Monday, November 30, 2009


Or Music From The Non English Speaking World 2

I swear I feel like a mole...who lives in a hole. Rain sodden sky is so dark that we haven't had much "day" today.

Bloody November.

Which is why I think the tune and the slightly "wail-y" aspect of this former X factor (Italia) contestant's voice hits the spot for me. click cos I can't embed....

And this the charity record that come out after the lastest hellish earthquake disaster. Included in my November lament because it cheers me up, not least because Gianluca Grignani has grown his hair  back. Lickable bit of of male lovelyness that he is (see 1,57-2,02 in the vid).

Hummphhh , back off the glower at the sky in a grumpy fashion.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Yet another reason not to procrastinate....

40mm Sunday
45mm Monday

Rain, gak.

I have known this for a week and yet it is only today that I have rushed around like a crazed thing buying another submersible pump, tubes, silicone, clips etc. Took three goes through the till at Brico before I remembered everything. then had to go back for an outside light so I would be able see.

Two out pipes from the roof now repaired (dogs jumped all over them and broke them)

One extra pump in position

One rabid mouse/huge, toothy spider infested attic still to be nervously entered to deal with a slipped tile.

Am I panicking ?

Well let's just say despite all my prep all the animals are being moved to first floor quarters for the next 48 hours.

Why did I buy a house in a bowl like dip at the bottom of a hill ?

Probably cos I was so blown away by the location I didn't notice the gradient challenged aspect.

Still look on the bright side, the pilgrims won't like it either. Maybe they won't even come.

Failing to cheer self up.

I hate flooding. Ever since that time I had to call the protezione civile pre-pump buying/spending a fortune on drainage systems. They turned out to be the fire brigade in disguise, the same blokes I'd called two weeks earlier when I managed to set the house on fire on our third day here.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Dear So and So...

Best bit of the week for me this, many thanks for introducing me to Brits in Bosnia.

Dear Toad,

Enough already, or my husband will divorce me and my son will be doomed to a future as a NEET.

Dear Husband

One more optimistic grab at any passing bit of my anatomy and I'll grab back. But it won't be the gentle, teasing squeezing that you had in mind. Normal service will be resumed just as soon as the toad gives up his position at the end of the bed. Until then be patient or be a patient, you pick.

Dear little Sister

I can't wait to hit the shops provide Son of Thor with educational opportunities when we come over. I've found the best dates on a decent airline SleazyJet. Get ready to shop ! take part in cultural pursuits.

Dear Whiskers

The tablecloth is not for playing "whheeeee, look at me mountaineering" on. As you may have noticed it is friction challenged. As freaked out as you may have been when you came down with a bump you are not anything like as badly off as my best Pyrex dish.

Dear Whiskers

That is tea, not water I have decorated so you can see it better. Tongue out.
Paws out too.
Both of them.

It's a tealeaf, not prey.

Dear Whiskers

This is a kjadkjadkeyboard not azdg kitty piano. sdhdg My fingers are not showing yoxhshdfu which notes to play lhakgmja\fouh

Dear all the women who have just found out they are being cheated on,

You are less alone in the dark than you believe yourself to be. There are plenty of us out there who have known the cold bucket of water + twisting gut of discovery. Some have rebuilt a better relationship with their SO where the wreckage once stood (not that many will be thinking of telling him "thank you for that" any time soon) , some took a new journey alone, plenty learned to love and trust again. Faster than you think, slower than you'd like, you'll be on the other side of the minefield called "life post affair", if you'd like a hand with the map to minimize further blasts during the trip and a few shoulders/ears to boot go here.(family affairs and other matters blog)

Join in Dear So and So............ or find links to everybody else's by clicking the image below, s'like thearapy..but cheaper

Dear So and So...

Angsty Pangsty

I was prepared to have doubts and even the occasional panic.

I wasn't however prepared for the flavour of my HEing angst.

It's nocturnal.

It likes the Mexican wave approach.

For the last three nights it has slithered in, sat at the end of the bed, crouched behind Billy (large dog, prone to trying to sleep on us as opposed to next to us, snores) , waited juuuuuuuuust until that blissful moment right before you are really asleep and then leapt on me like a cold, slimy toad.


" too much, too fast"

"not enough, too slow"

"prioritise the core skills"

"focus on the Italian subjects"

"make the English subjects the priority"

....thoughts pour into my dazed brain and snap me into wide eyed and a slightly sweaty awakeness.

Battle that lot into submission for two hours on the sofa with four cats and one kitten taking it in turns to play security blanket.

Go to bed

Drop off nearly

Out jumps the toad

"OMG it's nearly time for the exam and
you are nowhere near ready!!!!!!"

Back downstairs for two more hours trying to convince brain (via conversation with non-committal felines) that November is not nearly June. If it was nearly June my toes wouldn't be blue.

Three nights in a row like that.

Which makes the teaching of the multiplication of decimals even more of a challenge.

Please somebody, anybody, pass me the Toad Crusher. I need to sleep.

And my husband needs to sleep. I know, because he has told me. Often. All day. Every day. Like he was the one suffering.  I am not suffering apparently. Just insufferable.

He says it is trying to share a bed with a yo-yo I am up and down so much. begging.......(flop)

This is how I felt after I gave birth.  Knackered, shocked and glaring at those who had gone before me in deep pissed offness muttering "why didn't you tell me it was going to be like this !!", very darkly.

As much as you are able to mutter darkly when you are spitting mad and getting a bit red faced and shouty and sheer exhustion is making waterworks a serious threat.

Or "going Etna" as somebody ,who shall remain nameless, calls my mild, infrequent attacks of slight crossness.

I am going to try drowning the toad tonight. With Chianti.

Although you have to be careful with Chianti. It has side effects. The last time I took in substantial quantiaties it got me pregnant.

Which is what started all this trouble in the first bloody place.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Random Tuesday Thoughts

Where's the kitten ? That's the random thought constantly in my head. He is either suspiciously quiet and destroying something, or noisily destroying something. He only has two gears.

BULLDOZERS ! Apparently they are coming, but will they only knock down the miracle water hut or will they pull up the deep pipes supplying the well ? Cos if they don't do the latter does that mean he'll just drive a caravan in there and carry on till I finish him off he drops dead of unkown natural causes ?

I have a Rino earworm. which I like, but my family is less keen on my joining in. Which is a tad insulting.

I loathe Zak and Cody in big hotels and on cruise ships so much I almost with they'd go overboard.

More Italian random availble from Strange Pilgrim

To join in with your weird and wonderful randomness -------------->
click the button to play



Or Music From The Non English Speaking World 1

Still smarting from some Brit-centric smart alec making snotty comments about Italian popular music like it was a synonym for vacuous tosh in its entirety.

Based on what ? The exposure to the occasional novelty record or a freak summer hit that makes the teeny boppers break into synchronized dance moves ?

This expat/immigrant is revolting !!

Against popular ill-conceived perceptions about my host country's taste in music that is.
Just to be clear. Am clean in body and mind.

I don't know where to start to challenge the stereotype so I'm going back in time with one of my favorites who pops up on my iPod with welcome regularity, Rino Gaetano.

A 70's sensation, died in 81.

Political commentary that is as relevant, astute, ironic and sardonic today as it was when he wrote it.

"But the sky always gets more blue !" 

(reference to the public's capacity to close their eyes to the reality around them I think)

Aida - Anthem relating 50 years of Italian history. Aida the woman is a metaphore for Italia the nation.

Monday, November 23, 2009


I'm sure some people reading about Anissa Mayhew don't get it. Don't get that behind the normal sorrow for a young woman with small children and a desperate husband facing such an awful situation, there is real grief and pain in the hearts of people who have never met her, never heard her voice, only ever communicated from behind a screen with "just" typed words as the basis for the connection.

I get it.

Last month I spent an hour sobbing quietly in the local church, hiding behind some horror of a floral display that a colourblind, tastefree person had plonked in front of the Madonna. In my usual "if a little is good, more will be much better" mindset I lit a whole table of candles to mark a bitter aniversary.

Donna and I spent years together on a debate forum, we bonded from the onset, chivvied each other, laughed together, sat on the sidelines of the board wars that eventually knackered the community beyond all recognition, shaking our heads and chuntering over grown women pigtail pulling like they were back in prima. Real friends, continents apart. Joined at the screen.

And then she died. In nine short months she went from an out of the blue diagnosis of stage 4 colon cancer to gone. Despite all the masses I had said for her, despite all the candles, despite doing deals with a God I don't believe in, despite giving up smoking to send her my cancer-protection points...she died.

My heart broke. Quietly. Because it is hard for a lot of people to understand how much somebody can mean to you when it is "just" on-line.

I'm going up to the same church today, one famed for it's miracles of the  healing kind, to light candles for a woman and a family I don't know, but I'm lighting a good whack too for the people on the wrong side of a computer screen too, the ones who feel like something is clawing at their heart from the inside, knowing full well that others will find that odd and wondering themselves if it is normal or justifiable to feel this way.

It is. We are human, we love, we care, we grieve and the mode of connection is not an indication of how much you are allowed to mourn, fear a loss or need to hope with all your heart for a return from the edge.

I do the Run for Life every year with Donna on my back and an ache in my heart and nobody gets to tell me that it is a second class kind of missing or memorial that I'm doing.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Day of the Weird

Or how my not so average Saturday went
part one

Female, looking suspiciously like a pilgrim peering hopefully through my gate. Waving arms in manner of windmill.

me - "what ?" (ready to point out that miracle water does not cure illiteracy, or anything else, and point to the Pilgrims, do not disturb residents sign RIGHT IN FRONT OF HER.)

Turns out she wanted to buy a lamb. Nothing I could say would convince her that all I had was a zoo composed of dogs, cats, rabbit and guinea pigs. Apparently I was a lamb wholesaler and she wasn't leaving till till she had convinced me to sell one. She developed a tic in her agitation.

After 15 full minutes of ignoring everything I was saying and insisting I had to sell her a lamb I don't have she turned to her mate in the car and said.....

"this stupid foreigner doesn't understand anything I'm saying !!!"

Err....hello kettle, love pot.
From the stupid foreigner to Signora Strange from planet Odd.

part two

My next door neighbour's son was released from his section and came home. Bear in mind that here NOBODY just walks through their neighbour's gate with out announcing their imminent arrival. Especially now, since we are all so snarly after months of pilgrim invasion. In 15 years I have never known an Italian, no matter that they are being invited in, not say "permesso" before walking through the door.

I was sitting in my knickers when he burst through the kitchen door, strode in and thrust a plate of mini cakes at me.

Somewhat taken aback I asked if it was his birthday.

No, apparently the voices in his head told him that he should buy me little cakes, wait till my husband left the house and then erupt into my house to give them to me in the hope that I would stop sending the electromagnetic signals that were hurting his head.

Ten strange minutes past...and he wasn't only talking to me. Aural hallucinations at the very least.

I am buggered if I am eating those cakes. And I love cream.

part three

Later on in the supermarket.

I was busy giving instructions, in English, to the man and the boy, along the lines of "cat litter and a light bulb ONLY, no prawns or ice cream... I repeat..." .. they shot off to ignore me and find lots of goodies.

I suddenly became aware of a slightly strange person following me. I walked quicker.


"erm..sorry ?"


"oh right, stilton, yes, lovely"

"Chi der"

(backing away slowly)

(come nearer till we are damn near nose to nose) "CHI DER"

"oh yes, cheddar, quite, lovely, yes. hmm"

"HELLO !" (exits left to the frozen section)

"Bye bye ?" (damn near faints with relief that he has gone and scuttles off to find the man and the boy with absolutely no intension of spending an extra ten minutes here to put back all the contraband they had accumulated in their basket)

Which is why I am sat here bleary eyed. I was awake till five am with rampant insomnia wondering if spending too much time on the locked ward sectioning/visiting MIL has infused me with some kind of attractant.

Well that and next door neighbour's son, the explosive bearer of small cakes, stomping around his garden muttering to himself and turning his headlights on and off so they shone straight into my bedroom window ...and there was no way I was alerting him to my awake state by closing the shutters.

Although it might also be because I stole Whiskers from my son's room to act as a tiny, fluffy security blanket and he kept standing on my eyeballs, trying to shove himself inside me via my left nostril and purring at a decibel level comparable with a small tank ticking over.

I pity the fool (pilgrim) that hacks me off today. Said in my best Mr. T voice. Minus the bling. But double the menece.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Dear so and So....

Fantastic idea for getting all off your blog-chest, seen first at Brits In Bosnia and then at 3 Bedroom Bungalow

Postcards/notes that you'd never send ...even if you knew where to send them, but feel so much better for having written.


Dear Sky News

I hold you entirely responsible for me having had nightmares where I relived navigating a flooded Bangkok complete with swimming cockroaches and rats, in high heels combined with one of those dreams where you are trying to get to those you love to help them but go nowhere fast, in much water.

Dear neighbour

I am so sorry that the pilgrim/miracle water invasion has sent your fragile, sole breadwinning member of the family son over the edge into a psychotic break. Please give my regards when you visit the locked ward today. I will make the palm in elbow of opposing arm gesture to a passing Ivo the guru on your behalf today. With feeling.

So much for the much proffered "where's the harm" bollix, eh ?

Dear Italian sock Dropper

Thank you so much for snoring less, I apologize for elbowing you in the back to roll you over, but you have no idea how annoying it is to be woken up by explosive noises two inches from your ears.

Dear Whiskers

You are indeed very cute. If you go in my cupboards again and have another party chewing the Barilla packets I will find you less so.

Dear Cacciatori,

Will you please notice me in my hi-res jacket and avoid shooting me and the dogs when we are on our walks. Plus have you not noticed how pretty the pheasants are ? Pretty and silly, two good reasons not to shoot them. The tsunami of pilgrims scared off most of the wildlife, can you not give us a break this year and go to a non-miracle water site so we can have a well earned sabbatical from noise and people.

Click the image to join in Dear So and So...

Dear So and So...

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Cool Kiddie Activity

Not just for Home Ed types either.

Just normal family weekend fun (if not videoed as part of your showing off and ticking the Art/Domestic Science boxes for when you get inspected LOL)

If you are looking for a crafty/cooky/arty fun afternoon thing to do with your kids that will minimize kitchen mess and maximize their opportunity to "do it myself!!" all without breaking the bank, look no further than the IKEA Gingerbread House's one another blogger made earlier with handy hints on how to stick it together.

HE in Italy - breaking news 2

The school mentioned in the previous breaking news is also insisting that the kids come in for regular "verifiche" (tests/pop quizzes) because the kids in school are subject to regular/ad hoc/punitive +utterly subjective testing, so the HEed kids have to be as well.
That could mean coming in, anything from three times a week to once a month, for random testing based on where (e.g.) Third year - group A or B or C are in the curriculum at any specific point.

Since the curriculum does not include tight timings there is no way for a parent to know "what must covered in/by week 7/March" etc.

Nor can they know which information an individual teacher has placed most emphasis on or passed over entirely.

Many tests are parroting back, word for word, the entire contents of supplementary materials that are not in the assigned books. You can't learn by rote without the original.

Son of Thor's teachers were ALWAYS unable to tell me what they were planning on covering over the next few days or week when he had to be absent due to illness or family turbulence*.

This lack of forward planning on the teacher's part meant I didn't have the info I needed to keep him on track when he was out of school for a few days or even a week. Then they gave me hell when I went ahead of them in the book with him by accident because I did want to at least try not to let him miss out on anything.

Based on that I would say that HEed parents are likely to find it an impossible task to stay on the same timeline as the teachers in school and therefore their children will be unable to demonstrate their progress because an unsuitable testing process is employed.

Which may be the whole point of the exercise.

For the Record - children are officially subject to annual testing. Annual. As in once a year.

Another for the record - I personally have no issue with regular meetings between me and the teachers / the boy and the teachers, so they can to see what we have done, to satisfy themselves that the quality and speed of instruction is to their satisfaction and to keep everybody up to speed. That however is not what is being proposed here. What is being proposed is "heads you lose, tails we win".

So far the advice coming through is to ask the Min of Ed for advice because this is some real overstepping of the current regs, if no support is forthcoming the recommendation is for the children involved to be transferred to another school and start the process again and hope the next director isn't quite such a knob.

Still no info on what exactly the director took exception to in the proposed programmes of study and book lists.

There is a good chance that this is a case of a single twit not having read the regs and getting a bit of a God complex. So I am not yet prepared to panic. Ish.

*(MIL has bipolar 1 and a plethora of co-morbid conditions, she is in and out of psychiatric hospital, it makes life a bit unpredictable, it takes two of us to get things under control, when SOT was at school she was living in Milan, he missed some school sometimes - shoot me - what was I supposed to do, just leave her to throw knives of the balcony at passersby that she was convinced were Ukrainian assassins coming to get her ? Unbeknown to most Italians, including those who work in schools, there is very little external safety net for the mentally ill, family is it, especially for geriatric, mentally ill patients. The locked ward takes the same "bed blocker" attitude that the rest of the hospital wards do. If the Nonni are the ones battling with Ukrainian assassins then who is going to step in and come and do extended babysitting in the child's hometown, where he goes to school, when his parents have to manage the realities of mental illness that the comune/government studiously ignore ?) /rant

Here endith the NEWSFLASH

And now the weather....over to you Magda with the big boobies and the short skirt ----->

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Italish Cuisine 1

Also known as "well why didn't you stay living with your bloody mother then if it is all so inedible, all the time"

I cook English food that I vaguely remember from my (rather surprisingly passed with a C ) domestic science 'O' level, cunningly combined with dishes requested by the two resident Italian nationals, limited as always by what I can find in the shops, so some rather "inspired" substitutions are to be expected.

This is one I am yet to bugger up make but will this weekend, cos it is seasonal.

Main Italian ingredients, Christmas cakes called Pandoro and Panettone

Meeting  the British classic, Bread and Butter Pudding.

Original recipe for real cooks to be found on the BBC Good Food site.

My modgy mess version below. (I just know how this will go)

Whatever panettone/pandoro I have managed to overlook in previous 24 hours of no smoking munchy rampage.
A lump of butter with as few crumbs as possible.
2 eggs with smeared best by dates that survived the dog's pleading gazes
Carton or two of UHT cooking cream, UHT because it doesn't expensively go off in the fridge, hidden behind untouched vegetables.
No vanilla, cos the strange mothy cupboard invaders laid eggs in my stock cupboard packet of it this summer. It will take 300 supermarket visists before I remember to buy a new one.
Sugar cubes that were first hit hard and then whizzed once I remembered that the Braun whizzy thing was in the other cupboard.

Lots of huffing and puffing over a recipe print out that is either covered in egg/cream that escaped from the whizzy thing, or has a few cats sitting on it (looking hopeful despite the shooing), or both. Much running to the living room to read the online version before haring back into the kitchen to protect the whizzy thing contents from gluttonous cats.

Into the new oven, with actual numbers on the "how hot" dial, which are miraculously obeyed (unlike old oven which was possessed by some gremlins, as well as having anti-tardis qualities). Only slightly scorched end result due to hungry cook metaphorically watching pot boil, but distracted by hunt for nicotine gum at a crucial stage.

Family refuses to even taste a bit on grounds of extreme prejudice because I forgetfully reveal the UK origins instead of lying and saying it was in this months "Sale & Pepe" mag or pretending it was premade by Barilla.  Zoo shows no such cultural reservations and has to be fought off with a wooden spoon.

No smoking munchies insist on me eating the whole thing.

I have to be rolled upstairs to bed.

Italian Housewifey Tip 1

Regarding: Wood burning stoves or any other glass fronted kind of thing in which you burn wood for the purposes of heating the home rather than disposing of dead bodies, and the cleaning of.
The glass gets mucky, black, crusty and you can't see your crackling flames any more, to the extent that you can conceal how much wood is really burning in there from your beady eyed husband who is wandering around in his underwear complaining that it is tropical.

When guests arrive it is nice to show off the fire. They go "oooohhhhh" and are less likely to notice your rather iffy attempts at plastering.

Do not buy expensive wood burner glass door sprays.

They smell.

Take some (lots) of kitchen roll, dampen it (or soak it if you are like me and always go overboard) and dip it in the ash from last night's fire. Now use that to clean the glass. It may take some time depending on how long since you last cleaned it. Feel free to dip the kitchen roll several times in the ash or even use a new wodge if the original one disintegrates from over enthusiastic wetting and dipping.

Wipe glass clean with a damp cloth/towel/wodge. Dry with a dry one.

Light fire.

Feel a bit Nigella-ish.

Until you notice the state of the sink.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Random Tuesday Thoughts

Random Tuesday Thoughts


I am 99% convinced that the playdate tomorrow has been suddenly transferred to my house not so much because that kid thinks "your house is so much more fun", flattering as it is, but more because that mummy doesn't fancy doing the "mad house clean caused by guests" dance. Which means I have to. And I have more to do that she does. My house is bigger and messier and has more zoo. So I can't go to the supermarket or Brico, I have to hit the ipod and the housework wall instead. Bugger.

That kitten who is NOT staying, is staying. Anything that microscopic with that much attitude deserves to be taken in. Besides it would break Son of Thor's heart if he went. But it is absolutely the LAST animal to come and live in this house. The LAST. No more. EVER. None.

I am sort of pissed off that I have no RL expat community here in the middle of nowhere, but also quite grateful at the same time, cos in BKK and Milan at times it all got a bit negative what with the hacked off aspects getting reflected back from each other and magnified beyond all recognition.

I can't believe he is nine. Seems like two minutes that I was frantic over a blue line swearing off Chianti FOREVER. Well he certainly put a kibosh on the Chianti.

I don't want another child but I wish wet nursing was still a career option. I loved breast feeding. Apart from the bit with the teeth chomping obviously. Bit of a blow that my perfect job went out of style some 100 years or so ago. I think that might make me weird. Would like to point out that do not go around trying to breastfeed other people's babies. But I do still get the let down reflex when newborn cries. A very nostalgic FIZZ and sudden panic that I might actually start lactating in public, in a summer top, with no bra let alone breast pads and having everybody take two steps back muttering the Italian for "that one has issues...".

And since do not with to end on that note and cement impression of myself in some kind of odd zone....
I am less enamored with lapbooks at the moment than I thought I would be. It's a lot of work. They are going to have to be relegated to special projects when I have time for the construction as well as the material.

Some pictures of the kitten to graphically display my random "ahhh!!" and "Oy ! you little sod !" thoughts.

Homeschooling Expat Children: Perfect Solution Or Missed Opportunity?

I came across an interesting question,

Homeschooling Expat Children: Perfect Solution Or Missed Opportunity?

I don't think there is a one size fits all response to the question and I can only answer for myself, to at least challenge the notion that HE is a short cut to missed opportunities.

I'm an expat (although only technically, I'm more of an economic immigrant if you break it down) but my son is an Italian national.

I home educate several reasons including:

The time constraints of a duel curriculum become less pressing in Home Education.

The poor quality of education offered in Italy (unless you are lucky enough to have local schools that buck the national trend - see PISA for data/"The Italian paradox") was doing my head in.

I'm the first to admit that I am trading on social bonds formed during his school years to ensure his full inclusion in social activities. An hour or three of structured after-school/sports club a few times a week does not a social life make if somebody is left on the edges as an outsider.

You really need to work hard on finding and using extended, freer activities that allow for "getting to know you or at least used to you being around to the point where we will include you" if you don't have the peer contact via the classroom.

In Italy that will include Oratorio (sort of kiddie social club attached to the church), Centri Estivi (summer camp), going to all the local festivals, carnivals, exhibitions and shows (sagre, carnivale, fiere and mostri). By necessity it will also include finding out which days and at what times kids tend to congregate and where. It isn't always at the playground, check out the local footie pitch, basketball courts, sport centre grounds even the main piazza.  The bonds may take a while to form but once they are in place there's every chance that things will snowball, especially if you are up for playdates. It does mean being careful not to drop the ball, which I freely admit I did in my ignorance, set backs have to be recovered from and can feel a bit like starting all over again while managing a mild panic attack at the same time, plus big guilt.

I'm the first to admit the "easy peasy" attitude towards social contact seen in HE groups in the UK/USA is not so realistic when you are far from home and HE is restricted to a select few spread out over many thousands of kilometers and tends to be focused on people with tightly defined common interests, like religious convictions or a common language. Especially if what you are after is contacts from within the local community rather than the expat community.

Immersing your child in local culture without the pre-package aspect that comes with school can be hard work, especially in the beginning, but it is far from impossible if the conditions allow for the work to pay off. In our case our son has ended up with a far more active social life and has become far more connected to the local community since being withdrawn from school, because I couldn't rely entirely on the bonds formed there, so put in a degree of time and effort that previously I had not felt was necessary. I did initially resent the amount of time I had to spend out of the house going places, talking to people and getting involved in things, but he isn't the only one that got a better level of social interaction out of the exercise to be honest.

The language barrier does need to be addressed. Full immersion is not the only route. Nor do individual/small group private lessons have to be expensive even if you are opting for a daily dose of input. The beauty of the language lesson barter system is that not only does the child get language input they also have the opportunity to make new contacts or strengthen existing ones, as does the parent doing the "swopsies".

Ultimately I think school can be a bit of a red herring when it comes to the original question posed.

If the parents "ghettoize" themselves in the expat community and only skim the surface of the local culture and language the kids will be more likely to follow suit whether they go to a local school or not, particularly in a country where there is social status to be gained from valuing the expat lifestyle over the local lifestyle.

On the other hand if the parents choose to go in at the deep end and go for a more immersive approach for themselves, the kids will be right there swimming next to them, HEed or not. At least that way everybody in the family is experiencing the same highs and lows. Specifically when it comes to the lows, the empathy that comes from a shared experience can go a long way to making sure expectations are reasonable and achievable. Immersion can be a very lonely place. Much better if you have company that "gets it" and doesn't appear to be asking much of you whilst being unprepared to ask the same of themselves.

I don't actually have a strong opinion of whether other people should chose local schools over HE or vice versa, it is going to be very much based on the individualized circumstances of that family. Nor do I think it is a bad thing to live your time in a foreign land mainly in the company of your compatriots if that is your preference. I do however wish to counter the idea that choosing to Home Educate has to limit a child's (or a parent's for that matter) opportunities to live within and learn from their adopted local community.

Like anything in life, you'll get back what you put in, whether your preference is for a local school, a private international school or HE.

Monday, November 16, 2009

HE in Italy - breaking news

Just heard that a school has formally rejected curriculum and book lists that do not conform to what the school is using or the INC. (which appears to be a state secret, if anybody has a copy of the new one please let me know)

It's possible this may relate to a heavy religious bias in what is being presented as an alternative, but it might also relate to a more generalised "clamping down" that is in the wind.

Reiterate that those who have a non-Italian national child probably do not need to panic, as ever it is those of us with a mini tricolore waver who need to quiver if the high profile shake up in the UK is making ripples on the EU pond.

Will update as thing become clearer.

I feel like Moira Stewart.

Disadvantages of Home Education

An extract from our "Writing in Italian without arm apparently about to drop off or brain ache developing from thinking of more than six words in a row that actually make sense" slot this am.
Relating the finding of Whiskers, the kitten we are defiantly NOT keeping, but seems to have his teeny paws well under the table.

A translation

" Mummy climbed in the brambles to see what it was...(blah blah blah) but it didn't matter because she was already dirty and untidy before she went in there......"

I suppose I should be grateful that my sartorial elegance and personal hygiene habits were not besmirched before a classroom full of kids and a staffroom full of teachers.

This particular piece of work will be exploited for the purposes of "drafting, editing and polishing" (sub heading "do not piss off your mother")

S'not my fault I am not as shiny and well finished as the other mammas. I have a handicap. Am British. Am not supposed to be all tidy and matched, my look is an act of cultural preservation.

I left in when shell suits and pineapple heads were in, if the Brits have gone and become all smart and styled behind my back since then I have an excuse note already prepared "Sorry Miss, I was absent for those 2 decades".

And anyway my clothes (clean on in the morning, most days) would not be stained and mucky by lunchtime if people didn't keep making the zoo grow (glowers at Whiskers). Cos they all tend to jump up and shed on me.

Some human members of the zoo seem to think I am an ambulatory napkin to boot.

I am now going to brush my hair.

But it has nothing to do with the above.

I was going to do it anyway.

--------> Goes upstairs in a big huff

Blows nose on Union Jack hanky

I failed the UK citizenship test

This is either caused by

a) leaving the UK nearly 21 years ago at 21 years old and being flighty in Bangkok and various bits of Italy and losing my cultural heritage (possibly in the bars of Pat Pong).

b) somebody having written a really difficult test.
I got 67%

I hope other Brits out there fared equally badly. Then it's not just me who is in the cultural wilderness LOL

Still might be useful for Home educators with older children as a spring board to discovering "stuff" about the Uk.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Reason 7,683,231 not to go to the supermarket...

Coming home with a car stuffed with food, that I will fail to turn into balanced meals, we stopped half way down the dirt track. Not to avoid mowing down pilgrims that were wandering around aimlessly looking for miracles (that was on the outward bound journey) but to snoogle a couple of hunt dogs.

The boy dog was so soppy that we had a love fest there and then. Just as I was reluctantly getting back into the car both Son of Thor and the Italian Sock Dropper made excited "look look" noises. The larger of the two, with the weakest eyesight, claimed it was a hare.

When was the last time you saw a hare with a long white and tabby tail ?

Some scrambling in the brambles later I emerged with a six/seven week old abandoned kitty.

Who we are NOT keeping.

But is called Whiskers.

And is playing with some 22 Euros of kitty toys bought post his arrival.

And has claimed pole position in my son's bedroom for the purposes of nighttime non-squashment by resident adult cats.

Much to the high dudgeon of Sammi the rabbit, Kim the guinea pig and Goldie the "surprise ! I was lurking inside the one you bought !" baby guinea pig who already reside in said bedroom. The rabbit didn't even whinge about being confined to his cage for the night after a brief introduction where Whiskers showed polite interest and Sammi the Rabbit showed some displeasure at the arrival of what he correctly deduced was an evil predator in miniature form.

I give up, the zoo will keep on expanding till I do nothing else except feed, walk, medicate, play, train, stroke, remonstrate, fill in holes, pick up pooh and other animal related activities all day long.

He is very feisty (well he would have to be to have survived out in the woods for a couple of nights) so the four girl cats are interested but keep their distance. Not so sure Sooty my boy cat will find a growly, microbe sized cat so scary. So that relationship will have to be policed until the microbe is bigger and less squashable. The dogs are all like "oh no, not another bloody cat ". Which is a bit rich considering they most of them started their life here as bedraggled, scared and hungry foundlings in the same woods.

Making the post at least a smidgen Home Educating related, we had a long discussion on the ethics of abandoning animals and the laws relating to the aforementioned. We decided it was a decidedly BAD thing to do. Just like the last twenty times we have found animals (all dogs until yesterday) "thrown away" down here.

At least this time it hasn't ended with that miserable trudge to the public kennels.

Photos will follow when they resemble a kitten not a blurry streak chasing a mouse on a string.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Dear So and So...

Fantastic idea for getting all off your blog-chest, seen first at Brits In Bosnia and then at 3 Bedroom Bungalow

Postcards/notes that you'd never send ...even if you knew where to send them, but feel so much better for having written.


Dear 9 millionth pilgrim peering hopefully through my gate wanting directions/info/the loo/lunch,

If I am dressed in pajamas, holding 2 howling cats under one arm, half a dead rat dripping entrails at arms length from the other whilst yelling "in a bloody minute" at the high decibel requests for walkies/lettuce/socks/liver/underwear emanating from the man, the boy and the zoo I would say that ....

"Disturbo signora ?"

Was something of a rhetorical question, wouldn't you ?


Dear School Director,

No, you are quite right I have not been to hand in the curriculum. I feel however it is necessary to point out that you have been given the English National curriculum (twice) and only you are able to lay your hands on the "correct" Italian national curriculum. So you were going to give it to me, so that I could give it straight back to you. So if you could just give it to me, I'll hand it in to you.

I appreciate that you have a PHD in bureaucracy and on some level this all makes some sense to you. Until Edexcel starts offering an IGCSE in it and I can get on the same twilight-zone page I will try hard not to spontaneously combust with the sheer idiocy of the whole rigmarole.

Or at least not in a vocal way. Using those words. Again.


Dear Italian Sock Dropper.

I have a cunning plan to help you find your own socks in the morning. You stop littering the house with them when they are dirty and I will stop throwing them out of a window. That should help the laundry fairy maintain the provision of fresh ones in that magical, secret place called your sock drawer. Would you like a map to help you locate it ?


Dear Son of Thor,

It is very strange that when you had to do four hours of dictation a day at school your limbs worked just fine, but now when I require just four lines in the same space of time a strange syndrome called "broken arm despite lack of fracture to any bone" has come to light.

I understand that being your mother AND your teacher might lead to some blurring of the roles I have in your life but I don't quite understand how you came up with "personal secretary" as the one role that would unite the other two to the satisfaction of both parties.

Click the image to join in Dear So and So...

Dear So and So...

Decimated by decimals....

On Monday I am going to introduce the concept of the decimal, I have pootled around the edges today and been met by much blank lookiness.

If you, like me, occasional sit there thinking "well I understand it, but am a bit stumped over how to get you to join me in this magic place of comprehension cos time took away the map of how I got here" may I recommend this site.....(please click on the link to Teaching Ideas).

There are explanations of how to present a new concept as well as printable and interactive resources.

So far no pressurising me to whip out a credit card which is always nice.

The comments from other users after the ideas and activities are helpful too, so you know of any shortfalls BEFORE you begin and risk a small person looking at you with his "why are you doing this to my head and, if I may be frank, you are really not in a postion to criticize the teachers I had at school if this moment in time is anything to go by" face.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Una Scivolata

Opps. I blame the pilgrims. Well I would, given that I am somewhat obsessed by them and they provide the perfect excuse for all and everything I bugger up.

Bear with me this is actually about Home Education.(ish)

I promise.

In this case I have some justification. They screwed up my sleep patterns all summer long and well into the autumn, then right after they stopped being quite such a pressing issue I had rotten insomnia (The Italian Sock Dropper took up snoring as a hobby, it was like trying to sleep on a runway at Linate) and so my going to bed and getting up times have gone to pot in the last couple of weeks.

Without a pressing need to get up at 7am to take Son of Thor to school I just can't seem to get my rhythm back independently. Which is leaving Home Education a bit time squished between his rather elaborate social life and everything else I have to do for the man, the boy and the zoo.

If anybody sees me posting anywhere (like on Home Education Heretic, The Guardian talk boards, on any of the blogs I follow) please shout at me "Go to bed you dirty stop out !!! Your son's education not resembling a high speed car chase depends on it !!!"

S'like the less I have an external system to give me structure the more I resemble a jelly left out in the rain.

And my house is a tip.

Oh nooooo, does this mean I have to go back to being shouted at by the Flylady everyday ?

I'd rather have a daily pilgrim or six than a daily shouty email from her to be honest.


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