Thursday, 26 May 2011

Morning from hell

Woke up to the strains of J’s snoring in one ear and the dawn chorus in the other. As I also had Welsh revision on my mind I got up to do some and then G9 joined me sniffing hard. Unfortunately I then proceeded to get a blow by blow description about which nostril has 'more in it' than the other. Way too much information. I suggested we go back to bed, snuggle down and read some. It was very early still.

A little while later and after a coffee I asked J what time it was, “7:20” he said. Fine I thought, another hour at least until we all have to get up. I curled up under the duvet – and R E L A X E D.  Urgent shout from downstairs rudely broke into my now semi comatose state, “G9, G9” - “Whaaaaaaaaat?” I shouted back grumpily. “It’s time for G9 to go.”  Crikes (or words to that effect). I knew G9 had to get up earlier as having a day’s experience at the local secondary school, but somehow I hadn’t equated 7:20 as being 40 minutes to eight when J had told me the time earlier. She had to be at the bus stop at quarter to eight. Mad panic. G9 dressing and me ‘helping’ by throwing clothes at her, scrabbling round to find dinner money, throwing some food into her bag as no time for breakfast, quick comb of the hair.

Off Him Next Door and G9 went. Mission accomplished. Then suddenly – I remembered. She was supposed to wear trainers, not her school shoes. Bear in mind I’m still in my dressing gown (which is bright red with black flashes by the way, not at all subtle). I grabbed my bright green Crocs (just to tastefully finish off my ensemble) and ran after Him Next Door’s car – waving G9s trainers in the air. Him Next Door didn’t look back. Hyperventilating I ran back home, grabbed our car keys and raced up the road. I tore past Him Next Door, who was just starting to drive back. I stopped the bus by waving like a mad women. The bus driver opened the door. I don’t think my attire helped allay his fears that he was indeed about to be attacked by a mad women. Meanwhile I tried to forget what I was wearing. “Grace” I called. “Yes” she replied. She didn’t move. “Grace” I called again, but this time in a higher tone and through gritted teeth, “Could you possibly come here?” 18 pairs of eyes were glued to the spectacle that was me. I handed her the trainers and then as inconspicuously and as quickly as possible retired to the sanctuary of the car.

Back home I asked Him Next Door what time was she being dropped back at the bus stop. “I don’t know and I’m a bit worried that the bus was heading towards Clarbeston Road.” (Clarbeston Road is in the opposite direction to Ysgol Preseli). Double cripes. I phoned Grace’s primary school and spoke to the caretaker who was most helpful (even with an idiotic parent on the line; rambling on and speaking pigeon Welsh). He didn’t have any definite answers.

Where is G9?  What time will she be coming home?
The colours of my 'subtle' dressing gown....

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

My Backyard

"Mmmm" said the caterpillar.  "What a lovely spread they've put on for us this year.  Time for one helluva party."

All bug friends welcome here.

Want to have a nose at other people's back gardens?  Then go look at Tara's Sticky Fingers.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Sylfaen Exam

Beth yw'r gair Cymraeg am PANIC.


The longest three minutes of my life is approaching.  Fast.  Three minutes talking Welsh, in front of a bona fide Welsh speaker (rather than the forgiving dog I'm used to, who always wags her tail politely).  This Welsh speaker will listen to me - and worse, will then ask me questions.  I'm going to faint.  The oral is worth a weighty 50% of the total marks - to be recorded and assessed externally.  Oh joy.  Someone else will hear my umms and ahhs, the long silences, the "Dw i ddim yn gwybod" - repeated often, my nervous coughs, my weak guttural ch and my lazy r.

And to think I registered for the exam voluntarily.  Was I temporarily insane?  Will Wenglish work?  #fail.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Maths

At one of the first parent's evenings I attended once we'd moved to Wales, G9's teacher remarked how good she was at reading, language work, writing etc.  I was bursting with pride.  But then the bubble burst.  She was not so hot at Maths.  Pretty bad in fact.  Hmmm, could this be my fault?  It's not my forte either.

Her Next Door suggested Maths-Whizz.  G9 already loved all things computer so it would be a natural medium for her.  The site is bright, clear, cheerful and it is UK based with gloriously familiar British accents.

To begin with G9 completed an assessment to calculate her "maths age" (a concept similar to reading age) and which also determined all her strengths and weaknesses.  G9 had to do this alone, but if she got tired she could close the program down and come back to the assessment at the place she'd left off.  Once completed the program then structured the activities at an appropriate level for her.

The activities are short, starting with a quick lesson teaching the material, followed by ten or so problems to practice the concept. If a problem is incorrectly completed, additional help is provided to help G9 understand how to complete it. There is also a Report Error button if you believe that they, at Maths-Whizz have it wrong. 

At the end of each activity the program provides a five-problem test to check for mastery. The tests are usually just a bit harder than the activities and in a similar format.  We usually complete both the activity and corresponding test together and would make sure we had at least 20 quiet minutes to do them in, although the length of time required of course depends on the difficulty of the concept.   The Maths-Whizz Tutor continually assesses and adjusts the level accordingly for G9.

If you have been on the computer for too long in Maths-Whizz you get a pop up message along the lines of, "You have done enough today.  Think about stopping."  The majority of students should spend 45 to 60 minutes per week on Maths-Whizz; little and often rather than very long sessions.

The program sends you a progress report and G9 herself like to see how she is doing in her "maths age".

There is also a "bedroom" fun section that lets G9 use credits she's earned on activities for fun things to do, such as painting the room, playing games, or buying pets and food; the animals have to be fed every time G9 goes on. In the holidays they have extra games.  15 credits are awarded for an exercise and 30 for a test. 

G9 is now doing very well.   At my last parent's evening they said of G9's Maths progress, "Whatever *you are doing, keep doing it."  She is no longer in the bottom group.  It may be expensive, but for a remote community and something we can do in small size bites that is presented in a child friendly interesting way, I can't speak highly enough of it.

*You really means Her Next Door.

The Gallery: Chilled out

I'm the opposite of chilled out today.  Life is one big blur at the moment; balancing work, granny care, child care & domestic chores whilst Her and Him Next Door have a few well deserved days away. 

For me, no first gear, 120mph all the way.  So my contribution is from the dog, she always manages to relax and chill - I should learn a lesson from her. 

Here is an older photograph, showing just how she can sleep anywhere.  I'd put the dog's bed outside to air and leant it upright against the back of the garden chair, out of reach (or so I thought) of anything with a tail and four legs.  But here I found her.  Oh for a dog's life.

"Funny, I've got exactly the same bed inside..."
Head over to The Gallery and see what other people do to chill out.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Sticky Fingers - April

One word - busy.

Endless sunny days.

Two lots of visitors descending on us, taking advantage of the wonderful weather, great to see them.

School holidays, children here, losing mine to others. 

Visiting J's family in Fleet for the Easter weekend. Long drive, meals out, catching up.

Gran coming home after a long stay in hospital; along with lots of extra necessary equipment and visits three times a day from carers.

Another long weekend away, only an hour up the road this time and just the three of us. Precious time together, never enough. We succumbed and watched the big event Friday.  History in the making after all. We seemed to pack a lot in during the four days; as brought home to me when downloading the 300 pictures taken and from my depleted bank account. Fantastic break, but not too restful.

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.  William Henry Davies

The photos below are when I did manage to stop and stare in April. 
Stunning, breathtaking scenery. 
How could I fail not to.





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