Thursday, May 31, 2007


Yes, the sound of boing-ing has been coming thick and fast round here for the last 24 hours, of which more in a mo. Very zebedee like.

I am so looking forward to the time when I can get this blog back to being a home education blog. At the moment, all I seem to have to say are constant updates on the Grandad-Hospital fiasco. May has passed in a complete and utter blur of continuous hospital admissions and visits; I'm extremely alarmed that tomorrow is the first of June, it feels as though we have just fast forwarded a month :-((

Anyway; Jon's Dad is STILL in hospital. After his cancelled angiogram last Tuesday (post below) and the hospital records fandango, he was supposed to have an angiogram on Thursday last week. They prepped him for at 6 am, and all through the morning they kept telling him they'd be ready for him in half an hour, ten minutes, another ten minutes and so on. Lunchtime arrived and he was refused any lunch (which bearing in mind he has severe diabetes was not a good move). It wasn't until about 12.30 that they finally admitted they weren't going to do the angiogram because....drumroll please....they still didn't have the bloody records. Unbelievable. He was extremely upset. Jon and I were absolutely livid.

I rang the ward to find out what the hell was going on and was put through to a dopey staff nurse who told me that she couldn't answer my questions because she also didn't know what was going on. OK, I'll speak to a doctor then. No can do. They're not available (are they ever??). Saw red at this point and emailed the hospital complaints manager explaining what was going on and stating that we wanted to make a formal complaint about the whole fiasco. To be fair, she did respond within ten minutes, which was something. She said that *we* couldn't make a complaint, it had to come from the man himself, but that she had alterted the "modern matron" to the situation and it was being immediately investigated. The complaints manager then rang back about an hour later full of profuse apologies. She admitted that they had made a "huge mess up" with the records situation and that the way Grandad had been treated was "completely unacceptable". OK, but now what? She assured me that the records would be obtained urgently, and that his angiogram was still on course....but that there were no more angiogram slots until next Thursday, i.e. today.

Sooo.....on Friday, Jon's Dad was given a choice of whether to come home and go back into hospital today for his angiogram, or whether to stay in as an inpatient for another week. Inexplicably, he decided to stay there. Apparently because it saves him money as he doesn't have to get any shopping. OK. Never mind the cost and inconvenience to us then. Fair enough. Anyway, he's still there. It's now 4.30 on Angiogram Day. As far as we know, he hasn't had it done yet. Which means he probably isn't going to have it done. Which means I am going to have to throw the paddy to end all paddies with that bloody hospital. And I'm so tired of having paddies with them. Which also means that the whole of this month's inpatient and visiting saga has been for - nothing. Happy bunnies? Nope.

Right, so apart from all that, has there been any education going on? Well, er, not really. Bits and bobs, here and there. Emily has displayed the patience of a saint, to put it mildly, but she is now beginning to get bored and really wants to get back to some degree or normality. Which isn't much to ask.

We have at least been socialising, as it were. On Friday afternoon last week we went to visit Hazel, Romy and the increasingly, if that's possible, adorable Tansy, who were the proud owners of a new and huuuuggge trampoline, which Emily naturally fell head over heels in love with. We'd been debating getting one at Easter time, but had decided against it. Having seen how much fun (and, more to the point, exercise) Emily had on Romy's though, we had to change our minds. So with thanks to them, we do now own a trampoline.

It arrived yesterday morning. We had Emily's friend Maisie over for the day, so she and Emily enthusiastically "helped" my Dad and Jon put it up, lol, which largely consisted of playing Egyptian Mummies in the big box and helpfully asking every five minutes "is it nearly ready yet?" When not boing-ing, Emily and Maisie also had fun making home made pizza dough in the morning, which they baked with the toppings of their choice in the evening. Plus hairdressing, dressing up, nintendo-ing and all sorts of other malarky. All capped off with a late night phone call pondering over the intricacies of neopets. Some pics from yesterday:

Tomorrow we're off to visit George's wife Jackie and her two youngest kids (9 and 10, I think they are) for the day, for a mixture of work and play for the girls and a good chinwag for me and Jackie. George is Emily's karate and tai chi teacher, and together with Jackie runs the psychic circle Jon attends. They home educate too, but it's taken us a while to get the kids together. Jackie and I do have very much the same approach to home ed, so although at the moment the girls barely know each other, hopefully they'll all gel together and it should work nicely. Then on Saturday, Emily's playing with Kayleigh and on Sunday she has a birthday party for twins to attend. So at least she's having some good play times, even if the education is rather lacking!

Oh, and both Emily and I were rather narked with these two pieces of Harry Potter news: US Order of the Phoenix Film Release Date Moved to July 11th and Universal Studios to Open Harry Potter Theme Park. What's the deal with the US all of a sudden? I though JK Rowling was supposed to be keen to keep the books a basically British thing. So could someone explain to me why the hell the film release date is moved so that the US gets to see the film BEFORE the UK??? Why not on the same day? And as for the theme park, well. A) I hope they don't ruin it and b) yet again, if they must have one, why the US?? Yeah, money talks and Harry Potter is big business. We all know that. But we're narked.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Another Poorly Patient

Although this patient isn't in hospital, thank goodness, just curled up on the sofa. Emily's had a very high temperature for the last two days and a horribly sore throat. We've been snuggling up watching DVDs in between going back and fore to visit Grandad, who's still in hospital. Yesterday we watched Night at the Museum (good, but about half an hour too long) and this morning we saw The Devil Wears Prada, which we really enjoyed.

Poor Emy missed yoga last night and is probably going to miss tai chi tomorrow too. She did have a good Monday, though, before the poorliness kicked in at bedtime. We did the next science lesson in physics, which was about potential energy. Fun experiment involved running a toy car down a ramp at various heights to see how high the ramp had to be in order for the car to smash a banana slice, then repeating with the car weighted down with pennies, and working out the car's gravitational potential energy in both cases. Emily also went to football on Monday night and came home very chuffed to have been praised by the coach for her good tackling.

In the hospital, things are getting pretty surreal. Yesterday morning, Grandad was supposed to be having an angiogram first thing. They had him all ready - shaved, medicated, gowned...then they came to tell him at the last minute that they weren't going to do it.....because they had only just realised that they didn't have his hospital records from when he had a quadruple heart bypass ten years ago. He had that done in the Middlesex Hospital in London, which is now closed down. Why it took them until that long to realise they didn't have the records, when he had repeatedly told them his history and where it was done, I don't know. Even worse - they then told him that it was impossible to GET his records, because of the hospital being closed down. Oh, OK, what did they do with all the records when they shut it? Burn them? Hello?????

It took me less than ten minutes yesterday morning to google for Middlesex Hospital, establish that everything from there was now being dealt with at University College Hospital, ring their records dept, confirm with them that they did have the records from Middx ten years ago, get the exact name of the administrator the hospital needed to speak to, plus his direct phone and fax numbers and details of exactly what the hospital should put in their faxed records request. Now hard was that, and why couldn't Scunthorpe hospital manage it????

On top of all this, they then told him that, depending what the records showed, they may not ever be able to do an angiogram anyway; something about it depending on how the grafts on the bypass were done. Well, OK. But then WHY has he been kept in hospital for the past week awaiting a procedure that a) they knew they may not be able to do anyway and b) that they didn't bother requesting the records for in order to find out????

To say that everyone, including of course Grandad himself, is now hugely fed up is a bit of an understatement, shall we say. When I got back from the hospital this afternoon, he's been told that his angiogram is back on again for tomorrow morning. Except then a doctor appeared - asking Grandad whether HE had any news about what was being done and when. So the doctor didn't know and seemed to think that it wouldn't be taking place at all and that he should go home. So the last week has been for what, exactly? Okkkaaay. I'm not holding out too much hope for this fiasco having a successful resolution any time soon.

Anyway. I shall stop writing about that now before I scream.

LOL, Emily's just come upstairs asking if she can have her paddling pool out tomorrow, for the first time this year. And she's ill? Well, yes, she is - but nothing comes in the way of that girl and her pool. She practically lived in it last summer. I'm afraid big bad Mummy and Daddy are going to have to deny that request until her temperature's gone, but I guess next week "It Will Begin"!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Back in Hospital

For the third time in just under three weeks, on Thursday morning we called an ambulance for Jon's Dad. He had another angina attack and they admitted him back into hospital. Friday morning, in hospital he had yet another one. The consultant came round while Emily and I were there on Friday evening - they now think that there's a problem with the grafts from his quadruple heart bypass that he had ten years ago. Looks like one or more of the grafted veins is partially or even completely blocked. They're going to keep him in hospital until next Thursday when he's scheduled to have an angiogram. Depending on the results of that, they'll know whether he a) just have to live with it, b) they can do balloon angioplasty to relieve the blockage(s) or c) and most drastic, whether it warrants a new bypass operation.

It's a lot to worry about, but at least things are moving towards being sorted out, one way or the other. If they do decide to treat him after the angiogram (as opposed to just send him home with medication), he'll have to have the treatment in Hull hospital, as they only do diagnostics in Scunthorpe apparently.

Anyway. Hopsitals aside, Emily's been busy this week. On Monday we did the next lesson in chemistry, which was all about exploring four different types of chemical reaction: combination reaction, decomposition reaction, exchange reaction and displacement reaction, and about observing signs of chemical reactions such as precipitation, bubbles/gas production, colour or temperature changes and so on. Emily had a blast mixing together various combinations of salt water, sugar water, vinegar, lemon juice, milk, egg whites, bicarb, bleach and ammonia to observe the reactions. She's not a fan of the smell of ammonia ;-) but we were very impressed with the reaction of mixing bleach with ammonia - lots of manic fizzing and smoke coming off, lol. Not to mention the stink!

On and off this week, Emily's been working on a latin translation from stage 4 of the latin course, which is going really well. When I got back from the diabetic clinic on Tuesday we had a good old mess around with clay, making texture plaques as well as temple archways, plus I made an alien rose and Emily made a coiled snake jar. We haven't got round to painting these yet, but we did use glitter and coloured sand in the clay which was quite effective.

Also this week, we looked at lesson 3 in the biology course, which was about photosynthesis. Our basil plant volunteered for the experiment, so it now has some of its leaves covered in cardboard but still attached, or unattached and covered in cardboard, or unattached, covered in cardboard and in water, or unattached and in water, or just unattached, while we monitor their progress. Emily's really, really enjoying the Real Science 4 Kids stuff.

In history, the History Odyssey course has wound its way up to the Egyptians, much to a certain someone's delight. Emily did a HUGE Egyptians project back in spring 2005, but she's delighted to be re-visiting all that. This part of the course uses a resource called History Pockets; at first glance this seemed a bit boring to me - there's lots of colouring in and sticking pictures in the right place on sheets, etc. It seemed to me a bit too reminiscent of the busy work they do in school history. With hindsight, now we've actually started using it, though, Emily seems to be enjoying it. I guess it's a nice change of pace from the rest of the course. That's my one criticism of History Odyssey, actually, come to think of it - the pacing. Some of the "lessons" are wayyy too long, with far too much to do in one session, but others are really quick. We're enjoying that too, though. Although I think it's going to take more than a year to get through "ancients" before we move onto the next stage.

Bought a "creative writing machine" CD rom resource thing off ebay the other day, 'cos it was cheap and sounded like a good idea. Was very disappointed with it though. The principle was good (it had 100 each of characters, situations, objects and places that you had to randomly pick in order to come up with a creative writing "task") but the actual content was very bland and unimaginative. So Emily and I came up with our own instead and had great fun on Friday morning brainstorming 51 each of characters, places, situations and objects of particular interest to Emily. She then picked one of each at random and wrote a super story around them. She wants to do that regularly now, so I guess although the ebay buy was a bit of a let down, it did lead to something better, so that's good.

Yesterday afternoon we went to visit Hazel and Romy; the girls got up to who knows what in the garden, including busking at the garden gate (??), whilst I got to cuddle the increasing even more adorable baby Tansy. Hotfooted it from there to the hospital to see Grandad.

I did have loads more I wanted to write about, but I've started this post about eight times since Tuesday and it's all very disjointed in my head now, so I think I'll leave it at that!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Stunning Meditation Garden

We've been a bit devoid of pictures lately, so I'm going to chuck all these on from Jon and Emily's early morning trip to the Pureland Japanese Garden & Meditation Centre, which they found absolutely stunning - perhaps all the more so because it was pouring with rain - and the perfect place to meditate. All pictures are by Emily (apart from the ones *of* Emily, lol). She and Daddy loved it there and are keen to go back. Emily was particularly bowled over by the energy coming from the crystals in the crystal garden and she loved that there was something beautiful and interesting hidden just about everywhere. The owner, Buddha Maitreya, brought umbrellas out to them, and had a lovely long chat with Emily :-))

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Grandad Home Again

It's been an "interesting" week again, lol. Virtually nothing achieved, education wise, although Jon did finally find the letter we had from the LEA last November. Since they were so polite and stayed firmly within the boundaries of what they were legally allowed to say, we decided to play ball and send them a report. I wrote it months ago, but then we lost the letter, so I spent half an hour yesterday updating it and now we've sent it off.

Jon's Dad came out of hospital again yesterday afternoon, and this time we're hoping things will settle and he won't end up having to go back in yet again next week.

Between hospital visits, we haven't managed to fit in very much else, although Emily did make it to yoga on Tuesday afternoon. She handed in her work for levels 7, 8 and 9, and is now busy learning the sanskrit she needs to know for her next test on Tuesday next week.

Yesterday morning before fetching Grandad, we went to visit Hazel, Romy and baby Tansy. Emily had a lovely play with Romy and I had a fabulous cuddle with the utterly adorable Tansy, although Hazel declined my offers to adopt her ;-)

This morning I dropped Emily off at ballet and came home to frantically work through some deadlines. Trish picked Emily up after the lesson and she's spending the afternoon at Kayleigh's house, no doubt besotted with the baby rabbits they've just had. Tomorrow, Emily and Daddy are off to visit a Japanese garden and meditation centre while I plough on with more deadlines. Jon's been hard at work on ebay all week, so between the personal account and the business account we must have nearly 800 items listed at the moment!

And, er, that's about it. I'm counting on an altogether less eventful and more productive week next week.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Chaos Continues

Well, Grandad came out of hospital last Thursday. About two hours ago, we had to call an ambulance again and he and Jon have gone off in that. I don't know what's going to happen now, whether Grandad's being readmitted or not. That's why I'm blogging, lol, I'm tied to the phone on the desk waiting to hear what's going on, cos if we go back downstairs we'll never hear the phone.

Anyway, since I'm here I may as well catch up on the last week's lack of blogging. We all visited Grandad twice a day when he was in hospital. After bringing him home on Thursday afternoon, we had a fairly relaxed Friday. Emily and I finally got to celebrate a very late Beltane. We didn't have all that much time, but we did decorate the festival/seasonal tree with paper flowers, leaves and pictures of the Green Man.

We also read lots of Beltane stories and myths and tried making fairy mushroom mereingues. Um, that didn't work. Even though they were in the oven for over two hours, it still seemed like raw egg at the bottom. Not very appetising! More successful was the honey bath Emily and I had - we loved that! Used up a whole pot of (Tesco value, lol) honey all over us and got incredibly sticky and very giggly. I'm sure it's good for the skin and it was certainly great for morale.

On Saturday Emily went to what would have been her penultimate dance lesson, but despite saying she didn't want to go any more, she was upset when it came down to it, and now she DOES want to carry on going. She wants to do the modern exam which is coming up next, then the next ballet and character dance exam, and by the time they've done those, it will time for the next theatre show, which she also wants to do. I guess we'll play it by ear then. I'm really cross with the teachers, but if Emily's happy to go, then I guess that's the only point that matters. I think Emily was also upset at the thought of not seeing her friends at ballet any more, which is probably the crux of the matter, really. We see Kayleigh outside ballet, but she doesn't really see the others except in class (bad mother, must do better in that dept!).

Yesterday Emily and I got back down to some work as hardly anything's been done in the last fortnight. Think we crammed quite a lot in, really, with maths, spelling, lots of latin, finishing off Hammurabi and his code of laws in history, finishing off a biology lesson we abandoned half way through for some other crisis previously, which was all about the parts of cells. We also did a physics lesson about force, work and energy, which involved taking a slinky out in the rain, hanging it from a tree and measuring the amount of work various fruits did when they extended the slinky. Emily worked it out using the work = force x distance formula and seemed to get the hang of that easily enough.

This morning we did more latin before Grandad was taken ill. It's funny how much you miss the "normal" mundane daily life when you've had extended periods of chaos, isn't it? I guess it stops you taking "normal" for granted, at least. We're so desperate to get back to some kind of "normal" now and beginning to wonder if it will ever happen.

The lack of normality hasn't been helped by huge computer woes yet again. In order to get Emily's new PC online, I had to order a new BT voyager hub and wireless adapter, as vista refused to work with the existing wireless adapters and BT were thoughtfully refusing to release vista drivers for it as they deemed the hardware too old. OK. New stuff arrived, installed it all painlessly in fifteen minutes. Knew it was too good to be true. Within mintues of installation, our main work PC (this one) running windows XP started to freeze solid, with great regularity. I think on Saturday we must have been forced to switch it off at the power more than a dozen times, which no doubt mangled its insides thoroughly. Much hair tearing out later and we'd tried just about *everything* we could think of, every solution that we'd found searching online, you name it, we'd tried it. Nothing.

Finally on Sunday morning I managed to get the *old* BT hub and the old adapter working again on this old PC, and much huffing and puffing later finally managed to get Emily's vista PC to talk to the wireless network after all via the new adapter. So far, it's sorted, but I'm not holding my breath. I loathe computer hardware!!

On a more positive note, on Sunday night Jon's psyhic circle held an open evening and Jon did his first ever public platform mediumship demonstration, which went fabulously well. My friend Janette and two of her friends went along to support Jon as I couldn't go, having deadlines up to our ears still. After the mediumship demonstrations, all the members of the circle offered free readings to the various guests. Jon did six or seven psychometry readings, with impressive results. The evening was supposed to wrap up around 10pm but they were still going strong gone midnight when Jon finally left, so I guess you could count that as a success!

In amongst all the chaos recently, Emily and I have been having fun on some computer games. We both love the Dumbledore's Army Multiplayer Spellcasting Game and Fairy Godmother Tycoon is a huge hit too. Very addictive that one, and very, very hard!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Grandad's Heart Attack

Well, he had one, on Monday. Came in from sitting in the garden, very pale, and said he thought he should see a doctor. Doctor couldn't see us for hours, and Grandad had pains across his arms and looked like he was going to pass out, so we called an ambulance. The First Responder got here within five minutes and the ambulance was only about five minutes after that. They gave him oxygen and took ECGs as he was sat down, then put him in the back of the ambulance to take even more. They said it looked like he was having a heart attack; I went with him in the ambulance at full speed with lights and siren - now *that* was a scary ride, I kept thinking the vehicle was going to roll over the speed it was cornering :-//

The A&E department confirmed that something was definitely not right and admitted him straight away to the coronary care unit, where he's been ever since. Although he feels quite a bit better now, the results of the blood tests they took came back today to confirm that it had definitely been a heart attack as opposed to just angina.

So, he'll be in hospital on bed rest for a few more days before they allow him to get up and about. We're hoping he'll be home by the weekend, but we'll have to see. We're visiting him lots. Emily was quite frightened by the necessity to call the ambulance on Monday and the flurry of activity that ensued, but she's been a star with him in hospital, and is very taken with his bedside TV/games console, rofl! She made Grandad a lovely card on Monday evening when she got back from visiting him, and we took it to him this morning straight from Emily's tap exam. The other two men in his room have asked her to make cards for them too, lol!

So, it's been an activity filled few days, as it were, and we'll be fitting in twice daily visits to the hospital for the next few days at least. On a happier note, Emily passed her karate grading on Sunday morning with the second highest marks out of everyone, including the much older kids who were going for higher belt levels. She's a very chuffed orange belt now :-))

This morning's tap exam went OK. We're proud of Emily for seeing it through - given the horrible time she's had there recently it would have been easy and understandable for her to back away from doing the exam, but she wanted to meet the challenge and she certainly did. She says she made a few mistakes, but from what I could hear from the waiting room, so did everybody else. Teacher said to her after the exam "I hope your dance went better than it did last Friday, Emily!" How charming.

At yoga this afternoon, Emilys teacher asked me if I'd help out in the lessons. Ummmmmmm, okkkaaay. *Shock* I'll have to get police-checked in order to be covered by her insurance, but she's going to bring me the forms for that next week.

Sunday we spent ALL DAY trying to fix Emily's computer. The sound card was dead and it was refusing to recognise the newly introduced sound card. So muggins here had the bright idea of trying to reinstall windows xp in the hope of uncorrupting whatever was corrupted. Boy was that a bad idea. Got caught in the apparently quite famous "34 minutes to go" freeze up during the installation process. At that point, it's too late to abandon the installation the operating system is half on, half of - so whenever you restart the PC the only option you're given is to try to complete the installation - at which point it freezes again. Tried numerous solutions found in technical forums, involving all sorts of weird and wonderful things like .inf files and BIOS settings - all alien to me, but we followed the instructions to the letter several times over and still nothing. Nana and Gramps stepped into the breach and have rather wonderfully bought Emily a new PC and equipment to salvage the hard drive from the old one. Thank you!!!!!!! We could no doubt have spent another twelve weeks of our lives trying to fix the damn thing, or paid a computer guy to come fix, but we don't have the time and last time we called a PC guy to come fix something it cost us almost as much as a new PC would have done in any case.

So. Still not much school work happening at this end, and we're still struggling to keep on top of the business among all the chaos. And I've still got people emailing me demanding to know why the item they paid for on Sunday still hasn't arrived. It's Tuesday. Hello??? How come we're so patient with everyone who sends *us* stuff?

Oh, and Happy Beltane to those who celebrate it. We had a whole load of lovely festival stuff planned for today, but what with tap exam, yoga and hospital it just wasn't going to happen. We're out most of tomorrow too, but we'll probably try and have a very late Beltane day later in the week!