Tag Archives: Family

A slice of history.

I posted this previously on my (now much neglected) Moblog but after visiting my grandparents tonight I wanted to share it here too.

My Grandad is really poorly again, I live in fear of the day he will no longer be around – he was is and always will be one of the main men in my life and I love him lots.

A Family Photo

This photo was taken before I was born, we think around 1978/79. It has all the most important men from my childhood included in it, It’s like a capsule containing my whole life history!

This man is Pete. He’s my Dad….

….He died suddenly in 1985, I was only 4. One day he was here, the next he was gone – I don’t miss him all the time – that sounds harsh but it’s true – I was too young to really appreciate what I had and then it was gone.  I never had the chance to get to know the man my dad was growing up and only really started questioning my roots as I got older. I missed having a Dad and the paternal side to my family more than I missed the man that was Peter Jennings – I just wasn’t given the opportunity to know him and I think I grieve for that more than I do for him at times.

This man is Tony, my maternal Grandad….

..My sister and I went with my Mom and lived with my grandparents for a short while after my Dad passed away.  My Mom needed the space and a chance to grieve and recover from the shock of becoming a widow and single parent overnight. We were only there for a couple of months but the effects lasted a lifetime.

While everyone else was pushing their luck and hearing “You just wait until you father gets home!!” This is the man I was I had to wait to get home, I adored him as a child, he was my Grandad, my stand in father figure and my friend, as a small girl I would often climb the tree by the bus stop and wait for him to get home from work when he’d scoop me up and carry me home on his shoulders, as a teen he had the best technique for help towel dry hair and as a young adult, pregnant and suffering from morning sickness he made the only thing I could stomache, the most divine poached egg on toast!

He was, and still is my rock and I know I could still go to him for anything! He’s been with me FOREVER!

Now this man is Dave, he was one of Dad’s very good friends before his death and now he is now my Stepdad!

My Mom and Dave got together when I was 14 and married in 2001 when I was 20. When he moved in we were going through my Dads vinyl record collection together and Dave pulled our a couple of records that had actually belonged to him.

I truly would not wish for her to be with anyone else! He is a fantastic Dad to me, my sister and brother and a devoted Grandad to Jordan.  He’s supported my Mom through thick and thin and cared for us all for years and I’m glad it was him my mom married!

#eqnz

“Massive earthquake in Christchurch NZ!!! At 12:51 it hit, 6.3 and there’s 65 dead!!!!! Put the news on!”

That was the news I woke to from my sister on the morning of the quake, My heart sank – I simultaneously reached for the remote control and the land line turning the news on and dialing the international code for New Zealand, I felt sick so many things were racing through my mind as I was watching images on the television of buildings falling and women screaming….

The phone seemed to take an age to connect

Tuesday 22nd February, 12:51 local time an earthquake struck the south island of New Zealand measuring 6.3 on the richter scale, It was devastating homes, businesses, families and many many lives . I was sitting 12,000 miles away from the earthquake stricken city of Christchurch, I wasn’t in New Zealand at the time of the quake and I wasn’t even aware of it at the actual time it was happening but yet for a week it seems to have consumed so much of me, I’ve worn myself down until I am physically ill – I have family who live in Christchurch, In fact they live in the Burwood/New Brighton suburbs, one of worst affected areas of the city. The city is their home and their home has been shaken to the core.

I’ve devoured news articles and blog posts, I’ve followed and retweeted countless twitter accounts – I’ve worried my way through every after shock of which here has been hundreds and I’ve been doing everything I can to educate myself on how every piece of news I read could or has affected my family.

Things I’ve learnt this week, the meaning of the Moari phrase Kia Kaha, what liquefaction is, the geography of New Zealand’s eastern suburbs and the geology of earthquakes.

I know about kiwi power companies and their telephone infrastructure, about school closures and recovery programmes. The names of council officials, streets, businesses and hotels, The layout of the parks and water supplies.

I know so much about Christchurch and how to try and help my family from afar, I know where they can get food supplies and clean water. I know where the nearest working public phone is to their house – but I also know that in 2 months I’m scheduled to fly out there with my sister, my partner and my son. And I don’t know yet how I feel about that.

There’s no question that I’ll be going even if the very least I can do is shovel silt but to take my 11 year old into a disaster zone, knowing the risk of aftershocks – can I do that?

There’s nothing like a natural disaster to accelerate learning and knowing.

Practising restraint.

Gag Law

Restraint and diplomacy are not my stronger points, in fact neither are a trait I would say most people would attribute me with.

I’ve lost track of the amount of times I’ve opened my mouth when I should have just bitten my tongue or when I’ve said completely the wrong thing in the most inappropriate of settings. I have to admit it’s not my most redeeming quality, it’s not something I do deliberately and it’s probably why I’m struggling right now.

You see, I know something.

I know something that is not for me to share, nor is it for me stick my nose in, but in knowing this thing I’m frustrated and angry and I want to do something to change it. I also want other people to know what I know and be equally as frustrated and equally as angry and for them to want to change it too, But, I know if I share this thing, or if I do stick my nose in there is a 50:50 chance I’ll do the wrong or say the wrong thing and make it worse, I know people will be upset with me so instead I’m practicing restraint and writing a frustratingly ambiguous post instead.

Seasonal Craziness

I have issues!! Seriously Christmas brings out the crazy in me in the form of OCD and boy have I got it bad!!

For years the Christmas season starts for me in a flurry of decorating, the tree, the windows, the fire place….  but do I share a tender moment with my devoted son while we choose whether to have the angel or the star atop of the tree this year?

NO BECAUSE HE’D DO IT ALL WRONG!!

I have to decorate in certain way, in a certain order, lights, then ribbon (NOT TINSEL) the fir cones, then the baubles. If anything, in my mind, is out of place it drives me insane, It has in previous years taken me a a whole day just to put up a tree, but even better THEN and only then can the star or angel be put on top  – and this has to be chosen last of all and sometimes not until the day AFTER putting the tree and the rest of the decorations up because once chosen it has to stay there – no swapping and changing AT ALL so this is an important choice!

The colours have to be evenly spread and JUST SO and the fireplace swag has to match the tree and be decorated in the same order at the same  no compromise – as an example of how bad this is when we unpacked and erected the tree this year I couldn’t decorate it!! We’d managed to leave the swag in the loft and I just couldn’t put anything on the tree until this was down too!!  Luckily for me James is very understanding of the crazy and went back up to hunt for it as I could feel myself become quite silly about it!!

Last year was the first year I introduced colour to my tree in the form of bronze and red to go with the well established gold and ivory theme I’ve had going for years in an attempt for make myself loosen up a bit – I’m insane!

All this causes much mirth and derision particularly from my not so understanding sister and much exasperation and frustration from myself.

BUT IF You think that’s bad I used to be worse, much worse, for instance (and  I’ve worked hard at getting over this one because it was ridiculous as I would hunt for days to get this right), the gifts used to have to colour coordinated – the adult presents would be gold or ivory paper with red ribbon and the children’s red with gold or ivory ribbon and wrapped just so….

Notable insane moments:

  • The year I unwrapped ALL the presents and started again because they didn’t look right (unwrapping one or two to start again isn’t a rare occurrence in my house BUT all of them is a stretch by even by standards)
  • Taking down the tree and starting from scratch TWICE!
  • Letting TBK and James hang baubles only to go ahead and move them when I thought they wouldn’t notice because they were in the “wrong” place.
  • Point blank refusing to let James bring any of his decorations with him when he moved in with us as they wouldn’t match mine, and then buying him decorations that matched my colour scheme and still refusing to let him hang them on the tree because they’re just not right!
  • Finally succumbing to my OCD and buying TBK a tree & decorations for in his room as I didn’t want him to miss out on decorating his own tree and he can have as much tinsel as he likes!

So with all this in mind imagine how I’m coping this year with two very mischievous cats who are spending their first Christmas with us!!

I took the decision early on not to put out my nativity scene and I’m glad I didn’t because they keep knocking things over and pulling things down. They keep climbing my tree and flattening the branches and knocking off baubles  and chewing my ribbon, and yesterday they discovered if they pull hard enough they can pull my fireplace swag clean off the surround thus clearing any obstacles for them to sit on there – somewhere THEY NEVER CHOOSE TO SIT AT ANY OTHER TIME OF THE YEAR.

This year it’s going to be kill or cure for my OCD as I’m either going to have to deal with it – or go not so quietly insane battling with those damn cats – I’m hoping for the first option but as I left for work nearly in tears this morning as I again found my beautiful fire place destroyed I think odds are I’m currently leaning towards the latter!

Merry Christmas

Maybe you are my friend, or maybe we’ve never met before.
Maybe we speak to each other daily, or maybe we’ve never so much as passed on the street.
Maybe I know you virtually in my on-line world of Twitter, of flickr, of moblog  or facebook.
Maybe I know you in the real world and every so often we’ll see each other in the pub or you come to my house and we laugh and joke the night away…
…but but however we may, or may not, know each other friend, family, acquaintance or stranger may I wish you the best for this festive season and a very prosperous new year…..

...after.

Merry Christmas.
Steph
xxx

Education….Education…Education….

Is it a bird....?

I’m going on Holiday in October Term time AND taking my 9 year old son with me. I take him out of school every year for a holiday and for other activity days, as was agreed with his school that I be allowed to do so in advance of enrolling him.

Flexi Schooling is the correct term for it.

I take my responsibility as a parent very seriously and TBK consistently scores in the top percentile in his class  and receives glowing praise every year from his teachers, he has friends in school who come home to play (please read create havoc), and is fully integrated into society, he is bright and articulate, and as bias as I may be as his mother I do have the school reports to back this up, His education and social skills are not suffering because of it, if anything they are prospering.

YET the local paper is yet again reporting on an increase of “Truancy Fines” and while the article itself didn’t really rub me up the wrong way.  As, I will never have to pay a truancy fine for my son  as we’ve the proper protocol in place for our educational choices, But taking out holiday leave from the debate,  it still leaves the question unanswered of WHY these young people feel the need to play truant in the first place?*,  What really wound me up was the ignorance of some of the commentators who posted both before and after me.

These trips or in some peoples eyes “absenses” provide an education kids just can’t get when in school and also teaching shouldn’t just happen, and in our life DOESN’T, just happen from 9am – 3pm in the classroom!

On our holiday, just like last year, we will be teaching TBK Maths (currency conversion), Geography (he knows where we are going and surrounding countries) History, (we often like to visit cultural and historical monuments while away and actively encourage TBK to involve himself in the culture). R.E. (Turkey (this years destination)  is a predominantly a Muslim country) and much more, all on a one to one basis for periods of time he would never get in the classroom.

Previously he’s also been out of school to have the opportunity to attend HESFES, (the home educators seaside festival) where he has taken part in wood work and metal work excersizes,  fabric painting and labyrinth building amongst other things, using skills he’d have never developed sat behind a desk.

We’ve taken him out of school to have a hands on learning experience  as a zoo keeper for the day.  He’s had time off to go to an archery day, and to attend other exhibitions and events. Once, when he was in reception class, I even kept him off school on a Monday JUST so he could have a day off, As over the weekend he had participated in clay building with us, visited a monkey sanctuary, spent an afternoon playing drums and for a child of only 6 this was a lot, he needed the rest!

So how about we stop stereotyping parents who take their kids out of the classroom for any period of time as losers (as one commentator metioned) or selfish (as another did) and look at the beneifts these extra curricular activities can and do provide!

The real time and effort should be concentrated on dealing with the parents who’s children aren’t getting any education through truancy because the parents just don’t care!

* Yes I played truant as a teen, and I was duely punished for it by my mother, But I know why I did it. I hated my English teacher and she hated me, proven fact as she marked all my work down and told me , and my mom, I woudln’t get higher than a D,  myc oursework was sent to the invigulator and came back marked higher and I left school with a B (lit) and a C(lan)  Take that Mrs Smith!

Maybe if I’d have been listened to as a teen and moved to another class I’d have attended those sessions I missed and maybe that tis the answer now, listening to what our young people want!