Friday, 21 September 2012

The journeys of fact and fiction

Well it's another Friday and another week almost over.  It's Ella's second week at school and my head's in a bit of a spin!It has all gone pretty well; adapting to new routines, coping with the changes and making new friends.  Ella's handled it pretty well too ;)  She has settled really well and made new friends.  Her social life is taking off with playdates arranged which is great news that she is a popular girl already. 

So, Ella's school journey.  We've opted for the packed lunch approach which I am happy about.  Staying for lunch commenced this week and each morning I have lovingly prepared a healthy, balanced lunch box for her.  I think we'll switch to school lunches once it's colder.  I was glad that we opted for packed lunches after the first day when I overheard one child tell her mum she had eaten spaghetti hoops and a slice of bread for her lunch.  Cleverly the mum now writes down her selection from the menu to hand to one of the servers so she gets more balance!  £2.10 per day is steep if all the child is eating is bread and spaghetti hoops!  Although it's often difficult to get facts out of a 4year old!

I managed to embarrass myself slightly when I arrived to collect Ella on Tuesday.  I was hearing all about the Phonics Workshop for the parents of children in her class.  The parents were buzzing about how good it was, etc.  I was not happy that I hadn't been informed about it and proceeded to march into her classroom, straight past one member of staff to ask why no one had told me.  The woman, who I had assumed was her teacher but turned out to the teaching assistant, kindly advised me that a letter was placed in Ella's book bag telling parents all about it.  She proceeded to open the book bag and present me with the letter.  I felt a tad silly and promised I would check said bag daily in future!  I went along to the other class' workshop so all was not lost.  I also wished I had correctly identified her teacher and not marched past her!

I attended the Phonics Workshop at her school yesterday which was very interesting. The teachers explained how the teaching of phonics has changed and we were taught how to sound out the letters correctly. Sounds simple enough however there were some things I was not doing entirely correctly so it was useful.

I did have one issue with the whole phonics thing and that is the use of nonsense words. Children are presented with words that are made up to see how they cope with reading them. I first heard about the use of nonsense words, being used in phonics, through social networking because Michael Rosen campaigned against their use in the classroom. He has always been strongly opposed to phonics as a method of teaching to read and on some levels I agree but that is a whole new blog post so I will save it for another time...

So now Ella is at school am I getting more time to write?  No, to be honest!  When Amy (my 22month old) is asleep for a precious hour and a quarter I end up doing the social networking, marketing and very little writing.  The fact that I am writing this blog is testament to that!  Poor Anastasia is awaiting further instructions from me as she sits suspended in the middle of an adventure.

I am, however managing some time for my writing and am working on 'Anastasia and the Wild Irish Eyes' which is the 8th story in Series III and 28th Anastasia story in total!  In Anastasia Series III, Anastasia is dealing with the dark world of human trafficking, forced marriages and the market for selling babies.  Anastasia has a no nonsense approach hence advising Series III stories are for teens/young adults upwards.  I like the way that with each Series you can follow Anastasia's journey as she grows up from a 9 year old to a now 15 year old and learn about her past and her future along the way. 

So while Ella is enjoying her new school journey I am trying to maintain mine and ensure Anastasia continues hers!  This weekend I promise to get my head down and write, write, write and write some more.

Here's to a fulfilling weekend and some kick ass action from the beautiful Anastasia.  My girls' journeys have begun... 


Monday, 10 September 2012

The end of chapter... a new one has begun

I am writing with emotion, excitement and a whole host of other feelings today because my first born is starting school tomorrow.  She is entering the world of primary school education and will spend a lot more of her day at school than at home... with me. 

I think that's one of the strangest thoughts about it all.  I won't be there to teach her right from wrong anymore, I won't be there to cuddle her if she gets upset or hurt, I wont be there to make sure she's ok and being a good girl, and I won't be there to nag her!  I can only hope that I have done a good job so far in encouraging her to be confident, friendly, polite, kind and thoughtful, brave and ready to call for help if she needs it.  Oh and to listen!

Yes, it is probably apparent that I have always been Ella's primary carer from what I've said so far.  I am a stay at home mum of two girls who writes about Anastasia when I can.  I think that's why it's so emotional because things will really change for both of us.  I won't have a job to return to in an office somewhere so my days aren't that different; Ella's absence from home will be very noticeable to both me and little Amy.  Although I am not suggesting that it is any less emotional for working mums so please don't misunderstand me! 

Ella was always fine at preschool, well except for the time when a boy there gouged her head and she still bears the scars (thankfully he is not in her class at school) yet we got through that ok so I'm sure we'll cope but it is still a strange thought because it is no longer optional - she has to be educated.  She will be educated alongside all sorts of other children brought up in all sorts of ways... 

Ella is a sociable child and according to her preschool is 'ready to stand up for herself while being sensitive and kind to others'.  So she takes no messing which is what I truly hope will always be the case.  She is a thoughtful child but has always found children who... how can I put this... I guess I have never seen her laugh, and proper belly laugh, like she does when she is witnessing a naughty child.  It is quite alarming when a friend's child goes on a rampage and she is rolling around the floor laughing like never before.

Jason's response: 'She's going to go for the bad boys I just know it'.  Well let's hope not and there's plenty of time for that(!) but I hope that she doesn't find herself drawn to the entertainment of the unruly child because, let's face it, there's surely going to be one in her class!  Let's hope it's not her!!

If she's like I was as a child then her adrenaline will kick in way too early and she will giggle uncontrollably despite the circumstances.  For example, when I was around 11 years old and in my first year of High School, our PE teacher found a condom on one of the gym mats.  Now I think everyone knew it was one of the sixth formers, because I saw her drop it as she walked through the gym hall.  Everyone knew, it seemed, except said PE teacher, Miss 'C' (we'll call her for privacy reasons).  So as she walked up and down the line of girls in my class (all girls school) I could not stop my giggles and really couldn't to the point of wanting to cry.  I was snorting and shaking like a deranged madwoman.  Quite how I didn't get the blame for it I still do not know!  When she carried the condom between her index finger and thumb at arms length with her head as far back as possible as if it was poisonous, gesturing dramatically and shouting "stand back girls!", then pressing her foot on the pedal of the bin and dropping it in; I almost wet myself with hysteria.

It sounds so silly but that is the problem: it's those silly things that make you react as a child.  I have more control of my emotions (sometimes) now I'm more mature (don't say it!) but I guess I was always waiting for some excitement and would react excessively to the things that I shouldn't.  Is Ella going to be the same?  I guess time will tell but I won't get to witness those moments while she is at school and how I would love to be a fly on the wall.

Some of my memories from primary school are that I was always running around and not looking where I was going and ending up with grazed knees, nose bleeds and a bumped head.  I remember my first school Sport's Day and my hair getting caught in the zip of my dress and I cried and cried.  I remember making my first clay model of an animal and I chose a rhino.  The next day I ran in excitedly to see it dried and ready to take home but I was left devastated to see a squashed, hard mass of dried clay because some child decided to flatten my perfect rhino (well it was to me!) with their fist and no one noticed.  I remember showing the boys my knickers (I was not alone I assure you and have ceased that particular pastime!) and I remember never being kissed in kiss tag.  "I'll let you off" the boys would say!

Jason recalls drawing the biggest egg he could possibly fit onto the page and the teacher saying to him in dismay, "Why have you drawn a giant egg?"  To which he replied, "I thought you said to draw a big egg."  The teacher shook her head and said, "No, I asked you to draw a big 'a'!"  We are learning all the time without realising and, yes, sometimes we hear what we want to!   

I guess when I wrote in my blog 'The Power of Emotion' I was touching upon how we teach our children that emotions are normal and how we try to help our children to understand how to handle them.  I now realise that it is all going to be taken away from me and Ella is beginning her journey to learn about them all on her own during those school hours.  Hopefully she will learn some other knowledge along the way too!

So while we've all been there on our own starting school journeys, it is my first time with my first child, and her first time too, and I know I am not alone with how I'm feeling.  Good luck to all the children starting out on their own journeys.  Listen, learn, laugh and enjoy those precious school years because once you leave the hard work really begins ;)

The journey has begun...

Friday, 7 September 2012

Fergus writes... another guest blog

Sandy writes from England to say how much she cried at the end of Anastasia-Where Eagles Dare.

Sandy was so delighted that Anastasia had closure in the end and knew how much her mother loved her and anticipated Anastasia finding the Album. Sandy points out that it was so important for mothers to have closure on their sons who were killed in Vietnam.

We now all know the full story of Anastasia’s origins and future. Sandy asks what now for Anastasia? Well she has a health issue with her haemophilia which will never go away. It is controlled not cured.

Anastasia is taking a break with her aunt Judith and brother John and is going to Ireland for a well earned rest.

Sandy asks about John Windsor formally based with the 101st Airborne out of Fort Campbell, Kentucky, 5th Special Forces Unit and more lately out of Fort Bragg North Carolina.

John Windsor like so many Special Forces found it very difficult to adjust to Civilian Life. The job of a Green Beret is to kill people. That is what they are trained for. It is impossible to turn it on and off like a light switch.

Children of Special Forces worldwide know not to act like other children. Never to surprise their father or jump on the back of this Automated Killer. They acted Automatically.

We deal with the relationship between brother and sister with a large age gap. John has missed having a little sister and the little sister has missed having an older brother.

Sandy asks about Barry Sadler. He was a Staff Sergeant in the Green Berets who wrote and sang “The Ballard of the Green Beret”. Unfortunately Barry Sadler was severely wounded in the Western Highlands Vietnam receiving the Purple Heart. His song Ballard of the Green Beret was top of the Charts for five weeks and in German was recorded under the title Hundret Mann und ein Befehl by Freddy Quinn and later Heidi Bruht. The Song has been adapted by many armies in many countries and adopted.

Barry Sadler was assassinated in Tennessee in 1989.

However, I must point out that this series is about Anastasia, not her brother John Windsor.

Anastasia is deeply concerned about the welfare of children, particularly disabled children, who in 2012 still suffer greatly. There is a thriving International Business in baby trafficking. Every time a childless couple accept a child from an impoverished country they are fuelling the trade.

Let’s face it. People only steal children because there is a market for them!

It is very difficult to say to childless couples, desperate for a baby, don’t accept the baby as the baby will very probably have been kidnapped at the other end of the chain.

Like all teenage girls Anastasia is horse mad and is off to the Fairyhouse Sales outside Dublin to take a look at the horses on offer.

Sandy says she has wept bucket loads of tears over Anastasia but cannot wait for more.

Anastasia is an inspiration to all teenagers suffering from a disability or illness and tries to draw a line between right and wrong. She holds it is always better to negotiate rather than kill but some people are just so bad that the only way is to put the mad dog down.

Sandy asks about Charlotte. Fear not she is still about, and old Mr Saggers and Ilya and Olga and of course Aunt Judith. The Hurley Gurley man Mr Stevens, has unfortunately died but he is never forgotten.

Fergus Wilson




Tuesday, 4 September 2012

From one blogger to another - RIP Lesley Froud 16/8/73-29/8/2012

I follow one blog on my blog page and that is One in a Million by Lesley Froud (neĆ© Royer).  Inspirational writing written by an amazing individual.  Sadly Lesley lost her fight recently with a very rare illness (hence the name of her blog), Hemophagocytic Syndrome, freeing her soul so she feels no more pain, experiences no further suffering and can experience peace once more.

If the story of Lesley's life was a film you would find yourself laughing out loud, crying copiously and sighing at the injustice of why so many true angels get taken away from us.  She brought so much fun to the lives of those who knew her and I have some great memories from times when we went out together.

Whether this is inappropriate or not I want to tell one story I remember as if it was yesterday.  Lesley and I decided to have a girly night out in Cheltenham and donned our summer dresses (not maxi in those days!) and off we trotted.  We were about 20 years old.  We went into one of the classier joints (or so we thought) and stood at the bar with our drinks.  Mine in those days possibly Bacardi and coke and I wish I could remember Lesley's but I can't...

So we chatted and were about to look for a table when I looked down and to my utter disbelief I saw a man lying on the floor, face up, looking up Lesley's dress!  I nudged her "Lesley, look!"  Instinctively I grabbed my brand new drink and poured the whole lot on his face.  Lesley was so gracious and simply stepped away quietly.

The landlord was sat at the end of the bar and simply said "what will it be ladies?" and replaced our drinks.  The man on the floor had to flee with his tail between his legs.

It makes me laugh because of the landlord's reaction and how calm Lesley was - some women would have gone loopy and caused a huge scene but she was a good judge of situations and there are many I could mention as they are all flooding back.

Lesley was 'cool' if that word is still appropriate.  She was effortlessly cool and liked things she liked.  She wasn't a slave to everything others were yet her individuality and the things she liked made her even cooler.  She was a free spirit and always in a good mood which is why she was so appealing to so many people as a friend.  She had a great artistic flair and talent. 

Lesley was one of my first friends at high school.  When we started Colwell Grammar School for Girls it was quite overwhelming.  She was a petite little thing and always had that elven beauty.  She was quiet and nice (as I was in those days!) and I welcomed a friendly face and genuine person to be friends with. 

Somehow we drifted apart as friends (as you do at high school) but we met up again when we worked at the Bank of England and became friends once more.  That was when the bar incident occurred!  I remember how people were drawn to Lesley and there were always people who wanted to be around her.  She had a true presence.

I just wish we had had more conversations on Facebook but it's typical isn't it.... you never really appreciate something or someone until you lose them.

I know there are many people that will always love Lesley and my heart is warmed that she will never be forgotten.  Her blog must have taken some writing with her illness and yet she always tried to keep everyone updated because she knew they were miles away.  I loved reading her blogs and even if they made me weep at her situation, or laugh at her funnier posts on her blog and Facebook, I was always heartened by the fact that she still had that fight to write it. 

She truly pushed herself to her absolute limit and I have so much respect for Lesley that there are no words to describe it.  She clearly adored her son and her husband and looked beautiful, happy and serene on her wedding day.  Such precious moments...

God bless Lesley and RIP.  Great friend, beautiful wife of Greg and amazing mother of Ripley.  You will be missed and never forgotten.  I look forward to seeing you again one day. xxx