Friday, April 30, 2010

Our First Official (Not a) School Trip........Oh god.

We went to the Leonardo DV Science Museum in Milan as our first official not-school trip.

Too much in there for one day, we'll have to go back for a second round.

Here is a glimpse into an imperfect home educator's experience of "The World is My Classroom"

Do not get period night before big, huge, hyped trip.

Especially if have run out of tampax and reduced to wearing big, huge massive cowboy-walk-inducing mega pads until can find pharmacy in Milan several long and chaffed hours after trip begins.

Do not glower at school trip kids in museum wishing that you too could be enjoying their parents' version of said trip, i.e. peacefully at work or even better, propped up in front of TV with a cup of tea, rather than solely responsible for a small boy that resembles one of those balls bouncing everywhere in a pinball machine, who keeps asking "why are you walking funny ?" in loud voice.

Do try to attach own child to passing groups of school kids, to have breather from the constant yak/interrogation of precise working of turbines directed only at oneself.

Do hope teachers don't notice leech like quality of cowboy-esque gaited hanger on + overexcited small boy.

Do not underestimate power of real submarine to induce seismic outrage in Son of Thor when he discovers they have sold out of the entry tickets to get inside it.

Don't go in the shop unless you wish to exit over laden with things like kits to make a potato clock and such like. Which appear to be 15 sodding Euros for a couple of bits of wire, a few strips of metal and the cheapest LED clock in the universe. And a very big box.

Don't believe the first info point at Centrale Station when he tells you you should have been at another station, half a city away, 15 minutes ago, if you had really wanted to get home tonight.

Don't listen to the second info point when they send you (3/4 of a crowded kilometer away) to platform one instead of platform 23 and leave you running back to where you started in the first place, sweating like a pig, weighed down by potato clocks etc, only to find the stupid ticket validation machine won't work and Mr. JobsWorth wants to make you miss the train you have finally located, by hand validating your tickets as slowly as only a statale worker overdosed on valium can.

Do give up hope of exploiting (heavily edited) account of day's events to use for a mini newspaper project, when discover that Goldie the guinea pig, who was hiding in the belly on Kimmie the guinea pig when we bought her, has inexplicably died.

Do add tissues to TAMPAX !!!!! to the shopping list, when you are forced to resort to using the last of the toilet paper to both dry your overtired and heartbroken little boy's tears and mummify a guinea pig in readiness for tomorrow's funeral.

I read hundreds of home educators posts about their educational trips whilst I was considering making the jump to HE.

I had certain expectations as a result.

Reorganizing the contents of the freezer to make space for a corpse wasn't one of them.

Insert dark muttering along the lines of Trades Descriptions Act.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Caticide and the Pilgrims

Two events occurred post canale 5 putting Ivo's ugly mug on the box.

First somebody or some entity had him charged with .. see this is the problem about waking up hours before the Sock Dropper.. I can't remember the name of the law. Something about not exploiting the credulity of the population, for money or otherwise. It is the same law that had Vanna Marchi (evil woman who used tarot cards on telly and menaced old people with threats to put the evil eye on them if they didn't hand over their life savings) put away two years ago.

Oh here it is, found it !

Il Codice Penale italiano prevede, all'articolo 661, il reato di "abuso della credulità popolare".

Excellent news, I tried to make the same denuncia a year ago but got fobbed off, it will be far harder for the mayor to play his pro-Ivo game with this banner and all its " Vanna Marchi" implications now clearly hung over the magic water industry.

An environmental group made a second formal complaint, and it seems he has also been charged on this count too. You may want to sit down and stop eating before you read this.

The SOB placed illegal traps to catch nutria

(here is a nutria, they are half rat, half otter I think, the magic water site is infested with them.)

and instead managed to trap and kill several domestic cats.

So now my next door neighbour knows why her pet cats dropped from 9 to 3 in the space of a couple of months.

These are no humane traps, they are outlawed for a reason, we are talking about a protracted and agonizing death.

My moggies are all accounted for,probably cos since the pilgrims arrived I instigated a little and often feeding programme to keep them mainly in our garden, I was so scared of them going under the sudden influx of cars.

Which is lucky for Ivo, cos if I had lost a cat and then read that newspaper report he would have needed to get his running shoes on and go like the clappers.

I always try to keep the pilgrim posts light and funny-ish, cos it is my way of getting it out of my system in a way that lifts me up rather than squashes me down. But I can't find even a the merest giggle today.

The bastard needlessly, without a second thought tortured and killed a domestic animal, knew it belonged to one of us, kept quiet and then carried on to do it again and again and again.

Now I understand why he had no compunction about selling dirty, pesticide tainted water to the mothers of preemies or kids undergoing chemo.

The man is conscience free zone.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Dear So and So - "more pilgrims" edition.

Dear So and So...

Background for the understandably confused.
Because let's face it, pilgrim invasion is not your typical expat issue.

Dear Canale 5

Please don't put Ivo on the telly again this week. You only end up encouraging more mad pilgrims to descend on me.

Dear Parco Ticino Police

Let me get this straight. I need to wait four months while you think about letting me build some walls around the garden to protect us from the worst of the pilgrim invasion. And then you'll say no for environmental reasons (despite all my neighbours having walls). Whereas Ivo has illegally built a hut, dug wells, scattered asbestos panels and other assorted rubbish around the place and done everything possible to turn an EU Oasis of nature into an autostrada of 1000s of pilgrims that have chased all the wildlife away...and there is nothing you can do.

Fuck you and your bent priorities.

Dear Ivo

Having observed you drunkenly drive your tractor damn near into a ditch you can now expect me to call the police, both where I live and where you do, with your license plate, asking them to breathalyse you reguarly and often. With any luck you'll get so many points that you'll have to stay at home and the pilgrim invasion will grind to a halt.

Dear Priest

Lets get this straight, you expect ME to go down and steal the Madonna that Ivo is prostituting. I have no moral qualms about it, but you do realize it weighs a tonne and a half and I am not exactly a candidate for the world's strongest man. How do you feel about me taking a sledgehammer to it instead ?

Dear Pilgrims

There is no evidence to support the healing claims of the magic water.

Bar one.

If you stick your head under it for ten minutes straight it has a most effective salutary effect on stupidity.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Granddad, I love you.

The hospital don't know which way things will go and I can't be there.

You always sang "Sole Mio" to us during those long and and giggle filled summer holidays in Sheffield and told us stories of your war time experience here in Italy.

I think you loved this place more than I do.

That's why it felt only fitting to have Son of Thor carry your name.

In my heart, in my little boy's lopsided grin, you will always be here under that Italian sun.

Feel the warmth.

Friday, April 16, 2010

No. New. Shoes.

Not even a sniff of them.

Cos I went to the opticians.

I now have a 450 Euro hole in my fantasy budget.

The Sock Dropper is resolutely refusing to come on board to my rationale that since the optician says I should have had these glasses for the last two decades or so, they are actually only costing 22.50 !

Cos my fantasy budget is annual and this is one pair of needed glasses whose cost should retrospectively be spread out over the last twenty years of fantasy budget, which if you think about it leaves plenty left over (from the previous 450 Euros worth of glasses that I DIDN'T buy, cos I wasn't aware I was supposed to see that far away) for "powder blue criss cross T strap with a twist" stilettos.

He is sticking his heels in and going with a more literally interpretation of numbers along the lines of - 450 out now, means no more going out for purposes of giving Imelda Marcos a run for her money.

I am forlorn.

I'd much rather spend all those Euros on shoes.
Who needs to see anyway.

It's only the far away stuff.

Like the telly.

I can see my own feet just fine.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Cutting the baby out of the boy.

We went to the hairdressers. His first professional cut.

Washed. Styled. Blow Dried.

Gelled even.

I took a little boy in and came out with a tweeny.

He looks a bit like a tousled, super-cool hedgehog, is ecstatic and can't take his eyes off any reflection in a ten meter radius.

In lieu of an available reflection he will twist and turn to get a better look at his spiky fringe in his shadow.

We even had our first "bad hair" crisis after martial arts that involved me having to re-gel the fringe to his liking. In the car park.

It was really odd, as the scissors snipped the little boy vanished and this young man-to-be emerged. I felt both excited for him, yet sad, all at the same time.

Where do the years go?

Cos I swear it was only two minutes ago that I was having to bribe him with five euro notes (recycled, don't call the mumy police, it's not like I let him spend them) to do a poo in the loo rather than in his beloved nappy.

I'm going to blink and he is going to be looking down at the top of my head.

Which means I need new shoes, even higher ones.

See ! Silver lining in every tweenage cloud.

Those power blue, suede, criss cross "T-strap with a twist" stilettos that I spied today (and made a bee line for, practically licking the shop window in my heel-lust) .... are mine !

89 euros for shoes only looks extortionate until you compare it to the cost of pre-empty-nest-angst therapy.

If you  think about it, I'm being really rather frugal all things considered.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

I vant to be alone...............


And I am not.

I went to facebook briefly to ask husband 1.0 if he had managed to stay alive in the latest unrest in BKK. He is old now and less likely to decide to go and move his car during a sodding machine gun decorated riot like last time. Or take his shopping deprived wife to a mega mall (we had to stay indoors for about three days, that is my personal limit on not shopping) and drive up the wrong road, straight into a convey of tanks chasing renegades on motorbike, all coming full tilt straight at us. I'm certain that this time he just stayed in doors and was very sensible, but I thought I'd check.

So while there I noticed a personal message, which once again FB failed to inform me of by email, like wot I asked them to do.

Tis another home educator in the regione di Pavia !!!!!

Dances in swirly manner around the room.

Gets dizzy.

Falls over.

Am I officially a home educating group now ?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Did you birth a bookworm ?

If not and you occasionally have collywibbles over the lack of enthusiasm for reading that your smallie displays a fellow blogger has a lovely article published in "Mumsense magazine"with do-able suggestion as to how you can tempt them to interact with books more. Click through the pages to "reading matters" on page 38 and zoom in.
And as an added extra on the front cover is the style Son of Thor has chosen for his very first professional haircut.

Is it a bit too styled for a nine year old ?

Cos I think it looks like it will need blow-drying and mousse.

If you couldn't be bothered to blow-dry and mousse it, due to the amount of garden that will be in it by the end of the day making it all a bit too much faff considering, would it still look nice in a flatter version ?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Who's afraid of the big, intimidating blogger.. ?

I'm not.

Famed scaredycat who is intimidated by your successful, well read sort of blog peeps, has had a revelation.

I saw an offer to host guest posts on a "big" blog I read regularly.

My first reaction was to quiver and think "nooooo, set myself up for rejection, not on your bleeding nelly."

But then from nowhere the goddess of the lily livered kicked me up the bum, took over the keyboard and volunteered me while I whimpered in the corner going "wot you do that for ?"

The Big Intimidating Blogger turned out to be ....incredibly lovely, friendly, helpful and encouraging.

Like, as in ...lots and lots.

And then I wrote my guest post.

And she was STILL incredibly lovely, friendly, helpful and encouraging.

Which I think was probably the most important gain of this exercise.

Doing something new doesn't automatically equate with poking your head in a lion's cage and waiting for it to get bitten off.

Many thanks to Mid Atlantic English, fellow expat and all round good egg, for not just the opportunity to move outside of my comfort zone, but for holding my hand along the way. Well above the call of duty.
If they introduce a category along the lines of encouraging new bloggers in all the bloggy awards, she'd win.

If anybody else fancies doing a guest post, but has the collywibbles, I think the above blog is a great place to start.

Here is my guest post on her blog entitled

Cultural Shocker of the Parental Kind

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

My shameful secret....

Despite being a teacher of 21 years standing.
Despite being a home educator.

I am uneducated.

I left school at 16.

On the second morning of my 'O' levels my father packed a bag, arranged to empty the joint bank account and left us for a "woman" not that much older than myself.

Out of an expected 13 'O' levels (although there was a question mark over maths and physics) I got 4.

2 of those were RE and Home Economics.

With the money gone, grieving in full throttle I abandoned education completely.

There had never been any question over my future, I was to go to university and become a professional. It was a litany of "Be a good girl, work hard, obey the rules, do well, make us proud", however that is a shaky foundation to build a child's educational aspirations on if you quite patently exclude yourself from the same expectations by throwing your family under a bus.

I got very "sauce for the goose" about it, at the time it hurt him more than myself to become a drop out and get a crappy, dead end job instead. So I did.

And then I fell into teaching.

I had to work twice as hard, be three times as good as your average graduate to get the better positions in my field since most of them state the need for a degree before they even begin chuntering about professional qualifications and experience. However that wasn't the most damaging aspect of being a degree free zone.

I started to think of myself as stupid.

Probably due to a growing sense of shame, because wherever possible I kept my lack of education a secret. I learned to dodge questions about "which university did you go to ?" with tap dancing alacrity, terrified I would be trapped in a corner by somebody persistent, ashamed that I needed to be doing linguistic gymnastics of avoidance in the first place.

As a result the sensation that I was thick grew to the point where I shut down any possibility of returning to education, because I felt that I was not intelligent enough to succeed.

Then I started home educating and whilst researching it I read that maternal educational attainment is the best indicator as to how far a child will take their education.

Talk about an immediate impact.

I can hurt me, make my life harder in some wierd power struggle with a father I don't have, but I won't play silly buggers with my son's future. I don't want the struggles I had for him.

Looking into the OU started out as an exercise in being a better parent, but dabbling in Open Learning (which I thoroughly recommend if you are uneasy about returning to higher education or have a particular interest you wish to take further, costs nothing but time) awoke interests and suddenly my own own internal motivations, as a separate human being from my family, bloomed.

Here is my open degree, it isn't finalized, there are some ifs, buts and maybes and some courses I can't chose between at the moment, but I am going to do this and finally lay to rest the residual anger at having a parent who put himself first whilst pretending he was doing it for the benefit of his children cos "they can't be happy if I'm not".

26 years is too long to cut off your nose to spite your face, especially since the person you are trying to get at stopped giving a crap more than 2 and half decades ago.

I have a 20 credit transfer from other study so just 340 to go LOL

Level 1 100 credits Andante:30

(no page yet) Vivace, intermediate Italian 30

start writing essays 10

start writing fiction 10

design and the web 10

beyond google 10
I may replace the last three on the list above with classical Greek or classical Latin, depends on how the taster courses on Open Learning go

Level 2 120 credits

U211 - 60 Exploring the English language

A215 60 creative writing (this may get booted for Greek or Latin)

Level 3 120 credits

E303- English grammar in context (conf)

E363 - 60 adv. creative writing, (this may get booted for Greek and Roman Myths.)

It might take a few years to get there, but considering the 26 that preceded it, better late than never. Especially if heals up the residual scars of an adolescence that went sour. Because aside from my obvious motivation to do the best parenting job I can for my boy, in some odd way I am also retrospectively parenting the ghost of the kid I was.

I know that doesn't make a lot of sense, I am a bit taken aback to hear myself say it.

This was supposed to be a celebratory post of of, "hey look what web 2.0 can do and education is even more accessible now we have technology", but underneath I keep coming back to a 16 year old who felt abandoned by the people who were supposed to do their best by her.

On a maternal level I need to put that right.

Maybe I should study psychology as a form of self-help, cos the above is giving me the collywibbles about my own mental state.

Needing to parent the child you used to be ?

That's odd.

Still, at least I'll be a graduate weirdo rather than a "be4'o'leveled" weirdo.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Get your candyfloss....

And have a munch whilst enjoying the wordy rides at the "bringing up bilingual kids carnival"

I like the host's site loads. She is my mirror image (if you don't count the fact she is doing loads of languages cheerfully while I flop around bewailing just two) cos she is an Italian mummy abroad, so I find her perspective fascinating.

Enjoy yourselves whilst I bang my head against a brick wall trying to get Son of Thor to allow his kitten a little outside freedom without grabbing him every ten seconds and running back inside with him.

I'm videoing it. So when he is a teenager and wanting to go out at all hours I can play it back to him as a response to his "but WHY can't I go and be a dirty stop out ?".

You never know.

He might remember how he felt about letting Whiskers spread his wings and take pity on me by at least coming home, soberish, when I tell him to.


That's the plan.

Plan B is to put him in the freezer a few days a week to delay growth and keep him small so I don't have to face it for a few more decades. At least not till dementia sets in and I can't remember what I am supposed to be worried about.

How do mother's of teenagers cope with the letting go when their kids are high on enthusiasm and low on common sense ?

If I hadn't been such a bloody awful running off and getting married teenager maybe I wouldn't be in such a state about the future.

This is nemesis isn't it ?


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