Who/what do you love best????


I love you, Johnny, said mother one day,
I love you more than I can say,
Then she answered his questions with,
Don't bother me now!"
And just didn't have time to show him how
To tie his truck to his tractor and plough,
But she washed her windows and scrubbed the floor
And baked and cooked and cleaned some more.

"Bring the boy next door in?" "Well, I should say not,
You'll mess up the floors and I don't want a spot."
"No, we don't have time for a story today,
Mother's too busy cooking, so run out and play,
Maybe tomorrow," she said with a sigh,
And Johnny went out almost ready to cry.

"I love you, Johnny," again she said,
As she washed his face and sent him to bed.
Now how do you think that Johnny guessed
Whether 'twas he or the house that
she really loved best? 

I found this while visiting a lovely blog called Seven Olive Plants.  She found it through the magazine Above Rubies.  

Still Making a House a Home...

I started this blog June 30, 2006.  Oh how life has changed since then. 

Mr. U was in full time ministry for 20 years, we lived in a tiny parsonage in a town with NO traffic light, and had only our son, Joshua, living at home.  Now?  Joshua is grown and living in Colorado and working full time.  Mr. U is no longer pastoring, but is working for Apple (yes, I know WEIRD career change, but when God says "GO!", you go!!), we moved back to the same large city that we both grew up in, and we have added two sweet blessings to our family- Elizabeth (now 8 1/2) and Caroline (now 4 1/2). We've also added diabetes to our family as Mr. U was diagnosed last Spring with it.  Lots of change.  Lots to learn. 

In my very first blog post, I shared,

"Why the name Making a House a Home? Well, anyone can live in a house, but making it a home is quite another matter. A house is a building but a home is inhabited by family members that love and care for each other. As the wife of a wonderful man, I have been blessed to be able to turn our house into a home- a place where my family longs to be at the end of every day."
 I still that very same way. I sooo want to continue making this house that we've been in two years, into a warm, welcoming home where my family can't wait to be each day.  

The roots of Ukip, the roots of the SDP

I have just moved house, an unexpectedly stressful business which involves a good deal more wandering around with a screwdriver than I had intended.

There I was pulling apart the crumbling casing for some hot water pipes, and what should I find - a copy of the Daily Mirror from 30 January 1981.  Inside was a fascinating editorial castigating a poll in the Sun.  This is what it said:

"Forty-three per cent of voters with a telephone would vote for a centre party which doesn't exist - and isn't likely to.... The Mail said a centre party would get 30 per cent of the vote, but 40 per cent if the Liberals were in it. "

There was then an obscure discussion about the support that David Steel would get if he was leader, trumped by Shirley Williams if it was her.  But then, as we all know, later that same year, the Mirror had to eat their words: the SDP was indeed launched, and shot up in the opinion polls for a couple of exciting and rather stressful years - I speak as a twentysomething Liberal activist at the time.

But it set me thinking about the need people have in every age for a new political pretender, on whom they might project their greatest hopes.

So have people really swung to the right in the three and a half decades since then? From the enthusiastic endorsement of a centre party with the European Union in its DNA to a right wing party which looks very different (though I don't think Ukip will ever manage 30 per cent in the polls).

I doubt it.  What that editorial reminded me is how much people long for political outsiders who might speak for them against the establishment.  It doesn't really matter if it is Ukip or an SDP which didn't yet exist.  They will gather support.

I'm not arguing that they will inevitably fade away.  The SDP came back in the form of Blair and inherited the world, after all.  Ukip could pull off a similar trick with the Conservative Party.  They are parallel phenomena.

There are other parallels between then and now.  Back in 1981, people felt a sense that their government was powerless to help them - inflation was at nearly 12 per cent, UK industry was closing its door thanks to the high pound, the unemployed were marching from Jarrow again and riots were about to tear apart the inner cities.

These days, the economic situation is a whole lot better, but there is a doubt - it seems to me - whether the establishment wants to support the people of the nation.  I'm not talking about welfare here.  I'm talking about the sense that even the middle classes have that the establishment is somehow governing on behalf of someone else altogether.

The trickle down effect which so motivated the government in 1981, and which so manifestly failed to trickle, has become such a doctrine of faith that the mainstream political world seems not to have noticed that, actually, it doesn't trickle down - it hoovers up!

So when I heard that another Conservative MP has thrown in his lot with Ukip, it partly reminded me of 1981 when the same thing was happening to the Labour Party - and it partly reminded me of what drives the rage behind Ukip.

It is the same phenomenon that drove the independence vote in Scotland.  It is people's sense that their own politicians are not on their side - that they have become so stuck in the fantasy of trickle down that they appear to be governing entirely on behalf of a global elite.  Smoothing the way for their luxury high rise flats, their cheap labour, their monopolistic ambitions.

This is not going to last, because it can't - it throws up ugly, intolerant politics.  It provides no answers.  Something is going to shift, and my guess it will do so in the next parliament - but we are going to go through a rough period before we get there, and there is a lot of thinking to be done in the meantime.

The unexpected paradox of school choice

This is the time of year for the collective meltdown of the middle classes, and anyone else concerned to choose the right secondary school for their child. See my book Broke to explain how we got here.

The system which has the shorthand word ‘choice’ attached is, more accurately, the right to express a preference and it works relatively well in some areas. In London, where just over 60 per cent go to the secondary school they want to, it has become a source of insanity and panic.

I became fascinated with this phenomenon when I was writing the Barriers to Choice review for the Cabinet Office in 2012-13. The hard fact is that, although the system works in some places – probably even most places – it has precisely the opposite effect that it should in London and elsewhere.

It is billed as ‘choice’ but in these places it is nothing of the kind, given that the schools and the local authorities are doing the choosing. That leads to a range of the most egregious abuses – terrifying house prices around good schools, tutoring from the age of four and all the rest.

It is a major factor in my own decision to leave London, and a recent visit back to my old neighbourhood revealed the meltdown in full flow.

“I know what my child needs,” said one parent I know, through gritted teeth. “It is just that he can’t have it.”

That sums up succinctly my own conclusions on the subject. Where there are enough local schools, and there is some diversity between them, the system can work well. Where there is a shortage of places or all the schools are identical, then you have serious difficulties.

Combine that with areas of high population growth and high deprivation, as you get in London’s East End, and you get the seeds of what could become a serious source of injustice.

This leads me to support the idea of free schools, because that is the way you inject diversity into the system. But clearly it isn’t the only solution.

The basic problem lies in the way school choice was designed, by a group of economists at 10 Downing Street during the Blair and Brown years. Like many economists, they seemed to have believed there were approved ways of making our choice – on results, as mediated in the approved way through league tables.

In fact, once you talk to parents – or interrogate yourself – you find that what many parents want from schools is something much broader and diverse. Will their child be happy there? Will they make friends or be bullied? What is the staff turnover? Will they be allowed the flexibility to study what they want? Will they be encouraged to be what they want?

None of these were on the approved list of the economists behind public service choice, or on the league tables or websites. Nor do they undermine the idea of choice – they support it. If only they could get one.

But there is a fascinating twist to this story. I went to the open day of our local secondary school last night, and it was very impressive. It certainly impressed my ten-year-old.

The headteacher didn’t exactly pour scorn on Ofsted, and he mentioned the word ‘outstanding’ whenever he could. But equally he claimed not to be very interested in their structures or standards.

True to his word, the word ‘results’ didn’t pass his lips – perhaps he assumes we already knew them – and he said what his audience really wanted to hear: that he believed our children “would be safe, happy and make friends there”.

“I believe that, when children are safe and happy, then there are opportunities for learning,” he said. Happiness came first – not a word from the lectionary of approved choice.

This is interesting because it is, in some ways, a vindication of school competition, in precisely the opposite way that the doyens of service choice intended.

He was appealing over the heads of the regulators to what he knows parents really want, drawing on our scepticism about the league tables and Ofsted inspections, with their computerised reports.

The hall was packed with salivating parents and excited children. It worked. I don’t believe it worked in the way that Ofsted intended.

Subscribe to this blog on email; send me a message with the wordblogsubscribe to dcboyle@gmail.com. When you want to stop, you can email me the word unsubscribe.



A new resolve!!!!

I don't know about any of y'all, but I have been online WAY too much lately.  I feel like my brain is getting mushy.  Can anyone relate?  Between using the internet for homeschool, finding Trim Healthy Mama recipes, and just plain old web surfing, I've been online a lot.  So I've decided to start scheduling online time to limit myself and actually, hold on for this one, READING a REAL BOOK instead. 

Shocker, right?

I soooo love to read!!  But I've gotten out of the habit in the past few months.  I do read to my girls for homeschool.  We read a LOT out loud, but no "mommy books", ya know what I mean? So, starting today, I am going to read ONE book a month.  I realize many of y'all are laughing at ONE book a month, but I need to set a very small goal for myself.  And since I'm blogging about it, it definitely holds me accountable.

As of today, I am starting with Desperate, Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson. 

OOh.  Just realized this is the end of the month.  Hmm.  So I will have this done by the end of October.  Baby steps, y'all, baby steps. 

Anyone else have monthly reading goals?  Anyone else NEED to read real books instead of just reading online????  Let me know and let's encourage one another!!!