Friday, 20 July 2012

Reflection and Re-direction!

This last couple of weeks have been tough for a variety of reasons and from a range of angles, and I felt like I was in a blizzard and couldn't find my way out. So I did what I always do when under this kind of stress and tackled each event on it's own, sometimes by thinking it through (in my head and on paper) and sometimes with direct action:
  • At the beginning of the week I thought long and hard about my fearful reaction at being harshly judged and criticised by another adult for my parenting decisions. It, along with the next event in the week, brought back painful memories of being bullied as a young adult and this is clearly something I need to deal with at some point.
  • Two days later My five year old daughter was punished by a gymnastics coach for saying 'no', I went to her aid and challenged the coach on the spot. I later decided I couldn't let it pass and made a complaint to the welfare officer. Their response was unsatisfactory and I have escalated my complaint to British Gymnastics. Suffice to say she is not returning there! In thinking through my reactions to this event, although it added to my feelings from earlier in the week, it confirmed some positive things. The main one is that I have an intuitive, trusting, loving relationship with my daughters. My commitment never to compromise this, no matter the situation, the lost opportunities or the repercussions is the right one and my daughters rely on that as the foundation stone for their confidence and consolation. I won't go into the particulars as it would fill a whole blog post but my heart was already overflowing when......
  • Two days after that My older daughter was tested as severely dyslexic and dyscalculic and I was distraught..... I knew it already but being told is a different matter! I came away very sad and cried my heart out for the third time that week! I reached out to friends and family and had some amazing support in response and after talking it through with my husband we began to take some positive steps towards dealing with it OUR way rather than the prescriptive way we were being told to deal with it..... but this really IS another blog post and one I will definitely be writing as I'm so excited about it.....
  • Whilst all this was happening, in the background, our house purchase was quietly falling apart - to put it in context, this is the third house this year that we have tried to buy and have now either spent or are liable to pay, thousands of pounds even if we never actually purchase it! I did everything possible, e-mails, phone calls, more phone calls, asking nicely, asking not so nicely but still it crumbled..... until this week when it seems to have quietly got back on track so we are now cautiously optimistic!
Despite having tackled all these things though, it just wasn't enough, I was only fire-fighting and I knew it! I had had no energy since before then for the really important things, like putting my children and husband first, eating healthily and sleeping and there was no room on the horizon for them either. My to-do list was stacking up to 'critical' level and the pressure was so intense that I couldn't relax or decide what to do first when I actually HAD time to do something!

Drastic action was needed and I'm dubbing this the 'dump and run' technique - I cut out all non-essential commitments and activities:
  • The Open University course.
  • The child minding network that made extra requirements on my time in paperwork, meetings and 'compliance visits'.
  • The foray into 'terrific for two's' - the government initiative for funded places for two year olds that WOULD have required me to do extra paperwork and be checked more often!
  • I drastically reduced my working hours to ensure regular time focused purely on my own children.
  • I put away all paperwork that I've been doing in a bid to gain an 'outstanding' rating at my next inspection and have decided that 'good' is good enough and outstanding will just have to be in the eye of the beholder!
Initially, instead of feeling better I felt guilty, inadequate and low - I decided not to push things and just give myself time and that my head will naturally adjust to the new status quo and we will go from there. I am already feeling more peaceful and hopeful and have been enjoying reading without feeling guilty that I should be doing something else instead! Despite a stinking cold, I feel better than I have felt in months and have relaxed now that certain battles and torments have been removed.

I have been here before - this is a cyclical process of mine unfortunately but I DO get better at recognising and dealing with it I think! And it isn't an entirely negative experience - far from it in fact - I am always amazed by the bright new directions I am led in after I emerge from the dark and murky unpleasant bits! My husband and I used to call it the 'silver lining effect', that something good would always come after the bad stuff - I long ago learned to attribute it to God and His plan for me and perhaps I am just learning to listen better!

Although we are all - apart from Idris - showing varying signs and symptoms of 'soul fever', we dealt with it in the main part with humour, affection, empathy and patience. I am truly grateful for the hardcore of friends and family that were around to prop me up in my hour(s) of need!

Now for the next chapter - beginning tomorrow with my baby boy's first birthday!!!!

Monday, 9 July 2012

Rag Rugging is Addictive!

Welcome to a peek at our latest craft adventure- rag rugging (not sure if that is the proper term but that's what we call it!). A friend introduced us to the joys of Blists Hill Victorian Town two weeks ago, an amazing place of Victorian shops, houses and amusements where you really can live the history! I have no pictures of the day as I chose to leave the camera at home and just enjoy the time with my children! As we explored, I was struck by how many creative pursuits people (mainly women in the home) followed back then - everywhere we went we saw embroidery, rugs, lace, paper cutting, peg dolls, the skills the women had back then seemed endless. It touched me how much of that is sadly lost now that every convenience can be bought and replaced when the desire strikes. Many of the crafts were from cheap, recycled materials where waste items were re purposed into beautiful, cheerful decorations that made their simple homes snug and cozy. I quizzed the lady making rag rugs very carefully and decided we could manage to have a go!!! My friend stood us the hessian for the bargain price of £2.50 (as we'd spent ours on candles, the swing boats, and lacy handkerchiefs!!).

This is a picture of the back of the corner of the rug that I have started - we chose a pattern of circles, made by drawing around various cups, bowls and plates with a felt pen!! I'm not sure if I am doing it exactly right but it looks effective and once you have done a few, you get into a rhythm and it goes along faster!

Above, you can see us all working on the rug together, using tools made from a dolly peg snapped in two and then with a point formed carefully and blunted.

I chose two old duvet covers given by another friend - one brown with little flowers and one in yellow spots and stripes - I am not sure if they will be enough to do the whole rug but I'm hoping! I cut them up into small strips about 1 inch by 3 inches and put them in a soft bag for easy access, the rug and tools can be stored alongside them!

The technique is to poke a hole in the hessian with the point of the tool, push one end of the strip through, then move about four fibres down and make another hole and push the other end of the strip through, then pull it taut with your other hand from the other side of the fabric. I found it easier to work in a block, and to work from right to left so you aren't trying to hold the bunched up fabric you've already put in, out of the way!

This shows some of the circles we made for the pattern - I've done more than is in this picture and finding it very therapeutic! It's a bit like the wet felting we tried in that it doesn't require a precise finish so it is very forgiving to the beginner or serial multi tasker like myself!! I'm also impressed that, as we cut the hessian in half, this has so far cost £1.25 - the cheapest craft we have ever tried I think!!! We'll be back to Blist's Hill soon as it was so lovely - I may even take my rug to show them what we've been up to!

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Olympic Activities

 Knowing that we were seeing the torch relay, I planned an Olympic Activity morning for a few child Minders that I know and we all got together for some fun. We made Olympic ring paintings with plastic cups and plates of paint.......

......followed by Olympic medals with salt dough and cookie cutters and baked them. I have gold, silver and bronze paints ready to go for next week to paint them and then we can put ribbons on them and wear them!

 I was interested watching this little one who quietly worked away practising making them long after the others had drifted away! She doesn't follow verbal instructions for making things very well and struggled until shown how, then she was off and away!

I had baked a batch of little 'O' biscuits that morning (tweaked from an idea on activity village) and we iced them in the Olympic colours, then sat down and ate them whilst I read 'Peggy the Much Wenlock Piglet' to them to explain how the modern Olympic games came about. It was a great fun morning and a good start to the other activities that I have planned.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

We Cheered the Olympic Torch!

We weren't able to cheer the torch through our home city as we were celebrating my cousin's 40th Birthday that day so we planned it for the following day. After spending a wonderful afternoon exploring Kenilworth Castle, we set up our picnic rug on the grass outside and sat down to wait - it was really exciting just waiting, with police officers whizzing around on motor bikes and a local radio station roving reporter interviewing people - Eve and my Mum were interviewed about the torch relay as well and my Mum 'bigged up' home ed on the radio!!!!
Here you can see how excited Idris was about this momentous occasion in his little life - exhausted by an afternoon running around the castle chasing balls and frisbees, he slept through the whole thing - never mind!!

There was a whole cavalcade of vehicles that came through - one bus dropping off the next person in the relay, one picking them up, one with spare police officers in from the team escorting the torch, one blacked out bus with goodness knows who in, two cars going ahead and making sure everything was in order.... it went on and on!! Every bus and car had Wenlock the mascot in them and everyone was really friendly, waving at the children!
I was expecting the police to be a bit officious and make us move back but they weren't at all, we all crowded forwards to see the torch come in to the car park at the castle, disappear from view for 'the kiss' where the flame is swapped from runner to runner and then emerge again in the hands of this gentleman (have no idea who he is!). It was a great vantage point as instead of seeing the torch whizz by just once, we saw it twice, once running and once walking - hats off to my Dad who did the research on that one and found us the spec to watch from! In the bus at the back there is a 'torch rack' with all the spare torches in.
This is Eve making her own vantage point on my Dad's shoulders - please take note of the need for tights and fluffy jumpers in JULY - soooooo fed up of this RAIN!!!!!!
This is one of the outlying cars with Wenlock peeping out of the window!!
This was the first runner - don't know his name either!!!
It was a momentous occasion and although I'm not entirely sold ('scuse the pun!) on the national cost implications of 8000 torches and the kit and hangers on, I appreciated being able to bring the children to be a part of it - especially as we didn't get ANY of the tickets we asked for in the ballot - but don't get me started on that one........