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‘Children’ – a theme with plenty of options for this week’s Gallery. At my parents’ house this weekend, I took the opportunity to flick through some old photo albums. I’d intended to post about clothes handed down from child to child, with my brother and I in the same bright green, velour tracksuit and some snaps of my children wearing clothes handed down from big brother to little brother. Instead, I found something that really took me by surprise.

Here’s my two-year-old pulling his grumpy face, a face he’s been doing for nearly a year now.

Here, I discovered today, is where he gets it.

His expression straight from me, and his appearance so similar to my little brother. Isn’t it funny the ways we find ourselves in our children?

I’m expecting some varied interpretations of this week’s theme. You can see the rest of the posts here (link to follow!).

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1.¬†Leaving SureStart, the nursery kids are playing outside. They’ve been dressing up and there are two robots marching around, and a fairy with wings and a billowing skirt on a tricycle.

2.¬†After lunch, Toddler steps on half a discarded grape. “I’ve been graped!” he exclaims.

3.¬†Baby learns to clap. Grandparents and I all say “clap, clap, clap” in suitably enthusiastic, high-pitched tones, with exaggerated actions. Baby thinks hard, clumsily but deliberately claps his hands together, and looks very pleased with himself. It’s not just a fluke: he claps on demand for the next half-hour.

4. We make it to toddler group in the next village just after the 9.30 start, leaving the car at home. This is a rare feat for us. We have a lovely time; I catch up with some old friends and make a new one too.

5. Early morning. Toddler comes to see me and Baby in bed. He snuggles in the duvet with me and, unprompted, plays peekaboo with Baby. They both laugh, delighted.

6. Daddy takes care of baby bath time while I relax and cook a proper meal: pork belly, with a sauce made from onion, tomato, honey and a can of coca-cola. Baby asleep, we eat the pork with sweet potato and spring greens.

7. One of the things I love about Beamish is that there are always lots of people taking photographs Рnot just family snapshots (although there is plenty of that) but serious photographers with big cameras capturing images of a time gone by. Husband uses our big camera and I take some shots with my phone. Lately I feel like a real photographer, a creative person.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These Seven Beautiful Things are taken from my Three Beautiful Things posterous blog, where I post three beautiful things every day.

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Seven Things…

… that you may or may not want to know about me!

I’ve been tagged in a meme. In fact, I’ve been tagged twice, by Fran at OMammy and Doing It All For Aleyna. The task is to list seven facts, all true, all about me. Both of the posts that linked to me contain freaky, freaky body parts that made me squirm – I’ll try not to add anything too gross. So…

1. I have a truly terrible singing voice. My piano teacher told me that she’d never known anybody fail to recognise notes like I did, and that I might actually be tone deaf.

2. I met my husband in Pzazz Nightclub. I was pulling pints, he kept coming back to the bar for another vodka and Red Bull and he and his friend kept smiling at me. He gave me his number, told me he was “smitten” with me, and for some reason I called him the next day. Despite the fact that I went back to uni a couple of weeks later, we stuck with it and were engaged within five months.

3. I have a tattoo. It looks like this.

I got it a few weeks after starting uni, as a way to celebrate that time of big changes. My Mum and brother helped to choose it when they came to visit me for the weekend. It’s not what I’d choose now, but at the same time I don’t regret it. It’s part of me, just like a birthmark, and I wouldn’t want to change it.

4.¬†As well as being a professional cheater, I helped my friend to cheat in our year 9 maths exam. She put me on the spot in the exam, pretending to the teacher that she didn’t have a calculator and asking to share mine, then passing me notes with the questions she wanted me to answer – I passed the calculator back with the answer typed on the screen. I didn’t say no, I didn’t tell anyone, but I wish I had.

5. I went on a pilgrimage to Lourdes (ok, so if you’ve been reading my blog since September then you might already know that, but if you haven’t been paying close attention… this meme is harder than it looks, ok?!). So yeah, I went on a pilgrimage, but God didn’t speak to me.

6. I’m very particular about my laundry. Baby vests and sleepsuits have to hang on the airer a certain way, tops on particular hangers, my socks in a delicate wash cycle, towels with a different kind of washing powder… I wish I wasn’t, as I’m so bad I hate to let my husband do any of the washing.

7.¬†I always apply Sudocrem to my babies’ bottoms with my middle finger, and lip balm to my lips with my fourth finger. Obviously I wash my hands in between, but I like to be ordered about these things, just in case.

I hope you feel that you know me a little better after that.

The last part of the task is to tag 15 other bloggers. But, um, I’m a bit slow with this one and I know dozens of bloggers that have already been tagged. And the blogs I read that haven’t are kind of big blogs that might not want to join in a meme. And I’m not too keen on tagging people, in case they don’t want to be tagged. If you would like to be tagged, comment here or tweet me and I’ll link to you. Or if you’ve already done this meme, feel free to add a link to your post in the comments. ūüôā

Tagged:

Mother Badger at Badger Mad

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1. Lying in bed feeding the baby, I remember a time when the length from the top of his head to his toes was less than the current length from head to bum.

2.¬†After a disastrous bedtime with baby and toddler both demanding attention and each keeping the other awake, I finally get the baby off to sleep. Toddler and I have a cuddle in bed; he tells me he’s my friend and he loves me. He falls asleep smiling.

3.¬†We’re very lucky to get the vast majority of our kids’ clothes as hand-me-downs or gifts. Today the toddler actually wears something that I’ve bought and chosen for him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. On his way to bed, my husband takes time to stop and tell me that he loves me.

5. The toddler tells me that Daddy is old, but Mummy is young.

6. I throw caution and frugality to the wind and add both chicken and bacon to the pasta sauce.

7.¬†We go to a birthday party. The cake is covered in fondant icing; to get a vivid ‘lego brick’ colour, it’s been painted with neat food colouring. When we eat it, our fingers, lips, teeth and tongues turn bright blue.

 

These Seven Beautiful Things are taken from my Three Beautiful Things posterous blog, where I post three beautiful things every day.

 

This post is also linked up to the British Mummy Bloggers’ January Blog Hop. You can follow the links to read a selection of funny, interesting and diverse posts from a host of brilliant bloggers.

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This post is part of Silent Sunday at Mocha Beanie Mummy. One picture, no words.

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Have you ever been totally stressed out by an essay? Confused by the topic, but your tutor’s no help? We’ve all been there, whether at school, college or uni. And you struggle on, do the best you can and cross your fingers, right? But did you know that, for a fee, there are people out there who’ll do the work for you? I used to be one of those people.

I worked for an agency, and I’ve also written essays for a private client‘s MA studies. It started as a proofreading job, but when she learned about my academic background she asked if I could offer ‘other services’. I ended up rewriting and adding to her first piece of work, and producing other pieces of coursework from scratch. Of course, the work was all original, so there’s no way it would show up in the university’s plagiarism-checking software. The essays were blind-marked, so there was no opportunity for the tutor to think “hang on, this doesn’t read like so-and-so’s usual style”.

But to be honest, the tutors had engaged so little with my client that they probably wouldn’t notice the change of style anyway. She was a non-UK national and was struggling to understand the requirements of academic essay writing. Her attempts were very repetitious, labouring the same few points over and over, meaning she found it impossible to meet the word limit. She didn’t get the concept of answering the question; she tried to cram in everything that had been covered on the module and lacked the confidence to discriminate, think critically and preset an opinion. She was ambitious and had good experience in the subject, but wasn’t offered the support to tackle academic essays at the required level. Given that she was paying over ¬£10k for her one-year course, a few hundred pounds to ensure a few decent grades seemed a reasonable investment.

I didn’t give much thought to the morals of the situation. I was offering a service; it’s the students who decide to cheat, and who’ll face graduation day with the knowledge that they haven’t really earned their place. I think that for most students who use these services, it’ll all unravel at some point. The degree they bought might help them get a job, but if they’re not really up to the demands of the role then at some point the cracks will start to show.

I wasn’t prepared for other people’s reaction when I told them about the type of work I was doing. Some were ok with it, taking the same view as me, that I’m not the one making the moral choice. But I realised that not everybody takes that view.

I was meeting with an ex-colleague of mine, a lecturer who was interested in my proofreading services for one of his PhD students. The meeting went well: we had a chat about the thesis, I had a quick flick through it and said yes, I’d be happy to work on it. Then, as the conversation was ending, I happened to mention the custom essay work I’d been doing. I thought he’d be interested and maybe find it funny. Imagine my surprise when his expression changed from bafflement to incredulity, to horrified disgust. He was outraged, both that a student would do such a thing, and that a writer would help them. He was “very disappointed in me”, thought that what I was doing was deplorable and assured me that every other ‘real academic’ would feel the same. Not the best way to end a business meeting.

I’m not sure if I’ll do any more custom essays. Working with private clients can be difficult to manage, as understandably students get very anxious about the work you’re writing and there comes to be a level of emotional involvement that isn’t ideal for a business relationship. Agencies act as a middle-man, so as a writer I don’t have to interact with the client. But the agency takes such a massive cut of the fee that the work involved is hardly worth it. I do like the rigorous thought that essay-writing requires, and I it’s all good practice for the time when I can afford to return to studying myself. If the right client or project came along then I probably would give it another go.

So, over to you. What do you think of the students who use essay writing services, and of the writers who offer them? Would you ever consider using such a service yourself? (I’m not expecting anybody to admit to that one!) Those of you with older kids, how do you feel knowing that their classmates could be getting all sorts of ‘help’ with their coursework? Did I make a bad decision, helping a student to pass her MA when by rights she ought to have failed? I love comments. ūüôā

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