Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Like feathr.

Reading and writing have never been Jack's strong points at school. He keeps up just fine but he works quite slowly compared to other types of work, like math. It's never been much of a concern because he's still toward the top of his class, the quality of his work is near perfect it's just notably slowly produced. The teachers, as well as us, have always just put it down to Jack's tendency toward perfectionism.

Earlier this week Helen stated that Jack had some news on the reading and writing subject. Jack informed me that he'd been given something to help him with his reading, a couple small coloured overlays, red and yellow.

Jack is thrilled. He says it's making reading much easier, the letters are much clearer and he can read much quicker. Since having received these he's seems to have soared to the top of the class. He's now reporting that he keeps finishing first, or is the only one who finished. He told me that read a 32 page book yesterday.

So, it's looking like Jack is possibly dyslexic. It's still a tad early to say for certain. With him being so young it could just be mistaking a lack of focus as Irlen Syndrome. The problem is that if you ask a six year old child if the letters are hard to see they'll pretty much just say yes. If out put coloured paper in front of them and ask if that's better they'll just say yes. So the diagnostic process can be somewhat challenging. But being that dyslexia is hereditary and I'm dyslexic, two of my brothers and my father are as well, so the odds are against him.

There isn't a problem with him possibly being dyslexic, my only concern is that from now on we'll have to deal with endless teaching enabling plans and teachers that treat him like he's a little slow. Dyslexia is largely considered a learning disability and as soon as you label a child as having a learning disability, the safety scissors and circles of paper come out. It can be a frustrating world to find yourself in especially when you're every bit as clever, if not cleverer, that everyone else in the class and you know it, yet the teachers still declare you lazy, or vacant, or thick headed.

Irlen Syndrome is easiest described as an eye problem. Due to the way the brain processes visual information coming in from the eyes, distortions can appear making reading difficult, or impossible. Irlen Syndrome is not exclusive to dyslexics, in fact the association between them is not accepted by many. I don't suffer to much from Irlen Syndrom myself, only with certain colour schemes or when I'm tired I see shadows or bars over the text. I just have virtually no reading comprehension at all and reading just wears me out.

So we'll keep an eye on how Jack gets on over the next few months and try to get better idea of what's really going on. Until then I'm happy that his enthusiasm for reading and writing seems to have been renewed. He'll be be allowed to bring his overlays home shortly, which he's also excited about, and we've ordered some of our own overlays, I'm also going to install iOverlay on his iPod. I really hope that we can help him learn to enjoy reading rather than letting him grow to dread it like I did, we're going to do everything that we can.

You can find out more about Dyslexia and Irlen Syndrome on those links.

Sunday, 29 September 2013


Jack now has a homework box and this weekend it contained one homework. Jack is less thank thrilled with the idea of having even more work to do at home, we make him practice reading and math.
The homework assignment is for him to write some information about owls.

Jack flying a Harris Hawk
Jack was a little apprehensive about this assignment until he spoke to us about it. Then we reminded him of the many photos we have.

As a family we know a lot about birds of prey. We've seen all types of birds and are quite well versed on their strengths of weaknesses. As a family we know lots of specialist facts about raptors, for instance an owl will have eye colour to match it's most active times, owls with black eyes are nocturnal, yellow means active during the daytime (diurnal) and orange for dawn and dusk (crepuscular). They have very little control over their feet, they can basically grab on to something and that's it. This creates a problem known among falconers as sticky feet, where when the bird is taking flight its feet don't always let go properly right away and the bird sticks to the branch or glove for a moment. Owls also can't move their eyes.
Orange eyes.

Just like dogs, different species of raptor have different personalities. Eagles seem to be quite stubborn and grumpy. They only like one person to fly them and they generally don't like that very much. I saw a golden eagle boycotting her perch at the end of a flying session during which his falconer had with withheld the rewards due to a poor performance. Vultures can be quite thuggish. Every time we see a vulture we hear about how it's recently been beaten up by another (usually a female).

We've seen an eagle that liked to be scratched just so on the back of his head, (birds don't normally like to be touched) and a condor that moulted only the feathers on one side rendering himself completely flightless. We met a snowy owl who had a real crush on one of the falconers who looked strangely like Daniel Radcliffe and a Lappet-Faced Vulture that turns his face pink with excitement at the mere sight of a particular falconer.

We probably go to four or five raptor displays a year.

For quite a while we were considering acquiring our own raptor but decided against it in the end.

So after some reminiscing Jack and I jotted down three facts and popped in pictures of his favourite owl, the Northern White Faced who has the most amazing defence mechanism ever. Jack received an extra point for his work.

I don't need your stupid perch.

A melanistic Barn Owl, one of the rarest birds in the world.

Little did Jack know, that owl just pooed on him

The Northern White Faced Owl.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Bird and bee related questions

Jack has been asking a particular question lately. He's doesn't like not having his questions answered completely and often repeatedly, he's also to smart now to know when he's not being given a proper answer. So when he asked Helen about where babies really come from she told him that she wanted to speak to me before giving him an answer, he was pretty annoyed.

I was surprised at just how strongly I felt about this particular situation. The liberal part of me says just tell him, if he's old enough to ask then he's old enough to know and he's too young to really understand anyway but with all the talk recently of the 'loss of innocence' I find myself on the fence. Whether or not he understands I'd still rather he remain totally unaware for at least a couple more years. He's got lots of other things to learn about first.

So after some soul searching, we did a little research and purchased a book. It's basically the answer to the question from a child's perspective with matching illustration. I had a look over the book before reading it to Jack and generally I have to say that it was alright. There's only one page in the middle that I don't quite approve of (a space hopper in involved) but we gloss over that page.

I'm still not entirely comfortable with the idea but I'm getting there. Jack was happy with the answer the book provided and hasn't enquired about it again.

The book is titled 'Mommy Laid an Egg' by Babette Cole and has apparently been banned in some places.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Bring out your junk

Every so often Jack's class starts a project where they build something. Letters will go out a few days before and Jack will usually mention in passing that we've got to supply the materials. Mostly the materials they ask for is junk i.e. clear plastic bottles, bottle tops or half an egg shell.

The problem I have with this is that Jack often suggest and sometimes will insist on keeping a hold of junk so that he can create things at home. And it's very difficult to get him to get rid of things as it is, he's very, very sentimental. The school seems to think that we just have endless supplies of product packaging hanging around the house. I have the tendency to hoard things if I'm not careful. I hang on to software, electronics and documents like it's made of gold (I suppose some of it is), I generally just hate throwing that kind of stuff away. But I don't hold on to cardboard boxes, bottle tops and pringles tubes just in case I (or Jack) are feeling creative. I dread when shows like Art Attack come onto the TV because it's impossible to get the exhibited projects out of Jack's head.

The latest is a musical instrument, after which they will be making a lighthouse. Thankfully Jack was only interested in making maracas and I love pringles so it was a good excuse.

I don't want to quash Jack's fascination with artistic recycling. I love to see him create things, anything at all really. Every creation is a little hint to how is mind works and is developing. Just ask him, he can make virtually anything out of a cardboard tube, sellotape and a piece of string. He wants to make robots when he grows up and I will do whatever I can to help him get there, but I'd like to do it without a house full of trash.

Perhaps I'l teach him to program, then he can make things that take up less physical space.

Sunday, 21 July 2013



For the past five weeks I've been attending a maths class at Jack's school. The purpose of this class is two fold. First: to give parents an idea of what math techniques the kids are being taught in school and how they are being taught them. Second: to help parents brush up on their maths as well, it's a practical skill after all, and encourage them to enrol on a math course at their local college.

Now, I don't suggle with math, not only have I been knee deep in advanced calculus and trigonometry for the last three years, but I've always been good at math. I only struggle when the math involves being written down. I like math. I like it because of the solidarity, the right answer is the right answer, it's not down to any interpretation.

I enrolled for this class knowing that the way that I was taught math in school was very different to the way Jack was being taught. I thought that it would be good for the future when I will undoubtedly need to help Jack with his math homework. With an overview if how he's been taught I should be more equipped to help him. Also the kids got to join us for the last half hour of the class, when Jack heard about this he was pretty insistent.

The class was good over all, I spent most of the class whizzing through the work and then helping the others, or giving brief lectures on things like the Monty Hall problem. What struck me most is that Jack is being taught techniques that I used to get into trouble for doing. Number bonds, for instance, I became quite notorious in my class for using number bonds to do math in my head, though I didn't know it at the time, it was just how I did it. In 7th grade I got bumped ahead into pre-algebra (9th grade) only to fail it spectacularly and get pushed back into the math class that was for the slow 8th graders. Number bonds, place values, and other similar techniques are the main cause for this failure. I could do the math in my head, but they wanted it on paper. If I did it on paper I got it wrong or got lost.

Now a days schools in Britain have realised the value of being able to do math in your head and are trying to teach it from as early an age as possible. All the written techniques that I was taught are not taught until year 6 or later. Some of them, like touch points, aren't even taught anymore.

Throughout the course I learned all of the terms and techniques that he's going to be taught over the next six years and already I can see their use. Jack and are regularly doing little math problems and it's changed a lot lately now that I can encourage him to use what he's been taught, we're a lot more productive and it's one more thing that we can do and enjoy together.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Stories from way back when.

05-08-2009 - I stumbled across this post from back in 2009 that doesn't seem to have ever made it on here.
So here it is.

Lately we're getting little stories.
Once upon a time there were three bears. Little bears, little teeny weeny bears. And I'm Jack.
This is the first story that Jack ever told. Loosely based on the three bears but I don't think we're in any threat of legal action.

Once apon a time where were three Jack-Jacks. They can fly. They all fly together. They fly really really high. 
Jack-Jack is a toy figurine of Yellow Jacket, probably the lamest semi-superhero every conceived. But one of Jack's favorite toys.

When I'm a big boy I'm going to get a car. And if you need me nanny just call and I'll come straight 'round. For anything at all, even shopping. And it's going to be green.

This is baby-ceritops, he's just a little baby, aw. He's sad. He's lost his mommy.
Usually the story ends there, but often in the case of baby-ceritops he does find his mommy.

These stories puzzle me a little bit, in fact a lot of his stories do. Jack is a very happy child most of the time, ask anyone. Yet a lot of his stories are sad. Children losing their mothers, things getting broken and so on. It's strange for me to think that my 2 year old can even conceive a sad story. I suppose because most stories that he's heard have some sort of trauma in them it's just natural development but it still seems a little strange to me.

There's another string of narratives we get from Jack is rescues. These are often short dialogs recited when he's playing, each character even has a different voice.
Helicoptor: Hello.
Victim: Hello.
Helicoptor: Are you... Do you need recuing?
Victim: Yes I need rescuing.
Helicopter: Oh.
Victim: Can you rescue me?
Helicoptor: Yes I can rescue you.
Victim: Oh.
Helicoptor: OK. I'll come and rescue you in a minute.

Dream Stories.
Last night Jack had a dream. It doesn't sound much like a bad dream but it woke him up in the middle of the night, and then he told me all about it in the morning.
There were bugs, lots of bugs. Lots and lots and they flied me away. They flied me away to their hole where I chased them. He then proceedes to demonstrate the various chasing and fighting methods used against the bugs.

Jack is no stranger to a bad dream. We have a few nights disturbed by terrified screams. Normally the bad dreams are monster related. He'll tell us about monsters coming to get him, or roaring at him. Sometimes he dreams about Mommy or Daddy shouting at him, which I must say is really hard to take.

The ghost has even made an appearence a couple of times. Helen and I are convinced that our house is haunted part-time. But that's a story for another time, no-good football stealing... anyway, Jack has dreams that the ghost, often referred to as 'The Man' or 'The Little Man' has come into his room and looked at him. Once the ghost scared him pretty good, Jack didn't tell us what the ghost did to scare him so but he didn't want to sleep in his room alone for almost a week afterwards. But generally The Man just comes in and looks at him.

There are good dreams as well. One time when I came to bed late, I checked on Jack as normal. When I opened the door he sat up, every parents worst nightmare. It was too dark to see if his eyes were open or get much of an idea of just how awake he really was but not wanting to take the chance that he'd go into a fit if I just tried to slip out I carried on as I normally would during a bed-time check. I quietly laid him back down in his bed and pulled the quilt over him.  On my way out of the room he spoke, I thought I was going to be in for a sleepless night at first until I heard what he was saying.
Mmmm that's nice. Yummy Yummy in my tummy. Num Num Num

Sunday, 9 June 2013

In and Out of phase

One thing you become very familiar with once you have children is the infuriating concept of childhood phases. Everyone goes through them as kids and, if anything like me, as adults too. Phases vary from anything like a strange obsession with sweat pants, to lifestyle and career choices. They can go on for months or even years and the harder people try to bring someone out of a phase the longer it seems to persist. Phases are fun and a big part if how humans grow and learn. Some phases should be encouraged and others just have to be ridden out.

Jack is already well into the phase game, he goes through multiple phases at a time and he picks weird ones. When he was two he went through a phase of not wanting to sleep in his bed but it wasn't that he wanted to sleep in our bed with us, he wanted to sleep on the floor next to his bed. The problem was that he didn't sleep very well as a result and would wake up tired and grumpy. This went on for weeks and it was a turned bedtime into a nightly battle. We were relieved when it was over.

He went through one phase where he wanted to change his name, to Marshmallow. For a few weeks he would ask daily if I'd received the paper work needed to officially change his name. It sounds silly, but he was very serious about it.

Phases also spread to his diet, he's in the middle of a chicken phase, which is great because it means he'll actually eat chicken in a non-nugget form. The headache for this phase will come after it's over and he refuses to eat all non-nugget poultry again.

At the minute Jack is also going through a super powers phase. All he talks about are his various super powers and how he can demonstrate them. He's also just going into a naked phase, after school he spending more and more time with no clothes on. Neither of these bother me too much, except when he get gets frustrated with his super powers not really working, or when he wants to wrestle.

He's also in a guessing phase, he asks you to guess things without giving away any information, such as, guess animal I'm going to be today, baring in mind that this animal could be, and often is, one he's just made up that minute. That one is obnoxious because even if I manage to guess the animal then he changes his mind. Currently everything he says will start with one of three phrases, "Guess what.", "Wouldn't it be funny if...", or "Can I just tell you something...".   I really hope that this is just a phase.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Smart O

Jack regularly comes home from school with homework. Sometimes it's a class thing like find an egg shell or bring in a picture and write a little about something you did on holiday. Sometimes it's just something that Jack just wants to do so it can take it back to school and blow their minds.

This morning Jack mentioned that he needed smart O words. These are words in which the O is its hard sound without the assistance of another vowel in the word. So immediately Helen and I gave him a list. Old, gold, cold, bold and so on. The biggest one I could come up with that behold, which he was excited about because no one else would ever think of that work. Helen took a different direction and thought up colt and bolt which opened up a whole new array of possibilities.

We had Jack write down a list of smart O words and take it into school for them to be written up on the window where these type of exercises go. Helen took Jack to school with his list in tow, he'd be the smartest and most productive kid in class today for sure.

When I went to pick up Jack from school I made sure to take a look at the window. Sure enough, Jack's entire list was posted, with behold written a little extra large. I was so proud because none of the new words I'd thought of during the day were up there.

I love Jack's homework.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Moot opinion

This morning's conversation:

Daddy today I'm going to play temple run 2 at school. Who should I be?

Are you sure you want me to answer? Whenever you ask me a question like this you always reject my answer.

I don't always.

You do Jack, every time.

Well I won't this time. Who should I be?

Be Guy Dangerous.

No what animal should I be?


What animal should I be in temple run 2.

Be the monkey thing then.

No the monkey chases me what other animal?

There aren't any other animals in temple run 2.

No I can be any animal from any where.

You said from temple run 2. You gave me bad information.

No it can be any animal.

Be a monkey then.

No the monkey chases me. I can't be a monkey too.

Be a spider then.

No a spider would get killed.

I don't know what you want me to say Jack.

I want you to choose an animal.

I did.

A different animal.

This is what I was talking about Jack, why don't you pick an animal that you want.

You know what? I will be Guy Dangerous like you said.

Whatever you want Jack.

No. Finlay can be Guy Dangerous I'll be his dog.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

1.2m ish

We spent last weekend at Alton Towers. We're annual pass holders so this is simply the first visit of the year. To mark the occasion we even stayed in the hotel to make sure that we could really take advantage of the pre-opening hour we're awarded as annual pass holders.

We went on a couple of rides that Jack has been to scared to go on in the past. As we came out of Hex Jack said to me, Daddy we beat the curse and I didn't even cry. Last time we rode Hex he hid, cried all the way through and I guess we didn't beat the curse. We also rode Duel, which he insisted he was up for but we still had to talk him into, "It's not scary Jack because they give you a laser gun, so when the monster jumps out, you just blast him". He loved it.

Jack is no longer interested in places like Storybook land and all the kiddie rides and he wasn't quite tall enough to go on any of the bigger rides. This became more of a problem as being the first day of the season, many of the rides that Jack could go on we not working. They seemed to be breaking down one by one as soon as we arrived. Jack really wanted to ride Sonic Spinball but when we got to it we found that it was a 1.2m ride, not 1.17m like we'd thought. So I suggested that we get Jack measured, we'd only measured him at home a few weeks before and he was about 1.18m tall. He had to be 1.2m to ride any the bigger rides, we knew it wasn't likely but I hoped that maybe he'd grown a little more since then and was hopefully tall enough that we could maybe fudge it a little by having him breath in deeply or spike his hair.

So we set out to find a staff member with one of those batons or a triangle. I don't trust those height boards, I never have, I'm convinced that they're all different and all wrong. After a surprisingly long search we found a staff member to give us an official measurement. 1.19 and maybe a bit, very close but definitely below the 1.2m line, not fudgeable without lifts or something...

Jack took the news well and fought back the tears by hitting a near by playground. While Helen and I discussed our options. We were nearly out of rides and it was only about 10:30 and it was freezing. We decided to stick it out and make our way back toward the 1.0m rides that we knew were working, but first we needed to get Jack a pair of gloved because it was arctic.

"Gloves." I said to Helen in a sudden flurry of inspiration. "That'd do it."
We purchased the gloves near at a shop near one of the 1.2m rides and rushed Jack off to a staff free location where he could 'try them on'.

With the new gloves 'on' we pushed Jack up to one of the measurement boards and took a look... This could work. My only concern now was that it was still close enough to leave us at the mercy of a staff member's discretion but we could always use Jack's cutes if it came to it so we took our show on the road. A helpful staff member guided us to a baggage kiosk on the 1.2m ride where they confirmed Jack's height as 1.22m. They then provided Jack with a wristband, officially stating to any other would-be measures that he was over 1.2m, AND because they were having to close the ride soon they pushed us straight through to the ride. At which Helen snuck the gloves onto Jack's hands.

So Jack rode Thirteen, his first real roller coaster at Alton Towers. He loved it and would have gone several times had it not broken down, while we were still on it. He also rode Sonic Spinball which he adored and it looking forward to going on it again. The wristband was great, Jack just flashed it at the staff and they didn't question.
Officially a big boy.

The one drawback to his newly acquired height was that at there are some little things that he still really likes, like Wobble World which has a maximum height restriction at 1.2m. It wasn't a problem today because we just made sure we went there last and took off the wristband but it will be a problem very soon. However the fact that this was possibly the last time he'd be able to go in there made him quite sad.

We're now looking forward to the rest of the season. This new height will open up a whole host of new experiences for Jack and bring some of the fun for Helen and I back as well. The knowledge of the write band will also serve us well for when we approach the 1.4m milestone.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

The cutes.

A long time ago, I recommended to Jack that if he put his cutes on and asked nicely, the nice lady at McDonald's might give him a balloon. Since then his cutes have been the occasional secret weapon. Whenever he's got to ask for some good will he unsheathes the cutes to make sure that he's got the best chance. It works for all sort of things from getting free balloons and colouring tools at restaurants to manipulating instructors at swimming lessons.

We've told Jack that he might as well use his cutes while he's got em because as he gets older he'll have to rely more and more on charm and it's not as effective.

Yesterday we were leaving Jack with his Grandad for a couple hours and during their time together, they would possibly be passing out flyers in Stafford city centre. Jack was excited about the flyers and had even researched the subject while at school. Apparently teenage girls are the best at handing out flyers because they can look the coolest... Figured I'd leave that one be, but we did suggest that he perhaps get out the cutes to increase the hand out success rate against those cool looking teenagers.

Jack agreed, as it turns out he's been practicing his cutes and he was happy to demonstrate.

Jack didn't hand out any flyers in the end, so the innocent citizens of Stafford were spared.

Later that day Jack demonstrated the beta version of a new weapon he's been working on. The cools.

Wait there's more.

I think it's hilarious that he has more than one cute.

"The Cool." Build 1.1a.

I call this one, Mirrored Steel.

Subtle change to Red Mercury.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Smelly Sprinkles

Jack is difficult to trick. I've remarked on this before. He's naturally inquisitive and well, suspicious of anything you say to him. He's also difficult to tease, mostly because he has a tendency to take whatever your saying literally and he panics if you say it more than once.
These two aspects of his personally contradict each other and make for some good entertainment.

Today I picked him up from school. He's had a new stunt scooter over the weekend and I knew he'd want me to bring it to school so he can show it off and ride it home. I also noted that it was a very nice and warm day which meant that the ice cream man was likely to be strategically positioned outside the school. He couldn't have both purely for logistical reasons so I weighed the options and decided that I'd take some cash for ice cream.

As I walked to the school I planned out a clever little deception/tease. He would almost certainly ask why I didn't bring the scooter and I would give him some vague answer and drag it out until the ice cream truck was just about to come into view. Then I would make some remark about how he wasn't going to have two hands free to ride with and drag that out a bit. It was genius.

Jack came out of class and straight away said
You know you could have brought my scooter.
I know I thought about it but decided on something else.
The ice cream man is here.
... What makes you so sure?
Because you didn't bring my scooter because I would need one hand to hold my ice cream. Yaaay yay. Yaaaaay ice cream.
... I'd love to know why you think my not bringing your scooter means you're going to get ice cream. He might not even be there.
He is, I can smell the sprinkles.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Held Back

Jack's progress in his swimming lessons has been slow. He's just not a strong swimmer, he can move his arms and his legs but doing both together gives him problems.

He attends swimming lessons weekly and we go swimming as a family from time to time. So it's not like he doesn't get a lot of time in the water, he just didn't seem to get it. He's in the beginners class where the kids take turns being guided/pulled by the instructors across the short length of the pool.

He didn't get one of his badges some months ago and it seems to have had a snowball effect. At the time we weren't surprised because Jack just wasn't getting any better at swimming despite our best efforts. The reason given was that he needed to do more work on his back, but when asking what the meant no one could give any real answer. In swimming lessons they spend very very little time on back work so we felt a little short changed.

A few months ago, in true Jack style something just clicked and he was suddenly able to swim. He went from having to cling to us and demanding floats to swimming long lengths underwater.

So we eagerly waited the next swimming exam thing for Jack to show his stuff. The exam came and Jack did get a badge. We were very happy. Sure this badge meant that he'd finally be moving up.

The weeks went by and nothing changed, despite the new badge Jack remained in the beginners class while some of his friends were moved on. Jack started to get bored in the lessons and would start messing around between tasks. The next exams came around and Jack got another badge, and that was it. Many if the other kids in the class moved on but Jack stayed where he was. So we had a word with the boss and were told that Jack needed to pass his 5m swim before he could move on, this is the exam that he failed all the months ago. We immediately challenged and requested that someone test him. The boss obliged and Jack passed with flying colors and got another badge...

So another week went by and as I sat and watched Jack get bored an start to swim laps on his own during class I got a little annoyed. I thought about the last few months and noticed something. Because of that 5m fail all those months ago Jack has slipped though the cracks of this system and had effectively been forgotten about. Despite his having done all that he was required to do he was just behind enough that he would never really progress. I've seen this sort of thing a hundred times before. I dug down deep into my system manipulation library and made a very simple plan. I don't like to be the parent that's forever yelling at the poor instructors because I feel like my child getting a raw deal, I more of a strategist when it comes to that sort of thing.

When the boss appeared the following week I gave Jack a task.
He approached the boss and asked with hope in his eyes,
Now that I've done my 5m am I in the bigger class?
The response was exactly what I expected, "No Jack, not just yet."
I smiled politely at the boss as Jack came back with the response. No daddy, I'm still in the little kids class.
I made sure that we were still in view and earshot of the boss.
"Sorry Hun, they'll move your up when you're ready."
Ok. Jack sighed.
Excellent, now watch it go.

Ten minutes later one of the instructors approached me.
"I've been watching Jack and I want to bring him up into my class now."
"Oh, ok great."

Jack beamed at me as he was lead to the big kids class.

Sunday, 17 February 2013



Jack is a big fan of costumes. He once had quite a collection of mostly Marvel heroes that he would wear regularly in rotation.
These costumes aren't just costumes, each of them gives different powers.

Iron Man has long been his go to suit not just because of the wide variation of powers it afforded but because he was the only one of his friends that had one. This is more a matter of personal pride for me I guess as it doesn't seem to bother Jack. I don't know why it bothers me, it just does, I like Jack to have unique costumes. We could almost guarantee that he'd be the only Iron Man at any party... or on the high street.

Today Jack was invited to the birthday party of a good friend of his. Dressing up was an option for this party and we know most of these kids, so we thought it was probably best that we get a new costume as Jack has grown out all his other costumes, including Iron Man. Our search turned up an Adam West style batman costume complete with blue eyebrows. Excellent, he's always wanted a batman costume and this style was surely pretty unique and personally, I love that series.

As we suspected the party was full of superheroes... and princesses. There were lots of Spider-mans and Power Rangers and even what I can only assume was Joan of Arc. Of course there was another Batman that we spotted right away. We know that child quite well and I figured he'd probably be Batman. Thankfully it was one of these new Batman costumes. So we were good.
Sadly five minutes after we arrived another boy from Jack's class came in wearing the exact same costume as Jack.
And fifteen minutes later another one turned up, and a Batgirl.

Oh well, perhaps I need to start going farther a field than our local supermarket.

As we left the party it occurred to me that there were no Iron Mans.

Parent's Evening on my own

Helen had to work this year which left me to attend parents evening solo. I'm not good at this sort of thing. I never ask enough of the right questions and I forget the answers anyway. Usually my handling things like this on my own result in Helen booking an additional appointment later on.
This time, knowing that I was on my own I mentally prepped and practiced some questions.

The conversation was light, generally the teacher is very happy with Jack. He's in the top group for math, and reading, and he's in the second to top group for writing. He's got lots of friends and always tried his hardest, so much so in fact that he quite often is trying to make his work so perfect that he doesn't finish. He's very competitive but doesn't get himself down if he loses. He's very articulate (no surprise there) and he's become quite famous for knowing strange things, like the inner workings of black holes, the speed of sound and the number and functions of pi.

It wasn't all praise though, Jack needs to work in his penmanship. Aside from that, I was very proud to be his parent that evening.

After the meeting with his teacher I went into the class room to take a look at some of Jack's workbooks. I sat myself in a corner upon a tiny chair and took my time with each book. The workbooks were full of barely legible writings and occasional comments from the teachers. I made mental notes to ask Jack what some of the teachers scribed icons meant, one if which is a smiley face with an empty speech bubble, (apparently this means that the teacher has spoken to Jack about it). There were lots of positive comments from the teachers and the occasional reminder that he needs to listen more carefully.
Jacks math was very good, there were some pretty complicated sums in the book and he had the correct answer most of the time.

As I neared the end of the book I came across this picture, it really made me smile.

Dear Dad,
My special gift to you is...
I will help you make the apps.
Love Jack.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

The new room

For a while now we've been thinking about moving Jack out of his tiny little shoebox of a room. We have a guest bedroom that's quite a bit bigger and it doesn't get used very much. So we deliberated and then got to it.

We gave Jack some control over the design and spent a lot of time talking him out of black walls. He decided initially on a underwater theme, he wanted sharks and jellyfish on the walls and black sand colored carpet and an "Atlantic Blue" feature wall, his vision was really quite specific. Sadly we couldn't get the undersea life pictures so instead we've gone for space. We've got glow in the dark stars and some wall transfers of the planets and shuttles and other spacey things and we kept the "Atlantic Blue" feature wall.

We spent a weekend decorating and a ridiculously long time acquiring the furniture. His current bed is too small so we've got him a single size cabin bed with a desk underneath it. We've also got him a single fold out futon chair/bed thing and a new chest of drawers. Piece by piece over the last couple of weeks the room has come together.

This weekend the futon chair arrived. I built it while Jack was at school. Jack road tested the chair as a fold out bed that night. The following morning his mattress arrived Helen helped him put up the space pictures and glowing stars and then Jack's new room was complete and he's moved in. He's a happy boy.

Sunday, 3 February 2013


I don't remember when in was exactly, longer than a month ago, but less than six months.

We were at Tesco doing our family shop. Jack had taken a toy in and was playing with it as we walked around the store.

Eventually the store became part of Jack's little story and the toy began climbing and leaping from the shelves and the cart shouting challenges like "You'll never catch me" and the like. At one point Jack's toy began climbing one of the dangling displays. As I walked past I urged Jack not to mess with this type of display as he might knock it down. With my hand I plucked the toy off the display.
as he fell to his death...

I must admit I did feel bad.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Snowball fight


In the midst of the great UK snow fall of 2013 Jack has been itching to go out an play. Finally today we had some time, so we geared up and headed out. Our play lead to a snowball fight, which lead to making bigger and bigger snowballs until we destroyed the world. Then we made a snow-man, then Jack destroyed the snow-man. Then we had another snowball fight which lead to us making bigger and bigger snowballs until we destroyed the world. We then buried Jack in the snow, we tried standing first, then laying down. Laying down worked better. We then started into another snowball fight, the snowballs started increasing in size and elements of Kung-fu started to appear.
Then Jack took cover behind Helen's car where I couldn't see him. I listened and tried to pin point his location.
I tossed a snowball.
You missed, you're rubbish.
I threw another.
Nearly, but your still rubbish.
Even more nearly.
I created one of the world destroying sized snowballs and threw it. I heard a *plump*.
Jack? Did I get you.
Did I get you?
I went to see what was up.
...got him

Sunday, 20 January 2013

His new hobby

We've been on the search for a hobby for Jack for a while now. It had to be something that involved physical activity. For the last couple of summers Jack has attended football school but it was ended early last summer due to a lack of numbers. Jack was a little too young to really participate in the games and found it a bit frustrating, so he was glad when it ended and is less than keen on going back. So we put it to him, he could pick a sport and we would find somewhere he could practice it.

We looked at running, cycling, and that sort of stuff, but he didn't have much enthusiasm for those. We looked at martial arts but the local school doesn't seem very interested in new tuition. He already goes to swimming lessons once a week, but we count that more as a life skill than a hobby.

So whenever the opportunity to participate in a new sport came up we'd encourage him to try it and then examine it for suitability.
A couple of months back Jack and his Nanny came across a mobile rock climbing experience and Jack talked nanny into letting him have a go. Apparently because business was slow Jack spent over an hour traversing the wall. He came home raving about it and apparently the instructor said he was a natural.

So a couple weeks ago we arranged for Jack to have a children's introductory session at the local climbing centre. For an hour Jack climbed all over the place and had a blast. He came away with aching hands and a thirst for more. We're happy with this choice, rock climbing is just about as physically demanding as it gets, it is only as expensive as you make it and you can do it anywhere. In fact I'm kind thinking about taking it up as well.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Jack in 2013

Age: 6
Hair color: blonde
Height: 115cm
Future Occupation: Robot maker

Color: multi-colored, he likes all the colors equally,
Game: Super Mario Bros 2 3ds
Show: Scooby-Doo
Food: Cheese and Pineapple Pizza
Toy: Mobilo
Animal: An Eagle
Friend: Finlay

Rock Climbing
Video Games playing and collecting.

Fond Memories
He really liked rock climbing and can't wait to go back.
Staying over at Nanny's
Laser tag party

Collect money and be a billionaire so that he can afford the metal he will need to make robots.
He wants to make a robot metal sonic powered by a Concord engine and send it into space.
Buy another doggy

Sunday, 6 January 2013

The season of giving

I'm sat here in a community centre waiting to donate a pint of blood.

I've never given blood before, to be honest I'm not even sure what blood type I have, the whole experience is a little weird. Here I am waiting to be drained of some of my life force while Jack plays Star Wars in the corner hoping that he can have some of my chocolate biscuit afterward.

Helen is a veteran donor, she's got a rare blood type and thusly tries I ensure that supply is topped up.

I'd arrived this morning expecting an empty room with medical types over enthusiastically trying to encourage a repeat visit. What I've found instead is a mobile clinic jammed full of donors. The NHS Make it sound like the have such a hard time getting blood donors that Monty Python style blood collections are just around the corner.

She stuck the straw like needle into my arm and asked, 'How does that feel, alright?' I wasn't sure how to answer.

About three quarters through the letting my machine started complaining that I wasn't bleeding fast enough. So I was instructed through a bunch of exercises to do to help encourage blood flow. Apparently the machine calls it quits after fifteen minutes wether you've given the full pint or not.

I managed to fill the bag and was bandages up and sent to the replenishments table where Jack ate my cookies. I'm under strict instruction to take it easy for the rest of the day, and to make sure I eat an drink plenty. I don't think that'll be a problem.

All in all it was an interesting experience and I have every intention of doing it again in four months. In fact, I think I might make this a Christmas tradition.

Can we have your liver? - John Cleese