Friday, December 31, 2010

Rebirth of the Rambles

It’s been a while now since I posted regularly, and I’m thinking it might be a good time to restart this blog. I’m also going to expand the topics a bit to include other aspects of my life. So much has changed since I last posted, so I’m going to use the update as a new introduction to myself, since I feel worlds away from the person I was 15 months ago.

The Big Day
For a start, last April I acquired a gold ring and a new, unpronounceable surname… oh, and a husband, but we had been together for 5 years, so he hasn’t really changed. Despite all the stress, the planning paid off and the day was absolutely perfect. Even the things which didn’t go exactly to plan worked out better in the end. The whole thing was in a lovely hotel in the depths of Devon, with the chuppah in the conservatory (a bit small, but we had kids on cushions at the front, and some people standing; luckily, Jewish wedding ceremonies don’t last long!), then the meal in the big permanent marquee, and a disco back in the conservatory. It was a little on the cold side, but dry and sunny, so the kids were happy running around on the lawn.

We managed to get lots of family involved in the ceremony. S’s brother was best man, and mine was head usher, with one of his childhood friends, S’s step-nephew, and a good friend of ours. S’s nephew was ring-bearer, and two of my cousins were bridesmaids. The chuppah was held by two of my cousins and two of S’s step-nieces. Both dads did a blessing over us (“May the Lord bless you and keep you…”), alternating lines in English by my dad and Hebrew by S’s. When we shared the cup of wine, my mum gave it to S and his mum gave it to me. The cup itself was a silver tray and glass holder from S’s great-grandparents in Iran with a glass we had commissioned specially to match, and his grandmother was there to hear her parents’ names announced as part of the ceremony.

There were so many children there that we didn’t have a single quiet moment in the whole ceremony, and that was exactly how we wanted it. The photos are full of shots of us grinning at each other as we heard funny comments from the toddlers! The rabbi is young and has two children of his own (who were also there), so he was completely with us on that.

To make the day fun for the kids, we did activity bags for each of them. Buying the ingredients was my little bit of fun in the run-up to the wedding, and the £ Shop got a lot of custom from us around that time! They each had a pad of plain paper, a big tin of colouring pencils, pencil, pencil sharpener, novelty rubber, something connected to their own personal interest (we phoned round their parents to ask), and a disposable camera. The babies had a touchy-feely book, a squishy toy, and a wooden animal on wheels. The original plan was that the bags would be handed out on arrival, but the message got lost, so it waited until we went in to eat. That was actually the best thing possible, because there had been loads to interest the kids in the (fairly short) ceremony, and then they had time to run around outside and make friends. The time they really needed something was while they were waiting to eat, because getting 125 people through a sit-down buffet takes AGES! The ushers swept through the marquee handing them out, and we had not a single bored child – genius! The time delay in eating was also good because we ate first, and then had time to wander around the tables and actually talk to everyone.

As it was a Sunday, the disco was only allowed to go on until 11pm (we stretched it to 11.30), which initially seemed like a problem since it didn’t start until 8pm. In the end, though, that was a good thing. No one got drunk, no one got over-tired, everyone was in bed by 12.30, and those of us staying at the hotel met the following morning with clear heads for a wonderful breakfast overlooking the lake. Two separate people told us that it was “the happiest” and “the friendliest” wedding they’d ever been to, and that’s good enough for me!

Onwards and Upwards
Shortly before the wedding, I decided the time had come for me to leave the Deaf School and try something different. (That's the polite way of putting it - we'll call it a difference of opinion.) I took a bit of a leap of faith and left without actually having anything to go to, apart from an interview the following day. By the next afternoon, I’d been offered the job – Deaf Inclusion Worker for a 10 year old Deaf boy ("T") in a mainstream primary school. It’s only three days a week (the other two he goes to the Deaf School, which meant he and I already knew one another), which means I can do other things too, and the pay is high enough that even with fuel costs for the 40-minute commute, I’m still earning about the same as I was in my previous job. Don’t get me wrong, the pay’s still appalling, but it’s as good as it gets.

I really get to use all I have in this job – BSL (my Level 3 course fell through, but here’s hoping the funding will come from another source at some point), Cued Speech, and anything else I can possibly think of. He’s made great progress in the last two terms, and hopefully that will carry on. Obviously it’s not all roses; there’s a lot of time spent as piggy-in-the-middle between his school and his home, and it can be frustrating trying to catch up years of learning in only three days per week, but it’s all good experience, and there’s the potential for some fairly pioneering work. You never know, one day I may get a book out of it!

Other things
I don’t just do the three days per week as a DIW, of course. Here are few other things I use to fill my time:

· 2 German students (an hour and a half to two hours each)
· 5½ violin students (the ½ is 5 years old and only gets 15 minutes, mostly consisting of banging on the floor and playing with shapes!)
· Occasional respite care for a Deaf boy with medical needs (weekends and school holidays)
· Cued Speech Tutor. I travel all over (Falmouth, Exeter, Bristol and Lewes so far!) training families of Deaf children. It only takes two days each time, often a weekend, and I absolutely love doing it – if there was enough work for full-time, I’d be there!
· Bar/bat mitzvah tutoring. Currently a 13 year old girl whose BM is in 3 weeks’ time and an adult who is aiming for June. There is a new child who may be about to arrive, who will be some time in the next year (depending on how much he already knows), and three Cheder children all due in 2012, though none are on individual tuition yet.
· Cheder is still going every Sunday. I managed to have two weekends off last term and the parents covered, so I’m hopeful we can keep on with that.
· Synagogue committee. Meetings are mercifully 6 weeks apart.
· Occasional synagogue tour guide for school visits (I also travel to schools to talk about Judaism).

Let’s just say, I don’t get bored very often…

Pointy Sticks
In what spare time I have, knitting is definitely my favourite thing, especially since a new LYS (Local Yarn Store) opened just over a year ago. I walked in for the first time and was immediately offered a cup of tea. I’ve never left. Wednesday evenings are spent at the Sit ‘n’ Stitch group, and Thursday afternoons after the Farmers’ Market (the beauty of working part-time – real food!) generally end up in the shop too. Though I say so myself, I’m getting pretty good!

So that’s what I’m doing these days. Watch this space for updates…