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!  

3 May 2014

Lifestyle - A Day at the Museums

In the last week of the Easter holidays I met up with my good friend Tabatha Tweedie her two gorgeous kids for a trip to the Hands on History centre in Hull. We were glad we'd arranged to go as they're closing it down which is going to be a real loss. Hull is meant to be city of culture soon, not sure closing museums really goes with that image!

But, moving on. We met at 10am in time for it opening and lept through the door as soon as they opened it. The ground floor is all about childhood and had a Victorian school set up as well as the chance to dress up in some costumes. Madam decided she would like to be a chimney sweep... 

The kids took it in turn being teacher and then we went to check out the raised area which had lots of books and a puppet theatre. Madam and little tweedie played with the puppets and the animal shaped cushions whilst baba tweedie made a myriad of escape attempts and threw blocks through the gaps in the railings. 

We then went down into the cellar which was set up as a scullery and had lots of laundry items as well as a two seated loo that amused the girls immensely. Baba tweedie chose to climb up and down the stairs with his mummy whilst I supervised the giggling in the cellar!

The girls ran off to look in the shop and when we caught up with them we were bemused to see a lot of Egyptian items. At which point one of the staff pointed out the lift and we discovered there was an upstairs gallery as well! 

We found a room filled with Egyptian artifacts as well as a side room with a sarcophagus and mummy in. Madam was a bit creeped out by the mummy and dashed off into the final display area. This was all about life in Hull through the years. 

They had lots of examples of really random things including a room set up as an 80s living room, complete with textured wallpaper and ruched blinds! Tabatha and I loved seeing the needlework, costumes and old sewing items. I also found a doll dressed in the 1930s uniform of Newland High School for Girls, which my grandmother would have worn. Cool. 

After rounding up the girls who had found a clocking on machine to play with we left through the shop again and said goodbye to the Tweedies. Madam and I went to McDonalds for lunch (which she thinks is the best thing ever!) and then headed for the Maritime Museum. 

This is one of our favourite museums to visit and madam chose to save her favourite part for last. This meant I got to go to the upstairs gallery which was having a Beryl Cook exhibition. I love Beryl's art and was really glad to see so many paintings to look at. Madam even found a display she could play with. 

I did manage to avoid having to explain the Karma Sutra paintings that were tucked in a corner area, thankfully! Madam then went to find her favourite sign before we headed downstairs to the whaling gallery. 

Whilst in the whaling area we discovered they were having a hands on display so we got to handle a piece of baleen (whale's teeth), a harpoon and looked at a whale vertebrae that had been used as a butchers block. I took madam to look at the scrimshaw cabinet as we always notice something new in there. She was most fascinated with the Narwhal tusks this time. 

After having run several times around the museum we declared it time for an ice cream and then rang my mum to pick us up. Parents are great, aren't they? :-) 

I love how many free museums there are to look around in Hull. We'll go again in May half term and look at some of the others. Do you have a favourite museum? 

Love, Pearl.

2 May 2014

Reading Challenge - April Update

I apologise for this being a couple of days late, but I have been doing exciting work type activities and have had no time or internet access! I did attempt to blog from my phone, but it just wasn't happening for me!

I have really enjoyed this months reading, mainly because I've been working my way through the end of a series I started last year and seriously enjoyed. I read the final three books and am now slightly bereft there are no more to get through. 

I do think its better for a series of books to end before it becomes tedious though. But, if you like YA fiction, I thoroughly recommend the Soulkeepers series by G.P. Ching which is pretty reasonably priced on Kindle. 

My Reading Challenge book for this month was Wonder by R.J. Palacio. I adored this. I read it in pretty much one sitting. I loved all the characters and how they were all given their own voice within the story and it is genuinely one of the first books I ended by crying great big, fat tears of happiness. It is so lovely and so heartwarming. I recommend everyone to read this at least once in their life. 

But be warned, it is hard to read in places. August, the main character, faces some pretty huge hurdles in his life. I cried big, sad tears at certain points, too. I also laughed out loud and got incredibly emotionally involved with so much of it. Brilliant book, brilliant. 

The full list of books I read this month is:

1. Wonder by R.J. Palacio ~ 31/3/14 - 1/4/14
2. Divergent by Veronica Roth ~ 6/4/14 - 7/4/14
3. Soul Catcher by G.P. Ching ~ 18/4/14 - 19/4/14
4. Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman ~ 19/4/14 - 21/4/14
5. The Time Machine by H.G. Wells ~ 19/3/14 - 21/4/14
6. Lost Eden by G.P. Ching ~ 21/4/14 - 23/4/14
7. The Quiet Gentleman by Georgette Heyer ~ 19/3/14 - 25/4/14
8. Coraline by Neil Gaiman ~ 25/4/14 - 28/4/14
9. The Last Soulkeeper by G.P. Ching ~ 28/4/14 - 29/4/14

This month's Heyer was leftover from March and was called The Quiet Gentleman. I think this was the sweetest I've read so far and I also enjoyed the attempted murder plot. I am completely glad I decided to read these Heyer books alongside the challenge as it has been a lot of fun so far. I have borrowed this months Heyer from mother and am looking forward to getting started on it.

I have so many things to share with you all, but you'll have to wait a little longer! 

This challenge was inspired by the Books are Amazing posts on the fab essbeevee's blog :)

Love, Pearl.