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Following up from a blog post I wrote nearly 2 years ago(!), I’ve just been putting together some suggested prayers for our church primary school. I used some of the suggested ones in the blog post and some others I sourced from around the web. This is the selection I’ve given them for first thing in the school day:

Good morning Lord
This is your day.
We are your children.
Show us your way. Amen.

God bless the sky that is above us
the earth that is beneath us
your image deep within us
the day that lies before us.
Amen.

Lord, teach us how to keep your day
And lead and bless us all the way. Amen.

For this new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends.
For everything your goodness sends,
We thank You, dearest Lord.
Amen.

Jesus, gentle Shepherd,
Bless your lamb today;
Keep me in your footsteps,
Never let me stray.
Guard me through the daytime.
Every hour, I pray;
Keep my feet from straying
From the narrow way.
Amen.

(Sung)
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.
His mercies never come to an end.
They are new every morning,
New every morning.
Great is your faithfulness O Lord.
Great is your faithfulness.

I found a lovely but very amateur clip of the Calvary 1st Nigerian choir singing this – the singing is gorgeous but the video is rather out of focus so I suggest you look at something else in your internet browser whilst you listen.

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If you are a parent with a child in primary school, you may today be panicking about World Book Day tomorrow. This is the occasion when many schools encourage kids to come in dressed as a literary character. My three are going as:

  1. Violet Baudelaire from the Lemony Snicket Series of Unfortunate Events. This involves her wearing a purple dress and tying her hair with a purple ribbon. She is currently not keen on wearing the long black wig I bought because it isn’t quite as she imagined Violet’s hair looks (‘too long and curly’ apparently).
  2. Dr Who. Not very literary I’m afraid, but the Joker is obsessed and has been reading the annuals repeatedly. We obtained a second hand tweed jacket for him to accompany his sonic screwdriver and the bow tie he was given for Christmas.
  3. The Engineer’s outfit was trickier, involving the use of fun fur and a sewing machine. He is going as Mr Munroe from the Ottoline stories.

However, for those panicking this afternoon (as I usually do – this year is completely out of character for me), I give the following suggestions of easy outfits to cobble together before the morning, if your children are persuadable, as, alas, mine often aren’t.

  • Roald Dahl characters. Charlie (from the Chocolate Factory) just needs a golden ticket and normal clothes. Or Mrs Twit involves a headscarf and walking stick. George could go in normal clothes with a bottle of medicine and James could take a picture of a peach. Matilda can just take a pile of books!
  • Narnia children who could go in anything looking vaguely 1940s/50s eg shorts and knitted sweaters.
  • Horrid Henry characters (sorry) – Moody Margaret or Henry himself, for example. They will need to wear a scowl.
  • [Late edit] Captain Underpants. All you need is a cape (or piece of cloth) and undies worn over trousers. Would mainly appeal to 8 year old boys.

That’s a few off the top of my head. Any other top last minute outfit tips?

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Our kids are happy in our church school here in the parish. The teachers are kind and dedicated and are working hard to make it better and better. The school is in a disadvantaged area and it can be hard to ensure that all the children learn to their full potential. But the staff are tackling difficulties one by one and making a real difference. One of the obstacles that our current school faces is a building built for a smaller school (2/3 of its current size) and built at a time when open plan classrooms were all the rage.

Our building isn’t bad – it’s clean and well maintained. We’ve recently had a refurbishment of the Foundation Stage area which is fantastic. We have a wonderful school allotment and many other great outdoor facilities. I am thankful for many blessings there.

But the thing is, our old school just got a new building. And today I saw this wonderful video of it. If you manage not to blink, you can see a clay tile made by the Queen just before we left (at around 7 minutes in). This is the building that I am praying for our current church school. We are thinking long term here…

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At least I'm not a tangerine. Not today, anyway!

My kids have come back from school at the beginning of the new term with a new counting rhyme. They count the buttons you have on your clothes and chant

Lady
Baby
Gypsy Queen
Elephant
Monkey
Tangerine

Then you are pronounced to be one of these. Today I am (thankfully) a Lady. Happy was declared to be a Monkey on the morning he left. Oddly accurate, these counting rhymes. What are you today?

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More than a year ago I blogged a video of the Queen and the Joker reciting one of their favourite playground rhymes. This has attracted a few comments both on the blog and on YouTube, so I thought I’d share another favourite Wolverhampton rhyme here.

Here they are reciting Ribena, Sassatina (full lyrics below the video). I’m not sure what it is with soft drinks. And what is Sassatina, anyway? And apologies for the Queen’s stripes/flowers combo. She has her own fashion sense…

Ribena (clap, clap,clap), sassatina (clap, clap,clap).

Big boy (clap, clap,clap), crazy girl (clap, clap,clap).

Ribena, sassatina.

Big boy, crazy girl.

Statue, baby.

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New School Hats

Half term has just begun and I am very relieved to have a few days ahead where I can spend a few more minutes in bed of a morning. Plain Lazy is not my favourite t-shirt company for nothing. So this week I am going to gather myself together to prepare for what I am expecting to be a busier time ahead. Oh, and take the kids to London to stay with Nanna and Grumpy Grandpa and visit some museums, obviously. I may be lazy but I have an organised mother.

Last week I managed to add a couple of extra responsibilities to my life. Since the Engineer has started full time school, I have been wasting too much time faffing about. I always seem to get more done when there’s more to be done. So I am now officially a school governor and, following much red tape and council bureaucracy, I am also – ta-daaa – a school volunteer.  So now I’m Vicar’s Wife, Parent, Governor and Volunteer. I only need to start supervising dinners and I’ll have a full house.

I shall be going into school for two mornings a week to read with Year 6 and Year 2 pupils. I’m sure there’ll be much fodder for blogging, but I’ve signed the school’s paperwork agreeing to confidentiality. So I’ll not be able to share anything with you guys. Sorry. I’m looking forward to helping out in a school which has 35% pupils with special needs and some from difficult home situations.

I know a bit about the governors, because the Vicar is already on. I’ve been reading his stuff a bit so I’m already vaguely in the loop. Sadly my school gate pal Neatnic didn’t apply – she’d wanted to but couldn’t face writing the 75 word manifesto that I struggled with.

I’ve often heard local parents talk about wanting to get involved at school but they then seem to find the actuality too hard. It’s obviously not helped by the ridiculous bureaucracy that seems to have grown up around volunteering – CRB forms, council applications etc. But I think others are still nervous around teachers, seeing them as the grown ups, as if they themselves were still at school.

One of my aims in helping out at school is to help some of these parents make the step into school. I’m not sure how – any tips would be very welcome.

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I’ve been struggling this week to put together a 75 word spiel in support of my candidature to be a parent governor at our church school. Grumpy Grandpa has gone rather over the word limit with his suggestion, but otherwise I’d be submitting this:

Hi parents, I’m the Vicar’s Wife,
Follow my blog (or get a life),
I’ve managed things, well, more or less,
A sewage site at Inverness,
Then I worked in Pakistan
Fighting corruption with my charm,
In Kuala Lumpur, curing pong,
When drainage systems went all wrong,
I’ve three kids now at Holy T,
Tall, short hair, at the gate, that’s me,
Chatting away with the rest of the bunch,
Hoping they’ll help with the old peoples’ lunch,
Or hoping, too, they’ll come to pray:
But’s that’s all for another day.
I want to help, please vote for me,
And unlike your MP, I’m totally free!

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Much flapping in the Vicarage this morning. The Vicar and I had put the lights out too late last night. Note to self: Christians on their way to heaven get to bed before eleven. As a result we were late up this morning and not chivvying the kids as early as usual.

We seemed to be getting away with it – it was 8.15am, the boys were downstairs and dressed and the Queen, so it was thought, was dressed but on the loo upstairs. We have to be out of the door at 8.40am at the latest.

Then it all started to go wrong. The Engineer had a meltdown because he wanted to practice the piano before his breakfast. As it was already 8.20am we suggested he eat first. Major strop. Then it was 8.25am and the Queen was still absent. I called up and she appeared out of the toilet. In her pjs. She’d been reading.

Following coaxing and flapping in equal measure we managed to make school just as the whistle went in the playground at 8.45am. Phew, we did it. But not everyone did.

Just as I see every morning, as I headed back home at 8.50am many stragglers were appearing down the slope that leads to the school gate. Some were with parents and being hurried, others with parents who mooched. And some kids were strolling along on their own.

When I spot kids on their own who lack a sense of urgency I like to encourage them to get one. ‘Chop, chop you’re late’ is my normal cry. It’s not always effective. But this morning I had success with a gang of lads who I see almost every morning as I head back.

‘I’ll time you – see if you can make it down to the gate in 20 seconds’ I said. It was wonderful to see them pelting down to school. They were only a few minutes late, but they are learning the habit of lateness and a lack of respect for school rules. I never see a parent with them. I’m sad for these boys and suspect that they are going to struggle to bridge the growing gap between rich and poor, reported by the National Equality Panel this morning.

At the bottom of the BBC’s report there is a graph which shows much inequality is ‘unexplained’. I wonder how much correlation you could find between a lateness and absenteeism record in primary school and future success.

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Well, he’s not really a babe any more, but he’s still only six, and as the snow continues to drift down here in the parish, I wanted to share the Joker’s theological thoughts on the current weather.

He told the Vicar the other night

Dad, I know why God made snow white. It’s so that we can remember that although our hearts are dirty because of our sin, he washes them really pure, like snow, as we trust in Jesus who died for our sin.

It’s good to remember that as we sit at home and I attempt to vaguely homeschool the kids as the school is shut again. Our hearts don’t feel very clean today as we bicker about studying, but they are.

The view from our living room window this morning

‘Homeschooling’ now seems to be consisting of the Queen and the Joker educating themselves about snowman construction. And I’ve promised the Engineer that he can write a blog post. Hmm. Very glad that I don’t do this fulltime!

The church from our garden

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Our church primary school has only shut for one day during the recent snowfest and that was because ice was making the pavement outside and the access inside the school almost impassable. Yay for them I say – well done those dedicated teachers who’ve driven in through difficult conditions to come and educate our children. But there have been many grumbles on the school gate about it being open. People seem to be full of  doom and gloom about getting their kids in.

I’m trying to work out if their attitudes about to going to school in the snow are normal or are only normal in an area where people’s emotional capacity is already stretched by everyday life, making the extra hassle brought by snow just one thing too many. Here are some of the things I’ve been hearing:

  • We should stay off school when it snows because I or the children might slip on the way to school and get hurt
  • We should stay off school when it snows because the children might slip over or get cold during playtime because the teachers send them out to play in the snow
  • We should stay off school when it snows because the other schools are off
  • We should stay off school when it snows because it’s snowed

Have you heard anything like this where you live?

Actually, I was slightly hoping for another day off today because I had a home school experiment planned. I was going to see if the kids would do some studying for me if I set the day up like a normal school day with break times and games and things. It all seemed possible because we tidied the house yesterday for our Open House.

But looking at the weather forecast, I suspect that proper school is back now for the rest of the snow season, so I’ll have to save that experiment for another time. In the meantime it doesn’t look like the school’s (already bad) absenteeism rate is going be looking up this term.

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