musingsponderingsandrants

Parenting, profundities and humour

House Poetry anyone? — June 17, 2016

House Poetry anyone?

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So Eldest is in his first year at Senior School. That is First Form in old money and Year 7 in today’s new-fangled counting system.

The school has a very active House System. There are 6 houses named after Old Boys of the school. Eldest was very happy to be placed in Bell. Not because of the accomplishments of its namesake, of which Eldest can tell me very little, but because their house colour is purple. His favourite. And so his tie has a purple stripe. And if he makes Head of House in Year 12 he will get a blazer with purple trim. This is now his aim. Purely for fashion reasons.

All his form are in Bell. He was elected Year 7 House Captain and gets a , yes you guessed it, purple lapel badge.

There are numerous House Events. The usual sport, music, drama, debating. But also some more unusual ones. So far this year he has been House Ten Pin Bowling, House Water Sporting and other such fun activities. He gets to mix with the older years and generally have a ball.

Bell have been ahead all year. According to Eldest this is very unusual. They have not won for five years at least. I like to think their Year 7s are particularly strong. But I may be biased. At the end of every term the leading house has its house colours suspended from the flag pole. Photos have been acquired.

So over all we are fans of the House system. And then Eldest came home with an instruction to write an entry for House Poetry. He wasn’t best pleased. The poem had to start with one of three Shakespearean lines. And had to be between 12 and 30 lines long. He stormed and riled against it. It hung over us all through half term. And then on the last day he dashed off the poem below. I think it is quite good for a 12 year old. Again biased.

I had written one for him to ‘pretend’ with in a worst case scenario. But his is better to my mind.

So there you are. Sometimes it is good to be forced to do things that one finds difficult. You might just surprise yourself.

By Eldest

When I consider everything that grows

I think of the smallest of creatures to the largest

I think of the loudest to the quietest

The predator to the prey

The oldest to the young

 

The different places with life

Africa to Antarctica

The varieties of animals

The difference in types

Prehistoric to the modern day

 

When I think of life

I think of myself

How I have grown up

Mentally and physically

All the memories I have embraced.

 

 

Lost in Translation — May 19, 2016

Lost in Translation

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Here is a thing about me. I am not a natural linguist. I struggled through my obligatory language O level and achieved a B in French. Basically by learning what I needed to know off by heart.

My name is, I live in, I am x years old, I have two brothers etc etc.

I did a lot of verb conjugation (J’ai, tu as, il a, nous avons, vous avez, ils ont (or is it sont? I never was sure)) and dealing in really strange tenses; pluperfect, imperfect future or some such guff.

I hated it. I particularly hated the speaking tests. Partly because I was very shy. Partly because if the examiner veered off course I had no idea what they were saying, however it was conjugated or whatever tense it was in.

In recent years we have been to France a few times and I was able to speak a bit to the locals. As long as I had prepared properly before hand with my phrase book. Luckily my accent is so terrible that none of the people I attempted to converse with tried to widen the conversation beyond:

‘That will be 10 euros please’ in response to my request for two scoops of chocolate ice-cream in a tub not a cone. I was quite pleased with that sentence. If not the price. If they had tried to respond conversationally I would have been lost. I need some one to listen for me and stall them whilst I think up a suitable reply. Unfortunately my husband is even worse at languages than me.

I am not proud of my inability to ‘get’ languages. I feel inadequate when visiting any other country where it seems most of the inhabitants can speak more than passable English. Although this does serve as a massive disincentive to bother. I am not embarrassed enough to try again though. I am good at a great many things. I feel I am allowed to be weak at this. So there.

At school I also flirted briefly with German and gave that up as soon as humanly possible. Capital letters for improper nouns. Why just why?

So foreign language is not my strong point. Eldest has inherited that trait. He is in Year 7 and currently studies three languages. French, Spanish and German. He finds none of them easy.

Soon he has exams in all three. Speaking, listening, reading and writing. I really feel for him.

Tonight we have been grappling with preparation for his Spanish written test. I have no idea. The text book seems to contain no English at all. He doesn’t know the verbs ‘to have’ or ‘to be’. They do not seem to use pronouns except when they do. The accents are all different to French. And I never really remembered them in French either. Punctuation is just weird.

I know I should just ‘let him get on with it’ but that is hard to do when he is sitting at the table at a complete loss. I need to mount that white charger and ride to the rescue. So I do.

My mother did the same for me on occasion. Although not in French. Mostly in maths. Which she liked and was good at. I can still remember the day she tried to help me with fractions. She had a complete inability to understand how I did not understand them. At least I ‘get’ Eldest’s issue with Spanish. As I do not ‘get’ it either.

Any way we seem to have cobbled together a few paragraphs which when entered into Google translate appear to make some sense, in patches.

He just has to learn it now including the spellings. And he doesn’t like spelling much even in English.

Then at some point we need to do the same thing in French, at least I know what I am doing, sort of.

We are not even going to bother with German which he is dropping for good next year. I never usually advocate not giving one’s all to a subject but in this case I feel some sympathy. Let him fail it.

Like me he has to do one language at GCSE. One will be enough. More than enough.

No me gusta el espanol porque es dificil. Or something.

The cost of everything, the value of nothing — February 28, 2016

The cost of everything, the value of nothing

smashed phone

So Eldest. We gave him a phone when he started Senior school in September. It was an old handset of husband’s with a SIM only, well SIM.

Almost as soon as he had it and the novelty had worn off he was on the internet researching better models.

And then regaling me ad infinitum about the advantages of the Samsung Edge or the I phone 6S. Or some other such technical wizardy. In which I had no interest. And no intention of indulging him.

The deal had always been that he would keep the old hand set (which actually is an I phone 4 and so not too shabby, certainly better than my entry level Samsung touch phone) until at least Year 9. When apparently phones become so important it is impossible to live without the latest model. Well certainly not at Eldest’s school. Where ‘everyone else’ has a better phone than him.

Ah school. The one-up-manship. The ‘my phone is better than yours’ ship. Every time Eldest whinged about his phone’s short comings I was transported back to my own Year 8. And red shoe gate.

I suppose I should explain. I always wore ‘sensible’ shoes to school. Anyone born in the seventies and growing up in the eighties will know that this meant black lace up Clark’s shoes. In a time when Clark’s shoes were not fashionable. In any sense.

I was teased mercilessly about my sensible shoes. Others persuaded their parents to buy them court shoes. Slips ons with bows and tassels. It was the eighties after all.

I finally got my mum to buy me some of these beauties. To wear outside school. They were bright red slip ons. With bows. And they were shiny. Finally I was going to be accepted by the teenage girl elite. Of course they were not regulation black and so I had to sneak them into school in my back pack without my mother seeing. And change into them in the loo. I should also probably point out at this juncture that our school uniform was maroon. And the shoes were crimson. One does not have to be a fashionista to work out that that combo was not all I thought it was.

Suffice to say I got more ribbing wearing the red shoes than the sensible black lace ups. In fact I wanted to click my heels and forever disappear to Kansas. I never wore them again.

So there you have it. I have no interest in keeping my children up with the latest trends in order for them to ‘fit in’. It didn’t work for me.

And then of course Middlest is hard on Eldest’s heels. He was recently accepted into the same Senior school and is, of course, expecting a phone. To be able to function.

So actually it is not just that I didn’t want to get him a better phone so he could fit in. It is also that I didn’t need to. Nor could justify the cost.

And then a series of ‘incidents’ occurred. Eldest swears all accidental. Which may be true. At least consciously.

He first disabled the phone by changing the PIN on the lock screen and then forgetting it. And inputting it wrongly so many times the phone disabled. Well suffice to say about four evenings and a trip to the phone shop later we finally managed to un-disable it. I think much to Eldest’s disgust.

Then he took it out when he went to play football with a mate. I asked him to take it. Because it is a mobile phone and not much use sitting on my kitchen counter. Communication wise. So what happened next was of course all my fault. Namely that it fell out of his pocket during a rainbow flick. And smashed. Not beyond help. But enough to threaten cut fingers during screen swiping.

So of course now he has a better phone. Only up one level to an I phone 5 but still.

Twelve year olds are damn cunning.

I made him give me ALL his birthday and Christmas money though. All £110 of it. And spend some of his Amazon vouchers on a proper case. So now he is broke. Until next Christmas.

Serves him right. And at least now he has a better understanding of the value of things. After all it has cost him everything.

 

 

Life Sentence…. — January 27, 2016

Life Sentence….

handwriting

Today is Monday. Well actually it probably isn’t anymore as I never post entries on a Monday as they do spectacularly badly. But anyway when I was writing this it was Monday.

Monday is a particularly bad day.

For many reasons. The usual ones. Husband back to work. Kids back to school. Bag packing. Early, dark morning. Scrambling not to be late. All the usual stuff families have to work through.

Anyway after the husband and kids have safely left for work and school I spend a few depressing hours getting on top of the detritus left by two days of not dealing with it. And the admin which still seems to pile up even on ‘non’ work days.

Usually I meet up with some friends and we stave off the Monday blues with tea and biscuits and chat. A good couple of hours in an otherwise dismal day.

And then after school we have to deal with the return of homework.

I have mixed feelings about homework. In theory I believe in homework. Which is a good job as mine get quite a lot of it. It is our own fault. We chose the school. And knew the homework policy before we did so. Although like a pregnant lady facing parenthood I was in denial somewhat. I should have listened.

Eldest gets about an hour a day. Middlest gets 40 minutes a day. Youngest about 20 minutes. It is useful for me. I get to know what is going on at school. Books come home and I can surreptitiously trawl them to see how they are getting on. It highlights areas they may want to work on with me. I can ‘help’ with stuff I love. Like algebra and history. And I can be ‘too busy’ when it is English. Or a fact file….saints preserve me from fact files…

Mine are very good and we operate a ‘do it on the day it is set’ policy which served me well at school. This means Saturdays and Sundays are usually free of homework which makes the contrast to Monday even more extreme.

So I get homework. I know why it is set. I try to be positive about it in front of the kids.

But in some ways I hate it. And Mondays are particularly bad. And this is because Youngest brings home her spelling sentences. Every week she has a list of 15 words to learn to spell. Usually based around a sound. This week that sound was ‘or’. She writes them out each morning in her book before breakfast. And has a test on a Friday. So far so OK. I did this as a child. Along with my times table tests. I have no issue with it.

What I have an issue with is the Monday task of putting these words into sentences. In her handwriting book. She has to come up with a sentence for 5 of the words. And then write them out so her risers and fallers (get me all ‘Primary Teachery’) fall exactly between the sets of lines provided in the special handwriting book.

So far this term her words have been too loopy, too small, too far apart, too close together, too god knows what. I don’t get the point. She doesn’t write in this way in her actual books, which lack the numerous sets of lines provided in the handwriting book. The fact that her writing is joined up and legible is enough for me. I find it particularly irritating as it is impossible to read some of her teacher’s marking comments as their writing is so illegible. My writing is illegible. My doctor’s writing is illegible. It doesn’t really matter. Especially in the modern world. Where writing in pen is dying out. I never hand write anything except greetings cards and shopping lists.

So I find it a banal task. Extremely.

Today these are the sentences we came up with. Youngest wasn’t brave enough to actually write them in her book. I wish she had.

Please transport me to a place where spelling sentences do not exist. Period.

I cannot afford the time to write out these spelling sentences. I have a life. I am eight and my hand writing is better than yours.

The pupil found writing out spelling sentences so depressing that she committed Harakari with a sword.

Coming up each week with an interesting assortment of spelling sentences is driving my mother mad.

Writing out these spelling sentences is pure torture.

I think we should have written these. Seriously.

 

Mr Works? May I Introduce Mr Spanner? — January 10, 2016

Mr Works? May I Introduce Mr Spanner?

spanner

So here it is.

I updated my spreadsheet of child related activities.

This has to be done each term when clubs change. It lists days of the week and the clubs each child attends at what time and where and with what equipment.

Not much had changed from last term. In fact a small ‘win’ saw Eldest no longer attending after school rugby on Mondays. Giving him a bigger window between getting home from school (allowing for Middlest’s Strings until 4.30pm) and Scouts…yippee…he could do his homework rather than saving it for Tuesday.

Tuesday was still a disaster zone… collect Eldest at 4pm and bring home. Go back for Middlest (badminton) and Youngest (netball) at 5pm and get home. Stuff food into children. Hustle Middlest sufficiently to get him fed, changed and ready to leave at 5.45pm for football training. Collect Middlest at 7pm. Relax.

Wednesdays remained…shall we say …difficult. Collect Eldest and Middlest at normal school time and deposit home. Feed Eldest and Middlest. Collect Youngest at 5pm from Choir on Week 1 or 5.15pm from Girls Football Week 2. Get home. Without trying to swear too much at the traffic. Chuck her indoors. Grab Eldest and drive to 5.45pm piano lesson. Feed Youngest. Get them to get changed for Cubs. Drive to piano for 6.15pm to collect Eldest and then straight to Cubs for 6.30pm. Leave Middlest and Youngest at Cubs. Collect them at 8pm. Relax.

Thursdays were not much better. Collect Youngest at 3.45pm. Rush her Maths homework and get her to get changed for football training. Leave at 4.45pm to drop her at said football training. Drive to school to collect Eldest (choir. week one; hockey, week 2) and Middlest (football). Come home. Collect Youngest at 6.30pm. Feed kids. Relax.

Friday remained the day I got all three of them at normal chucking out time. I merely perform the piano lesson hokey-cokey. An easy day.

So OK its bad. But do-able. Just. As long as Cubs isn’t anywhere unusual.

Then I got an e mail from Youngest’s football coach. They had moved her training to 6-7pm on a Wednesday. Just for this term. But still.

Not sure what I am going to do yet. It doesn’t start up again until the 27th Jan. And so currently I have my head in the sand.

I may never take it out.

 

 

Be careful what you wish for… — November 26, 2015

Be careful what you wish for…

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When my husband and I were deciding which school to send our children to one of our major considerations was the sports provision.

Eldest and Youngest are sports mad. And so we wanted to send them somewhere that would develop them further.

Middlest is not quite so keen. However it was still an important consideration for him too. In fact even more so.

I have the legacy of my own shocking memories of sport experiences at school. Of being labelled not good at Games within about 5 minutes of arriving. This was probably because I had glasses and was skinny. I actually quite enjoyed hockey and netball but the crippling embarrassment of always being picked last and having to sign the ‘period’ register rather marred it for me. It didn’t help that on my first day my mother sent me in with her old hockey stick. Not realising they had changed shape in the twenty odd years since her school hockey career. The fearsome Sports Mistress was not best pleased. I had blotted my copy book. And was probably the butt of staff room jokes for some time.

And so I wanted a school that would encourage Middlest even though he isn’t the best team sport player in the world. I wanted them to help him find a sport he liked and could carry on with in the longer term.

Eldest has taken full advantage and is regularly in the Rugby squad. It is a game he loves. Although he was dismayed by the new rules that do not allow him and his fellow forwards to contest a scrum. He feels he is going through the motions. I feel relieved.

Youngest gets to play and run and swim and generally do all the sports she loves. And so she does. Regularly.

And indeed the school have listened to feedback and this year are providing competitive fixtures for children ‘further down the list’. So this means even Middlest, usually happily adrift in the non-team sea during the Rugby term, is getting fixtures. He is not sure I should have been one of the many who provided that feedback. Although the match teas afterwards seem to help him get over it.

Middlest and Youngest have a minimum of four hours of Curriculum sport a week which even allowing for all that changing sees them active for at least three hours. It includes the team sport of the term, PE (variously cross country, racquet sports, gymnastics and athletics) and swimming.

Eldest clocks up just over three hours a week. He doesn’t have to suffer a weekly swimming lesson now he has progressed to Senior school. Youngest describes it as ‘pure torture’…. she seems to spend her lesson ploughing up and down in various contorted positions. Apparently it’s streamlining…

Along with that Eldest has at least two hours of club and fixtures a week. He would have another hour of Rugby on top of that but he has managed to get out of it to attend choir. Music is his other passion and he spends a lot of his time each week playing his cello and singing.

Middlest clocks up a further two and a half hours of extra curricular sport a week minimum. Including his beloved badminton. And Youngest’s tally is a mind blowing 4 hours a week. A mixture of hockey and football.

And this week on top of all that Middlest is in a Rugby match and Youngest has a swimming gala.

This half term Youngest would have liked to have fitted in an extra half hour of cross country running. Straight before football training. I put my foot down…

It is safe to say that I do not struggle to get my kids to the one hour of activity a day recommended by the Government. In fact they are well over this if you add in all the trampolining, family walks and bike rides, general running about and playground activities. No doubt Youngest will spend lunch hour today playing football on the playground.

Sundays remain a ‘day of rest’. For now. As Youngest progresses up the school she may have to switch from her Saturday football league to a Sunday one. To avoid fixture clashes. And that will mean Eldest may want to take football up again. As we will be doing it anyway. But for now I have my fingers in my ears pretending I can’t hear this…

Because the one major down side of all this opportunity is that our weeks (and I include Saturdays in that) are a complete bomb site.  And I feel weak. Both in comparison. And from the hours of ferrying and logistical quandaries and laundry and ‘encouraging’ from touch lines.

And I am never, ever going to Google ‘how too much sports affects children’…Ever…

Parent’s Evening… — November 22, 2015

Parent’s Evening…

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Last night was parent’s evening for Eldest. It was the first one at his Senior school.

Historically parent’s evenings have involved me sitting in front of one teacher, usually at least ten minutes later than booked, hearing about the exploits of my off spring. Good or bad. All dressed up in euphemism. But lets be honest we all know what ‘lively enthusiasm’ means in relation to maths…

This was going to be a different affair. On offer was a five minute chat with each of Eldest’s fifteen teachers. Yep fifteen.. and that didn’t include any sports teachers. For whom a special appointment needed to be made. We didn’t bother.

Eldest was also expected to be present. And listen. I therefore needed to be mindful of what I said so as to strike a balance between finding out what I needed to find out and not embarrassing my 11 year old. As any owner of an 11 year old will know this is problematic. In the extreme.

Things had got off to a tricky start as it was beholden upon Eldest to book the appointments with these myriad teachers himself. I did try to provide some guidance. Such as leaving 5 minutes between each 5 minute appointment to ensure we did not end up with a cascade of lateness.

I also suggested he miss out some teachers. For instance Drama. It is not that I have anything against Drama. I am sure it is a lovely thing to do on a Monday afternoon. Week 2. But I wasn’t really sure I needed chapter and verse on his ability in that department. He can be quite a good actor at home. When lying about brushing his teeth or making sure his sister gets the blame for some atrocity involving Nerf guns. But I am not sure it translates into the Drama theatre. At school.

Anyway he dutifully organised slots. Including Drama. But not Philosophy. There is a ‘big’ question to explore later. ‘The Relevance of Drama versus Philosophy. Discuss’.  He did have to book some consecutive slots which set me on edge a bit. Although we did get an early reprieve as his Geography teacher had not made it. The Sixth Former helping out was not privy to why.

So I arrived to collect my name badge. And map. Oh my life. A map. It dawned on me then that this was going to be an ‘operation’. I had a quick cup of tea by way of fortification.

I then entered the canteen and was confronted by a sea of desks and chairs. Maybe it could even have been classed as an ocean. Each desk had three chairs. On the parent side. I immediately felt inadequate about my lack of occupant for the third chair. Husband was busy earning money to pay for that chair.

I was early. Eldest was early. Its a trait. This helped us out. As it often does. Most of the desks where unoccupied by parents and also staff. An exception was his DT/Art teacher. The name sign on her desk proclaimed her to be a man. I didn’t comment. The world is such that one never should. Just in case. ‘She’ beckoned us over. And explained that as she teaches five Year 7 sets her night was a little ‘frantic’ and could she see us before official ‘kick off’. As Eldest had booked her later in the evening straight before IT I readily agreed.

She was lovely. No hint of a moustache.

And so the evening went on. At some point Middlest arrived from his Christmas Show rehearsal I think it was between History and Maths but I cannot be sure. He dashed off some grammar on a spare chair. And ate far too many biscuits. Luckily Youngest was at home with grandma.

Between Science and IT Mr/Mrs Art/DT  popped over in a rare break in her schedule (presumably when we were originally to be seen, I had lost track) to ask why we had not pointed out the error in her name plate. I mumbled something incoherently and luckily she was distracted by her next interviewees arriving. I think I got away with it. Eldest hadn’t even noticed the sign was wrong. That’s 11 year olds for you. He of course knew her name. Me less so.

I have never been to a speed dating night. But I imagine it was quite similar. Some teachers had little passport photos of each child next to their name. I couldn’t blame them. Some seemed to see one set of parents after another with no break in between. For all three hours. They put me to shame. I couldn’t remember one Art/ DT teacher’s name I could hardly expect them to know all 120 of theirs.

I felt most sorry for his German teacher who not only had to remember who each child was but also what language he was teaching them. Poor man. I settled for his generic ‘working hard, doing well’. We are only in Week 9. It could have been worse. He could have used another generic ‘could try harder, needs to improve’. We spent two and a half minutes there. I used the left over time to bang home my point about spelling to Mr English.

Many other teachers clearly remembered Eldest, all for good reasons. Thankfully. Amazingly they kept to time. More or less. We nipped in early to several when they looked free. And then mysteriously we could not locate his French teacher. Je ne sais pas pourquoi. And so we got out a full ten minutes earlier than predicted.

Still it was two hours of full on diplomatic interaction. I was knackered. And more than slightly confused. I just held onto the overarching comments and placed the finer detail in the deleted file in my brain.

And I am glad we saw that Drama teacher. Unbeknown to me she has taught Eldest for all three of his years at the school, in both Junior and Senior, and she was very perceptive about him. She did really know him. And was almost glowing in her report. I found it all a bit over dramatic. Eldest grew about a foot taller though, so I will forgive her.

Project Management — October 20, 2015

Project Management

Actually that was my face...
Actually that was my face…

There is currently a big black cloud on my horizon. Not literally, although after I put my washing on the line earlier it did go quite dark, no I mean metaphorically.

And the reason is the impending Year 6 Local Environmental Issue project. A forty page plus project on a local environmental issue of your choice. Quite self explanatorily.

Last year when Eldest was in Year 6 we got through the winter term relatively unscathed. Rugby took its toll and in early January his Senior school entrance exams loomed. Although the school were at pains to point out that they were just a formality.

And so he went back to school in January on fine form. Looking forward to the football term although not those exmas. And then on that first day back the school emailed out a letter.

The letter outlined the project that needed to be undertaken during the next term. At first I was confused, did they mean after Easter? Then it dawned on me that the letter was late and should have come out before the Christmas break.

And my heart sank.

The letter pulled no punches. It explained that parental involvement would be necessary. As the project required site visits and interviewing and photos. That in itself was quite refreshing. At least they were being honest about the level of work I would have to do. Usually schools seem to believe children can produce, say, the Taj Mahal out of matchsticks unaided. Ha. Ha. Ha.

In some ways I was glad for the fact that the letter had been issued late. And therefore we had remained in blissful ignorance over the seasonal festivities.

No such luck this year as Middlest hurtles his way towards the same project.

I am never really sure what such pieces of work are for. Or who.

I agree that children need to learn to manage larger pieces of extended work. They need to practise time management. Be able to plan in sensible chapters.

Unfortunately mine are some way off being able to do this independently. And so guess who ends up doing most of it? Well guiding them to do it but you know what I mean.

Not only that but they are supposed to use their humanities lessons at school to progress the project. And so in order to ensure they don’t spent those valuable hours sharpening pencils and chatting to their mates I am left lesson planning too.

And then there is the topic. I shot my best bolt local environmental issue wise last year with Eldest. I now need to think of another issue that around 40 pages of work can be produced about. Along with a photo journey and an interview and site visits. Without too much colouring in. Middlest hates colouring in.

Asking my ten year old to come up with an idea for such a project is laughable. I have asked him a couple of times if he has had any thoughts. I get a sort of blank, quizzical look. I guess one could take it as a shocking lack of knowledge. Or just be realistic; that the average ten year old wants to cause his own environmental catastrophe by owning every plastic gun in the known universe not write an extended piece about it.

So I have been wracking my brains since last year to no real avail. I have come up with the recycling journey of a yogurt pot or the impact of the new bypass near by. Neither are filling me with excitement. And both involve me in speaking to the council to get access and information and facts. Which requires me to do something before Christmas. The clock is ticking.

Had the project been about something Middlest was passionate about, say elephants or the wider environmental and conservation issues surrounding elephants, he might be more engaged. But no it has to be local. Not many elephants round here. That site visit would have been more fun too…

Or it could be a history project which would get my juices flowing and therefore by default his. And we could visit castles and I could once more coo over medieval plumbing (still find that fascinating…the forethought to build drainage through those thick, thick walls, mind blowing). In fact for me it could be any other sort of project really; history, geography, art, politics etc. Just not the same one as last year.

But, no, we are stuck with these parameters. Yawn. I spent six weeks plus of my life living, eating and breathing the last ‘issue’. Spending our weekends trawling round our local Community Forests. I like a woodland walk. I enjoy birds and wildlife. I like feeling that I am ‘contributing’ to such a worthwhile cause whilst eating organic flap jack. I just don’t enjoy having to do all that with half an eye on chapter eight whilst photographing every information board and surveying cyclists. And I certainly don’t relish having to come home and force a child to sit down and write about it. As such I have no enthusiasm left.

It is safe to say that when Eldest got 39 marks out of 40 (he lost a mark for his slightly ‘thin’ Conclusion…. by that point he had truly HAD ENOUGH) my heart sank a little. For now we need to replicate that this year. Or else Middlest will plead favouritism. Again.

I truly hope that in another two years when it is Youngest’s turn the subject will have changed. If not it will be severely tempting to recycle Eldest’s. In the name of the environment.

Footnote: After writing this I was inspired enough to e mail the Council. I got the standard ‘Our turn around time is 10 working days’ response. This is why I need to start now. Weep…

Stuff what I have learnt today — October 8, 2015

Stuff what I have learnt today

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So here goes. Some random stuff I have discovered today.

  • It is possible to drive to my kids’ school and back in under 15 minutes when on a games kit/ cello induced mercy dash.
  • If you turn up 15 minutes late to an exercise class you just miss the boring warm up and only semi important station explanation. Although I may discover tomorrow how vital that warm up is.
  • Deleting about 18 months worth of text messages will turn your phone back into a relatively responsive tool.
  • The shops are no longer full of orange hued home accessories now I have decided that orange is to be the accent colour for our newly decorated lounge.
  • It is apparently Christmas already.
  • Allowing the kids off music practice in the morning so they can get more sleep after a school induced late night will see us all falling out.
  • It is quite pleasant to write blogs in Costa.
  • Belgian chocolate tea cakes make that even pleasanterer.
  • My phone’s predictive text will predict good when I want home and home when I want good. Which makes that sentence really hard to get right.
  • One should keep an eye on boiling potatoes rather than ignoring them to write.
  • It is best to wait for the ceramic hob to cool down before clearing up boiled over water. Unless you like the smell of burnt J cloth.
  • Allowing Eldest to have a phone not only heads off games kit/ cello induced emergencies but also allows him to text me cute messages which make me feel better about the tiredness induced morning arguments.
  • I enjoy employing deliberate grammatical errors in my writing. Not sure why. Probably so I can claim any actual errors are supposed to be there. And to annoy pedants.
  • My reverse parking sensors are wildly over cautious. And I actually need gate post sensors.
  • Asking Middlest to be quick out of school will make us late for football training.
  • People are still wearing leggings that are see through enough to be correctly categorised as tights.
  • It is impossible to watch the final of the Bake Off a day late and not discover who the winner is during that day. And I don’t mind that much.
  • As much as I love Billy Joel he doesn’t cut it driving music wise. And I still prefer soft rock.
  • If I would like Youngest to practise her times tables I must threaten the removal of football training.
  • I can’t do bullets on my phone and will have to add them at home later before the scheduled publishing time. Home more to do at good I mean good more to do at home.
  • We can still name all the characters on In the Night Garden. And Makka Pakka is still our favourite. Isn’t that a pip?
  • I still don’t know when to use practice and when to use practise. So I looked it up. C for noun, s for verb. So I need to practise and get some practice in.
  • I care about accent colours.
  • That last discovery worries me most.

So there you have it. Just a normal day. One is always learning.
If you are my husband then obviously the Costa is not part of my normal day. Honest gov.

Have you seen my…? — October 6, 2015

Have you seen my…?

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We have a saying in our family. And it goes like this.

“Have you used your Lady Eyes?”

There are a lot of us in this house. Sometimes it feels like there are far too many of us. But the number of children I decided to have is maybe an issue for another day.

So there are a lot of us. And so we have a lot of stuff.

And it appears that it is my job to keep tabs on it all.

I spend a fair amount of my day mentally logging the position of many useful objects, most of which do not belong to me.

For instance my husband finds it really hard to keep track of his spectacles. They appear to be a mobile object despite having arms and not legs. Whenever he is home and I walk past them I make that mental note so that when the inevitable enquiry is made I can respond with a GPS location. Arm of sofa, window sill in bathroom, atop the laundry basket, on the patio furniture, beside the toaster. And such like.

Last Christmas I stumbled upon a fantastic stand for him to use. That is a picture of it up there. It is positioned on the window sill next to the front door. (And incidentally whilst we are there that is the place everyone should look first for any missing item. Just saying). And the stand helps slightly. He uses it when arriving home. Or when swapping from sunglasses to indoor glasses. But it hasn’t eradicated the whole problem. I believe a string around the neck is the only sure fire way. Or he could just wear them all the time…

And then we move on to my children. I suppose we must. The current items which cause the most issues are Eldest’s phone and Middlest’s I pod. In the case of the former we could ring it to find it’s location but unfortunately it is set by default to silent so he does not fall foul of the ‘no phone use in or between lessons’ rule at school. And Middlest’s is not ringable. We lost both yesterday. And then I found them almost entirely camouflaged on the black granite fire surround in the family room. I have suggested that putting their entirely black electronics on the hearth is maybe not such a good idea moving forwards. Especially when we begin lighting the fire.

When things are actually leaving the house the pressure ramps up. I seem to be the only person who does a mental check list when leaving a sports field. This weekend I had a ‘Lady Eyes’ fail.  We discovered this at 7.45am this morning when their school lift was revving on the driveway and Eldest decided he had better check his Games kit and found his Ripstop was missing.

The Ripstop is a compulsory item. A sort of semi-waterproof, pull over the head tracksuit top. There are three in this house. People scoff at my diligent name label sewing which I undertake annually each Autumn. They say I should use a laundry pen on the care label. They don’t have three sets of everything in very similar sizes to out sort from the laundry. A name in the collar is actually as useful for me, the laundress, as it is for keeping the kit ‘safe’.  I do not want to waste time hunting for initials on a care label on a side seam.

They all have red and black stripy games socks. I decided not to bother labelling them as it is quite hard to sew a name label onto something as stretchy as a sock. What a mistake. I often have 6 socks that look almost identical but are actually slightly different sizes hanging from my airer. I am sure I am probably ruining Eldest’s feet in the manner of Chinese babies and it probably explains the blisters Youngest sometimes gets after football training.

So anyway Eldest must have taken his Ripstop onto the field for his (very sunny) Rugby match on Saturday. And left it there. At the end of the match I did send him off for his water bottle which was clearly missing but as I hadn’t seen the Ripstop come onto the field and it was about 20 degrees it slipped my mind.

It will serve him right if he gets into trouble at Rugby training today. When heavy rain is forecast. I would laugh but it really isn’t that funny at £20 a pop.

Generally my kids do quite well at not losing their stuff. That is because I get very cross when they do. And I have a rule that if they lose something they will pay to replace it. I am training them early to do their own mental checklist. Obviously there is still someway to go.

I am also a name labelling maniac. I put sticky labels on everything. Including Eldest’s phone. Which he is surprisingly sanguine about. I put a sticky label on every one of the fine liners in the pack of 10 I bought Middlest this weekend. They cost nearly £1 a pen. I felt justified. A lot of stationary gets ‘borrowed’ at school. If stuff is labelled some other child cannot claim it is ‘their’s’. Middlest explained that actually each pen cost 99.90p. I retorted that I would allow him to merely pay 99p for the last pen he lost but £1 per mislaid pen up to that point. I think he got the message.

Compared to their school mates, and possibly because of my mercenary approach, they do OK. Already this term there have been impassioned e mails from other parents pleading for the return of black jumpers, entire Games bags with contents, mouth guards, blazers (yikes £75 a go) and odd shoes. The latter really worries me. How did they get home? Hopping?

When they come out from sports clubs in kit my Lady Eyes checklist follows a certain order:- Blazer, school shoes, mouth guard, other branded items, generic clothing of which I have a spare pair at home, generic items of which I have 5 others at home, black socks. I also try to remember to mentally note any lack of musical instruments but to be fair it is quite hard to miss that a cello is missing. If you see what I mean. The absence of a  violin my slip through the net however.

And so I am chief ‘finder/ retainer of all things’. Here are my maxims:-

  • Always put stuff in the same place.
  • Always label everything.
  • Ensure kids are on board by employing a mix of ‘mummy is very disappointed’ and financial penalties.

It helps. It hasn’t really dealt with the husband problem though. I guess he will get so short sighted at some point it will solve itself.

Just the four socks today...
Just the four socks today…
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