a carrot and a sweetcorn potato head.

The challenge this month, is not to buy any more toys. This should be easy as the school term is about to end and so will the toddler groups. I’m less likely to see a toy that I know he’ll love. …or so I hope!

The Nursery Rhyme Song, Humpty Dumpty is driving me crazy!

Humpty DumptyMy toddler’s current obsession is Humpty Dumpty. I get asked to sing this about (what feels like) a hundred times a day. While I have resorted to recording my voice and playing it back on my phone I’ve also combined it with his other obsession at the moment. So here’s the original and revised Humpty Dumpty verses!

 

Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall,

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall

All the King’s horses and all the King’s men,

Couldn’t put Humpty together again.

 

Sheriff Woody sat on the wall,

Sheriff Woody had a great fall

All the cowboys and all his men,

Couldn’t put Woody together again.

 

Ranger Buzz sat on the wall,

Ranger Buzz had a great fall

All Zurg’s Minions and all of his friends,

Couldn’t put Buzz together again.

 

Mr Potato sat on the wall,

Mr Potato had a great fall

Mrs. Potato and all the toys,

Couldn’t put the Potato together again.

 

OK the last one doesn’t work very well. I only added it because my 2 year old heard me singing the first 3 verses as I was typing them and insisted I do one with Mr. Potato!

Can you guess the film! 😉

 

Nursery Rhymes (Songs): Over 30 verses for Wheels on the Bus.

Wheels on the bus go round and round...

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Wheels on the bus go round and round...
Wheels on the bus go round and round…

After the popularity of my row, row, row your boat article, I’ve decided to hunt through the internet for verses to the wheels on the bus nursery rhyme. I was also getting bored singing the same old, same old to my toddler. I really wanted some alternative versus to the Wheels on the Bus nursery rhyme.

Again, I’ve perused blogs, checked out, Wikipedia, Mumsnet and even made up a few of the verses myself. I did see that some versions have ‘All day long’ at the end and some have ‘All through the town’ at the end. Take your pick!

Here are all the verses for the nursery rhyme song, Wheels on the Bus that I could find:

 

The wheels on the bus go round and round.

round and round.

round and round.

The wheels on the bus go round and round,

All day long!

 

The people on the bus go up and down,

up and down,

up and down,

The people on the bus go up and down,

All day long!

 

The babies on the bus go waa, waa, waa,

waa, waa, waa,

waa, waa, waa,

The babies on the bus go waa, waa, waa,

All day long!

 

The horn on the bus goes beep, beep, beep,

beep, beep beep,

beep, beep, beep,

The horn on the bus goes beep, beep, beep,

All day long!

 

The wipers on the bus go swish, swish, swish,

swish, swish, swish,

swish, swish, swish,

The wipers on the bus go swish, swish, swish,

All day long!

 

Daddies on the bus, fall fast asleep,

fall fast asleep, fall fast asleep,

Daddies on the bus, fall fast asleep,

All day long!

 

The papers on the bus go rustle, rustle, rustle.

rustle, rustle, rustle,

rustle, rustle rustle

The papers on the bus go rustle, rustle, rustle.

All day long!

 

The signals on the bus go blink, blink, blink,

blink, blink, blink,

blink, blink, blink,

The signals on the bus go blink, blink, blink,

All day long!

 

Mummies on the bus, say “Don’t do that”,

“don’t do that, don’t do that.”

Mummies on the bus, say “Don’t do that”,

All day long!

 

The motor on the bus goes zoom, zoom, zoom,

zoom, zoom, zoom,

zoom, zoom, zoom,

The motor on the bus goes zoom, zoom, zoom,

All day long!

 

Librarians on the bus go shh, shh, shh,

shh, shh, shh,

shh, shh, shh,

Librarians on the bus go shh, shh, shh,

All day long!

 

Mummy and daddy on the bus says, I love you,

I love you, I love you,

Mummy and daddy on the bus says, I love you,

All day long!

 

Policeman on the bus, goes allo, allo allo,

allo, allo, allo, allo, allo, allo,

Policeman on the bus. Go allo, allo allo,

All day long!

 

Grannies on the bus, shake their heads,

shake their heads, shake their heads,

Grannies on the bus, shake their heads,

All day long!

 

Grannies on the bus knit, knit, knit,

knit, knit, knit,

knit, knit, knit

Grannies on the bus knit, knit, knit,

All day long!

 

Dentists on the bus say open wide,

open wide,

open wide,

Dentists on the bus say open wide,

All day long!

 

Brakes on the bus, go screech, screech, screech,

screech, screech, screech,

screech, screech, screech,

Brakes on the bus, go screech, screech, screech,

All day long!

 

Doors on the bus go open and shut,

open and shut,

open and shut,

Doors on the bus go open and shut,

All day long!

 

Friends on the bus say, how are you?

How are you?

How are you?

Friends on the bus say, how are you?

All day long!

 

Money on the bus goes clink, clink, clink,

cink, clink, clink,

clink, clink, clink,

Money on the bus goes clink, clink, clink,

All day long!

 

Granddads on the bus go snore, snore, snore,

snore, snore, snore,

snore, snore, snore,

Granddads on the bus go snore, snore, snore,

All day long!

 

Teenagers on the bus go like OMG,

OMG

OMG

Teenagers on the bus go like OMG,

All day long!

 

Animal Verses

Dogs on the bus go woof, woof, woof,

woof, woof, woof,

woof, woof, woof,

Dogs on the bus go woof, woof, woof,

All day long!

 

Cats on the bus go meow, meow, meow,

meow, meow, meow,

meow, meow, meow,

Cats on the bus go meow, meow, meow,

All day long!

 

Mice on the bus go squeak, squeak, squeak,

squeak, squeak, squeak,

squeak, squeak, squeak,

Mice on the bus go squeak, squeak, squeak,

All day long!

 

Chickens on the bus go cluck, cluck, cluck,

cluck, cluck, cluck,

cluck, cluck, cluck,

Chickens on the bus go cluck, cluck, cluck,

All day long!

 

Ducks on the bus go quack, quack, quack,

quack, quack, quack,

quack, quack, quack,

Ducks on the bus go quack, quack, quack,

All day long!

 

Turkeys on the bus go gobble, gobble, gobble,

gobble, gobble, gobble,

gobble, gobble, gobble,

Turkeys on the bus go gobble, gobble, gobble,

All day long!

 

Parrots on the bus say Who’s a pretty boy?

Who’s a pretty boy?

Who’s a pretty boy?

Parrots on the bus say Who’s a pretty boy?

All day long!

 

Sheep on the bus go baa, baa, baa,

baa, baa, baa,

baa, baa, baa,

Sheep on the bus go baa, baa, baa,

All day long!

 

Cows on the bus go moo, moo, moo,

moo, moo, moo,

moo, moo, moo,

Cows on the bus go moo, moo, moo,

All day long!

 

Pigs on the bus go oink, oink, oink,

oink, oink, oink,

oink, oink, oink,

Pigs on the bus go oink, oink, oink,

All day long!

 

Horses on the bus go neigh, neigh, neigh,

neigh, Neigh, neigh,

neigh, Neigh, neigh,

Horses on the bus go neigh, neigh, neigh,

All day long!

 

Cockroaches on the bus go skitter, skitter, skitter,

skitter, skitter, skitter,

skitter, skitter, skitter,

Cockroaches on the bus go skitter, skitter, skitter,

All day long!

If you liked these verses, you might like the verses I found for row, row, row your boat.

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Online courses: Don’t be a troll and be rude to your customers

trollsAs anyone who has spent time with me knows, I love to learn. I have taken countless courses over the years, some great, some not so much. I have done university degrees, specialist courses in library work, editing, web design and even a short writing course on the Isle of Wight. The latter wasn’t just great though, that was an amazing course. If you want to do a residential course I would check out Felicity Fair Thompson’s!

Anyway, I thought I would try out some of those online courses that you hear about. I’d tried Coursera in the past and that was actually very good but the course that got my attention was one where I would have to pay some money.

The course I was interested in was around $500. I think this is an inordinate amount of money for an online course. Now I don’t like to do anything immoral or illegal so I thought I might be disappointed in my desire to try the course. By the way I do not intend to say what this course was or what platform it was on. I don’t think that would be fair as I have a problem with the tutor not the course itself and definitely not the platform! The actual course itself was actually quite good, the tutor’s attitude however had a little to be desired. Although anyone could probably work out what the course was with a bit of searching! I’m not one to disparage other people’s skills.

So given that I won’t do anything dishonest or illegal what was I to do? What any cash strapped ex-librarian would do. I searched for a coupon. Lo and behold the tutor himself had put a link on to a forum with the course reduced to about £10. Awesome. So I bought it.

The course was about YouTube. The reason I took it was that I have very little experience of the service. Sure I’ve put up a couple of videos but it is years since I set up the account.

I watched a few of the lectures and there were a few times when I thought, “This guy’s a genius”. Other times, my brows would furrow and at others I just smiled and thought well, that’s obvious.

If you boil the course down, it’s basically informing you about the creative commons section of YouTube and how you can edit the videos on there to monetize them. It tells you to use Titles, keywords and thumbnails. There is some stuff about analytics but that’s basically it.

So you take those elements and you look at how much that applies to libraries and my other experiences. Well, titles and keywords relate to libraries in a big way. The library world (OK the IT world does as well) calls it metadata. There is a lot of information on that on the web and I have had a lot of experience using these. There is also a crossover to being an author. The guy waxes lyrical about thumbnails which are basically the book covers of the video world. As every author (should) know your book covers should be clear legible, eye-catching and make a statement. This is exactly what this guy advocates.

So my views at this point of having a quick pass through the course and skipping bits that I already know about was that it was useful, inspired in some areas but then I realised that it didn’t have some fundamentals like how to set up a new YouTube channel. I could work this out but I have paid for this course, not full price but other people have. So I ask a question on his forum:

Me

I saw somewhere it said you can have more than one identity but nothing about setting one up. It seems to jump straight into descriptions and tags etc. I have to admit I skipped some of this. I spent 11 years dealing with titles and descriptions as a Librarian so I know a little about those.

As you can see I ask about setting up a new identity (channel) and I just explain that I skipped some of the course because I knew about the concepts because of my occupation.

Why did I do that? Well the lecturer bangs on about people not going through the course and not understanding because of it so I wanted to explain that although he could see from the stats that I didn’t go through those parts of the course (which by the way was irrelevant to the question anyway but he mentioned that he got annoyed about that in the course) but that I knew about them from prior experience. I would like to point I wasn’t being confrontational and in fact was trying to be helpful for other students. He did after all say he liked feedback in one of his courses.

His response:

You definitely need to fully study and understand titles, descriptions and tags, please – they are crucial to your success and have nothing to do with libraries.

Please see lecture 1.

Also:

https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/1646861?hl=en-GB

So I’m starting to get annoyed here. “I need to fully study and understand titles, descriptions and tags?” Hellloooooo, I explained why I already understand them. His bit about nothing to do with libraries explains his ignorance of library work. Just in case though, I went through his extremely boring sections on metadata (boring, because I already knew about them), and yes, he didn’t teach me anything I didn’t already know. So I responded. I probably shouldn’t have though.

I beg to differ, I have a masters degree in metadata and information science as most qualified Librarians do (It’s rare to just have a BA degree). I have made websites and published books, inputting descriptions and tags using this information. In libraries we use catalogues (Library management systems) where you have to put titles, descriptions and keywords or the patrons do not find the books that you have catalogued. If you know nothing about library work, you really shouldn’t make assumptions. I did watch some of your video on the subject and it was really like teaching a proverbial granny to suck eggs. Although other parts of the course I did find extremely useful

I did finally work it out, I just thought you might have appreciated the feedback that some pointers for creating the channel in the first place would be helpful.

So there you have it, my full explanation, surely he would just let it be. I’ve told him how my experience related maybe not all of it but how some of my experiences relates. But no, wait, he says something else:

Oh dear!

You made me chortle!

Without cheating, by suddenly bothering to study the course, tell me how you would headline this video for YouTube, please. It’s currently called

“Understanding The Relativ Index”

[Name taken out to protect identity] – a relative of Mr. Dewey, incidentally … cousin on my Mum’s side of the family

So the guy had a family member who came up with the Dewey Deceimal system that died before the internet and therefore he knows enough about library work to assume that it is unrelated. I wonder if he knows about the Library of Congress cataloguing system? 🙂 Oh and he now wants to test me? Bleeding hot underworld, I have to respond. My husband is shouting, “Don’t do it he’s a troll!” from across the room, but he is really getting under my skin at this point. Should have listened to hubby!

Then you really shouldn’t insult librarians. There is more to knowing about library work than knowledge of the DDC. I understand that you might get frustrated with people asking questions. I once had to continually reply to emails about tags and labs on Gmail because they knew of my book on Gmail. I don’t believe we are getting anywhere with this conversation. I just expected a link in an answer. I wasn’t expecting a veiled insult on my profession as well. I shall of course let my colleagues know that they nothing of taxonomy and other metadata and they should resign from their positions in the government and business as soon as they can. Really, do people think that all Librarians do nothing but shelve books and say shhh! all day?

I do think those sections of your course is useful to those that have never studied or worked in information science but insulting the intelligence and knowledge of people who apparently deign to be your student is ridiculous. Your course is good but not everyone is a newbie to *all* the concepts you teach.

I believe your reply “bothering to study the course” rather than to actually just accept feedback is classed as trolling and I won’t be giving this conversation any more of my time.

Now I haven’t read his response, I read one line and he still won’t acknowledge that he is not the only person in the world that could possibly know about metadata outside of his course. He can’t seem to grasp that concepts are applicable across different fields and while he is obviously clever, he has a blind spot that makes him think that is applying wisdom that only he could possible know. Now there are a great many things I have no knowledge of (hence the courses I enroll on) but I have my experiences and I have my training and also his training now so I have a rounded picture of what he is talking about. He only seems to know what he has found out and doesn’t want to open his mind to find out how it can be applied elsewhere.

With regard to metadata, specifically keywords, I’m going to give a tip that I’ve known about for years and I won’t be charging $499 for it. You can find out what people are searching for in Google by using their keyword planner at https://adwords.google.com/ko/KeywordPlanner. Remember YouTube is owned by Google and videos will come up in Google searches. Applicable to YouTube videos, books and anything you sell on Amazon.

Find out what people are searching for and how many are searching for it. Use these words to plan your titles, your descriptions and your tags. See, it’s not that hard is it? Oh, but I forget I’m not supposed to know about it. Strike that last paragraph from your minds…

Toddler crying, what would you do?

There are some awful mothers out there.  A big generalisation but hear (read) me out.

We went to our local soft play centre yesterday with our little one. We had a great time as a family and our toddler really benefited from all the extra space to practice walking.  That wasn’t the problem.

We were by the carousel watching our little one like a hawk in case he decided to jump off when a little girl wandered by.  I didn’t pay any attention at first,  I mean it’s a soft play area, there are lots of little kids. She decided she wanted to come in but not where everyone else came in.  No, that would be too easy,  she wanted to come in by us at the end of the room. There was a problem with this. The soft play wall was higher here and there was a small gap between the building wall and the soft wall and it was all angular with sharp edges poking out. Anyway she decides to come in this way and slips backwards, bangs her head and starts crying hysterically. I hate to see kids crying, if that had been our toddler in that situation I would have been there in a heart beat.

I waited for a moment, then another, no one came.  My husband had grabbed our child and we had a quick look to see if anyone was coming. NO ONE was coming. I couldn’t leave her there so I reached down and picked her out of the gap and oh my god, was she heavy. She must have been twice the weight of our baby. I put her down on the soft floor and asked the nearest women if she was theirs.  No, they shook their heads.  She was still crying hysterically and clearly needed a hug so I gave her a quick hug and put her down again still crying.  She toddled off to find her mother, hot tears streaming down her cheeks until she disappeared out of my vision.

My husband said she went to her mum but she ignored her crying.  The child had an accident she wasn’t acting up.  I feel sorry for the child.

Anyway,  my arms throbbed all day yesterday and now I can’t pick up my son without an excruciating pain zipping down my arm.  I shouldn’t have picked the child up she was far too heavy for me but I was the only one willing to do it.

What would you have done?

A disappointing visit to see Santa at the Celtic Manor hotel, Newport

20131223_222122-1We went to see Santa the other day. All three of us set off an hour early, bundled together in our warmest garb ready to meet the elements.

The traffic was heavier than we were expecting, but we arrived in plenty of time to find a space in what seemed a packed parking lot. As we made our way up the hill we noticed there was a train up to the hotel. Nice, I was expecting a lovely old style train with carriages affair (like I’d seen in the shopping centre, more fool me), instead we got a big old standard bus. Oh well, it’ll get better, I mean for fifteen quid, it had to get better right?

We took apart the pram and carried Siôn, our now excited one year old, into the bus which went up to the hotel in about five minutes. We assembled the pram again, settling the baby in there before we followed everyone (and the signs) up to Santa’s Grotto. To my dismay a large stumbling block loomed up ahead. Steps! Lots of steps. I groaned. I’m too big, heavy and unfit for steps at the moment. They rose from the ground like an impossible  invitation to Mount Olympus.Santa was calling and I had to suck it up. Grumbling under my breath I took the bottom half of the pram while my husband took the other end and we climbed.

First impressions of the first level was wow it was busy. On the right a restaurant, which was then a swimming pool as we walked, in the main building and to the left the winter wonderland.

Passing the skating rink we realised we had fifteen minutes to go, so we cased Santa’s Grotto to find out where it was and then spent some time watching the skaters.

Eventually, ok ten minutes, we tried the double doors and we were in. This looked promising. There were fake icicles coming off the ceiling, a television playing Elf in front and a reception to the right.

We ambled over to the right and proffered our ticket to the ‘elves’. They entered the information into their computer system and our son was given a sticker with his name handwritten on it stating he’d gone to see Santa. A bit premature you might think.

Anyway, we’d checked in so we went to look at the reindeer that Siôn seemed singularly unimpressed with. He preferred to play with the sign. There is no accounting for taste with babies. The reindeer seemed well cared for but starting at animals was never my thing so we had a look around the small area to see what else was on offer.

Not much is the answer. As mentioned before, there was the film, which you would only get a brief look at, I mean it wasn’t a film visit after all. There was some tiny tables and chairs where the little ones went to draw and colour-in I imagine.

The room began to fill up and I started to get worried about having to scramble into a queue but I needn’t have worried, checking in at the beginning meant that they called us in the order we came in. I just wish they had told us that when we arrived.

We hung around the entrance and was impressed with the speed that we were called but unfortunately this was delayed by a gentlemen complaining that his child didn’t have an age-appropriate gift. Whoops, this was looking more and more like a waste of money. Still, we just had to wait and see. The man left disappointed and we followed the ‘elf’ down the long white corridor to the room where Santa was waiting. Ooh exciting, I’d never done this before. Really this whole trip was for me as well as my son.

The room was decked-out like a typical living room with Santa on the sofa. It was actually quite nice. My husband was holding Siôn, so I hung back with the pram. Santa was lovely, he didn’t say much but then he didn’t have to. Siôn lasted about 1 minute before his eyes widened and big blobs of water fell down his cheeks. Yep, he cried. The ‘elf’ hurriedly brought a present and we distracted Siôn with the photo.

It was really quick and we then went to the photo kiosk where we bought the photo for a fiver. Siôn didn’t look very happy in it but hey it was the first time and I wanted something to remember it by.

Then there was the toy. The neatly wrapped soft package was gently unwrapped with the help of my son and the trip was made worthwhile by the sheer joy on his face when he saw the little dog in the winter outfit.

So all in all I would say it was a disappointing visit. I was expecting more from the Celtic Manor and indeed from fifteen pounds (twenty if you include the photo), I won’t be going there again as I’m sure there are better options. I don’t mind paying if the experience is worth it. Value is everything, sadly, I think this time I did not choose as wisely as I could have done.

Shopping with Ocado

Living in the wilds of Wales, (Newport, next to Cardiff) I am always surprised when an amenity that I took for granted when I lived in London suddenly appears here.

Don’t get me wrong, I have used Sainsbury’s and Tescos online but I missed Waitrose/Ocado. It could be because I am a snob but more likely distant memory and mummy brain.

I am happy to report that my Ocado shop was cheaper than the same shop with Tesco and it fits in with my snobby personality.

There is more choice, love the frozen blueberries for my son’s porridge. (Pity he didn’t but we won’t go into that. Grumble, grumble.)

The delivery went like a dream. Get this they tell you the drivers name!!!! Not only that what the license plate number of his van will be!

The.bags are a gorgeous purple and I can now say I shop at Waitrose don’t cha know.

Social networking: when people misread your posts

Hearst door handlesIf we’ve learned anything from the girl who was hired by the Kent Police commissioner’s office to advise on youth crime, it is to be careful what you say on social networks. Granted what she said was bang out of order but she would never have been caught if she hadn’t posted it.

What do you do if you’ve written something that has been misconstrued?

You are probably wondering what this is about. Well I signed a petition to say that I didn’t agree that the recently departed Baroness Margaret Thatcher should not have a no holds barred funeral similar to Princess Diana and the Queen Mother.

My reasons are:

  • Most Prime Ministers have low-key funerals. I think this is more appropriate so the families can grieve in solitude.
  • Baroness Thatcher is not and never has been a member of the royal family.
  • In a time of austerity it is wrong to spend that much money on a funeral when there are soo many people suffering in this country because of government cuts. That money could go to better use.

So there you have it, my feelings on the subject. I should point out that I don’t really have any strong feelings for the ex-prime minister personally.  I don’t really remember her that well. I was in school during her reign and only saw her in person once. This was in the Houses of Parliament where I watched her being booed and jeered at during a speech. No idea what it was about but that was the only lasting impression I have of the visit.

Therefore I would never say anything nice or horrible about her as a person. In fact with my limited understanding of her achievements,  I approve of the Falklands war. Only because she was protecting the little guy from a big bully of a neighbour. Might not be how she viewed it but that’s how it looked to me.

You now know the background. So I signed the petition online and put it on Facebook. Next we know a relative has misread it and thinks I’ve said something awful about her. I mean c’mon, this is me. I once completely irritated a friend because I refused to slag anyone off. Sorry about the vulgarity there.

What can you do in this situation? Well I unfriended the relative in question. It is not worth the family arguments if my posts will be misread. I have freedom of speech and I don’t want to argue over it.

Nursery Rhymes (Songs): Singing row, row, row your boat. Different verses I could find…

 

If you are anything like me, you never knew there were so many verses to Row, row, row your boat. Seriously, how many? For the benefit of new parents everywhere, I have collated a whole load of verses from this nursery rhyme, thanks mainly to Wikipedia and Mumsnet. To be honest most of them came from Mumsnet and the baby group I went to.

Scroll down for the a Youtube video of me singing the various row, row, row your boat verses to my baby. I apologise most profusely for the indignity your ears will be feeling!

If you like this post, please check my post for variations of Wheels on the Bus!

Variations on Row, row, row your boat:

Row, row, row your boat,
Gently down the stream,
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
Life is but a dream.

Row, row, row your boat,
Gently down the stream,
If you see a crocodile,
Don’t forget to scream.

Row, row, row your boat,
Gently down the Nile,
If you see a camel,
Don’t forget to smile.

Row, row, row your boat,
Gently down the river,
If you see a polar bear,
Don’t forget to shiver.

Row, row, row your boat,
Gently to the shore,
If you see a lion there,
Don’t forget to roar!

Row, row, row your boat,
Gently down the creek,
If you see a little mouse,
Don’t forget to squeak.

Row, row, row your boat,
Gently over the waterfall,
If you see a telephone,
Don’t forget to call.

Row, row, row your boat,
Gently over the weir,
If you see a public house,
Don’t forget the beer.

Row, row, row your boat,
Gently across the lake,
If you see a jellyfish,
Don’t forget to shake.

Row, row, row your boat,
Gently under the bridges,
If you see an insect cloud,
Watch out for the midges!

Row, row, row your boat,
Gently down the brook,
If you see a skinny dipper,
Don’t forget to look.

Rock, rock, rock the boat,
Gently to and fro,
If you do it hard enough,
Into the water you go.

Row, row, row the boat,
Gently in the bath,
If you see a spider,
Don’t forget to laugh.

Row, row, row the boat,
Gently as can be,
‘Cause if you’re not careful,
You’ll fall into the sea!

Row, row, row the boat,
Gently down the stream,
Throw your teachers overboard,
And listen to them scream!

Propel, propel, propel your craft,
Softly down the liquid solution,
Happilly, Happilly, Happilly, Happilly,
Existence is but an illusion.

Rock, rock, rock the boat,
Gently down the shore,
If you see a dinosaur,
Don’t forget to roar.

Row, row, row your boat,
Away from all your troubles,
If you see them following you,
Better blow some bubbles!

Row row row the boat,
Gently under the stream,
Ha ha, fooled you,
I’m a submarine!

Row, row, row your boat,
Quickly out to sea,
When you’ve sailed the ocean long,
Just come home to me.

Row, row, row the boat,
Gently over the lagoon,
If you look up to the sky,
You will see the moon.

Row, row, row the boat,
Gently over the sea,
Can you see the pretty fish,
Swim from you to me?

Shunt, shunt, shunt the train,
Gently down the track,
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
Up the line and back.

Drive, drive, drive your car,
Quickly down the road,
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
With a heavy load.

Row, row, row the boat,
Gently on the tide,
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
To the other side.

Row, row, row your boat,
Gently in the bath,
If you see a tall giraffe,
Don’t forget to laugh.

Row, row, row your boat,
Gently out to sea,
If you see a big blue whale,
Invite him home to tea.

Row, row, row your ferry,
Gently ‘cross the Channel,
Up and down, over the bumps,
Like a giddy camel.

Row, row, row your boat,
Gently out to sea,
If you see a mermaid,
Give her a kiss from m.

Row, row, row your boat,
Gently to the cave,
If you see a friendly bear,
Don’t forget to wave.

Row, row, row your boat,
Gently to the cave,
We’re all getting tired now,
It’s been a long long day.

Singing this nursery rhyme song to my little one, was the most fun I had in the beginning. I like pop songs but I do think that nursery rhyme songs have their place. Especially when you see the smiles erupting from their cute baby faces!

If you like this post, please check my post for variations of Wheels on the Bus!

 

Baby photos and Facebook: A shifting perspective

image

I never thought I was going to have a kid and I was never interested in the world of children. In fact I used to walk in the opposite direction when I used to hear the sounds of a baby when they were introduced  at my old workplace.

My pet ‘hate’ used to be profile pictures of babies. I
found it creepy talking to a thirty something who looked like a baby. …and the timelines, sooo many baby pictures, why did they take so many?

Well since December the shoe has been on the other foot. While I haven’t gone down the profile pic route,  I have *gulp* been updating my timeline with cute baby pictures. I can’t help myself. He does sonethibg cute and I am compelled to pick my phone up and take a photo.  Then my finger slips to the share button and somehow slides to the Facebook app. It’s like my fingers have a life of their own.

So I now get it. You can’t fight the cuteness. You just have to go with the flow and hope your single friends (and those who don’t want kids) forgive you eventually. Or at least until they have their own and face the same fate as well.

…and another thing, the really weird thing is I like looking at other people’s baby photos now!

Guilty by association is a fallacy

Gun

GunWe all know that the Internet is different, but is it? The common sense rules we learn in real life should still be in effect in our virtual lives and this includes morality.

This post is about guilt by association. Here is why it just doesn’t work.

Say you are in a bank and suddenly a horde of masked gunmen rush in. ‘Everybody on the floor, NOW!’ you hear.

So you cower on the ground and you hear the shuffling of notes as money is being taken from the teller. Then one of the gunmen splits from the group with a white canvas sack half-open in hand, he starts asking for valuables from the people nearest you. As his cold steely-blue eyes stare into yours, the priceless wedding ring you inherited from your great grandmother descends into darkness and you know that is the last you’ll see of it. You can feel your face getting hot as you hold back your tears.

Who do you blame? Logically it’s the gunmen who took the money but maybe you are blaming yourself for deciding to go into the bank on that particular day but whatever you do, you do not blame the other people in that room who were on that floor with you.

Another example of why guilt by association does not work is say your wife was killed by a one armed man. You are being taken to a maximum security prison but manage to escape. No one believes you but you saw that one armed man. Do you go around like some vigilante murdering all one armed men while evading the incredibly sexy Tommy Lee Jones, the US Marshall?

No, you find out who was really responsible and take them to book. Preferably in the courts where they can assess evidence.

So when you feel you have been wronged in the virtual world, just think before you act. Everything is documented somewhere so your behaviour has to be above reproach as well as your adversary. Let your wrath follow proper channels and fall on the right person or persons not innocent bystanders. Guilt by association is a fallacy. And if you don’t believe me there is a good article on Wikipedia which goes into more detail.

In case you are wondering what I would do if I felt wronged, I blame myself, rant awhile and then move on. Every mistake I make, makes me a stronger person and just a little wiser. My advice? Unless your partner was murdered or the world is about to end, learn from your mistakes and move on. You’ll know better next time. Just don’t believe in that little thing called collateral damage. Innocents are the ones that get hurt.

Warning: Biohazard in the office

Work can seem a little glum. You slug your guts out to make sure everything goes smoothly and the days just roll into one long day before your maternity leave starts. Then someone does something unexpected.

It all started with a phone call. Someone in the office has come down with hand, foot and mouth disease. There is an infinitesimal chance that this could cause a pregnant woman to miscarry so they gave me the option of working from home. As I can get the same amount of work done at home as in work, I agreed.

I arrived in work two days later and was told to have a look at someone’s desk. It was brilliant, someone (I’m not saying who to protect the guilty) put together a biohazard barrier around the ill fated employee’s desk for a joke. All I can say that he or she must have spent a long time doing it (after work hours of course).

The poor hand, foot and mouth victim let out peals of laughter when she arrived back in the office so all was well.

Harry Windsor and the half-naked Prince

Oops sorry, reeaally couldn’t resist that title, and technically he was a bit more than half naked!

The biggest news going around the interwebs at the moment is Prince Harry and his manic partying. Normally I don’t give a hoot what the Royal Family does, after all they really are a complete irrelevance to my life but I am fascinated by how the newspapers and media are handling it.

So what do I think? Not much, I thought he was a lot younger than he was and for someone so famous you’d think he would be a little more careful about the company he keeps. Seriously though, who cares? It’s not like he’s the Prime Minister or anything. He hasn’t achieved much either in the scheme of things. He’s just an ordinary bloke having the time of his life.

Now as a celebrity, he is an idiot. Everyone knows, even a nobody like me, that if you are that famous that every Tom, Dick, cough, Harry and his dog will try to make a fast buck out of your situation. It’s only natural. OK he has never actively sought out the fame like say a contestant on Big Brother or some other reality show. He has had to suffer that fate just from the family he was born into. You could argue that this is not fair and therefore not his fault. You could also argue that he’s known about this sort of pressure his whole life, in fact his mother suffered a particularly bad form of harassment for being who she was. What I am saying is he should have learned by now.

Maybe now he is approaching his thirties, it would be a good idea to reflect on where his life his heading. It’s fun laughing at his antics but is this what he wants to be remembered for? Who knows? I’m ambivalent, I’ll just enjoy the show while it lasts. This is one case where he could help himself and there is no guilt in sitting back and enjoying what comes next. America had George W Bush, we have Prince Harry…

The Clarklet Saga – Why the NHS is the most stressful part of expecting

I’m really looking forward to the little Clarklet, and even with all the little niggles that come with being pregnant, I’m starting to enjoy the process. No hubby, don’t worry, he will still be the one and only addition to our family!

Today’s little drama involved a Midwife visit. For most people this isn’t the most stressful thing one has to deal with during a pregnancy but if you are partially-sighted with an overactive imagination this is the worst part of the experience.

Our doctor’s is the nearest to where we live but is still 25 minutes walk with two ‘busy’ roads to cross and no pedestrian crossings or traffic lights as far as I know. Don’t forget I am short-sighted!

So I set off at 11.45, knowing the appointment is at 12.30. I stress if I am late and am usually early for everything. I was 3 minutes early for the last appointment two days before and I felt unsettled, even though they were late in seeing me!

I go up an incline and then turn a sharp corner to go up a steep hill. I have to stop every few minutes to massage my back as my belly is pulling me forward and I haven’t got used to the extra weight yet. At the top of the hill is a main road. I go to the curb, hold my breath, cross my fingers and put one foot out on the tarmac. Oops, what;s that moving thing? B*****, it’s a grey car. The only clue I have to the purveyor of encroaching death is the surroundings appear to be moving, Nope it is not the trees turning into triffids but a car the same colour as the bleeding road. I quickly step back.

It was raining today by the way, thought I would just mention that. Luckily I found an umbrella while going through some old clothes bag a few days ago so I was relatively dry – swearing under my breath – but dry.

Second times the charm, I psyche myself up, hold my breath, cross my fingers and lurch across the road as fast as my stumpy legs will take me. I used to have nice legs by the way. I received a lot of compliments in my teens and early twenties, now they just look like transplanted tree trunks, but I digress.

I’m safe across the road, now and am half-way. I have a pleasant-ish couple of minutes walking by the park and have to cross the road again to go down the never-ending hill. It wouldn’t be so bad if said hill wasn’t going to have to be climbed at the end of the appointment. Just call me Prometheus.

I crossed the road without incident and proceeded to go down the impossibly long hill (and to my eyes, mountain). You might think I am exaggerating slightly. In fact I am prone to this, but consider for a moment walking with my eyes. I can’t see the end of the road, my sense of time is hazy so it literally feels like a road that goes for ever until you hit the bottom. The doctor’s is that last house on the hill so I can’t miss it.

The bit going down is fun until the world tilted and I had to fling my arms out. I had slipped in to some dog mess. Yes, Newport, Wales has a doggy doodoo problem and today it was also my problem. What was worse is that my maternity trousers are slightly too long for me so my trouser leg also had a nice brown coating at the bottom. Lovely. So I’m stopping to rub my shoe against passing vegetation every few seconds with a new explosion of vocabulary I didn’t even know I knew.

I arrived about ten minutes early, so I was happy about that. The Midwife was already there and she greeted me. Trouble is I didn’t know it was her until I heard her voice and as I have only heard it a couple of times I haven’t quite associated it yet plus I was hyper-grumpy over the journey + doggy poo incident.

In case you are wondering there is no direct buses there and a taxi would cost around £12 total which we can’t really justify at the moment.

So I sit down on the ripped seats in the waiting room and wait for the call. About ten minutes later I hear a disembodied voice, “Ceri, Ceri”. the ghost of NHS past? Nope it is the Midwife calling from across the room where I can’t see her. I don’t know if she is motioning me or pointing at something or what. So I say, “What do you want me to do?” in the general direction the voice is coming from. She says to come over so I wander over to the ‘voice’.

…and the appointment began. It went well, Baby appears to be fine although shy of the ultrasound. Every time she found him, he squirmed away! I found some secret delight with that. I have a feeling I was supposed to be impressed that I could hear a heartbeat but as I have my own doppler at home, I am not so easily impressed.

Anyway, after trekking doggie doodoo all over the Midwife’s office floor, I felt slightly guilty but also slightly consoled after having to mount an expedition to get to the place and deal with being treated like I can see when I obviously can’t. I don’t know why they bother to keep records, I really don’t. It’s not as if they read them.

The upshot is, now the community midwife is venturing into the community and seeing me at my home next time!

Oh and I put my trainers and trousers straight into the washing machine when I got back!

THE Carnegie Event

I have decided to repost some of my old blog posts from the distant past when I was working as a School Librarian. Kids do the funniest things and I really enjoyed working in a school. Posts may be edited from the original blog. So this is part of a series from my old Batty Librarian Blog…

Carnegie Medal time has arrived again. While this does enable me to have two days out of the library it also means a small amount of stress organising the trip.

I should explain what we do to shadow the Carnegie Awards here. Well as you know there are seven books on the shortlist this year. We have to select seven pupils – one for each book and take them over to a school where each kid designs (with 12 other kids from other schools) a play based on the books. The next day they perform it at a local theatre with authors and dignitaries judging.

This year is easier and yet harder at the same time for me. The event cincidentally occurs in Activities week in our school so most of the children are on other school trips abroad. The ones that stay behind have to help with ecoschools and from what I gather it basically means cleaning the school up!

Anyway so I have a finite group to choose from (some I won’t touch with a barge pole but some are great) Unfortunately I may have to choose some of the first group to go with me. Woe is me.

The budget is also a bit of a problem at the moment. It’s at the end of the year and the accounts department get a bit ancy about spending money (even though I have enough in my budget!

The other librarians I’m told usually buy three books of each of the shortlisted titles. They then get the children to write reviews on each one and choose the best. I can’t afford to do this so I’ve got them telling me their first, second and third choice and pulling their names out of a hat so I only have to buy one of each.

Then it’s actually getting them to want to go. A couple were like “yeah yeah, I really want to go. Can I go? please, please, I’ll be good!” Others were like “um, I’ll have to tink about it, what else is going on that week?”

Interestingly enough when I mention that the alternative is to pick up litter in the school, they become strangely interested…

Hysterical teenager

I have decided to repost some of my old blog posts from the distant past when I was working as a School Librarian. Kids do the funniest things and I really enjoyed working in a school. Posts may be edited from the original blog. So this is part of a series from my old Batty Librarian Blog…

I have to admit I’m not proud of myself. The problem with being short-sighted is that you don’t get all the information that everyone else does and you can interpret what you see to things that aren’t actually there!

A few days ago, one of the 12 year-old girls came in to the library just after lunch. I was alone and slightly distracted as I was beginning to write the end of term report.

She comes in sobbing her little heart out.

“Miss, I don’t know where to go. I can’t talk to anyone else.”

Aww sweet, that meant I began to actually really listen and look at her. I could hear she was crying from the noises she was making but what I saw shocked me. It looked like someone had punched her and ripped off some of her skin on her right side just under her eye. Unthinking I just said:

“Jesus, are you alright?”

Suitably justified by my reaction she starts telling me how the kids are mean to her and that she has been to the Deputy Head but nothing can be done. It’s at this point I realise she’s not been in a fight but just has pink make-up on her face. Oh well, it just looks like I am a very understanding Librarian. My bad eye-sight secret is still safe….

In case you are wondering, the girl went back to lessons, she just wanted to have a rant in to a sumpathetic ear. It all blew over in a couple of days.