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Cheekiness is monkey-shaped. May 25, 2014

Posted by phoenixaeon in Conversations with Principessa, Parenting.
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Sunday. The day of inevitable argument. The day of taekwondo training and the excuses to be excused (not last Sunday, when we went to see Godzilla – a good but meh film all at the same time). Sigh.


So it hits about 11.30am. I tell Princi she needs to get ready, to make sure her hands and feet are clean, to find a t-shirt to be pressed and to get her trackie bottoms on. The first ‘But why?’ is disdainfully moaned as she peels herself away from the laptop and another episode of Mr. Bean. And so it starts.


She finally cleans up, finds a t-shirt, and disgruntledly climbs into her trousers, then runs into the kitchen to snaffle some biscuits. While she’s out there she bumps into Grandand and I can hear the mutterings of not-wanting-to-go-to-TKD. She comes back in with her biscuits and the tantalising taste of a hopefully winning argument on her lips.


Mummy, I don’t think I should go to takewondo today, because we could use the money for food and water.


Got to give her points here, this is a new argument. Not the regular “butIdon’twanna” that she usually throws at me. I give her the ‘are you really going with that as an excuse’ look.


Well, if we need the money for food and water, maybe we should call off the trip to town to see Francesca Simon on Wednesday? After all, that is going to cost much more than today’s training session.


Yeah, not getting to see her favourite author as my bargaining chip was a low blow, but parenting.  Princi gives me the angry stinkface, knowing that she’s not getting out of TKD,


P: But why would you say that?

M: I am using your argument against you, to show you how it isn’t going to work. If you want to save money by not going to taekwondo, then you need to be prepared to save money by not doing things you really want to do, too.

P: How would you like it if I did that to you next time we have an argument?


And normal programming is resumed: if Princi can’t win she has to dish out threats. But, if she could use my argument against me, well, I’d be pretty impressed. As it stands, Princi went to TKD and we are going to see Francesca Simon on Wednesday. Whether Princi gets a new book at the book signing is another question. We just might need that money for food and water…





The definition of morning. June 15, 2012

Posted by phoenixaeon in Conversations with Principessa, Uncategorized.
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This morning, Princi skips from her bed and jumps into mine.

“Urg! It’s too early, little Monkey! You can stay there if you go back to sleep,” I say to her.

She snuggles and cuddles for about a minute, but her twitchy, kicky legs let me know that she’s just not going to go back to sleep.

“Mummy? Well, I love you.”

“I love you too. Go back to sleep.”

“But Mummy, do you know that ‘opinion’ means ‘what you think’?”

“Yes. Go back to sleep.”

“What about loquacious?”

I drag my arm from under the warmth of the duvet and do the ‘talk, talk, talk’ action with my hand.

“And Mummy, what’s that word that means I’m very hungry?”

“Famished,” I say, but I know that this isn’t the word she’s looking for. “Ravenous.”

“Yes, ravenous. That’s it.”

“Now go back to sleep.”

Yeah, no such luck. She cuddles my arm for a moment. Then…

“Mummy, what does the H in H2O mean?”

“Hydrogen. Go back to sleep.”

“So that means there’s one hydrogen and two Os then?”

“No. There are two hydrogens and and one O. What does the O stand for in H2O?”


“Well done, that’s right. And do you know that you can draw a little picture of H2O with the O in the middle and two little lines representing the molecular bonds pointing to the Hs?”

A suspicious Princi looks at me questioningly. “No you can’t!”

“Yes you can. It’s called a ‘pictogram’. That’s a picture that represents a word.”

“MUMMY! I know what a pictogram is! You don’t need to tell me!”

“Okay,” I say. My eyelids are still feeling like sleepy portcullises, so I try again. “Then go back to sleep.”

“But Mummy… Do you know what colour the flag of Turkey is?”

I sigh. I’m not going to win. “Red.”

“Ha ha ha! No it’s not! It’s orange!” I can feel her excitement at her false victory. She hates me being right.

“No it’s not. It’s red.” I sit up. There’s no point in trying to sleep. I grab the iPhone and activate the Wi-Fi. I type ‘flag of Turkey’ into google. “Look.”

She looks devastated as she sees the image and reads the text description underneath.

“BUT MY BOOK SAID IT WAS ORANGE! MY BOOK TRICKED ME!” She hmphs a bit, then snuggles back down. “I think I might go back to sleep now.”

Yeah, just as the alarm goes off. Oh well, at least we get to sing along to Queens of the Stone Age now.

The realisation of learning. August 7, 2010

Posted by phoenixaeon in Children's Literature, Conversations with Principessa, EA300, Films, OU, The Principessa Files.
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Last night, Princi and I sat down to watch Star Wars: The Clone Wars as her choice for the Friday night film. She’s been asking to watch it for weeks, but either she gets distracted or I get distracted. Either way, we’ve never managed to sit down and watch it. So when she got home from Tae Kwon Do last night, she set up the portable DVD player on my bed, settled herself down, and immersed herself into the world of Star Wars for the first time.

Now, firstly, do I ever want to be a Jedi after watching that! I can’t understand how the Jedi were ever in any trouble after the way Windu air-swiped a whole legion of clones to dust with the Jedi mind-trick. (Yes, I know it’s a cartoon, but I have invested my time to geek out a bit!) Anyway, magical mystery Force and my want for that power aside, Princi loved it. As usual, she presented a running commentary (one bit in particular tickled me. Once the underwater, squid-headed blokie started making headway in his battle right at the start of the DVD, Princi turned round and said, ‘Yeah, now he’s starting to get somewhere!’), but halfway through, she showed me the DVD box.

‘Look, Mummy. The baddies are in the blue half of the picture and the goodies are in the red half of the picture.’

And yes, she was right. I’d not paid too much attention to the cover before, but now Princi had drawn focus to it.

‘Oh, yes. You’re right. So what does that make the guy in the middle? A goodie or a baddie?’

Without any hesitation she said, ‘He’s a goodie.’

‘But is he? Look, he’s standing in the blue and the red.’

‘He’s still a goodie. He has been helping the good guys fight the clones.’

‘I know, but look. He is more in the blue than the red. So does that mean he’s more a goodie or a baddie?’

‘He’s definitely a goodie, Mummy. He has droids.’

‘That might be true, but does he do what he’s told all the time? Remember when he was told not to chase the baddie ship?’

‘No, he doesn’t do what he’s told all the time. But he still helps the goodies.’

‘But would a goodie fight like he did near the end? You know, when he went mad and killed the robot lady?’

‘Yes. He would. She was a baddie. He is a goodie.’

She wouldn’t be swayed from Anakin’s affiliation to the good side, despite the suggestions of the cover. She simply went on what she had seen and what she believed had been shown on the DVD, any implicit ideological suggestions on the box were ignored. All she cared about was that there were goodies and that they fought the baddies. But for me, I became aware of the change that had occurred in how I look at and interpret things since studying Children’s Literature. Before, it would not have occurred to me how the positioning of the character could inform me in such a way about the character’s belief system – okay, I know I have prior knowledge of the Star Wars universe, but still. I had to apply that knowledge to the image. Just that simple flick of an analytical switch by Princi had me smiling: what I had learned on EA300 had sunk in, and I am no applying it to situations that stimulate conversations between Princi and I. Above all else that I loved about the course, that is the most satisfying aspect.

I really want to continue studying Children’s Literature now. It does feel as if it has become a passion, rather than just something I have studied on the way to getting a degree.

Coversations in the sun. July 11, 2010

Posted by phoenixaeon in Conversations with Principessa, The Principessa Files.
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So, Nanny and Princi were sat out in the garden earlier, soaking up the sun and reading. I would say hmm at Princi’s choice of book – The Thorn Birds. I know she doesn’t read it, she just carries it around like a safety blanket. (She has been doing this ever since she was about 1, back then her safety blanket book was about programming in BASIC on a Spectrum.) I could hear Princi gabbling on, she never stops, so I sat still and listened.

Nanny: What book have you got there? (looks at the book) Oh, The Thorn Birds.

Me (shouting from indoors): It’s ok. She doesn’t actually read it.

Nanny: That’s good. There’s sex and violence in there.

Me: Don’t say that out loud!

Princi: Yes, I don’t even want to hear about it!


Nanny: What do you do at school?

Princi: I go to school on Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday. Oh, and Thursday and Friday.

Nanny: What about Saturday and Sunday?

Princi: I stay at home.

Nanny: And what do you do at home?

Princi: I watch DVDs and… I get bored. I get no simulation!


Yeah, so she said simulation instead of stimulation, but still it made me feel like a bad Mum! So I don’t give her enough to do :s


Nanny: Do you like… tidying up?

Princi: Nooooo!

Nanny: Do you like… making a mess?

Princi: I do.


Little terror, she is. But she’s a clever little terror. She brought her school report home with her on Friday and I beamed with pride reading it. I even laughed out loud when the teacher had put:

‘She reads poetry to the class and she even uses terms like “alliteration”.’

Hehehe! I bet that shocked them, especially as she can tell them what alliteration means. She makes me so proud, it’s untrue!

I have also come to the realisation that Princi is quite adept at fitting scripts from whatever she has been watching into everyday situations. The best example of this happened this morning. She had eaten her breakfast in the bedroom, but had left the milk dregs at the bottom. She picked up the tray that the bowl was on and started gabbling to herself:

Careful. Keep it steady. Don’t spill a drop. I said keep it steady!

Now, this just shows how often I’ve had to watch this with her, but this little script snippet is from Doctor Who, season 2 – School Reunion. It just amazes me that she finds situations where she can use these lines. There was a time I wanted to live in Johnny Vegas’s head, but now I think I’d like to live in Princi’s head, just to experience how she makes various connections between the real world and her mental landscape!

Mother Nature’s 501s. March 18, 2010

Posted by phoenixaeon in bedtime, Conversations with Principessa, LGMD, The Principessa Files.
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Bedtime is beginning to get difficult. Every night it’s the same. Princi moans that she hates sleeping, or she wants to play on her computer, or she doesn’t want to go to school the next day. Tonight she wanted to talk.

Princi: But Mummy, I don’t want to go to sleep. I hate sleep!

Me: Sorry, babe, but sleep is a necessary evil. Besides, when you go to sleep you allow your body to repair itself.

Princi: Repair itself? Whaddya mean, repair itself?

Me: Well, it fixes the damage your body suffers during the day. Like the damage to your skin from the sun’s rays and the damage to your muscles from exercise. It helps you to have strong muscles the next day.

Princi: Oh, strong muscles are good. My muscles are all strong and healthy. Does your body fix your muscles when you sleep?

Me: No, babe. That’s only because my muscles are sick.

Princi: Why are your muscles sick, Mummy?

Me: (Eeps! Dug myself a hole here. What do I say?) Well… When Nanny and Grandand made me, because they are my Mummy and Daddy, Mother Nature helped but she gave me genes that didn’t fit properly.

Princi: Oh. (Thinks for a second then gets very enthusiastic.) But when I was made, Mother Nature gave me the right trousers! That’s why my muscles are strong and healthy!

And so endeth the conversation, as she found herself distracted by The Savage. We read chapter one together and then she went happily to her bed, leaving me to think that maybe Wallace and Gromit made me, rather than Mother Nature!

The truth of things. October 3, 2009

Posted by phoenixaeon in Conversations with Principessa.

Princi: Mummy, our family tells lies and stories.

Me: What makes you say that?

Princi: Do you know when Uncle Gareth says ‘Don’t pull a face because if the wind changes your face will stick that way,’ is it true?

Me: Well, not really.

Princi: And when Nanny says ‘If you watch too much TV, I mean television, that you’ll get square eyes,’ is that true?

Me: Well, no.

Princi: So our family tells lies, then?

Me: When you put it like that, I suppose so.

Princi: So stories aren’t true, then?

Me: Some stories are, but other stories that may not be true are called ‘fiction.’

Princi: Fiction? What’s fiction?

Me: It’s when a story is made up. ‘Coraline’ isn’t true, but it’s not a lie, so that is fiction.

Princi: So our family tells lies, then?

It’s nearly time for the Pimms! June 21, 2009

Posted by phoenixaeon in Conversations with Principessa, tennis, Wimbledon.

Woohoo! Wimbledon starts tomorrow. I can’t wait.

It’s bad news about Rafa though. I love watching him play, so for him not to be there to defend his title is a bit of a downer. His knees must be completely wrecked for him to have taken that decision. I am hoping that it’s not going to force him to retire from tennis, after all, there has been speculation that the pressure he puts on his body through playing tennis might cause him to retire early. But, if it were me, I’d rather take the choice of keeping what movement I had than to continue in a sport I loved and risk the chance of crippling myself. It sounds as if that’s the kind of decision Rafa might have to make. If it is, I don’t envy him.

But I digress. I am looking forward to some good tennis matches. I am also hoping that a few of the other Brits in the main draw can make it into the second round. And I am hoping Laura Robson has the ability to fight her way past Daniela Hantuchova in her first round match tomorrow.

Yay! Wimbledon! (Sorry, I’m just a bit excited.)

On other things… Princi hasn’t been well today, she has been running a slight fever since this morning. Thankfully she decided she was hungry just before she went to bed  –  she pushed all her other meals to one side, even a packet of Quavers – and she demanded a ‘hot, crispy, toasted sambwich’. Oh, she wanted Twiglets on said ‘sambwich’, but there were none. And she finally had a good, long drink of orange juice. I hate it when she feels ill, she refuses to eat and drink. The not eating I can deal with, but the not drinking really scares me.

Something else that scares me – her habits with scissors. OK, at the moment it’s only plastic scissors that can only just cut through paper. What scared me was that she was playing with a pair of the plastic scissors today and she put her tongue between the ‘blades’. I took the scissors from her and then told her why it was a bad idea to snip her tongue.

Me: If you cut your tongue with scissors, you’ll snip the end off and it’ll bleed profusely (making blood spurting actions with my hands). Do you know what profusely means?

Princi: No. Do you know what patience means?

Me: Tell me, what does patience mean? (This is her usual response when I ask her what a word means.)

Princi: It means waiting.

Me: Yes it does. And what does profusely mean?

Princi: I don’t know. What does it mean?

Me: It means lots and lots and lots and lots. Do you want to cut your tongue off?

Princi: No. I wouldn’t be able to lick lolly pops then.

Me: You wouldn’t be able to talk, either.

Princi: Oh. I want to talk.

And that was that. Although I think the only thing she took from the whole exchange is that profusely means lots and lots.

The food thing. May 26, 2009

Posted by phoenixaeon in Children and food, Conversations with Principessa, French Open, tennis.
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Grandand: What do you want for dinner today?

Me: Would you like lamb, noodles and carrots again?

Princi: Yes. Tomorrow.

Grandand: Then what do you want today?

Princi: Salad and crisps and Pringles and tuna.

Me: Do you want tuna mayonnaise or fresh, cooked tuna?

Princi: Fresh, cooked tuna. But I want the pink tuna.

Me: (Confused, until I suddenly realise what Princi’s going on about.) Oh, she wants salmon!

That tickled me, I can tell you. At least she is starting to eat food that is not lamb or tuna or carrots now. Although the scrambled eggs at breakfast was a pain, I ended up having to feed her despite trying to make breakfast into a picnic.

Ho hum. No play at the French Open. It’s tipping down.

The technicalities of spelling. May 19, 2009

Posted by phoenixaeon in Conversations with Principessa, The Principessa Files.

When Princi came home from school today we sat down as always to talk about what she’d learned.

Me: What did you do in school today?

P: I played in the sandpit. And I painted a picture of a house.

Me: Did you? Well done! Did you learn any more letters?

P: Yes.

Me: What letter did you learn? (She has been learning letters phonetically with Jolly Phonics at school, which is good as I have the JP stuff here, too.)

P: I learned s-a-t.

Me: Oh, and what does s-a-t spell?

P: S-a-t spells sat!

Me: Wow! Well done! (Wondering if she could apply it to other words.) What about c (kuh)-a-t?

P: Mmmm. Cat!

Me: Yes! And t-a-t?

P: Ummm. Tat!

Me: Yes! (Wondering if we could do longer words.) What about f-l-a-t?

P: F-tal?

Me: No! F-l-a-t.

P: F-lat! (Close enough!)

Me: Yeah! How about s-p-l-a-t?

P: Ummm. Spatal.

Me: No! S-p-l-a-t is splat!

We carried on for about five minutes, but I am very impressed. Although she can read and  spell out a written word (not phonetically), she hasn’t been able to spell through verbal triggers until today. Well, not with me anyway. This makes me a very proud Mum today. Yay!

And then, to top off the proudness with a giggle, I gave her a couple of minty Matchmakers. She takes a nibble on one, then turns to me:

They sure are minty, aren’t they?

And they surely are!

Beware, the bitey fish! April 30, 2009

Posted by phoenixaeon in Bitey fish will eat you up., Conversations with Principessa, David Crystal, Reading with Principessa.
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This afternoon, Grandand picked Princi up from school and took her shopping. Before buying in the food, he took her to a pet shop. When they got home, Grandand asked her to tell me all about what she had seen at the petshop.

We saw mice, and fish, and there were bitey fish that could bite you all up.

Not Pirahna, no. Bitey fish! That made me giggle. But not as much as Princi nicking one of the books off my shelves and declaring it was her favourite. She’s not wrong. She used to love it when I read to her from this book when she was two-ish. The book is The Stories of English by David Crystal. However, when I asked her to read it to me, she flicked through the pages and decided it was no longer her favourite because the words were too little. She then went and found a little book of Celtic mythology to flick through.

Well, my back is sore from sitting at the computer. Time to relax a little.