Tuesday, 15 August 2017

a sigh of relief










Yesterday marked the end of the summer holiday. As the children scampered off to school (some more reluctantly so than others), mums and dads skipped away from the drop-off zone with a happy bounce in their step, humming songs of freedom and of good things to come. Me and Jack took our time to walk home, him checking out all the nooks and crannies he hasn't visited in weeks, me contemplating the prospect of a day of work without interruptions. Oh the joys of the first day back!

I managed to take a photo of all four, they are sitting on our front steps as far from each other as possible. There is not a single photo in which they are all looking like themselves. We'll laugh about these photos in a few years time, I am sure we will. The photos here are of James and Alistair after school. They were in good form. Clubs are back, too. The two monkeys got back from cub scouts smelling of fire and adventure. It is good to have a routine once more.

Summer school holidays are far too long. I wish we had more frequent but shorter breaks. Wouldn't it be great to have a decent holiday in late spring, when the weather in Scotland is (more or less) reliably good? Summers are a mixed bag. One day it feels like November, the next like a cheap copy of a summer's day in Italy. There are some truly lovely days but not many.

We took a family holiday at the very beginning of the holidays, at the end of June. It is far cheaper then and far less busy because the English schools don't break up until the end of July. All four children spent a week with my mum in Switzerland, but not at the same time. They all enjoyed their time with granny and were thoroughly indulged. It is nice for them to be treated like royalty now and then.

Sam was working as an intern for four weeks to gain real work experience and to help him decide what university courses to apply for. I am pleased that his Scottish Higher results will allow him to apply for the courses he is most interested in and at institutions that have a great reputation. He'll definitely apply for courses at Scottish universities, which is a relief because Scottish students at Scottish universities don't pay tuition fees. Yes, we are lucky.

Although Richard and I are both employed in the higher education sector, our contracts are year round, not term time. Childcare can be an issue. This year was easy. For the first time, we didn't pay professionals to look after the children. Instead, we worked out a routine that kept the time the children were on their own to a minimum and paid Annie to entertain James and Alistair. She offered to do one week on a trial basis and then continued for a further two weeks, doing a marvellous job. She did take the odd day off, which was fine because we can work at home in principle and keep an eye on things. Of course not all was perfect, but it never is. I did enquire about a holiday camp for the young ones after a particularly rocky day but Annie got so cross with me that I abandoned all efforts and let her do what she wanted.

I wonder what the new school year will bring. Sam is sitting sixth year, taking only subjects he enjoys. His schedule is probably the least challenging of all four despite having to sit more Scottish Higher and Advanced Higher exams at the end. He is doing four subjects and can enjoy these as he has sufficiently good grades for University entry already. Annie is now in S3 and has selected eight subjects that she will study for the next two years. Her choices are very different from Sam's at the same age. I think her favourite subjects are home economics and geography. Sam's were computing and graphic design. Annie will do well, she takes learning very seriously. James is in P6. He also takes learning very seriously but finds it far more challenging. I think we'll see big changes in him this year. He has already shown signs of greater independence, for example yesterday, he called his cub scout leaders to find if cubs was on, then he called his friend's mums to let them know. I had to remind myself to stop staring at this little creature of mine, so full of unexpected confidence and optimism. Confidence is so important for success. Alistair is now in P5, which is unbelievable. He shows no interest in academic studies but has so far been doing well. I doubt he'll change much this year but there is hope. He did say he wanted to participate in the K-Factor (which is the schools equivalent to the X-Factor), I guess that is something to aim for. He suggested a piano recital but failed to recognise that we don't have a piano and that he has never taken any piano lessons. His second choice is preforming a Blondie song. We'll see. He does enjoy dancing and music so maybe this is where he will excel.

It was a busy day, but a good one. Here's to another good school year! Thanks for stopping by. Cxx


P.S. As I was typing this, the telly was on and and I listened to Mr Trump making a hash of being the leader of the United States. He is remarkable, isn't he? Not remarkable in a good way unfortunately, but remarkably awful. The world political situation hasn't been so volatile in a long time and it is a bit scary. I can only hope that commons sense will prevail, here and there and everywhere. Watching the news is bad for my well being. 

21 comments:

  1. Cute boys! being English I am very interested in how the Scottish school system differs from the English. Scottish schools seem to perform better than English. I know my friends, who went to school in Scotland (have moved south for jobs in their field), learnt latin at state school. I find that fantastic, I did not have this option. For that the Scottish system gets a huge thumbs up from me!

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  2. The world situation is indeed scary and I am still horrified that people elected Trump. I don't like to think where he will lead America. Lovely photos of the boys, it sounds as though they will do well. Sam's year will be enjoyable I think, how nice to already have achieved the results he needs. Another two and a half weeks of holiday here. I have found it almost impossible to work at all, which tends to make me cross while I am trying and they are disturbing me. I probably just need to abandon all idea of it during the day. CJ xx

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  3. It is always nice to be back in regular routines! I'd love to take a week off the summer holidays and add it on to the Christmas break as Christmas can be a really busy time! I don't feel like I've had a day off yet this summer as life is so busy. Going back to school in a couple more weeks will probably feel like a holiday!

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  4. Routine is good and children do need it. It was always the last week of summer holidays that seemed too long back in the day when ours were young. Sounds like your older two are getting themselves organised well with education. I agree on the Mr Trump front. He scares me rigid. I almost dread to run on the news to see his latest gaffe. Impeachment is the only way forward I say. Enjoy your slightly quieter days :). B x

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  5. What great photos of the boys and lovely to see then growing up. Great to hear how well your older two are doing as well. I'm not sure remarkable would be my choice of adjective for the repulsive Mr. Trump. I find him and his regime terrifying.

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  6. Such cute and happy photos. Their hair color is fabulous!

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  7. If you think your vacation is too long imagine the American school vacation that is almost 3 months long. Kids forget everything in that long a time period and you spend the first few month reviewing the prior year.
    For a while I taught in what was called a year round school that had tracks and 3 tracks were always in session and 1 was out. So you taught for 3 months and were out for one. Altogether you taught 9 months and 3 vacations.
    Your high school system sounds so complicated.

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  8. I tried to leave a comment about Annie's magnificent quilt but it doesn't seem to have appeared. It's a triumph! We have three more weeks to go of our school holidays and I'm sure there will be many a spring in a parent's step when they end. It sounds as though all's going well, Christina. Good luck to all of your children with their new studies (and congratulations to Sam). Sam x

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  9. Love the photos of the boys. You do have a good system in Scotland and Sam is very lucky to have a year to study for the sake of it. Kate is considered applying to Edinburgh uni but she can only do a four year MA course in her subjects and unfortunately she'll pay the full 9000+ per year. Love Annie's quilt. X Doris

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  10. Scotland is such an enlightened country compared to others I may mention. My daughter is taking on a fourth year of debt by doing a Masters. She achieved a first and has been awarded a bursary (a lecturer was killed in a road accident and this is her legacy - I'm very aware Katie is very fortunate) which will cover her tuition fees. i take my hat off to you and your family for surviviving another long school holiday intact and wish you all a happy new school year.

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  11. Your boys are so cute and funny! I'd really love to see a photo of all 4 of your kids. I remember the freedom feeling of getting all 3 of mine in school. Enjoy your week! ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

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  12. All the best with your time planning now the boys are back at school. I'm reminded we'd put in an offer on a house in the Scottish Borders. We weren't successful but it's got me racking my brain as to where it was. I'm wandering if it was Hawick, there was a cafe on the corner - run by a church I think, with a village football club across the road. There was a park at the bottom of the garden and a secondary school down the hill - that'd been turned into a primary school with a nursery. It was about 15 years ago now.
    Annie's quilt is beautiful, a labour of love. Cathy x

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  13. Hey Christina,
    Oh your boys! They've grown and changed so much, especially James He's losing that little boy look. We are halfway through week four of the holidays here, and today is proving to be a challenge. The weather has been pretty dreadful, and trying to humour a little boy who needs to be exercised every day, is tough. I'm seriously thinking about getting a trampoline for the garden; the sofas are taking a lot of punishment. Alfie has proved invaluable this summer for helping with childcare. I pay him, and he picks up Olly from holiday club on a Friday and looks after him on a Saturday afternoon. The arrangement isn't ideal really; Alf's idea of entertainment is exposing Olly to unsuitable games on the Xbox. He's supposed to walk Honey for me too, but that hasn't happened. I would like to be able to rely on Marc more, but he won't give up his sailing for anyone. Congratulations to Sam, and good for him that he doesn't have to pay tuition fees. Perhaps that's why application to Uni places were down in the UK this year? Anyway ramble over!
    Have a great week.
    Leanne xx

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  14. Christine, your situation is not so bad, our children have another four weeks of summer school holidays! B.

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  15. Nice to see the photos of your sons, Christine, and already back to school. Our grandchildren in RI won't start until eight before the U.S. Labor Day weekend at the end of this month. I greatly enjoyed reading about the Scottish educational system from what you shared here.

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  16. Forgot to add that "remarkable" is hardly the word I would apply to Mr. Trump, as unbelievable, unfortunate and mis-guided come to mind more readily. But, then he is "our" problem here in the U.S.

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  17. YOur boys are adorable, but don't tell them I said that. On my first free morning in four months I ran the the emergency room with my middle son. So much for any time to myself. As for your children they sound so accomplished and well educated, you should be proud. As for politics you know where I stand on that, Trump is a bubbling idiot, but there are so many still defending him. It makes me ill.

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  18. Gosh, back to school already (time really is flying) though it sounds like the holiday arrangements worked well for you all. Love the pictures of your boys (and what looks like a polar bear on the steps behind them). happy weekend.

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  19. Yes, does a week go by where Mr Trump hasn't done something remarkably awful?? I still shake my head in disbelief that he actually was voted in. But to happier thoughts, cute photos of your boys. They look as if they are great kids. Wish oh wish I had a mum in Switzerland. How wonderful your kids can holiday with her there. Here's to a great new school for all your family.

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  20. Ohhh the Blondie Song for sure, I can't believe the next generation are enjoying her songs as much as we did - or is this a new Blondie?! There is something real calming about the end of the School hols isn't there? I remember it well for me, it was a slight freaking out over the end of a lack of summer freedom combined with the excitement of a new routine, and new things ahead - like getting a new rough book at the start of the school year! Well done you - Summer and mission accomplished!
    Wren x

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  21. I have to agree about the school holidays. I think we should have four terms with four week holidays between each, like they do in Australia. Or something like that. But I'm glad yours all went back off happily and that they're doing so well. My two go back this week, on Wednesday.

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Thank you for visiting and leaving a comment, I love to hear from you, I really do. I sometimes reply by email but I am not all that reliable... Christina xx