This is a very easy O – but extra points and a cuddle from the Cheetahs if you know what sort of O it is…
and the answer isn’t ‘hungry’…
Mummy, is Egypt the luckiest country in Africa?
Now there’s an opener to a conversation – especially when it’s with a 7 year old who’s sitting in the bath with her brother.
My parents have just returned from holiday in Egypt, ‘topic’ at school this term is “Treasure” with a focus on archaeology and Tutankhamen and harvest activities have looked at those less fortunate than us. It’s a lot to be whizzing around in your head when you’re 7.
So I try and explain that Egypt isn’t exactly ‘lucky’ and although they do have a degree of infrastructure (shit, need to explain what an infrastructure is) and beautiful things and places that the moment it’s not that great because there’s a lot of arguing going on about who’s in charge.
But they could sort it all out with Rock, Paper, Scissors…
This, so it transpires is Year 3’s answer to most things. They’re not overly sure of what the paper does to the rock, but they’re quite sure that the scissors cut the paper and therefore that will solve most political crises.
I suggest it is possibly a bit more serious than that and so the Cheetah Keeper pipes up with the useful suggestion that perhaps they could solve it all with a penalty shoot out. Or perhaps a football match with boys vs girls.
I happen to have a reasonable knowledge of trading with Eygpt (fruits of a varied career) including being excluded from emails and being ignored in conversation because I’m female. Cue explanation of some of the finer points of gender divisions in Egypt. The Cheetah Keeper absorbed this information and usefully suggested that perhaps the red team should play the blue team instead and whoever wins could run the country.
Little did he know that football in Egypt makes the Manchester derby look like an incredibly sedate game of crown green bowls on a summer’s afternoon in a rural village…
Mummy, does Egypt have a priest?
Like they have in America…
You mean a ‘president’???
Yes, a priest who’s in charge
A president. Well, in Egypt they used to have a president but he isn’t there any more and they’re arguing about who’s going to be in charge now. And in America, they’re going to be having an election in November to choose a new one.
The Cheetah Keeper then suggests that they could do rock, paper, scissors or have a football match instead. His sister notes that in America football isn’t the same as our football. I
try to explain the differences between American Football (running, shoulder pads) and our football – soccer.
It’s decided that maybe a penalty shoot out would be better. Or maybe rock, paper, scissors.
Politics made simple really.
Animals are just a perfect theme for me. I have hundreds of photos from the zoo and took a load more on Sunday ready for this and then the memory card snapped and all those pictures are lost *sobs*. You’ll have to wait a little longer for the picture of the baby giraffe, the lynx kittens and an update on the cheetah cubs, instead I bring you the oriental short clawed otters. I took these in August and they were squeaking for people to come and pay them some attention…
The otter with the stone is called Flash – he loves his stones. Very much. He will choose one and then carry it round, limping with it in one paw for the sympathy, he hugs it, he juggles it, he balances it, he puts it on his friends backs and then gets it back…
So instead of a single picture, here’s a little slideshow – I give you Flash… and his stone.
Every now and again I have to return the subject matter that started me blogging in the first place – the Cheetahs that lived in their Keeper’s shoes. Obviously imaginary ones (just in case you were wondering). They’ve been with us for a good 2 years now and although not quite as domineering as they were originally, they’re still a fairly regular part of every day life.
The move to Year 1 has been a challenge for the Cheetah Keeper – the physical effort needed to keep up is exhausting him, as is the processing of all the new facts, information, time-table and having to sit still for slightly longer than a nano-second at a time. We’ve had tantrums (including the removal of trousers and pants in the street on the way to school and trying to give himself a nosebleed), refusal to eat – and subsequent very early morning starts because he was hungry and a defiance both at school and home that has raised more than a few eyebrows.
We’ve instigated a complete change of diet, rationed the screen time severely and carried out our threats. It’s working but the changes have obviously been rather stressful for the boy as the Cheetahs are back big styleeee. Even in his shoes before school this week – they haven’t been in them for months – preferring the snuggliness of his duvet. They’ve been sleeping under his new orthotic insloes – because they’re so comfy and they need looking after. We have to make sure that they’re out of his shoes before school otherwise they will be trodden on and that would not do.
This morning we set out for a
nother trip to our beloved Whipsnade Zoo. I love autumn at the zoo – the colours, the lack of visitors – it becomes ‘our’ zoo again before the harshness of winter sets in. The conkers aren’t quite ready yet (cue another visit in a couple of weeks) but there are zoo babies in abundance and I have yet to see them all.
It was a real ‘pea-souper’ of a foggy morning. The M1 was engulfed by thick fog (note dear reader, if you are driving in this, put your headlights on) and a little voice pipes up from the back of the car…
“The Cheetahs have got their fog suits on today… and their fog helmets… and fog shoes…. and fog coats… and fog gloves for their paws….”
“And it means they can ride on the top of the cars so they’re safer….”
“and their fog lamps are so bright that once they’ve got really hot they start pouring out boiling hot lava that cuts through the fog and sends it back up into the sky ready to turn into snow in time for Christmas”
ah – ok – but doesn’t the lava burn them?
“no, they have knee pads, and elbow pads and paw pads that stop the lava”
So that was that – until we got a little closer to the zoo. The Cheetahs were riding on the road next to us on their “fast car bikes” – seemingly they can give Sir Chris Hoy a run for his money – cue much discussion about whether Chris Hoy riding against the Cheetahs would be a fair race and how it could be judged who was fastest in the world…
We had a wonderful time at the zoo – being surrounded by thick fog makes you look harder and appreciate it more. It’s a beautiful place, one where we genuinely feel ‘at peace’ with ourselves. As the staff and volunteers say, if you’d gone today and seen a load of foggy paddocks and some sleepy animals you wouldn’t feel like you’d had that good a day. For those of use who visit again and again, we see the circle of life moving on (a week old giraffe today – he’s just gorgeous) and the seasons changing in their own good time. It’s perfect.
As for the Cheetahs – they loved coming up with us today – unfazed by the boiling lava they apparently loved seeing the Cheetah cubs playing together and eating a chicken (yes, with feathers) with their mummy. They came back with us in the car and as far as I’m aware are snuggled up with their Keeper in bed. It’s getting a bit chilly in the porch now.
The Australian Ladies Wheelchair Basketball team made it to the finals of the Paralympics. I’d seen them play in the qualifiers and was back at the North Greenwich Arena (that’s the O2 or the Dome to you and me) for the medal matches. They’d bought some supporters with them… what’s your caption?
Oh – they got the silver!
Now go and find out what else needs captioning over with Mammasaurus – I wonder if there’ll be anyone riding a stag this week??
I’ve been in a bit of an #ISpy dilemma with which photo to put up this week. The manipulated and slightly tricky one or a photo that I love. So I’ve gone for this one and put the other one over on my photo blog Just Photos By Me because it’s a photo that I’m proud of!
So what am I spying this week?
Times have changed.
No longer the school harvest festival involves rows of children ‘singing’ “We plough the fields and scaaaaaaaatter, the good seed on the laaaaaand” or “Raiiise the glori’us ‘arvest ‘ome” with parents seeing the event as the perfect opportunity to palm off the overgrown marrow or glut of other home-grown vegetables to some unsuspecting person ‘in need’.
Tomorrow is the last day of ‘bring your harvest gifts into school’. Marrows are not allowed. This is the battle of the preserved goods. Competition is intense. There is skill involved. New parents to the school are not yet indoctrinated in the ways of the shopping required for the best possible harvest contribution.
Why? Well, because our harvest contributions are judged by quantity. Not quality. The prize (yes, prize, this year it’s a treasure chest full of chocolate coins) is awarded to the class who bring in the greatest number of products (or ‘projects’ as the Sealion Keeper* calls them). There is a running total kept every day by the office staff and obviously the opportunities for numeracy lessons are plentiful.
But the pressure – oh the pressure! To send in as many products as possible (obviously equal numbers for each child, you’ve got to be fair) without losing your store cupboard contents, a large chunk of the housekeeping money or the respect of your child is quite a challenge. The children are coming home with a running total each afternoon – they know where their class is in the league table – this is, to put it quite frankly, war.
Which is why I spent last Wednesday afternoon trawling around Sainsburys trying to find the maximum number of products for the minimum spend – noting that the general assumption made by the merchandisers that those who are buying the ‘Basic’ ranges in the supermarkets are, well, short. Or extremely flexible.
Didn’t do badly though – 12 items each per child (not that they could lift the bags), total spend for all 24, less than £7.75.
So, tomorrow, when “all is safely gathered in” we’ll get the final result. We’ll see which teachers are quietly fist-pumping in their store cupboards and which children have chocolate coins melting gently in their sticky hands as they come out at the end of the day. The battle will be over for another year and the parents have 12 months to hone their shopping skills further.
Oh, and our young homeless in St Albans will have enough food to see them safely into the winter storms and hopefully fill their tummies with some (relatively) nutritious, hot food and help them believe that there are people out there who do care.
Times may have changed but the underlying message is still there – making life better for those who need a bit of a hand, and if we can get our children round to that way of thinking, maybe the odd battle is a good idea. What do you think??
* The Cheetah Keeper’s sister has decided her chosen career path is that of Sealion Keeper at Whipsnade Zoo and therefore wishes to be referred to as the Sealion Keeper on the blog from now on. Who am I to argue?
I had a cake commission today *small fist pump*. Not just a cake commission, a cake commission with the spec of “12 cupcakes, whatever you want, suitable for children”. Cool.
So I made vanilla sponge cakes, took the core out and filled it with toffee sauce and then put a swirl of salted toffee buttercream on the top. If you’d like the recipe, let me know and I’ll post up over on Bake Yummy. The downside being that the cakes were in the oven by 8am as the children wanted porridge for breakfast and oddly enough needed to get to school.
What do you reckon..?