Well, now its time for a Christmas message from the Smiths, if you dont like spoilers, look away now ....
The Smith family Christmas message, the annual event of cultural and intellectual significance has hit the ether to test your synapses.
In some ways it’s nice to hear from our friends near and far on their accomplishments as well as those of their offspring. Now we have social networking, the inter-wide-web thingy, blogs (that brag), SMS and that tweety thing, it is not like it’s terribly difficult to keep abreast of what is happening in your lives. Well that is if you can be bothered to use the marvel of modern technology that is your personal computer, smart phone like pad thing.
"Sooooo …. please, we do not want to see your newsletters, it isn’t cool, its not exciting, it shows a level of self indulgence that clearly demonstrates that you have not spotted that everyone has been using Web 2.0 stuff for at least five years."
As a token of our appreciation and our desire to express how we feel on this matter. We too have created a ‘newsletter’ but in the zeitgeist of the age and appreciating the ars technica, it’s a blog entry.
This way, we can reach the millions that could be interested, knowing that maybe (if we are cross our fingers) this may be read by at least 10 people.
We have not done Christmas cards for a long time, sorry [not really] we do thank you if you have given us one, but alas a key event ten years ago sort of pushed the puff out of our sails for that triviality.
It has been an interesting year, full of some considerable highs and lows, great accomplishments, some sadness and contemplative anger (at the system and the idiots who pretend to represent the best interests of our daughter).
For our son, we have seen him grow from boy to man and in a way that can only be good. After leaving an employer in 2010, who can legally only be described as a liability for all young people in their employ. The Tribunal in April was a success, with the Judge awarding full and fair damages against the employer in favour of our son. Ensuring that he gained the pay that was due as well as reasonable compensation for his troubles.
This was coupled with the kindness of a colleague of his father, who put son in touch with a Michelin Starred Chef. In short, after a days trial and preceding phone interviews, our son is currently enjoying an apprenticeship in the New Forest in a the Michelin Starred kitchen, what a fantastic start to his career.
Since May, we have seen him (occasionally), seeing the change from youth to man and our pleasure in seeing his confidence grow.
For our daughter, we can see that her time being home educated is having a benefit. She has slowly accomplished small goals in her learning. The best part was her play, early summer where she was the lead as ‘Princess Fred’ (really its best not to ask) as part of the wonderful Sparx Theatre Company in Leighton Buzzard. Here are noble souls that we cannot praise too highly.
Some education, health care etc professionals are being a real help. As part of the long slow progress, we have received a diagnosis and other support that will help her in the longer term.
But as the battle grinds on, it will continue into the New Year, with a longer game having to be played out regarding some other aspects of her future. It would be great if it was straightforward, but, as we are learning the left hand has no idea that there are other hands let alone what its role is in this matter.
For Shirley, the role of mother, herder of husband and hostage negotiator with the ‘system’ on behalf of her daughter is turning her into an expert. Already fresh from the battle with Sons former employer, Shirley is into other challenges regarding our daughter.
Shirley is slowly ‘churning’ in her mind the concept of consultative practice and can see how our fight can translate to supporting others. The world for those with learning difficulties and disabilities is changing, sadly with many ‘supportive’ organizations being the exact opposite.
For Andrew, busy with a capital ‘F’, whilst life is still not yet like the silly times pre-2008, there has been moments (often his fault, he would admit). Having put to bed an international publication, Andrew has been working (fitfully) on his PhD and has had one conference paper and one proceedings paper published this year (apparently academics get excited about this).
The bits that he is most excited about is the short seven minutes on BBC radio 4 as well as contributing to a chart topping iTunesU podcast (well it got into the top 100 for a short while).
This has also been a year where we have regained contact with long lost friends, where last contact would easily have been 18 years ago.
We have all travelled, to differing locations, the highlights for 2011 goes to …
- Trinidad (work)
- Malta (pleasure)
- Venice (work + pleasure)
- Cornwall, Eden Project, (work + pleasure)
- New Forest (pleasure)
- Somerset (pleasure)
- Newcastle (work + pleasure)
- Budapest x2 (pleasure)
For us, it is also important to say that this December has been ten years since the birth of our youngest, Jacob. Meningitis took him away from us before he had the chance to reach his first birthday, if you are a parent ever worried about your child, and the doctor tries to fob you off, take no nonsense. We did not and managed to get two weeks of precious extra time with him.
So, please do not print this out, nor snail mail it to anyone or take it too seriously. If you think that this is sanctimonious twaddle, please fee free to comment. But understand we may also freely ignore you.