A year

We have been here, in America, for a year.

Wow.

My babies have grown and changed so much.

I think I have too. I never imagined being a full time stay at home parent.

It’s hard. It’s exhausting. But it’s also amazing.

I get to see my babies grow and change. I see every new skill they develop, and particularly in the case of TT, I know it’s mostly down to me.


Don’t get me wrong, nursery is, and was, great for both of them, but I know I’m teaching her things directly.


There’s still guilt – I’m only human, and there are times when I’m grumpy, or tired, or just missing the company of other adults. Even earning my own money. But that last one lessens slightly. As I keep the house ticking over.

I’m still bad at housework. I still don’t always see what needs doing at a useful point. But that is improving too.

It’s learning what needs doing vs what can wait. And what I can insist the kids do.

As it’s also my job to teach them how to become adults. Fully capable adults who will know this stuff.

Yes, they are 6 and 2. But they already know how to empty the dishwasher (within reason) and where dirty clothes go.

They are capable of putting toys away. Even if TT at least gets them out again immediately πŸ˜‚πŸ€£πŸ˜­

It’s been a hell of a year, but it’s been a good one.

Here’s to the next one.

The Second week of camp(s)

So Wednesday this last week was Independence Day. And because his teacher (not unreasonably) had booked a little extra annual leave – well it’s not really annual leave when you’re not supposed to be working is it – #1 Son was only in “summer learning Academy” camp for two days this week.

Monday was fine. He had a great day and everything was brilliant. You see, they send home daily worksheets of the things that he’s been doing; and I’ve seen such an improvement in them that it reassures me that this was definitely the right thing to do for him.

However Tuesday? Tuesday was not so good. The wonderful H’s daughter did the pick up run as H herself was I think feeling under the weather due to impending dental torture and it just wasn’t a good day. The report I got back was that he had not done anything and had really gotten grumpy with the teacher. What I got out of him (and I’m actually impressed he told me) was that:

They had been learning about dolphins again and he had already learned about dolphins 10, 20, 100 days before in real school and he did not need to learn about them again.

He also claimed that he had tried to tell the teacher this and that she just hadn’t listened to him and didn’t understand him. Now I’m a tad sceptical about this as I’m fairly sure this teacher knows what she’s doing (as they seem to have a lot of experience with neuro-atypical children) but he felt that she wasn’t listening and he ran out. Of the classroom. First time he’s done that actually in a good few months. I can’t say I was impressed with the behaviour but I am impressed that he at least told me the truth. We then had a nice talk about it and I try to explain (as I have done many times before) that he’s got to learn the simple stuff before he can learn the more exciting stuff.

I also tried to explain that the teacher didn’t necessarily have a good clear indication of which children had already learned about dolphins versus which children had not as these are kids who come from across the town and across the different primary schools that may even be cross district but I doubt that actually, as it does all seem to be the Melrose schools rather than some of the others that they seem to have around here.

Not sure exactly how much of it sunk in but he cheered up a bit and we had a better day the following day. Hopefully this means a better week this week as he is back at camp Monday to Thursday this week.

Another potential issue is that his current therapist is leaving the practice where we’ve been taking him since last year sometime I forget exactly how long and is going into private practice. I panicked a bit when the hus-creature told me this because quite frankly I can’t go through the changes again. However she did say that she will continue to take our insurance so hopefully we could just knows him across when she leaves in August. I can’t I just can’t go through explaining it all the new therapist, getting him to see the new therapist, building up that report again it’s just not going to be good. So hopefully we’ll have a clear indication this week what she plans on doing about her current clients.

I mean I can’t blame her, there is so much more money in private practice, but we’ve been through this before. Still, at least this one was able to be honest with us about it and not just leave us in the lurch.

Wednesday was pretty uneventful really. I recently made a new friend – another friend who previously only lived in my computer and is now part of my real life.

We are currently educating each other on films. Apparently if you’ve never seen “The Princess Bride” you must forever be shunned in this country. So he has educated me (and to a lesser extent the hus-creature – who is normally playing video games and rolling his eyes whilst we watch films and act like children πŸ˜‚) on:

  1. The Princess Bride
  2. Red Line

I have introduced him to:

  1. Labyrinth

I also have The Dark Crystal and Leon on my side of the list πŸ˜‚πŸ€£

It seems to be becoming a somewhat weekly thing, and it’s nice to have another friend who lives in-state.

The rest of the week was pretty uneventful until Saturday when #1 Son had Reading summer camp.

Which apparently went a bit better than the week before. Which is great. He’s still so bad at focussing, but he’s coming on in leaps and bounds so I’m confident he will be at the level he needs to be at come end of August.

The new principal of his school has been elected, and it is Candidate A – who has the PhD in Education Administration and the neatly trimmed beard.

While I think I personally would have preferred candidate B – who was keen and had not yet had a principal-ship I knew A would get it, and from the talks they both gave, both have a style that ought to benefit my son, so we will attend whatever “Meet And Greets” are held and go from there.

TT has been her usual happy self and there have been some wonderful days:

And me? I’ve taken my mental health in my own hands. I have been walking in the evenings. Usually a minimum of 2km a day. It started because I needed to return books to the library and it’s just slightly too far away to easily take the kids.

And then I rediscovered PokΓ©mon Go (look it up and if you have a Smartphone go get it) and for the last week or so I have been simply “following the pokΓ©stops”.

See, one of the benefits to living in this country is that everything is on the grid system so you can pretty much wander in a circle except it’s not really, and you will eventually find yourself back home after doing either a giant loop or maybe a lollipop/balloon shape on the map.

I mean yes, I do also have Google Maps which I use to cross check, but more often than not I simply find myself back on Main Street after about 45-60 minutes of rambling and then I just toddle home.

And the scenery is beautiful:

And I’m learning the local geography, am getting my heart rate up and am not getting bored. All bonuses really.

And catching Snorlax πŸ€£πŸ˜‚

No, really, I did – and without the stampede!

Thanksgiving planning (yes in July)

Due to an unexpected convergence of events (including some very happy news for family 😘) we, yes the hus-creature and myself, are hosting a thanksgiving meal this year for family.

For a mere 8 people (which includes our kidlets) therefore I’m fairly sure this counts as small by normal standards here.

Nevertheless, it’s the most we’ve ever catered for in one single sitting.

So, being more than a little nervous, but also excited, and determined to be a decent hostess, I am already into planning overdrive.

We have had gracious offers of food and supplies, which we will gratefully accept, but I do not intend that guests do all of the cooking.


Apart from anything else, I fear that Lady Deirdre Wagon would most certainly not approve!


Also, it’s rude!

So I am making lists of lists of lists and am beginning to plan.

The first thing we need is at least one more crock pot/slow cooker (as we are still using our old one from the U.K. and it requires a small transformer to run) and ideally also a pressure cooker.


I am willing to settle for just the pressure cooker, as a number of models also double as crock pots. But I would very much like two.


I want to practice some of the wonderful side dishes that I have seen in various slow cooker books which we now own.

I’m also planning on getting my bake on.


I blame my newly discovered Nailed It addiction for this particular bout of insanity!


However, I also do not intend to make dessert for this many people if I don’t have to.

To this end I have already reached out to the local bakery that is in close proximity to my knitting group to ask if they do pies.

Within 4 hours they sent me the list of 2017’s seasonal pies:

Sadly, they cannot guarantee all of the same flavours this year, but for example I cannot see them refusing to stock pecan or pumpkin pie.

I’m personally vetoing banana cream pie; as banana and I do not get on well in this sort of medium (one of the hus-creature’s favourite desserts is banoffee pie – we have respectfully agreed to disagree), and apparently I am in an extreme minority with my blueberry preference πŸ€­πŸ˜•


Still, I was lucky enough to get to try their B.B. Pie last year at knitting and it was delicious and tides me over


So we will wait and see nearer the time – apparently they take orders about a month in advance, so nearer the time I will take soundings from my guests and order a few pies.

I’m also planning on adding either cupcakes or one of the gourmet cakes they do to the order so that the kidlets have an option that they won’t immediately refuse – last year neither of them ate a lot of pie (even the fabulous chocolate peanut butter one πŸ™€)

So beware those of you who follow me on Instagram and/or Pinterest – there will be a lot of activity in the coming months. I don’t want to serve something that I’ve only just tried.

Gives me an excuse to try baking biscuits (they are more like savoury scones to us Brits) and cornbread, which I have a weakness for.

I also have a recipe for chocolate gravy (USA style) that I’m itching to try which apparently goes very well with biscuits…

And because a picture-less blog post feels wrong somehow, cute kids are cute πŸ’•

The first week of Summer Camp(s)

So, here we at the end of the first official week of summer vacation.

I basically let TT and #1 Son run wild last week to let off steam. We went to the park pretty much daily, and, thanks to the wonderful H and her amazing son A (I ought to ask them if they actually want blog pseudonyms one of these days) the swing set is now built!!!

And oh wow has it made weekends easier.


I am actually attempting to go to the parks during the week to socialise the kids – and up to a point myself as well


So we spent a lot of time soaking up sunshine and warmth (cloudy days are still glorious here in proper summer)

TT spent a lot of time doing this

And given our swing set does not have the toddler versions, and the fact that my daughter has been absolutely desperate to be like her big brother and be on the big boy swings I took the plunge and let her go on them and this happened:

Far more balance than her mommy!

And not to be outdone:

#1 Son versus the rock climb

Which is good, as the swing set does have one of those!

But that is not the main thrust of this post. It is about Summer Camp.

The first is the previously chronicled reading camp which is every Saturday until the end of August, 5 weeks in total. We went to the first one last weekend (and the second one yesterday) and it was… interesting.

They had put him in the kindergarten and pre-K readers group. Which I didn’t blame them for, because when I signed him up, a couple of months ago, that this was the level he was reading at. However it became clear within the first 30 minutes that he is reading at a much higher level than the class was aimed at.

So, at the end of the lesson I went and chatted with the teacher who agreed with me (after a small independent reading assessment) that he should be put in the first grade readers class. Which was not without its problems unfortunately. As, rather unsurprisingly, the first grade classes (in fact all of the classes) were completely overbooked. So I played phone tennis with the supervisor (or at least one of the supervisors) of the courses for a couple of days (they are open until 10:30 PM most nights though) to get him squeezed into the first graders class. As it was a supervisor to supervisor agreement the transfer it took a little time. But they did manage it for which I am very grateful.

At least I was. Unfortunately he has missed the primary lesson of the first grade classes. So we not only did we have to do the weekly work that was required, but also catching up on the first lesson. Which he did not enjoy. At all. In addition, because the transfer was not approved and formalised until Wednesday, we had only three days to do all of it.

So it was perhaps unsurprising that come yesterday’s class he was completely disengaged in almost all of it.

Because TT had had another night terror on Friday night (poor wee bugger) we opted not to drag her as well and make her sit in the car for upwards of two hours while her brother had his camp. So she stayed home with me whilst daddy took him to his lesson.

Daddy was thinking about withdrawing him completely but as I pointed out we paid over $300 for this class and I don’t think will get a partial refund particularly after all the messing about we ended up having to do so will try again next week after we’ve done some more catching up and the prep work and see how we go. I’m not sure if it’s going to be me or daddy taking him but we shall see.

We did go to Friendly’s yesterday for lunch afterwards though, as that seemed too much of a penalty not to take them.

That and I wanted clam chowder darn it.

#1 Son got a “create your own” and TT got chocolate ice cream with sprinkles so they were both thrilled.

Daddy and I had the calories for a small scoop of decent ice cream! So it definitely wasn’t all bad.

Then came Summer Learning Academy. Now initially the lovely H was going to be taking my son along with her two boys as it was all at the same school but the poor woman has needed major dental surgery and was in so much pain this week that she just couldn’t take them. So daddy did the morning drop off, then after the morning session and I then walked (with TT in the stroller) to pick him up. Which actually turned out remarkably well because I got nearly 2 miles worth of exercise Monday to Thursday and was able to take the kids to the library and the park and all sorts of things without forcing poor old #1 Son into a ridiculously long walk.

The library here in Melrose is amazing. Honestly it is, and I’m actually really sad we didn’t find it sooner – but both the hus-creature and myself thought that it was much further away than it actually is. *

The Children’s Library takes up an entire floor. Though it does close at 20:00, when the main library closes at 21:00 which is an issue – since if I want to get new books for the kids I have to leave before #1 Son’s bedtime. But it also has boxes of toys and both kids are meeting other local children and playing nicely:

Also there is no limit to the number of items you can withdraw. And A/V items are free of charge (though with a 2 week rental limit rather than 4)

It’s just a shame that they are closed for weekends in the summer. Which I don’t really understand, as to me it makes more sense that they would close at weekends in the season where there was snow not sunshine, but everyone likes sunny weekends do they not?

H is thankfully feeling well enough to do the camp runs tomorrow and Tuesday, and there’s no more camp (it normally runs Monday-Thursday 08:00-12:00) for the remainder of the week due to Independence Day, so it is fine for now. The poor woman has her oral surgery on Thursday!

So, the overall verdict on camp? He’s loving it.


Insert huge sigh of relief here


Which is great, as it’s effectively school. He is doing reading, writing and probably math too. Also art. And he adores art. So he’s been practically skipping home, and it’s helped focus him for his Summer Math and Reading Calendars. Which are a thing.

He has to read 150 minutes a week. Fortunately an adult reading to him does count, so his nightly bedtime stories account for 70+ minutes a week. I’ve also been getting new stories from the library in both flavours (self reading to an adult and adult reading to him) which are helping keep everybody happy.


I am also recording every book he reads himself in the website where his sponsored Readathon information went – which is also helping, as you earn coins to upgrade an owl avatar so he’s actively engaged there too!


And the math stuff is even more complicated, As there is a daily task he needs to do but fortunately we don’t have to do the designated task on its designated day and can just mix and match. So yesterday we did some estimating and counting of sugar packets in Friendly’s and today we drew Odie the dog from Garfield (yes that Garfield) five times and counted his legs on a piece of paper. Which I will date and put in a folder I am putting together. Because apparently all you need to do is cross out the activity when you do them and provide no proof that you’ve actually done it which seems a tad pointless to me, and he actually works better when he can see what he’s been doing in one place.

Ho hum. So that’s been fun. But at least we can do it gradually, and sometimes do more than one activity a day. The hus-creature seems convinced that they don’t expect the kids to do all of the activities, but I’m not sure, so I will keep trying with him.

*Actually it now forms the end point of one of my evening walks – it’s about a mile away, and you can drop loaned items off in a big green bin outside whenever, day or night which makes it perfect.

It’s the 1st of July!

And summer is here! It’s so so hot. But the ever wonderful H, D and K assembled and filled two inflatable pools!!!

A big one (supposedly) for the three boys, and a little one for the two littler girls.


We are assisting simply by buying a new hose.

As H’s broke over the last summer and it’s replacement has mysteriously vanished – apparently there is no such thing as a cheap 100ft one left anywhere in Melrose! So we bought the premium luxury one from Job Lot. $37 well spent πŸ‘πŸ»πŸ˜ƒ


But, as you might expect, that did not happen. #1 Son got fed up of waiting, so once the hus-creature returned from the weekly shop, he retired upstairs with his daddy to play Minecraft together… no, daddy didn’t get much of a choice! πŸ˜‚πŸ€£

And the twins were significantly more interested in the new “baby” pool, than their “we had this one last summer” big pool god love them!

TT dived headfirst into the big pool (as it was the one that was filled first) but got scared by the “sharks” in it – the inside liner is decorated with fish, seaweed etc.

But she had so much fun playing in the little one:

Group play in the baby pool

Then because of the bigger boys playing in it a little roughly (just boys being boys, but they are, we think, a little bit too big for it) it needed reinflating…

Which is the background noise to this video

All in all, we stayed outside until over an hour past her bedtime. She didn’t eat any dinner – but she had had a big breakfast and lunch, plus her bedtime bottle so I’m not worried there.

All the kidlets (except #1 Son, but we will work on that) had an amazing time, and this is just the start of the summer…

Oh, this is the bath after I insisted my daughter bathe before bed:

Do not worry dear audience, I have cleaned it πŸ˜‚πŸ€£πŸ‘πŸ»