Category Archives: Notes from Home

My blog about life and home.

Christmas traditions: Christmas Kisses

christmas lightsDue to the fact that I have four children in three different schools and our afternoon school run starts at 2.50pm and ends at 5.10pm, we spend a great deal of time in the car these days. This excessively long school run was only supposed to be a short-term arrangement but it has dragged on rather longer than we would like because we couldn’t sell our house. So our opportunities for Christmas traditions were much more limited this year. In previous years we have had traditions like Advent Reading by candlelight as well as our usual Christmas traditions but this year we added a new one, a game started partly out of desperation on my part as a way of keeping the children amused in the car (and looking out the window so as not to feel car-sick) which then became a tradition because the initial game grew to take on a pleasure of its own amongst the children.

They called the game Christmas Kisses and it simply involved them shouting out ‘Christmas kisses!‘ every time we drove past some Christmas lights. Each sighting gained them a point, then at bedtime I owed them as many kisses as points they had garnered. It makes me smile even now thinking about the delight they took in knowing I owed them thirty-six kisses (thirty-six kisses Mummy!) at bedtime and the joy it gave me to give them those thirty-six kisses, especially as sometimes the witching hour and bedtime is a bit fraught and shouty as four children run around half-naked unable to follow (or it seems even to hear) the most basic instructions to get their teeth brushed and so on, so that by the time it comes to tuck them in I’m more of the kiss and run (straight to the wine bottle) type girl. Thirty-six kisses takes time and quietens even the most rambunctious little boy and softens even the most stressed-out mother.

Sometimes the simplest things turn out to be the best.

Friday ClubWelcome to the Friday Club Carnival, a regular carnival held here. This week’s Carnival is all about Christmas traditions and here are the other entries in this carnival, please click through and read these lovely posts:

Mymumdom posts You know christmas is coming when….

The Diary of a Frugal Family posts Frugal Christmas – How to Make a Gingerbread House.

The Iota Quota posts The music of Christmas.

Looking for Blue Sky posts How to Make the Perfect Christmas Dinner.

Midlife Singlemum posts I’m the Christmas Cinderella.

Thank you to to all these lovely bloggers for taking part!

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no indexHe’s standing on the edge of everything he’s known, ready to take big steps into the world.

Some of those steps he’s taken and found he doesn’t really like them. But they are steps that have to be taken, if not now then soon and it is my job to prepare him for them. Because motherhood is really just a process of preparing them to let go.

That’s the easy bit. The hard bit is getting myself ready to let him go!

Nutty Noah

We recently saw children’s entertainer Nutty Noah perform at CenterParcs when we were there. Noah is, without doubt, the best children’s entertainer I have seen. He had all the children in the room entertained (toddlers upwards, including one or two teenagers) AND all the adults. The adult jokes went over the children’s heads of course and there were plenty of them but never at the expense of letting the children’s entertainment slow down.

He makes jokes, does magic tricks, sings songs, encourages audience participation and makes everyone in the room laugh. There was even a very touching moment when the husband of one of the mothers there Skyped from Afghanistan, where he is serving, and we were all able to wish him a Happy 40th Birthday. Hard to regain the funny in the room after that but Noah did it with a swift and adept joke about Titanic.

The children loved it. They were desperate to participate and laughed pretty much the whole way through. I haven’t laughed so much in a long time. If you’re looking for a children’s entertainer, I cannot recommend him highly enough: Nutty Noah.

Top Photo: Nutty Noah

Have you see Nutty Noah perform? What did you think?

Noah has never heard of me and this is not a paid review.


Recently we had Parent-Teacher meetings at school.

I love Parent-Teacher evenings because I’m always on my own, with four tired, bored, hungry children who would rather be doing ANYTHING except having to vaguely behave in school after-hours.

I usually let them loose in the playground with a ball so that I can half-concentrate on what the teacher has to say. The other half of me is praying that they don’t break the school windows.

As one of my children is struggling a little in one subject and another son is struggling a little in another, this time I asked the teacher if she would have any objection to me getting a tutor for them to help them get caught up. Oh no, not at all, she said quickly, in fact I can recommend Janet Hopkinson who is tutoring Maddy and Jake or Mrs Symonds who is tutoring Henry and Timothy.

I manage to keep the surprise off my face. I think. OK, so I hadn’t realised all those children were being tutored. But there’s no reason I would know I suppose.

So the next day I chatted to Maddy’s, Jake’s and Henry’s parents to get the tutors’ numbers.

And then I talked to some more parents who cheerily told me their children had been having tutors for some time. And then I talked to a few more parents who said their children had finished general tutoring and had now moved on to 11+ tutoring.

I felt like I was being initiated into some sort of club that I hadn’t even realised existed.

Our school is outstanding. It does very well in league tables. Several children go on to grammar school each year. Many of the parents are middle-class.

The tutoring thing has just left me with a bunch of questions though.

I’m not bothered that parents are choosing to have their children tutored because that’s their right if that’s what they want to do.

But I have to wonder how much of the school’s results are due to the teaching in the school and how much is due to the fact that so many of the children have catch-up tuition or tuition to get them ahead, to get them ready for the 11+.

If all these children weren’t being tutored, would my child not be one of the ones languishing in the classroom? Does the tutoring raise the average level of ability and is that a good thing, in that the others will be stretched? Or does it just increase the gap between the clever and the not-so-clever?

Are the better-off families buying themselves a better education? (Hasn’t it always been thus?)

How much does the tutoring affect the performance tables of the school and the inspection reports? Does the fact that we live in a middle-class village mean more children are tutored, bolstering the school’s results, making the school more attractive to families and making house prices more expensive, meaning only more middle-class people can afford to live here?

I realise that living in an 11+ school district means that there is more competition for state school places than there might be elsewhere. (I should point out that we plan on having our children sit the 11+ and we are already preparing them for that at home but no way do we plan on having them cram for the test or tutored every Saturday for months beforehand. I want them to pass the test if they are clever enough and not pass it if they are not clever enough. Perhaps naively, I hadn’t thought about the ones being tutored privately or sent to private school with the primary aim of being prepared for the 11+.)

Anyway, for us, the tutoring at this point is simply to get Harry and William caught up with some of the things they are supposed to have covered in class already and are a little behind on.

I don’t know where I’m going with this. I just know that finding out that so many children are being tutored leaves me feeling a little uncomfortable.

Would you consider tutoring for your child? Do you feel tutoring has wider implications (good or bad) in state schools?

Photo: Herkie