Friday 24 October 2008

My Book...

While I'm on the subject of books, I thought I would post about a project I embarked on 2 years ago. The lead up to our first Christmas without Tom was one of unspeakable anxiety.

The previous Christmas had been quite fraught because Tom was particularly poorly with another hospital acquired infection, which required us to make a dash into Great Ormond Street on the day after Boxing Day for an emergency procedure - a massive risk in itself as he was a high risk patient for having a general anaesthetic. To cut a long story short, after another long stay in hospital and the whole of that spring half term off school, we managed to get on top of things again.

I digress. I can't remember where I saw an article on BobBooks, but I was inspired to make a book for No2 about his brother. The photo I used on the front, is my absolute favourite of Tom. I took it in March 2006 and the fact that he is smiling never fails to amaze me. He was such an inspiration to me and so loving. Not a day goes by when I don't miss him so much, that it really does make my heart hurt. I don't think I've ever posted a photo of Tom before, I've had to take a deep breath.

I scoured the Internet for a quote to use as a front page, and was absolutely thrilled when I found the perfect one.

I love this photo - it looks as though No2 is saying "did you see what he just did?"

It took many hours sorting through my photographs, looking for pictures of the two of them together. I tried to find a picture for every year of No2's life. Then I had to start to think about how to design the layout of the book. The software for the process is free to download and I played for days with page colour, text colour, size and font.

For the last page, I used the first line from The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

Once you are happy with your book, it is a really simple process to upload it, where it gets printed in Zurich (I think!) and gets posted to you within a couple of weeks.

I was so pleased with my end result and No2 often looks at it - I know this because he refuses to tidy his room and as often as I put all his stuff away, this book often comes out again...

Sunday 19 October 2008

My Literature Log...

As predicted, it has become difficult to fit everything in to each week now, let alone day. I feel like I'm juggling lots of balls in the air since I started studying. At the moment they are all staying up - I wonder how long that will last...

Surprisingly, I'm not that bothered by dog hair swirling around the floor anymore or the fact that my garden looks a bit wind-battered. Maybe I'm mellowing into student life. My weeks are flying by and my brain is fit to burst. This weekend I have made a plan - to have a day of rest from uni on Saturday, and then today, Sunday, to get everything up to date from the previous weeks studying. I can report that my plan has worked. I even managed to fit in a quick half hour in the garden, planting the last of the pansies I bought last week.

On Friday we started 2 new modules - English and Maths. The dreaded maths... I've always considered maths to be my weakest subject. After just one lecture and one seminar, I have been inspired to take a fresh approach to it and I feel challenged to teach it well. My brain just seems to say 'aaaargh...' at the mere mention of the word, and I found I was not alone in this! Even with a grade 'B' 'O' level, I was not convinced I had a sound knowledge of the subject. Perhaps I can change my misconceptions over the course of the next few weeks.

I just know I'm going to enjoy the English module. My tutor is particularly brilliant! There is something about her that just appeals to me. Our first seminar was about children's literature and over the course of the next year, I have to compile a log of about 500 examples of children's literature. The work that I've done in our school library over the last 2 years is going to help me enormously, plus it is the perfect opportunity to trawl through the shelf upon shelf of children's books here at home, re-reading and making notes.

My favourite children's author is Eric Carle. I love everything about his books - the rhythm, the richness, the illustrations and, of course, the story. Of all his books, The Very Hungry Caterpillar is my absolute favourite. It has an extra special place in my heart as it was Tom's favourite book. If ever he was having a difficult day, I would read it to him or play it on his CD player, and he would usually calm down and eventually smile or get that twinkle of pleasure in his eyes. Have you ever heard the audio version? The music is particularly lovely. So lovely, that I played it at his funeral as an introduction. Whenever I hear the story now, the music is in my head the whole time. It makes me smile.

Before Tom became ill (he was 4...), his other Eric Carle favourite was The Bad-tempered Ladybird. He used to love saying the line 'hey, you, want to fight?'. He was such a gentle soul, it seemed incongruous to hear him say such a thing.

What are your favourite children's books? Any additions to my log will be most gratefully received, so do leave me a comment!

Monday 13 October 2008

Return of the Granny Square...

Two weeks in to my studying and I am pleased to report that I have managed to find a bit of time to do other things. Yarn was purchased in a nerve-calming effort the day before I started uni - am I allowed to sound young, and call it uni? A new baby is on the way in November for one of my closest friend's sister and so a blanket has been asked for...

I love making granny squares and I've been itching to make something using red and turquoise together, after admiring this gorgeous quilt and these lovely cushions.

My expectant mum isn't a pastel kinda girl, so I thought that it was the perfect excuse for this colour combination, which would suit a boy or a girl.

I have a small confession though: it was working out pretty expensive using this yarn, so I've scouted around and have decided to make it in this yarn instead - 100% wool rather than cotton, so nice and warm for a winter baby.

All is not lost on these squares - they are the perfect colour combination for No2's bedroom, so he will soon have a cushion for his bed...or to be thrown around the room...

My first two weeks of studying have been brilliant. I now feel that I'm part of the whole deal and have had some really inspiring lectures that have made me feel that I really am on the right path. Last week, we had a lecture from a headteacher who had turned her school around, from one on special measures, to one with an outstanding OFSTED report. I left after one hour of listening to her infectious enthusiasm dying to get out there and teach.

Today, we had a lecture about the importance of reading for children by an emeritus professor who had us all regaled in the delights of Hairy Maclary from Donaldson's Dairy. Imagine a group of 120 students (all above Years 1 and 2!) yelling out the last word of each page! His advice to us was to read to your class at least once a day, purely to keep yourself sane! He assured us that the class would always be enthralled at listening to a story. Suits me...

Monday 6 October 2008


The time came at the weekend to put some shoes away. I confess to be a fairly tidy person on the whole, with the exception being my desk, where organised chaos reigns. Another tiny area of mess can be found in my bedroom, where there is usually a pile of shoes...

I am facing up to the fact that my lovely Crocs need to be stashed away again until next spring.

I have been known to wear them with socks *blush* but my toes are decidedly chilly now.

My trusty Converse All Stars are a good filler for early autumn days, and compliment my student wardrobe perfectly.

Although I've noticed that mine are looking extremely clean compared to others I've spotted around the campus! The reason being that they've recently come out of the washing machine after getting caked in mud at the REM gig...

The time has well and truly come though, to get out of my wardrobe my most favourite footwear of all time... drum roll biker boots...

These are the real McCoy - genuine Harley-Davidson boots. I was inspired to buy them about 6 years ago after being given the thrill of a lifetime ride on a friend's Harley over in Florida. I was hooked. After coming home, the best I could do was at least have the boots!

They don't look a day older than the day I bought them and are the most comfortable boots I've ever owned. They will, no doubt, be worn for the next 6 or 7 months, but I'm not complaining.

It's boot love!

Friday 3 October 2008

Fresher's Week...

So, here we are at Friday already...where on earth did that week go?

My first week at uni is over and it is official: I am now a student! I have attended lectures and seminar groups. I have stood in various queues for over 3 hours to register. I have had 120 new faces flashed in front of me...many of which haven't registered at all, while others have become familiar and comforting in the process of getting to know what to do and when to do it.

I have explored our campus and the neighbouring site for the other faculties. One of our first tasks was to make a 3D map of the facilities available to students and then we had to design and print a poster advertising specific facilities - my group had environmental issues. The week has had a definite focus on team-building and we have been put into groups at any given opportunity.

We have been encouraged to take lots of photos of everything - so my blogging instincts will serve me well! Today, we had to make a collage of our learning journey timeline, but without using glue. The idea? To recycle...we created the collage, took a photo, then put all the resources back for use again! Impressed? I was! The idea being, whatever would we have done with the collage?

An unexpected bonus of my course is that it is a requirement to blog! Good job then, that I've had lots of practice! I've now got a blog set up on the university's studynet site, where I will be expected to keep a record of my experience there. It isn't public, except within the university, but, no doubt, I will be posting the highs and lows of my new path here regularly, along with my usual ramblings.

The thing I've found hardest this week is the attitude of some of the students. The age range on my course is huge - I'm not the oldest! Dare I say, the younger students seem to want to chat the whole way through seminars and it is a real distraction. At least I'm not alone in feeling a slight annoyance - it has become a common thread of conversation between us 'oldies'! Are we too grumpy? I hope not.

I'm looking forward to the weekend and hope to be able to relax a bit...maybe do some crochet or knitting...a lie-in on Sunday will be most welcome...

Sorry the photos are a bit boring...grey days around the campus..note the environment theme!