Katie's "Yes" time

Yesterday I pulled Katie out of school before lunch. This was on her teacher's recommendation after I'd expressed some concerns. I felt that my time with Katie was too full, too rushed. I also felt that Katie would still benefit from a daily nap, but full-time school wasn't allowing for one. So, we decided I would take Katie out for an afternoon a week. While Wednesday would provide the best break in the week, Katie didn't want to miss the weekly dance unit. Ultimately, we decided Friday would be the easiest day.

Buffy's Birth Story

(It took me nearly a year to write Katie's birth story (below) and about a month to write Buffy's. That alone is the best indication of the ocean of difference between their births.)

Elizabeth Olivia – “Buffy�

Born 3:03 am on Wednesday, 27 July 2005 at home after a long pre-labor and a lightening quick labor.

Tuesday, 26 July 2005
4:10 am
My first contractions started. I slept between contractions and exhaled sharply during them. I was very excited that things were starting to happen. The baby wasn’t due until the 31st, but I really wanted her to appear earlier so we could have our lovely independent midwives attend. At around six I woke Andrew to tell him he probably wouldn’t be going to work that day, because we were having a baby! He was also very excited. The contractions continued throughout the morning fairly regularly, strong but not painful.

Katie's Birth Story (49 months later)

Our girls are 9 and 49 months old today! Seems like as good a day as any to post Katie's birth story like I said I would. It's long, but it was a long labour!

I wish I could say it went as smoothly as we planned. It ended up pretty rough for both me and Katie. My water broke at 1:15 am on Tuesday morning. My contractions were 10-15 minutes apart for a few hours. I woke Andrew up at 6 when they were 7 minutes apart. We called my midwife around 7:00 and the contractions were 5 mins apart. Everything progressing wonderfully, right? Well, she said to call back when the contractions were 3 mins apart. I called her around noon and asked her to come over. My contractions slowed down again, but were always about five minutes apart. They were like this for the rest of the day and then through the night.

Dear Aerial Guys...

Thank you for coming around so promptly to give us a quote on a digital aerial, so we can finally get rid of our cable company. Thank you for assessing the situation and despite completely opposing diagnoses, coming in at the £200 we anticipated. Thank you, first company, for calling me back and offering a good discount. That was nice and an unexpected benefit of telling you I was having several quotes done.

I must reserve my biggest thanks to you, second company, for sending your guys up on my roof to check out just how dire my ancient, rusty, pathetic TV aerial was. Thank you for telling me it needed an amplifier and to re-route the splitter into just one TV. We only need one television in this house, and we never plan to put TVs in the girls' rooms. Huge, gigantic, wonderful thanks for twiddling with the splitter and FIXING IT ALL FOR FREE! I know you don't know this, but I'm not going to tell you. We're now going to dedicate that £200 to tearing up the carpet in the hall and ridding ourselves of the dreaded cat pee smell. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts to the tips of our noses!

The Gambiers

New Labour means never having to say you're sorry

Time was, ministers would fall on their swords at the slightest hint of scandal. That's all changed in recent years. Now, it would appear that nothing short of major felony will convince this wretched bunch to take the honourable path.

The latest gimp in the spotlight is everyone's favourite Fungus the Bogeyman lookalike, Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary. Clarke stands accused of having presided over the Home Office while the Prison Service released over one thousand foreign national criminals into the community at the end of their sentences, rather than ensuring they were deported. And now, the Home Office doesn't know where they are.

Remarkably, Clarke has said that it's all his fault! But that he won't be resigning because it was a 'systemic' rather than a personal failure and he wants to stick around and sort this sorry mess out. This morning it became clear that he did offer his resignation to Tony Blair but that it was refused.

Both Blair got it wrong and Clarke should have insisted. Clarke is right - it's unfair to blame the Minister for every failure, just because they're the person at the top. But 'systemic' failures are precisely the sort of thing the Minister should take responsibility for. The Minister is akin to the Chairman of a public company - not involved in the day-to-day executive management of their brief, but able to take an overview of the overall direction and strategy. And, critically, the Minister has responsibility, as does any company director, for the internal controls of their department. Making sure the Prison Service and IND talk to each other is what Charles Clarke should have been doing. That's why he must go.

I'm also anticipating Clarke's announcement that this whole mess wouldn't have been possible if we had had a national identity card scheme. As these were foreigners, such an assertion would be a tissue of lies. But just you wait...

Extinction of the dinosaurs

When the dinosaurs died, did they all die at once, or did some limp on for a few million years, wondering where their brethren had gone and why the modern climate was no longer hospitable?

Perhaps we should ask Polly Toynbee? She is, after all, a relic of simpler times when people actually believed that socialism could provide solutions. She writes a daily bluster in The Guardian and today's column is on the topic of marriage.

She's got her knickers in a twist about a rather sensible observation from the Conservative Party that "social justice depends on reversing the tide of family breakdown." She cheerlessly suggests that one of the paths to poverty should be "Tory governments that increase child poverty threefold" before blathering about how it will be really unfair to the poor to introduce policies that encourage marriage. You see, the poor just can't help breaking up their marriages because they're, um, poor whereas those rich Champagne-chugging middle classes have all that lovely money to hold them together.

Toynbee's problem is - yet again - she's letting her prejudices cloud any semblance of judgement. The proposal isn't to prescribe marriages for all the poor cohabiting couples in Britain. Instead, it's to remove the daft incentives that make marriage less financially desirable than cohabiting. It's crazy to make married couples less well off than two singles, especially when there are such clear benefits to marriage for the individuals concerned, their children and their neighbourhood.

Not all dinosaurs died of course... some were able to adapt their ways to the changing environment. It was only those that could not that got left behind. Pollytoynbeeasaurus, be warned.