LEA visit today

Well, we went to the library at 9:45 (15 minutes before meeting) and spent some time choosing books in the children’s section, then went to desk and asked about the reading mission leaflet we’d found and signed up for that. This brought us to a couple of minutes after 10 so we rushed upstairs to the cafe, where we were supposed to be meeting, to find one lady there, who we thought might be our inspector, but turned out not to be. We bought drinks and snacks and sat down to wait.
25 minutes later I phoned Bob to check that I definitely had the right time and place. He was sure it was 10am in the cafe so we waited a bit longer. A friend arrived to look after L and stayed to chat instead (thank goodness!). We waited some more.
At 10:45 Bob phoned to say that he had rung the LEA office and they said the EWO should definitely be there by now and the LEA lady might be running late. My friend approached the lady sitting the other side of the cafe just to check it wasn’t her – and thereby made some poor candidate waiting for her interview even more nervous! We waited. My friend took L to the toilet, but J and I didn’t dare leave in case the LEA lady and EWO should arrive.
At 11:00 I phoned K’s nursery to warn them that we would almost certainly be late picking him up.
At 11:05 Bob phoned again to say that the LEA lady had phoned him in confusion and with apologies. She had been at the library from 9:50, apparently, and the EWO from 10, but they had been looking for a man so hadn’t seen us 🙄
You see, all contact with the LEA so far has been from me or from Bob and me together EXCEPT the phone calls Bob made to confirm the meeting and to bring it forward from 10:30 to 10 so that we could get to HE group sports day. Obviously that meant that it would be a man they needed to meet in the library and although they could hardly have missed seeing a woman with a 6 year-old boy had they been anywhere near the library front desk between 9:45 and 10 or the library cafe from 10:02 (it only opened at 10) onwards it doesn’t seem to have occurred to them to approach us and just check whether we were the ones they should be meeting 🙄
Seriously unimpressed! 👿
She said they would contact us in September with a view to rearranging the meeting. I feel like telling her to get stuffed! I suppose at least I should be glad that they obviously have no great concerns about J’s welfare, or they would want to see us sooner 😕 Gives us more time to prepare anyway!

Cramming things in!

Wednesday has always been Bouncearound day 😀
We’ve been going since J was about 4 months and it really feels like home. The boys both love it, despite the fact that J is two years older than just about any other child there, and their favourite bit is tidy-up time, when they get to help the chaplaincy assistants do big manly things like dismantling the indoor climbing frame 😆
Now, however, there is an interloper on the Wednesday morning front! J and K have been invited to attend reading mornings with a friend, while L gets to play with the friend’s little brother. Oh how torn we are! For now, we can just about manage to attend the reading morning and then rush back for B-A-R – arriving in plenty of time for the all-important tidy-up! 😆 In fact, up until now it has been just J, while K was at preschool, and we have rushed across town to pick K up and the legged it to B-A-R. This is what we did this week and it worked well, except that we had to leave the reading morning early because there was a coffee morning at preschool which we wanted to support – and J was not impressed at having to miss several minutes of “The Wind in the Willows”. Still, this was the last B-A-R until September so I have promised him he will be able to stay and play after the next reading session.
The big problem is that the reading mornings are to be expanded to include snack, play and then a science session as well. This will be from September, which is great as K will no longer be at preschool so they will both be able to do it 🙂 It is also great because it will replace the science sessions J used to do with a local childminder who is now too busy 🙂 It is not great because it means no more B-A-R 🙁 J is very excited about the reading and science, but so upset about the B-A-R that he refused to let me say that it would be his last session so that he could get the goodbye present and best wishes they normally offer to leavers. He is adamant that we will make it back somehow, sometime! I should perhaps add that the B-A-R organisers are similarly keen that we should go back and have said that if we don’t make it to regular meetings they will make sure we get details of special events, parties and so on. I really hope we can make it work somehow. It’s been such a big part of all our lives and I’d like L to end up feeling the same way about it that J and K do.

Anyhoo, this Wed, after dropping K off, driving to the reading morning house, doing tables in the car while we waited not to be too early 😆 then J reading while L trampolined, rushing back to preschool coffee morning, heading over to B-A-R and staying until tidy-up (deep breath!) we made our way slowly back across town, buying out Evolution on the way (which left us carrying some seriously unwieldy packages 😆 ) and then choosing silk paints but failing to find any silk (making do with calico for now, until they get lining silk back in) and panicking as we neared our car 5 minutes after the parking had expired and saw a traffic warden (fortunately the car had still been legal when she passed it and she chose not to lurk!)…. we realised we may be trying to cram too much in 😆
It didn’t stop us opening up the paints when we got home and making a start on the calico painting though 😆

K’s preschool parent/teacher consultation

I managed to miss the proper one as it was on the one morning a week that I can’t make and K doesn’t go in 🙄 and then his teacher and I just haven’t quite managed to arrange to see one another – not high priority as I knew there was nothing much wrong anyway.
So with next week being end of year we met today. She gave me his personal profile and folder of memories at the same time and then basically just talked me through them and it was actually almost embarrassing! She is a lovely person and K is in her first ever class of her own (iyswim) but even knocking off a few degrees for overenthusiasm it was a seriously proud mummy moment :mrgreen:
She talked about how sensitive he is, how caring (mentioned incidences like when a friend bumped his head and K went in unprompted to ask for an icepack then took it to friend and looked after him), she said she uses him as a role model quite often in the class (not so sure how much of a good idea that one is!) because he picks things up quickly and then the others can follow his example, how bright he is etc etc.
I’m sorry – this sounds like so much boasting! I may come back and edit but I wanted to get it all out first 😆
The thing is that K is lovely. We always knew he was lovely and it is something people always comment on, but tbh he is often in J’s shadow, particularly academically, so in a way I guess we tend to find ourselves thinking of him as a bit of a nice but dim (that’s not quite what I mean, but I can’t think of a better way of putting it) and it was lovely to hear him being praised in such a well-rounded way and for achievements as wide-ranging as thinking of others, making sensible decisions, coming up with good ideas, recognising numbers and letters, teaching other children how to do things…
I’m almost overwhelmed!
Have to treasure these moments, as he will be HE from next week on, so this may be the only proper report he gets!
ISTR J was often used as a teacher’s model too, and was praised for his ability to help other children learn how to do things. Teaching runs in my family for generations – I guess there’s no escape 😆

It’s nice up north!

What a great evening! The film was very very good and it was lovely to be out with a friend just doing grown-up things and having real adult conversation 😀 We had an unexpected bonus afterwards too, as it turned out Graham Fellowes (alias John Shuttleworth) and Martin Parr (who shot the film) were there and they did a question and answer session at the end of the film, which was fab!
Note to self: must do this sort of thing more often!

Black marks at preschool…

for the parents, though, not for K 😆

K decided he didn’t fancy going on Monday, which suited me as his French club has now finished which means he would have needed collecting at an awkward time (after lunch, but without the extra half-hour for French) and J and L wanted to go to Mustard Seeds (J to work in the corner and L to play with a friend) so this way K could come too 🙂
Bob phoned preschool to say K wouldn’t be coming and wouldn’t need lunch. The secretary asked why, ready to be sympathetic, I guess, and was neutral to say the least when he explained that K just didn’t want to go and further that it was getting harder and harder to persuade him to go now that his friend M has moved. He didn’t go in today either, so I’m a little concerned as to what might get said tomorrow… Ah well – they still get paid for his place, even if he doesn’t use it, and preschool attendance is not compulsory so it’s our choice really – if we choose not to benefit from their wonderful provision, more fool us! 😉

Anyway, the boys decided that they wanted to wash the car, so that’s what we did 😀 Each child had a small bucket and a sponge (the boys used their sponges from needle-felting at MP camp 😆 ) and they did a great job of redistributing the dirt, then finished the job with enthusiasm and spirit, flinging the contents of their buckets over the hubcaps to make sure that they got their fair share of muddy water too.

This meant that we were (inevitably!) late for MS, and arrived just in time for tidying up 🙄 Still, L and K got to join in the songs and eat lots of fruit (K’s idea of heaven!) while J and I did maths and reading, then we all listened to the story (except J, who had buried himself in a book – his idea of heaven!) and had a leisurely walk home, instead of having to leave early and do a mad dash across town to pick up K 😀

In the afternoon we did a bit of shopping and were then due to pick J’s friend B up from school and have him round for tea, but his mum phoned to say that little sister F had a trial afternoon at school and had somehow convinced herself that this meant she would be having a trial tea with us too 😆 and would that be okay? So we ended up with two little visitors, one of them very excited but also a little homesick and both very tired (yes, it was their birthday parties at the weekend!). We started by making butter, then used that to make bread and butter pudding, which we used to top a dish of frozen raspberries I couldn’t fit in the freezer. It went down a storm with ice-cream 😀

Today found us doing a friendship/mercy run to a friend with baby twins (and two older boys as well), delivering a batch of Omega seeds, some fresh bread and soup and the last of the EBM from my freezer which I forgot to deliver last time we went. (Can’t do her any more just now as I broke my dairy-free to go to MP camp and haven’t got back to it yet and her twins are lactose-intolerant and suffer severe reflux 🙁 )
K was disappointed to find that her 4 year old was at nursery, but he and J had a great time playing with her older son (8, I think) and J has now discovered Sim City and put it on his birthday list. Meanwhile I had a lovely time playing with her twins and L pottered between us.

Couldn’t stay as long as we’d have liked because we had to get back for J’s last French club session, which was a special for parents to attends. He even had a part to play (le loup mechant who tried to eat the trois petits cochons!) and words to learn, which he did admirably 😀 Bob took an hour off work to come, which made J’s day 😀

Now we have two very tired boys (and boy is J crabby when he’s tired!) to get to bed and a daughter who thinks the answer to everything is “Mummy milk!” but hasn’t yet realised that I’m off out in an hour’s time – mwahahaha!

A real grown-up evening! In the cinema! Without a child on my lap! Going to the toilet when I need to go, by myself! How will I cope?

What kind of genius are you?

There was an interesting article in Wired about two kinds of genius. As well as the content itself being interesting, it got me thinking. My own industry (computer software) is traditionally seen as somewhere for bright young men (ageism and sexism unfortunately intentional). It’s a little saddening looking around the office sometimes and thinking “How many people here are over 40?” and “Where does everyone go when they get over 39? Is this Logan’s Run (with 10 years’ grace) or something?” This is getting increasingly relevant for me as, apart from in church, I’m no longer of an age where I can be described as young.

There are the normal arguments against ageism, to do with the value of experience, diversity of views and so on, but this article suggests that some people are late developers – their experience isn’t just an end in itself, but is a means to producing better and better work.

The article is a bit like the hare and the tortoise, except both win. I’ve a sneaky feeling I’d prefer to be the tortoise in the long run in this instance though. It must be bittersweet to be the young genius who then peters out, unable to live up to their own reputation and unable to do the great things again. The lesser work of later years is probably still amazing, but no-one wants to know as it’s not the spectacular quality from the beginning. Dying young, before you fade, is a rather terminal way of protecting your reputation.

I’m obviously still in training for my late-developing genius phase.

Pros and cons

Sunday provided a pair of constrasting moments to illustrate being a dad to small children, and its effects on parental mental health.

Sunday afternoon: Katy was out with J, and I thought that after I’d caught up with some boring chores that K, L and I all deserved a drink and a Little Something and then a cuddle up on the sofa to watch The Jungle Book. Eventually L dropped off to sleep (hurrah!) cuddled in one of my arms, and in the other K chatted to me about what was going on in the story, laughed, got sad when Baloo was heroic and didn’t mind when I sang along with the songs. Of course this was all good natural history and hence very Home Educational. This was very nice.

Not so nice was L really not wanting to go to sleep on Sunday evening. After more chores I thought that a bit of You’ve Got Mail would be brainless relaxation and also thought that L would eventually cuddle me or Katy and go to sleep. This did eventually happen, but two excerpts from her To Do list for the evening are reproduced below:

117 Empty cars from the bucket over the sofa (again).
118 Offer some to Daddy (again).
119 Accept them back from Daddy (again).
120 Play with them for a bit on the sofa (again). Maybe climb up onto the sofa/Daddy as part of this.
121 With Daddy’s help, put them back into the bucket (again).
122 Take the cars over to Mummy and offer one to her (again). If any cars drop out on the way, bend down to pick them up, which may cause more to drop out. Pick them all up and continue to Mummy.
123 After Mummy’s toy car needs are met, walk back to Daddy (again). Previous comment about dropping applies here too.
124 Empty cars from the bucket over the sofa (again).
125 Offer some to Daddy (again).
756 Go to sleep.

A Weekend of Parties

Kiddy parties. 😛

J’s friend B and his sister F both have birthdays at about the same time so it was F’s party on Saturday and B’s on Sunday. F’s was a family affair, so we all toddled along there and spent the afternoon playing (littles), chatting (bigs) and eating nice food (all) – including delicious chocolate crispie cakes with a distinct caramel flavour (reminiscent of Mars bars or Creme Eggs 😕 ) due to being made with lots of golden syrup – must get a recipe! F being 4 and girly, the cake was a triumph of pink, sparkly icing 😉

In the evening we did the second great Coke Fountain experiment, with some success 🙂

Today was B’s party, which unfortunately clashed in timing with church. J was very excited, though, as B had told him about a wonderful science man who would be coming to entertain the children, so we arranged to drop him off early, en route to church, so that he wouldn’t have to miss anything.

Sadly, after this masterstroke of organisation, the science man had cancelled, so the children were left to entertain themselves 🙁 which they did with great aplomb and a bit of good luck on the weather front 🙂

Sunday school was small (just two children, aged 4 and 9, so interesting from a differentiation pov!) and brief as we went back in for communion. K was listening very hard to the words which accompanied the bread and wine and repeating them after the minister. He opted to take wine (the children normally have only bread and a blessing – their choice) and seemed to get a lot out of the experience generally.

After church Bob dropped me off at B’s so I could bring J back at the end of the party and brought K and L back home for lunch and a quiet afternoon. This meant I got to chat and eat nice food again 😉
In fact, I did so much chatting and eating (and washing-up, of course) that J and I ended up outstaying all the other guests, by which time B’s mum and I were into deep philosophical and personal discussion and soul-baring (there’s nothing like washing-up to get you into counselling mode!) so we persuaded the children that they would like to watch a video and sat down with a pot of tea and a slice of birthday cake (chocolate biscuit refrigerator cake – mostly sugar, held together with fat!) to set the world to rights. Oh, and also arranged to go to the film festival at the Arts Theatre on Tuesday to see the John Shuttleworth film “It’s Nice Up North”. I’m really excited, not least because I can’t remember the last time I went to the cinema!

Got back home to find L fast asleep in Bob’s arms 🙂 which of course means she is now still up and playing with toys even though Bob and I are flagging fast and would love to be either in bed or at least doing worthwhile jobs 😆 The boys, on the other hand, were in bed and asleep (after a few chapters of MNLS) by half past six and seven o’clock!

More Diet Coke and Mentos

Having produced a fountain which was more aesthetic than spectacular last time, we decided to try making a hole in the lid and then putting the lid back on before dropping the sweets in, on the basis that greater pressure should give greater height. Obviously, this presented a couple of interesting challenges: how to make a hole in the lid (J thought of a nail and hammer; I suggested a piece of wood underneath to hammer into, we ended up with 2 holes as it was such fun making them and one looked too small) and how to get the sweets in with the lid on, without them being in contact with the Coke before the lid was on and without getting covered in Coke spray as we wrestled with the lid 😆 We solved that one by also making holes (slits in the end, as they split) in the sweets and then threading them onto cotton, which J then poked through the hole in the lid, leaving the sweets inside the bottle, suspended beneath the lid and above the liquid. He held the string until Bob had the camera ready and then let go…
Whoosh! We had a double-headed fountain at least 2 metres high! (photo)

We have one bottle and a few mentos left. J really wants to try suspending the bottle from the climbing frame and swinging it as we let go of the string so that we get a moving fountain…
Watch this space!