Archive for January, 2010

Last night the lovely Doctor came and had tea with us. She’s on a placement in Community Paediatrics at the moment, where a lot of her time is spent with children with behavioural problems. Many are diagnosed with ADHD.

The Doctor had much sympathy with my theory about the high prevalence of ADHD diagnoses in the inner city. Round here almost every other child seems to have ADHD. I know that it is a real problem for some kids. But I also see a big issue with sleep that I think needs fixing.

A good few mums I’ve talked to don’t ‘do bedtime’ with their children. They ‘send them up to bed’ where they watch the telly until they fall asleep. Or they let them keep going until they conk out. And often that’s 9 or 10 o’clock – for a five year old. There seems to be an inclination to let the children direct their own sleep patterns.

But my kids would never go to bed by themselves if I didn’t force them to. And all three, including the now eight year old Queen, need Mum or Dad up at their bedside tucking them in and saying goodnight and a blessing before they’ll give up the fight. I’ve tried it with the Queen recently. ‘Up you go to bed’ I say. And there she is again, lurking at the bottom of the stairs.

My kids seem to need lots of sleep – 11 1/2 hours for the Queen (age 8 1/2), 12 hours for the Joker (age 7) and 12 1/2 hours for the Engineer (age 5). That looks like it’s more than what seems to be recommended. And you know what trouble I have getting them up in the mornings, even when I have put them to bed at an approximately appropriate time. So I wonder if the lateness issue with many kids at our school is actually a bedtime issue. They say that ‘the battle of the blankets is won the night before’ (that’s the same people who told me about Christians on their way to heaven btw).

In many Asian and African cultures, the late bedtime seems to be a norm. Kids often go to bed at the same time as their parents. So it’s not always obvious how to change that in a multi cultural area. But they must be growing up sleep deprived and a recent article I read indicates that a lack of sleep has a severe effect on intelligence, behaviour and obesity – which are just the problems we see all too frequently in the inner city.

Time for everyone to go to bed, I think.

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Getting up faster

Just in case you didn’t read all the comments about getting the Vicarage household up and at it, here is an excellent YouTube clip that Iconoclast shared. It shows how a Japanese mum gets her kid up, dressed, washed, toothbrushed and fed and makes a healthy lunch ready to go to school, all in the space of 4 1/2 minutes. I am wanting to put it into practice IMMEDIATELY. I just need to find a good place to hang the vests.

In other morning news, today the kids were totally speedy, induced by a new reward chart to gain additional Club Penguin and PS2 minutes. Not sure if this counts as bribery, but it was effective today. Will keep you posted.

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Much flapping in the Vicarage this morning. The Vicar and I had put the lights out too late last night. Note to self: Christians on their way to heaven get to bed before eleven. As a result we were late up this morning and not chivvying the kids as early as usual.

We seemed to be getting away with it – it was 8.15am, the boys were downstairs and dressed and the Queen, so it was thought, was dressed but on the loo upstairs. We have to be out of the door at 8.40am at the latest.

Then it all started to go wrong. The Engineer had a meltdown because he wanted to practice the piano before his breakfast. As it was already 8.20am we suggested he eat first. Major strop. Then it was 8.25am and the Queen was still absent. I called up and she appeared out of the toilet. In her pjs. She’d been reading.

Following coaxing and flapping in equal measure we managed to make school just as the whistle went in the playground at 8.45am. Phew, we did it. But not everyone did.

Just as I see every morning, as I headed back home at 8.50am many stragglers were appearing down the slope that leads to the school gate. Some were with parents and being hurried, others with parents who mooched. And some kids were strolling along on their own.

When I spot kids on their own who lack a sense of urgency I like to encourage them to get one. ‘Chop, chop you’re late’ is my normal cry. It’s not always effective. But this morning I had success with a gang of lads who I see almost every morning as I head back.

‘I’ll time you – see if you can make it down to the gate in 20 seconds’ I said. It was wonderful to see them pelting down to school. They were only a few minutes late, but they are learning the habit of lateness and a lack of respect for school rules. I never see a parent with them. I’m sad for these boys and suspect that they are going to struggle to bridge the growing gap between rich and poor, reported by the National Equality Panel this morning.

At the bottom of the BBC’s report there is a graph which shows much inequality is ‘unexplained’. I wonder how much correlation you could find between a lateness and absenteeism record in primary school and future success.

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Colin in the UK

As you may know, we in the Vicarage are massive fans of the Australian kids’ Christian singer and all-round-fun-guy Colin Buchanan. He’s coming to the UK this March and his tour details have just got themselves their own website.

His shows are full of high energy fun – like an edition of Tiswas, with Christian songs and bible memory rhymes and loads of jokes. His music is varied and interesting – not the naff pap you often get with songs designed for kids. The shows would be most suitable for kids aged 12 and under but we grown-ups love them too. Come with money for the cds, dvds and books you’ll want to buy afterwards.

Edit: The Good Book Company have Twittered me since I wrote the post with a link to their site where you can get Colin’s stuff before March comes along. It’s even better when you know the songs and can sing along!

A great afternoon for all the family

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Well, he’s not really a babe any more, but he’s still only six, and as the snow continues to drift down here in the parish, I wanted to share the Joker’s theological thoughts on the current weather.

He told the Vicar the other night

Dad, I know why God made snow white. It’s so that we can remember that although our hearts are dirty because of our sin, he washes them really pure, like snow, as we trust in Jesus who died for our sin.

It’s good to remember that as we sit at home and I attempt to vaguely homeschool the kids as the school is shut again. Our hearts don’t feel very clean today as we bicker about studying, but they are.

The view from our living room window this morning

‘Homeschooling’ now seems to be consisting of the Queen and the Joker educating themselves about snowman construction. And I’ve promised the Engineer that he can write a blog post. Hmm. Very glad that I don’t do this fulltime!

The church from our garden

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Amid all the snow chat over the last few days the Vicar and I received a warming summer YouTube clip reminding us of the CPAS Pathfinder Venture that we’re involved in every year. Over the last few years we’ve taken 11-14 year olds from our church youth groups away on these week-long holidays and had a wonderful time, as you can see from this vid. The Vicar appears as a lion tamer in one shot and the Queen can also be seen looking short in the stage performance.
There is usually a reunion for the leaders and campers in January, but ours was sadly cancelled because of all the snow. So some of the leaders ventured out into the snow to make this trailer for next year:

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Our church primary school has only shut for one day during the recent snowfest and that was because ice was making the pavement outside and the access inside the school almost impassable. Yay for them I say – well done those dedicated teachers who’ve driven in through difficult conditions to come and educate our children. But there have been many grumbles on the school gate about it being open. People seem to be full of  doom and gloom about getting their kids in.

I’m trying to work out if their attitudes about to going to school in the snow are normal or are only normal in an area where people’s emotional capacity is already stretched by everyday life, making the extra hassle brought by snow just one thing too many. Here are some of the things I’ve been hearing:

  • We should stay off school when it snows because I or the children might slip on the way to school and get hurt
  • We should stay off school when it snows because the children might slip over or get cold during playtime because the teachers send them out to play in the snow
  • We should stay off school when it snows because the other schools are off
  • We should stay off school when it snows because it’s snowed

Have you heard anything like this where you live?

Actually, I was slightly hoping for another day off today because I had a home school experiment planned. I was going to see if the kids would do some studying for me if I set the day up like a normal school day with break times and games and things. It all seemed possible because we tidied the house yesterday for our Open House.

But looking at the weather forecast, I suspect that proper school is back now for the rest of the snow season, so I’ll have to save that experiment for another time. In the meantime it doesn’t look like the school’s (already bad) absenteeism rate is going be looking up this term.

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As I mentioned before, this Christmas holiday we had Borneo Girl and her family to stay. One evening her son, Mendez (ably assisted by his dad), cooked pizza for the kids for tea. In the discussion on dessert, there was a bid for dessert pizza. A new concept to both families but dreamt up by the children as the ideal follow-up to normal pizzas.

So I noodled about the internet a bit and we came up with the following recipe:

Basically, you make a normal pizza dough, top it with melted butter and sugar before putting it in the oven. Then add sweeties and ice-cream sauce before serving. If you were feeling healthy, you could top it with sliced banana, apple (slightly precooked), pear or peach before cooking. We didn’t try that this time, though.

Pizza dough
400g strong white bread flour
1 tspn salt
1 tablespoon olive olive
1 sachet easy blend yeast
(Or just use a bit of left over dough from your main pizzas – these don’t need to be that big)

Melted butter

Chocolate/toffee/strawberry sauce

Mix dough ingredients with warm water to make soft dough. Knead for about ten minutes. Leave in a warm place to rise for an hour or so. Then roll into 3 normal size pizzas, although dessert pizzas are probably better about half that size ie you could make about 6 from this recipe. Place on a greased baking sheet, or one topped with baking paper (I use those reusable sheets).

Brush with melted butter and sprinkle sugar over. Place in oven at around 240°C for 10-15 minutes.

Once out of the oven, add sweeties and sauce. Eat and enjoy.

The Queen and Mazda enjoying dessert pizzas

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The Vicar took this photo of the ice on the inside of the Queen’s bedroom window this morning. There was still ice on the landing window this afternoon. And most of the window cills are drenched with meltwater. And mould, but that’s my housekeeping for you. This picture is pretty though.

Brrr again. But pretty.

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The Vicar is getting together a collection of prayers for our church primary school. What we are looking for is lunchtime prayers, beginning of the day prayers and going home time prayers. With or without tunes.

We have a couple of prayers from our old school and collected from random places, but I would love to have contributions from others. Do you have a prayer you could share, that the teachers could use with our children?

The ones I have so far:

Good morning, Lord.
This is your day.
We are your children.
Show us your way.

Thank you for the world so sweet.
Thank you for the food we eat.
Thank you for the birds that sing.
Thank you God for everything.

Thank you God that I’m alive.
Thank you for our food.

Going Home
Nothing so far…

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