Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Emily's Wednesday - By Daddy

OK, so today I get editorial input into the education blog! Today was the first whole day that I've taken on the responsibility to finally "do it" - the education, that is. We left Mummy in peace to work and headed downstairs bright and early.

The draw for the tasks took place with more excitement than a world cup final draw. Emily draws from the white pot....and first into group one, it's poetry! So, we did a poem. "Obviously", says Emily. "Well, you would do if you drew out poetry." Indeed. "Concrete" style was next in the poetry book Emily's working through - that's shape poems to you and me. Here's Emily's skating/ice poem:
Spelling was next out of the box, so I set Emily a 20 word test predominantly taken from the spelling mistakes that appeared in the poem draft. 16/20 this time round, which was deemed a fair result by us both, especially as some of the words were quite tricky.

Emily pulled out "English Writing Task" (sneaked into the box by Mummy, rather than one of the ones she'd dreamed up herself!) next. We decided on non fiction persuasive writing, and I set Emily the task of designing a book cover with all the blurb to promote the title. We looked at some paperbacks to get the idea and then away she went.
That's Emily's cover for Warriors: Into The Wild - the first book in the Warriors wild cats series - I think Nikki has mentioned elsewhere how much Emily enjoys this series. [Side note by Mum: I took the first one to read while Emily was at yoga yesterday, and even I was hooked!] Note the bar code on Emily's cover - love the attention to detail!

Next out of the lucky dip box came "photography" much to Emily's delight. We opened a new digital camera pack Emily had for Christmas. The camera was very basic but the software was excellent for ease of loading. Here are the results of some basic photo manipulation by Emily, first herself as a witch and then Mummy starring in a poster for the Beautiful Bride...
That was so much fun she had to be dragged away for a quick sandwich at lunch time and went back to play on it some more later too.

Anyway, next out of the fun box was Crafts. Well, really it was story-writing [side note by Mummy, in suspicious tone of voice: still not maths?] but we decided English had been well and truly covered for the day so Emily got a second dip. Hmmm, crafts. What to do? I know! A Get Set: Mastering Mosaics set we picked up from a charity shop a few months ago. Emily set about making a roman plaque with much gusto, although she as a bit cross that the tiles (it was a make your own job) were taking longer to dry than it said in the instructions.
Whilst the tiles were drying, we hot footed it out into the garden to plant some more flowers. We also sketched some daffs and had a go at painting the flowers, but neither of us were happy with our efforts so we didn't bother keeping them. We also found time for a bit of good old "pretend" when we were out there, so that covered drama too, I think. We also found some seven spotted ladybirds - our first, all the ones we've seen so far this year have been 5 or 2 spot, so Emily dashed inside to record it on the BBC Springwatch site.

Back to the mosaic, which Emily didn't want to stop doing and had to be prised away from when tea time arrived. Oh, we also hard boiled some eggs in preparation for making egg shell mosaics in the next couple of days.

Finally (so far) Emily's helped me to cook the pasta for her tea. Am I done yet?

Mum's Wednesday

Worked on the new store ALL DAY. Discovered this scrap-the-old-store-start-afresh malarky is rather more time consuming than I'd bargained for. Added approx 60 products to it in all that time....hmmm, only another 500 odd to go then.

Looked on with awe at Emily and Daddy's day (see next post). Contented self with grouchily muttering "Hmmmph. Wait 'till you get to maths."

Tuesday's News

Emily and Jon had a good art lesson on Monday night. They painted harbours in Monet impressionist style. Emily didn't finish hers in the lesson and hasn't yet had a chance to complete it, but here's Jon's:
Tuesday morning Emily and I went off to the doctor's; she's finally clear of the lung infections which means no more steroid tablets (and boy was she pleased about that!). Doc wants her to increase her asthma inhaler for a few weeks just to stave off the very last bits of it.
We hot footed it back to pick up Romy and Hazel for an afternoon's play, having unsuccessfully tried to find a newsagent selling Harry Potter Goblet of Fire stickers on the way. The girls had a lovely play and treated us to the World's Longest Play (no kidding) which also involved a lovely mime sequence by Romy and a poem about servant's life by Emily. Emily and I dashed off to yoga for her test, which seemed to go well apart from some confusion over her crossing her ankles in Lion, which the instruction sheets tell her to do, but which her teacher (who wrote the instructions...) said was wrong. Don't know if she's passed yet (won't know until next week) but I'm sure she has :-)

Monday, March 27, 2006

Weekend Round Up

Well, Emily's feeling much better, so she went off to ballet on Saturday with no trouble. She enjoyed the lesson, although Jon and I have been left fuming by her teacher's brilliant organisational skills. This show they're doing - parents were asked to inform the teacher which group they'd like their child to be in (to be with friends, etc) and told that she would do her very best to accommodate everyone's choices. Most parents apparently didn't bother saying anything (so it's not as if she was juggling too many conflicting requests), but Jon did let her know that Emily had asked to be with K and her other friends, and K's mum asked for her to be with Emily. Teacher said to Jon that that would be no problem at all. This was a week or two ago. So, Saturday, the children are told the groups they're to be in. Yep, you've guessed it. Emily is in "the blue group". ALL of her friends, every single one of them, are in "the red group". So they will be perfoming on different nights, attending different rehearsals and, after Easter, even attending different lessons as she is splitting the lessons in two. What the hell was the point of even asking for preferences then?? Makes me so cross. Hrrrmpph. Mind you, I think we're crosser than Emily is. She just shrugged her shoulders and informed us "Well, I'll just make some new friends in this group." And I'm sure she will. But that's not the point!

Oh well, at least it means her lessons after Easter will be earlier in the morning, so our Saturdays won't be cut in two any longer.

On Mother's Day Emily gave me some beautiful hand made cards, a Mum bookmark and a lovely new wallet. And lots of hugs :-)) Also on Sunday we waved my Mum and Dad off to the St Bees caravan for a few weeks, and we also investigated the loft trying to find the boxes for my myth and magic collection, the pieces of which are far filthier than I thought they were. Hmmm. Will have to brush up on my pewter cleaning skills before I can sell them, I think! Emily experimented on a few of them on Sunday afternoon, trying to find out what would clean them best. Does that count as science?

For the rest of Sunday, Jon and Emily followed a watercolour DVD by Frank Clarke - they loved it and had a ball! Here are their efforts, Emily's first:

Followed by Jonathan's:
We also splashed out and joined the Society of Artists as art materials are costing us a fortune at the moment and they have some of the cheapest membership prices I've found, plus other benefits. Jon and Emily are out at art class this evening - Emily had to come home half way through last week's one 'cos she was poorly still, but hopefully she'll make it through this one. When this course is finished (think there's another three or four to go) we'll look into private lessons with Gary for both Jon and Emily. They're bothing having such fun with it, it would be a shame to let it drop.

While the artists were having fun at the weekend, I listed sixty more items of stock on ebay (but still haven't touched our new online shop, naughty, naughty business woman that I am) and wrote to some more of the endless deadlines. We got a new magazine contract confirmed this morning, and the press agency renewed theirs, so I have another fourteen deadlines to pencil into the calendar between now and summer. Hey ho.

This morning Emily worked on some maths and English while I wandered around cursing myself for having got up so late. Hate it when that happens, it just throws the whole day. This afternoon she played on Civilisation for ages and then spent a long time creating some beautiful computer art. The latest version of Dazzle is on sale at the moment here, down to £9.99 from £49.99 in case anyone's interested. Emily also spent some time discussing with me and Jon what she wants to do over the next week or two. Because Jon and I have so got so much work to sort out, we're going to take it in turns to "educate" and we're going to adopt a lucky dip system, apparently. Emily's written loads and loads of subjects on bits of folded paper, and whatever she draws out will be what's done at any particular time. Should be interesting - it's been a bit of a faff making sure we've got something in mind for whatever she picks, but it sounds like it could work well for the moment at least, giving one of us adults at a time some breathing space to work.

Tomorrow we've got the return visit to the doctors for Emily, then Hazel and Romy are coming round to play, then we'll be off to yoga where it's Emily's first exam night. She doesn't seem too worried - if it was me, I'd be a nervous wreck by now!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

A Note From Jon

.....on a topic very close to his heart for all sorts of reasons:
Cannot let this historic weekend go by without mention of the wonderful achievement of Reading FC gaining promotion to the Premier League. It's a strange feeling; a mixture of an end of an era and the beginning of another, for someone like me who lived a major part of their life with Reading Football Club as their main raison d'etre. From 1978 to 1998 I never missed a home game at Elm Park - until we moved up to Lincolnshire, which coincided with Reading's move to the Mad Stad, I lived my life around Reading FC.

So many memories of the terraces and division 4 football. So many memories.....some sad....some good.....but supporting Reading was always about staying power through the lows rather than the highs.

So, to Reading, thank you and congratulations. You'll always have a place in my heart. My thoughts today go to those who wore the hooped shirts over the years and stood with me on the terraces.....some of whom are no longer with us......and also to those who gave their all to the Royals but never got to play in the Premier League or even first division. To my many heroes, Percy Freeman, Steve Death, Trevor Senior, Les Chappell, Terry Hurlock, Dean Horrix, Robin Friday, John Alexander et al.

To Maurice Evans who epitomises the Reading FC I knew and loved and who passed away far too early. Thank you and God Bless...... COME ON YOU ROYALS!!

Friday, March 24, 2006

Pootling Along Nicely

Emily's Friday achievements:
  • Sleeping through the night without a single coughing fit
  • Getting up at 7
  • Completing a KS1 maths sats practice test (she likes them, apparently) in record time and with no fuss
  • A beautiful piece of persuasive writing - a poster entitled "Important: Home Educate Your Child!"
  • Getting even further ahead in Pharaoh
  • Doing a full hour of yoga and discovering two more positions she can now achieve that she couldn't quite achieve a few days ago. She can really see her own progress which is so motivating for her!
  • Lots of geography work about land use in the local area

My Friday achievements:

  • Getting up at 7
  • Not buying any more Harry Potter lego (!) (ssssh! It's a secret!)
  • Clearing our main desk
  • Planning tons of walks for our next trip to the caravan, including having discovered the area where England's only Golden Eagles are to be found
  • Getting a clearer plan of action in my head for dealing with our masses of outstanding work
  • Deciding to sell my large collection of Myth & Magic figures on ebay - they're just collecting dust at the moment, have no sentimental value for me (before Jon's time) and at my quick valuation having checked out the going rates on ebay there's roughly a thousand quid sat unloved on that shelf!!

Jon's Friday achievements:

  • Getting up v.v.v. early
  • Taking an increasingly bad tempered, moody and agressive Grandad out shopping without losing his patience, his sense of humour, his sense of duty or his sanity
  • Fantabulous sketching
  • More of his usual, everyday, sheer hard work and graft to keep this business afloat and keep us all sane

All in all, a satisfying time was had by all. Just as well as it's....drumroll.... the weekend next...... with all the stress and work load that usually involves.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Mad Scientist!

The steroid tablets seem to have worked very well; we haven't had an "emergency" attack since we went to the doctors, although yesterday Emily did have a bit of an asthma session while playing out in the garden, but it wasn't too bad compared to recent ones!

Yesterday we worked downstairs again, and had another very productive day. Emily did lots of work on 2d and 3d shapes for maths and tons of dictionary work for English. She also got to grips with her thesaurus and thinks it's the best invention ever, lol. They're digging up the road again outside our house. Darned new houses. If they were even half way affordable I'd be all for more housing in the village, but these are going for half a million each for pete's sake, it's totally absurd. There are now six new developments as in still being built, not to mention at least another three that have been finished in the last year or two. Shall have to be careful not to impose my views on Emily when she investigates this local "issue" in days to come, lol. Anyway, so they're digging, and so we had no electricity for half of yesterday. 'Twas cold, and quite dark, but hey, it was fun.

Slightly less fun was coming back to the PC once modern life was restored only to find that the power cut had someone completely buggered up our broadband wireless connection. Much huffing, several very expensive phone calls and an hour and a half later, peace was restored. That didn't leave us with much of the afternoon, but we pressed on with our local area thingy - can't get much more local than Emily's bedroom, so she spent yesterday afternoon making a to-scale plan of it on graph paper having carefully measured out its dimensions and her furniture with pigeon steps. We're also going to make one of the whole house and how the rooms fit it. Then we *would* make one of the street but we don't have a metre rule on wheels thingy and my lazy old brain can't think of any other way of making it to scale.

Today has been utter chaos. Jon and Emily were due out to tai chi this morning, but that was cancelled with minutes to go becuase the instructor is ill. On the plus side, he's apparently seriously considering home educating his two adopted little ones, and wants to talk to Jon about it :-)) Considering that Emily's yoga teacher is also heading that way, I reckon we could start a mini revolution here if we try hard enough. Jon had to rush out for a dentist appointment, making it back in the nick of time for me and Emily to head to drama; we got back with seconds to spare to wave Jon off to his first homeopathy lesson.

Drama was apparently great fun; Emily got to play a mad scientist (a role I suspect she was born for) and she's come home with a mini script she has to practice for next week with her new partner. Jon's course sounds fascinating, so that's all good too.

In other news, walked past our bedroom this morning and spotted Juliet acting suspiciously in the door way. Closer inspection revealed lots (and I mean lots) of black feathers. Even closer inspection revealed Romeo with a fully grown blackbird on our bedside rug. Sigh. Guess we should be grateful that having caught it, laboured it all the way in through the flap, round the corner and up the back stairs (it was nearly as big as him!) and into our bedroom, he decided to present it to us on the mat rather than **in** the bed - he has been known to frequently take toys and leave them in the bed, so we had a lucky escape there!

Meanwhile, I've finally been brave and written in on the calendar that we're GOING AWAY on the 8th May for a full week. Have been umming and aaahing about it for ages, every time a suitable window appeared in the calendar it was quickly filled before I had a chance to think "holiday". But there, it's written down now, and it's going to happen COME WHAT MAY. So there. Found out from a book of walks around St Bees that we were within sight of the footpath down to the "secret beach" with the gemstones when we gave up on our cliff walk last time. Hrrrrppphm. This time, we'll know where we're going. Can't wait for a week of sea, sand, rocks, bird sanctuaries, secret coves, sketching, board games and PEACE!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Spoke Too Soon - Poorlier and Poorlier

Did I say that Emily was getting better? Er, scrap that.

We've had a very scary three nights. Poor little lamb just keeps getting coughing fits that she can't recover from....and can hardly breathe through. She's absolutely terrified when it happens and it's hugely difficult for me and Jon to calm and comfort her when we're half scared witless ourselves. We've been seconds away from calling an ambulance on at least four occasions :-(( Probably the only reason we haven't is that the merest subtle-as-we-can mention of it to one another makes things even worse as she's frightened sick of having to go to hospital; somehow we've just about managed to get her back from the brink and calm enough to breathe again each time, but it's been touch and go. Her asthma inhalers have stopped having any effect at all. Emily has also lost a lot of her hearing since Saturday (although neither ear was in pain), to the extent that you can be having eye contact with her and speaking to her and she can't hear a word you're saying, which is is extremely distressing for her.

This morning we got an emergency doctor's appointment; at this point I should hold my hands up and admit that it was at Jon's insistence - I was under the impression that what she was going through was the after effects of the bronchitis and that it would ease up over the next couple of days and we just needed to keep an eye on her or go ahead with that ambulance call if an attack was too bad to cope with. Ha! Crap Mother Alert. I always did say he had stronger instincts than me. Turns out that the bronchitis has progressed to a secondary infection of both lungs, and the ear infection she did have has spread to both ears. We now have a different course of antibiotics and steroid tablets as an emergency measure to calm her lungs - she's going to switch to a new/different asthma inhaler but apparently that will take about 3 weeks to kick in and doc says it's far more urgent than that to prevent further damage. We have to go back next Tuesday, whether or not there's any improvement, to discuss further treatment :-((

Basically, she's one very, very poorly young lady. Oddly enough she's not too bad at various points throughout the days - although extremely tired since it must be getting on for a full 2 weeks now since her last proper night of sleep, and very upset over her hearing. It's the night when the problems really kick in, but then asthma is always worse at night anyway. And there was me thinking the other day how well she'd done in not needing any asthma medication since she came out of school. Talk about life giving you a kick up the backside.

Anyway. Ironically, yesterday we had an excellent "work" day, with lots and lots achieved - Emily had been desperate to get back to work, I think because it made things seem "normal" again as much as anything, after weeks of disruption. We decided to work downstairs in the big dining room at the table instead of lounging about on the floor of the landing/playroom bit, and I think that made a big difference too, psychologically at least. And it was more comfy for me!

Emily chose to work on poetry first, and the task in hand was to practise the use of similies by writing a "feelings poem". This was her fantabulous result:

Egyptian Moods

Sometimes I feel....

As angry as a God without a temple
As bored as a scribe with nothing to write
As hungry as the peasants in the fields
As lonely as a jackal roaming the desert

But more often I feel....

As elegant as an Egyptian dancer
As entrancing as Isis in the sky
As excited as a crocodile that's seen its meal
As happy as a Pharaoh in his palace
As honourable as a priestess serving the Gods
As relaxed as the cats watching over Bastet
As sleepy as a slave building a pyramid
As wonderful as Ra making the sun light

I was very impressed with that, especially the speed at which she came up with it, it just poured out of her! After that we did some maths.......with slightly less enthusiasm, but at least it got done, then plenty of spelling. After lunch Emily tried out the lavender eye bag she sewed the other day and practised her various yoga breaths with it on her eyes as I read her some meditations. She then wrote that up in her yoga journal.

Next we started some work on chakras, looking indepth at what they are, and focusing on the root chakra to begin with. Emily did various meditations and exercises and we discussed how they felt and what chakra imbalances might mean. She took to that like a duck to water and is very keen to look at the rest; don't know what an LEA bod might make of that, but there you go. Think if they ever get back in touch with us I'll send them a photo of Emily reading tarot cards and see if they can fit that into their "suitable for age, aptitude and ability" file.
After that we went back to our local geography project; Emily sketched a map of our village showing the major roads and the river, then she devised a key and correctly plotted all kinds of places on the map from our house to the school (which she chose to mark with an exclamation mark having decided a skull and crossbones would be too detailed, rofl) to the ducks to the sweet shop to the library and about a dozen others. It was quite hard for her to work out the orientation of the map and what went where but she perservered and was very pleased with the end result.
We're going to look at the (sooooooo many!) new housing developments in the village next, discussing the pros and cons of this particular issue and the impact it has had/will have on the village. Might get Emily to make a short video to go in a powerpoint presentation about it. As much of our local work involves getting outside into, well, the locality, that might go on hold for a few days though until she's a little better.

And that's about the size of it. We did make it to yoga this evening - when she's determined, she's determined - which seemed to have been fun. Yoga test next week. Oh, and Romeo must have had a lucky escape today. I noticed him asleep on Emily's bed mid afternoon without his collar on, so I assumed Jon must have thought it was time to shut them in (we're still closing the flap before it gets dark and we take their collars off once they're in) and thought nothing more of it - until a few minutes later Ju-Ju arrives in with wet paws and collar intact - Jon hadn't shut the flap or removed Romeo's collar at all. He'd gone and lost it somewhere. After a search, Jon found it - hanging from a wrought iron garden seat. Psycho-moggy must have got himself tangled in the iron somehow. Thank heavens for quick release/snap off collars!

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Feeling Brighter

Last night was the first night in - oooh, let me count them - 12 nights that Emily hasn't been sick at least once. Yayyy!!! She's getting better, finally. It's been a long haul, this one. We're not completely out of the woods yet, but this is a very good sign.

So, what's been happening? Emily didn't go to tai chi on Thursday morning, but Jon did and he's been busy showing her what she's missed this last two lessons. They're halfway through learning the form now, and they've also started something else which "it says here" is called taiji qigong 18 steps and is a series of exercises each specifically targetting a part of the body. All good.

Emily bravely decided on Thursday afternoon that she did want to try to make it to drama, so off we went. She was supposed to start last week but that was absolutely impossible, and I thought we were going to miss this week too, but she's got a core of steel, that girl, when she really wants to do something. Lesson duly attended, and Emily loved it. Apparently they acted out a magic pony carousel scene, complete with painted faces, which was right up her street from the books she's been reading recently, and they also did lots of voice exercises and mime. They're a bit pushy for money, mind - had to pay up front for the rest of the term's lessons before we even knew if Emily would like it, and next week we have to pay the full wack of next term's lessons too in order to guarantee her a place after Easter. They're doing a play for all the parents and families in July, so Emily's very excited about that.

All that activity took it out of our poor poorly little girl, though, so Thursday evening was "fun" in the very not-much-fun-for-any-of-us-and-especially-not-for-Emily sense as the coughing, sickness, temperature and difficulty breathing took hold again.

Yesterday was slightly better, and Emily spent much of the day playing Pharaoh on the PC and playing various board games with us. Then last night was much better, as I today she's been off to ballet and had a whale of time. She and Daddy have come back laden with her hawaiian costume and masses of lovely tops from the charity shops :-))

Next week, we must get back to work. We've got lots more to do on local history and local geography, and Emily wants to get back on course with her famous artists project, and to start a "proper" human body project.......the one we attempted in her first couple of months out of school evidently not being up to scratch. Meanwhile, our cashflow is feeling rather poorly yet again, so we have the somewhat daunting tasks ahead of: listing over 200 items on ebay that have come into stock and are just sat there, glowering at me; listing everything else non-ebay (at the last count that was approx 500 lines....) afresh on our brand new spanking online shop which has finally been redesigned and is just awaiting some tweaks (and all that stock....) before going live; catching up with an endless round of writing deadlines. None of the above can wait. Well, not if we want to have cash in the bank to pay the bills at the beginning of April. Oh, and urgently de-cluttering so we actually have some room to breathe, think and LIVE.

Just looked in the mirror and one of my eyes is soooo blodshot it looks as if I've been in an accident :-//// Sleep? Rest? Free Time? What are these strange, alien concepts?

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Up....Then Down Again

Poor Emily :-(( This infection is really taking it out of her. Although she was OK yesterday afternoon and for yoga, by bedtime last night she'd been sick twice more, had coughing fits to olympic standards and was exhausted and utterly miserable. She had another really restless night, but seemed a bit better this morning. It wasn't to last - by 2.30 she was shivering, pale and feeling sick again. She's absolutely worn out with it all, and weak too. She's lost seven pounds over the last ten days :-(( It's really distressing for her, because every time she seems to be getting a little better it comes back with a vengeance again. Poo.

Whilst she was feeling better this morning, we did manage to get some maths done, and some English, working on describing settings. After lunch we just about had time to work on some music stuff - copying different 4 beat rhythms, and a pitch exercise to work out the tune to Old MacDonald on the xylophone by ear - before poorliness took over again. Played a sniffly game of Simpons Life and collapsed onto the settee to watch discovery kids.

I can't remember the last time Emily was this ill, for this long. She's put up with nine full days of utter rotten-ness now, and there isn't really an end in sight. Sure, she's had colds and sore throats and things, but they normally pass within 24-48 hours. Don't know whether we'll make it to tai chi and drama tomorrow; had drama been on this afternoon, she definitely wouldn't have been well enough to go, so we'll have to wait and see. Parenting really sucks when the one thing you want to do more than anything else - make the hurt and illness go away - is the one thing you're powerless to control.

Oh yes; and if we're told once more by a grandparent that we "shouldn't have let her go out in the snow" (this was the snow a fortnight ago, when she was perfectly healthy) I think I shall scream. Yep, letting a healthy seven year old play out in and enjoy the snow. Shockingly irresponsbile parenting. We should have kept her locked in the broom cupboard, obviously.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Beaming With Pride

That was Emily when she came out of her yoga class an hour or so ago. Last week, they were all given hardback journal type books, and they were supposed to decorate the covers, and then each week write in them something vaguely related to yoga - what they'd been practising, how it makes them feel, any research they'd done, books they'd read, poems, stories, whatever. Despite being ill all last week, Emily had covered hers in some sparkly wrapping paper and done a lovely cover design with yoga clipart she found. This morning she spent a while looking up which poses help specifically with bronchitis and breathing issues, then she got me to photograph her in some of the poses and wrote a piece explaining that she'd been ill but that this is what she'd found out, and how she felt these poses helped.

Well, her teacher was thrilled with her and showed/read out Emily's journal to everyone. Cue one very proud little girl. It's lovely when an "outsider" comments on something she's done - it's all very well us praising and encouraging to high heavn and back, but praise has a certain extra edge to it when it comes a) unexpectedly and b) from someone outside the family. Perhaps that's one thing that Emily does miss out on, being home educated - besides us and friends there aren't many people to take an interest in what she does. Mind you, having said that, the teachers at her school found it hard to feign interest even when she took something in for show and tell, let alone anything more important!

Today started well (if late!) when Emily managed to stay asleep until gone 9 am. She's normally awake by about 7-ish, but given how little sleep she's had this last week, that was a definite plus. After doing some yoga and her journal, we went to visit Romy and Hazel for a lovely play, then straight to yoga. She's definitely getting a little better, although evenings and nights are always worse than the days with this kind of illness. We're getting there.

Monday, March 13, 2006

A Poorly Old Week

It's had indeed been a poorly old week. Emily became ill last Monday night and has remained ill on and off all week with a raging temperature, chills, sweats, sore throats, weakness, loss of appetite, lethargy, floods of tears and in the last couple of days a hacking cough. She had seemed to be getting slightly better but took another turn for the worse this morning, so we went off for an emergency doctor's appointment. Turns out she has a nasty case of bronchitis :-(( Poor little lamb has had a hell of a time. Mind you, every time we've considered taking her to the doctors this last week she's suddenly rallied round and improved...only to get worse again as evening approaches and it's too late for that appointment. The last three nights she can only have had 2-3 hours sleep as the coughing has been keeping her awake (and distressed) and making her sick. Since she came out of school, we've gone 18 months without needing to use her asthma inhaler once, but it's been used rather a lot in this last couple of days.

Anyway, we now have some antiboitics which will hopefully help bring our happy little girl back again within the next couple of days. I'm all for giving a child a chance to get well first before resorting to antibiotics, but enough is enough and she clearly wasn't able to fight this off without.

So. Emily made it to yoga last Tuesday, but didn't make it to tai chi or drama on the Thursday. She was determined to get to ballet on Saturday, and did just about make it through the lesson. Good job she did, as they were handing out parts for the new show. Emily's group is doing Hawaiian dancing......for some strange grass skirts and bikinis will apparently be the costume of choice. She's still pretty poorly this evening and would have had to miss the art class - but it turns out that Gary is also ill, so the lesson has been cancelled for tonight in any case. Which she's relieved about, as she didn't want to miss anything.

Education has gone right out of the window in favour of snuggles with TV, DVDs, games and books. Emily did manage to make a lovely cover for her yoga journal, though, and today has made a lavendar filled eye cushion for use when meditating.

As for me; well, this week has provided plenty of time to sit and think, which has helped me get back some degree of perspective over all the things that were bothering me. Thank you, Kris, Elder Fairy and Jules for your supportive comments :-) I've taken steps to change some of the stuff that was within my power to change, and worked hard on finding the grace to accept the things I can't change. Out of all the things that were depressing me, Jon and I have together figured out which bits were actually *my* or *our* problems (which fall into a can or can't change category), and which bits were being imposed on us by other people, and have resolved to be more active in the "telling others to bugger off" department, lol. Feel a whole lot better now, and exceptionally blessed to have such an understanding hubby and daughter. And I've decided to begin a *serious* study of wicca and paganism. They're paths I've always felt drawn to and I just feel that they may help bring me some much needed inner strength and serenity.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Taking a Break

Today has been hugely upsetting in a number of ways. I don't seem to have anything positive to blog at the moment, so I'll take a break for a few days. I'll probably be back later to add pictures of Emily and Jon's art class achievements, as it wouldn't be fair to Emily not to; she likes seeing her work on the screen, bless her. Beyond that, I think I need some time, some space and a whole heap of peace and quiet.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Rant - Not Home Ed Related

I've spent my whole day dealing with an absolute nutcase. Same woman I referred to in an earlier post, who was aggressive towards us despite having received replacements for the ebay items royal mail helpfully lost. She left us negative feedback and yet another rude email. A day later, I left similar for her (the feedback, not the rude email). This morning I get an email from her demanding proof of postage of the original package so that she can report us for fraud. Huh? I can just see it now.

Chief Super: "Right lads, cancel all leave. This is a biggie. What have we got so far?"
Detective: "Well, this lovely lady is claiming fraud against a nasty old ebay seller."
Chief Super: "Ebay, eh? Will customers never learn? So, she ordered something from the seller and it didn't arrive, right?"
Detective: "That's right, it didn't get there. The seller sent immediate replacements though, and said the originals must have been lost by royal mail."
Chief Super: "Oh yes, a likely story. So this poor woman has never received anything at all."
Detective: "Er, no, she received the replacements. Immediately."
Cheif Super: "I see - and she's been charged twice for them, has she? Ebay b*stards! Let's get 'em!"
Detective: "Er, no sir. She was only charged once."
Chief Super: "So, let's get this straight. She's got the goods?"
Detective: "Yes."
Chief Super: "She's happy with the goods - they weren't misrepresented?"
Detective: "She's on record as saying they were "very effective"."
Chief Super: "And she hasn't lost any money over it?"
Detective: "No, sir. Although the seller has lost a set of CDs."
Chief Super: "So......what are we investigating again?"
Detective: "I dunno sir, I was hoping you could explain that. Can I get back to my tea break now?"

Shheesssh. She was defrauded *how*, exactly? If anyone's been defrauded here, it's us. We only have her word for it that she didn't receive both sets of items. She's neither out of pocket, nor missing the goods she paid for, and she's stated that she's perfectly happy with the actual goods. And the problem here is?? We don't have proof of postage - it's not logistically possible to obtain a proof of posting certificate for every package we send, or to send everything by recorded delivery. We rely on the customer's goodwill and honesty when royal mail lose things, and customers rely on our goodwill and honesty in sending immediate replacements. Which we do. And did in this case.

So, on learning that we don't have any proof of postage to provide her with, she's now sent a threatening email saying she's going to report us to inland revenue for not having proper business records. What the f*ck is this woman on????? Did I miss the law that was passed there? Was I asleep when they made proof of posting certificates a legal requirement?

She quite clearly doesn't understand what fraud is. She quite clearly doesn't understand the difference between a proof of posting certificate and a receipt for postage paid. As it happens, we have a franking machine, which tops up automatically by direct debit, so *of course* we have a full record of postage paid out for accounts purposes. Which has absolutely ZERO to do with a proof of posting certificate for one particular item. She quite clearly doesn't understand how to communicate politely. The woman is, quite clearly, a bozo. I've told her that I'm passing her increasingly bizarre comments on to our solicitors in the morning and that she needs to stop harrassing us. She doesn't even understand what she's complaining about, she's just patently unbalanced.

But what upets me most is not this half wit and her ramblings. What upsets me, with hindsight, is that I've let it get to me, again. And have spent the day fuming over it and wording and re-wording emails instead of just dumping her and her hangups in the bin where they belong. Why do we let this kind of moron ruin a day???

You know, I used to work as Duty Manager in one of the largest hotels on the Heathrow strip. It was my job, back then, to take all kinds of rubbish on the chin, to placate often exceptionally irate and sometimes physically aggressive guests and to generally deal with all the yukky stuff nobody else wanted to deal with. To tread the fine line between pleasing the guest, upholding the hotel's reputation and not inducing heart attacks in the accountants. And I was pretty good at it too. Even enjoyed it. After a hard shift of endless icky situations, I could just kick off my shoes and relax. It didn't bother me. But now? All this customer aggression is so much more horribly personal. :-(

Friday, March 03, 2006

Churchyard Charm & Other Adventures

It's been a busy couple of days. Let's see... Wednesday I spent all morning at the doctor's with Grandad. She told him that he didn't need to keep coming back for blood tests every five minutes. For some strange reason that I daresay you need to be Grandad to understand, he wasn't pleased. Wednesday afternoon Emily and I went over for a play at Romy's house. I gather they played Gladiators (of the 80's/90's Ulrika Johnsson Lightning/Shadow/Jet type, not the Roman type) upstairs, which chuffed Emily no end, as she's added that particular show to her lengthening obssession list. I think she's in love with Wolf ;-)

On Thursday morning Emily and I spent a while in a long, involved Barbie Does Gladiators session, and she made special leotards and helmets for them all. Okkaay. Then she and Jon went off to tai chi, and came back worn out again but very pleased with themselves.

Thursday afternoon Emily and I walked up to our beautiful old church and churchyard for a bit of a local history investigation. Well, actually, we ran out of time to investigate the church itself, and will go back to that another day, but we did spend several hours in the churchyard. I made up some question sheets for Emily to work on, and she seemed to really enjoy doing that. In fact, she was so at home wandering around with a clipboard she looked as if she'd been lost from a school party, lol. It was so lovely there; bright sunny afternoon, absolute peace and quiet (apart from the alarming numbers of crows), and the oldest part of the churchyard that leads into the woods was completely carpeted in snowdrops. Emily searched for the oldest gravestone she could find (1743) and the most modern (1971 - there is a new cemetery elsewhere in the village which has been in use since then); she made notes of the most common surnames and Christian names, answered questions about why some of the stones were so weathered, speculated about what might have caused some deaths, noted the graves of children in particular, and made notes about the Christian carvings and wording on many of the stones, and what that told us about the beliefs of the people buried there and their families. She also sketched her favourite memorials and completed mood/emotion charts about how she felt in the graveyard at that time, and how different she might feel if it was dark or foggy.
To begin with, Emily had an inherent sense of unease about walking among the gravestones, even though it's something she often did when she was smaller. She said she felt it was disrespectful, bless her. So we had some interesting conversations about respect, and discussed the differences between just charging about without caring vs walking quietly looking at information with interest. Eventually she agreed that the spirits of those buried there would probably be pleased that someone was taking an interest in their lives and memorials. And she was absolutely outraged when we did find a couple of stones with grafitti on!

Back at home we read a book about the history of Scotter, and were delighted to discover the background to some of the names we had noted from the churchyard, notably a family who had a line of seven gravestones together and turned out to have been owners of the manor house at some point, and the man who had by far the biggest memorial there who, we discovered, was the owner of a large chain of drapery shops the main one of which had been founded in the village in the 1800's. We also discovered that there used to be two watermills on the river here. Hmmm. Will have to go hunting. We knew about the windmill (which is still there, minus its sails) but that's the first I've heard of the watermills!

This morning we did some work on times tables for maths, and then Emily was thrilled to receive some post with a Buckingham Palace postmark. It was a lovely timeline of important events during the Queen's life, produced to celebrate her 80th birthday, apparently. I only requested a copy the day before yesterday, so that was impressive! I'm pretty apathetic about the monarchy, personally - I wouldn't particularly want to see it abolished, and I don't do the whole righteous indignation we-pay-our-taxes thing, but then again nor do I do the kow-towing to hereditary titles thing either. Take it or leave it, really, although I do have a sneaking affection for the entertainment value they provide. But Emily's interested, and the timeline was very good, definitely sparked an interest in several things mentioned on it, noticeably Anne Frank and Martin Luther King.

This afternoon, Emily and Jon have been very, very busy with a load of gardening, a big sketching session, tai chi to music and baking too. Scrummy chocolate log was produced, along with some rather good sketches from Emily; I especially liked her pig, dog's head and magical scroll!
Emily and Jon have been using The Lost Art to hone their sketching skills, and it's been a real confidence booster, recommended to anyone!

After tea with said scrummy chocolate log, Emily and I did some yoga practice but were interrupted with some Very Important News: it was snowing! With a vengeance, in fact - judging from the depth of our footprints I reckon we had a couple of inches in half an hour. Of course Emily just had to go out and play in it, even though it was dark, and even though she had no trousers on!It quickly became clear that five minutes outside the back door just wasn't going to cut it, so once suitably attired she was off for the next hour!
I don't know how she managed to stay out there that long since she had bare feet in just slip on shoes....brrrr....constitution of an ox, that girl!

Back indoors, Jon soon warmed her up with homemade cherry pancakes for supper - we missed pancake day on Tuesday, but better late than never! She's now reading Harry Potter again before falling asleep, whilst I'm typing this and trying to avoid leaving horrible feedback for the ridiculous woman who has just left negative feedback for us on ebay. Silly moo had immediate replacements for items lost in the post *yawn* but still managed to be rude, offensive and ignorant even once she's received them. I sent a frosty but *polite* reply to her raging abuse - I just don't do outright rude - but my reply was apparently was the most offensive thing she'd ever seen. Oh well - she must have led a very sheltered life. I'm working towards a dignified silence. So far.

Jon, meanwhile, is seething over an exceptionally rude email he received from an amazon customer who bought an out of print and hard to find item for the grand old price of £4.99. Due to a competitor finding new stock from somewhere, the price has been driven down in recent days - and she emailed in a tantrum because the price had dropped since she bought it. Huh? You buy something from Tescos. Next week it's on special offer. Are you outraged? (Well, I wouldn't be, but you never know, some of you may have lower tolerance levels..). You buy an item of clothing from a major retailer. Some time later they include the item in their sale. Outraged? You list something on ebay. Three days later they decide to have a half price listing day. Outraged? A supermarket publicizes the fact that it checks it's rivals prices daily and lowers its prices where appropriate. Great! You bought something the day before its rival lowered their price, so you paid 5p more. Outraged? You buy something from amazon and it later goes out of print and the price *rises* - outraged? Same situation. What's the difference? Supply and demand, anyone? Sheesh. Customers. I'm one, and I'm sure I was never this much trouble, being fully equipped with a brain, a conscience, a basic business sense and a polite command of the English language. Told her she's welcome to send the book back for a full refund if she's unhappy with the price she paid, and welcome to search for it cheaper elsewhere (we've already sold our cheaper copy) but apparently that's not good enough. Ho-hum.