Come along for the ride!!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

School’s been blown to pieces

Ex-squeeze me? Baking powder?

Yep, that’s right, school is O-U-T!

For 6 glorious weeks!

I’m not all that sure the gravity of 6 weeks break has sunk in yet but I know that Joseph enjoyed Day 1 of his summer break.

His maternal Grandmother took him to the cinema, then to his favourite restaurant, back to hers for fruit and ice cream and I collected him at 4pm.

As far as he was concerned when I collected him yesterday on the last day of term, it was just another regular school day finishing (and this was proved in the evening when I asked him if he had to wear his uniform as usual for today, to which he replied, “yes, I always have to wear a uniform”).

Summer holidays, ahh sweet memories, with one day blending into the next, hot sunshine (if we’re lucky), comic books, riding bikes, meeting up with friends, days out with Mum and Dad, scabby knees, late nights, ice poles, liquorice wheels, interesting bugs, sweaty hair, laughing for several hours a day, camping, swimming, running …… well, the list could go on.

Suffice it to say, school summer holidays are a blessing (when it’s you on holiday) and bloomin' difficult when you have to juggle your leave between the two of you to cover the entire holiday.

I think I’m having a “I’m going to play the lottery this week” moment! That’ll solve

Ooh, by the way, Joseph drew a picture for his teacher who retired yesterday and in line with how he is taught at school, he drew the whole thing himself and wrote the words as best he could without correction from us.

Not bad my son, not bad at all.

He drew himself giving his teacher some flowers.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

They're under starters orders .....

Second year of school sports day for Joseph, second year of being in the yellow team and, ironically, second year running at being the winner of the “jump with a bean bag squeezed between your knees” race.

Altogether, Josephs’ track record for the day was two 1st places and two 2nd places.

These terrific efforts contributed to the yellow team winning the event outright although unfortunately I was outside the school checking my parking ticket hadn’t expired. I heard the cheer but of course missed the victory parade which was more than a little annoying.

What made me smile today was when one of the teacher gave an update of the scores. She started with the lowest score followed by the team to which it applied. Obviously, this meant she finished with the team who had the highest score. However, none of the children seemed to understand this and throughout the day, the cheers from the team who were mentioned first were just as loud as ever, not making the connection that being called out first meant that you were in last place; it still came as a surprise to them when other teams were in front!!


Oh, by the way, I would like to inform all aspiring athletes that the yellow team (aged between 5 and 7 years) won a comfortable victory without the need for taking any anabolic steroids whatsoever.

Lemme hear ya say "Doh!" Dwayne Chambers!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Mister Maker

Yesterday afternoon, I said to Joseph “let’s turn on the computer and find something to make!”

Without replying, he sprinted up the stairs ahead of me shouting “yeeeaaaahhh”, which was a fairly good indicator that my suggestion was a good ‘un.

We sat at the desk, pressed all the necessary buttons and the PC fired into life.

Joseph is an inquisitive sort and clever to boot, so I thought I would honour that with a bit of an explanation about computers and the internet.

Me: “Poops, you know we sometimes look at pictures on the computer?”

J: (Looking tired) “Yes”.

Me: “Well, sometimes we look at pictures which are actually ON the computer but sometimes, like now, we look at things that are on the internet”.

J: (looking at the screen)

Me: (loading up my blog front page) “Look – that’s a picture of me! What I’m doing is writing about being a Dad and one day ….”

J: (interrupting) “Yeah, yeah, can we get on with it, I want to make something”.

He said this while getting one of his hands to impersonate an out of water fish, flapping on the river bank, to further indicate his annoyance at the slight deviation from the original plan.

Okey doke, let’s forget that then!


Monday, July 14, 2008

“No-one’s lazy in Lazytown”

I have to admit to being a touch dubious about how this show, which is effectively little more than a puppet show, was going to translate to the big stage, but I have to say they did a mighty fine job.

When the lights dimmed and pink suited and pink haired Stephanie pranced out onto the stage, Annabel let out a squeal of delight and turned to squeeze M’s arm as hard as she could. This we interpreted as sheer, unadulterated excitement and this alone was worth the cost of the day out.

Similarly, when Sportacus cart wheeled out for the first time and got every child in the theatre standing, jogging and flexing their biceps in time to the music, Joseph was hooked.

Here, right in front of their eyes, were people from Lazytown, from the television leaping about on stage, telling them to get up and move!

Another very clever kiddies show on CBeebies, the digital television channel dedicated to toddlers and young children, courtesy of the BBC.

My personal favourite was Robbie Rotten. Anyone who can stick whole carrots in his ears to drown out sound is a winner in my book, bad guy or not.

As a (totally unrelated) bonus, I managed to catch this bee, bumbling around the flowers outside our friends’ house on Saturday.

Good eh?

Click for close up

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Where's that?

I don’t think of myself as a particularly greedy person but as of the last 24 hours, I have eaten:

3 shredded wheat

1 Large bowl of cornflakes and rice crispies

2 slices of toast with strawberry jam (made by yours truly with strawberries picked by … umm … yours truly again)

2 large plates of jumbalaya with sausage

Sausage, egg and chips

2 huge fajitas with chicken, peppers and whatnot

Meat filled pastry from the Turkish shop on the high street

To be honest, the unhealthiest thing about that lot was the sausage and chips bit and I have to admit to feeling a bit grubby after I’d eaten it.

Hang on, why am I telling you this?

Oh yes, the children, M and myself were having a conversation about the distance our food travels and how to eat while considering the environment. You know the one that goes, “try to eat locally grown foods and blah blah blah”, when I say, “ooh, I’ve just remembered, I bought some of your favourite snacks” to Joseph and Annabel.

These are dried mango leather (a million times tastier than it sounds), dried papaya and brazil nuts. We all tuck in and I look at the packets to see where they came from. The nuts were from Bolivia, the papaya from Thailand and the mango was from the Philippines.

Ahem, righty ho ……

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Man and wife

Finished this one last night.

No, of course I didn’t read it in one day!!

I finished the other one last week, and … then I …. before I ….. oh, work it out for yourself!!

All I will say is that this one pulls at your heart strings just as much as its’ predecessor.

Read them.



Monday, July 07, 2008

Man and boy

Me being me, I can never do things the easy, straightforward way. I have to put some form of obstacle in my own way, no matter how small.

I find a book in a charity shop for the bargain price of £1, one which I’ve been wanting to read for ages, think to myself “result, I’ll start that when I get in”, only to realise when I do get in that I’ve managed to purchase a book that is the follow on read from another book.


As luck would have it, I find the required missing book a short while later (for the even greater bargain of 50p) and so get stuck in. I know it’s a complete cliché, but I could not put it down. I was glancing across at the beside clock, watching the minute hand approach midnight, half past midnight, nearing 1am, night after night.

It was one of the fastest readings of any book that I have ever done.

I thought at first that it was just about the most suspect title that anyone could possibly give a book but I have to say a genuine thanks to Tony Parsons for writing this book.

I loved it, and he totally summed up what being a parent is all about.

All I can say is read it. You won’t regret it.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

“You feelin’ that bounce home boy?”

Another year, another school summer fayre and surely the weather couldn’t be as bad as it was last year??


Well, things started promisingly with blue sky and a distinct lack of dark clouds. This only lasted until we had finished eating breakfast however, when the heavens opened and it rained.

Very, very heavily.

And consistently.

Amazingly though, by the time we arrived at the school to set up just after 9am, the rain had stopped. It was windy, it was grey, but it had stopped raining.

Stalls out, stock arranged, gazebo’s erected, BBQ’s prepared and lit, gazebo’s retrieved from other end of playground thanks to wind, inflatable assault course and slide prepared, coconut shy at the ready, and so on.

Doors opened at midday and, as if by magic, the sun came out, bringing a smile to peoples faces, workers and punters alike. And, with smiles, comes the willingness to spend cash and by all accounts and purposes, the schools’ main fund raising event of the year looks like being a success.

Personally, I had a pretty tasty 100% beef burger (oh yes they were, I bought them), a yummy slice of marble cake with an oh-so-delicious cup of tea (well, I’d been working hard!!). All this plus we won a raffle prize of £25, could the day get any better?

Well, perhaps it didn’t help the day in general be better but the highlight of my day came (surprise, surprise) from the actions of one of my children. There were two things actually.

Firstly, Joseph had bought a small toy and a tiny piece broke off. Someone unwittingly picked it up and dropped it in one of the bins dotted around the ‘playground’. The school keeper was busy with a list of jobs that needed doing before opening time and so we couldn’t access the lockable bin. I said to Joseph to stand by the bin until I had finished doing a couple of things people had requested of me.

“Don’t move from the bin and make sure people don’t throw anything else in there until I get back”. He nodded obediently and off I went to do what I had to do.

I suppose I was gone for no more than 5 minutes, but as I walked back, I saw him standing right in front of the bin, looking nervously around lest anyone should throw something sloppy or yucky into the bin before we had the chance to fish out the all important item.

I think I could’ve been gone for an hour and he would have still been stood there. I took a picture of him as I approached, standing slightly awkwardly with his arms behind him, half protecting the bin while he waited.

That was sweet, but the winning moment was nearing the end of the fayre.

Annabel and Joseph were both scrabbling through the toy stall, searching for that all important final purchase. As I watched, with Annabel still digging through a box of small toys, Joseph has stopped moving, stopped looking, just kneeling there on the concrete and looking intently at his hands, head nodding ever so slightly.

“Whassup Poops?” I say, kneeling next to him. “Is everything ok? What’s happened?”

He doesn’t answer, he just sits perfectly still, rocking slightly.

“Joseph, what is wrong?”

He looks up at me, slowly, still nodding his head.

“Nothing’s wrong”, he answers. “I’m listening to this song”.

I straighten up, smiling, letting the sound I had previously shut out come flooding in. Joseph had been zoning out to Rihannas’ Umbrella which was pumping out over the PA system.

Dat boy got soul!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

If at first you don’t succeed …

As the end of the academic year approaches, parents were invited to the school to have a look through their childrens’ workbooks and see how they’ve been getting on. It wasn’t a “sit down and have a chat with teacher” type of visit. Just to have a flick through the various books and journals into which they have been pouring their newly found knowledge into, in their own words.

I use the phrase “in their own words” literally and, for the benefit of anyone new stopping by to read these pages, I will quickly explain. The school that Joseph attends teaches basic reading and writing phonetically through a system called “Jolly Phonics”. Basically it gives them an understanding of words as they sound, not necessarily how they are spelt. With this in mind, when they arrive back in class on a Monday morning, Joseph (and his classmates) are encouraged to write about an experience; either something they did, somewhere they went or just something memorable from their weekend. Reading this made me smile and a bit choked, all at the same time. I pictured him sat there, looking slightly off page as he said the words over and over in his mind, trying to picture the letter which best matched the words he wanted to say.

For your information, “chrans foma” is Transformer.

Also note that the teacher hasn’t corrected his attempts. No big cross on the paper; just an encouragement to write a little more.