the Sociable Homeschooler



Super Hubs…

In two weeks we became more comfortable with our hand held computers, emailing our old buddies and iMessaging our children like teenagers.

We carry our devices everywhere, never turning them off to save power!  The only problem is we are not really good at hearing them in the London traffic.  Hubs keeps his in an inside pocket where he is able to feel the vibration when someone alerts him that it’s his turn to play Yahtze or Word.  I am oblivious to any activity or desperate calls for advice until I arrive home and dump my phone out of my bag.  I can neither hear nor feel when someone reaches out to me through the airwaves.

Any solutions out there?

The day of the Virgin installation finally arrived and all went without a hitch, unlike the White Goods Repairman visit the day before!

Hubs was able to hook our Vonage box into the router and hey presto, we have our original home phone number ringing into our London falt courtesy of computer genius!  Not only that but he was also able to hook up our Apple TV and we get netflix right here on our flat panelled television in our English living room!

Now we have a phone for American calls and our iPhones for local calls.


Salesmen calling to solicit business between 6pm and 7pm, CT!

Hubs is recording a message to confuse callers who think they’re making a local Dallas call only to end up in London.  Plus we are going to turn the ringer off when we turn in.

Hubs had a thrilling day!


Encouragement for Homeschool Moms: Marcia Washburn Show 170…


Each week I entice an unsuspecting, hugely fascinating person to join me for part of the show, I offer intangibles like social media exposure, I would hand round plates of cake or biscuits and pour cups of tea if I was face to face, really!  My fearless guests join me anyway to talk about aspects of family life, which usually relate to homeschooling and always speak straight to the heart of parents who place the responsibility of child rearing above their highest joy.  My guest today is Marcia Washburn who joined me last year to talk about her interactive music book called Beethoven Who?, today we have encouragement in store for you so stay tuned, ok?  On the family front I’ll be talking about, super hubs, auditions,  and UEFA, so let’s start my weekend off with a bang!

I will be live at 12pm Texas time and 6pm London time so click on the link below and you’ll hear me in a bit!

Virgin to the Rescue…

Uprooting our lives, changing schedules, leaving family and friends during blossom time takes a lot of doing.

Blooming Tree in garland

This is the second time we have moved to London in the space of two years.  We are good logisticians, walking through every possible scenario as we mentally sort through and find solutions for possible calamities and traffic calmers in order to transition our lives to dual residency on two continents seamlessly.

We acknowledge that despite our wisdom and care something is bound to go wrong, or not as smoothly as one would have hoped.  We weren’t disappointed.

We arrived in the bright and early morning of a Bank Holiday weekend.

Blue bells were everywhere,


mimicking the Garland Bluebonnets I’d photographed on my last walk.


The weather was lovely and when we had unpacked our bags and jumped in the shower we confidently headed to the nearby town of Bromley to set up our internet service both for our cell phones and for our home computers.

We headed for the company who had served us well the last time we were here and were met with brick wall after brick wall because of an error on their part with billing.  Our credit was declined and we could not get set up with anything but a temporary, dissatisfactory “Pay as You Go” cell phone plan.  Daughts was able to have data added to hers, she wasn’t part of the Billing Error.  By the end of three hours the jet lag was manifesting in an ugly way and words started losing their meaning.

Suffice it to say we were glad to land at The Jolly Woodman that evening, meet some friends and drink a pint.


The following day Virgin came to the rescue.  We were more rested and not quite as befuddled.  We expected credit checks to be run again so asked up front,

“No, not at all,” said the cheerful salesman who was delighted at our inexpertise in the face of technology and thought daughts was a vision from America with her blonde hair, accent and cell phone savvy…which she is of course.

We agreed to give him an hour to get us sorted!

And after exactly an hour we all came away with consecutive phone numbers for our iPhones, unlimited texts, voice and data, all for £15.00 a month!

Furthermore we ordered a full home package to be delivered two weeks later allowing us to use our computers without having to piggy back onto a BT hub somewhere up the street which gave us spotty internet when the whole road decided to test the streaming speeds.

We couldn’t expedite the installation but daughts kept reminding us we had data on our phones, whatever that meant!

Reliable Worker

Hubs and I were on the Church green this weekend.  In addition to rides for the children there was a farmer’s market going on and all sorts of interesting stalls to browse.

We were promoting our parish church, St. George’s, and some of the ladies were finding it “difficult” to hand out leaflets and flyers, to evangelize.

One of my sons went all the way to China to hand out tracts to students and talk to them about Jesus.  Here we were literally on our own turf, promoting our parish church that plays an important role in the lives of many Beckenhamians whether they know it or not.

Everyone I approached had heard the Sunday morning bells, or come in for a concert, or taken the path through the churchyard as a short cut, or made note of the time when its clock chimed the quarter hour.  Many hadn’t taken the plunge to come to a service yet but we chatted about their children or dogs and invited them to visit.

Our position on the green was lovely, we were next to two boozy stalls one selling bottles of home made cider and another selling fruit infused gins and vodkas!  Daughts and I had to do a bit of sampling when I wasn’t manning the booth.

Getting to know our neighbours in this casual market setting made for a pleasant, if not at times, amusing morning.


I was not the only one who appreciated the irony of this man’s chosen spot for a nap.  He woke up oblivious to the mirth he had generated.

A Hoover is Not Just a Vacuum Cleaner…

When we arrived at the London, flat after being away for a few months, we heard our fridge/freezer  wheezing.

It sounded as though it was on a respirator.  The heavy breathing was distressing, as an asthma sufferer I was no stranger to laboured breath.

After a few days we noticed the fridge was no longer doing its job.  For the moment the freezer was gallantly producing ice and preserving our victuals but forget the fridge, the digital readout inside proclaimed,

“Too Warm,” each time we opened it.

The eggs were warm, the cheese was sweating and the lettuce was wilting.  It was obvious we had to intervene.

Hubs brought home four bags of ice to keep the temperature down, I slit one open and placed it in a pyrex dish on a shelf.


With the help of several bags of ice and the valiant freezer we made it through the weekend


and excitedly awaited the repair man to pay a visit on Monday morning.  Which he did, in the afternoon.

He was not at all focused on the job having just taken a phone call as he walked through our door.  During brief pauses in the loud conversation he was carrying on he probed the interior of the fridge and declared

“Quite cool enough.”

“Of course,” said an exasperated hubs, “we’ve had bags of ice in it for days.”

The repairman clung to the false cool reading his probe had registered.  To satisfy us he flipped the on/off switch at the mains, throwing all my clocks off course, then wrote up an order for a thermostat, excused his caller to say,

“I’ll be back on Thursday to fit it, then we’ll monitor the temperature for a couple of weeks.  If it still hasn’t fixed itself we’ll dispatch a refridgerator technician to take a look.”

and returned to his phone conversation.

“But what about the noise, that has nothing to do with the thermostat?” hubs asked bewildered that he hadn’t even pulled the appliance out to take a gander on the backside.

“All fridges make that noise!”

I begged to differ but not out loud and as he left the wheezing stopped.

The total silence, although music to my ears, was ominous.  Hubs checked the circuits see if a fuse had shorted, but no!

The fridge/freezer had officially expired.

We grew expert at cracking the door just enough to grab what we wanted then shutting it before a draft of warm air could hop in to play havoc with the ice.  The freezer below was defrosting at an alarming rate and hubs planned an early morning trip to Croydon for a quick replacement.

When daughts woke up she asked where he was,

“Off to buy a new fridge/freezer.”

“How’s he going to get it home?’ she asked, still half asleep.

“In his backpack,” I said fully awake and witty!

We took delivery of a brand new, modern fridge/freezer  the following afternoon.

Our old fridge stood empty the food either in the sink,


in the oven cooking or in the rubbish bin.  The final bags of ice were fighting a losing battle against the change in weather.

“Don”t turn it on for two hours,” we were told by the very attentive delivery men, as they hauled away the heavy Zanussi.

Hubs used the time to switch the hinges on the doors, the new appliance was so lightweight he was able to lie it down on the floor all by himself,


Our Hoover is a silent addition to the kitchen and no, it doesn’t do carpets!

It has mood lighting on the inside though!

Garden Picnic…

The allotment gardener and his friend, a woman from the flats, are outside in the garden eating their lunch.  Making the most of intermittent sunshine.

They are wrapped up in coats, scarves and hats.

I saw her come across the lawn with a basket covered with a white cloth, she went to the bench hidden behind a bush at the top of the lawn.

Then I saw him approach with two folding chairs which he set up a distance away facing the bench.  He took a magasine from his basket and started turning pages.

Odd I thought, sitting so far away from each other!

When I looked next she had joined him.  They had spread napkins over their knees and were eating their sandwiches.

Two old people, wrapped up against the wind, enjoying the garden in a rare ray of sunshine.


Bring on the summer!

Mid-Life Crisis Begins in Kindergarten: Mariaemma Pelullo-Willis Show 169…


Each week I lure an unsuspecting, hugely fascinating person to join me for part of the show with offers of social media exposure and they come willingly to talk about aspects of family life, which usually relate to homeschooling and always speak straight to the heart of parents who place the responsibility of child rearing above their highest joy.  My guest today is Mariaemma Willis who is a learning success coach in Ventura, California.  To find out exactly what that means when it’s at home stay with me.  On the family front I’ll be talking about final days in our homestead, travel preparations and obedience so let’s get my weekend started!

I will be live at 12pm Texas time and 6pm London time so click on the link below and you’ll hear me in a bit!

Unattended Bag…

We spend a lot of time standing on train station platforms, not because the trains run late but because we don’t have a timetable yet and can’t remember the minutes past the hour when they are scheduled to leave.  So we get there when we do and sometimes find we’ve just missed one and need to wait around for ten or fifteen minutes.

I feel certain the station master is sensitive to the boredom this may cause for some of us who have not grown accustomed to headphones or kindles.

After a few minutes of silence in which restless, pacing footsteps are all that can be heard above the din of coo-ing pigeons in the eaves, on come announcements reminding us to

“Please stand behind the yellow line,” which incidentally has moved back a foot or two so now there is less room to hang out in.


“The train approaching platform 2 does not stop here.”


“The train approaching platform 3 is the non stop service to Victoria, please stand away from the edge,”  a reminder for some of us who have unwittingly migrated forward into the forbidden yellow line zone.

Or this classic,

“If you should see an unattended bag or notice any suspicious behaviour please contact a member of staff or a police officer.”

In my bored state I generally look around for one of these august members of public service.  The station master is up in his box pushing announcement buttons for the amusement of the waiting passengers and the law enforcement officer is up on the High Street pounding his beat oblivious to the fact that his services, in times of suspicion, are being recommended below.

I grin inwardly as I scan the platform for signs of suspicious behaviour or unattended bags.

Excitement did occur on the underground for hubs this week however.  There was an unattended bag keeping the passengers, on the district line tube from Embankment to Victoria, uneasy company.

Several of the pluckier passengers asked around,

“Is that your bag?”

There were no takers.  They sat looking at each other and the backpack until hubs spoke out loud what everyone was thinking,

“Suppose it’s a bomb?”  They gave it some distance.  Hubs imagined the effect if it were to go off, blinded perhaps or blown off legs.  He really did think that!

Poor little left behind bag.


At Victoria two or three of the passengers alighted.  Evidently their survival so far gave courage to the remaining passengers who stayed put.  Hubs found a station employee alongside the inflicted carriage, she was  managing the flow of passengers getting off and on the train through a microphone and reminding them to,

“Mind the gap.”

He reported the unattended bag to her.

She waved her flat baton to the train conductor, the doors closed and the train rumbled off unattended cargo in tow.

Why are we treated to these safety announcements again?  To relieve boredom?

Kneeling Before Their Saviour…

When it comes time for communion in St. George’s Lady Chapel on Wednesday mornings I am touched by the sight of two people making their way to the altar.

With hands firmly gipped on their canes and a dutiful daughter or friend guiding them they walk slowly to the railings.

In other churches, when I have been paying attention, I have seen these fragile men and women stand at the altar to receive communion.

I was moved when both of them lent down, placed their canes on the floor and knelt in front of their Lord to receive His real presence in the form of bread and wine.

Then, stiffly, they retrieved their canes and pushed up from the rail to retrace their measured steps up the aisle to their seats.

Smiles shone from their faces and their well used bodies spoke of a bygone age of respect.

What else could they do but kneel before their Saviour?


There are weeds coming up in the cracks of our paving stones outside the French windows.


Hubs, the fastidious American gardener, wants to buy some weed killer or use gasoline, not very environmentally friendly solutions.  However, he has neither at hand so he interrupted the English resident gardener at the flats and asked,

“What’s the best thing I can use to get rid of these weeds popping up in my paving stones?”

Only to be told,

“Those aren’t weeds, those are Violas.  I’ll pull them up if you like, or treat them when I come back next week to do the driveway.”


I take pictures of Violas on my walks, sturdy little plants that appear to push through bricks and concrete…and cracks in pavements.

Of course they’re staying!

Weeds indeed!  What do we know?