Tag Archives: theblondekid

Breaking the rules

Playing with the sun

I love my camera, I just always wish I was more proficient with it, so I’ve been reading lots and lots of articles to try and improve, The most recent one about shooting into the sun so I thought I’d give it a go.

Generally the rule is shoot with the sun over your shoulder, so it felt a little odd blinding myself through the viewfinder but I persevered took a couple and this one was my favourite.

I’m not 100% happy with it but I’m not sure what it is that I’m unhappy with maybe it’s just that I’m not used to deliberately creating glare or maybe it would have worked better had the blonde kid being looking towards the camera?  I don’t know but I  guess I’ll carry on reading and shoot some more, dragging my ever (un)willing test subject out again to try and find out.



This evening I came home to find TBK once again beating the crap out of his alien friends on Halo3. Since having had the xBox for Christmas he’s spent more time than I’ve ever let him before seated in front of his computer playing games.

I’ve alieviated myself of some the guilt of being one of ‘those’ parents who sits their children in front of the box to entertain themselves by a. Convincing myself that with xBox live at least it’s social, as in he might be by himself but he’s not playing alone and b. Once the evenings are lighter and the weather warmer he’ll be back out on his bike and in and out the front door like a yoyo just like the last few summers.

I say some of the guilt as I’d still had doubts, I was still worried of the ‘mind numbing effects of playing pointless video games’ and didn’t wish him to become a statistic of the illiterate generation we hear so much about in the media.

I know I’ve been worrying unnecessarily as my mis-spent youth visiting friends houses and setting up our own LAN parties for weekend long games of Quake hardly set my development back at all – and you’ve only got to have a conversation with TBK to see he’s a well rounded 10year old, but as a parent you can’t help but worry.

I discovered needn’t have!

This evening TBK showed me in style why I have no need to worry about computer games stunting his academic development.

Whilst in the virtual world of Halo he was running across a sandtrap and jumping to strike a competitor, gravity hammer in hand, In the real world he’s sitting in the arm chair screaming “Onomatopoeia” at the screen and the following exchange took place ..

Me: why did you say that? Do you know what Onomatopoeia means?

TBK: yeah!

Me: explain then….

TBK: it’s when a word sounds like its spelt, like bang, and the gravity hammer goes bang when you hit something, so….Onomatopoeia!

Me: *speechless*

I don’t mind admitting that I think I was a whole lot older than 10 before I grasped the concept of onomatopoeia, in fact I can still remember learning about it in secondary school, which definitely made me older than 10, and I don’t think there has ever been a time in my life where I’ve had a discussion that included the word onomatopoeia or used it outside of that classroom before this evening.

So if TBK wants to spend his down time plugged into his xBox talking to the voices of his disembodied friends hunting aliens in “pointless video games” then so be it because it’s at times like this evening that I realise it’s not doing any harm at all!


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!

As he’s getting bigger…

TBK is appearing less and less in my online world. Before now the focus of 70% of my blog and at least 90% of my photography was about him, What we’d been doing, where we had been, things he had said and so on.

He’s disappearing though, not because we do less together, or because he’s any less of a focus in my life but because well he’s getting bigger. He now has more of a say in his life and he doesn’t always want to be put on here, because he’ll say something that he then realises has obviously amused me and his first response is “Please don’t put that on the internet” or I’ll pull out my camera and he’ll run for cover shouting “Don’t take any photos of me!”

So now I have to be more sneaky with my observation, I wait until he’s absorbed in an activity be it his homework, playing with friends or just amusing himself, and then stealthily I point and shoot….



I feel like I’m missing chunks of his childhood because I simply can’t remember what we were doing when or some of the faces he used to pull, or every little thing he said to amuse me.

I was so absorbed in just coping. Absorbed in trying to bring this “thing” into the world to love him and educate him, to feed and bathe him, and as he got older organise nursery and school and play dates,  all the time rushing around finding babysitters so I could go out and get to work on time.

I was so busy trying to balance his life and my life and still be me and with being a single mom that I forgot to remember and savour every moment. And of course not having a blog or decent camera back then to document it all as it happened meant so much more got lost in the mire that was my brain around that time.

And now he’s getting bigger and I’m begining to realise that soon my now not so little boy wont be be even this little anymore and I’m worried about what else I might forget. I still rush around trying to balance everything out, but now I have help and now I also realise how important it is to stop and remember. You only get one chance at this, so I try to remember and I try take as many photos as possible.

Be it ones he’s posed for, or ones like these when were waiting in the car and he doesn’t even know the camera is about…



…until that is I’m spotted and he pulls THAT face and rolls his eyes in THAT way and gives me another ” MOM, STOP TAKING PHOTOS OF ME!” for me to remember!



We’re Home

We’re back off holiday – Ok so we’ve been back for weeks and I have so much Tunisian goodness to share and I still have hundreds of photographs to process but I’ve had so much other stuff going on to get around to doing it ….

Since getting home Steve has had a birthday which resulted in a good night out, Sigur Ros played at the Civic Hall – which resulted in a good night out, Halloween happened, which resulted in a good night in, Bonfire Night happened, which resulted in a good night in somebody else’s house. Work has been hectic and home has been more so…

But I’ve still found time to have fun with TBK

It was the Flip Animation Festival last weekend and one of the workshops at the art gallery resulted in this, our first attempt at stop motion animation

15 mins work for a rather rough 9 second clip – but we’re proud of it!!

Stop Motion Animation by The Blonde Kid from James D Clarke on Vimeo.

Inside the mind of an 8 year old.

TBK has a key. It is his lucky key (or so he tells me). It’s to an old cabinet that has long since been freecycled and in the imagination of my 8 year old it opens everything.

It has opened doors that criminals have been hiding behind. It has opened boxes where treasures are held. It has been the ignition key for a space rocket, a motor bike and a racing car and it has been used to lock up things only the imaination of an eight year old could think of and, it’s been used to release captives of things only eight year olds can think of.

Sunday morning on our way to Artsfest sitting on the train the key was produced from his uber cool R2D2 bag and it became a mystic key – it unlocked peoples head so TBK could see inside. He opened mine and I asked him what he could see.

“You have two doors mom, one with a heart on it and a big metal one”

“Oh whats behind them?”

“Well the metal one has a long corridor to another big door with a lock on it and behind that is all the things you don’t like, like teenagers and other things that annoy you and the heart has me and James and all our family inside.”

I thought about this for a minute then asked.

“So whats in James’ head then?” expecting teh same answer as the logic was sound 2 doors = 2 opposite emotions

“He has three doors but two of his has hearts on”

This confused me.

“Why does James have three?”

“Well Mom, James has three becaue one has his family Stat and Al and Penny and Rob and one has the things that annoy him, just the same as you, but the other one has just you and me in there because he chooses to love us!”