Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Opinions wanted

So, we had a super trip to the zoo on Sunday, which Leo has blogged. It was his chosen birthday excursion and it was surprisingly enjoyable. We haven’t been for years and I felt that the whole place was much better. The elephants are no longer there which is good. They clearly didn’t have the space they needed. There is a super rainforest space, which is big and open, where we got to see sloths. I’d certainly recommend it. We got the kids in for free using some vouchers off the internet.

While we were there we got a call to tell us that my mum had broken her ankle. She is in a temporary plaster until next Monday and then a cast. She is doing her best to get about but not really managing the crutches. Has anyone ever hear of these trolleys? Anyone else had a similar injury and think they would work? Or not?
Roof work is continuing here thanks to the dry weather. Of course, nothing is ever really simple and little niggles crop up as we go. Old houses = cans of worms. But fingers crossed it will all progress ok now.

Right, I have people wanting this pc and wanting me to do some maths with them, so I shall go.

Friday, 27 March 2009

Still here

We are still here but rather pre-occupied with all things roof related at the moment. All is ok but been somewhat delayed by weather etc. so we still have plastic for our roof at the moment. I can’t tell you how relieved I will be when it is all done and sound. I am not sleeping very well and that, coupled with getting up early, is making me very tired by the end of the day. I fell asleep on the sofa most nights this week.

I did manage to get a page of my thoughts off to the home ed review team this evening. It really wasn’t good enough to share with everyone! My main point was that the current situation is unsatisfactory what with LAs making up the law as they see fit and the best thing would be to re-issue the 2007 guidelines as statutory guidance. I also advised that properly trained LA staff would remove a barrier to service use by home ed families and that they should market all their services to home educating families as well as families using schools. I stressed that the LA’s role in our family life is that of service provider and that is how we want it to stay. I was inspired by Gill’s post to actually say what I’d like to see, rather than get drawn into arguing with the things we think they are thinking!

Anyway, we shall see.

Everyone in the family is pootling on with their stuff. I am trying not to blog details of what the kids are up to – unless they ask me to – but they are both highly productive at the moment. Dani has been working on a funding application for one of the home ed groups we are part of and being very busy at her work. I have signed up for a ten week creative writing course next term, which I’m very pleased about. It runs on the only weekday morning that neither of us is at work and the kids both have group things, so I’m hoping I can follow it properly. I’m quite excited.

OK, flagging here, better stop!

Friday, 20 March 2009

Boy with birthday and house with no roof

Yesterday was Leo’s ninth birthday and we spent most of the day at home – at his request – apart from a short trip to the park. Pearlie also went to her Sussex Wildlife Trust course in the morning, where they made soup with nettles etc. and cooked it on a fire. She has really enjoyed this course – making wooden cutlery and other nice things – and it was lovely for her to go on a day with some warmth.
Leo got his presents from us and P and was very happy with those. I won’t blog details in case he wants to. He’s having a family gathering at the weekend where he will get more pressies, so the joy is spread! We went to the Muesli Mountain Market on the way to the park (Muesli Mountain is a nickname for this part of town – dates back twenty or thirty years and is a pop at the sort of folk who live round here) so that Leo could consider the purchase of a writing case. He decided to buy it. I love it and am quite jealous!

Meanwhile, the house was having its old and saggy roof removed. The huge weight of the roof and all its tiles was effectively sitting on the joists (not how a roof should be supported!) and once it was taken off, those joists started to wobble. As the builders walked on them they bounced up and down and so did the upstairs ceilings! Builder has decided that these joists need supporting with new timbers so those will be coming on Monday. The lifted weight has meant that cracks have appeared around the edges of Leo’s bedroom ceiling as it moved with the wobbly joists. I suddenly got anxious when it was time for Leo to go to bed and put him in our bed (no worrying cracks) and slept on P’s bedroom floor on (actually, rather more off) a camping mat. Builder has popped in this morning to re-assure me that the ceiling is not going to fall down on anyone and that all will be stable when new timbers are fitted and fixed to old joists.

This house is nearly 150 years old and has clearly suffered from bad decisions in the past. I just hope we are making good ones now. I think we are. But it is not fun going through this process. At the moment our roof is effectively some sheets of tin and some plastic sheeting so I hope the ‘drizzle’ forecast for Sunday is light.

I should be, and am, grateful that we are in position to be getting this work done now. I am aware that other people are facing decidedly dodgy times at the moment. As we went past a newspaper advertising board yesterday, Leo spotted this:

“Recession has grip on Sussex”.

Leo said, “It can’t have a grip on us because it doesn’t have a solid form. If it was incarnated as some kind of monster it could have a grip on us.”

I think it probably is turning into some kind of monster for a lot of people.

Right, we have to keep an eye on the time today because of various commitments. I shall be trying to stay calm and enjoy a day without the scary banging from overhead!

P has asked me to ask here if anyone has any advice about how long flowers should be pressed fo. How does she know when they are really done?

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Up and doing

I think we’re expecting builders and/or building inspector this morning, so I’m dressed. Getting up early means there’s time to fit in a short conversation about academic research, blogging and the advancement of human knowledge, with Dani, before she leaves for work. The kids are certainly awake and I suspect watching tv, with every intention of getting dressed in a minute!

Things are busy here. Leo’s birthday approaches and we are having a little family gathering at the weekend. He wants to go to London Zoo for a birthday trip, which is not cheap, so we’re doing that as a family trip in a week or two.

There have been some excellent and cheering things happening. The council has decided to build a new building in the park where we have Kids’ Club. Hopefully they will site it in a different bit of the park so we can continue using the old building while they construct the new one. That’s a huge relief. The search for venues for home ed groups is never easy, is it?

The fabulous John Fardell sent the children a signed copy of his new book. We had contacted him a while ago to try to find out more about the proposed publication date of his new book and he felt we deserved a free copy. Hoorah! Everyone wants to read it so we’re trying to find half an hour a day when we can all be together and enjoy it as a family book.

We got our HESFES ticket in the post. We have had an offer, from a grandmother, to drive us to the site with our gear this year and I think we’ll take her up on that. It will mean we can take better cooking stuff, which looks like it will be necessary this year. I’m considering splashing out on air beds too as my old bones complain a bit about tatty foam camping mats. Mustn’t get carried away though!

I am currently reading Leo Brisingr, which is very wordy! I find that I do like these fantasy books but they are not for the fainthearted. You have to be up for the 700 pages and enjoy every detailed description. Pearl and Dani are reading Noughts and Crosses. Pearlie has also been enjoying some new historical novels. I can’t remember what they are but they are set in the 1600s.

People reading Leo’s blog/s may have noticed that he is rather into The X Files at the moment. There are FBI ID cards all around the house.

I’m waiting to hear if I have got onto a writing course at CCE next term. It happens to run in a two hour time slot which is just about the only moment in the week when both D and I are not at work – so it looks just possible. I like to do a course every now and then because it beings me into contact with new people who write fiction.

Right. I hear the sound of padding feet and think it is time to make toast. Hope the building people arrive before we have to go to Squeezebox.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Balls in the air

And balls to most of them! I can remember my grandmother, post-stroke, who would struggle to find a word but who never seemed to have a problem with “Balls!”

This week we have had big scaffolding put up before the work starts on our roof. That’s a good thing. The fact that it has entirely blocked one of our neighbour’s satellite signals is a bad thing. This is embarrassing though, of course, there is nothing we can do except offer a financial contribution towards getting their dish re-sited. It is one of the drawbacks of these little terraced houses that anything anyone does has implications for their neighbours. Big trucks block the road, building noise is heard in both adjoining houses etc. One of our next door neighbours has been a great help and allowed a ‘foot’ of the scaffolding to come down on her side of the garden wall. People are great round here because we all live with the reality, but it doesn’t stop it being worrying. I am also nervous about such major work being done on the structure of the house. I can’t help thinking about one of the houses opposite, where they took out a window in the front to replace it with double glazing and the whole bay fell off the house... Must stop that kind of thinking.

As well as irritating us with their review response, the local council has declared a possible plan to demolish the crummy (but much relied upon) building in which Kids’ Club runs – instead of using money already earmarked to improve it. It is primarily used by an organisation that runs an after-school club and playscheme – and we use it two mornings a week. It is in a little park so it is ideal. Kids’ Club (for any readers recently arrived here) is a play based, co-operative learning group for home ed kids of about 6-11. A play worker is there to act as a facilitator and help the kids manage the business of being in a group – along with a parent on a rota basis. Leo gets four hours a week (over two mornings) playing with his friends and doing other cool things. The other day I was looking at some fantastic dinosaur ‘top trumps’ that two dino-fans had made and this week there was a bit of filming going on. The council looks like it will propose that the after-school club/playscheme organisation can re-locate itself into the school next door. This obviously isn’t an option for us. Kids’ Club has been running for more than six years now and currently has seventeen kids attending at least one of the sessions. I do so hope that they change their minds on this as it would be nightmare to find another venue...

Our council’s review response had, in common with others that I seen, a ‘poor us, we have no powers’ theme, which is extremely irritating. They just seem to be denying the legal powers they have. It’s clearly a tactic. We have written to Mr Badman and copied it back to the council pointing out the fact that they do, in fact, have powers...

I have recently had some sad news regarding someone in my extended family. I have since been plagued by extremely vivid dreams – always the way when things are on my mind. It’s been many a year since I woke up sobbing but I did it this week. It startled poor old D. I have a lot of trouble shaking off such dreams.

In amongst such worries we have been getting on with life. The kids and I had a good day yesterday because the sun was shining and we managed to have no commitments. We had a gentle morning at home getting various things done and time in the park with a skateboard and a scooter. We bought gorgeous bread for lunch from the Muesli Mountain Market. It costs an arm and a leg but Dani always defends it as a quality product, which it certainly is. I made choccy cake in the afternoon.

The kids are happy with all their group stuff at the moment and we seem to have a routine that is working well. This is probably what makes the council plan all the more stressing. Have you noticed how it’s always when things are just balanced that they get shaken up? Little Green Pig, in particular, continues to be wonderful. Pearlie has moved up to the older group and is really enjoying it. I can’t sing its praises enough. It costs us just £4 a week for Leo to go the 7-11 group and Pearl to go to the 12-16 group. Creative writing doesn’t *require* a group, of course, but I know from my own experiences that a supportive group can be really inspiring and motivating.

We’re enjoying a morning where no-one is off to work, so everyone is lounging about in pjs reading, listening to audio books, knitting and so on. We’re off to the museum in a bit. It isn’t so sunny today but spring is definitely springing, isn’t it? That’s good.

Monday, 2 March 2009

At cross purposes

Well, this has been an odd day. It was all set to be a usual(ish) kind of Monday with D at work in the morning, me in the afternoon, L off to art group and P going round to see the grandmothers. Then the scaffolders came. While I was in my dressing gown... We had misunderstood in a recent conversation with the builder and weren’t expecting them this week at all!

I seem to keep finding myself in situations where I feel like I’m failing to communicate properly at the moment – and not just about scaffolding. I suspect that a lot of it comes from that gulf you get when you’re standing somewhere with your particular life experiences and someone else is standing in their spot, with their life experiences, and what you mean goes down the gap. I have long suspected that this is what happens to a great mass of human communication. And then, of course, we take umbrage. ( I like “take umbrage” BTW.) I am certainly someone who takes it but I don’t tend to hold it very long.

In my quest to narrow gaps and spend less time grabbing hold of that umbrage thing, I have long wished for a few alternative lives to lead. These would be good to visit for a day or two every couple of months, maybe. Or perhaps I should look more closely at reincarnation?

So, here are two favourite songs that address the theme of reincarnation. For any Victoria Wood aficionados – then yes, there is a verse missing...

And this one is very enjoyable too but I can't embed it.