No! No Healthcare for you!

I’m looking at this from a purely outsider’s point of view, so please forgive my simplistic viewpoint here.

But am I right that a first world country that claims to be democratic and the ‘land of the free’ is seriously doing this:

Current president wants a healthcare system that treats all humans no matter their financial background, race, age or gender.

Major politicians are putting the country’s major state services on hold because they think that basic healthcare for all humans is wrong? Am I right in thinking that only rich people should be treated medically? Stop for a second. Didn’t I just say that this was a first world country that claims democracy? As in for the people.

And these people are willing to put their country on hold so that rich people don’t have to face more tax, and poor people can die without access to medical care. Children can live in poverty and I’ll health because they had the misfortune to be born into the ‘wrong’ family. From an outsiders perspective, it seems like these politicians value their cash more than human life.

Apologies for the sweeping generalisation, but what the hell is wrong with you America? For a Christian country, you’re putting on a very poor show.

Found Nemo, and another one…… And another!

So it turns out that it doesn’t matter what species it is, if it’s a baby, I’ll coo over it.

Case in point, as of this morning, we had baby pineapples. Pineapple swordtails – they’re livebearing tropical fish that look like goldfish that got their tails caught. The girls woke me up with ecstatic squealing as the little fry skimmed around the sand at 6AM. At 6am, I don’t actually care whether Sharknado is evolving in our tank. It’s 6am. But… Aww.. They’re very small….


Do you see it?? They are essentially tiny eyes with tails that were born in our tank 🙂 AND have so far managed to avoid being eaten by the rather larger inhabitants (Charles the Fire Eel is now a good 13 inches long.

Sadly, along with the arrival of Mad Eye’s mother came a good dose of ich. It’s akin to thrush for fish and without treatment will devastate the tank. That’ll be why the water is looking rather blue.

My poor loaches have been itchy but are looking a lot better today. They’re still dancing which is a good sign.


Women! Know Your Limits!

I know I should’ve probably been offended, but I’m now used to the ‘but you’re a girl’ line with people when it comes to me being a woman in a technical field. Here’s today’s scenario for your amusement (because I found it funny. There is nothing like breaking a stereotype for a giggle!)

Salesman in Maplins to LSH : “don’t worry, I won’t keep you she probably wants to get on” (indicating to me)
LSH *winces*
Me: “Actually the Makey Makey is for me. I’m a Computer Science Teacher, so yes, I would be interested in the gadgets.”
Salesman in Maplins: “oh! Oh! ” cue furious back peddling and apologising.



I’m Just a Little Black Raincloud (who won’t do her homework)

It’s been a Sunday. We’ve built up a bit of a routine here. Sunday morning is Homework Morning. I have planning to do for the week ahead and it’s the optimum time for BeanPole to address her 2 hours or less of ‘home learning’.

So this morning we started at 8.30. I sat and in between ranting at her for her lack of any productivity, I spent 4 hours creating an array of worksheets, test papers and death by PowerPoint for my lucky lucky students. BeanPole stropped, sighed loudly, scribbled, doodled, and when this did not have the desired effect cried, sobbed, and snotted on her homework sheets (did I mention, she has a mild cold that is putting her at imminent risk of death? The rest of us have the sniffles.). Eventually, my mum ushered her up to their room where she used mum’s desk to actually do her work before I throttled her. Seriously, how hard is it for a G&T 8 year old to write a list of adjectives and ten sentences?! She has a reading age of 13! It took her THREE HOURS.

LSH and I are holding onto the fact that eventually, the more we push the regular time for homework thing, the easier the habit will be and we won’t be having this screaming match with her when she gets daily homework at high school. We’re in denial. Please don’t let this continue for the next 10 years.

My head hurt and being a believer in fresh air, we headed out for a walk. We went to the one place where our family walks MUST take place every autumn!

Back in 2006…


And then again today…


Same tree, same family. This is affectionately known as ‘our tree’ – it’s looked like it’s on it’s last legs for years. I love this place. It’s where The Gruffalo used to live when they were diddy. Now it’s a playground for survival camps and catching weird wildlife.

It’s always nice to witness IT Consultant in outside of his natural environment (yes, iPhone in hand, but he was just geotagging the walk….)


The walk was lovely, and as hoped did all of us a lot of good. The kids when combined with mud, instantly forgot their germy moaning. There was no bickering. Just squishing through the woods with the occasional rushing into the bushes with cries of “I’m Bear Grylls!!”.


We found things hopping around (thankfully, Miss Grylls decided that eating the frog wasn’t on the agenda).


As we walked conifers conkers (argh autocorrect!!) were discovered and collected.


And we collected a bag of sweet chestnuts which have been stored for roasting later on during the week. (Get us foraging for food!)


Throughout the walk we found a variety of mushrooms – generally unidentified, but very pretty (wont be eating them!).


Finally, it was back home to make the final bits of the roast ham dinner that had been sitting in the slow cooker in brown sugar for the past 5 hours contemplating its fate. And a resounding success with the Yorkshire puddings! Extra eggs in the batter. Who knew!


And the cat agreed, we’ve ended the weekend rather relaxed!


Fresh air. Curing all ills from homework tantrums, to the common cold!

It’s Not The Plague, You Sneezed.


It’s nearing the end of September, we’ve bundled our kids in stuffy rooms full of other kids, what possible side effect could that produce? Oh yes. Germs.

I’ve spent the past 10 days with an on off stuffy nose and sore throat which may or may not just be my body fighting off the barrage of infection that each class arrives with on a daily basis. This is generally dealt with through paracetamol during the day and a sneaky gargle of brandy in the evening (for medicinal purposes only you understand!).

BeanPole is now also suffering the ill effects of ‘fresher’s flu’ ie. she has a cold. She does indeed suffer them badly as she and I both have a touch of asthma so the wheezing that follows is less than pleasant. But, for the record, the child is not dying. Today we stopped swimming early as she was feeling bad. Ok, fair enough. I got out with her and we had a nice hot chocolate together while we waited for LSH and TinyPants who was still in her lesson. Later, she couldn’t possibly do her Kung Fu exam as she was too ill…. She just wanted to sit quietly and read her book. So BeanPole sat quietly with us while I got through some marking and off TinyPants went and round-kicked her way through to her junior level 8 sash (#proudmummy). After Kung Fu we trundled off to the roller disco (total highlight of my week) and once again, BeanPole was struck down with can’t possible move my legs as I am DYING. So she sat the whole session out reading while we whizzed around playing tag at a rate of knots we’ve rarely reached before! There’s one less session at the gym.

Strangely enough, this deathly illness has absolutely no effect on her ability to play computer games or watch TV, or eat sweets….

Now I’m totally up for all this reading (she’s got through Charlotte’s Web in under a week!) but the child needs to move! She needs to get some red blood cells pumping and accept that a bit of snot generally doesn’t kill anyone. We are not withholding the Calpol, we are providing hot drinks, but just like the rest of society, unless you are actually being wheeled into an ambulance, you can quit fishing for a day off school.


Your unsympathetic, but ultimately thinking of your future work ethic, Mother.


Not a good week to be the owner of breasts

This week has not been a great victory for feminists. Or more specifically me as a feminist. And I am, in my own way.

I’m not into ranting about children’s toys, or the plight of stay at home mums (I admire them, but would frankly suck at being at home. As I royally prove after most school holidays). I don’t dress my children in non-gender specific clothes. I certainly don’t hate men.

I do believe that women have a right to live, be educated, and work as much as men and with due respect for their individual talents. Just as not all men are born construction workers, not all women are born domestic goddesses.

It started with my earlier post in response to an Internet article claiming women shouldn’t be educated (we’re done here, no more ranting).

Then today I was running off on a tangent in class explaining about how programming came into existence and asked my group of year 12s if they knew who the first ever programmer was. The answer given: ‘Er.. Some girl?’
Forgive me young man while I visibly twitch. Some girl? SOME GIRL?! OR an accomplished mathematician in her own right who worked alongside Charles Babbage (that would be Ada Lovelace). Some bloody girl.

Later when watching the news, I caught the tail end of a new report on a statement made by UKIP MEP, Godfrey Bloom. At a party conference which was designed to encourage women MPs he suggested that they were “sluts” for not cleaning behind their friedges (apparently this was a joke). In an interview, he suggested women were more suited to “finding mustard in the pantry” than driving cars. He also called 20th century feminists “shrill, bored, middle class women of a certain physical genre”.

And he’s surprised he’s been fired?

So please do excuse my shrill rant which was written on my blog out of boredom while I tucked in my middle class children. I quite clearly don’t deserve an opinion this week because I may be mildly overweight and own a pair of breasts. I also own a brain.

note – I will attempt to keep future posts to a ranty minimum. I have some much chirpier subjects to blog about!

The Good Book

So, recently on Facebook I was sent a link to a blog post which has taken me a full 24 hours to digest and reel from.

This post was entitled ‘Six (+2) Reasons NOT To Send Your Daughter To College

This was never going to sit well with me was it? Really? But I read it, hoping that it may just be a positive post about things you can do with a vocational qualification. Oh how wrong I was. And this post offended me on multiple levels.

Disclaimer – the following is just my rather ranty opinion.

Firstly, the owner of this site claims to be Catholic (and yes, with a big C). No right minded Catholic would propagate the ‘women are just baby making machines’ tripe. Women are equal and by holding a job, we do not devalue our wombs. There is absolutely no Catholic dogma that prevents women from working, unless it’s as a priest or the Pope.

Secondly, as you might’ve guessed, it offends me as a woman. The sections in the bible that are quoted are referencing the family dynamic from the Middle East TWO THOUSAND YEARS AGO. It was the norm for women to run the household, and they did so through their extended family. It was also the norm to bake unleavened bread over an open fire and live in tents which were regularly moved around – should we do that now? I have a mind, and I’m not afraid to use it! Try telling Ada Lovelace that women can’t contribute to the male dominated environment (guys, without her you wouldn’t even have the Internet to spread your unpleasant message on).

Thirdly, it offends me as a wife. I am in an equal partnership with my husband and as such do not need to be subservient to him. Frankly, if I was, we’d have a lot more gadgets in the house and a lot less food! That also doesn’t mean that he doesn’t work hard to provide for his family. In a society where financially we both need to work, we are a team.

Finally (ok, not finally, but I need to stop ranting eventually), it offends me as a mother. I have two beautiful, intelligent daughters who will go to any educational establishment of their choosing and I trust that our parenting will set them up to make rational choices about the relationships that they get into whilst they are there. Girls can absolutely make rational choices (this hormonal lynx effect that you speak of is just a guise for bad choices without placing the responsibility firmly in the hands of the participants) and if they mess up, then we’ll be there to help them pick up the pieces. That’s called parenting. Hiding your child away at home away from the world in case they meet someone you don’t approve of is no different from the enforced wearing of a veil. If anything more so – how will these sheltered children grow up to be self-sufficient? Or is that the plan? If you place trust in your child, mostly, it’s a self fulfilling prophecy.

So, having ranted in full, I have decided to answer this blog post with a song. This is not Catholicism, your post is terrifying Bible Belt America claptrap which is fueling the world’s fear of the mental health of Americans in general. (Sadly, this type of thing is creating a stereotype which is not true of many).

Why my kids won’t be playing GTA V

Lets just accept as fact that I’m an uncaring parent who has no concept of how to be cool. Then move on with life.

But while I’m here, let me explain the reasons why my kids aren’t playing the game. For the record, I probably will. I’ve played the others and had quite a lot of fun running over innocent people, then promptly getting arrested because, well let’s face it, my modus operandi when playing any game is rarely ‘stealthy’. I am what is generally known in a raid group as an “agro magnet”. I shoot stuff randomly, just to see what happens. I’ve been known to summon demons in the middle of a crowded city then sort of let them loose to rampage… Oops? I played an assassin with as much tact and diplomacy as a chuckle brother. I’m that arse that the healer just refuses to resurrect. I should go to meetings.

Anyway, I digress. Reasons for no play for my kids…

1. There is as yet no release date for PC. (Xbox and PS3 is midnight tonight – I shall be duly tormenting very overtired pupils tomorrow)

2. It’s age rated. The GTA series is PEGI rated as 18+ and yet a plethora of kids seem to be handed these games as entertainment. This has become a proper pet peeve of mine and leaves me ranting to anyone who will listen – age ratings are there for a reason! You make moral judgements in these games and often the consequences of your actions are not as they would be in real life. Instead of just looking at the pretty pictures, this is what the rating actually means:


Would you still buy that for your young teen?

Kids are impressionable – let a child choose in a simulated environment to beat someone to death with a chair and you’re impacting on their moral code. Kids learn through play, and these games are not designed with teaching a moral code in mind.

Give an adult a simulated environment where they get to shoot people and beat them about the head with pink objects that are generally not used as weapons (oh yes, Vice City, I’m looking at you) and you have an hour or so of stress relief in a situation that they understand is just a game.

3. They have the monopoly on games anyway. They kick my arse at Just Dance. They have hijacked my iPad and have created some sort of minecraft über city, they run out my batteries on surgeon simulator. These games are mine! No you may not have a World of Warcraft account. My game. Get off my realm. I was here first!

I hold the same rule with games as I do with piercing a and tattoos – when you’re legally able to go out and get it yourself, then off you go. Until then, mummy gets all the fun stuff.

How to be a woman

For as many years as I can remember I have used my hair as a defining feature of my, well ‘me’.

In my early teens it was the blonde thing. Pant style, just without the giant breasts. I was a waif.

Later teens came the long black gothy phase. Still a bit waify, but the lack of daylight and nutrition added to the look…

Next entered a dubious frumpy phase that is best left back in the 90s from whence it came. Weight was gained.

After this, an interesting crop off the waist length hair to a spikes boy cut and wear many sensible shoes phase started. Around age 20 I started to grow a pair and became more self assured. There was still some way to go, but bottoms were kicked where appropriate.

By early 20s spiked hair became purple, numerous piercings were acquired and I saw the return of the goth/punk as I met LSH who was having an equally punky second rebellion with a giant Mohawk. We were made for each other with the same taste in massively baggy trousers and shouty music. The hair went black once more, but this time with bright red underneath.

BeanPole made an arrival and our lives got flipped upside down. Cue major identity crisis for both of us. By the time we’d sorted ourselves out, the hair was longer and fully black, Tinypants was cooking and we were married.

When Tinypants was 5 months old I started a full time degree in Computer Science and had the space to feed my outward personality. So began the endless hours spent with Mrs GypsyTree plaiting coloured dreadlocks into our growing hair while our tiny children played around us. Over the course of several years I maintained waist length dreadlocks of red, pink, purple, green and electric blue which came out every few months to be washed! This was by far one of the happiest times of my life.

Finally came the time for me to actually do some proper work, so the dreads were packed away (I still get them out sometimes to sigh and wish I was a bit younger). But the hair wasn’t done yet! I was a creative programmer employed for her skill, not her looks and sported a two tone hot pink / turquoise dyed look for a long time.

Teaching finally put an end to the wild colours and I tried a variety of blondes & browns until three years ago I went bright pillar box red and became ME.

But I’m ready for another change. After finally getting comfortable in my 33 year old body – which sometimes moves of its own accord, aches at inappropriate times and curves in ways it never used to, I’m also coming to terms with the idea that whilst I know my natural colour is brown, actually a fair bit is now rather white. I’m in no way ready to be a proper grown up, but I’m about to dye it all back to my natural brown then let the white arrive.

Don’t expect frumpy to make a comeback. Think more Betty Page locks (now there was a brunette to emulate!). I just don’t feel the need to make a wild statement on my head anymore, because actually what’s IN my head is far more interesting.