Monday, 29 July 2013

it's carnival time!

So, Britmums Carnival time... In a nod to the gorgeous British weather (okay, that was more last week than this week, but go with me here) the text has been prettified by some photos of my garden in the sunshine ~ nothing more complex than that I'm afraid!

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

thoughts on yawning and trusting

One of Smiler's party tricks is that if he opens his mouth too wide his jaw can dislocate.  I know.  Great fun.  When it goes, Smiler's mouth locks open ~ he can't close it, can't swallow ... presumably it hurts, but this is the boy who self propelled his wheelchair with a broken wrist to convince us he was 'fine ... fine mummy fine'  And why?  'Home mummy, home now'.  Not a fan of hospitals, and I can't say I blame him.  

Monday, 22 July 2013

why do we all stare when a toddler has a tantrum?

I introduced some thoughts about parenting and identity a few weeks back, and it's been buzzing around in my head since then.  By extending the thinking about pregnancy and expectations to other situations a little further down the road, there's something else I'd love to hear your thoughts on, and memories of : tantrums.

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Tuesday, 16 July 2013

it's hoodie time...

I've been knitting again, this time a jumper for Smiler's friend Alfie ~ kindly modelled by Smiler, who now thinks it's his, so there may be another one in the works fairly soon!  Smiler isn't always as cooperative as I might wish when I'm taking pictures, but hey, he's facing in the right direction, and for today that's enough!

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Sunday, 14 July 2013

come play 'what if...' with me!

So, royal baby : girl or boy; princess or prince; pink or blue?

How often have you heard from an expectant friend 'I don't mind if it's a boy or a girl, as long as it's healthy'.  

The retort I have to bite back every time is 'And what if it's not healthy?'

I know it's one of those things people just say without thinking, but really, what if it's* not healthy?  

Would that mean you wouldn't love it*? [Have decided to assign gender to it cos the *'s are pissing me off... It's now a girl.  Officially.  Yep, you read it here first]


What if she's not healthy?  

Would that mean you wouldn't love her?

Wouldn't want her?

Would she ruin your life?

Seriously ~ what if the much anticipated baby has a disability?  A congenital heart defect; a sensory impairment; a chromosome disorder; spina bifida...  

I'm sure there has been scan after scan after scan, but not every disability has physical manifestations that can be seen on a scan, or even diagnosed after a baby has been born ~ what if in a few years  time it becomes apparent that this regal child is on the autistic spectrum; or has a relatively mild intellectual disability?

Can you imagine the impact on the political landscape if this baby has a disability?  Would the public perception of disabled children gradually alter over time do you think, with a steady stream of positive images in the media?  Or would such a child take very much a back seat and rarely appear in public?  Any thoughts?

Saturday, 13 July 2013


Sometimes it feels like Smiler lurches from one crisis to another, but in reality there are plenty of stable plateaux on the way, it's just these days don't stick in your mind quite as well!  We're on a good stretch at the moment (*touching wood while throwing salt over shoulder and wishing on a star*) and while things are (relatively) calm, I realised how used to certain things we had become ~ health issues that I knew nothing about before I gave birth to Smiler ~ that I knew nothing about when he turned five, or ten.  What will I have learnt about by the time he's fifteen?  When you have no choice you'd be surprised what you can get used to, and even aspects of life you would have thought you would struggle with become commonplace, ordinary boring monotonous parts of your daily routine.

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Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Mr Brewer ... didn't you used to be a councillor?

Collin Brewer.

In case you missed it, he's the councillor in Cornwall who said that disabled children should be put down at birth because they cost councils too much money.  This post is a quick review of events, rather than my more usual grumble~y ramble~y posts, but don't worry ~ one of those will be along soon!  So, Collin Brewer ~ apparently he was trying to provoke debate.

It worked ~ in that he provoked debate about the consequences he should suffer as a result of his comments.  Eventually, he begrudgingly resigned.  Then stood for election.  And won his seat by four votes.

The following week, he was interviewed by the Disability News Service, who gave him just enough rope to hang himself.  Instead of repeating his apology and taking the opportunity to connect with a clearly vocal and passionate sector of community, Brewer instead attempted to explain the rationale behind his comments, including agreeing that financial considerations are relevant to 'putting down' some severely disabled children [full transcript here].

* * * * *

I, along with many other bloggers including the wonderful Hayley from Downs Side Up, the fantastically eloquent Victoria Wright, and   the often hysterically funny Rentata of Just Bring the Chocolate  put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboards) and blogged about Brewer as well as writing to the council asking them to take action against him for these remarks.  I wrote Brewer Wolf : once upon a time and more clouds than sunbeams, and tried my hardest to be the bigger man ... woman ... person ... you know what I mean! A couple of weeks ago I received a response from the council, obviously a cut and paste job due to the number of complaints ~ here it is.  The decision notice issued at the conclusion of their investigation can be downloaded from here ~ just click the CCNO19/13 Councillor Brewer Cornwall Council Decision Notice link, or check out the Disability News Service's article on their decision.  Basically, they utterly slammed his comments and attitude, thankfully recognising that because of his opinions he shouldn't really be involved in making any decisions relating to anything, and so while they couldn't (legally) fire him, his duties and responsibilities would be seriously curtailed, as a result of his 'outrageous and grossly insensitive remarks'.

* * * * *

Collin Brewer has now resigned, with immediate effect.  So, thanks to the interview John Pring of Disability News Service carried out, Cornwall Council is down one councillor.

Thank you John.

There's another post in the works relating to Mr Brewer, but for now ~ I'm just happy that he's gone.  How about you?

Sunday, 7 July 2013

sentimental spending?

I have a question.  With something that you really love, a film maybe, or a book, do you have just one and that's fine?  I don't mean  do you just own one single book, I mean one copy of that book.  And being fine with it ~ well, if you pick up other copies in the supermarket, run your fingers over that photo on the cover, smile a gentle smile while you recall those closing lines ~ all of these would imply you are not fine with it.

Let me use a practical example to try and explain my weirdness.

Smiler loves (and I do mean really really loves) Despicable Me.  A sequel was just released in the UK, but we're waiting until Smiler's new CEA card comes in the post to go.  But the original film ~ there are definately favourite bits in it for him, and our goodnight routine involves he and I saying some of them to one another.  Mostly the minions lines ~ bab boy? Bab boy! Ah, bab boy. And the blub blub blub of the minion doing an impression of the water cooler ~ ah, good times . . .

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Wednesday, 3 July 2013

jam jar etiquette : lesson five

Making jam is an activity that I enjoy, and sometimes being by yourself fiddling around with fruit and sugar, stirring, sorting out jars and lids can be a very calming, almost therapeutic pastime.  Other times I turn the radio up (and up and up) and sing (completely out of tune, and very likely the wrong words) while dancing (out of time and trying not to tread on Eli) around the kitchen ~ as my poor postman discovered last week!  Anyway, sometimes I can be perfectly happy going solo, but other days I wonder . . .

 . . . Do I have to do it all by myself, on my own, all alone and lonely?
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Monday, 1 July 2013

a cardigan for Petal : finished!

It's finished!  Really actually honestly truly completely absolutely utterly finished!

Up late yesterday and finished the main body and the daisies at the hem, then did the edging today.  Having seen it on Petal now for the first time, I think if I make it again (which I am planning to) I would change the edging a little, as it seems very bulky around the back of her neck.  More than likely my knitting to blame here, but as it would be me knitting it next time too, best to plan for that!  Getting it on and off seems a little awkward, and I think making a bigger size would solve that, though it's also worth remembering I used thicker yarn than I technically should have, but then that was trouble of my own making too as Petal had chosen the colour.

All in all, I'm concentrating on the fact that I knitted a cardigan for Petal with my very own hands that she likes and is now refusing to take off.  That has to go down as an achievement for that reason alone!  It sounds old fashioned and a bit trite, but I feel like I've passed some sort of parenting capability test, in a very 1950s housewife kind of way ~ any day now I'll go and buy an iron . . .

a cardigan for Petal part one ; part two ; part three

council response to Collin Brewer complaints

Covering email :

Please accept the Council's apologies for the significant delay in responding to your complaint about Councillor Brewer of Cornwall Council.

The attached provides information in response to the complaints that have been received and an update on the handling of the complaints.

The Council will not be entering into correspondence with any individual complainant given the number of complaints and the diversion of resources required to do so. 

Attachment :

Complaints relating to Collin Brewer received primarily in May 2013

Response to complainants

The Council has received in excess of 180 complaints about, primarily, the comments recorded as having been made by Councillor Collin Brewer of Cornwall Council in a telephone interview with John Pring, a journalist with the Disability News Network and the re-election of Councillor Brewer to Cornwall Council.  Points mentioned in some of the complaints include:
that the Council should not have permitted Collin Brewer to stand for election;
that the Council is wrong for not having dismissed Councillor Brewer from office; and
further complaints about the comments made by Councillor Brewer in 2011.

The Council is not going to provide individual responses to each complainant but this response is being provided to all complainants who have provided e-mail or postal contact details.

That the Council should not have permitted Collin Brewer to stand for election

The statutory qualifications to be able to stand and take office as a councillor are such that Collin Brewer was able to lawfully submit nomination papers for the Cornwall Council elections on 2 May.  Those qualifications are set out in section 79 of the Local Government Act 1972.
The statutory disqualifications from being able to take and hold office as a councillor are such that Collin Brewer is not prevented from taking the office to which he was elected on 2 May.  Those disqualifications are set out in section 80 of the Local Government Act 1972.
It would have been unlawful and indeed illegal for the Council or the Returning Officer to have prevented Collin Brewer from submitting nomination papers to stand for office or to take office as a Cornwall Councillor.  Neither the Council nor the Returning Officer can properly act unlawfully or illegally irrespective of the circumstances and nor would they wish to.
The outcome of the public vote was such that Collin Brewer prevailed in the election for his Division and it would have been illegal for the Council or Returning Officer not to give effect to that result.  The Council has no control over the manner in which votes are cast and there are strict procedures that must be followed in relation to the elections process, including the counting of votes and the declaration of results.

That the Council is wrong for not having dismissed Councillor Brewer from office

Collin Brewer is not an employee of the Council.  He is an elected Member of the Council and as a result the Council cannot take any action under its employment policies and procedures as he is not subject to them.
Neither the Council nor the Returning Officer has any power to remove Collin Brewer from his position as a Councillor, either through the electoral process, the Code of Conduct complaints process or otherwise.  There was previously the ability for the Council to suspend councillors following the investigation and determination of Code of Conduct complaints and there existed the ability for the First Tier Tribunal to disqualify councillors from office on referral to them of investigated complaints.  However, the Government has significantly revised the Code of Conduct complaints process and those sanctions are no longer available.
If the Council or the Returning Officer purported to dismiss Councillor Brewer from office they would be acting unlawfully and in all probability illegally.  That would expose them to the risk of legal proceedings which would undoubtedly result in significant expense being incurred.

Further complaints about the comments made by Councillor Brewer in 2011

The circumstances relating to the comments made in 2011 by Councillor Brewer about disabled children have been the subject of complaints that have been investigated and in relation to which Councillor Brewer has been required to apologise.
The Council will not be reopening the investigation into those original comments and nor will it be taking any further action in relation to those earlier comments.  However, the Council is treating seriously the complaints that have been made about Councillor Brewer’s latest comments as reported by the Disability News Service.

Current position with the recent complaints

The Council has distanced itself from Councillor Brewer’s comments
The complaints received more recently about Councillor Brewer have been investigated to the extent that they fall within the Council’s Code of Conduct complaints process.  The only aspect of the complaints that can properly be considered under this complaints process relates to the comments attributed to Councillor Brewer in his interview with John Pring of Disability News.
The investigating officer has completed his investigation and is finalising the investigation report.
We expect the investigation report to be considered by the Standards Committee at its next meeting on 27 June.
After the Standards Committee has considered the investigation report and provided the Monitoring Officer with their comments a final decision on the complaints will be made and published as soon as practicably possible.
The investigating officer’s report will remain confidential but after the final determination on the complaints a decision notice will be published on the Council’s web site and sent to those to whom this response is being provided.