Sunday, August 17, 2014

Bronte's 5th birthday celebrations

On 4th August Miss Bronte, our beautiful little girl turned 5.  5?  How can this be?  This blog is older than her, because I remember counting down my, the past 5 years have flown by!

She wanted a party.  A bouncy castle party, and this is what she had.  It's quite difficult to organise a birthday party over the summer holidays, because so many people are busy, or away on holiday themselves.  But we did it.  And she loved it.

It all started, I suppose with the cake....

Bronte wanted a FROZEN cake, so with my own fair hands, I made her cake.  She loved it.  Even I was just a little bit impressed too.
The Saturday before Bronte's birthday B went away to Holy Island, like he did last year, which was a trip organised through the school.  He was quite upset at being away for Bronte's birthday and he promised her that he would send her a postcard for her birthday.  Which, true to his word, he did.
Anyway, so for her birthday it was just me, Phil and the girls.  Bronte was super excited, and had been counting down the days for a long time.  Presents were opened in our bedroom, bright and early in the morning.

As I am sure you can see, it was mostly Frozen stuff.  She is Frozen mad! 
I had a badge made specially for her, which she loved.  Here she is in her party dress.

And then, as she asked for, from 1-3pm it was her party.  There was food....

...and just a minute or two to have a quick bite to eat before....


And lots of fun on the bouncy castle!  Their big cousin Jacob was there to lend a hand with all the rowdy children.  He was so good with them all.  I think they tried him out!

After all that fun, it was time to say goodbye to friends, and thank them for coming....and then it was time for MORE presents!

Bronte had a thoroughly amazing birthday, and she was very much spoilt with all of her presents, including....

....her very own bike!

Thank you to each and every one of those people who made her day so special. xx

Saturday, August 16, 2014

RIP Robin Williams

I feel the need to post this immediately. 

I know I am late, with events occurring earlier in the week.

This week the world lost a true entertainer in the form of Robin Williams.  I am sure you have all heard the news and the stories by now.  He died.

He took his own life.  He battled depression and anxiety.

My heart goes out to him, and his family at this time.

You will NEVER truly understand anxiety and depression until you suffer from it, or experience it yourself, and it is something that I would not even wish on my worst enemy.

I cannot begin to imagine what thoughts must have been running through his head during those last moments, and it torments me to even consider it.

There is a lot of help and support out there, you just need to take it.  Some things work for some people, and other things work for others.  It is sometimes trial and error before you get the right combination.

His work and his characters will live on for generations to come.  We just recently watched Mrs Doubtfire and Hook - the children adored them both.  They are already huge fans of Flubber and Jimanji.

One of my earliest memories is having a Mork doll from Mork and Mindy that would speak 'nanu nanu'.  He was the boyfriend of my Sindy and Barbie dolls, as I didn't have a Ken doll, and boy dolls were quite rare back in the early 1980's.

Please, if you need it, seek help.  Do not suffer in silence.

Rest in peace, Robin. x

It's been a while....

It's been nearly a month since my last post.

I have missed blogging, so much.  But in another way I haven't.  I cannot find the words to explain what that means.

My depression and anxiety are back, and it's been harder to control.  I am still not on any medication.

Phil's health in one area is improving, yet in other areas it is getting worse, and he is in pain nearly ever day - STILL.  We thought that by now, he would be greatly improved, but this is not the case.

The summer holiday days are quickly passing, and B is counting his days to secondary school.  New school uniform has been purchased and we are working our way though the list of school supplies he needs for his new adventure.

Life is passing by.  Bronte has had her 5th birthday, and we have been out a couple of places and done a couple of things I wish to share with you, although late these posts will be coming up over the next few days.

I am considering this a new start, after a little break.  I won't go back and schedule posts in the past.  I will post them now, and look forward.  To the future.

I am back.  :o)

I hope you are still here too.  xx

Saturday, July 19, 2014

End of term and an unexected gift

Yesterday at the end of the school day there were the tearful goodbyes from B and his friends in the playground at home time.  There was the tradition of the '10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 countdown' that the Y6's did to countdown their days at Primary school.  It was something we thought we wouldn't get, but we did in the end...even if it was late and school had ended and other children were coming out...still it meant a lot to the parents, and I am pleased they did get to do it.

I can't believe my son has finished Primary school!  I had to go to his secondary school to complete some forms, and even I felt weird going in there....was like being back at my secondary school, even though I didn't go there!

Bronte's class teacher was leaving, and as she handed Bronte over to me, she mentioned she had a photo for Bronte that she thought we might like, so she gave us a copy of this picture:

It was taken at the Teddy Bears picnic earlier in the week.  Bronte had fallen over at lunchtime and ripped her tights, apparently it was just a small hole that she kept pulling....ooops.  Still, it sums her up totally!
I am so grateful that she took the time to print out another copy and give it to us, it's a lovely picture.
I am trying to tell the children how nice it is to do things for people, and how just a little tiny gesture (like this) can mean much more than words can say.  Expensive gifts are great, but it doesn't need to be big or expensive to make someone smile.  Wouldn't you agree?
The teachers who are leaving are going to be greatly missed.  I wish them all the best for the future xx

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Struggling to find the words to say what I want to say

Bronte's Nursery teacher is leaving this week, she is retiring.

She has been at the school for her entire teaching career, apart from when she had a break from teaching to have her family.

She is quite possibly the nicest person you could ever meet.  Of course with three children all spending up to three years in her care (she works as part of the Foundation Stage Unit so children, depending on their birthday could be in nursery for two years, and then what used to be called the Reception class for one year), I have gotten to know her over the years.

When I found out she was leaving I was in a panic.  You see, she helped me A LOT when Phil had his hip replacement, not in the fact that I knew her out of school and she did lots for us, but in the 'tell me how he is, tell me what is happening, how are you?' sort of sense - EVERY DAY during what turned out to be the darkest days of my life.  I suffered both anxiety and depression, something that to this day I am still tormented with.  Her and another teacher, did this, but this teacher much more so.  In fact, every time she has the time to do so, she will come over and ask about Phil's progress, even to this day.

I wanted to say thank you.  I wanted to give her the gifts personally.  More importantly I wanted to tell her how much she helped me.  Bronte did a thank you card, and I got a retirement card.  It wasn't enough.

I wanted a thank you letter - a handwritten one.

But how so you tell someone how much they have helped you, during your darkest days...without sounding like a complete loon?  Because to her, it was probably nothing, she probably does this to so many people, she is that nice....she may not have realised the impact of her words and her kindness.

The reality was the letter took a LONG time.  I got worked up, stressed and every second I thought about it brought tears to my eyes.  Even thinking about it NOW brings tears to my eyes.  But I did it.  It was perfect.  I am so happy with the words I wrote, I could not believe how easily they came in the end - like it was meant to be.  Admittedly, I wrote the letter with tears streaming down my face, but I did it.  It could not have been written any better.

I went down after nursery earlier today, something I was dreading and spent 10 minutes or so chatting with her.  I am pleased that I did not send the cards and present in with Bronte.  This lovely teacher, she will be so greatly missed.

Disappointingly, the parents were not allowed to organise anything from all the parents as we were not allowed to ask for money for the two teachers leaving, despite collections being made for other staff who left this year.  I am very disappointed, but at the same time I felt that I could not go against the Head Teachers wishes, I just hope that she got covered in gifts from all the parents and that the staff gave her an amazing send off.  It is no less than she deserves.

End of term teacher gifts

Today is the day before the last day of term, which means it is the day we send in the end of term teacher gifts.

Why today?

I send the teacher gifts in to school on the day before the last day of term.  After the first Christmas when B was in Reception class and I saw how many things the teacher got, I decided to take ours in the day before.  The kids have never questioned this, and even they think it's a good idea.
Whilst there is nothing wrong with giving flowers and chocolates, and we have given these in the past, I do like where possible to try and give something that can be kept.  Something to (hopefully) remember MY child by. 
This year I had to buy for FIVE teachers.  Bronte is in the Foundation Stage Unit and has one teacher and two other FSU teachers, two of whom were leaving (and had taught all three of my children) and B and M's teachers.  B is leaving this year also, so wanted to get his Teaching Assistant a little something.

Phil said (for the teachers who are leaving) 'get them flowers and a bottle of wine!' so that was his input.

For those who do prefer to send in flowers. Aldi had some lovely bunches of flowers for £3 and Pound Stretcher had the little 'thank you' boxes of chocs for just 50p. A great little thank you for Teaching Assistants or helpers?  We stocked up on these!

So for the leaving teachers, we did as Phil suggested, and also their main teacher present.
This is what is being sent in this year:
The prints are from Janet Bell greeting cards, which I have mounted in a square frame.  I really love the way these have turned out.  In fact I am going to now make some for me!  I hope the teachers like was a nightmare trying to centre the print right in the middle....took much longer than I expected as the mount in the frame when you but it is for a much smaller picture.  The children chose the designs - from the top left Bronte, B, M and the bottom two were for Bronte's teachers.
Plus, on another note I think sending in wine could also a bit risky because how do you know the person is a wine drinker?  Or prefers red, white or rose?  Unless you ask someone beforehand, I suppose, which is what I did this year.
Actually M had a male supply teacher from Oct-Dec last year and I asked him what to get as I had never brought for a male teacher before. Luckily he said red wine, so that was what he got.  He then said it was his first ever teacher gift.  I guess supply teachers don't get much luck when it comes to gifts.
Do you get teacher gifts?  What do you choose?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

How to keep kids entertained over the summer in the garden

Six weeks of summer holidays will soon be upon us.  B and M play out in the street and surrounding areas, including their friends houses.  We always know where they are, and they each have a mobile so we can contact them if we need them.

Bronte is nearly 5, and we feel too young to be playing out, so aside from letting her in the garden, or on the grass outside our house, she is pretty much stuck at home, unless we go to the park or somewhere like that.

I wanted to make sure there is enough in the garden to keep her busy and entertained over the summer.  I have looked around at our outdoor toys and what is on offer in the shops at the moment.

Bronte has a little patio chair from last year, in a Peppa Pig design which is a bit like this Hello Kitty one, and we already had a skipping rope and a little pop up tent from some time ago.  She also has a very old battered scooter which still works.  But these on their own aren't going to be much fun now are they?

I don't have a very big budget for this, so I am shopping around for cheap things.  So far I have managed to pick up from Tesco a foam sword (which Bronte loves as it goes nicely with her pirate dressing up outfit!), another skipping rope, and a skittles set.  From Wilko, as they had a little bit bigger selection in store - a paddling pool, some chalk sticks, an ankle hopper (much to her delight!) and a small Hello Kitty ball for just a small outlay. 

She put the chalks to good use creating this hopscotch:

Bronte was also lucky enough to get another skipping rope from her buddy at school, so although we have three, they are all different, and it means that her and M can skip at the same time without fighting over the skipping rope.

There are a few other things I would like to get for the garden.  Wilko have a much bigger selection of items online, which I believe you can get sent to store to collect.

Of course another option is a large blanket and a selection of toys.

I think all in all, we might just get there this summer.  Do you have any other suggestions for keeping children safely entertained in the garden?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

School traditions and B's look back over his years in Primary

We, as a family, have a number of traditions related to school, all of which I have created myself over the years. 

We take photographs on the first day of term.
I make a conscious effort to get to know the teacher (many of whom I now know already).
We give Christmas gifts to each class teacher.
We take in a little bag of chocolate hearts on/near (depending on half term) Valentine's Day for each class teacher (B started this tradition).
We give an Easter Egg to each class teacher (M started this tradition).
Now my shifts have changed, at least twice a week I collect the children, and make polite conversation with the teachers.
We give end of term gifts to each class teacher, and small boxes of chocolates to some teaching assistants (that the children choose).  We also send a card to each class teacher, and one from myself and Phil to thank the teacher for their efforts during the year.
Last year I started to give flowers to the Head Teacher and secretary at the end of term.

Many of them you will perhaps do some of these yourselves, and you may just consider it to be one of those things that you do, but for me, they are an important part of the children's school lives.

You may also think that I go overboard, but the gifts don't necessarily need to be large, just well thought out.  I will share later in the week what we are giving the teachers this year.  It actually does not cost a lot when you think about it.  And who doesn't like to be thanked for their hard work?

It is times like this, with B leaving primary school this year when the hard work and dedication pays off, and you get to create something like this:

Beautiful, don't you think?

There are 19 children in B's class who are moving to four different schools, and I would like to wish them all the best of luck in their future.
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