Thursday, 31 December 2009

Moving into the "Tennies"

I gave up New Year's resolutions a long time ago, ever since I failed spectacularly to 'give up' smoking 12 years in a row. (Thankfully I did stop smoking one September evening a long time ago, no calendar-induced promise required!)

However, moving into a new year I do like to have a think of where Gruff, Sprout, Squidge and I will be headed in the year to come, and with this in mind I have come up with my aims for 2010, some big, some small, and mostly just recorded here to jog my memory in a week when the usual day to day goings on have clogged up my brain so that any thoughts beyond changing nappies and how to spell c-a-t have no wriggle room.

1. We will start a business.

Now this one has been on the horizon for a while, being as I am stuck in a part time job which I dislike almost as much as I need it. While I passionately want to teach my children that you work to earn a living, I also want to show them that it is indeed possible to do something you enjoy rather than having your soul sucked out corporate stylee. Myriad ideas have been put forward, mulled over, and put on hold, so I am making this number one on our list.

2. We will grow more veg than last year.

Now, this was not for want of trying. A combination of me being in hospital, Gruff having a poor memory watering-wise, and an all-consuming platoon of slugs, led to our minimal harvest of 17 carrots, 26 runnerbeans, 12 tomatoes, some very mangy potatoes, and a raspberry. Yes, one. So any advice on organic slug control gratefully received! (And forgetful husbands!)

3. We will build a chicken house and keep some ex-battery hens.

Sprout is all for this, and he loved trying to grow veg last year so I think he would be a valuable helper. Plus any eggs would be a bonus, reluctant as I am to buy supermarket "free range"

4. We will start an informal scheme to collect cartons from the houses in our street and take them to the recycling centre.

It's bugged me for a while that the facilities exist locally to recycle juice cartons, yet they're not picked up. Not quite sure how this will go down with the neighbours (or should I say I'm pretty sure but I'm gonna try anyway!)

5. We will convince our MP that home education is a valuable thing and not an abberation to be ignored at best, wiped out at worst.

A long shot, but I'm going to keep on trying. One of these days he might even reply to me without weeks of repeated phone calls.

6. We will make all our gifts and be as sustainable as possible doing it.

We did make most of our Christmas gifts this year, but ended up buying birthday gifts for people. We also ended up using some wrapping paper, so I'll be hoarding alternatives (fabric, newspaper, old maps etc) early on this time!

7. Spend as much time as possible with our children.

Now this really should be at number one, but no matter, it's not in order of importance! In fact, this one should go without saying, however so much time in 2009 was spent fighting the government's plans to take over the role of parents in the UK, that it took valuable family time away from us, and for that I will never forgive the government. The fight is not nearly over, and you can help by getting everyone you know to sign the petition against these totalitarian plans here


So that's the summary of our plans for the year ahead, some big, some small, some personal, and some affecting all families in this country. Happy New Year to you all!

Monday, 21 December 2009

The unsurprising self-interest of the NASUWT

The article on page 23 of the December 2009 issue of the NASUWT magazine continues in the unsurprising vein of criticism of Home Education. I've reproduced it for you below, but rather than boring you with the original, riddled with spelling mistakes as it is, I've replaced Home Education with 'eating at home', in the hope that anyone who may have read this shocking piece of self-interested prejudice and thought it reasonable, may now reread it in a new light.

"Following a review of eating at home, the Government is propsing (sic) to introduce arrangements for the registration and monitoring of children who eat at home. The consultation document 'Eating at Home: Registration and montoring (sic) proposals' sets out proposals for a registration scheme and arrangements for the monitoring of provision to ensure all children receive the nutrition to which thet (sic) are entitled.

The National Union of Restaurateurs was cited in the 'Report to the Secretary of State on the Review of Eating at Home in England' by Graham Badman as an Organisation that supported a restaurant-based system of nutrition for all.

The Key recommendations within the report were that all children who eat at home should be:

* Registered with their LA
* visited regularly by an LA representative to ensure their wellbeing; and
* able to have access to facilities within restaurants

The National Union of Restaurateurs' response to the consultation stated that the only way the Government can be sure of meeting its stated aims within the Every Child Matters framework is to make restaurant meals obligatory for all children.

The Union was exrememly concerned with the findings of the report, which stated that there are no reliable estimates of the numbers of children who eat meals at home.

The National Union of Restaurateurs therefore agreed that if the Government was unable to make eating in restaurants obligatory, there should be an LA register of children who eat at home, with a network of support and monitoring to ensure that the nutrition of all children meets a set of nationaly agreed principles.

The National Union of Restaurateurs supported the recommendation to allow children who usually eat at home the option to use restaurant facilities but felt that this would need careful monitoring to ensure that it could be managed effectively.

The Union also expressed concerns that there were significant resource implications of the recommendations were agreed in full.

The final report from the DCSF is expected at the end of the year."



I tried to find a picture of a group of ignorant self-serving fools to accompany this post, however google kept redirecting me to the DCSF site. Weird.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

In the hope that someone will listen,.....

So, it's quarter to two in the morning and I can't sleep, so what better time to share with you my response to the DCSF consultation on the registration and monitoring proposals for home educators. I'm sure I haven't covered everything you seasoned HEers and wordsmith bloggers have covered, but I will put it here anyway in the hope that some of my non-HE friends may use it as inspiration for their response to the consultation (that closes on Monday at 11.45pm hint hint :D)

Question 1 Do you agree that these proposals strike the right balance between the rights of parents to home educate and the rights of children to receive a suitable education?

DISAGREE
By asking whether the proposals strike a balance between these two things, you are assuming that for some reason they are in opposition. Parents have a duty to cause their children to receive a suitable education. The UNCRC states that “Parents or, as the case may be, legal guardians, have the primary responsibility for the upbringing and development of the child. The best
interests of the child will be their basic concern.”

Question 2 Do you agree that a register should be kept

DISAGREE
Absolutely not. Any compulsory registration scheme would take the responsibility from parents and place it on the State. It would be no more right or desirable to have a compulsory registration scheme for Home Educators than it would be to have one for vegetarians to somehow ensure that they were fulfilling their parental duty to ensure their children are fed.
Any registration scheme would not stop at being registered; as evidenced by the Badman review, people always want to do more with the information and intrude further into family life. Article 14 of the ECHR says that discrimination is not allowed, in addition to specified grounds, for 'any other reason', and where such discrimination exists on the part of government it must it has to be justifiable, meet specific objectives and be deemed necessary, not just reasonable, within a democratic society. This sort of register would be discriminating against home educators on the basis of our educational choice, and it has not been shown that collecting this data would serve any beneficial purpose.
What you are suggesting is not registration, it is licensing, due to the fact that the local authority would have the power to decline registration for any number of reasons. I find it unacceptable that, in choosing to decline the local authority's optional offer to educate my child, using its failing service, that that same authority would then have the power to decide whether or not I do in fact have to take up their offer of the service.

3.Do you agree with the information to be provided for registration?

DISAGREE
This question assumes that I agree with registration, which I do not. In addition it is not definitively stated what the information would be, only what it would likely be. In terms of what have been stated as the likely requirements, it can only be said that it shows a clear lack of understanding of how home education is conducted. It's very nature in being personalised to the individual child means that the educational approach, intent, and desired outcomes change on a regular basis in line with the evolving needs of the individual child. The unrestricted nature of home education also means that it would be utterly impossible, not to mention restrictive, damaging and wholly undesirable, to name a location where education is conducted.

Question 4 Do you agree that home educating parents should be required to keep the register up to date?

DISAGREE
Absolutely not. I disagree with registration as detailed in question 2. You would be updated should a child's educational status change as they would register at a school.

Q5 Do you agree that it should be a criminal offence to fail to register or to provide inadequate or false information?

DISAGREE
I believe that any relationship that a home educating parent has with the local authority should be based on mutual respect, presumption of innocence, and focus on supporting the home educator. Any such relationship should be entirely voluntary, and there should be no penalty, civil or criminal.

1.6 a) Do you agree that home educated children should stay on the roll of their former school for 20 days after parents notify that they intend to home educate?

DISAGREE
Absolutely not. This seems to suggest that parents need some sort of approval in order to deregister their children from school. Parents are responsible for educating their children and the suggestion that immediate registration on demand should be prevented is no more than state interference.
In addition any such period would be open to widespread abuse from parents wanting to take their children on term-time holidays without prosecution for truancy.
It would also be inefficient and expensive to deny what would actually be an available school place to another child.

6 b) Do you agree that the school should provide the local authority with achievement and future attainment data?

DISAGREE
Absolutely not. This would be personal data concerning the child and would not normally be given to the LA. A parent is responsible for their child's education. If the parent wants this data, then it should be supplied to them. It is unclear what the purpose of providing this data to the LA would be anyway. Any difference in the data from what the child was able to, or wanted to, learn and achieve could be extremely demotivating to the individual child. Such information being passed to an LA for the purpose of measuring an individual child's future achievement would be completely discriminatory in that no parent of a child in the state system is held to account for the apparent failure of their individual child in achieving what has been predicted for them. A law that states that a parent is responsible for causing their child to receive an education must be applied to all equally, and not to home educating parents in a different way than those who send their children to state school or private school.

Q7 Do you agree that DCSF should take powers to issue statutory guidance in relation to the registration and monitoring of home education?

DISAGREE
Absolutely not. Parents we are responsible for their children's education. We pay taxes to the government to provide services, many of which are optional, and one these optional services provided by local government is state school provision. The provision of state education is to enable parents who choose not to educate their children at home, to have their children educated by people appointed by the state. If a parent chooses not to use this service, they should not be answerable to the provider of the service. If I choose to buy my books in a bookshop, or even write my own, I would not have to explain to the local library why I have done this, nor be monitored by them.
Should a local authority have concerns about a child's welfare, or reason to believe that a child it not receiving an education, then it already has enough powers under the Education Act and the Children's Acts to address these concerns. One of the bedrocks of our society is the assumption that every citizen is innocent until proven guilty. A minority group should not be monitored under the assumption that they are more likely to be guilty, it is an abhorrent thought. A local authority does not have the right, and should never be given the right, to intrude into a person's home or life, unless it has any of the concerns mentioned above. As parents, adults, citizens and voters, we are not answerable to the government for engaging in lawful activities; rather government and its agencies are answerable to us. Rather than parents answering to the local authority, the local authority should present to home educating parents, on request only, a plan detailing how it will support them to exercise their lawful right to educate their children at home. The services provided by the local authority need to remain non-mandatory, just as a hospital cannot force parents to bring their children in for annual check-ups, and a library does not have the power to make people come inside and read its books.
There are many different reasons why parents choose to home educate. However, I would say that the providers of a service of which growing numbers are declining to avail themselves, instead of looking to monitor and control those individuals, should instead look at their own service where they are failing hundreds of thousands of children against their own benchmarks.

Q8 Do you agree that children about whom there are substantial safeguarding concerns should not be home educated?

DISAGREE
Absolutely not. Either children are safe to be in their home or they are not, home education doesn't come into it. Children about whom there are substantial safeguarding concerns should be handled by the appropriate social services department.
New powers are not necessary. If a child is considered to be at risk of significant harm, a supervision order can be applied for. If it is seen, as a result of observation during supervision, that a suitable education is not being provided, an SAO or Education Supervision Order can be applied for.
What about a child who attends a school that cannot guarantee their safety? Will it be recommended that they be educated at home?

Q9 Do you agree that the local authority should visit the premises where home education is taking place provided 2 weeks notice is given?

DISAGREE
Absolutely not. Again this is nothing but discrimination against home educators. No other group is subject to such random intrusions against their privacy. If there are welfare concerns then access should be handled as per the existing legislation I have detailing in previous questions. There should be no automatic right of access to the home unless it covers all families, regardless of educational choice, and even then it would still be a completely unacceptable breach of privacy. Such a right to enter would violate both the Human Rights Act 1998 and the European Convention on Human Rights Article 8.
In the event that a family voluntarily wanted the assistance of the local authority, the LA may suggest a date and time for an appointment but this should be open to agreement to find a time and date that is acceptable and convenient to both parties. The local authority is answerable to the public, not vice versa.

Q10 Do you agree that the local authority should have the power to interview the child, alone if this is judged appropriate, or if not in the presence of a trusted person who is not the parent/carer?

DISAGREE
Absolutely not, what a horrifying notion. If there are reasons to believe that a child is at risk, social services should be notified and should deal with that child in the same way as any other child that there are concerns about. There is no need for a LA to interview a child alone. Taking a child to be interviewed alone would be incredibly harmful as it inherently suggests to that child that it is safe to be alone with strangers like that and talk to them. It would also leave LA staff open to allegations of abuse. Social workers and police are highly trained to deal with these circumstances, such cases should be left to the professionals to deal with using the legislation that already exists.

Q 11 Do you agree that the local authority should visit the premises and interview the child within four weeks of home education starting, after 6 months has elapsed, at the anniversary of home education starting, and thereafter at least on an annual basis? This would not preclude more frequent monitoring if the local authority thought that was necessary

DISAGREE
Absolutely not. There has been no solid, irrefutable evidence shown that demonstrates that the current arrangements are inadequate, or indeed that greater, tighter regulation and monitoring is wanted, needed and effective. Parents are responsible for ensuring that their children receive an education, either by attendance at school, or otherwise. It is not right that if a parent declines a service offered by the local authority, that same service would then monitor the other legal option that they are providing. A local authority cannot be responsible for assessing children outside it's system. Not only is their own system failing by it's own benchmarks, but it would likely, and completely inappropriately, use these same benchmarks to assess home educated children without taking into account the many different styles of home education, and the unique flexibility, sensitivity, and individuality that it comprises for each individual child.
There is no argument by which parents should have to justify to a government agency what actions we take to bring up our children, as long as we are providing “good enough” parenting (the standard use by social services), and our children are not at risk of harm. There are already measures in place to deal with it if this is not the case. If we were vegetarians we would not have to justify to the DCSF that we did not feed our children meat, even though it surely falls under the DCSF's remit that children are fed properly, as well as educated.
Finally, there is a clear race and class bias to the proposal. It is an established fact that lower socio-economic groups do not fare as well in their interactions with officialdom. The effect of implementing these proposals would be disproportionate for working class families and those of ethnic minorities.




If you haven't yet responded to this consultation, you can find it here If you don't think this applies to you, think again.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

For all you non-home educators...

Ok so I'm going to have to ask – Why are non-home educators not worried about the home education monitoring proposals that the government are pushing through? I can imagine one of the reasons is that shoddy journalism such as this has failed to flag at any point the dangers of the proposals to the fundamentals of our society. For anyone who doesn't know about the Badman review, the recommendations will see, among many other things, local authorities gain unprecedented access to the homes of families who decline the service of state education.

But it won't just be home educators. They will be reversing the burden of proof, so that we are required to prove, without them showing any grounds for suspicion, that we are not breaking the law. Once that's done it doesn't just apply to us. It can be applied to any section of society that they feel like. Think about it.

If they decide, and produce 'statistics' to suggest (and when I say produce, I mean fabricate, guesstimate and fudge) that people on a low income are more likely to feed their children a diet lacking in nutrition, they can then go into their homes to check their cupboards and fridges, and speak to their children alone just in case what's in the fridge isn't a good representation of what they really eat.

If they decide that people of a designated religion are more likely to force their children into marriages, they can go into their homes and check, and speak to their children alone just in case they were married off over the summer holidays.

If they decide that immigrants are more likely to commit violent crime, they can go into their homes and check for weapons.

Accountants more likely to commit fraud? Enter their homes and check their computers!

Women more likely to shoplift? Enter their homes!

Men more likely to rape? Enter their homes!


And if that still doesn't worry you even a little bit, wrap your brain around this. In law, according to Section 7 of the 1996 Education Act :

The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable—
(a) to his age, ability and aptitude, and
(b) to any special educational needs he may have,
either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.

So in normal-speak, that means it's YOUR responsibility as a parent to educate your child. Not the state. Not the school. Not the teachers. And if the government are going to start taking action against home educators who they deem, for any reason at all that they fancy (as stated in the review), not to be providing an education suitable to their child's age, ability and aptitude, then that will also have to apply to the parents of schooled children, as the law above clearly makes no distinction.

Is your child one of the 35,000 state school pupils that start secondary school every year with no 'useful literacy' by the government's own standards? Then YOU are responsible and can be held accountable.

Is your child one of the 225,000 11 year olds that started secondary school this term without a proper grounding in the key subjects of English, maths and science? Then YOU are responsible and can be held accountable.

Is your child one of the staggering 835,000 16 to 19 year olds that are NEET (Not in Education, Employment, or Training). Yes, you guessed it, YOU are liable.

So please god tell me that you're worried now. Even a little bit.

The state system is failing by its own benchmarks, and yet YOU are still responsible for the results. They are going to force members of the public to be inspected by agents of the failing system, simply for declining the offer of using it. You don't need to be a home educator to be horrified by that.

If you want to protect your family, your children, and the privacy of your own home, SAY NO TO THE DCSF. Write to your MP. Respond to the consultation. Do something before the state have access to whatever part of all our lives they like by this time next year.

Monday, 7 September 2009

A Mission Statement

When I started today's post, it was going to summarise all the reasons that we will be educating our children away from the school system.

Although our boys are only one and three, we made the decision not to send them to school so long ago now that it seems like we have been a part of the home ed community almost forever, and it almost seems odd to be writing about why the boys will be learning outside of school when I almost feel as though everyone already knows all the benefits of home ed. This isn't the case, of course. Maybe instead it's just a positive sign that, on the whole, we are surrounded by a fantastic support network.

Now that Sprout is going on four, lots of his friends have started, or are going back to, school today, and the question is cropping up more often than it did before: "When's he going to go to school?"

Now, while I will never feel the need to justify to anyone our decision to let them learn out of school (just as I would never expect a parent who sends their children to school to justify that decision to me), I would like to share our reasons for doing so, our vision for our children. Just so that anyone who feels so inclined can understand a bit more about it. And also so anyone who thought there must be another way, but just didn’t know what it was, might find an amazing new world of possibilities for their children.

Now, when I started to write this post last night it summarised every reason they wouldn't be going to school, listed and explained. Reading it back to myself, however, it was incomplete. Actually no, scrub that, it wasn't incomplete, it was just unnecessary. All it was was a list of ways in which schools fail our children, and people already know that, although their lists may be slightly different.

So what I am putting here today, instead, is our Mission Statement.

Now, if this was the world of business, the shorter and snappier the mission statement the better. The Holy Grail of all mission statements is Nike's "Kill Adidas!". If we were to go down this route, our mission statement for our children's education would be "Let them be". The reason being, children are born with an innate desire to learn. Some of the first things are crawling, walking, language, how to feed themselves, but that ability doesn't suddenly wither away once they are some magical age, at which point we must send them to school for information to be thrown at their brains in order for it to go in. No, that desire stays with them, if we let it.

However, "Let them be", while being snappy, concise, and pretty much summing up what we will do, doesn't really share the amazing vision that we have of how we intend our boys' childhood to be. So instead...

THE MISSION STATEMENT

Our children will be free to learn what they want, when they want, whether that is building a lego train at 6 in the morning, reading a book while they eat their lunch at half ten, sitting in the garden watching a bee, getting me to tell them the name of every single country on the map, dancing to each other’s ‘compositions’ on the piano, playing football in the park, counting the chocolate sprinkles as they put them on the buns they made, watching a dvd, jumping around at gym class, talking to their grandparents about their childhood, or… well, you get the idea

They will not have their learning restricted by any curriculum, let alone one devised by someone they have never met.

They will not have their socialisation impaired by restrictive age bandings or peer pressure. They will be free to interact with people of all ages as and when they please, whether this is us, their friends, children at their groups and classes, family, neighbours, shopkeepers, people at the bus stop, librarians, musem curators... again, you get my drift.

We will facilitate their learning in whatever direction they want to take, and with all the multitude of resources available to them: at home, books, toys, internet, cds, dvds, musical instruments, the garden, our extended family, our friends; and outside the home, libraries, museums, farms, playgrounds, home ed groups, friend’s houses, parks, woodlands, shops, and, well, life.

Our children will have the freedom to eat when they are hungry, talk to adults without raising their hand, and use the toilet when they need to, unrestricted by a system schedule unconcerned with their individual needs.

We will never allow anyone to attempt to measure or test their learning (if such a thing is even possible), and use those results to compare them with other children, groups of children, or nations of children.

My children will not have their self esteem conditional on arbitrary grades assigned to their learning.

We will love and support our children, whatever they choose to learn and whatever direction they decide to take.



And there you have it, our commitment to our boys. And to anyone that knows me, if you do still ask me, "But what about socialisation?!", I will refer you back to this post with a flea in your ear :)

Thursday, 3 September 2009



So, hi :)

Well, best to introduce myself first I guess!

Until our first child was born three and a half years ago (is that really all it is? It seems like we've known him forever!), I was, I think, a very conventional twenty-something woman. I worked (too much) as a hospitality manager in a premium health club, and lived with my boyfriend in a rented house on a so-so estate. Eventually, we thought, we'd probably get married, maybe even have a kid five or so years down the line; but for right then, I was climbing the career ladder, we both had comfortable incomes, we had plans to travel the world in the next eighteen months, and that was pretty much all that mattered.

Two blue lines on a stick I peed on changed all that. Well, three sticks if I'm honest. Erm, what??. Anyone who had known me any of my adult life would not have described me as maternal. Ambitious? Yes. Driven? Yes. Motherly? Nurturing? Er, no.

So, we came to the stunning realisation that we were going to be parents. Once we had crossed over that line it became easier, something I could be organised about. I would work up until the day I went into labour, have a detailed birth plan so that I knew what was going to happen, take 6 weeks off on maternity leave, then put the baby into a nursery and go back to work, having missed as little of the vastly important world of health club catering and events as possible. I read every parenting guide that I could find, and was duly horrified by parents whose children appeared to misbehave in public, whether it was playing chase round my restaurant or crying in Tesco. They should have read the books, I thought, then they wouldn't have these problems. I was assured by an acquaintance with a one year old (we didn't have any actual friends with children) that "babies only have to change your life as much as you want them to". Perfect. That would be not at all then.

Fast forward nine months, through a horrible induced labour during which the doctor shouted at me for crying and the nurses listened to Chris Moyles, to nine pounds of Sprout being plonked on my chest and changing the way I looked at the world. For that, I will be forever grateful to him.

His refusal to sleep anywhere but with me; his enthusiasm for round the clock breastfeeding; his absolute determination to go places and do things that saw him walking at nine months old and making sandwiches not long after; these are the things that made me forget those tomes of wisdom I had read while pregnant, and instead start listening to my instincts, to what he was telling me he needed. Now three, he is fearless, and wants to try everything and do everything, and has no qualms about standing up for himself and doing things the way he wants to do them, and working the whole thing out for himself.

Just over two years later, Squidge followed. Despite my determination that my second experience of labour would be better than the first, it was still far from what I would have liked, and, should we add to our family in the future, I would do everything in my power to not be bullied into anything I didn't know was right for me and my baby. Labour aside, Squidge came into the world happy and healthy and quite the 'cheese' to Sprout's 'chalk'.

Squidge spent the first year of his life sitting smiling like a little Buddha, with no desire to try out any of this crawling business, content to watch life going on around him, and smiling and laughing at anything that pleased him, which was, and still is, pretty much everything. The only break in the sunshine is if I have to leave the room for anything, and then, of course, he screams like the world is ending. He's enjoying walking now, and sometimes has a bit of a run around, but mostly finds walking useful for moving between various family members to cuddle and kiss them.

My soulmate, and Daddy to these two lumps of gorgeousness, shall, for the purposes of this blog, be known as Gruff. Somewhere between having Sprout and having Squidge, Gruff and I got married on a hill in the rain at sunset, in a ceremony that I don't think we would have had, had it not come after Sprout, in that we did only what we wanted, and nothing that was expected of us. A more laid back and kind husband I could not wish for, and I will always be grateful to him for supporting me in whichever direction I have headed off in each week, because there is always, it appears, a battle to be fought or a cause to further when it comes to giving my children the amazing life that we have envisioned for them.

I've already got used to people questioning the way we do things: the baby wearing ("Won't he suffocate in there?" "Er, no."); the baby-led weaning ("But you can't give that to him without pureeing it first!" "Watch me."); the plan to educate them out of school ("But how will they socialise?" "The school children? I know, it must be hard with all those restrictive lessons."); even the fact that they have autonomy over their diet ("But surely they eat sweets all the time!" "Sometimes, but then they also sometimes eat broccoli for breakfast so hey.")

Unfortunately when it's those in power who don't agree with our ideals, the fight is harder and all the more important, but that's a different blog post.

Last of all then, why this blog? A number of reasons, I guess. Number one, to give Gruff's ears a break from the stream of consciousness that I am constantly talking: the latest idea, political injustice, thoughts about what, why or how we are parenting and living (I know, he's a saint). Number two, because sitting here right now, wrapped in a blanket with a hot chocolate, in the dark except for the glow of the computer screen, writing, is just about my idea of perfection. And number three, because I hope that something of what I write about will make at least one person think, maybe change a perception, maybe make give someone else confidence that there are other people around who think like they do, because sometimes going against convention can be lonely.

I hope you enjoy reading, and I look forward to your comments :)

Oh and, in case you were wondering, I never did go back to that job. Funny how quickly priorities can change.