Saturday 28 February 2009

Parent's Evening

This used to be preceded by a stiff drink and followed up with a few more. Yesterday was a very different experience. For a start the English teacher told me that he thought my eldest son would probably enjoy reading Dave Grohl's ( Foo Fighter's drummer) autobiography . Does he have him sussed or what ? I was seriously impressed.
On to science . Apparently he'd just sat an exam in this without even realising it ( that's what I like - no sleepless nights revising and that's just me ) where he'd come top. Not only that but it was apparent to the teacher that he actually enjoyed the subject.
Next stop was his Learning Development teacher who's managed to find a very subtle technique to encourage eye contact, something that's always been difficult for him. She' was delighted with his progress and told him so . Don't think he's ever received a compliment from a teacher and I don't think he knew how to accept it .
By this time I was in a delirious swoon and wasn't sure if I'd entered some sort of parallel universe. No , we were in the school hall and I was hearing words like delightful, hard working and helpful. This miracle place is called More House School and I feel like the luckiest Mother on earth to have found it.

Thursday 26 February 2009

New School , New Start

Two months until my youngest starts at his new school . Not a natural progression from Junior to Senior school , more like a rescue plan.

He is very dyslexic and struggling to keep his head above water in class. My eldest takes things very literally and so must I because as I wrote that last sentence I could picture his little blonde head gasping for air above the waves in a storm grey turbulent sea. I'm thinking of his new school as an azure lake of with gentle ripples undulating on it's glassy surface. No-one screaming at him to READ THE QUESTION or CHECK YOUR SPELLING - just an oasis of educational calm.

He is bright , loving and has the most wonderfully sunny disposition and yet these skills aren't graded in end of term exams. If they were , he'd have graduated with honours . Instead he gets the occasional 'good effort' begrudgingly penned at the bottom of an arduous writing task.

One memorable put-down which I found in my eldest son's exercise book once read simply 'Must try harder' . Really ? Is his best not good enough ? Who must he try harder for , Ofsted ? a League Table ?

Should they ever read this , here's what I'd like them to come top of class in... ( I think that might be a split infinitive or something grammatically hideous which explains why I was so pants at English in school)

Knowing that they are loved and knowing how to love.

Kindness - that ability to know when someone needs their help and knowing how to give that help.

Generosity - I'd like to think that they want for nothing, emotionally. They need to understand that material possessions aren't essential for a happy and fulfilled life ... as they say ... the best things in life aren't things.

Honesty - “Honesty is the best policy. If I lose mine honor, I lose myself.” as Shakespeare famously wrote.

Understanding that what truly makes you in this world is not what life throws at you but how you deal with it.

You can't teach any of these things in a lesso but it would be nice to think that, in between the curriculum strictures and the straitjacket of today's education , a really good teacher could just now and then instill a few of these qualities along the way.

Tuesday 24 February 2009

Spot the Difference

Conversation I had with my 14 year old not so long ago .... went something like this....

HIM: Why can't I have that video game ?

ME: Because it's not suitable for your age.

HIM: But everyone else I know has it !

ME: Just because everyone else has it doesn't mean to say you have to as well.

HIM: I can afford to buy it with my own money

ME: Just because you can afford it doesn't mean to say you HAVE to have it

HIM: It's NOT FAIR ! ( stomps off)

Conversation I had with my (soon to be 50) husband the other night.... which went something like this .....comments in brackets are what I'd have liked to have said. Comments not in brackets are what I actually said.

HIM: Why can't I have a sports car ?

ME: Errrr ( Just because everyone else has it doesn't mean to say you have to as well. )

HIM: But everyone else I know has one !

ME: Errrrr (Just because everyone else has it doesn't mean to say you have to as well.)

HIM: I can afford it

ME: Errrr.. ( Just because you can afford it doesn't mean to say you HAVE to have it - what about the lethal threadbare carpet on the stairs , the broken shower , the peeling paint on the front of the house ???)

HIM: Stomps off .

The difference is ... One of them IS a teenager and the other one just behaves like one.
Incidentally we had the exact same conversation about a year ago.

Monday 23 February 2009

Other People's Lives

I've been working on a scrapbook album for the friend's of a friend's 50th Birthday . Her husband supplied me with the photos ( mostly of himself !) . There were a few gems in amongst them of their children. This morning I received a phone-call from a young man by the name of James - his father had asked him to stop by after school and pick up the album for his wife. An hour later a strapping 6 foot tall chap duly arrived on the doorstep all smiles and gawkish gait to pick up the album . Of course I only knew him as a grinning nappy clad toddler from the album ! I showed him a few of the album's pages and he howled with laughter at the photos of himself as a nipper. It was rather lovely to have this glimpse of a family through their ages and stages. It reminded me of what scrapbooking is all about - making connections between people , time and places and might explain why I love it so much....well that and all the shopping !

Tuesday 17 February 2009

Breakfast in Bed

As I tottered downstairs this morning I was greeted half way by my eldest son urging me to return to bed. He disappeared into the kitchen and re-appeared with a tray laid out with a plate of pancakes , 3 china dishes filled with assorted tempting toppings and a perfect cup of tea. What a sweetheart !

Monday 16 February 2009

Valentine's Day

Dictionary Definition :

val·en·tine (vln-tn)
1.a. A sentimental or humorous greeting card sent to a sweetheart, friend, or family member, for example, on Saint Valentine's Day.
b. A gift sent as a token of love to one's sweetheart on Saint Valentine's Day.
2. A person singled out especially as one's sweetheart on Saint Valentine's Day

My definition :

Guaranteed to be the year's biggest letdown ( after Birthday and Mothering Sunday). Usually manifests itself as cheap supermarket (or garage) purchase ( made after closing time therefore choice severely limited) . Restricted to half pound box of Quality Street/Roses ( ie. homogenous gift usually bought for unknown relative in the absence of knowing anything about them).

This year I got lucky and in addition to my carton of supermarket after closing hours chocolates I was left a £20 note on the kitchen table. I'm supposing that I should be grateful for this token of affection but it went on groceries . Hardly romantic but then nor was the gesture.

As usual , I have to listen to friends' tales of surprise treats , luxuries and heartfelt tokens of love. Maybe one of these years I'll awake to breakfast in bed and a red rose . Best not hold my breath though.

Tuesday 10 February 2009

Mr Snowman R.I.P

As I drove through Bushy Park yesterday the most curious sight greeted me. I can only describe it as a Snowman's Graveyard. Witness to the myriad children building enormous snowmen the week before after the heavy fall of snow , these giant snow sculptures has spent the week slowly melting into shapeless forms , dirtied by the passing traffic. It reminded me of one of those bath fizz balls you get made out of bicarbonate of soda that fizz and melt in bath-water, leaving a cratered sphere as they dissolve.

I couldn't help but feel sorry for them , their moment of glory having passed . They were now abandoned and cheerless, minus their hat and pipe accessories and looking rather grubby . Mr Snowman R.I.P. I could almost hear the distant strains of Walking in the Air playing in the background.

Sunday 8 February 2009


Sounds like something out of Doctor Who. I won't go into details but it's something you do online with fellow scrapbookers whereby you all take part in the same classes and challenges and and then post photos of your efforts online for others to look at. Here's one of my efforts above.

It struck me as strange that in this day and age , as overpopulated as we are , it is possible to live a life hermetically sealed off from the rest of humanity. You can't beat a good together with like minded souls for a natter and a good laugh ... as they say a day without laughter is a day wasted . Still it has something going for it this cyberworld - at least you can stay in your PJs and it doesn't cost anything. Although I was planning on spending what I'd saved by not going out ... online of course.

Tuesday 3 February 2009

OK the novelty of snow has worn off but one good thing is that I've been forced to stay indoors which can only mean one thing ... more time to scrap !
I found these the other day - the sweetest little digital elements designed by one of my all time favourite scrapbookers - Ali Edwards. I suppose you're really supposed to use them digitally on layouts but I'm way to fond of real paper so I printed them off and added a couple ( one in pink and one in acetate ) to my latest layout of my youngest son. They're timeless though and so versatile - I can see myself using them time and time again . Thank you Ali !

Monday 2 February 2009

Snow !

Look what we woke up to this morning ! No school for the children. Wonder how long we can live off baked beans before venturing to the shops !

Sunday 1 February 2009


I'm feeling childishly excited at the prospect of a decent snowfall overnight. Eldest son has the prospect of a lie-in tomorrow morning although poor old youngest will still have to go as he's only walking distance away. A good excuse for soup , slippers and the heating on all day. No doubt the country will grind to a standstill ... oh, come to think of it, it already has.

Watched Attenborough on Darwin tonight on BBC1. Amazing to think that we were still believing in Adam and Eve and all that a mere 200 years ago. The power of sophisticated graphics brought it all so well to life . I think I tried to read Origin of the Species when I was a teenager and don't think I managed it . Children today can have the whole theory of Evolution delivered to them in sparkling computer generated special effects on a TV screen in under 52 minutes. Staggering.