Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Warning: long and rambling post with lotsa pics!
A picture of a slice of Laurent's Cake with the proper icing flowers~_~'
Sorry for not blogging the past two days but I've been recovering from L's party and the week in general!
We ended up staying up (literally!) all night baking and cooking for his birthday, as Nic and I were a little over-excited about catering! At 8:30 we piled child, husband, dog and self in car. Rushed to Croyden, plunked down my money, filled out my forms - the president says, "Gee, you look a little stressed, what's up?" LOL
Anyhow, I got in - finally - yaaaay!!!! But no time to enjoy it, have to FLY to the make-up studio and caught hell from the salon manager for being late by like 7 minutes and how I'm stressing his artists. Got my hair-cut the day before and everyone seems to think it's quite flattering... but I just don't like this length because my hair tends to *FLOOF* at this length due to it's wanna-be waviness, unless I use a straightening iron which I honestly can't be frelled doing every single day! I like it either SHORT or LONG. Got chided by Mary for letting my hair go so long between cuts and eventually had to say that with finances what they are I have the option of either getting a skilled cut but only a couple times a year or getting more frequent el cheapo cuts... I prefer to have someone with skill! Trust me, I'd be quite happy if I could afford exxy haircuts all the time without a thought! :P
Got back, stuffed everything in the car, including a dozen balloons and rushed there about 20 minutes late by the time we arrived.
He got his prezzies from us (wood toys and such) at home after the party and I was so bummed we didn't have time to do a rosemary memory tree (basically a swag of rosemary that guests could write their favorite memory of the day on for Laurent in the future, which I was going to put in his b-day scrapbook, so he got impressions from everyone on the day) which I'd had my heart set on since what was supposed to be our first wedding*, Nic forgot our own camera - then mentioned this to the photographer who was worried he was saying that because we weren't happy with his work (TOTALLY not the case, we just wanted some instant happy snaps of stuff you wouldn't necessarily want a pro to waste his talent on, like taking pictures of the cake and picnic spread, Laurent covered head to toe in water-melon juice etc and one that we could send folks straight away without having to wait for development/proofs!), my mixer broke at 3 am so I couldn't do proper butter-cream and royal icing and had to use store bought stuff that doesn't pipe right or taste the same, likewise the meringues had to be nixed. Still had a nice, if somewhat "colourful"... day, as is to be expected with a bunch of children on sugar highs! LOL Laurent got his first bit of sugary horribleness - a bite of his birthday cake, which he promptly spit out in favor of watermelony goodness. Nothing but nothing gets in the way of La and his water melon! He finished off a whole inch thick slice and went back for more! O_O
We'd requested no prezzies because we have enough toys around here but he ended up getting some nice stuff anyway, some books from Beck and Nic's cousin Nina, some crystals from Jayne and the lovely Liam helped pick them out, and a gorgeous t-shirt emblazoned with a Picasso doggy illustration (!) from Sif and family, along with some beautiful hand-made birthday cards from Beck's boys which will be saved in Laurent's scrapbook, including a very sweet poem from Josh.
We also had a photographer out to shoot the party, Jason Settimi and I can highly recommend him to anyone. Lovely fellow, easy to work with and got some lovely candid shots of us. I'm going to have such a hard time waiting to see the proofs in a week and a half, Ms. Impatient Nosey Pants that I am! LOL
Here is the actual ceremony:
INTRODUCTION: Firstly, we wish to express our joy to you that Laurent has brought to us with his birth and first year. Since the moment he was born I've been struck by the desperate feeling that time was passing too fast. I remember looking at him, only a few minutes old and thinking those minutes had passed too quickly as I sat and held him watchfully. I wanted to grab each moment, hold each one and force it to slow down, to linger gently for awhile so I could enjoy those first few hours and stay in each one for at least a few days or a week or a month.
I was so aware he would never again be one minute, one hour old, one day old, one week old. Slowly he would loose the special look of a newborn, downy hair would be replaced with silky fine baby hair, his eyes wouldn't squench in the same way as they grew used to the light of the outside world. I suppose every mother feels a bit like this but I wasn't prepared for how keenly I felt the minutes and even seconds rushing by. I felt such an intense need to savor each moment to the fullest, commit it to my heart and never ever forget. In the wee hours of the night when I was so exhausted my eyes stubbornly refused to focus and all I wanted was to sleep just ten more minutes, I reminded myself that this time would pass all too quickly as well and I would miss it later and it made me treasure it as well.
I treasure the changes in him, I love the sparkling eyes and gummy smile and chubby kissable cheeks of his 1 year old self that have replaced my newborn and then my infant. I still bury my nose in his hair, no longer downy but now a lovely wispy golden brown and inhale the wonderful scent of him. I adore the way he looks when he reaches out his arms to me, the way his crawling speeds up when there is something he really wants to see, his sweet baby laugh and the way he wraps his arms around my neck and cuddles close. I know that you will keep growing and I will treasure the next set of changes even as I treasure the ones that have come thus far but I know I will miss the 12 month old you as well. But a child is not raised alone by his parents. Today, we want to welcome him formally into our family and also to the wider family of our relatives, the community of our friends and the world. The more love a child receives, the more they will benefit in their lives and the more love in turn they will be able to give to others. The more people to whom they relate the more balanced and rich their growth will be. So your presence at this celebration today is appreciated, as will be your interest and involvement in the years ahead.
The first quotation I would like to read involves us all. As a circle of friends and family we all share a responsibility to provide the atmosphere in which our children will develop as people.
A CHILD LEARNS WHAT HE LIVES If a child lives with criticism - he learns to condemn. If a child lives with hostility - he learns to fight. If a child lives with ridicule - he learns to be shy. If a child lives with shame - he learns to feel guilt. But If a child lives with tolerance - he learns to be patient. If a child lives with encouragement - he learns confidence. If a child lives with fairness - he learns justice. If a child lives with security - he learns to have faith.If a child lives with approval - he learns to like himself. If a child lives with acceptance and friendship - he learns to find love in the world
We ask for your blessings, encouragement and support; without family and friends beside us, we would miss one of the greatest joys of life. That is to give and to receive love. To help and be helped. To teach as well as to learn. We are delighted those with us today have chosen to celebrate this time with us.
LIGHTING OF THE CANDLE Starting with two lit candles and a third candle unlit
It was said, "There is a light that lights the way of everyone who comes into the world." It is the light of hope. We light this candle to celebrate his birth: out of the darkness of the womb he came and emerged into light. (First candle lit) Blessed is the woman who bears a child, for she knows how love covers pain. Blessed is the man who fathers a child, for he makes a bridge between the earth and heavens. (second candle lit) Child of light, you know not yet the love and joy overflowing from our hearts. (Parents, each one taking a lit candle, together light the third candle.) When one candle lights another, it's light is not diminished, rather, the light in the world increases. In this way, little boy, you have already added your light to our family. May you continue to bless us and all those you touch with your light and life.
NAMING We have named this child Laurent Etienne. When I first became pregnant, we had decided on giving our child a French name to honor his heritage. After a lot of thinking, Nic decided on Laurent, meaning "Crown of laurels". At the same time I decided Etienne, which also means "crown of crowns" as his middle name. He is truly our crowning achievement. Laurent is believed to impart the qualities of resolve, enthusiasm, direction, boldness and organisation while Etienne imparts uprightness, open mindedness, humaneness, generousity and imagination. We hope these qualities will serve him well in life. We ask you now to join us in welcoming this child to the world as friends and family. "Welcome Laurent Etienne!"
It is traditional to give gifts to our loved ones on their birthday. This custom started as it was believed by being surrounded by friends and family and receiving gifts in the form of talismans ill luck was warded off for the coming year.
THE PENDANT CEREMONY We have chosen as a symbol of our love and hope for Laurent a pendant made of Labradorite. We give it to him to wear with love. We chose Labradorite as it is said to reveal ones spiritual destiny like a flash of light in the darkness. It represents the "temple of the stars", bringing clarity and the wisdom of other worlds and universes to us, bringing forth ones strengths to share with the world. Labradorite promotes strength of will and a feeling of inner worth about your own abilities, and your value as a spiritual being. Labradorite helps to combine intellectual thought with intuitive wisdom enhancing discernment in all situations. This gemstone elicits creativity by inspiring you to come up with original ideas and solutions to problems. Brings patience, allowing focus and concentration. It enhances perseverance, and opens you up to seeing the inner beauty of things and people, including yourself. That which can seem mundane or boring, even to the point of dislike, can reveal something precious when looked at from a slightly different perspective.
As a second gift, we plant today a tree in our child’s honor to celebrate life with life. Both tree and baby are unique and original. Each began with a single seed, concealing a complex potential that miraculously unfolds with each passing day. We chose a Wollemi pine a tree discovered in 1994 in an unexplored canyon deep in the forest. It is a living fossil, at over 200 million years old it was around even before the dinosaurs. It is a unique tree, unlike any other. Likewise, every person born to this world represents something unique and is called upon to fulfill his role in the world. The Wollemi pine puts down deep roots to support itself, so that it can grow tall and touch the heavens at over 40 meters high. It is a remarkably hardy tree weathering all conditions. It is also a very rare tree, as over the millennia, the range of the Wollemi pine shrank until the entire population existed only in a single canyon in a remote area of New South Wales. Today there are less than 100 adult trees in the wild, some of which are over 1000 years old. Seeds were collected so they could be grown outside the canyon to protect the species and the funds go to fund conservation efforts. They were first available to the public around the same time Laurent was born.
We hope that the roots of this tree will gain hold and spread deep, drawing nourishment from the fertile earth as our child draws nourishment from his own roots - his family and his heritage. We pray that the trunk will grow healthy and strong, withstanding the harsh forces of nature and able to support its canopy of branches and leaves. So may our son possess a healthy body and a strong spirit, holding steadfast to his own integrity and withstanding the tempests and temptations that could weaken or deter him. We watch these branches bud and blossom, giving shade and beauty for all to enjoy. So, too, may we watch our child bud and blossom to be a blessing and support to family, friends and community, and to make his unique contribution to the world. Help us nourish and nurture this tree and our child so that they may both mature and prosper, fulfilling to the greatest extent possible the potential which exists in them.
At this point, we ask all of you to think in your hearts of a blessing or a wish for Laurent as we plant this tree so that your blessings may grow with it and with him.
With this, I have one last reading and then we will break for food and what I know you have been waiting for... the cake!
And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, "Speak to us of Children."
And he said: Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you. You may give them your love but not your thoughts. For they have their own thoughts. You may house their bodies but not their souls, For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams. You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday. You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth. The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far. Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness; For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.
Laurent, we welcome you with love
(at this point we will break for meal, the cake being served and candles blown out, gifts opened, lolly bags/guest gifts distributed and a bit to relax and let the kids roam a bit) Just before everyone leaves we are asking them to write their favorite memory of the day they'd like Laurent to have on little cards which will go on a rosemary tree (for remembrance) which we're bringing.
Got back and got some new pics of Hope from Amanda, so here those are for all you puppy-breath addicts... bask in the cuteness! I swear she literally gets cuter every photo I see!!! ^_^
Also started freestyle back up so I gave the fuzzy red dog a bath so she was all purdy before we left! We got our video of our "performance" and hey... we didn't suck! ;-) I'll youtube it as soon as I can download the drivers so my stupid computer recognizes the format...
Since we'd forgot our camera on the day, I decided to get some nice photos of the little man after the fact. Also wanted to get pics of the cake, of him blowing the candle out, opening prezzies, La in a party hat etc. which didn't happen on the day because it got gobbled before we sang Happy B-day and didn't do the candle because of how windy it was! LOL I think the hats were history by the time we got done with the photographer and back to the picnic too! LOL So I grabbed another (GREEN!) one from the shop for pictures. Hopefully we'll go out with Nic's cousin Nina for an extra little bday celebration since she couldn't be there, and do some more photos then!
A quieter moment...
Bubba discovers balloons!
Laurent with his fav new toy... a little GREEN train!
Cheeky bubba! Was chewing the bag when I laughed so he hammed it up further!
Laurent with Sierra again
Sometimes you just need a hug... Laurent all tuckered out.
And whoooo hooo.... more iris blooms! Witches Sabbath is the lovely dark purple black with yellow... very intense colouring!
And this is another Tempo Two iris but we lost the tag a few years back so I don't remember which it is!
Today we went to Preshil for the preschools open day which was quite nice. Laurent had a ball crawling madly after the older kids who thought he was quite neat as well and I can tell he's going to be a real little social butterfly already. We ended up sitting and having about an hour long chat with the principal, who lounged in a tire-seat in the sandpit and traded a plastic rake back and forth with Laurent while I had fun asking questions. Unfortunately I was soooo tired and brain-fried I didn't remember most my questions till after but that's what next time is for! I really liked the lay out and overall "feel" of the school. Nice flow to the plan between indoor and outdoor areas, nature is 'inside' through lots of windows and natural sunlight with bush-like views. I still want to go to some of the other schools (eg Montessori, RE streams), Steiner is too out there for me though but I'm trying to keep a beginners mind in looking at these things and seeing the pros and cons in each. Particularly I want to watch the teachers in how they structure the environment and day, how they resolve conflicts and overall 'life attitude' of the teachers and staff... not the right word but I'm not sure how to put it... like, okay, Preshil has the philosophy that every child and adult is fundamentally GOOD. Personally I feel that's an unnecessary label to add and can hinder in dealing with behavior as what it is: behavior, neither inherently good nor bad. Certainly some behaviors are desirable or undesirable, helpful or unhelpful, even detrimental to the child or others... but those do not carry the moral judgement of 'good' or 'bad'. If you believe that children and adults are good and do things BECAUSE they are good, then by contrast you also believe that some (few) children are bad or do bad BECAUSE they are bad... which sets you up for dealing with the child as good or bad instead of as a behavior that simply exists. It might seem like splitting hairs over words, how different are they really... but once you think about it, it's really quite a big difference!
Likewise the word 'naughty' really is something I disagree with the use of. It implies that the child is behaving in the way they are because they are good or naughty or because they are being good or naughty, not because they are children who are learning and developing and whom like any biological being try out new behaviours, express feelings, keep behaviours that work for them on some level or discard it if it doesn't or there is something that works better. It ignores their developmental periods and things like the fact they may be testing rules of existance and trying to integrate those to their world-frame.
Now this whole discussion came up from the point that they had a booklet with pictures and descriptions of activities that the 3-4 year olds had done this year and explaining some of the things at Preshil, one of which is the 'home area' where children can feel secure and act out events which have occured in their lives in order to fully explore and understand them. Sounds wonderful, I'm all for that! Then I read, "eg roleplaying including themselves in the role of the 'naughty' child blah blah blah. Yup. They used the N word. Granted it wasn’t them calling the child naughty BUT it implied that they do believe that some behaviour IS naughty (instead of just behaviour) and that this is their attitude and how they view children. That turned into this discussion on how judgements like that are just ineffective and unnecessary and generally a hindrance in working through the issue. Behavior is behavior, morals are best left to discssions in philosophy classes, no need to dress it up as good or bad to deal with it! As well, even though I understood they weren't saying the child was naughty, and were trying to assure me their stance is that all children are fundamentally good, the use of that type of language concerns me. Words are the expression of thoughts, mental structure and how you view the world around you and they seep into your actions. Thoughts become words, become actions, become habits, become character, become destiny. So while the use of that kind of language may seem innocuous enough on the surface, it really does have a ripple effect. :-/
On the other hand there was heaps of really great stuff about the school, the teachers did seem to do a good job of watching and assisting all the kids but not over-interfering either. The kids self-directed themselves in activities but then once it was time for storys on their mats they were all called in and asked to stay on their beds. That was one thing that caught me out a bit... I had to wonder what would happen if a child wanted to continue in their activity? It seemed self-structured but only to a point if that makes sense? Why must they sit on a mat, why not just come inside and sit quietly so as not to disrupt the others if you're promoting the self-structuring? It was all handled very gently but I wondered how it would have been dealt with.
The crafts sections they had were awesome, lots of "stuff" at various stations for the kids to engage themselves in and the kids were scurrying everywhere busily engaged in various activities. There were a fair amount of small animals there, a water pond, some budgies, guinea pigs etc. Half wine barels with lots of plant seedlings in them, lots of wooden toys and blocks to construct things with.
I have more questions I want to ask and more I want to learn. I noted a nice example of conflict resolution between two students who both wanted the same toy with the help of the teacher and mentioned this to the principal. I asked about how they handled conflicts. She said they tried to talk it out as much as possible but obviously there were limits and certain things were unacceptable. Well, yeah, I understand that but WHAT do you do in those cases? A question for next time.
The other thing I saw was that one of the little boys found a worm and was showing it off to the teacher and us. He told me rather proudly that he was going to keep it. I said something to the effect of, 'oh, I understand you want to keep him but worms need to live in dirt... if you keep him in your pocket he'll die. Don't you think it would be better if you watched him for a little while and then put him back in his home in the garden?" and she (teacher) just sort of laughed it off. Yeah, okay, it's a WORM. I getchya. But I think teaching a respect of nature and life (all nature, including lowly worms) is important. And it's important for children to realize that their amusements should not come at the cost of anothers pain or death. For those of you who still are stuck on the, "Amanda, it's a WORM fer heavens sake!" like my DH, would she (or you) have felt the same if he came up carrying a bird or less socially acceptable to abuse/kill animal? Respect for self and others and life starts at the smallest levels imo. When we did daycare one of the things we did was to try and draw paralels between the child and animal to help them empathize and show respect. So it would have been like, worms are an important part of our ecosystem, they have certain requirements to live, we watch them for a little while and then let them be, maybe go look at pictures of worms or stories or whatever. By the time we left I think the poor worm had carked it as he looked kind of dry, poor thing. :-/
I'm not sure the principal knew what to make of me. I could tell some of it we were on the same wavelength, and we seemed to really agree. At some points, I think we agreed on the concept, though we were saying the same things in what was perhaps a different way. And a few of the things there was that little pause as she chewed over a statement and was trying to find a way of saying she disagreed without offending me. (Which she wouldn't have done anyway... I find debate like this quite interesting because it churns up different POV's and things I maybe hadn't considered before or considering things in a different way which is what I’m interested in to start with!)
Also, on an unrelated note: I’m blowing a huge raspberry at the maternal and child health nurse who told me if I didn't start Laurent on solids at 6 months promptly I'd "miss the window of his learning to accept textures and flavors", "forever have a picky eater" and be fighting him. Dinner tonight? Baby sized portions of pork, cous-cous salad, roast veggie salad, chickpea avocado sandwich on whole wheat, watermelon and mango begged off my plate.
* We had a proper one planned which got screwed thanks to my visa "be married by X date or else" requirements since it's hard to be at your wedding after you'd have been deported, the quickie we did to meet those requirements intending to hold a proper one later, one which was canceled when we found out we were pregnant with Laurent and then it was SUPPOSED to be this year but Nic was just so uninterested in it and money was tight enough that I figured I should just give it up as not meant to be.