A Wonderful Teacher

July 13, 2009

As mentioned in my last post, Bart and Lisa finished school for the summer on Wednesday and thus ends Lisa’s first year of school! Where did that go! I don’t know if anyone else had the misfortune of watching the Adam Sandler film Click (Good concept, poorly executed, not recommended), but if feels like somebody is pressing fast forward and I really want them to stop!

I know that Lisa had a slight pang of hesitancy at moving on from the reception class, but her teacher had done such a good job at coaching them that moving on was the next natural step and that it was particularly exciting she really did not seem to find it very hard at all. I wish I found it quite so easy.

I was not quite so keen to let go of the past year. I loved taking my little girl in to class, slowly unpacking her stuff, big cuddles and goodbyes … but I’ll deal with it. The biggest pain for me was that she had been lucky enough to have best teacher in the world!

I know a number of people that read this blog (or at least that read it before my prolonged absence [tendrils and Mrs V] not to mention Mrs Geek) are teachers, but I hope they will forgive my bias. Even the great Mr Carr now has to settle for second place. Miss F (I think that remains anonymous enough) is to teachers what Mary Poppins is to Nannies … Practically perfect :)

I have tried and failed three times now to elaborate on how wonderful she has been. My trite offerings barley scratch the surface of how lucky Mrs Geek and I feel to have had someone we trusted so completely with our precious child’s transition from nursery to school life. A wonderful lady that clearly loves what she does. Who’s love for the children in her care was returned in bucket loads. Who understood the finer points of every child that she taught.

Having been through the same transition year with Bart, and a teacher that fought his character rather than attempted to engage him. Who tried to force him to comply rather than harnessing his enthusiasm. Thankfully he is thriving in his new school, and he has since re-found some of that enjoyment in learning that was so nearly lost, but I would give anything to have saved him that time, to have that time again so that he too could have had Miss F get the best out of him.

I just hope that she has no plans to move on before she gets to do her magic with Maggie!


Quick Update

July 13, 2009

OK so I’ve been in hiding. No I have not had a run in with the Law or the Mafia. I have been hiding from procrastination.

Life has been kind of manic in the Geek household, particularly for Mr Geek. Along with all the “run of the mill” stuff that comes from having three kids, I am also trying build a photography business around my day job.

Now I am certainly not going to complain about having success, particularly in the current financial climate, I have started to have more work on than is achievable with any degree of comfort.

This has meant burning the candle at both ends, and a bit in the middle for good measure. I have thus had to be somewhat disciplined in the things I have allowed to cause distraction.

Alas, as much as I truly enjoy it when I am in the swing of things, blogging is both time consuming and very much a me thing. Thus it is a luxury that is hard to justify.

But I’m here now, so I’ll update you on some of the things that have happened in the Geek household lately.

The biggest thing since last time is probably Maggie’s first birthday.
She really had a good time. Her birthday was spread across a week with a party for her and her cousins on the Saturday before, a party on the day and a party the following weekend when my parents came up to visit … What can I say she is a party girl!

Bart and Lisa finished school for the summer on Wednesday, but more on that later.

Today Bart and Lisa have gone off with my parents for a week in a caravan. So once again we are back down to one child. When we had only one, we felt it was hectic/manic/our lives revolved around him, now to go back down to one child seems opulently luxurious. It is just like the story A Squash and a Squeeze by Julia Donaldson.
I love my kids with all my heart, but it is quite nice to be given the opportunity to miss them once in a while :D

However this week is due to be quite a busy one. We are clearing a stretch of garden, for the trampoline that hopefully arrives Wednesday as well as getting everything ready to go camping. Oh how I long for some time relaxing in the sun. In my head the days will be lounging by the pool reading books, but I strongly suspect it is more likely to be filled with playing with the kids in some body of water.

Ok so I rambled a bit, but there you have it, I have posted again for the first time in 2 moths and 19 days (According to Wolfram Alpha)


Recent Reading

April 24, 2009

The Diary Of A Wimpy Kid

Having had it recommended in a number of places, I was really looking forward to reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney, and being that it was nice and short and unlikely to make me consider my own mortality, I thought I would give it a go.

I have to confess to being seriously disappointed. I think the main problem is that Greg, the main character is just, well if I am being polite, not a very nice kid. It is meant to be an amusing look at how Gregory misinterprets situations, whilst always believing he is pretty much the centre of the universe. Now this may not be that unusual for a child of his age, but I fail to find any redeeming aspect to his character. He is abusive and bullying to his dim-witted best friend Rowley, he is not nice to his younger brother, he is ungrateful to his parents when they clearly gone beyond what they can afford on his Christmas present. Yet the author seems to want us to side with this spoilt brat and thus allows him to come out on top.

What is worse is that it just was not funny. It was written with no concept of subtlety and generally left me wanting more.

I know that it is a kid’s book, but there are many kids books that do have sub text, that do have subtlety, and characters with far more depth and more importantly (to me at least) seem to adhere to a sense of justice.

But as I say, I have had this book recommended to me by adults that I actually respect, so if you have read this book, and liked it … tell me what I am missing, what are it’s saving graces?

Once

After the banality of the Wimpy Kid, I decided to prove to myself that books aimed at children did not need to be thought free fluff, and instead deciced to move to the other end of the spectrum and grab a copy of Once by Morris Gleitzman.

This story is about a young Jewish boy named Felix. When the story starts off, we find Felix unknowingly taking refuge in a Catholic run orphanage in Poland. The adults around him decided that he is too young to understand the horrors that are happening in the outside world, so they tell him that his parents (who run a book shop) have left him there while they go off to find some rare books. So when the Nazi’s come to the orphanage and Felix witnesses them burning books, his mind goes already highly active imagination goes into overdrive and he concludes that they hate books and he needs to escape the orphanage to return to his parents shop so as to protect the books.

With no real understanding of what is going on Felix tells a story of brutality and persecution through the innocent eyes of a small child.

This is one of those books that, whilst I could have empathised with the story prior to having children, now had me captivated, horrified and sickened, yet totally unable to stop reading.

Whilst being in no way comfortable reading, it is another book that is defiantly makes the reader think.

Liberation Day

Continuing in the vein of reacting to the previous book, I decided to get a book that really was not likely to make me think.

One of my guilty little pleasures is that regardless of just how low brow they may be, I really do enjoy reading the books of Andy McNab. I started with Bravo Two Zero which his non-fiction (although reportedly exaggerated) account of the SAS team of that name and their failed mission in Iraq in the first Gulf War.

He as since that gone on to write a fictional series based on the character Nick Stone, and I am slowly making my way through the this series. Liberation Day is the fifth book in the series and takes place 2002 in a post 9/11 world, where Nick has been charged with thwarting Al-Qaeda’s attempts to move money from Europe to Algeria, and thus preventing a planned attack on US civilians.

As I said, War and Peace it is not. However it is the literary equivalent to watching a Die-Hard film …. Just turn the Brain off and let it happen … A far more enjoyable experience than you may otherwise have credited.


Miscellaneous Update

April 22, 2009

This weekend was rather full. It started for me with a BBQ with the Shipmates from The kids club that my children had been attending at my friend’s church. I longed to take pictures of some of the antics, but I was forced to fall back on my iPhone camera, which unless it has buckets of light, I would be better off drawing you a picture! I do have a perfectly acceptable point-and-shoot camera; however the charger has decided to give up, so it is currently acting as a paper-weight on my desk :(

At the BBQ Lisa got her face painted which is lovely until it is time for bed. War broke out between Mrs Geek and Lisa over the removal, and peace was finally declared when I offered to take a photo of it … I’m glad I did.

ButterflyButterfly

Saturday morning we took kites to the park [1][2] (who knew parks had webpages?), and fought with the fact that there was little to no wind. (No photos :( )

When we got back we let the kids play out for a bit, when Lisa fell and hit her bottom on a concrete flower basin. After being given chocolate for being brave (she is a total chocoholic!) all was forgotten, or so we thought.

At lunch Mrs Geek put the kids in charge, so Bart decided he was going to have a Scooby-Doo Sandwich.

Scooby-Doo

While Maggie failed to locate where she was meant to be putting the food.

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Much to Mrs Geek’s delight, my rugby match was cancelled, so we all headed off to another of the local parks [1][2] to make the most of the rare sunshine that we have been experiencing. Mrs Geek’s Gran had given the kids some money to get themselves something for Easter, so we allowed them to get scooters to take to the park, Again I am frustrated that I have no photos of these, but I do have Lisa on the train!

All Aboard

That evening Mrs Geek and I took an all too rare opportunity to get a baby-sitter and went to friends’ for dinner. Good food, good company … It was all rather civilised :)

Sunday we went to the church service that rounded off the kids club, and then went to the beach to see if we could get more luck with the kites (we didn’t :( )

But whist we were out, Lisa again repeatedly needed to go to the bathroom. Initially we just put it down to her being fussy and silly, but when I took her there was a large bruise and a little blood in the bowl.

NHS Direct told us to take her to A&E (English for ER). 4 hours of waiting, one movie on the iPhone (Beethoven), numerous games of the ABC game, a bottle of Diet Coke (I needed to get her to give a sample) and 3 waiting room story books later, we were told that it was she had a minor infection and given a course of antibiotics and that it was “likely to be coincidental”. How reassuring.

The Patient

However it seems like she seems to be ok again and it gave us her another experience of going to the doctor without having the inflict any pain, so her fear of the medical profession seems to be subsiding.


Half Term

April 9, 2009

This week has been half-term … Well at least it is for my kids. Mrs Geek’s school has taken the alternative approach of starting half term on Good Friday. This meant that we had to arrange childcare for Bart and Lisa for the week. This is where my parents came to the rescue.

My parents have been looking after them down in Bristol (~200 miles from here), and it sounds like they have had quite some week, with day-trips to all the fancy places that we never take them.

It has been rather novel for us too. We have become so used to the chaos of three children that just having Maggie seems to be like coasting. I am sure it was far more difficult when we had just Bart! So for us this week has been all about productivity. After sending them on their way (Thanks to Guy [Bart’s Godfather] for taking them back with him), we spent a couple of hours in the garden, mowing and raking the lawn, rounding up the multitude of outdoor toys from every corner of the garden, and an overall tidy-up. A job that under normal circumstances would have taken a whole Sunday in the garden.

My next task was to clear the loft… :(

Our loft hatch is 10ft from the floor and so narrow that I have to climb trough it sideways. In the loft is what can only be described as filth. Dirt, dust and debris that has accumulated over the past century (well almost, our house is 98 years old). I came back down looking like an old fashioned chimney sweep.

Tonight Mrs Geeks dad and I will be taking the first steps to install a sensibly size loft hatch.

On the positive side, it has allowed me to invest some serious time listening to audio books, and I may actually end up being able to remove all of the Christmas decorations, spare electronics, cables etc that are currently causing me claustrophobia every time I go into my office.

All in all, I think Bart and Lisa’s week may have been somewhat more exciting, but we did get to go to the early bird special at one of the local restaurants, which was a rare treat. Maggie really like the garlic bread!

Tomorrow Mrs Geek and I will be going down to see my parents and rescue them from our kids, but I fear the kids may not want to come home! We are banking on Maggie being cute enough to tempt them to come back with us :)




P.S. I appologise for the quality of these pictures, the iPhone camera sucks!


The Time Traveler’s Wife

March 23, 2009

As I may have mentioned ( ;-) ) I recently read The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger and I promised to talk more about it.

The thing that has been putting me off doing this is just how do you do this book justice. If I say that it is a story about a man named Henry who travels in time it sound really sci-fi, but it is far from it. It is a love story. A beautifully written, many faceted, unravelling story that is both heart warming and heart breaking.

Rather than being the traditionally conceived time traveller Henry suffers from a genetic disorder that, when stressed, causes him to loose his grip on time and space, and he finds himself transported to some other when and where. His time travel has certain obvious advantages, but they are significantly outweighed by the disadvantages but there are disadvantages too. I left the crossed out text as it was what came to mind, but the book also talks of the complex relationship between cause and effect. Concepts like destiny and free will. Without his ability to time travel Henry would not have met his wife future wife Clare, or at least their story would have been very different.

One of the most striking things about this book is how beautifully it has been written. Unlike The Kite Runner which, whilst managing to be a good book, was pretty much an unhappy book throughout, The Time Traveller’s Wife has both highs and lows, which due to the nature of Henry’s condition were sometimes closely intermingled. This contrast between light and shade allows us to feel we understand Henry and allow us to empathise with him despite his very peculiar problem. The story is told from the point of view of two narrators, Henry the time traveller and Clare his wife. This has the wonderful effect of causing events to slowly unfold whilst reading, allowing each event to be told more than once from multiple points of view in increasing detail, with many events being foreshadowed by some Henry from the future, giving us yet another account of the situation. What starts out as a strange tangle of events all go on to mesh together into one carefully woven story.

This book is easily the my favourite read in quite some time, and as much as I am once again very late to the party, if in the strange Venn-diagram of the five-six readers of this blog and the five or six people that can read yet have not read this book, there happens to be any overlap, I strongly recommend adding this book to their list of future reads :)


For everything there is a season

March 20, 2009

OK It might be unwise for me to claim that I am playing catch-up again as this seems to be becoming my more of the rule than the exception :(

As I mentioned last time, I had recently read The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger and I promised to talk more about it, well I was writing my thoughts when I found myself going off on a little tangent, which I have decided to separate out from it for you now.

Feel free to skip this post if you find it a bit too depressing, but this post is about death (It also contains spoilers for The Time Traveller’s Wife). I think this is the first time I have come off the fence on my blog and declared the fact that I am not a particularly religious person.

I will take a minute as an aside to point out (as I know this is a hot button topic) that I am not particularly anti-religion and I bring up my children to be Catholics as that is Mrs Geek’s faith. I simply have no faith. This is not designed as a post about religion, other than relating to death it self, but it is hard to discuss one without the other. (I actually find theology an incredibly interesting topic, but one I would find very difficult to condense not to mention trivialise into a blog post.)

So anything post-death to me is a big unknown.

This being said I have never been particularly afraid of death, mainly because … well I just assumed it would happen when it happens. But now, since having children, things have changed. I don’t fear it as such, but thinking about it now holds an element of discomfort that never used to be there. It’s not because of some fear of the afterlife or even of death it self, but it’s more like the reason a tired 5 year old will protest about going to bed, even hours after bed time. It is the fear of missing something. I feel like it would be cheating me out of seeing my children’s future. It is the fear that my absence will cause them pain.

I have a friend whose Mum did not make it to her wedding day and whose Dad died just a few months before she gave birth to his grandson. Thankfully I can only imagine the pain of not having been able to share these moments with my parents.

In the story, I suppose this pain was partially mitigated by the fact that he had travelled to the future before he died so got to see some of the things he would have otherwise missed, but would that be enough?

Alas, I don’t have the ability to pop forward in time to see how things turned out so I guess for now I’ll just have to look both ways when I cross the road and try to get back into the habit of taking better care of myself (I have been running twice this week … it’s a start :) )


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