me: wrong side of the mirror

Three Nice Things

I don't know about you, but I need these today.

Three home-grown pumpkins. Foot for scale (a UK 4). We are very proud.

Two children in a garden waste bin. They like jumping up and down on the branches.

A chorus of happy Pokemon.

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me: wrong side of the mirror

Back to School

The children went back to school today for the first time since March. They were thrilled to go in, and they had a brilliant time.


Today, parents who have been working from home since March be like:


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me: ooh!

Family update

  • Humuhumu can ride a bicycle! Before lockdown we struggled with getting her to even attempt it, and she would spend most of her time shouting at Daddy either to help, or stop helping. Lockdown rules meant she had a long break from it. When we finally did manage to extract her bicycle from the shed post-house renovation, she hopped on it and rode down the road with a jaw-dropping level of nonchalance.

  • Keiki can also ride a bicycle without stabilisers, with only minimal assistance from Daddy. He’s not far off being able to do it on his own, but probably isn’t quite ready to cycle to school just yet.

  • Last weekend they had their first swimming lessons in months. We were quite worried about how this would go. Humuhumu didn’t swim without a float in one hand, but two things were very encouraging: she can now time her breathing with her arm strokes in front crawl, and she stayed entirely off the wall and in a middle lane. Once Keiki started paying attention to his teacher (always his main issue), he also did very well, doing star floats, kicking with a float and simultaneously blowing bubbles without being prompted.

  • Side note: The swim teachers can no longer be in the water with the Stage 1 children, which must be extraordinarily challenging. There were five children in Keiki’s class, and there was a stark difference between the three children who had been doing lessons for months before lockdown (including him) and the two who had joined only a few weeks prior. The former children were able to follow the instructions given verbally and with partial visual demonstration by the teacher from the poolside. The latter were almost completely lost, even when watching the other children do as instructed. It’ll be interesting to see how things develop in the coming weeks. I don’t think this is a sustainable way to teach children who are total beginners.

  • Granddad has been doing almost-daily morning lessons with the children. He sings with them, reads them a story, plays maths games, and drills Humuhumu on her times tables. He started this in person while we were staying in Norfolk during the house renovation (once "bubbles" were allowed) and has kept it up since. It has been tremendously helpful. Go Granddad.

  • Finally, we have been watching The Mandalorian as a family. Keiki, who has become completely obsessed by Lego and building spaceships and tanks and weaponry, was told about Star Wars by an older cousin, and demanded to be allowed to watch it. We duly procured a copy of The Mandalorian, having been told that it was (a) family friendly and (b) good, which cannot be said of all the Star Wars oeuvre. We’ve got through four episodes. It’s not a passive viewing experience by any means. We’re peppered with questions continuously and there are cuddles needed during the scary bits. Still, everyone is enjoying it immensely. With popcorn.

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Bush Fire Hazard

Strange day

I'm travelling in to my place of work today for the first time since 19 March, for a building induction.

It's five minutes until the train arrives, and the platform has all of eight people on it. In the Before Times, it would have been packed since this is the last train to arrive at the University before 9 AM.

I have my mask and water and hand sanitiser. I'm still very nervous.

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me: ooh!

Achievement Unlocked: Self-service breakfast

One of the reasons we had shelving installed in the dining area of our newly extended house was so that we could have the breakfast cereal and bowls within easy reach of our children.

Humuhumu took immediate advantage of this in order to have more time to play before having to get dressed and start home school. She even remembered to put out the vitamins. Very proud!

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me: ooh!

Home again

We've been home since Thursday evening. Apologies it's taken so long to update but as you might imagine it takes quite a while to reassemble the contents of a completely upended house. Spoiler alert: we're nowhere near finished.

You'll be pleased to know, I'm sure, that it has taken less than 48 hours for Telstar to bring home, execute, and consume a member of the local rodentia. On the more expensive of the two sets of new carpet - most of the downstairs is LVT flooring. I'm sure he'll find a window in his busy schedule to christen the other set.

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me: ooh!

Day 96/183: Signs that your children may be missing school

Normally we don’t allow the children to play on their devices during the “school day”, but last Friday we made a special exception, partly due to the upheaval caused by moving mid-week and partly because their parents were tired.

How did they spend their special device time, I hear you ask? Did they reach new levels in Pokemon Shield or Just Dance? Achieve a new high score on Space Shooters or Doug Dug? No. They built a school for creepers in Minecraft on the Nintendo Switch, complete with playground equipment, multiple classrooms, and Forest School [pictured below, with campfires].

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togusa: it's all rubbish

Day 92/183: Have you tried turning it off and on again?

Ill Communication: A Very Short Play

Upper Management: How do you all feel about having calls to your currently inaccessible campus work phones forwarded to your mobiles?

Us: Our personal mobiles?

UM: Yes.

Us: That would be an emphatic no.

UM: OK, how about having calls redirect to your Skype for Business accounts?

Us: That would be acceptable.

UM: Great! Here are instructions on how to set that up through the IT portal.

Us: We've all tried and none of us have that option available to us.

UM: Oh dear. We've opened a service desk request on your behalf to correct that.

~~~Three Weeks Later~~~

IT: We've fixed your issue! Please log out of Skype for Business and log back in, and then you'll be able to redirect your calls.

Us: Um, so, we've all tried, and what you've done is enable calls to be re-directed from our Skype for Business accounts to our currently inaccessible campus work phones. We still don't see the option to do the reverse on the IT portal.

IT: ....Ohhhh, is that what you wanted? Sorry.

Us: ...

We're going to be back on campus full time before this gets fixed, aren't we.