14 September 2014

Lifestyle - School Days

I have started my new job and it's going really well. There has been a slow start for us whilst we have got everyone up to speed on what's going on. The new school building is still being built and will hopefully be ready for us to move into in the New Year.

Week one at work was taken up with lots of training activities. I have done restraint training, positive discipline, lesson planning, safeguarding and something else that I have forgotten the name of! We also spent time trying to make our temporary accommodation look like an actual functioning school. The building used to be a behavioural unit so was sort of set up how we needed it, but they had just ripped out a whole load of the fittings and we needed to cover some rather large holes in the walls!

This week (week 2) has seen the students slowly starting to arrive. One year group at a time. Year 8s on Monday, 9s on Tuesday, 11s on Wednesday and 10s on Friday. The reaon the 11s came in before the 10s is because they go on placement for Thursdays and Fridays. This means that tomorrow (Monday) will be the first day we have all four year groups in at once. 

This could prove interesting, that's for sure. The break times are set up so there are only two year groups mixed together at any one time and they are not consecutive years so they hopefully won't fight too much... We've only got the four years as we're in too small a building to fit any more. 

My group of year 10s is made up entirely of boys and there is another all boy group as well as an all girl mixed group of 9s and 10s. (Confusing, I know). I have 6 in my group and the others have 7 each. We are what is known as an Alternative Provision Academy (APA) and are the largest in the country with roughly 60 students. This is not full sized. We will have 150 altogether at the new site and will range in age from year 6 (10-11yr olds) to the year 11s (15-16). 

So far, my lads have been very sweary and pretty offensively racist but have behaved themselves and got on with all their work. They are in  school setting so they are working towards their GCSE exams although the government only asks us to give them English and Maths we feel that they need more than that to become valuable members of society.

In the new build there will be provision for lots of vocational work including a hair and beauty studio, joinery, mechanics bay and various other job specific areas. They will all be taught to drive a forklift before they leave school as well (!)

Yes, this is a bit of a promo piece about my new school, but I'm really proud of what we're trying to achieve with these kids that society has already pegged as no hopers (one of the lads in my class is very bright, just hates school). I hope that in my role as their tutor (they're counted as my class) I'm going to be able to help them at least start to believe there is a future for themselves and they won't just be another generation of kids who grow up on an estate, get into trouble and go to prison. 

The schools official website is aspirehull.com check it out and see what you think.

Love, Pearl. 

24 August 2014

Lifestyle - Disney Film Perfectionism

My mum and I had a bit of a tidy up in my house a few weeks ago and it gave me the chance to reorganise the DVDs back into the cupboard where they are supposed to live. They had emigrated to various other parts of my living room and it was getting on my nerves no end.

Having a small child means I have ended up with quite a few Disney films in my collection (or at least that's what I keep telling myself is the reason) but I hadn't realised how out-of-hand the collection had gotten! 

I attempted to introduce madam to the joys of putting the collection in order, but she wasn't buying it... But I certainly did. Turns out we had over 50 Disney films which included 20 odd of the Classics series. I put them all in the correct order (they're numbered, helpfully) but then I began to wonder which ones we were missing.

The completionist part of me gets all worked up at the thought of gaps! So I figured I had better find out which ones we were missing and then I could tick them off - hyperventilation might be happening at that thought! 

Having made the list I have actually ticked some off already due to Asda having an offer on! Although, I did have to overrule madam about one of her choices (Bambi 2? I don't think so...) I did lose when she insisted on replacing the Incredibles though... Its Pixar, its not part of the same collection, dammit!

Now the list is looking more complete, but there are still loads missing! And I *still* don't have the AristoCats :-( Also, there are some discrepancies to the list as in the USA they don't count Dinosaur as being in the Classics collection but they do in the UK. And there is a film called the Wild which doesn't show up on the list at all for some reason... (We don't have it, but we do have trailers for it). 

Time for the list... Ones marked with a "*" are ones we own.

  1. Snow White *
  2. Pinocchio *
  3. Fantasia (my parents own this one!)
  4. Dumbo *
  5. Bambi *
  6. Saludos Amigos
  7. The Three Caballeros
  8. Make Mine Music
  9. Fun & Fancy Free
  10. Melody Time
  11. The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad
  12. Cinderella *
  13. Alice in Wonderland *
  14. Peter Pan
  15. Lady and the Tramp *
  16. Sleeping Beauty *
  17. 101 Dalmatians *
  18. The Sword in the Stone
  19. The Jungle Book *
  20. The AristoCats
  21. Robin Hood
  22. The Many Adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh
  23. The Rescuers
  24. The Fox and the Hound
  25. The Black Cauldron
  26. Basil the Great Mouse Detective
  27. Oliver & Company
  28. The Little Mermaid *
  29. The Rescuers Down Under
  30. Beauty and the Beast *
  31. Aladdin *
  32. The Lion King *
  33. Pocahontas *
  34. The Hunchback of Notre Dame
  35. Hercules *
  36. Milan
  37. Tarzan
  38. Fantasia 2000
  39. Dinosaur *
  40. The Emperor's New Groove *
  41. Atlantis: The Lost Empire
  42. Lilo & Stitch *
  43. Treasure Planet
  44. Brother Bear
  45. Home on the Range
  46. Chicken Little *
  47. Meet the Robinsons
  48. Bolt *
  49. The Princess and the Frog *
  50. Tangled *
  51. Winnie-the-Pooh
  52. Wreck It Ralph *
  53. Frozen *
This list is from the IMdB website, some of the numbers and films don't match what's on the box! But as far as I can tell we own 25 of the 53 that have been released. There is one called Big Hero 6 coming out later this year that I am *really* looking forward to.

After filling all the shelves in my cupboard with DVDs I still had some leftover, so they're on the bookshelves and under the TV. I might need more storage space for them... That'll be another thing to add to the list of things to buy once I'm earning... 

Then maybe I could have a madam collection and a grown up collection *gets misty eyed* I could alphabetise mine... Yeah, I know, I'm weird... I would kind of like to put all the different animation studios in to their own collections, too. Perfectionism is a pain sometimes...

What do you obsess over?

Love, Pearl.

21 August 2014

Lifestyle - Having a job is just the beginning

You may have wondered where I've been and I don't blame you. Turns out I don't particularly like blogging from my tablet after all. I'm hoping once I get paid I'll be able to get my laptop screen fixed (finally) and then I may be able to get back to some kind of regular blogging schedule.

Until then, sporadic is the name of the game. I've mainly been getting ready for starting work and also supervising madam as she enjoys her free time.

In the last few weeks I've gone from being worried I would never find a job again to being gainfully employed and needing to get everything together for my start date of September 1st. The most important part of that (no, not shoes) is transport. 

My dad, being an amazing human, agreed to forward me the money for a car and a years worth of insurance which I will then (slowly) pay him back. 

I decided that I really wanted something similar to the hire car I had whilst my parents were on holiday. That was a (top of the range) Toyota Aygo. Now, I'm not thick, I knew top of the range was out. But a lower spec version of the same was definitely an option. It turns out there are three different manufacturers who make identical cars. The cheapest to buy secondhand was the Peugot 107. And on my budget I could afford one about three years old. 

This then meant hours of trawling the internet to narrow down which ones we were going to go and have a look at. Madam pinned her heart to a bright yellow one early on and I discovered they made purple ones... 

We went to a local a dealership which had a few in stock (including a purple one!) Sadly, turns out the purple was way over my budget (like, £1500 over) and after looking at the other three in stock we settled for a red one with a low mileage. 

So my new baby, who has been named Peggy, was all sorted out. Next was making myself look slightly less like a wild woman and more like the professional I'm pretending to be. 

Mum very kindly agreed to pay for me to have a decent haircut and I now look much more sleek and much more like my old self again. On my travels I have also had to sort out before and after school care for madam (she's going to a place with its own farm. A farm!) and I've also been on holiday with my Guides. It's been a busy ol' summer, so far! 

What have you been up to then? 

Love, Pearl. 

18 July 2014

Lifestyle - A New Beginning

I have an announcement!

*clears throat*

I HAVE A JOB!!!!!!!
My volunteering has paid off and I finally managed a right place/right time ultimate combo. The main selling point? My degree. Yup, the one I have always been slightly unhappy about. 

Don't get me wrong, I loved doing it and I wouldn't swap those experiences for anything. But I have never used it. I was all for going into Heritage Management after qualifying but then realised the route into the industry is fraught with broken dreams and living like a pauper for more years than I was willing to. 

So I did what most people do in that situation. Put my dreams on hold until there was a "right time" and got a proper job. I then spent numerous years working in a restaurant and dreaming of escape. I focused on education as I'd always thought I might like to teach. I applied for a couple of graduate schemes to become a French teacher but always fell down at the final hurdle. 

I retrained (whilst still working at the restaurant) and got myself a CELTA. Which is a foundation level qualification and the basic minimum for a job teaching English as a foreign language. 

I lived in Greece for a bit, came home, got married, ended up back at the restaurant again because I needed a job. Escape was so hard when there were bills to be paid. I dreamed some more, but just couldn't wiggle free. I spent a summer teaching English in the week and full-time in the restaurant at weekends (clocking up 70hr weeks in the process). 

I got pregnant and it was then I saw my chance. I *couldn't* go back to the restaurant. It just didn't fit around my childcare needs. But then they closed my restaurant whilst I was on maternity leave and I managed to get a payout for leaving a job I'd had no intention of returning to. Bonus. 

And then, to quote a well known TV theme tune 'my life got flipped, turned upside down'. I ended up a single parent and have battled with my own mental health for a few years. Last October my daughter turned five and the government insisted I look for a job. Now, I had been planning for this moment for a while and had tried to make myself more employable.

I started this blog because I was doing a counselling skills course and realised how depressed I was and how much I needed an outlet. That course was supposed to lead me to a job last summer, before the Jobcentre would ever need to be involved, but sadly it didn't. All the jobs I'd seen the year before that needed that qualification were not advertised. Bugger. 

I, therefore, dutifully signed on in the October to get my Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) and started the long, slow process of regaining employment.

I discovered the amount of skills I have puts a lot of employers off. And the government's insistence on focussing on the young unemployed by creating endless schemes to help them into jobs (which is great if you're 16-24) means employers have created millions of apprenticeships where there used to be entry level positions. 

Not so great if you're 36 and looking for a job. Any job, but don't have industry specific skills. I was a manager in a restaurant I can do admin. Possibly with my eyes closed. Have I had one single response to any of those applications? Nope. 

And then a teeny, tiny light in the dark. I found a secondary school (my preferred age range) that wanted volunteer Teaching Assistants. Perfect! I emailed over my application and a mere half an hour later they rang to offer me an interview! 

I finally started at the beginning of the summer term doing Wednesdays and Thursdays with the year 7 nurture group. I have genuinely enjoyed all of it. Even those days where I've (briefly) wished I was allowed to throttle them. And then at the end of June an advert appeared on their website. 

I, obviously, jumped at the chance. Made sure it was the best application I could do. Handed it in. Waited.

Is there anything worse than waiting?

I got so nervous one of the other TAs marched me up to the HR office so I could ask if the shortlist was ready. It was. And I was on it. Twice! 

Unbeknownst to me there were jobs going in three different areas. The Academy itself, the Intervention team (this has nothing to do with sitting your friend down and telling them you're concerned with their drug/alcohol use) and finally the Aspire project. 

Aspire is a free school that is opening in Hull in September. It is based around the Academy's Christian ethos that all students deserve to be taught. Even the ones who have been excluded from their own schools. It is taking pupils from all over the city with behavioural issues that have seen them excluded or at risk of exclusion from year 6 and up (that's 10/11yr olds up to 18yr olds.) 

And, here's the important bit, they will *all* be studying Leisure and Tourism. My degree subject! After so long with *no-one* caring about my degree having an interview panel (a member of each of those 3 different areas) all be excited by my degree. And that I carried my French up to my second degree year. And that I have counselling skills was a little pleasing, it has to be said. 

And then yesterday I got the phone call I had been praying for. I've been taken on to work at Aspire. I can't tell you just how exciting this is for me. I'm so proud of myself for not letting my anxieties stop me from pursuing something I *knew* I could be good at. And because I'll be at Aspire the chances of career progression are slightly higher. 

Moving in to teaching L&T could be a real prospect. And I'm not even scared by the idea any more. Plus, if I can make it through at least 2 years at Aspire, I think I could probably work anywhere! 

I have spent the last two weeks saying "if I get this job..." and planning so many nice things. First up, a holiday for madam and I. Not until next summer. But an actual holiday! My mum and dad have promised to finance a car for me. And I have been browsing dinky, just for madam and I, cars on auto trader. 

And finally, I've been work wear planning :) I have created a Pinterest board which you can have a look at if you fancy... 

I am crazy happy at the moment and just want to thank everyone for being so supportive (and enthusive) whilst I've been going through this process. 

As an aside, it is almost exactly six years since I went on maternity leave. I would never have imagined everything that has happened since then. But I am so ready for a change! 

Love, Pearl.

5 July 2014

Lifestyle - I've been so busy...

Hello there, my lovelies. No, I haven't forgotten I run a blog. Yes, I have been too busy to keep you all up to date. I am really sorry for neglecting you. The lack of home internet access has really scuppered me in the last few weeks as I haven't been able to fit blogging in. 

What I have been doing is working. I am still volunteering at the Academy in Hull and have just submitted an application form for a paid position. I have also been assigned some volunteering work by the Jobcentre. Fun. 

This handsome chap was at the park we went to last week.
Its not as bad as I make that sound as it is with a children's charity that run various drop in sessions within the community. I'll be able to keep going through the summer holidays too, which will at least keep me busy. Best of all, madam can come with me. 

I have been busily daydreaming about life if I get this job I have applied for. I have looked into what car I might get and even where I might take madam on holiday next summer! I did toy with the idea of moving closer to work so I could avoid the need for a car, but I think I run the risk of making myself feel isolated and ill again. 

I have thought about what of the many broken things I have I will replace first (my bed, I *need* better sleep). And I've started to ponder a frivolous thing as a treat to myself. Sadly, I don't even know if I have an interview yet so I think I best calm myself down a bit. But I would relish having my freedom back. 

Job seeking is so all encompassing and I'm bound (perfectly reasonably) by certain conditions that there is very little flexibility available. I'm not even supposed to stay somewhere overnight without letting the DWP know... (that one I think is a bit ridiculous). 

But as you can see, I can't just do things on a whim, really, at the moment. Even if I did have any money. I am also massively excited about the increase in cash flow that a job will bring. I have lived on benefits since madam was born and whilst I am so grateful and fortunate to live in a country that has a social welfare system in place. I can't say its a luxurious lifestyle, but its enough to live on. 

I will let you know if I get an interview and you can talk me down from the ledge when I panic... And I will get some home internet as soon as I can! ;-) 

Love, Pearl.

17 June 2014

Lifestyle - Father's Day

I've been meaning to write a Father's Day post for a few days, but haven't had the chance. It's a strange day in our house as my Dad has never celebrated it and madam's dad isn't exactly outstanding in the field! 

We actually had a really busy day as madam had a party in the morning and we decided to go out for the afternoon... Madam was at the local soft play centre for 11am and was bouncing around the house for *hours* beforehand.

I loathe sitting around at parties talking to mums I don't really know which is why I tend to leave madam to it if possible. Not the case at soft play, sadly. Though, being Father's Day meant it really wasn't very busy in there. Thankfully. 

After much partying and birthday lunching we decided to go to Hornsea (a local seaside town) for the afternoon. As the weather wasn't too cheerful we decided on going to the mere instead of the beach. Which was probably the best plan as it was windy enough there! 

The mere is home to a pretty sizeable goose population and madam had a great time collecting together the biggest feathers she could find. She has since taken them to school for crafts :-)  When she had picked up as many feathers as any one child could need we had a bit of a wander and she walked along one of the jetties to get a better look at the water. 

I did the parent thing of deciding whether to intervene as she made some rather scary manoeuvres horribly near the edge, but she didn't fall and I was glad she had got to do it her way. I bought her a wee windmill in the little shop that I don't remember ever being there before and she had fun running around and watching it spin. 

She mentioned her kite several times and we've decided that's what we'll do this weekend coming. Quite looking forward to that, its ages since we've flown the kite!

We voted for going to the Freeport in Hornsea for a drink as we were getting a bit chilly by the mere. We had a wander round the shops and had madam's feet measured at the Clark's outlet. She is now a size 1! But her school shoes are still OK until the end of this term, I hope! They'll just have to be, frankly! 

My mum is quite looking forward to madam's feet being bigger than hers (4) as she thinks that'll stop her wearing hers! Nope... 

One cup of coffee and glass of fizzy orange later we headed back to my parents to see younger bro for a bit before going home for tea. We had yummy meatballs and pasta and madam was told she could have a couple of the sweeties in her party bag. 

She ate all of them. I, therefore, told her off and banned her from having any more sweets this week. She was not impressed and threw some things at me. At which point I banned her from any bedtime stories for the week either. Major madam meltdown.

She was livid. But I wouldn't back down and did manage to get her to put her pyjamas on. Couldn't get her to go to bed and got stabbed with an umbrella and hit in the face with a flying projectile for my efforts. 

I left her to it. She was too angry to even try to reason with. She plonked herself on the floor under my feet. Eventually, she fell asleep where she was. I merely covered her over and left her to it. She woke up about 10pm. I told her to get in bed, she wimped a bit but went straight upstairs and silence re-descended. 

On Sunday I was really upset she'd spoiled our nice day. But in hindsight, it was only bedtime. We still had had a lovely day. She was still unreasonable and frighteningly out of control, but I think I need to focus on the good parts. 

She did, sort of in the middle, quiet down enough to tell me she missed her daddy and wanted him there and not a new one (she's a bit obsessed with me remarrying). And I understood a least a little of where this massive outburst had come from. 

Of course she was angry that I had confiscated things she liked but she had spent the week being built up at school and at Rainbows for a Father's Day she felt excluded from. This is the first year she's really been cognisant about it. Every other year she has been happy to accept me as substitute. But I'm not her Dad. And her Dad is gone at the moment. She hasn't seen him since August bank holiday last year and he hasn't phoned her for ages. 

My divorce (that's a whole other post!) is in progress and she is very aware of that. She is confused. Again. I feel heartbroken that she has to constantly deal with all these things when she is still so young. But I hope we can get through to the other side soon and she can get some happiness and stability back. 

I wish that we were there already though. 

Love, Pearl. 

10 June 2014

Lifestyle - A Moan About Reality

Hellooooooooo! Sorry to have been A.W.O.L. for so long. I have been rather obsessively reading a series of books and then I read my book for the month in an hour or so, so I've sort of started on next month's book! 

I say almost, because technically its not the book on the list but as the one that is happens to be the 2nd of 3, I thought I could start on book 1 now :-) 

I have been feeling a little out of love with blogging as well. Too many other things going on that I'm not too happy with for whatever reason is leaving me uninspired. I did get a bit of a boost on Sunday though as I got to be internationally famous for an evening! 

This is because my interview was up on the Bonjour, Blogger! site. I really enjoy the interview posts and love to read about different bloggers out there. It certainly made me feel a bit more happy than I had been so far that evening. Madam is still being a handful...

And that's another thing that has been winding me up. Now, I'm certainly not averse to social media and use it all the time. And yea, I edit the things I put out there. But why is the internet full of pictures of kids destroying stuff, crying at nothing and generally being horrid when *no-one* seems to mention that side of it!

These things are collected in one place and only if you know where to look will you find them. They're not all over Facebook or Twitter (at least, not that I've seen). It leaves me feeling like my child is in some way abnormal for acting the way she does. And she's just not. My 5yr old certainly is angrier than a lot of others, but the rest of the stuff is perfectly normal 5yr old behaviour, isn't it? 

If I talk to the other parents in the playground they all roll their eyes and mention the time when their little darling did x or y or even both! I sometimes wonder why this side of parenting seems to be so taboo. My struggles with madam's temper would be more manageable if I didn't feel quite so alone dealing with it.

And if you search online for help there are hundreds of other parents asking the same questions. So, I shouldn't feel so isolated, but when you've had a whole day ruined by one, almighty, tantrum and you've been told just how much you're hated by the one person you're devoted to it does niggle. Because those are the moments when I rant on Twitter and I get to see someone else's perfect day with their child!  

So, come on parents, help me out! Surely there are bad moments in your days too? It can't just be me, can it? 

Love, Pearl.

31 May 2014

Reading Challenge - May Update

It's the end of the month already! How did that happen? Today I am mainly just overexcited because I have new glasses... Its been four years since the last new pair so it was about time for a change. I have also got new sunglasses as the restrictions have changed and I could use my NHS voucher. Free second pair offers are the best...

OK, so, books. I have been reading more slowly this month, just the one book at a time. But I seem to have read pretty much the same as other months. I think because I read at work on my break and at lunch. 

My book from The List this month was The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. I did like it and I can see what all the fuss was about but I was slightly disappointed. It just felt like it could have been more. The story takes place over the course of many years and there are also several other players that we read about along the way. The main plot is a competition between two Illusionists and there protégés.

The two young students are bound together in youth and then separately taught all their master believes they need. They are then set against each other in a competition to the death. Though the students are unaware that this is the ultimate end to their game, initially. 

Events are played out through the Night Circus, both creating new tents and illusions to outperform the other. Whilst one knows who his competitor is, the other does not. Eventually the participants fall in love and they try and effect an escape from their destined end. They recruit someone else to take over their enchantments and but for one final act almost completely succeed. They are trapped within the Circus, but free to be together. 

As I said, good story. But there were so many side plots and interruptions that it was all just a bit flabby. I would have loved a tighter, punchier tale. I liked it, but not enough that I think I will be reading it again. 

The full list of books I read this month is:
1. Sanctum by Sarah Fine - 30/4/14 ~ 2/5/14
2. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern - 2/5/14 ~ 8/5/14
3. Fractured by Sarah Fine - 8/5/14 ~ 11/5/14
4. Grounded by G.P. Ching - 12/5/14 ~ 14/5/14
5. Elephant Moon by John Sweeny - 16/5/14 ~ 20/5/14
6. Insurgent by Veronica Roth - 20/5/14 ~ 22/5/14
7. Allegiant by Veronica Roth - 22/5/14 ~ 24/5/14
8. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou - 28/5/14 ~ 29/5/14.

That last book I hadn't planned on reading, but with the passing of Maya Angelou I really wanted to reread it. I also didn't read any Heyer this month as I just didn't fancy it. In fact for the first time all the books I read, barring that last one, were eBooks. 

I've got next months book lined up and am currently reading one that will have to roll over. I've not read much of it but am really getting into it. 

And that's about it for this month. As ever it remains to say that my reading challenge was inspired by essbeevee and her books are amazing posts. 

What have you been reading? 

Love, Pearl. 

30 May 2014

Lifestyle - Holiday Hijinks

Its half term and I am in that unenviable position of having had to entertain the madam for the last few days in the rather horrid weather. This has led to us spending more money than I would have liked because indoor things are (almost) never free!

We haven't even had chance to do a museum day which we always love... 

Monday we went to the cinema and finally got to see the Lego Movie. And it was as good as I had been led to believe. My only issue was the part that was in live action. I just felt like it slowed the whole movie and it was the only point where madam got fidgety. But it was awesome, on the whole. 

Tuesday was a fun trip to the job centre so I could sign on and then a trip into Hull to re-submit my Divorce petition as there had been an error on the first version. Despite my mum and I having checked, double checked and checked again. Bugger.

The error was mainly caused by a difficult to interpret marriage certificate, but the court sent me an example that I could follow and I'm hoping that this time it won't bounce straight back... 

Wednesday, nah, we didn't do anything much. We didn't even get dressed until 4pm! 

Yesterday we went swimming for the first time in ages. Madam therefore got to wear her new 'kini again and I had to run the "do I still fit in my swimsuit" gamut. The answer was "yes" and all systems were go! I stopped taking madam a while ago as I find it quite frustrating to not be able to swim and have to instead pay out for us to have a bath!

Mum came this time which helped no end and we tried to teach madam the basics of swimming. I can't afford the £45/term fees for lessons and she won't get them at school until year 3. So, we worked on teaching her to float. This merely requires her to stay still, which is a near impossibility for my wiggly girl! 

She pretty much got it, but her fear of putting her face in the water and other little things have made mum and I determined to bring her more often throughout the summer to build up her confidence. And maybe she might get to swim by the end of it too...

Today we went to the SeaLife Centre in Scarborough with my parents and brother (younger). We had a 40% off voucher but it was certainly not a cheap trip! Madam was given a pass book that she had to get stamped in various locations around the centre and also a Moshi Monster hunt form. This last was just for half term and we hadn't known about it, sadly. Madam is a Moshi Monster fan and was rather thrilled to meet Katsuma. 

We saw penguins and otters, jellyfish and seals, sharks, seahorses and turtles. It was really good fun. My mum even forked out for a rather silly photo of us all. This was mainly because it had all of us  in (barring big bro and girlf) which is an unusual occurrence. 

After we'd seen everything we headed to the beach for a picnic and madam had a quick paddle in the sea. We had a mooch along North Bay and then caught the little train back to the SeaLife Centre and the car. 

Madam slept all the way home whilst wearing her new pirate hat and hook. It was a good day :-) 

So, what's your week been like? I am actually going to need aftersun later! 

Love, Pearl. 

23 May 2014

Lifestyle - A Quick Catch Up

Its been rather longer since my last post than I intended, sorry! I have been rather tired and have been spending time doing other things than writing. Mainly reading and making those loom band things all the kids are wearing nowadays! 

They're really easy and colourful. My two favourite things, frankly! 

Madam has settled somewhat from her manic outbursts and life is less about yelling at each other. Which I wholeheartedly prefer. We had a great trip to the beach last weekend to try out her new 'kini and soak up some sunshine. 

This is England after all, you have to make the most of these things :-) 

Whilst at the beach we were sitting under a colony of sand martins which proved impossible to photograph, sadly. I didn't really get much in the way of photos at all, really. It was so bright and I couldn't see how they were coming out. I have got this splendid shot of madam making a sandcastle... 

This Thursday just gone madam made her promise at Rainbow's and is now the proud owner of a badge and certificate to prove it. She is so proud that she read her promise out without any help and is committed to being an active Rainbow. 

In case you don't know, Rainbow's are the youngest members of the Guiding movement and are aged between 5 & 7. She has been desperate to go since turning 5 in October, but it's taken ages for a place to come free! 

Next week it's the school half term holidays and we're planning a couple of trips to keep madam occupied. One of which will be to the Sea Life Centre in Scarborough because we have a voucher :-) We'll be making a day of it and will also be taking a trip through Peasholm Park on the miniature railway. Perhaps not in the splash boat though... 

So, I think that's us all caught up now. Hope you've all been well... It's nice to be back again... 

Love, Pearl. 

13 May 2014

Parenting - Fear is Anger

Having told you how much I've been struggling with madam's temper recently I decided I could do with being more proactive about getting to the root of the problem. Remembering that the last time she was this volatile was also connected to her fears it seemed a good place to start.

When himself punched me it left a permanent impression on madam (despite having been only 3 she still mentions it regularly). It also left her with a lot of mixed feelings to deal with which to some extent I had to ride out due to her inability to properly verbalise her feelings. 

New clothes make any girl smile :)

Some of it was outright anger and she punched everyone and everything for a while. I had to go into her nursery on the first day and explain what might happen. I then had to go through a whole child protection thing with them to ensure himself couldn't go anywhere near her without me also being there. 

Also, she became incredibly clingy, which, if you know madam, you will know is very out of character. This is the bit I decided to try and focus on with her this weekend. Her clinginess was a manifestation of separation anxiety. So is her current vile behaviour somehow all mixed up with that?

I took her to the cinema on Saturday morning so that we could have some alone time together doing something fun. I let her watch the film and choose where we were having lunch before talking to her about it so that I knew she was pretty chilled out.

Knowing that my going to work is something that is new to her I decided to use that as a jumping off point. And I pretty much hit the jackpot. She admitted to being worried that I would go to work and forget about her and not come back. This is another leftover from her dad as he left us to go and work in London and has not lived with us since.

Can you look menacing whilst wearing Lycra? 

Her little brain does parent working = abandonment. I have spent the whole of the weekend trying to reassure that even though, yes, we dont get as much time together, I will not leave her. I have used all the examples I can think of from times we've been apart and I have come back again.

The thing that made me sad was that she can remember every single night we've spent apart! She really doesn't like it. And I had to try not to dismiss her fears as silly. They are very real to her. Daddy left her. She can't see why mummy never would, even if I have always come back before there might be a time when I don't.

She did at one point ask if she could live with nanna as she's retired and therefore won't go to work and leave her :'( Poor little thing. I have tried to make her understand that even if she is angry and worried this is not a reason to throw things at people and she has been better over the weekend. We'll see how it goes on.

Does anyone have any other ideas of ways I might be able to reassure her?

Love, Pearl.

9 May 2014

Parenting - How Do I Deal With Temper?

Hello, lovelies. How are you? I'm kinda tired, but its Friday, bring on the weekend! I have actually got no hope of having a peaceful weekend, but I can dream...

Madam has been horrid the last couple of days, culminating in her throwing a pair of (incredibly sharp) scissors at me yesterday. I'm sure its just a case of being hideously tired as she had had a very busy couple of days, but I can't cope with her behaving like that to me! She *needs* to work on her temper. 

I think it frightens her when she loses control like that. My main issue really was not the throwing of the scissors, but the fact she didn't apologise. She was so busy begging me to let her keep doing Rainbows (I told her it obviously made her too tired and cranky) that she didn't consider how she might go about making amends. 

I am at another impasse with her. I have to seriously consider whether her temper is worth letting her do something she clearly loves. Whilst I'm glad she controls herself with other people I can't be her punching bag any longer. She knows that I don't tolerate hitting, she remembers what happened when Daddy punched me after all. So this is why she throws things instead.

I'm considering throwing things away that she throws at me, so she learns to keep hold of her stuff. But then she'll throw my things at me, she's not stupid... I have nowhere that I can use to confiscate things to, either. I might try getting a lidded plastic box where I can put things that are confiscated and then make a list of ways to earn things back. 

Not sure it'll work, but it has to be worth a try. I dread her getting older and still being incapable of controlling herself. She will end up really hurting me, she's very strong already. This morning she pulled my hair really hard because she didn't want me to get out of bed. I pulled hers back, which was probably not very clever of me, but she needs to know how much that hurts! 

It's not really a cure all technique is it. I would simply be teaching her to retaliate like for like. And I spend ages telling her not to retaliate at school etc. Way to be a hypocrite Pearl. 

And you know the stupid thing? Despite her size and strength it seems to be her that gets shoved around at school! She told me she was pushed over three times the other day. Each time by a different student and each time she told the teacher who then dealt with it. But it seems to happen a lot and this is obviously something else that's winding her up. 

It's so hard to know what to do for best. I'm not convinced raising it with her teacher will really help. She is dealing with it and I should respect that. I'm just not sure she realises that madam is as upset by it as she is. She is the master of picking herself up and getting on with it.  Which must look like she's just brushing it off, but then I get it in the neck later. 

I really want to be able to help her, does anyone have any suggestions? I'm not stupid enough to think that at no point she might be provoking people, she is good at that, after all. But how do I help her move forward? Should I have a word with her teacher? 

Love, Pearl.

6 May 2014

Lifestyle - Work and Learning

I have finally started my voluntary job at Archbishop Sentamu academy in Hull and I'm loving it. It's so nice to feel like I'm actually doing something useful with my time.

Work ready!
I've been with both the year 8 and 7 nurture groups which are classes where the students need extra support than a mainstream class. This involves both some challenging behaviours as well as some vulnerable students. 

I was forewarned that I might be exposed to everything possible within the course of my days with these students, and they weren't kidding! Day one with the year 8s which involved a lot of belligerence and noise was a walk in the park compared to day two with the year 7s. 

But, I loved it. I felt like I actually helped some of the students to perform much better than they may have otherwise and it was nice to have them come to me for help when they needed it. 

I think I did use the phrase "can you be quiet, please" more in one hour than I have ever thought would be necessary, but these are kids who exemplify the acting out when bored mould. They also can't sit still and wandered around the classroom all the time!

What worries me is that some of these behaviours are exactly the same as madam's and I am now having visions of her being in a class like that when she's older! Some of the students in there were quite obviously very intelligent, one of the year 8s in particular really sticks out in my mind, but so incapable of self control... 

So my mummy brain has kicked into overdrive and I'm now plotting ways in which I can help madam to fit into the box they expect her to, without squishing her personality. I may be on an uphill battle here, school has already taken note of her inabilities. I don't want her put in the naughty kid box, because she is not and she is capable of so much. She just is not a typical sitting at a desk learner. 

Having done some work on learning styles I'm beginning to draw the conclusion my child learns better when she is moving. She HAS to be able to stand up and dance when watching anything, she still puts everything in her mouth to discover it fully. She can sit at a task if it really engages her, for example she's really good at drawing, but she needs a period of doing something afterwards before she can move on to the next task. 

Schools are not set up like that though. They put everyone in the auditory learner box, which works very well for me, but is definitely not for everyone. Hands up all the people who use video tutorials on YouTube all the time. They quite often confuse me... I like written instructions, not picture instructions (IKEA, I'm looking at you!) but real words. Or you can read something to me and I will follow that happily.

Madam can't really do either, partly because the kid is 5, but because she needs to take part to learn. How will school be able to help her? (Did I mention I'm in panicky mummy mode.)

I'm hoping as she ages and matures she may learn to process things in her own way so that she can fully participate at school. Next year when she goes into a proper sitting in front of a desk style learning environment is going to be a struggle, I can tell.

Do you think it's worth me speaking to the teacher about this? Surely if I as someone with very little knowledge of teaching know about learning styles, she must. Then maybe we could develop a technique to help her. 

OK, need to stop myself before I go into full on anxiety mode. She is 5, she is doing OK. She has all the advantages of a good school and loving family to help her. She's going to get through. And school is only a short time of her life to get past. 

Let's look to the good things. Madam is starting athletics after school tomorrow so hopefully she can burn off some of that abundant energy she is blessed with. And Rainbows is on Thursdays. First week was last week and it went really well (hence the silly picture!) 

She is now keen for me to get her the full uniform. She'll have to wait a couple of weeks, I think!