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Divine intervention. October 26, 2011

Posted by phoenixaeon in EA300, Mythology, OU, reading, Reading with Principessa, TMA01.

Woohoo! After a year of rubbishy TMA results (by my stupidly high standards), I am back in the land of TMA results euphoria. I had been dreading the fateful ding of the impending percentage that I use to constantly re-affirm my intelligence by, and today was the day of ding.


The usual apprehensions gripped me. How crap am I? Do I really want to know how little I actually understand? Ah, stuff all that, I’m brilliant! But then, look how crap I was last year… So I ignored the inner turmoil and signed into the OU site. Tippety-tap. Click. Click. *Close eyes tightly, then peek through fingers* Woohoo! Distinction! And for once, really relevant comments on how to improve the marks for next time. Yay! So I am now in love with this course and raring to get going with the next essay.


But that will have to wait. I have a ton of reading to do before I can even contemplate planning the TMA, which makes me think reading Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Murakami maybe wasn’t my smartest move. And even more stupid, ordering the new Murakami book 1Q84. I am so going to want to read that as soon as, because I am loving Hard-boiled Wonderland. Add to that reading Matilda with Princi – she’s outgrown the Oxford Reading Tree books that her school was having her read, so she’s now reading the children’s novels we have at home. I think my head might just explode with all this reading!


So, time to get back to it… Once I’ve talked Princi into bed – she is playing golf with a green plastic golf club and a  Hello Kitty bouncy ball, jumping around shouting ‘Yay! Go me, go me, go me!’ I wish she’d give me some of her energy!



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.

Results are in… August 3, 2010

Posted by phoenixaeon in Children's Literature, EA300, End of EA300, OU.

And I am distinctly happy! Yay!

(As for the actual score – 94% for the ECA. That is 4% lower than my best TMA score, but 5% higher than my overall course assessment score. Rock on!)

Eeks! July 29, 2010

Posted by phoenixaeon in Children's Literature, EA300, OU.

Oh crapadoodle!

Now the panic sets in… And this is the state of my thoughts right now:

Did I answer the question?

Have I passed?

Oh crap, I’ve got to have failed!

I couldn’t have failed, I did OK on the TMAs.

Don’t be stupid, of course you’ve failed!

No, I haven’t failed. And I’d be happy with a pass 2.

You really wouldn’t be happy with a pass 2, not with those TMA results!

Actually, I’ll be happy just to pass.

Please, just don’t say I’ve flunked it!

The day cometh. May 27, 2010

Posted by phoenixaeon in A210, Children's Literature, Downstairs, EA300, ECA, End of EA300, OU, The Principessa Files.


The end of EA300. At 12pm the course will officially finish. That is the cut-off time for the ECA.  I submitted mine last Friday, then spent the weekend agonising about whether or not to resubmit as I knew I needed to change around 100 words. I swayed back and forth between ‘No, I can’t, it’d be like cheating,’ and ‘But it’s like revision. Exam day isn’t until the 27th,’ to ‘I’d be stupid not to, if the option is there.’ So come Monday gone, I fixed the words, referenced them, then checked everything else was fine. Yikes! Good job I did, as I found an unreferenced quote. So I fixed that, corrected the rest of the numerical references and sent the bloody thing back. Although the essay is a bag of pants (yep, that old chestnut again!), I am glad I changed that little bit in the essay. But oh gosh! Am I happy the course is done! It was by far the most challenging, albeit the most enjoyable/frustrating, course I have ever done. But given the chance I’d do it all again. I LOVED it!

Apart from the course ending, other things have been a little different too. It’s been almost two weeks now since I moved into the downstairs room. It’s all good apart from when the bedroom floor gets wet, as I discovered on Monday. The OT had popped by to see how I was getting on in the new room and to see how I was managing with transfers from the shower chair to the bed using the banana board. Yeah, it’s a bit of a struggle, but I can manage it with a struggle and a little panic in the middle. However, I hadn’t expected there to be any water on the chair. But there was. And it dripped onto the tiled floor. After the OT had left and as I stood up from the bed, wouldn’t you know it, but that little drop of water sent me tumbling to the floor like a sack of blindfolded elephants. I am so surprised that my head didn’t bounce off the floor, the only part of my body that didn’t! We spent the best part of half an hour working out how to get me up, as we soon discovered that the inflatable lifter was out of power and the power plug hadn’t been replaced despite telling the Moving and Handling Team of the problem last November. We ended up having to use the BathBuddy to raise me up enough so that my Dad could lift me up onto the bed. So not fun. Still, at least now I know to keep some kitchen roll in the bedroom to dry the floor after having a shower!

Despite the teething problems with the new room, it’s really nice to be down here. The room is full of light and it is amazing to wake up in the morning bathed in sunlight. I just need to get some potted fruit trees around the window and get the rest of the garden sorted and I’ll be a happy bunny. Princi is still having trouble with the move downstairs, she has taken to sleeping in my bed again. It’s not very comfortable as the bed is six inches narrower than a normal double bed. I am hoping that once the little room upstairs is sorted out for her that she will be more willing to sleep on her own. But I don’t expect that she will, although I hope that she will surprise me.

Anyways. Enough of my babbling. Off to read Frankenstein – one of the set books for my next OU course!

Of bogs and truths and gardens. May 9, 2010

Posted by phoenixaeon in Bog Child, Children's Literature, EA300, ECA, End of EA300, OU, TMA06, Uncategorized, What goes on in Princi's head?.

Eeks! Eighteen days left. 3,000 words written. Coherent argument fumbled. Too much to do, too little time?

On the plus point – got TMA06 back today. Yay! Another good mark above 90%, so chuffed to little mintballs. That means if I can get 85% on the ECA I have managed a first. That would be amazing! I would be chuffing like a chuffing train stuffed with chuffed little mintballs! And yes, that an awful lot of chuffedness! But before then, I have to battle with the rest of the ECA essay. That is really dragging me down. Sigh.

I have just under 1,000 words left to find for it. That shouldn’t be too hard. No, it’s more the constructing it into a decent argument. I am having the crisis of confidence thing with this once again. I’m worried I’m not using enough references. Worried I’m writing too much about the plot of the story. Worried I’m not getting enough depth into the points I’m making. Generally, I’m just worried. It’s making me feel ill. Gah! You know, I hate exams, absolutely despise them, but right now I’d gladly throw my hand for it to all be over in three hours. That way I wouldn’t have the time to question my knowledge, to second guess myself. It’d just have to be done and that’d be it. But no, I have eighteen more days to sit and stew. Bugger and butt nuggets! So tomorrow it’s on with Bog Child. On with The Other Side of Truth. On with Tom’s Midnight Garden. And it’s on with working out the history and traditions that tie them all together, hopefully with some pertinent quotes and decent themes. I know I will have something to submit in seventeen days time (don’t want to push it to the limit in case of server overload on the electronic submission site), but if it’ll be any good is anyone’s guess. I’ll have to wait until August to find out. Argh!

And besides, according to Princi:

Botheration! There is difficulty in the crossing between Cape Horn and the Antarctic.

So there.

(That about sums up my state of mind!)

Well, I would write 4,000 words… April 29, 2010

Posted by phoenixaeon in Children's Literature, Doctor Who, EA300, ECA, OU, The Principessa Files, Uncategorized.
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OK. Not quite 4,000 words yet. But halfway there. The plan is to have a workable full draft by a week tomorrow. That way, I’ll have a full plan to submit to the tutor and only the rewrite to do over the three weeks before the submission date. And then that’s that. Course is over. Noooooooooooooo! Despite my feelings that this last piece of work isn’t going to be as good as anything else I’ve done (and particularly not TMA05. The result for that still makes me smile with pride), I have absolutely loved EA300. It’s been so hard to get my head around at times, but the sense of satisfaction coming to the end of it is fabulous. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt like I’ve come away from a course knowing that I have learned something as strongly as I have with this. All I know is that I really want to continue on with it. But… I need to complete three more courses with the OU before I can even think about that!

Princi has also discovered something she likes to learn. She had her first session with Spanish Club in school today. She stayed back for an extra 45 minutes (I wasn’t sure she would like staying back at school, but she did. Yay!) and when she got home she told me about all the words she learned in Spanish. And she’d learned quite a bit. I was pleasantly surprised. The surprise stayed when she became really excited knowing that she could do it again next week. ‘But only on Thursday,’ she said, with a little look of disappointment on her face. Since then, she’s been playing on Spanish games on her Nanny’s computer!

Anyway. It’s time for Doctor Who before bed. Oh, and tonight it has to be old Doctor Who. She kicked off last night when old Doctor Who was all she could watch because the Broadband had gone down. Grr. But she happily watched ‘School and Chips,’ or School Reunion to the rest of us, and has decided that the old Doctor is better than the new Doctor for now. I’m sure we’ll get back to the repetitive viewing of The Eleventh Hour soon. She loves the food scene too much not to watch it again!

And speaking of the Doctor, here’s something that’s had me giggling today…

And now, the end is near… April 23, 2010

Posted by phoenixaeon in Children's Literature, EA300, ECA, End of EA300, OU.
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And so I face my final essay…

Or so I’d hoped. Hmph!

I sat down today, books surrounding me like a crazy paving collage of critics, the computer warmed up and co-operative, and the essay question peering over the screen like a Chad with ‘EA300 woz ere’ scrawled in magical mystery marker in the air above it. Eeks! Just another 4,000 words, give or take a few and discounting references, and it’s all over. With all the gusto you can muster when it comes to academic writing, I placed my fingers on the keys and started to spill my brain in binary code upon the LCD paper… But then, the accelerator broke. No amount of thumbs in temples would knead my failing brain into action.

I forgot how to formulate actual sentences. One sentence exceeded 100 words. What? Words felt like chewed bubblegum as they unstuck themselves from my fingers. Oh crap! That’s when I realised – this essay isn’t going to work. Which means, at almost 1,000 words in, I am going to have to see if I can break into the other essay question. In the words of the Mutant Enemy zombie monster thingie – grrrr, argh!

So, my plan for tomorrow is to re-plan. To give a quick read over of the construction of childhood stuff – oh, yay! Puritan madness <roll eyes> – and then to decide which four books I shall try to hacky-slashy in order to determine the extent of the preservation of the romantic conception of childhood. What fun…

At least I have five weeks to battle the essay. Maybe by the end of it I will have two to choose from. (And yes, that does mean that when I get stuck with this one I’ll go back to the first one. Glutton for punishment? Me? Nah!)

Words and pictures. April 9, 2010

Posted by phoenixaeon in Bog Child, books, Charles Vess, Children's Literature, EA300, ECA, Essay written, Instructions, Neil Gaiman, OU, TMA06.

Well, this has made me even more excited for the release of ‘Instructions’ by Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess. I can’t wait, I tells ya!


And for a second squee, I have finished the dastardly essay. Woohoo! I am going to leave it over the weekend, maybe even the whole of next week, before going back for a final read through and tidy up, then it’s gone and outta here! All I have to do before the course finishes is write a 4,000 word essay on how Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd fits into the history and tradition of children’s literature. So, I have decided on the critical essays that I need to read through again to write the essay I think I should be writing, and I shall put this plan into action next week. Still, it’s a ‘Yikes’ moment knowing that the course is nearly done. I’ve really enjoyed (so far) the challenge it presented and I really want it to carry on. Once the degree is done (another three years. Bah!) then I feel an MA in Children’s Lit might be worth pursuing. And I never, ever thought I’d say that!

The word girl… April 8, 2010

Posted by phoenixaeon in Children's Literature, EA300, OU, Protection poem, The Principessa Files, TMA06.
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I am not. I am so close to getting to the end of the first draft (well, first full draft. All the bits already written have been played with and changed on the way, so really it’s almost finished) of the essay. I mean, it’s finished, it has an end, it’s just the middle bit of the middle section that I need to find. And then I’ll be done. I have a day of work ahead of me tomorrow to find the final 270 words. And it will take all day, unless Princi has a moment of concentration and lets me get on with it. Highly doubt that, though!

As for Princi, we have both been bugged with a horrible cough. Again. Princi seems to be over most of it now, but it’s sticking around a little longer for me. Grr! I hate coughs! Other than that, she’s having moments of good and bad. Today has been more bad than good and she has been told off and confined to her bed a number of times. But during the good times she’s played with her chemistry set – she loves doing the erupting volcano experiment, and she’s made a bracelet with Nanny. Oh, and she recreated the treasure map I drew for her the other day because she had lost the original. She did a pretty good job of it too, remembering where all the places were, and she even drew in Nuzzle and Scratch herself! Yay! And here is the crazy pirate scientist herself:

Crazy pirate scientist Principessa

Crazy pirate scientist Principessa

There has been one problem, though. She has developed an irrational fear of quicksand to the point of crying about seeing Tom (from Tom and Jerry) get sucked into a sinkhole. But we made up a silly rhyme together for her to recite when she gets scared, so she is less frightened now. And the silly rhyme?

Quicksand, quicksand, don’t you suck –

Quicksand, quicksand, you’re out of luck!

Quicksand, quicksand, you won’t get me –

Quicksand, quicksand, I’ll break free!