Tuesday, 29 September 2009
Hmm, it's been a study crisis kind of a day and we're only on week two of the course. I blame the fun day I had at school observing lessons yesterday - I was lucky enough to pick a field trip day and took the opportunity to 'observe' Grade 7 on an outing to the local Cash and Carry to research products they might sell in a school shop they are planning to open. I observed quite a few items I would happily buy myself; I hope they'll let me tag along when they go to make the purchases. As for the students, it was literally watching kiddies in a sweet shop. Did you know you can still buy those candy cigarettes? At this place you can even pretend you're in candy duty-free and get 50 packs for a cut down price. I offered the group my services as a consultant representing the parent population who will be supplying the readies for their customers, in case they wanted to conduct a little market research on what Mummy will approve for little Johnny to spend his hard earned cash on. But once I'd put the kibosh on chewing gum, candy fags, fizzy pop and crisps they strangely stopped asking.
Anyway, after all the excitement (and the fun-packed journey with four eleven-year-old boys in my car) slaving over a hot OfSTED website didn't hold much appeal today. I think I learned that there are three types of planning - long, medium and short term (no kidding) - but that's about it. Luckily I was saved by a couple of friendly teachers at the school who were willing to listen to me rant then allow me to grill them about teaching practices when I went the collect the skunks. (What they don't know is I had a concealed tape recorder taking down all their pearls of wisdom so I can use them in my assignments as my own ideas! I AM KIDDING, Mr Course Tutor, Sir.)
Enough of study talk though. Let me tell you what I did at the weekend.
On Saturday we were invited to one of those company Family Fun Day things at a local camp. It was pretty good all told. I learned how to weave a bird out of strips of coloured paper while Poppet fashioned a pin-wheel, and Nobby and Pickle played football. Then I walked the dog round the forest while Poppet did some fishing in the little pond, and Nobby and Pickle played football. Later, Pickle and I raided the free buffet while Poppet fished... and Nobby played football. Poppet had a ride on a pony, while Pickle fished (and Nobby played football). Then Pickle and I visited the three fire engines they'd laid on and he went up on the hydraulic lift about 10 storeys in the air (it was strictly not for me, despite the comforting presence of a pretty fit fireman who offered to let me wear his helmet...) while Poppet fished and Nobby played football.
Are you getting a pattern here? Poppet and Pickle's previous angling experience is limited to a game called 'My Simms' on the DS but they were sorely bitten by the bug once they got a rod in their hands and the little fishies started to bite. Incidentally, I am doing Nobby down a bit here, he did come and join in between football games, they were only twenty minutes each, and he was rather keen on the fishing too, having been brought up by a keen angler and done quite a lot when he was younger. (But who caught the first fishy with the rod though, huh? Me!)
However the kids soon discovered a quicker way to catch lots of tiddlers using a large square net that you chuck off a bridge then pull up as they're scurrying past. Once they were over the revulsion of handling their slimy, flapping little bodies Poppet in particular had a wonderful afternoon hauling them in, then picking the dead ones out of the bucket.
Pickle joined in the fishing for an impressively long time after tiring of the football and then he decided it was time to test Mummys nerve to the max (as if he doesn't do that on a daily basis anyway). Before I knew what I had volunteered for he was in a harness and hard hat, attached by ropes to a chap known as 'Chubby' and shinning up a telegraph pole, gaily calling 'Come on Mum! You can do it!!' over his shoulder.
May I refer you back to the earlier paragraph about the lovely fireman and how he couldn't persuade me up his ladder? Well, I couldn't let my little boy down like that so up I went - it was one of those aerial assault course things, all about fifteen metres off the ground and requiring some serious monkey skills that my 7 year old has in abundance and which I sadly seem to have lacked since birth.
I get vertigo on a deep-pile carpet people, this was not fun.
I think the mountaineer types who were operating the thing quickly cottoned on to this fact as I bear-hugged each telegraph pole I arrived at like I was greeting an old friend. Meanwhile Pickle whizzed across swinging ropes, narrow bridges and what was basically a tightrope and proceeded to jump off the final platform for the final lowering to terra firma singing 'I Believe I Can Fly' at the top of his voice.
As if that wasn't enough, he then climbed up a single telegraph pole, stood on a tiny platform on the top, then jumped off, hitting a large beach-ball on the way down. All for shits and giggles.
I am happy to report that while I was trying to force my heart out of my throat and back to its proper place, Nobby and his company team won the football tournament. Unfortunately I missed the trophy ceremony because I was watching my son fly through the air on the end of a rope but I heard the applause through the trees and I was very proud.
Monday, 21 September 2009
I have watched two lectures by a wonderful chap who sounds just like Eric Idle, and he certainly seems to look on the bright side of life with the little jokes and anecdotes he puts in his lectures. It was all on the internet so it could have actually been a Monty Pythoner for all I know, he was about a centimetre tall on my screen.
How's this for a great way to start a course:
Two parrots were sitting on a perch. One says to the other, 'Do you smell fish?' ... geddit? boom boom! Yup, he and I would definitely have got on if we didn't only get to meet in cyberspace.
It's interesting learning all these modern theories about teaching and learning methods. Apparently now we teachers don't instruct to a group of passive learners who learn by rote and regurgitate in exams. It's all about facilitating the learning and students have to take responsibility for their learning, constructing knowledge by analysing, evaluating and judging. Sounds a great idea to me, only trouble is I was taught in the old style and I am having to learn all this in the new style, there is no-one holding my hand here and making me nice cups of tea in a cosy faculty office when I can't think how to start my assignment essay. Eek!
I was the student in the back row of the lecture theatre with my eyelids made up to resemble open, alert blue eyes while I had my real eyes firmly closed, sleeping off the excesses of the night before. Now there's no one to nudge me if I start to snore or to lend me their lecture notes if I don't get round to taking any. Luckily the course is all beautifully guided with a detailed self-study workbook to go through and a crash course in study skills for the old farts like me who haven't had to 'compare and contrast' much more than which brand of baked beans to buy at Tescos for the last fifteen(ish) years.
And yet there are new distractions in the virtual learning environment. All is quiet in the house, there is no impromptu party thumping out loud music elsewhere in the hall of residence, I don't have to walk past a single bar on my way to the virtual lectures and tutorials. The dog is walked, the kids are in school, there is a flask of coffee on my beautifully tidy desk. What could possibly keep me from immersing myself in the books? These days it is not the pull of an afternoon with my friend Bob and her three male flatmates watching every episode of Black Adder then hitting the local student bar with the rugby team. Nowadays I have 'Farmville' and 'Mob Wars' and 'Livechat' to put me off my stride. They are just a double, sometimes only a single click away on Facebook... oh, how innocent we were in the olden days with only a drafty library and a microfiche for company.
Anyway, I really ought to get on with analysing that Ofsted report, I really don't have time to Blog. I am a student you see, and I can prove it. Not only did I pop into Farmville to harvest my crop of pumpkins when I should have been investigating the Core Subjects of the National Curriculum, I just fell asleep on Pickle's bed saying goodnight to him when I should have been preparing for a day in the classroom tomorrow.
All I need now is to stay up all night on ProPlus, sleep through my alarm every morning and have a lot of big rows with my flatmates about the washing up and my transformation will be complete.
Saturday, 19 September 2009
Anyone can take part, it is particularly popular among Stay At Home Mums whose husbands are away and whose landlords insist on delivering a new fridge while you are out. Clearly landlords all subscribe to The Law Of Sod given that mine only ever calls to say he's on his way over when I have been in alone for 5 hours and am about to go out.
So get an old fridge, preferably one that has been used and abused by several tenants in a rented property over a fifteen year period, switch it on and wait for bits to fall off it for twelve months or so. When it develops a noise sounding like an aeroplane landing in your kitchen each time the motor runs, Round One can begin, as you wrestle it through the pantry door so you can shut the noise away for the sake of your sanity. You must be unaccompanied for Round One, the fridge must be heavy, with no wheels and the doorway must have maximum five millimetres clearance on either side.
Round Two can start when the landlord finally tires of your constant b*tching about the stupid fridge and tells you he'll buy a new one. He will keep you waiting a week for it then call to say he'd like to deliver it in the next half an hour just as you are leaving for a meeting. Of course he won't have his house keys with him so you must leave the front gate on the latch and when you return the new fridge will be on your doorstep with a note asking you to leave the old on in the same place for him to collect.
You can have help for Round Two if hubby happens to be home from his travels. All you have to do is move the fridge to the interior of the house so it doesn't get rusty or stolen in the night. Of course a telepathic link would come in handy to ensure no hands, feet or heads become wedged between the fridge and the door posts on the way in.
Round Three requires a free hour or two in your schedule and involves getting the old fridge out of the pantry and onto the front porch, unwrapping the new fridge from it's sellophane and somehow removing the polystyrene pallet from underneath it - small children can come in handy at this stage. Then, since the new model will not actually fit under the wall cupboards in the designated fridge corner of the main kitchen because the kitchen was built around the old fridge and they make 'em taller these days, wrestle it into the pantry, shut the door, have a cup of tea.
It's a very enjoyable way to spend a Friday afternoon.
Wednesday, 16 September 2009
I am pleased to inroduce you to Teflon Boy.
Nothing sticks to this one, both literally and metaphorically. Now that's quite a Super Power.
He came to me last evening, after a heavy session of spinning his sister round on an office chair, complaining that his dressing over his stitches was falling off. And sure enough, upon closer inspection, he was sweating so much that all the sticky had disappeared and the thing came off in my hand. Boy sweat - more effective than acetone any day. Unfortunately, upon even closer inspection, it seems that one of his steri-strips had also slipped in the flood and the hole was opening up and oozing out something nasty looking.
Just. Effing. Fabulous.
Options were limited at that time of night so I decided to let it scab again and take him back to the private clinic this morning. They confirmed that this is it now, there is nothing we can do but wait till it heals and get him seen by a plastic surgeon a couple of months down the line.
So much for keeping him off 'physical activity' - a note excusing him from PE is obviously not enough, but being Teflon Boy even the simplest instruction to 'not run about getting hot and sweaty and risking bashing your head' slides straight out of his brain. I might as well try to nail jelly to the wall.
He has Teflon shoulders too - earlier in the evening I was trying to get him to do his homework but I could not get any co-operation out of him; I tried threats (do it now or no DS for a week), bribery (do it now and I'll let you watch TV) and corruption (do it now and I'll pay you 300 forints) but nothing stuck. Actually the homework was to finish a task that he had refused to do in class because he was in a mood with the teacher for taking a toy off him... in fact now I think about it Tefal must have got their hands on him long ago; this is not new behaviour. Perhaps I should be looking for a red spot on his bottom to show me when he's reached optimum temperature.
Poppet, meanwhile, has astounded me this morning by locating her 'responsibility' gene, switching it on and actually helping me out. Somehow it has sunk in that if you wait for Mummy to do absolutely everything you're going to end up at the school gates half an hour late, still in your pyjamas with scraggy hair and smelly breath. Most mornings I even have to do the walking for the precious darlings; Pickle's favourite phrase is 'Mummy, carry!' while his dressing gown is on, wanting a lift from his bed to the sofa then from the sofa to the breakfast table. (Hey, perhaps that's what I'm doing wrong at every other mealtime when he can't stay in his seat for more than five seconds at a stretch, I should bung on his dressing gown...?)
How we ever make it out the door is a daily miracle, yet this morning when I raced back into the house to get Poppet's coat, Pickle's bag and shut the dog out, I encountered Poppet carrying Tiggy's water bowl into the garden to join the dog bed and toy she had already put there. Then she picked up her own coat and got into the car. You could have knocked me down with a feather.
Knowing my luck this was just a one-off and I'll be back to headless-chicken mode tomorrow, but we'll see. Hope springs eternal.
Tuesday, 15 September 2009
They're watching me.
I'm not sure who They are but They are definitely out there.
I think They may by quite young because They are doing things my kids do... only worse.
See, I am familiar with the phenomenon whereby I can spend a happy couple of hours pottering about my housewifely duties completely undisturbed while the children play one of their games. If I drop in to see how they're doing I'll get told to go away (unless I'm carrying crisps or chocolate of course). Then the SECOND I pick up the phone or park my bum on the loo they will drop what they're doing and start shouting 'Muuuuum! I need a drink!', 'Muuuuum! He hit me!' or 'Muuuum! where are you?' Either that or they'll have a catastrophe and require medical attention.
Well They obviously think this is rather a good game and have taken it a step further. They are following me around like a stalker and broadcasting hints on 'How To Really Piss Off Nobby's Missus'.
So far this morning the doorbell rang while I was in the shower and completely covered in soap - Pickle had forgotten something very important for school (a Lego Storm Trooper) - then the phone rang while I had a mouthful of toothbrush and paste - Nobby was checking in from Vienna because I collapsed in bed too early to talk to him last night.
Next I went to Tescos because Old Mother Hubbard has been in my kitchen and all the food had gone. But They had already been there with a copy of my shopping list and removed all the stock. I ALWAYS buy Tescos chocolate chip cookies, they are what keep me going on a daily basis and we need lots because Poppet likes them too and has found a way to reach the high cupboard I keep them in. There was not one packet of cookies on the shelves. I always buy orange cordial because Poppet likes to make it up with fizzy water and pretend its Fanta (because mean Mummy won't let them drink pop). They had peach, pear, strawberry and apple, raspberry, elderflower... every darned thing except orange. It was the same with the beer, crisps, nuts and chocolate bars (are you detecting a theme here? I've gone a bit comfort-foody during this latest Pickle crisis and Nobby-absence), loads of brands except the specific one I wanted and always buy. But when I couldn't find a single turnip in a Hungarian Hypermarket I knew for sure this was personal.
And then They drained the power out of my i-pod while I was in the freezer section, just to add insult to injury. I hadn't even sung out loud once this time. How jolly rude. I had to listen to the muzak piped through the store instead and they're on a bit of an eighties 'bet you never heard this one on the radio' stint at the moment, it was not good.
So whoever They are, I'd appreciate it if They stopped. I have had enough now. I am off out to get the post. You can bet I will find a card there from the gas man or the parcel post man telling me they came while I was out shopping... if you hear a sky-rending scream, that'll be me.
Monday, 14 September 2009
Yes, sorry, still going on about the hole in Pickle's head. The trees in my front garden know all about it because I went at them with the secaturs like a woman possessed yesterday evening after wrapping my offspring up in cotton wool on the couch. One big pile of ivy, tree and shrub clippings equals one very pissed-off mummy - Nobby knows I'm not one for gardening in a good mood.
Anyway, quick update. I want to name and shame the Health Clinic that Nobby's company have been shelling out huge great wadges of cash for over the last year but who have consistantly refused to see my children every time I call them. In a family of two adults and two little kids, according to the law of averages, who exactly is going to require the most health care over a 12 month period? You don't need to have kids or a degree in medicine to work that one out. Unless you work in this particular clinic, which told me this morning that I shouldn't bring my child in for a second opinion on the state of his facial injury because there is no-one there who specialises in treating children. Surely a cut is a cut? I wasn't aware there was a magic age where your skin starts to heal differently making you eligible for expensive private Hungarian treatment.
I am ranting, but, hell, I need to. Nobby is still in Vienna so I have both barrels pointing at the keyboard instead. And I'm not sorry!
Fortunately (or rather unfortunately for his poor mother) a little boy we know gashed his head during the holidays and I was on hand to do the mercy dash to the nearest private clinic which was recommended by a fellow teacher, so I decided to jump on this band wagon of 'it's not what you know it's who you know that counts'. So this morning I grabbed said Mum, got the phone number and took Pickle along to see if anything could be done for him.
Sadly after eight days there is nothing she can do to improve the quality of the stitching he received at the other hospital. It is too late for glue but it would have really helped when the cut was fresh (all we got was iodine.) So Pickle will have to chose whether to go with the Action Man 'desert warrior' look and wear his scar with pride or the Hugh Grant 'don't I look cute looking up at you through my fringe?' fop.
I, meanwhile, will have to choose between sending in the heavies from Nobby's firm to tell 'our' private clinic what I think of them forcing me to fork out 50 euros at another clinic because they are all too squeamish to look at a bleeding kid, let alone the requirement that I use a public hospital in the first instance last Sunday because they don't work weekends, or go down there and give it to them myself.
Either way, I recommend they run and hide.
Sunday, 13 September 2009
Firstly, where did all the Praying Mantises come from? I don't remember having seen a Praying Mantis in the flesh before even though they have been quite popular in kiddy films lately. And then last week my housekeeper was trying to explain this large green insect she'd found in the basement which had freaked her out. She didn't know the English for it though so I assumed it was a grasshopper or a locust and I've seen plenty of those; we did experiments on locusts for my Biology 'A' Level so they are, like, soooo last year for me.
But it wasn't until we saw the dog go into stealth mode down the basement stairs - head down, ears up, head, back and tail all in a straight line and creeping forward like something off One Man And His Dog - and we went to investigate that we realised 'Ah! It was a Praying Mantis!' (Life is like a game of Charades round here.) It was big and green and funny-looking. Even more so on the funny-looking front once the dog had played with it for a bit... Then a couple of days later I opened the front door and bam! there on the porch is a Praying Mantis, a brown one this time, calm as you please like a boy scout on Bob-A-Job week. I was going to invite it in to do the washing up but I'm not sure it would have reached the sink.
Secondly, this is one from Pickle and I am now curious myself, is Jerry a girl or a boy? I am talking about the mouse in Tom and Jerry, for which the children have a big passion at the moment, especially 5 seconds after the words 'right, it's time for bed' leave my mouth. They watched it all the way back from England last month and I find it very hard not to sit and join them guffawing at all the slapstick cat and mouse humour. Thankfully they haven't tried to re-enact any of the chases yet or hit each other with hammers or blown each other up with dynamite and it's proving a useful bribery-and-corruption tool at bedtime: 'Get into your PJs and brush your teeth and you can watch one more before we go up.' Works like a charm.
But, is Jerry a girl or a boy? When Jerry obliterates Tom's opera performance and takes over the 'Figaro' him/herself it's wearing a tuxedo. Yet when they're battling at the beach Jerry dons a Southern Belle dress and minces along holding a flowery parasol. Then there's the tennis tournament and Jerry is only sporting a pair of red shorts... Poppet and Pickle are convinced that the long eye lashes make Jerry a girl. I always believed it's a boy. Very confusing.
OK this question has only just popped up. Why isn't my computer keeping up with my typing any more? I'm hardly Miss Moneypenny tapping away at 100 words a minute but in the last couple of days I've had to go back and fill in the blanks where the stupid thing has been missing letters and spaces, dragging its feet like a petulant child being hauled to the supermarket. 'Dn't wana goto th sprmarkt ummy!'
This is the laptop by the way, maybe it's trying to tell me the honeymoon is over now. Blimey that was short. Meanwhile my desktop seems to have finally breathed it's last unfortunately. I tried to turn it on just now and clearly I've lost my touch (!) because I didn't even get a blue screen, it's black and blank and lifeless. Rest In Peace old thing.
Fourthly, finally and actually very seriously, the most important question of the day is why hasn't Pickle's head healed up despite a week in steri-strip stitches, two days off school and careful care from yours truly? We went to the hospital this morning hoping to rid him of the huge bandage and itchy surgical tape but somehow the sides of the cut haven't stayed together and it had started to heal from the bottom up in a nice leaf shape rather than the small unobtrusive scar I had been hoping for. Poor little chap writhed in pain as the doctor opened it all up, cleaned it all out and basically started all over again. I haven't felt so guilty since I watched three nurses hold my daughter down while they set her broken leg.
So here's another question: should I be getting a second opinion on this? My guts say 'yes' and as luck would have it Nobby is at a conference in Vienna stuffed full of medical practioners who are married to or well acquainted with other medical practioners and he's got the numbers of a couple of specialists I can take him to this week. I am well aware of the power of 'it's not what you know it's who you know' but I never dreamed that this adage would apply to health care. But in Eastern Europe, oh yes.
So I will keep you up to date on the progress of the boys continuing trauma. For now he is spending the rest of Sunday on the sofa with Nintendo DS, Jetix TV, Dr Seuss books, McFly CDs, pizza and iced tea all within easy reach. I am going to join him before my head explodes.
Hoping to have good news soon. On the other matters, anwers on a postcard please.
Tuesday, 8 September 2009
Speaking of 'ealth, Mr Pickle had a checkup at the hospital today on the hole in his head. Despite it looking rather gooey to my untrained eyes the doctor was satisfied that it's healing nicely and he can go back to school. Hallelujah! I might actually get some studying done now without the pinging and beeping and repetitive annoying tunes of his DS and having to rack my brains for other ways to keep him from being bored. Trust my luck to get my lovely back-to-school celebration kyboshed within the first seven days. But pity the poor office staff who will have to put up with his verbal diarreah all break time while he's signed off physical activities.
More 'elf' - I've also taken the pair of them to the dentist this week. Poppet had a panoramic xray to check if the two teeth we've been waiting for for over a year are actually somewhere in her head. They are, of course, and she looked so tiny standing in the xray machine in a massive lead apron that I hope they make an appearance soon and she won't have to do it again. Pickle, on the other hand, hasn't lost a single tooth yet and none of them are wobbly (which is fine by me because wobbly teeth make me cringe). However he is growing two new ones behind the baby ones.
Now that's just showing off.
Sunday, 6 September 2009
It all started last night at the Hungary vs Sweden World Cup Qualifier. I have been a football widow for more than ten years, but I decided early on I should show willing and join in a bit. I could probably manage a reasonable explanation of the off-side rule these days and I know one or two colourful songs. Nobby's and my second 'date' was on the footie field - I went to watch him play for the company team on a pitch just spitting distance from my house and very nearly blew my chances by having to make a mercy dash to the bar for hot coffee before the final whistle because I feared all my extremities were going to drop off. I had dressed for a date and completely ignored the fact that it was December and blowing an icy gale. I soon learned - by February I was in full ski gear with a flask in my pocket and a hot water bottle up my jumper and before long I was in charge of half-time oranges and the bucket and sponge for being such a regular on the touchline.
Anyway, Nobby took me to the match last night and I witnessed first hand Hungary coming down with a nasty case of Sweden. They were all over them, and scored after just nine minutes. I didn't get to sing 'You're Sh*t And You Know You Are' or 'It's All Gone Quiet Over There' at all during the first half, because they weren't and it didn't. Not that anyone else would have had a Scooby Doo what I was saying of course. The game picked up a lot in the second half and Hungary scored a penalty in the 79th minute, at which point the entire crowd of forty-two thousand people was on its feet yelling and screaming 'Ria! Ria! Hun-ga-ria!'. A draw was a great result and they only had to hold onto the ball for eleven more minutes of play and three minutes of injury time. They almost managed it as well.
However, the goalkeeper who frankly had been riding his luck the whole game in my professional opinion (!) somehow cocked it up two minutes and fifty seconds into injury time. He kicked the ball away, it rebounded off a Swede, and trundled into the back of the net. Forty thousand fans were suddenly deathly quiet, standing still with their mouths open, trying to work out what had just happened. Meanwhile the ref blew the final whistle and two thousand Swedes went bezerk. The Hungarian team sat down on the pitch as if they'd just lost the Cup itself and the fans continued to just stand there in silence. We all filed out like zombies. Nobby and me felt compelled to drown our sorrows in beer and curry before heading home in the wee small hours, little knowing the drama we'd face this morning...
Poppet and Pickle each stayed at a friend's house last night so we could head out nice and early to the game and appreciate the full experience of the packed underground train, singing and chanting and beering all the way. I took Tiggy with me to collect Pickle this morning because his best friend only lives about 200 metres away. I managed to extract him from the house without too much fuss and we were just heading off down the road when disaster struck... in the form of a speeding dog with no sense of direction. She pelted towards me seemingly oblivious to the small boy who was standing in the way and so took him out at the backs of his knees, sending him flying up in the air and crashing down to the ground. At first I thought he'd just grazed his side until the screaming started and we noticed the blood... he'd gashed his face and I'm convinced I could see bone. Yuck. How I refrained from joining in the screaming I really don't know but I scooped him up, ran him home, scared the crap out of Nobby with our entrance and shortly headed off back into the land of Hungarian National Health Care. Not quite how I wanted to spend my Sunday morning, but them's the breaks.
Long story short, he is sporting a neat row of steri-strip stitches and an impressive head-bandage and the x-rays showed nothing is broken, phew. He's now on the sofa with a DVD and a bucket of popcorn with the promise of two days off school and frequent 'How are you feeling?' from the rest of us. I never knew having kids could be so frightening. Still, I am hoping we've had our three catastophes now - my knee, Poppet's chin and Pickles head seems a fair score for this year. I want to publicly thank my lovely hubby for keeping for putting me back together this morning, perhaps his presence at the next Hungary game on Wednesday will help them too!
Ria! Ria! Hun-Ga-Ria!!