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millwall23
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    • 10th Kingdom, The / TV Programme / 2 Readings / 10 Ratings
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      17.09.2002 21:45
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      "You see things; and you say, 'Why?' But I dream things that never were; and I say, 'Why not'" - George Bernard Shaw Not just a great philosophy but also the premise for this film. What if happily ever after was just a con? What if Snow White was a size 18, Red Riding Hood's great grandson was a Wolf and Cinderella was alive and well and over 200 years old? What if ever fairy tale and nursery rhyme character you ever read about were real and living in a world connected to our very own? What if YOU were the myth? This is the basis of the 10th Kingdom, a world where Jack's Beanstalks grow high and pollute the land, where trolls, dwarfs and fairytale queens live and rule. A screenplay written on the idea that all of this was true and what would happen if a young woman and her father rediscovered this world and their destiny. The story In the center of the nine kingdoms is the fourth kingdom ruled by Prince Wendell heir to the throne of the whole of the nine kingdoms. In the dungeon of this the forth kingdom is the evil queen and her pet dog, destined to remain there forever. Hand chosen by the wicked stepmother of Snow White to continue her work she remains in the dungeon until the Troll King (Ed O'Neill) agrees to help her escape in return for half of the forth kingdom. Casting a spell which transforms Prince Wendell and her pet dog into each others bodies the evil queen sets about her plan to take over the whole of the nine kingdoms forever. But she doesn't foresee the escape of the now canine Prince nor his escape through a forgotten magic mirror into the tenth kingdom - earth or more specifically Central Park, New York! With the help of the most unlikely father and daughter the Prince must stop the queen and save his coronation before it?s too late. A task that would be hard enough even without being persued by three Troll children, a Huntsman and a
      human "Wolf". Their journey takes them through each of the kingdoms and into danger, adventure, love and a shepherdess competition! The Cast Kimberley Williams (Father of the Bride) plays our heroine Virginia. More of the girl next door than a sex kitten her performance ranges from enjoyable and capable to really annoying. Kimberley has a whiney voice that becomes frustrating but the character feels real and believable and she makes the best out of a pretty thin character. Her father Tony is played by John Larroquette. Virginia's father and is a portly, balding janitor whose greed far exceeds everything even his laziness. The character can be equally shallow and obvious as Virginia's but he does have a knack of giving enjoyable facial expressions and body language which saves him. He also serves up some of the best one liners of the film and overall turns out to be one of the better characters even if John Larroquette himself can be a trifle annoying). If he wasn't so obvious given that this film is a 15 certificate (so they're not trying to reach a child audience) it would have been much better. Ahhhhh the adorable Scott Cohen (Kissing Jessica Stein) who plays Wolf, originally freed from the dungeon by the queen to retrieve the dog (Prince Wendel) Wolf is the most varied and enjoyable character in the film. Scott Cohen is wonderful and convincing as Cinderella's great-grandson a human wolf, a despised and feared race that still has a taste for little girls! Wolf is the romance, the betrayal and the humour of the film and not just a little bit tasty too. Sometimes he can be a little stupid with his howling and scratching but get passed that and you've got the best part of the film, it's clear that most of the effort went into writing the part of Wolf and it's perfectly cast. Dianne West who I'm particularly fond of as an actress plays the evil queen and she quite obv
      iously revels in playing the villain. She almost oozes viciousness but the not so secret twist to her character is just a little bit cliched and disappointing. Her wardrobe and makeup are superb and Dianne West simply is the queen in all her glory as you might imagine her from your childhood storybooks. The only thing I disliked is her stupid pet dog who of course now is Prince Wendell, there is only so much you can take of a man pretending to be a dog BADLY. On the trail of our heros are the stupid three trolls played by Dawnn Lewis (Blabberwort), Hugh O'Gorman (Burly) and Jeremiah Birkett (Blue Bell). They feed off each other and add a generous helping of laughs in each of their scenes. Stupid, ugly and everything a troll should be these three BeeGees fans are thoroughly entertaining. Don't forget to look out for Jimmy Nail and of course Rutger Hauer who is superb as the queens Huntsman. TASTY OR TAT? To me? Tasty. To my husband? Tat. It's a film of taste, it has its good points and its bad but the very short version is if you like fairy stories and adventure films you'll probably love this. Think average acting, obvious story, daft jokes and bags of fun for those of us who never grew up! It's not an Oscar nomination but it offers a lot to anyone with a lust for fantasy and indulging in dream worlds. This is a chance to go back to your childhood for a few hours and enjoy the stories you used to love again. Have you ever read a book as an adult you loved as a child? If you did, didn't you find it had lost the mystery and failed to give you the enjoyment you found way back then? If so then this film is a chance to get back that innocent daft thrill of escaping into make belief! Their license to do what ever they liked with the old fables and fairytales makes for some very nice irony and black humour. It probably takes several views to fully take in each and every li
      ttle hidden joke and reference to the famous stories though but if you enjoy this film you'll want to watch it over and over anyway. Far from being polished it could have done with a bit more effort in places, it occasionally feels as if they didn't read the script before shooting it or just plainly got bored. However overall it's simply a bit of fun, not one for discussion or thought provoking and luckily although it does have the obvious happy ending they managed to leave out all the little "lessons" that you quite often find in these movies. Directors David Carson and Herbert Wise a pretty good job convincing you that there really is a fairy tale world. It's fast and interesting enough considering they had to pack in seven hours of viewing and for the most part the direction delivers well. Locations As they pass through each of the 9 kingdoms they visit some beautiful locations that were shot here in our very own England, Austria and France. Another great thing about the film is the sets, the attention to detail needed to capture your imagination and draw you in has been done and although they're not extravagant they are realistic and believable. And the morphing scene at the start of the film is very good even if it only lasts a minute or two. Special effects aren't spellbindingly good but you won't find yourself rolling your eyes in dismay and some are reasonably clever, with a $40 budget you'd expect something pretty good. Musically apart from "A Whiter Shade of Pale" the soundtrack isn't one you're going to want to go and buy and their attempt to turn Queen into a nursery rhyme needs some desperate attention but it's a giggle and helps move the movie along nicely. Overall the film doesn't take itself seriously and I simply love the scene with the two doors - one leading to safety the other to a death, a real giggle! Facts and fi
      gures A 15 certificate means that although it's a fantasy based on childhood stories the content is often not suitable for children at all. Overall I wouldn't worry about letting a younger viewer watch it but there are some scenes that I would so if you're going to let someone under the age of 15 watch it then make sure you do first. There are some sexual scenes and moderate violence in places but nothing I would say is too bad. Time wise this is not a film for one sitting unless you plan to get up watch the film and go back to bed. At a whopping great 7 hours you'd be better to watch it in two or three sittings. Originally it was broken up into six episodes and shown on Sky One as a mini series, which worked quite well. DVD EXTRAS The DVD is available as a two disk or three disk version. Extras take less than an hour and aren't overly impressive. There is the documentary 'The Making of The 10th Kingdom' which is hosted by John Larroguette and was apparently made for the American audience to promote the mini series before it's release. With some shots on production, some information about the story, the characters and interviews from some of the cast it's pretty interesting but one viewing will be probably all you'll get out of it. It's approximately 22 mins long in total but has some annoying pauses where the advertisement breaks would have been where it was shown. The other features are just basic, there is a map of the 9 Kingdoms and as you click on each one it tells you very quickly who rules it and a little facts about it. It character list and cast and crew information are simple pages of facts with very little information - a quick browse maybe. And of course the usual scene access and production notes. RATING If you grew up and stopped liking these sort of mind numbing playful fantasy films then don't even bother looking it
      up. You'll hate it, however if you're into all that make belief fun then if you find the time to watch it you'll enjoy ever ounce of it providing you don't expect too much in terms of acting and storyline. A big old 7/10 for quality and 9/10 for pure enjoyment. The extras are poor though so just a whimpering 4/10 and that's being nice.

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        12.09.2002 05:19
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        My history of trying to add to the wonderful but incomplete twosome (twosome being my husband and myself) has caused me to buy enough pregnancy tests to fill a small room. At least it feels that way and it's probably not so far from the truth. After all I've now spent the last 5 years of my life trying to have children and so far I've succeeded twice. Twice being a total of 1½ years actually pregnant and with a further 6 months after the birth of my second not trying that still leaves a grand total of 3 whole years trying for babies (so far!). So when it comes to ttc (trying to conceive) I know more than your average person and it's a pretty complex issue when you get right down to it. Every month becomes a ticking clock of 28 days (for an average cycle), 1 week hosting the dreaded period, the next waiting to ovulate then the last 2 hoping and praying that the dreaded period (affectionately called Aunt Flo to us obsessive baby dancers) doesn't make her next appearance. When you first start out trying for a baby you simply attempt to make love as often as possible or around mid cycle and wait patiently for the results. After all you don't expect it to happen first month but secretly you still think it will! When your period arrives you move onto the next month. The problem starts to come after a few months when your patience ebbs away and instead of thinking about pregnancy tests just before you're due on your daily walk to work suddenly takes on a new route past the chemists to peruse the stock of pregnancy tests. You're no longer interested in blowing your money on clothes or music, nope now you have a nice little collection of boxes containing strange looking "sticks". You've become obsessed and it happens to almost all of us and when you reach this stage the last thing you want to do is wait until you are actually late to test - you want to know NOW. The problem wi
        th most high street tests is that for the majority of women we won't have enough of the hormone they test for called hCG (Human chorionic gonadotropin). The body starts to produce it when the egg is fertilised and it can be detected in your urine but most tests require a larger amount per ml to show a positive result. This won't happen until at least the first day your period is due and if you are irregular it may be longer. Alas here is the answer to that problem - First Response Pregnancy Test. THE TEST ITSELF First Response comes in a pink and white box of standard size. Inside you will find a "stick" i.e. the test itself and a small instruction sheet which I recommend you read at least twice before you start and the actual directions for usage at least 3 times. These things are too expensive to risk doing it wrong. The stick is cased in foil to keep it fresh and out of exposure to moisture, check the test first to make sure it's ok . It's a very simple test to perform and you can use it any time of the day or collect it, same as most other brands really. Make sure you have the test the right way up when you urinate on the stick and keep it in for the right amount of time, this is the one time in your life you really don't want to be second guessing if you did it right. If you follow the test instructions properly then you will be able to read your result in 3 minutes. If you are using this test the day you are due or later then you will probably see an instant result but wait the three minutes to be sure it wasn't a strange test defect. If you are pregnant you will see two pink vertical lines if not then you will only see one. If you see none then the test wasn't performed right or was defective. No matter why you are testing (trying or an opps) I recommend you buy the double box. You can buy either one test which will cost between £7 and £8 or the double which
        will set you back about £11-£12 from an average chemists. If you buy the double and you test positive you can double check for added peace of mind a couple of days later and if it's negative you can either save the second for next month or retest a week later. It really is that simple - at least the actually testing bit is. MY EXPERIENCES First Response detects smaller amounts of hCG in your urine so you can get a result as much as 3 days before you are even due on. Some women just know when they are pregnant even just a few days after conception, sometimes instinct other times physical symptoms. I'm one of those people and I'm also impatient leading to a disaster in financial terms because I've paid a fortune for tests only for them to come back negative because I tested too early. This specific test I've used twice and had two early positive results. Going back to what I wrote above, you will probably be able to relate to that and if so you will probably be very tempted to make this particular pregnancy test you're new best friend but you may want to think about this first. Every cycle you have a 25% chance of conception however 1 in 3 of these fertilised eggs will not make it for one reason or another and the body will reject the pregnancy as non-viable. You will very likely have by this point made enough hormone to give a positive result on the test but your period will arrive either on time or slightly late. Before these extra sensitive tests came out there was no way except a personal feeling to know that any of that had happened. Now however you can find out you're pregnant only for it to turn out to end before it even begins. Through my 3 years of trying to conceive I've had 4 early miscarriages and one recent experience of what I just described above (non-viable pregnancy). Once you get that line or dot on whatever test you take you're pregnant and the emotion
        s that come with finding out you're pregnant are real whether they last 9 months, 6 weeks or 2 days. It won't be as physically painful or draining of course but mentally it can be very hard to know you are pregnant and then simply not be especially after months of trying and hoping. It may come in handy if you have a reason, you're maybe setting off on holiday a couple of days before your period is due, or perhaps you've got a birthday or night out just before and you'd like to drink but don't want to take the risk. In that instance you may want to use this test to give you a good idea and perhaps help you make a decision but remember that even if it comes back negative you could still be pregnant (52% detection 3 days early, 69% 2 days early, 86% 1 day early). Other than that I would say this is a great test for detecting pregnancy when you are due or a couple of days late because you will be pretty certain to get an accurate result whereas some other tests will require you to be even later. Good luck getting those two pink lines!

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          27.07.2002 00:05
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          I’ve traded in my Birds Eye chicken for a saucepan and a few herbs and it’s about time too! For several reasons my good intentions have always been blown out the water and I go back to prepackaged ready meals that seem so much quicker and easier. However I’m a changed woman and with the steps and information I needed to do that still fresh in my head here is my advice to other would be chefs – my guide to starting C.O.O.K.I.N.G. C – Cookbooks I can’t begin to remember how many times I’ve thought about learning to cook but been put off simply by the multitude of books to choose from. Not knowing where to start is the biggest downfall for most beginners when it comes to any hobby or interest. From country of origin, specific ingredients, author (Gary Rhodes, Jamie Oliver etc), quick family meals or complex meals for entertaining? The list is somewhat overwhelming to say the least so where should you begin? I found the answer was to look for a book containing meals I would enjoy, that required basic equipment only and where I understood all the instructions. Start simple, get used to the techniques, equipment and ingredients in simple meals and build yourself up for more complex meals. You can still put together a delicious three-course meal but you have less chance of disaster if you start at the bottom and work your way up. So for now avoid all those famous cooks and their fancy dishes and opt for beginner’s cookbooks, look for recommended books and ask family or friends who cook for advice. O – Oregano Don’t be put off by all the fancy ingredients, equipment, techniques and words. Most aren’t as fancy as you think and with a little patience you can learn even the hardest techniques. Start out simple and learn as your confidence and knowledge grows, there’s no need to know everything before you start. There are so many herbs and spices out t
          here you probably don’t know your salt from your pepper after looking at them all but unless you’re trying to use every one in the same meal you’ll eventually learn. Most you probably won’t even ever use so don’t fret or let it deter you see it as a challenge. If you’re unsure what something is then most cookbooks have a glossary at the back and you can always research online or ask in a shop that supplies that food item or piece of equipment. Don’t give up on a recipe because you don’t know how to do something when a little research could make all the difference. O – Organisation Two more things that may put you off of cooking can be avoided by a little organisation. Firstly taking 6 hours to make a simple 30 minute dish and secondly ending up with a kitchen that takes longer to clean than it took you to prepare and eat the dish you made in it. The key to cooking a 30minute dish in 30 minutes is preparation! It’s not as simple as just buying the ingredients, you need to familiarise yourself with the equipment you will need and the method for preparing it. Get everything together that you can, make sure it is clean and ready for use and read over the instructions 2 or 3 times to make sure you know exactly what you need to do. Do all of this well in advance, I usually sit down at the weekend and choose my meals for the week. As I’m still at the early learning stage I like to take my time but as you get more experienced you won’t need to spend so much effort at this. Remember learning how to cook is like learning anything, you can’t skip lessons or jump ahead in the theory or practice you have to learn properly and slowly. The key to a clean kitchen is to use as few pots pans and dishes as you can, with a little practice you’d be surprised how few you actually do need and your clean up time will go down to virtually nothing. Tip tw
          o is to clean as you go, not all the washing up and scrubbing but wiping the sides and rinsing the used equipment quickly will save you a lot of time later. K – Kitchen It’s tempting when you start out to go down to your nearest store and buy everything you could possibly need to cook. If you do that you’ll end up with a whole house full because the range of gadgets and gizmos these days is immense and you will only really need to buy a fraction of them. When you’re starting out you’ll be forgiven for buying and not making some ingredients like spaghetti for example. You don’t need to make everything yourself and if you plan to make a dish only once that requires a £50 piece of equipment ask yourself if there isn’t really an alternative meal you could make instead. One piece of equipment that I have been so very grateful for is my food processor. It was expensive but it’s used on a daily basis and saves me a ridiculous amount of time – me being someone who never did understand how to chop up an onion finely, I seem to end up with wedges! To cook very basic meals you really won’t need an awful lot to begin with. Your new cookbooks should have a list of equipment you may/will need so look at that and see how many dishes actually require it and if there is a cheaper alternative. Remember though when you do buy equipment to be sure it’s suitable for the job, a set of cheep scales might be good for occasional rough estimates but it won’t be accurate enough for some more involved cooking. I – Investigate / improvise As you start to find your feet and feel a little more confident there is still no need to rush out and try something a little more extravagant. Why not improvise a little with the meals you already know? Start by adding simple ingredients you are confident with or that you think might taste nice. You can add a bit more spice to
          dishes if you think they need it, how about investigating the different flavors of herbs and spices. All of this will help you when you get more experienced and eventually you’ll be able to make up quick meals from any ingredients you have lying around (ready steady cook style!). If you’re nervous about ruining a meal then you could always cook up a little of the meal in a separate pan etc where you could try the new ingredient. If you like it then add it to all the meal next time. There are so many ingredients you’ve probably never even heard of let alone tasted so buy them and see what you can do with them, taste them. After all you don’t want to cook a whole meal with a new ingredient only to find out tha after all that work you don’t like it! Yet another problem that puts people off the idea of cooking is wasted effort. N – Numbers When choosing a meal you need to consider a few other factors like how many it will serve, you need to be familiar with the quantities of ingredients you will need to buy and what you will get out of them. This takes a little time and practice to learn. Where you at first didn’t know a clove of garlic from a bulb (my husband did that one, PHEW that was an interesting meal!) soon you won’t need your tablespoon/teaspoons or your scales nearly as much. Another thing you might be concerned about is how healthy the meal is, a whole book of cheese based meals would make delicious dinners but you’ll soon be seeing a different type of scales go up! Some more modern books now tell you approximately how many calories and grams of fat there are per portion of the meal. If you’re dieting it might surprise you to find that it’s actually far easier to cook healthy delicious low fat meals than it is to stock up your fridge with WeightWatchers readymade ones. If your book doesn’t tell you these figures you can calculate it but I don&
          #8217;t know too much about that, my guess would be to search the web starting with the official WeightWatches site. How many people you cook for can be very awkward especially when you’re just starting out. Some recipes you can merely halve all the ingredients others won’t work if you do that. You can try a little trial and error or just start out by making enough for 4 and storing some in the freezer or for the next day. To be honest though I find where meals say for 4 people I usually get two adult meals, my eldest daughter Thai’s meal and a little to throw away. Then as I’ve learned more I don’t need to make so much with most of the meals I’m now familiar with. G – Grocery (ingredients etc) One thing that annoys me is how expensive it is to eat a healthy diet, I can shop for a month on £100 but if we buy a healthy monthly shop I spend nearly that on fresh fruit and vegetables alone. A tip to save your monthly budget from the whole in the pocket effect is to shop around and choose your meals carefully. If you know you’re going to be cooking a lot of chicken based dishes it’s a good idea to stock up the freezer with fresh chicken when it’s on offer or you could always opt for frozen pieces if they are cheaper. Fruit and veg is the same, if you shop around there are lots of buy one get one free but remember to keep an eye on their best before dates. Also don’t buy it all at once, get what you need when you need it and base your choice of dinners around what you have it will save you a lot of money. The quality of your ingredients depends on the meal itself – a stew won’t require them to be nearly as fresh as a stir-fry for example. Try to make sure fruit and vegetables are ripe for usually the best taste. Items like Virgin Olive Oil is very expensive but it will last you a long time and at £1 -£2 per herb or spice or more if fresh you can fin
          d that eventually they add up. Buy one or two different ones every time you visit to spread the cost, a well stocked larder makes things much easier. --------------------------------------------- At the end of the day remember cooking is a pastime and hobby as well as a dietary requirement so try to enjoy it. It’s amazing how much healthier your meals can become provided you choose the right ingredients and watch your diet. It might take a little more effort than opening a packet but it’s very rewarding at the end of the day when you not only learn a new skill but you see your family enjoying something you made yourself.

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            23.07.2002 06:17
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            Of the Jill Murphy books that we own this is not only my favorite but Thai’s. I find myself wishing I could bottle every funny thing said, every little hang up, every amazing feat, achievement and milestone but you can’t. One of the main things I wish I could have kept was the first time my Thai ever memorised a book word for word and re-read it to me with perfect actions, voices and sound effects. That book of course was Jill Murphy’s Peace At Last. What’s so amazing about her doing this is that she was not even two years old at the time – such is the influence of this book. The Story ------------ Mr Bear, Mrs Bear and Baby Bear go to bed but Mr Bear can’t sleep. In pursuit of a sleep filled bliss he moves from room to room only to be tormented by noises ranging from taps dripping to birds singing! Readability -------------- The beauty of the book is in it’s simplicity, the story itself is easy for even the youngest toddler to understand and the repeating phrases will keep your child poised at easily recognisable parts and eventually encourage them to participate as you read. The various sounds and noises on each page as well as Mr Bear and his “Oh NO!” “I can’t stand THIS” keep you from reading in slow, boring or monotone voices. Instead I found it very easy to create character voices and to imitate the noises – the humming of the fridge, the tweeting of the birds, the ticking of the clocks and little Baby Bear playing with his airplanes! It’s a book you simply can’t get bored of. The charm of it isn’t in the actual storyline but in interaction between the reader and the book. The listening child sees the reader not reading a book but putting on a show or play and you know how children never tire of us making fools of ourselves! With this book you won’t mind though, I find it simply delightf
            ul when she roars with laughter every time Mr Bear says “Oooooooooooooh NOOOOOOO!!!” or at my daft fridge impression! Illustration ------------- Children’s books just wouldn’t be the same without illustrations that are usually far more interesting than the story! Each of the right hand pages in this book is a full size colour illustration showing the next chapter (page) in the story. The picture is far from busy but in each is contained the elements of the tale from the left hand page, good for encouraging participation again. The left hand pages contain small black and white sketches offering more discussion opportunities (what is Mr Bear doing, what is that, what sound does that make etc) and some of them are simply delightful. Getting a copy ----------------- First printed in 1980 Peace At Last is only 4 years younger than me although I’d never heard of it until about 18 months ago. However it’s an immensely popular book and largely available from most bookshops including W H Smith and Waterstones. The book is available in several formats including a hard board book that is excellent for your younger terrors and the price is around £3.99. The ISBN number to the copy I have is 0-333-71277-3, which is the hard book copy and small enough for them to hold themselves although the writing is smaller. My little reader ------------------ Thai’s since memorised several of her books but this is still the one she reads best and enjoys the most and it’s one of my favorites to read. It’s a good first longer story to start on when your toddler is ready to move on from short sentence books. It does contain a few longer words they might struggle to understand but generally I’ve found that even on the first reading we got from start to finish. I give this book 10/10 and it’s in my top 10 favorite of the over 250 that we now have. It’s
            short enough and fun enough to be the perfect bedtime story, just right for tired little cubs of your own! I just can't wait to see what Ebonie will make of it too.

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              16.07.2002 05:50
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              Five words and how they’ve turned my life around. 1) Pregnancy – It’s how it all starts, ok well it starts with a bit of ‘how’s your father’ but skip past that part and the first big step on the way to parenting is your pregnancy. Even now most of us will never be the same again, I’m talking about the changes in your body. I’ve put away my tiny little skirts, my high healed boots and traded them in for a nice set of stretchmarks, loose stomach and boobs that are closer to my feet than my chest! It’s an experience that is different every time and you will probably either love or hate. A whole ¾ of a year that you will have to share your body with not only a baby but a collection of hormones that have you crying, laughing and reaching for the nearest knife all in the space of a few moments. Your lifestyle has changed already but you’re not even a mum yet. 2) Birth – You can watch as many videos, documentaries, real life births and soaps as you like but until you do it you have no idea of the multitude of feelings and emotions that run riot. And not just from a mothers perspective but a fathers too, I have given birth twice but I never tire of hearing my husbands story of it because for him it was a whole different experience. There are so many books that tell you what it’s like to be pregnant and if you read as much as you can you’ll get some idea of what you might go through but I a whole library of material couldn’t explain the birth. The joy, fear, pain, elation, apprehension, excitement, desperation, exhaustion and these are only the tip of a very big iceberg. For any first time parent for sure and indeed for many second, third, forth or higher time parents it’s a step into the unknown. Although the labour can last for a long time the actual birth of your baby lasts but a moment and in that moment your life will change for
              ever. Once you are handed your son or daughter your old life is over and your new one is a multitude of unknowns and somehow being faced with something so scary seems so exciting once you get your first look at that tiny wrinkled baby. 3) Mama – I think everyone has their favorite firsts but for me it’s when your baby looks into your eyes, stares fixedly with a desperate look on their face as they struggle to communicate. Then it happens, their mouth opens and out comes the most beautiful sound you ever heard. There’s never been a sound to rival the moment your baby calls you “mama” and really means it. I don’t know if it’s the satisfaction that I’m the center of their worlds at that very moment. Maybe it’s because all that effort is spilled into telling me I’m her mum. I’ve perhaps heard that word said a thousand or more times already but until then it just doesn’t mean the same thing. Of course it turns into muuummmmm … as in can I have this, can I go there, can you do this! But every time I hear Thai call me mum it still transports me back in time to that moment when the world stopped to let me know I was living the greatest experience there is – parenthood. 4) Organisation – I never understood how much one little word and it’s meaning would change me in a way I and certainly not my parents thought possible. I was born the ultimate scruff, I did my share of chores at home but it never occurred to me that they were preparing me for life. My husband was worse than me and between us we were late for every appointment, nothing ever got done right and our house was a total mess. It wasn’t that I didn’t care, wasn’t ashamed or even that I didn’t try because all of these weren’t true. Then quite a way into my pregnancy with Thai I started to change, subtle at first but gradually things got better and
              I seemed to have had a complete personality change. The first few months after her birth as I settled into parenthood and Thai into a routine were hard but slowly organisation took over me. Nearly 3 years on and the dictionary term should simply state “see Tasha”, I now have two young children and manage to do the same jobs in a day that would have taken me a month pre-baby. Of all the aspects of my life that have changed (with the exception of my family) this is without a doubt the best. I’ve found that the key to “easier” parenting is being organised in every aspect of your life from bills to cleaning. When twinned with efficiency it’s amazing how much you can fit into a single day and still devote the hours your children need to spend with you. 5) Family – I’ve been a part of a family before and of course that one isn’t obsolete but one of the biggest changes in my life was the formation of my very own brood. In my other experience of family I was a daughter and although it had it’s good memories and wonderful moments it never suited me and when I left to become a wife to my partner there was a large void. That void swelled fuelled by the distancing from my parents and brother and the miscarriages I suffered during our early years of marriage. That is until I became a mother and found a new role in a new family, one that I now feel I can call mine. It comes with more responsibility, more pain and heartache, more worry, as well as a good serving of stress, anxiety and frustration. But becoming a family has put me in a place I feel safe and secure bringing me feelings of joy I never thought existed except in some Meg Ryan movie. I get to correct all the mistakes my parents made, although I don’t doubt I get to make a whole lot of my own! But that knowledge and the feeling of trying to make the lives of three people I love dearly magical gives me a purpose that lac
              ked in my other family. I have a place now, a reason to do the things I do that make even the most tedious of actions bearable and often enjoyable. AND WHAT TOMORROW BRINGS Who knows! More children I hope, more stress I don’t doubt and whole lot of laughs tears and other cliched experiences. I remember thinking how I wished Thai wouldn’t grow up but she started talking and I wished she would stay at that age. She started playing and interacting more and I wished she’d stay at that age. She grew even more and started playing games and her personality really developed and I wished she’d stay at that age…….. Then Ebonie arrived and I couldn’t make up my mind which of the two was the better age, who was more fun, who was more beautiful, which was the more interesting and enjoyable experience. The answer is both and neither, I’m having so much fun with both and the best bit is I don’t have to choose. My only hope is that as they grow so the experiences keep getting more special and yet at the same time no more. Parenthood is more than a few life changes, a couple of words that influence the direction you will take. I suppose for many couples children won’t have such a dramatic effect on their lives and that’s not a bad thing. For me the changes have been huge, they’ve made me appreciative, compassionate, far more selfless, honest and well rounded. That doesn’t mean I don’t still retain many of my old flaws, but if growing old with my family brings even a little more of this then who needs to be a millionaire? This is enough for me and I want to thank Jill (jillmurphy) for making me think long and hard about this opinion and what it means to me. --------------------------------------------- "Jill Murphy asked me to write about one of my favourite things to help her celebrate her fourth anniversary of cancer-free living and to remind
              ourselves of all the nice things in the world. It takes more muscles to make a frown than a smile you know. If you'd like to join in, whether you've only just joined dooyoo, or you've been here ages, you're more than welcome. Just write about one of YOUR favourite things, make your title "A Favourite Thing: [your choice]" and include this paragraph at the foot of your opinion. And post before Friday, 9th August." ---------------------------------------------

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              • Tips on moving home / Discussion / 3 Readings / 31 Ratings
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                09.07.2002 06:29
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                I’ve just completed the 11th move of my life and regrettably not the last so when it comes to moving I know a thing or two. Five of those moves have been during my adult life and every one of those have been a DIY experience. We all know moving is one of the most stressful experiences in life and if you’re taking all the work on your shoulders you’ll want it to be as pain free as possible. I’ve found the key to this is efficiency and organisation. I’m a slave to lists, lists for shopping, lists for things to do lists for bills and lists for dooyoo, you name it, if it needs planning I’ve got a list! But in this case I would have to stress how beneficial a list can be – it’s a must. I’ve never owned a house so my experience is from a renting point of view and for the purpose of making this opinion as useful and accurate as possible this will be the basis of my guidance. 1) One home or two One of the first decisions you’ll need to make is regarding the property you now reside in and the new one you’re moving to. Virtually all tenancy agreements require a notice period before it terminates and these can range from a few weeks to 3mths leaving you with the dilemma of when to inform your landlord. You will want to avoid either paying double rent or being without a residence altogether so timing is important. Picking up a local paper will give the impression that finding another property should be a quick and easy process but the reality is somewhat different most of the time. Tips – Virtually all adverts in the newspapers are with letting agents and not private landlords. I’ve found that even on the day the newspaper comes out most of these properties being advertised will have already gone. If you are happy to let through an agency then register with as many as possible and keep calling frequently to prevent getting lost in the paperwork.
                When you do get an appointment to view a property go as quickly as possible. We’ve lost out a few times when the people with an earlier viewing time than us took it before we even got a chance to look. If you are interested but don’t want to commit initially make sure they are aware of this so as to get first refusal. If you’re renting unfurnished then measure up, you may find yourself with a whole lot of annoying problems on your hands if your current fixtures and fittings don’t fit in your new home. 2) Get that list ready When moving property there are a lot of people you need to inform especially bills you’ve probably forgotten about thanks to direct debits! Make a list of all the companies and services you need to inform and their numbers then tick them off as you go. If your tenancy agreements are going to overlap remember that some bills you will need to pay twice. You’ll need to re-organise every aspect of your life from doctors and dentists to schools. Tips – Don’t forget: Water rates, TV license (you are NOT covered in your new home even if you’re still paying under your old address - it must be changed), gas, electric and council tax. Phone companies need notice to reconnect and disconnect a phone so remember to do that in advance. Add to your list all the bills, catalogues, friends and family you will need to inform. Get together a collection of bills as they come in before the move, that way you will have all your customer reference numbers as well as the phone numbers. Before you pack up make sure you put other important documentation aside – dental, medical and school records. Anything you will need to register i.e proof of ID as well so you won’t have to root through box upon box to find them. 3) Redirect your mail As soon as you know your new address it’s a good idea to get your mail redirected, it takes up to 5 work
                ing days to take effect so unless you’re confident your old landlord will forward your mail get it done before you leave. Anyone you’ve forgotten to tell will then come through your new mailbox giving you a little reminder to change your contact details. You can choose how long you want the service for and the fee is reasonable just pick up a form from your local post office. 4) DIY moving If you’re going to do the moving yourself you’re going to need friends or family to help. If you don’t want to buy packing materials try different shops that stock bulky goods, they will quite often be happy to give you some although supermarkets tend to be a bit useless for this purpose. If you want to buy them then a good tip is to try storage companies. Most have a varied selection to choose from as well as bubble wrap, tape, furniture covers etc. We boxed up a 3-bedroom house at a cost of £130 for all packing materials. Pack sensibly and mark the boxes well, it can help immensely if you know which box the object you want is in and you won’t need to unpack everything immediately. For moving day itself I would recommend hiring a Luton van at approx £60-80 a day and you only need an ordinary driving license for it. The driver will need to be over 25 though and a security deposit (around £500) will be required. Either a debit or credit card can be used although I recommend credit if you can, on a debit card the deposit will be taken from your account and credited back to you 24-48hrs after you return the van. A Luton van will take approximately 2 trips to empty a large 3-bedroom house. Tips – book in advance and phone around for quotes, especially try some of the smaller companies where you will get a much more competitive price. Check the mileage allowance, if you go over your allowance it will cost you approximately £0.45 per extra mile which adds up. We’ve found though that m
                ost of the smaller companies are very lenient about this. Start as early as possible. You’ll be amazed how much one house can really contain and it’s the smaller items that take the most time. Those cupboards that seem so small take hours to empty and organise. Take this opportunity to have a good clear out but don’t overdo it, it’s easy to get carried away and later regret it. It’s much less stressful to spend time living in a house full of boxes than it is to try to pack up an entire home in 2 days – trust me I’ve done both! 5) Let someone else do it if you can. If you’re only going a small distance or you’re having your moving costs paid by your employer etc then take a big portion of the stress off by hiring a removal company. Virtually all require either an estimator to visit the property or you to fill in a self-assessment form and return it so it can be very hard to get quick quotes. You may find that hiring a company from your destination rather than your current area is cheaper and if you have a small house or flat you can try to go as a part load. We had a quote of £1000 to move a 3-bedroom house (small one) 130 miles, DIY cost us £500 including packing materials and petrol so it’s a big difference. Tips – anything you hold dear don’t let them within a 100 feet of, valuables, family heirlooms or anything you’re strongly emotionally connected to that is destructible move yourself if you can. Getting a range of quotes can be time consuming and frustrating but it’s worth it to get the best deal which can save you hundreds of pounds at the end of the day. 6) Easing the stress on children A move for anyone is stressful but for children it can be awful especially if you are moving to a whole new area. Try to get them familiar with the area if you can before you move. Do your research into things like schools and fa
                cilities before you move and prepare them. For younger children continuity seems to help and try to avoid stressful situations in their company. Tips – try to make the move as beneficial for them as you can, clubs where they can meet new friends are a good idea for example. Do as much of the moving and organsing as you can before moving the children in, if they can stay with a grandparent or friend while you do this that’s a good idea. I’ve found that by setting up my daughter’s rooms as closely as possible to resemble their old rooms it’s limited the stress caused by their new environment. Also remember your pets, a new home can be very upsetting for them too. 7) From one landlord to another Before you sign on the dotted line make sure you read your tenancy agreement so you know what you are responsible for and what they are. Some landlords are very easy going with alterations to the property and maintenance expectations others have very strict guidelines. It helps if you get along with your new landlord and make sure you know how to contact them if you need to. Renting through an agency will give both you and them more security but at a cost. If you rent privately then you need to be careful and know your rights before you enter any agreements. Tips – take photographs of your new property of any damage that is in place when you arrive. I’ve been caught short on this before and it can all turn very nasty if you’re not careful. When moving out of your old home make sure you leave yourself enough time to clean it top to bottom so that there will be no stressful comebacks. That is the biggest difference between renting and owning your homes – when you rent you are responsible for putting straight any wear and tear on the home that is not considered expected. Check your new and old tenancy agreements to make sure you’ve done all that is required – you m
                ay be responsible for the garden/interior paint work/windows etc. MY EXPERIENCE One month ago my husband decided to accept his new offer of a job, one week ago we moved in. The three weeks in between were hectic and stressful but by getting organised I think we survived well, finding a house, moving everything ourselves and getting settled in our new place. I think my biggest piece of advice when moving is to find a place you really like. It sound obvious but when you are working against the clock it’s easy to move to an area you haven’t researched properly or into a house that you thought seemed ok. It’s especially easy to do that if you’re renting because it’s not permanent. I’ve moved to some places I’ve loved and some I’ve hated and I think that as far as standard of living and happiness goes if you don’t feel happy in your surroundings (neighbours, area, actual home etc) then you’re going to find it very stressful and upsetting leaving yet another move on the cards. I’ve also found that although doing the work myself was much harder it was soon forgotten when I had extra money left over to toast my new home with a few beers and a takeaway! HELPFUL WEBSITES: www.yell.com – Yellow pages online - use it to find out all the amenities in your new area, doctors, schools etc. www.housingnet.co.uk – A list of properties, helpful guides and other information. www.assertahome.com – A good list of properties. www.themovechannel.com/sitefinder/rental_property/default.asp – a superb guide as well as a comprehensive list of websites

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                • More +
                  26.06.2002 19:35
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                  When I was a child marriage was considered "for life" …yada yada yada. Yeah yeah we’ve all heard the stories, we all know how perfect life was back in the old days. Or was it? I’m not so sure, a lot of it went on behind the scenes and couples had miserable lives instead of separating because it wasn’t an option. These days it is but at what cost? Is marriage the special and eternal union it should to be? I met my husband when I was only 14 years old, fell in love and was besotted by my 15th birthday. Engaged at 18 and married at 20 and 6 years later we approach the end of our 12th year together so how would I see the answer to the question as one of the new generation? However the question is not do I believe in marriage but is it outdated and I’d have to say no. My reasoning is this, marriage for many is a natural progression in a relationship and that mainly means two things these days. The first is the old school of thought and one I adhere to and that is to express your eternal love and dedication to your partner. By accepting their ring and saying bonding words (i.e entering a contract) you are pledging yourself to them in the most public and binding way. The other is that some feel it’s the “next step”, you’ve been together for a long time and you feel it’s time to get married, to become a family for instance. This tends to happen when a couple feel they would like children and don’t want to have them out of wedlock although there are many other reasons. But whichever the reason I feel it is a somewhat natural process within a relationship and thus can’t be outdated. What I do think is that the importance of it has been lost and although marriage itself remains a modern part of life the severity of it has been diluted until for many the anti-marriage argument that it’s merely a piece of paper has begun to hold water. It’s entere
                  d into with dozens and dozens of easy get out clauses which prevents couples from putting in the effort that is warranted to spend 40 or 50 years with anyone. So back to my first paragraph and whether marriage is the eternal union it should be, the statistics speak for themselves more than 1 in 3 marriages will end in divorce now, a scary figure. I believe that marriage should mean life, it’s how you should enter into it and divorce should be a last option taken only when things become immensely counter productive especially where children are involved. Marriage should never be a jail sentence but likewise it’s not a holiday either. I think you should enter into it only when you understand what it really means and are prepared to put in the large amounts of effort required to keep it fresh, fun and the most beautiful experience on earth. What’s happened is not that the idea of marriage is outdated because I don’t believe it is but that many marry the wrong person for the wrong reasons with the wrong intentions and an easy way to end it. Thus you have the modern marriage, in other words a piece of paper that in fact doesn’t mean very much. So in conclusion I think marriage has not become outdated it’s merely attitudes to marriage that have. I don’t know if there is a perfect someone for everyone and if there is if you’ll ever find him or her but I know that when marriage does work and when it’s worked at it’s a beautiful, warm and fun thing. I don’t believe everyone in a relationship should get married or that children should only happen in wedlock (although I do believe stable families are a much stronger environment to have them but that’s a whole new discussion) and I actually strongly believe in cohabiting before marriage. I don’t believe you can really know someone and how you will react before you’ve lived together for a while, when you can
                  ’t hang up the phone after an argument, when you have to put up with their most annoying habits day in day out for years! But if you are married or if you’re getting married then as corny as it sounds I hope you are as happy in your union as I am in mine. Although we do have our bad times you get through them and the good ones are GREAT!

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                    25.06.2002 19:06
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                    I’ve had the usual cringe moments which make you wonder what higher power saw fit to have a laugh at the expense of you falling flat on your backside in front of the person you’ve fancied for “ever”. Some are purely blush factor and others make you wish you had a spade so you could dig yourself a grave to lie down and die in. I’ve had some dramatic falls, I’ve forgotten to shave my legs on swimming day (that’s a killer!) at school and I’ve said some really really stupid things. But in the scheme of things those memories tend to dilute with time and many I wonder why on earth I ever worried about it. However the following will remain for all time cringe moments in my life. It is out of friendship to a fellow dooyoo’er that I’ve put this together so enjoy and I hope my sheer embarrassment will at least bring a little light hearted joy to you. The bronze award goes to ………..”My baps” There are many things about pregnancy that are not so good however for me finally having the cleavage I’ve always wanted is a huge perk (no pun intended!). However it’s one thing to wear a top that shows them off a bit more and actually “sharing” them with the whole world. This is what happened courtesy of my eldest daughter that made me think twice whether my new extensions were indeed such a gift! I was sitting at my local hospital waiting for my anti-natal appointment and Thai was around 22 mths old. I absolutely detest maternity bras so I spent the majority of my pregnancy without one including that day. Thai was getting bored so I put her on my lap and was trying to keep her entertained when she grabbed my top, pulled it right down to reveal everything and announced “look mummy BOOBIES”. Why is it they choose the word you least want them to say and shout it so loud the patients on the next floor can hear? Needless to say I am now ve
                    ry careful what tops I wear out . The silver award goes to ……… “Toothy pegs and phone boxes” Now call me rash but I think there is a definite connection between alcohol and embarrassing moments. And alas yes this is such a tale and the stars are myself, too much alcohol and a phone box! I was out with my best friend on Christmas Eve down our local pub having a few too many (as you do) and it was time to get home. We were nearly home when we walked past a phone box that was ringing. What fun it would be to answer that call, or at least it seems that way when you’re drunk doesn’t it so of course we did. Surprise surprise it was a wrong number and having re-hung the receiver we found something absolutely hilarious about the whole incident that immediately sent us into violent fits of laughter. Now not being much room in phone boxes especially with two people in there you should always limit your movements but I somehow forgot our mediocre surroundings and let out a huge laugh. With the laugh I swung my head forward and straight into the receiver of the phone and a terrible pain shot through my mouth. Upon inspection we concluded I had indeed chipped my front tooth which was very sobring considering my utter fear of dentists. Christmas day I couldn’t eat anything because of the pain in my mouth, so no chocolate, no breakfast and no Christmas dinner. My tooth sorted itself out eventually but I still have the constant reminder and I’ve never answered a ringing phone box since!!! And the gold medal goes to ………… ”Parties and paper racks” Yes another alcohol fuelled moment and one that will never dilute if I live for all eternity! We were at a party held by one of my husband’s friends, again I got rather intoxicated and it was a very good night. As a young girl I was a terrible sleepwalker doing obscure things I never rememb
                    ered in the morning but I slowly grew out of it and it happened less and less. As you’ve probably guessed this was a sleepwalking event that will cause my cheeks to flush a glorious red every time I think about it much less talk about it. We were staying at his friends house and slept on the couch together. At some time during the night I remember having a dream about waking up, going up the stairs and going to the loo. No I didn’t wet myself on the couch the reality was far far worse, I actually woke myself from my dream to find myself squatting over the newspaper rack relieving my bladder. I was convinced I’d been awake and gone upstairs to the toilet but instead I’d sleepwalked around the room and thought the rack was the .. you get the picture. So there I am knickers around my ankles and the papers soaked through next to my husband who was snoring away. I could have died right there and then and in a panic I woke up Warren and we set about trying to “hide” the evidence. Now a floor you can clean and try to dry but papers? Anyone who’s trained a puppy will know that newspaper is notorious for smells and stains. We did our best to throw a load away and clean up the spots on the floor etc and made our exit as soon as we could the next day. I have never been back there but I’m pretty sure they have thier suspicions as to what happened to all their papers. And so you now know the three main events in my life that make me shrink into a red faced humbled pile! As said this was written as a returning favour to Chris (triplecthegame) so blame him. Of course there are other moments but none that make we want to curl up and die like the above.

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                      03.03.2002 01:43
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                      < RAINMAKER - a person (as a partner in a law firm) who brings in new business; also One who is known for achieving excellent results in a profession or field, such as business or politics. > This is John Grisham’s 6th novel and the 2nd set in the courtroom (A Time To Kill being the first). An intriguing and amusing look at the law told from the point of view of newly graduated lawyer Rudy Baylor. Rudy looks set as he approaches the closing days of law school, he has a job and will finish in the top half of his class and has two promising cases to take with him. But all is about to change for young Rudy as lady luck is about to deal him a bitter blow. This causes Rudy to fall by the way of “Bruiser” Stone, a lawyer at the bottom of the profession more crooked than the crooks he represents. With no home, the police on his back and a somewhat shady job will his two cases be able to save him? Rudy is about to find himself head deep with the big boys. Told in the first person this is an unusual book that could loose the reader before it even begins. Grisham solves this problem with his fresh sense of humour and intelligent plot both of which are developed in the first few pages. You soon forget the style of writing as you get drawn in and by the time you reach a quarter of the way through it actually becomes enjoyable. The characters are gritty and real (made human by their strengths and weaknesses) and even the most inconsequential of them have purpose even if he does occasionally make more of them than needed. The vividness and depth of writing makes it easy for you to feel the varied emotions often running at tangents without loosing your interest or confusing you. Probably one of his most complex books with the prominent storyline – little lawyer takes on huge corporation – being backed up by side helpings of romance, danger, friendship and much more. The basic outline is hardly original
                      with dozens of books and films reproducing the old David vs. Goliath story recently but this one’s different in that it has flare and depth. Everyone from Rudy right on down to the less important Prince has a purpose and a fresh perspective. The obviousness of the plot is counteracted by the interlocking relationships between all the parties making it flow and keeping you gripped and page turning until the very early hours. Perhaps his only weakness is in his attempts at romance that I find at times boring and a little too convenient. He fails to develop his love interests beyond mere sexual attraction whereas the rest of the book has fast and furious intellectual exchanges blended with touches of soft compassion and emotional outbursts of anger and frustration which are simply delightful. The case is gripping but it’s not until close to half way through the novel that it actually starts leaving the first half to develop and nurture the wonderful relationships between all the concerned parties. It helped to give great depth on multiple layers to an otherwise over reproduced formula. Helping you to understand Rudy, the great Leo F Drummond of Tinley Britt and the relationship between the aforementioned Tinley Britt, Rudy and Judge Kipler who although only a small character adds lovely humour. Personally I feel that love interest, battered wife Kelly, could and should have been developed more, although needed this is without doubt the books week spot being obvious and rather one-dimensional. However his side kick the self named “paralawyer” Deck Schifflet is a splendid creation, he’s failed the bar exam 6 times and he’s Rudy’s best hope! His clients are splendidly written and you can’t help but feel compassion and sadness for Donny-Ray Black that leaves you lusting for blood by the end of the novel. There’s very little action, suspense or even drama but it’s the c
                      haracters themselves that carry you along and Grisham’s strong writing. The book keeps you enthralled by it’s complex plots and side plots all seasoned with a sprinkling of good old fashioned “let um have it” emotions. The Rainmaker is a relatively short novel (598 pages) that begs to be read cover to cover in the shortest time possible, compelling and gripping it’s easy to re-read over and over and will have you both laughing out loud and sitting with tears in your eyes. The ending is predictable but you’ll be yearning for it none the less by the time the final pages approach. It’s books like this that makes everyone into a wannabe lawyer.

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                      • The Sixth Sense (DVD) / DVD / 0 Readings / 37 Ratings
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                        23.12.2001 23:38
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                        When I saw the trailer for this film the very first time I knew it was one I HAD to see. I expected far more of a fright but where it traded off the scares for story I certainly won’t be complaining. The second biggest grossing movie of 1999 in the US (the first being Star Wars The Phantom Menace), The Sixth Sense is a wonderful film that brings up all kinds of supernatural and possibly even religious questions. However, aside from all that is a finely tuned and well thought out story you can enjoy over and over again. I think the biggest shock is that although it was nominated for 6 Oscars it failed to secure any of them, probably a little unfairly. The Story Dr Malcolm Crowe is a child psychologist living in Philadelphia. One evening while he and his wife are celebrating his securing an award in recognition of his work they hear evidence of a break in upstairs. When Crowe goes to investigate he discovers former patient Vincent Grey (Donnie Wahlberg – of former pop group New Kids On The Block) who wants revenge. A forlorn and ill looking Vincent bitterly tells Crowe how he failed him before brandishing a gun and shooting both Crowe and killing himself. Skip forward to next fall. Crowe meets new patient 8 year old Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment – Forest Gump, Artificial intelligence AI). Cole is a nervous and lonely boy with a secret he won’t entrust to anyone not even his mother Lynn Sear (Toni Collette – Muriels Wedding) who is at her wits end trying to reach him. Crowe sees much likeness to Vincent Grey in Cole and sets out to help him and to lay his own ghosts to rest. But all is not as it seems in this dark and disturbing drama/thriller because Cole “sees dead people” and as their relationship develops a bond forms between these two that will ultimately help them both find peace. What’s it like? The Sixth Sense is a wonderful tale both written a
                        nd directed by M. Night Shyamalan (Unbreakable, Wide Awake). While the story is slow on screen it’s complexity will keep you hooked until the very end which delivers the killer blow. The very nature of this film commands a second viewing although there will probably be many places where you will be questioning the accuracy and plausibility of the plot. However if you follow the “rules” of the film and your own imagination as the Shyamalan intended it’s not too hard to piece it together into a seamless tale. The plot seems sparse and ice thin at times but it’s not until the final 10 minutes when everything comes together you suddenly appreciate the hidden story you didn’t even know you were watching. In this the film joins the likes of The Usual Suspects where nothing is what it seems. The DVD and Video contain extra material explaining the “rules”, hints and tips as to what is happening. Although these are wonderful they are pointless to the first time viewer as they are purely made up and thus unrecognisable until you know what it is you’re looking for. Scenes are explained and what probably seemed a mistake now becomes an intricate part of the plot, because of this the second and subsequent viewings are for me much more enjoyable even though you know how it will all end. Style The style is very much more drama than thriller, like I said the pace is very slow and it’s far more about the relationships between the various characters than frightening you. But that’s not to say you won’t jump, quite refreshingly there is less of the typical special effects boo factor and more good old fashioned suspense, it’s what you don’t see that builds you up for the “jump” scenes. This seems to be where Shyamalan excels, he brings out the best in all the actors/actresses to drag you in deep and keep your emotions on a constant rollercoaste
                        r. As for how the story unfolds you actually see events from both Cole and Malcolm’s point of view at the same time, as they understand more so do you. Shyamalan’s use of camera angles is very much one of his trade marks but it serves well to increase the suspense as does the depth of each scene with much more than the obvious going on. The Cast: Bruce Willis leaves his quirky smile and macho image at the door and it’s done him no end of good. He is refreshing interesting in this film and delves deep into Crowe to prove that he can really act despite all his previous efforts to prove otherwise. Undoubtedly the star of the show is Haley Joel Osment who plays Cole Sear. Although Osment is already an accomplished actor the variety and complexity of the emotions he displays is outstanding and often belying his tender 11 years. His performance is so harrowing and honest that you can have no trouble actually feeling his fear and loneliness. Osment was nominated for an Oscar for his performance but didn’t get it however if he continues to nurture this talent and not succumb to the Hollywood kiss of death to child actors I think we will see some great things from this lad. Although Osment’s performance is undoubtedly the best following close behind him is Toni Collette who plays his mother Lynn Sear. Collette who starred in the wonderful Muriels Wedding really comes into her own here and I can’t wait to see more of her. She plays Lynn beautifully conveying her fear, loneliness, desperation and frustration perfectly. Olivia Williams plays Malcolm’s wife Anna and I think this is probably my biggest regret of the film. It almost feels as if her character was there only out of necessity at times and what could have been very interesting and complex encounters between these two became fleeting exchanges that served to deliver only hints at the ending. He only scratched the surfa
                        ce of the emotional turmoil these two characters are suffering. This is a real shame given the beautifully acted scenes between Cole and his mother and those between Cole and Crowe. Williams plays Anna wonderfully but because of the lack of depth to her character we don’t really get a chance to see what she could have done with Anna. Summary: There are a few scenes that don’t seem to serve the purpose of the film at all, perhaps there to add more suspense that just isn’t needed. My personal feeling is that it was damaged by the hype and by being advertised as a supernatural thriller giving the impression of a fast paced scary movie, which couldn’t be more wrong. The ending left me breathless, there were others who said they guessed the ending and were disappointed but with these kinds of films naivete is definitely better. Sort of like trying to guess what someone has bought you for Christmas, it’s fun to guess but when you get it right it’s far less enjoyable than being actually surprised on the day. I would highly recommend watching it twice, the story is far more enjoyable and it’s great fun trying to follow all the hints that are there if you know what to look for, it also makes many of the scenes all the more poignant and enjoyable. Although the scenes between the characters are wonderful it’s the intermittent ones that really gel it together and make it real, the scenes with Kyra were lovely and the party scenes showed the depth of Cole’s loneliness and fear. The Sixth Sense is rated 15 Certificate and its running time is approximately 103 minutes but I found that even though the pace of the film is slow you become so engrossed in it you feel you’ve barely got comfortable when it’s all over. Basically a more intelligent version of Ghost and I give it full marks. Not for action movie lovers though! DVD and video extras: DVD 
                        211; Storyboard to film comparison, Rules and Clues, Reaching the audience, Deleted scenes, An interview with the writer/director, and the usual things. Video – 8 minutes of ‘the story’, and ‘production’, Reaching the audience, Rules and clues and Deleted scenes.

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                          14.12.2001 20:16
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                          All of the Dooyoo elite have their own trade secrets, tips and styles. I’m not amongst them but I’ve been around a while now and although I’ve been both in the hall of fame and a Dooyoo guru during my stint I am certainly not amongst the best. I’ve watched them at work, read their material and admired them from afar but I’ve also been keeping my ear to the ground and if you fancy attempting to join their ranks then here are my personal observations and tips for you. One thing is for sure Dooyoo is a welcoming place to all (except churners) and should you have what it takes you’ll be welcomed with open arms, and if you don’t? Well they’ll have you on board anyway! - Good luck! Get up to date: Dooyoo needs all kinds of opinions on all kinds of subjects but if you choose to write solely about the obscure or unpopular you won’t be highly rated or noticed. For optimum effect write about things people want to read about, books, television, films, music and current affairs seem to be the most popular but look around and see the categories that are making most waves. Once you’ve gotten yourself noticed and people come to look at your account to see what you’re up to you can start to write more opinions about things not so mainstream. Get around: The best way to learn what people want is to see for yourself, take a look around in different categories and read opinions from throughout the list not just the top. See what is popular and what is not and read the comments sections to see why. Pick up styles that you like and suit you, very few of us have a style that is 100% our own, spice is the fruit of life so borrow a little. No-one will mind if you take a little of their influence and change it to make it your own however they will mind a LOT if you steal – don’t do it. Get spicy: Be dangerous, be original, be yourself, be your best.
                          Get your own personality and use it in your writing, someone who writes in a monotone fashion will bore the reader and they won’t come back for more. Use the little bits you’ve gotten from other readers and add it to your own style to make your work stand out. If you interest people word will get around and readers who happen to stumble upon your work will come back time and time again. Where there are dozens of opinions about the same subject your individuality will be the key to a successful opinion, one that won’t sink to the bottom of the forgotten pile. Try to see things from a whole new perspective, tell your readers something they don’t know, dazzle them in short and before you know it you’ll be starting to leave your mark. Get Busy: You’ve got a style and you know what you want to write about, now what you need to do is do it, get writing. Wooooooo there boy! Before you put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) you want something amazing to happen there, something that will be crown worthy material, something that will earn you respect from other writers and move you above and into the elite. What what what??? Well this is where I’m flawed hopelessly, what ever that “something” is is beyond me, use the tips in the “how to get a crown” section for great ideas but at the end of the day you’ve either got it or you ain’t. But don’t despair because I do have a few starting tips for you. Research what you’re going to write, it’s not enough just to like it and tell them why they want to know the in’s, out’s and shake it all about’s so tell them. Try to do it as interestingly as you can, don’t just real off a load of information you read off the box because they can do that for themselves, like I said before dazzle – find something they didn’t know. Take notes, write down ideas as they come to you
                          and think about what you’re going to write long and hard. When you’re ready to write just write anything and everything you can think off and go through it to delete any repeats or unnecessary information etc, then restructure until it flows. When you’re writing put yourself into your material, we want to know why you like/hate it not just that you do. And lastly re-write and re-write until you have something you’re proud of, at the end of the day a crown shouldn’t make you proud of your work you should be regardless. Get known: The best way to get known is by writing well and usually (I’d argue about always) some of the best opinions are the crowned ones. Get yourself crowned on a regular basis and you’re half way home. Read other peoples work and rate it, we all like to know who rates us but no-one likes a dishonest rater. Leave comments where you have something constructive to say, be relevant, interesting and above all honest, if something is wrong or missing from the opinion say so, if you loved it say why. If you do manage to find your own original style that will do a lot of the work for you, interesting readers are frequently recommended amongst members. Use the circle of friends and the inform me of new opinions functions but only where you are genuine, if you abuse it people will simply ignore you. Get popular: I don’t care who seethes at this you won’t make it to the top if you’re not well liked and respected. That doesn’t mean kissing booty all day long, that is despised so don’t try it, by popular I mean get involved. There are various messageboards and forums that you can become an active member of, they are a great bunch and although Dooyoo is a main topic of conversation there’s loads of other talk and banter. Take advantage of the get-togethers if you can (unfortunately I’ve been unable thus far), it’s a good way t
                          o get to know people and it’s bound to be fun. Rate and read as much as you can but do it because you enjoy it. It’s undoubtedly the best way to get your own opinions read but it’s also common decency if you have the time to do it. Dooyoo pays writers only for crowns and per read and for almost all of us we depend on the reads as the crowns are infrequent at best. Be honest and fair and get involved with the site, make suggestions you feel will benefit the site and take up opportunities to get involved in its running if that should interest you. Make nominations for crowns where you feel the deserve it and leave comments where appropriate. But at the end of the day the Dooyoo top dogs are there because they deserve to be. If you’ve got what it takes then this advice will set you on the right track but if not then it should make Dooyoo a far more enjoyable experience for you anyway. Take it from me and if you do ever work out that secret ingredient do come back and let me know – thanks!!

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                            13.12.2001 20:15
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                            I think most parents would just love to leave their kids in Hamleys and get on with things while they amuse themselves. But kids being most non-cooperative at the best of times are quickly amused and twice as quickly bored no matter how much of Argos, ELC and Toys R Us you buy! Although all these mechanical toys are great for playing with and many do have educational properties your child will still need to be stimulated in other ways so why not make it as fun as possible. Time is usually something that feels so very short when it comes to spending it with your children so make the most of it and try out some activities you can do together for both fun and learning. From my experience with my daughter who is now two this is my top 10 list of things to do. I can’t wait to start all over again with my second and have two times as much fun with both of them as they grow. 1) Painting: Now now don’t get your knickers in a twist there’s no need to paint the whole living room in order to have fun. Poster paints are a great source of fun if you have the patience to get everything ready and then clean afterwards but you can always substitute them for basic watercolours that are far less messy. If your painting on a budget I recommend Wilkinsons for all the equipment or if you have any of those £1 everything stores etc near you they are great. You can get big bottles of poster paints for £1 each and a small pallet of watercolours for 50p. I would say start this around 1 year – 15mths and begin with finger paints, messy but your baby will LOVE it. Tips…..Cover all the area you’re going to be working from, use an old sheet if you have one or tape pieces of paper together. Don’t forget the mess on the sheet and walk it all over the house though!! If you have younger children confine them to a highchair or some kind of table, you can always wash the highchair down afterwards and it mea
                            ns there is a limited amount of mess they can make (usually!). Lastly let them do what they want, if they want to paint their beautiful picture all black – let them, it will only frustrate them if you try to turn them in Renoir. 2) Drawing: If you are worried about everything ending up covered in pencil marks then you can always have supervised sessions alone and then take the pencils away until next time. Try using different ideas for them to draw on, colouring books, dot-to-dot books, plain paper of different sizes or a drawing you’ve done for them to colour. Most children orientated sites have pictures you can print for your child to colour too. You have a choice of pens, crayons or pencils to use, personally I advice you stay well away from pens for younger children and crayons are better for the youngest artists. NEVER leave young children unattended with any of them though and make sure that the crayons are non-toxic. Tips…..Let them tell you what to draw and do it in very simple stages, eventually they will copy you and learn how to draw things for themselves. They can usually start drawing around 1 year – 18 months and by 2 years they will love it so spend lots of time with them, it’s a great activity to develop their creativity. I find that crayons are the best medium and buying paper in big batches (like printing paper for example) will make you pull your hair out less when they decide a drawing is finished after just one mark! Remember to let them decide what they want to do and how. Alternative: If you really don’t want to let them use pencils then buy a Magnadoodle or similar alternative, they are fantastic (in fact I recommend you get one anyway). My daughter has used hers so much it’s worn out, you just rub out and start again so no paper or pens used. 3) Reading: I’d like to think that every parent encourages this anyway from the earliest p
                            ossible opportunity but I know that a lot don’t. I’m afraid this is probably my biggest hate. Books are wonderful at developing your child’s sense of imagination and for helping them to learn to read and write as well as teaching them constantly both facts and language skills. If you’re stuck for money then check out your local charity shops, you can often pick up books for 10p – 50p up to a maximum of £2 per book, far less than in the shops and they are nearly always in fantastic condition. Then of course there is the library if you have access to one, they don’t charge at all. Find books that have pictures your child can interact with, let them pick which they want to read from a stack and sit with them while you read. Don’t make them finish the book if they don’t want to, remember this is supposed to be fun even while being educational. Tips……. Encourage them to read by following the words with your finger as you go and point to specific objects that they know so they can join in the story too. Don’t get frustrated if they just want to read the same book over and over and over, they are just learning. Thai does that and now can recite books to herself now word for word by recognising the pages. Avoid flap and pop-up books for the very young, they will just pull them apart and get frustrated if they can’t get them to work. Lastly don’t buy books that are too long for you child at their age, keep it short and lengthen the story as their attention span increases. 4) Puzzles: The most important thing about introducing your child to puzzles is don’t do it too soon, they will get frustrated and end up hating them. Wait until your child is showing signs of good dexterity then start, if they have trouble then help them and if they still can’t do it take it away and try again in a few weeks. It will probably seem that they will never get the ha
                            ng of it but one day they just will! Trust me, Thai couldn’t do even the easiest of ones until she was nearly 2 years old and is now doing them by the dozen. Try to find thicker card ones that are quite large to begin with, ELC do some great puzzles so do Asda, Woolworths and Wilkinsons. Prices are pretty low considering the entertainment and lasting factor, usually about £3-£5 each. Tips…………Choose puzzles with bright interesting pictures but not ones that are too busy or confusing for younger children. Help your child by suggesting and showing where the pieces go but if they are getting frustrated don’t loose your temper or just take the piece away that will just upset them more. Talk to them while they are doing it and teach them to match up shapes, colours and to try turning the piece or try it in a different place. Remember each child develops at their own rate but as they get older this can be a wonderful activity for you to do as a whole family as well as teaching them at the same time. 5) Getting out and about: Sounds obvious but too few parents actually make regular trips with their kids. These days with working long hour and lack of money and things being so expensive we all just stay in instead. There are lots of places to go though and even if it’s just a walk where you can talk or play around at least it’s some fresh air and it doesn’t involve a television. For babies there’s the park on nice days or on wet or cold days there are a lot of baby gyms around where both older children and babies will be able to play and meet other children. For older children how about museums, galleries etc? You don’t have to count it as a whole day, try to encourage their interest by letting them ask questions and telling them things about the objects. Kids love to learn it’s a natural instinct so nurture it, not all children will like these sorts of things so t
                            ry to aim for activities and outings they will enjoy. Tips…………Plan well, nothing is more frustrating than planning a trip that turns to a day of hell because it’s closed or too far away or your children hate it. Encourage all kinds of enjoyment and learning, even from an early age they will take in the information and get some fun from it even if it’s only for 20 mins. It might seem a lot of effort for 20 minutes but as they get older it will get longer and you’d be surprised what a child can pick up in 20 mins. What about zoo’s and farms? Most children adore animals and it’s good to introduce them early. 6) Videos: Ahh the dreaded television, how did that end up in here. Well simply because not all programs and videos are mindless entertaining rubbish, there are plenty that hold educational values even in small amounts and a small dose of television I think is actually good for your child, it helps them unwind and relax a bit. But also it’s a chance for you just to sit and spend quiet time with your child or even take advantage of their love of TV at a young age by starting to teach a language. A young child will learn a second language the way it does it’s first so why not put on a language video designed for youngsters and make the most of this time in their life. We never learn the same way again. Tips………….Not too much and try to make the most of it. You don’t have to sit there watching BBC education videos even Rugrats holds a lot of information for your child to learn but if they insist on lots of TV every day then at least make some of it learning time. We all love a good cartoon (well all us big kids!) so cuddle up and use the time to bond, with slightly older children you can try having discussions about the program. 7) Cooking: More good messy fun for both sexes to enjoy and get used to. Most of th
                            em will have to feed themselves at some point and it’s good if they know how. But aside from that it’s great fun and a good bonding experience provided you don’t expect too much from the outcome. You can involve them in your everyday cooking and cleaning activities or make time for special cooking. There are so many websites with cooking ideas that you can try with your children or if you have the money WH Smiths is bound to have a few dozen books on it. Tips…………Probably best to wait until your child is 18mths to 2 years before you start but that’s just my experience and then keep it simple, don’t give them the whole mixture to mix just a small amount. Let them cut out biscuits with child shape cutters for example and give them a cloth to wipe up a small area afterwards. Make it as fun as possible and try to produce something they can eat afterwards, if you’ve had a disaster you can always cook a small batch on your own in secret! 8) Let’s pretend: Probably the best way to learn and it can be completely free! For early starters use nursery rhymes and songs with actions and encourage them to join in, yes you might look a wally but it’s for a good cause! Why not have a tea party with their toys or pretend to cook, you don’t need an extravagant toy kitchen use your own pots and pans. Encourage you child to initiate the game as much as possible and just have as much fun as you can, you might feel silly but being a horse is actually amazingly enjoyable!!!! Tips………Try out new games as much as you can but let them dictate what and how you do it whenever they want to within reason. Take the phone off the hook and concentrate on your child, if you have to go midway through a game they can get very upset. Playing together is great but try to encourage them to play alone too, it will give you a break sometimes and keep them amused and
                            avoid frustration because they want your attention all the time. Sometimes sitting in the same room while they play and talking to them but not really joining in will help. 9) Use your computer: We’re living in a society that will be using these things for everything (well near enough!) soon and our children will benefit enormously from being comfortable around them. Introducing them to the computer early on when they are learning at their fastest rate will help as long as it’s not too much too often, just like television really. The computer should not become a replacement to friends and playing outside or with other toys etc. There are numerous games you can get many with an educational theme to help your child learn to count, read or write etc as well as teaching them about the world we live in. You can buy first keyboards and mouse for your younger child that they can start to use from around 18mths although they are very expensive and you will need to buy the corresponding CD ROM’s to go with it. If you don’t want to buy anything then there is the internet, there are literally hundreds of websites for you to look at, personally I love the BBC website for Thai. Tips………Vet and discs and websites before using them with your child and make sure if you are using the internet your older children don’t have access to any sites they shouldn’t. Start by showing them what you are doing and gradually encourage them to use the computer and mouse themselves. Remember not too much too often and make the most fun by letting your child decide what they want to do. 10) And finally! Get crafty: Go all Blue Peter and make things with your children it’s messy, it’s frustrating at times but it ain’t half fun! They will love it and you’ll have something you can keep for ever in the memory box if for nothing else than to embarrass them in front of thei
                            r partners evil chuckle. You can end up sending a fortune but for a budget and usually the best things anyway look around in £1 shops, sales, boot fairs and charity shops, you’ll be surprised what you can pick up. And for free why not use things you have at home, toys from cereal packs, packets and containers (washed of course) and old clothes etc. Make objects or for your younger kids do a collage, just glue the paper, provide some reasonably sized objects and let them stick away. Tips………..Keep your eye on young children at all times if you’re doing this. Try to buy things as you go along and store them in a box, whenever you see some stickers on sale or some sewing accessories (buttons, lace etc) then buy some for when you need it. That’s it! It’s not always easy to do any of these things when you’ve got in from work all tired or you have a million and one things to do. Just think in 10 years or so your washing will still be piling up and there will still be a daily pile of dishes for you to wash but your children will no longer want to do any of the above with you. Don’t miss out because some of the best times I’ve had with Thai have been when I’m doing the things listed above.

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                              11.12.2001 17:42
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                              Typical day in our family home: Wake up to kids screaming, put earplugs in and go back to sleep. Wake up later nice and refreshed and go see what all the fuss is about with hysterical kids. Reluctantly dress them both and change their bums, I did try just throwing the clothes at them and getting them to do it themselves. Lazy buggers. Spend day eating, watching tv or surfing on the computer and go to bed when husband comes home. Kids are around somewhere and they know where the food is. YEAH RIGHT, what is this stay at home mum vs working mum thing? Are you suggesting that I don't work? My husband has just gone back to work after two weeks full time at home with me and the kids. The idea was that I would have a two week break and he would do all the work. We ended up sharing the workload and he couldn't wait to get back to the office. Now don't get me wrong he worships our two wonderful daughters but this JOB (yep I did say JOB) is hard. !Disclaimer! - I use the phrase "full time parent/mum" throughout. This is not to say I feel you have to stay at home with your children to be a full time parent. I have to describe what I do and I feel this is the most accurate term. I am around my children 24/7 and I think that constitutes full time so I mean no offence to any working parents who of course are not "part time", the two terms should not be thought of in the same context. !Disclaimer end! So why do it? Well I can assure you it's not because I like to sit on my backside all day (as nice as that would be) and do nothing. My day is very different from that indeed and my reasons for doing it are very serious. There is nothing in this world more important than my family and there is nothing I wouldn't do for them for the right reasons (and I mean NOTHING). I have always believed that I would do the best for my children and in this household that is bein
                              g at home with them during their early development and beyond if needs be. Whether I go back to work after that is not for this debate. The reasons for this decision are because I feel that at this stage of life they need to feel secure and they need optimum stimulation for their development. I can just hear working mums seething at me right now but read till the end before you scream at your computer. With more and more mums (parents not forgetting you dads) returning to work and the number of children getting into all kids of social and emotional trouble I can't help but see a connection. Not a reason, working mums are not the cause of this but I do believe the fact children are receiving less attention (and this goes for full time mums too) is a contributing factor that cannot be overlooked. Children pick up most of their social skills from those around them influencing them every day and I will not leave my children in the hands of another at this crucial time in their development. I also believe that one on one stimulation is essential to reaching their full potential and so I spend most of my day rushing around like a lunatic. I take my job very seriously and it's taken me 2 years to get where I am and I'm still learning every day. I have two children now, Thai who is 22mths and Ebonie who is 2mths. I have spent everything I have to give (time and money and love) on these girls (and my husband) and I truly believe it shows. If you look around every room there are toys, books and things to stimulate her. I'm not sure I go in for all the weird stimulation stuff like modern art on every wall and foreign language tapes playing every day etc. If I start bleating on about her you'd probably think it was just me being her mum and to a certain extent you'd probably be right! However I will say that we have had none of the problems you most associate with toddlers thus far. She has complete faith
                              in me, she's very happy and completely content. There is no jealousy between her and her sister, in fact she adores her and tells ME to pick her up! There is no separation anxiety and yet I'm her favourite person in the whole wide world so far. Now she's not a perfect child she throws the mother of all tantrums but she knows right from wrong even at this age and her development is way above average for her age. I have some fantastic friends and of them I am one of only two full time mums. Some work full time and others part time but all agree Thai is probably the most well developed of them all, now that's not my words it's theirs. So I must think that after saying all that I think full time mums are terrible and WRONG? Nope not a bit of it. I think it's a shame that not every child and parent (mum or dad) has or even wants the same opportunity that Thai, Ebonie and myself have but that's not to say I don't think there are damned good reasons not to be a full time parent. However as I have my own personal reasons they have theirs. Being a full time parent is like any other job is requires certain criteria to fill it and they vary from child to child. Not being right for the job doesn't mean however that they're bad parents it just means that staying at home with their children will probably be more destructive that constructive. For some there is the question of money, it doesn't grow on trees and unless I missed out on that bit of information full time parents don't get paid (receiving money from other sources is different). If you're asking me to choose between the two sides then I have to say staying at home with the children is more important. But ONLY where optimum time and attention and stimulation can be given. As we all know we don't live in a perfect world where circumstances are just right for everyone and so we do the best we can with what we
                              9;ve got. I do feel that not enough parents do try and I do feel that children are suffering from this, day care just doesn't provide the one on one stimulation your child needs at this tender age. But this is my opinion from my experiences and the last time I looked I didn't know it all, hadn't seem it all and hadn't done it all. When I have I'll come back and re-write this with a more definite opinion but until then you'll just have to accept these are my own personal ideas formed from my own personal experiences. Whatever you decide remember that your children are the best thing you can have and should be the most wonderful time in your life. One thing I do believe strongly is that if you don't believe that you shouldn't be having them. Oh and how if I'm so busy did I find time to write and post this? They do sleep you know *wink*!!!

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                                10.12.2001 01:41
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                                • "The effort!"

                                I've got glue on my sofa, glitter on the floor, it took me an hour to pull the stickers out of my daughters hair and I don't think my landlord is going to appreciate the new artwork on his nice white walls. She screamed at me I screamed at her and daddy screamed at us both. What on earth have we been up to? Why making Christmas cards of course, it seemed such a simple idea. Draw some simple snowman scenes on card and set Thai to work with crayons, glitter and cotton wool - no problem. But then once again I had under estimated the frustrating ability a two year old has to thwart every flawless plan. I could have gone down to Clintons and bought some very cutesy wootsy cards and signed it from the girls but oh no I have to be different. Silly mummy - you know she says that a lot and I'm beginning to think she may just have a point. For a start getting a 2 year old to colour in one picture isn't so difficult and you know green skies have a certain charm but by the 4th one she's suddenly decided that EVERYTHING has to be green or even better BLACK. Ah but I'm one step ahead, do it in sessions and she'll forget she was bored and we'll get 4 adorable pictures all ready to decorate. Ha ha ha, skip forward 3 weeks and the final touches go onto the last picture. I breathe a sigh of relief until I remember that we've got the real fun stuff still to do and suddenly I break out in a rather cold sweat. You know it's not too late to back out and visit dear old Clintons. I can feel that stubbornness rising up in me again and decide that I will not give in, I will not loose to a toddler I am mummy and I am in charge. Just think positive and remember who's boss and we'll have this done in no time. Why oh why oh why didn't I pay attention to the fact there is a VERY good reason why most parents don't put themselves through this. We start with the glue and glitter, I'll
                                glue you glitter and we'll be finished by tea time. That would have been pretty good had madam not decided the gluing looked like much more fun than the glitter and point blank demanded she do it. Now anyone who has one of these adorable? little people knows that putting your foot down really doesn't work and for all your most wonderful intentions you will ultimately loose almost every battle. And so she proceeds to glue everything in sight although at least I'd had the foresight to constrain her in her highchair - trust me small consolation! An hour later and a few screaming fits I pry the brush from her hands, bribe her with some special water (a capri-sun!) and we're back to the glitter. After 2 cards we have enough of the stuff piled on her tray to Finnish all the others but little miss bugger box is now having fun with the once redundant but now highly amusing glitter pots. And so it continues to flow building up into nice little mounds resembling the snow hills I tried to create on the cards. A little more intervention and screaming, tears and cuddles and we're all happy and ready for the cotton wool. Now I've come so far I am NOT giving up now, one more mountain to climb and we are done. So out comes that oh so wonderful glue, the glitter on my hands, clothes, floor carpet, table and hair can wait till later. This time I'm NOT giving in and I glue the cards while throwing cotton wool buds at her so she doesn't have time to realise she's missing out. Oh this is good things are going pretty well here, she's putting them in the right places and seems content until "fish-it mummy, do painting" UGH. No darling we'll do that later, do some more sticky sticky first. You guessed it we're back to screaming fits - why oh why oh why but I already said that didn't I! JUST ONE MORE TO DO, I know I can do this............I think I can do this...
                                .........I HOPE I can do this. Ah that's it, disappear into the kitchen and come back with a jelly baby (another good intention out the window). It works, last snowman has his body and a few beads later all 4 snowmen have eyes and a nose - FINISHED. I backed them onto more folded card and wrote the message myself and they are ready to be sent. What a fiasco, what a nightmare, what unimaginable fun. Maybe I am just a glutton for punishment or perhaps a tad sadistic but just seeing the finished product and knowing that they will bring the most immense enjoyment to their recipients, namely the two sets of grandparents, a great-grandmother and our closest friends. Perhaps I can wait till next year to start again but I will certainly be doing this again and next year with the girls being one and three it should be even more FUN??!! If you have the patience (or even just enough not to go mad) then I really do recommend you do this even if it's just one special picture you put away in the memory box.

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                                • More +
                                  09.12.2001 03:13
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                                  There are wants and wishes and they shouldn't be confused, we all WANT certain things like winning the lottery, the newest game system or the most nagging member of the family to emigrate to the moon PERMANENTLY! However a wish is different it's heart felt and something important to you personally. Last year I sat here and managed to type up 10 of my most personal wishes and I will never doubt the power of dooyoo or Santa again! So how on earth do I improve on that, right now I feel the luckiest woman alive as last years Christmas present, Ebonie Jade our beautiful 2 mth old daughter lays quietly sleeping in her chair? This year I wish things for the most important people in my life. If just some of the magic from last year rubs off on them it will be but a small taste of what they have done for me this past 12 mths. And so we come to the list: 1) My mother-in-law, I wished for her last year and that was probably the only wish not to come true so I again dedicate this first and most important wish to her. I wish for a miracle, no less, that this next year will be kinder to her and cause her no more pain than she is already in. 2) For my best friend, I wish her as wonderful and magical a pregnancy as I had and a healthy beautiful baby. It's already going to be blessed because it has wonderful parents and a great sister but a little bit of extra luck will always come in handy! 3) For two of my friends battling with depression I wish them some relief. I know all about that awful illness and it pains me to see them so ill and upset. I hope with all my heart that next year brings them more happiness and less tears. 4) For my daughters I wish nothing but the best, I hope they have a wonderful year with no illness or accidents. I hope they laugh till their bellies hurt and feel all the love I have for them every day. 5) For my husband I wish job satisfaction, he works so hard a
                                  nd has had such bad luck so far. I hope this new job turns out to be all it seems and that next year holds all the challenges and rewards he is looking for. 6) For my brother I hope he finally sorts out his debt and starts to enjoy life without the constant worry of money problems. 7) For my parents a wish they won't understand. I wish they would learn to appreciate the important things in life like their children, grandchildren and friends before it's too late. They value possessions so much and yet are so unhappy while all the time ignoring the most special things money can't buy. 8) I wish my nanna good health and happiness. I also wish us closer than we've been for many years. The death of my granddad was and is painful for me and her association to him has caused me to pull away. I hope I can make more of an effort to make our still good relationship as special as it once was. 9) For another of my friends I wish her own special bundle in her arms by this time next year. After having so many problems myself I hate to see her having them too and hope that Christmas delivers her the same gift it did me. 10) Lastly for everyone I care about, I hope they stay safe and well and that all their dreams come true. But I also hope they share the most precious gift that I already have...the ability to appreciate the special people around them, family and friends.

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