Saturday, January 30, 2010

Pheonix from the flames

Did anybody else mourn if not the National Grid for Learning, at least what it could have been.

Well from them there dead cold ashes has risen the National Educational Network.

It is well cool.


And pretty big.

Friday, January 29, 2010

taking one for the (pink) team.

I read a thread in a forum which churned me back up again.

A thread about flashers.

Last spring a man tried to force me off the road I was walking along, he used his Vespa as a threat and in word, tone and deed made it quite clear he intended to have sex with me whatever my opinion on the subject.

Yes I am avoiding calling it what it is.

That's how I sleep.

Most nights.

At just twenty years old he was highly practiced in his technique. There was nothing "first time" or "thinking on his feet" about the sequence of events. That day was the fruit of experience gained over a good long while.

I got away unharmed. Untouched. Thanks to three factors.

1) I'm 42 nearly. Been round the block in several countries. Know how to recognize the smell of trouble and have the self confidence to put myself before the fear of causing a fuss.

2) I'm bolshie and aggressive.

3) A car past just when I needed a car to pass the most. It didn't stop to help mind, just swerved as I jumped in front of it flapping like mad, but it nearly hit him and scared him off.

He was found by the police and arrested because he was so confident he wouldn't be reported that he stayed where he first spotted me. That speaks to his experience of such matters. He looked utterly shocked that I had returned with the police, in a state of total disbelief. That part at least had never happened before.

I didn't expect much to come from what I went through, (which was NOTHING compared to what a sexual assault/rape victim has to bear), during his capture, arrest and the interview process. He'll be out of the country before the court case comes up and the charge does not reflect the gravity of his actions.

Because I got away. Which on some strange level adds a whiff of guilt in my head, like sheer luck and force of will meant I let him "get away with it" to do it again with more success to some other woman. I feel in an odd way responsible for making her the next victim by getting away, so there was nothng substantial to charge him with. I'm horrified that next time he might target a younger, less self-confident woman because the older, self assured ones are too risky. Which could make her outcome utterly incomparable to mine, and not in a good way.

My only comfort is when he goes on to hurt another woman, in a way that I only have to suffer in my sleep, plagued by "could have beens", she won't stand in a courtroom or a police station with her word being doubted, because my word is on record to support her statement.

I could have done with that. He probably started by getting his power/sex kicks in less aggressive or strident terms. Escalation is hardly unknown in men like this, they often start small with "peeping Tom" activities, flashing and inappropriate sexual comments to passersby. Yet we tend to let the "Mr. Inadequate" stuff go and there is no record of it when they progress which can be pointed to as a history. Plus their confidence at "getting away with it" can aid the upping of the ante.

I stood there alone in the police station, I will stand in court alone, have my word against his all by itself. No doubt with my high heeled boots used as evidence against me.

If you see or experience a minor sexual misdemeanor, please report it. People might accuse you of making a fuss about nothing, believe me I know what that feels like. Maybe it won't result in a conviction or adequate punishment. Maybe you will fume and feel awful with having achieved nothing, despite so much costly effort emotionally, given the somewhat off-hand attitude that is so prevalent when it comes to such behaviors

You won't have achieved nothing. You will have flexed the muscle of our collective power. The only one we have.

The power to leave a paper trail that follows a man so he can't diminish a woman twice by saying it was mutual, or invited or didn't even happen. The woman that came before and stood up to be counted by placing a black mark against his name will count for a lot in the police station for the woman who comes after her, particularly if he does escalate.

It will be a hand slipped in hers making her feel less alone and fearful of not only having been violated emotionally or physically, but about to feel the same again because she has nothing but her account of events to back up what many refer to as "her story".

Help give a woman the chance to feel like what she says is regarded as fact not "maybe fiction".

Help stop the salt in the wound that come with successful apprehension of an assailant.

Report it.  Albeit "minor" or sucessfully resisted. Give him a paper trail that, one sheet at a time, turns into a ball and chain constantly dragging down his denials, shining a spotlight on his persistence and escalation.

I know it costs time, energy, emotion and dignity. But please...

Take one for the team.

So the victims of rape or sexual assult don't get left  to carry all the weight of "doing the responsible thing" on our behalf, all by themselves.

Expat(ish) baby of mine and 2 Rs

Some of us do and some of us don't.

Teach our kids to Read and Write in English that is.

But for those of us that do, or want to, here are the materials I have used without wanting to throw them against the wall and express buyer's remorse in very stroppy terms.

For early phonics work, which is free.

For reading/writing

Focus on comprehension (nelson thornes) PLUS TEACHERS BOOK

Focus on writing composition (nelson thornes) PLUS TEACHERS BOOK

The teacher's books are what set these books apart, they really do make the difference. I would expect to spend about a week on each unit even if doing some input everyday, There are so many off-shoot activities included and described. The work is staged to set the child up to succeed rather than throw them in at the deep end and hope they don't sink.

As for level, I started Son of Thor on book one, at nine years old with a grounding in phonics and an ability to decode as well as most sight words under his belt. He learnt to read in English by himself and behind my back but I wasn't too sure of the level plus I wanted to build his confidence and that meant giving him work that he felt he could do. We went through the first book at quite a rate and we are now on book 2 which we are taking more slowly. If you child has had little input WRT reading and the English alphabet I'd start lower with the starter/introductory books no matter what age they are.

If you aren't sure where to begin or are short on time I suggest getting only the reading comprehension book which contains plenty of opportunities to transfer the skills over to writing.

For Grammar/ How language Works

Pupil Book (nelson grammar)

We are now on book 2, we started with book one, and I am glad we did. Again I suggest you take it slow, particularly if the smallie is reacting badly to a very picky teacher at school who is a bit too ready with the red pen and short on noticing what people did get right.

I do use other materials, but those are the best of the bunch as far as I am concerned.

Mouth AND trousers M

It's not like I want to bling without substance, I home educate because the lack of substance at school was shocking.

But I've been in this profession too long not to know that people's impressions of you as a teacher are at least as important as your actual abilities when it comes to being judged assessed. So I have created a home education showcase to go along with our more traditional forms of materials and production.

If anybody else has a kid in elementary school there might be some useful resources there, both in Italian and in English.

Since I didn't get to show to the teachers who, to a woman, all failed to show up for our meeting and left me standing there in a draughty corridor for an hour feeling forlorn, I am showing it here.

Cos goddamitt, somebody is going to look at it.

Monday, January 25, 2010

It's 3 o'clock in the morning, and it looks like it's gonna be another sleepless night..

La la lalala
Just channeling Crystal Galye here, since I sat bolt upright awake at a time that included a six in the number, and not in a good way.

I'm not sure how long she has been back, feels like she never left.

Yesterday the whole family were crowded round the computer in a form of mini group hysteria planning a new life in Spain.

Closely followed by Cuneo when I objected to the somewhat arid appearance of the bits of Spain they fancied.

And then back to reality.

Our house is currently valued in eurocents thanks to the pilgrims.

Plus you don't get to run away from your responsibilities towards an old lady just cos she is mentally ill, throws things at you and spits like a lama who is in training to win gold in the Lama Olympic Spitting Event.

So in an exercise of mini group positive thinking (hard when Mrs. Glass is bloody more than half empty is on your team) we sat down and worked out how much we'd need to spend to make this house what we want it to be. We have a figure, we have enough cash to do it, everybody is cool with the changes and by the time we finish the guru should be dead (he is already in his 80s and drinks like a fish) so at least when the house regains it's rightful value it will be highly salable should we decided to hightail it to Spain Cuneo.

In celebration of this I tided the garden and the Sock Dropper attacked the garage and wine cellar thingie that has no wine in it and frankly I won't go in that dank, descending hole even if you fill it with Barolo.

Which meant I went to bed early cos I was knackered.

And then woke up at a stupid hour with the IKEA catalogue flashing before my eyes and a yen to find a the perfect wood burning stove to connect to the central heating to give the existing one some much needed extra kilowatts.

I absolutely did not mutter anything about stuffing MILS or gurus into the massive wood burning stoves I found on line.

And if I did it was a green/frugal saving wood suggestion, not frustraton based naughtiness. Perish the thought.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Sheee's baa-acccckk !

I'm in a heap.

The psychiatric ward had enough of MIL being psychotic despite their best efforts and winding all the other patients up decided MIL was much, much better so last night (NIGHT !!!) they announced she was being booted out discharged this am.

The old people home refused to take her back for bad behavior decided they no longer had a room for her.

So back to her flat five minutes from my home it was.

Ten minutes after she got home my energy levels were depleted to the point of negative equity and jumping off the balcony looked like a really good idea

Shoot me now.

Seriously, if I was a horse, you'd do it.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Bog Off Subito !!!

That's either Englian, or Italish.

I'm not at my linguistic best when distracted or tired or both.

Which probably accounts for both the confusion and the panic on the part of the pilgrim who, this evening, decided to just wander into my garden and try to use my outside well water tap.

The words (bar one) shot over his head but the tone was uncompromising.

Or maybe my grubby, enraged face and rather eclectic "sparkly day wear meets pajama bottoms meets only one Faux Ugg cos the kitten is in the other one" sartorial elegance conveyed my postition more clearly that I could muster up in actual words.

Well that's what you get when you disturb a woman who is finishing a Mesopotamia roll and stumbling into the prep for a project on "maps, the different types, what they do and why we use them"

At least he can go home and warn the rest of his village that for sure the miracle water doesn't cure madness cos there is a right nutter living at the source.


Unbalanced resident - 1 (with knobs on)
Pilgrim sprinting in terror - nil


Monday, January 18, 2010


Been arguing with this for an hour or more. I've saved it as both finished and PUBLIC nine times. It keeps saying on my dashboard that it is finished but PRIVATE.

Can you see an image below this post ?

And if by some miricle you can, when you run your mouse over it does it make pink circles and when you click said pink circle does it take you to a history link ?

YES ! Lovely person who also gives good advice about mobile phones and kids has confirmed my three weeks of angst wrestling with sodding bloddy Mespotamia (and having something that pulls it together to prove I am not being totally English centric in my Home ed of the squirt to satify the oft leary teachers who will be judging me testing him at the end of the year) over.

And breathe

Seriously I was so wound up what with not actually getting the real programme till January that I got in a tizz and it all felt impossible, now I've actually produced something I feel like it is all going to be a breeze. (ish)


Right, off to print all the stuff for his file and lapbook and it's one down  and ...can't remember how many, but will be about go.

I hope somebody else out there has a small person who speaks English (for the vid) but goes to school in the Italian system and is in quarta...otherwise this work is for the benefit of just one kid and a gaggle of judgemental evaluating teachers

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Not everything shiny is a diamond

Sparklebox. - A site offering a vast array of free educational aids aimed at KS1 and KS2, widely used by teachers and parents.

I have a bulging folder of their stuff on my hard drive. I've used it with my son in HEd and I've use it at work with kids classes.

But I am just about to delete the whole damn thing.

The BBC reported that the site owner and creator is in prison on charges of pedophilia. For the second time.

I know my reaction of binning everything looks irrational and illogical. Thus far there is no evidence that the materials were part of a strategy to access children for nefarious purposes *** nor is there anything to suggest that the content of the materials is suspect.****See NB Sparklebox toolbar at the end of the post.

But every time I open that folder I will have to confront a constant association with circumstances that bring out a strong emotional response of feeling sick and a big, hard, spiky lump of sorrow, for the victims of this man, in my chest.

I just can't put any of these materials in front of my son or my little students without feeling them indelibly tainted by the crimes of the man who created them and feeling a need to keep his ilk away from small people in my care, even when the presence is very much in the abstract.

Other people can and should do as they wish with their downloads without pressure or censure, but as somebody who just isn't very good at compartmentalizing things and letting their head rule their heart...I have to use the trashcan.

And resist the urge to spray my hard drive with bleach.

*** edited to add, on other sites it is being said that the site included chatrooms and forums, which I had never noticed, so it is possible that there was an underlying agenda of access to children in the set up if not the materials themselves.


If you have installed the sparklebox toolbar and would like to remove it for security concerns or because it schiffs you out please click here for details of how to remove it from your computer.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Dear So and So

Dear So and So...the Home Educating in Italy on a bad day edition.

Dear Complete Stranger 1

Yes he is in the forth year. No, not the local school. Oh it's a bilingual educational facility. not in Milan. Actually it is via the internet...very advanced the internet these days...almost magic....yes the computer is at home. No, he still sees other children/people. I am aware that social isolation could be an issue and since I like him quite a lot being my son and all I have gone to some lengths to set up extensive daily interaction, consisting of both organized and free play with his peers...oh right your bus is here so you don't need to fill the time anymore. Rightio, glad to have been of service.

Dear Complete Stranger 2

Yes the forth year. No not the local school. A bilingual educational facility ...blahblahblah. Oh right so me and "the Muslims" are planning on undermining and sabotaging Italian culture and society by culturally and linguistically isolating our children. I see. Oh no please if you need to get to the post office now you have run out of steam don't let me hold you up. I'm sure I can find somebody else to throw random accusations at me.

Dear Complete Stranger 3

Yes the forth year. Look can I just stop you right there ! I'd love to hear your views on HEing, just not when I am looking for the one brand of passata di verdure that Son of Thor will eat, which the supermarket has outrageously moved from its proper place in this freezer right next to the chips. I shop by memory of where things are and one unexpected shifting of product position and my whole shopping list falls out of my head. I can't cling to said mental list AND find the passata AND manage your need to tell me, right here, right now "Ma ..Signora !! Non si fa cosí !!!"

Dear Complete Stranger 4

Yes the forth year, please don't ask anymore questions cos this will turn into a shocked, horrified silence that is a precursor to the mini-rant of your own choosing...I really have to get to the fag shop and pay ENEL before they cut me off.

Dear Complete Stranger 5


Oh sorry , erm right's ten to 18 o'hundred hours. ...Ahem. ..... Squirm.

I am so glad I am spending the day in Milan tomorow, a break from small town life will be greatly appreciated.

In the meantime enjoy more Dear So and So's by clicking the link and why not add your own.
It's like therapy, but cheaper and quicker.

Dear So and So...

Not broken hearted

Small person exited from the cardiologist with a clean bill of heart health.

Cardiologist was a bit put out to be honest.

Kind of got the impression from all the muttering that she thought the pediatrician was off her trolley for having referred him at all.

Only sticky bit was during the chatting to put smallie at ease was when the nurse asked "are you in the forth year ?"

I held my breath, but he remembered my instructions of how to answer that constant question.

"Yes"...with no mention of us doing it at home.

Just as well because the next question was

"Where is your mummy from ?"

Closely followed by

"Well lucky for your English, just as long as you remember to study Italian grammar really hard, cos that is more important, you live here, not there"

Followed by an accusatory look at me.

If she was prepared to doubt my commitment to his education based on nothing more than my dodgy nationality can you imagine the floodgates that would have opened if he had revealed he didn't go to school ?

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Good News, Bad News

Got called to the school out of the blue, got given progammes of study, got to chat, Son of Thor got to play, much positive, will blog later in detail but have to take squidgitt to play with his mate and am running late.

Went to ped for "is allowed to play sports" cert. Left with two referrals, one for a ped cardiologist one for an orthopod and a child who now thinks he is fat (despite looking like a string of spaghetti). Blog that later when am less cross, more objective and less hysterical.

In nine years I have found ONE ped that I liked. ONE. He retired six months after we joined his list. The rest have been varying levels of crap. I've spent more time defending his penis from them than asking any questions and more energy arguing about the realities of colpa d'aria/freddo/being sweaty than sorting out the issues he had at the time of the appointment.



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