A trying week

It hasn’t been great this week. It’s one of those tales that if I’d read on say “Hurrah for gin” I’d chuckle and think, thank goodness it’s not me.

But yeah.

I can’t pinpoint all of it but it has consisted of:

Wall Art:

TT has drawn on the walls almost every day this week. Yesterday, I took #1 Son downstairs to J for her to take him to school. Daddy upstairs on the sofa with TT.

I come back up. SHE HAS DRAWN ON THE WALL. Daddy didn’t see her do it. He was sat in the room! This made me feel so much better as I’ve been feeling like I’ve been going blind or mad not seeing it.


ΒΏΒΏΒΏPorque no los dos???


So, used over half a tub of wipes scrubbing that off.

Then, we had to pick #1 son up from school because our lovely J had an appointment. Ten minutes before we were due to leave, I actually caught her mid-scribble on the same bit of wall.

Incandescent did not cover it. I shouted, raged and made her watch me throw the crayon in the bin.

I then cleared away all of the remaining crayons I could find. Or so I thought…

You know what’s coming right?

This morning I caught her standing up in her bed, with a piece of crayon – and she had drawn all over the two walls.

This time rage didn’t cover it. I have made her stand there watching me whilst I snapped and binned an entire pack of the bloody crayons.

Expensive? Probably (but Santa got some good Amazon deals) Cathartic? Most definitely. Done any actual measurable good? Meh, who knows?

I’ve told the hus-creature that he needs to get something more heavy duty than what I’ve been using. My hands are shot, my nails this close to wrecked, and I’ve used over an entire tub of wipes.

She just came into the room and asked for kee-ons (crayons)

Rooms:

I had gotten all the new Christmas stuff packed away and sorted on Monday. Their rooms were amazing.

By the end of the day? Oh gods.

Then on Wednesday the following:

#1 Son had a half day. When he came home, he was sporting more marker pen on his face. About two hours after he came home, I noticed his palms were blue. I asked why. I got a shrug.

I later caught him trying to turn the sofa into its bed form. I sent him to his room for that one. He knows to leave that alone for safety. After a couple of minutes, I went in to check on him. To be greeted with:

That would be a refill from a Crayola Marker Maker set.

Again, incandescent with fury. Not because it happened – I can accept it happened. But because he had had at least two opportunities to tell me about it and he didn’t.

There’s only so much I will let him get away with – this is not one of those things.

Thankfully, Crayola do not lie when they say “washable”. Ten minutes scrubbing with floor wipes and it is gone. Thank god for wooden flooring.

The snow:

It can bugger off back to Hades now thank you very much. As previously mentioned, I had to go pick up #1 Son from school yesterday. That’s fine think I, the sidewalks have been shovelled, it’s warming up a bit.

Oh no. Puddles. Sidewalk lakes. TT thought it was great. Up until I got the pram (stroller) stuck in a narrow corridor of snow.

More. Than. Once.

Honestly if you are shovelling – make it wide enough for a goddamn stroller. Oh and let’s not talk about whoever shovelled off a crossroads and blocked off the sidewalk. So I had to walk in the road for half a block til we could mount the kerb again.


And everyone who beeped me? May the fleas of 1,000 camels infest your underwear drawer.


My feet were sodden. TT was grumpy, but we got to school on time.

Only to be told he has spent a good part of the afternoon in the principal’s office

πŸ™„πŸ€­πŸ˜’πŸ™„πŸ€­πŸ˜’πŸ™„πŸ€­πŸ˜’πŸ™„πŸ€­πŸ˜’

I’m waiting for an email as to why. But I didn’t get called in, so whatever it was, it could have been worse I suppose…

I have made enquiries as to how we go about registering him in the after school club – it will come in handy for days like yesterday, and give him vital socialising opportunities. Apparently you can pre-register and then, in some manner, drop off on the day. That’s handy.

But it has not been all bad: Today he came home with this:

I’m bloody proud.

And I needed it today. Today (thanks to Timehop) I’m really homesick. I don’t like it, and I need it to feck orf.

Yarn therapy is the order of the day/evening.

School dinners

Are very different here.

Admittedly, it’s really difficult to get out of #1 Son what he’s had of a school day – he tends to forget.

But yesterday when I asked, he was adamant it was cereal. I shrugged it off because it was a half day and maybe he was overexcited. But today he told me he had French toast with syrup.

πŸ€­πŸ€”πŸ˜―πŸ˜¦πŸ˜§

So I thought I would investigate.

10 January 2018:

Now, you know what? This isn’t too bad. I mean, there’s yoghurt and cheese. I’m shocked that he apparently ate Cinnamon Toast Crunch, but hey this is good.

Now for today,

11 January 2018:

This? This I am less impressed with. Again it’s a one off, and most days he has a blasted peanut butter and (grape) jelly sandwich, so as a treat fine.

But it has definitely reminded me that I am in the country where pizza is considered a vegetable. I’m not taking his choice away from him though. He’s eating so much better at school than he was. The agency of choice there is vital.

I’m just going to mumble and grumble about options.

Back to normality

Well mostly. Tomorrow is a half day for #1 Son. I don’t know why. Just because I think.

He also gets Monday off next week because it’s Martin Luther King Day.

But the school system here has much shorter holidays and no “half terms” so I don’t begrudge the random days. It’s part of the reason I’m not rushing the work stuff.

While I still doubt my domestic goddessing skills, it is pleasant being home with the kids. I’m actually watching TT grow, and know I can take credit for her development rather than feeling guilt.

I do miss working, but I’m makes tentative steps to earn some pennies at home – but I’m still blocked by not having an SSN, which I can’t apply for until my permit is actually in my hands. We did however have confirmation today that this is actually in the post now!!!

W00t w00t!!!!

Yesterday #1 Son came home with this:

REACH Star? Wahey πŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒ

“Pirate mask”? 😫😫😫😫😫😫

He did not appreciate the bath and face (and chest) scrubbing he received in a vain attempt to remove them. He believed he was face painting. And apparently we cannot convince him that scented colouring markers are not the same as face paints πŸ™„πŸ™„πŸ™„

Today wasn’t as good. Apparently he refused to leave school (I know right? πŸ™€πŸ™„) so our lovely J went in to get him.

His teacher believes that it is because he loves to play in the snow, but refuses to wear his boots, therefore his socks get wet. We are to provide either snow boots or spare socks.


He is convinced there are “bugs” in his current Wellington boots, and we cannot convince him otherwise.


 

I have been known to complain about the speed of USPS in comparison to good old Royal Mail. This was underlined today, when my Christmas present from my lovely sister in law (you may pick a blog nickname if you like lovely πŸ˜‚πŸ€£) finally arrived.

Worth. The. Wait.

A wonderful alpaca yarn sock knitting kit. With pattern, and new (wooden) needles and pettable, snuggleable alpaca yarn.

I was actually able to sit on the sofa and knit tonight. I am braving the hedgehog that is knitting in the round with double pointed needles to do this.

I think someone was jealous of my pettable yarn – she doesn’t normally sit on my lap like that πŸ€£πŸ˜‚

It knits up so fast too πŸ’•πŸ’•πŸ’•

My other pair of socks has had to be shelved for now until I can replace the circular needle I was using – an unknown child snapped one of the needles πŸ™„


This pair of bloody socks is cursed I swear!


So at least I have a non-shawl project for tomorrow’s knitting class.

And TT? Well she has re-discovered crayons. And walls. Green crayon comes off of painted walls much easier than red or yellow.

Ask me how I know.

Bright side? Yellow is much harder to see at least 😒

Oh, and she found her pretty cloth nappies, which I hadn’t used since we moved, as they arrived by sea crate and I presumed she had outgrown them but couldn’t bear to part with them…

Well, she filled her bed with them, then waved one at me and insisted I put it on her.

Cue much running around the house shouting “Nappy. Yay”

So we will try them again during the day at least – she pees far too much at night!

After all, what else can you do with a sock and trouser refusing toddler?

Dresses and ruffled nappies!

I need a new diaper pail though.

New Year, New Blog

Well, not as such, but I have revamped it a little. We have our own Facebook page (which I am attempting to rename to match the new name for the blog)

Firstly, Happy New Year from blizzard-struck Massachusetts.

We are safe and warm. The hus-creature is working from home for now, and the schools are closed, so #1 Son is enjoying additional freedom and TT is running around shouting “daddy here, Nanoo here YAY” so it’s good.

When we did a quick run to the shops for non-perishable supplies yesterday it seems other people had similar ideas:

The snow didn’t really start until around 10 am. And it wasn’t quite what I thought a blizzard would be.

It’s puffs and gusts of thin snow that is just constant. It’s gone from slight powder to cannot see where the roads are.

I stepped out onto our balcony to take these. Then went back indoors quickly as it’s freaking freezing.

School is cancelled again tomorrow, which means #1 Son will have no homework again.

I’m sure he will be devastated!!!

I will probably make him spend some time on ABCMouse to make up for it.

The hus-creature is currently outside in our car whilst the landlady’s partner uses the snow-blower on the driveway. He is cold and grumpy.

I am dealing with a hyped up #1 Son, which given our experiences at his first counselling session this week makes sense, but I think I will cover that in its own post.

5 months and a Christmas Concert

So as of today we’ve been here five months.

I got all excited yesterday thinking it had been half a year, but I just can’t count πŸ˜‚πŸ€£

Yesterday #1 Son earned this:

Which is the first one this month. I suspect it’s because yesterday he had an amazing day compared to three very hard ones.

I am certain that the bar is lower for him than some of his classmates and that’s okay I’m happy that the school are being so amazing for him. It’s giving him the boost he so desperately needs.

We walked home and it was blasted cold. TT refused to wear gloves so I tried this:

She continued taking them off. Repeatedly. Whilst screaming for a “duddle”. So I put them back on and we kept walking for about half a mile. It was biting. Several people told me that “she really should be wearing gloves”

Really? Should she? HAVE YOU EVER MET A TODDLER?! After a while she began screaming in earnest. And within the shouting I could make out “owwwwww” so I stopped, put my (warm, they had been on my hands) gloves over hers.

Got a “ta mommy”. I won’t say she’s learned, but she kept them on until we got home.

We had Snickerdoodle hot cocoa when we got home though.

Cheered everyone up, because I was not stopping for ice cream!!!!

Today was the Third Annual Christmas Concert.

Some readers may remember that at his previous school’s Nativity #1 Son was meant to be a wise man but refused to actually participate until the 11th hour.

He did the same with the concert.

Given that it is a school-wide performance they split it by alphabet A-L then M-Z which made the difference between 08:30 and 10:30 performances.

However yesterday I received an email from the Guidance Counsellor telling me that they felt that since he had been struggling so much, they would prefer if we could attend the earlier performance and he could then not undertake the later one.

We were happy to oblige (the hus-creature had his big office move today, so the earlier he could get into the office the better) so we went up early.

He performed and reasonably well (though not happily). There are no photos because other people’s children.

At the end, they brought him round the front of the stage slowly, and I deduced (correctly) that they wanted him to see me and know we had been there. So I made my way to the front, gave him a huge cuddle and told him how proud I was of him, and that he didn’t have to do it again.

I watched his whole body relax bless him.

Which made it even more amazing that when the lovely J brought him home that she had a message for me from his teacher that he had performed the second time.

My heart could have burst with pride honestly.

It was a very good day.

An incredibly successful day

For both #1 Son and myself.

At 09:00 this morning I strode off to school suited and booted for #1 Son’s initial evaluation meeting for Special Education Provision.

I’ve been both dreading and looking forward to this by turns.

He had to meet certain specific criteria to qualify for an IEP – which is an Individualised Education Programme.

Basically it was to see whether or not he could be statemented.

I spent a year working in the SEN department of Oxfordshire County Council, so I knew how hard getting one of these could be, at least without a metric tone of supporting documentation and medical backup.

And the autism assessment process is stalled a bit. It’s just so slow.

So I had reports from:

  • An Educational Psychologist.
  • An Occupational Therapist.
  • A Speech and Language Therapist
  • The School’s own SENCO

Which came home on Friday, which I read, re-read, highlighted and annotated.

I went up to this meeting agreeing with the reports, but prepared for battle if needed. I knew they wanted to help him, but criteria are criteria and he had to meet them to get the extra help.

At the meeting were:

  • Myself – daddy stayed at home with TT
  • The Principal
  • His class teacher
  • The school nurse
  • Head of SEN services for the district as meeting co-ordinator
  • The school Counsellor – who #1 Son has dubbed “The Feelings Lady”
  • The SENCO
  • The Occupational Therapist
  • The Speech and Language Therapist
  • The Educational Psychologist

It was a full meeting. I was completely drained both physically and emotionally after it. He’s not the only one in this household who can get overwhelmed.

So he couldn’t be registered with a disability due to autism, as the school cannot diagnose that.

He couldn’t get the IEP on cognitive ability because the reports proved he is average to above average in almost all areas.

So what’s left? Well, a few things but the main one is Developmental Delay.

That is a blanket term that covers a lot of things, but the one that covers him best is social, emotional or adaptive functioning.

I don’t disagree. He has severe sensory issues, cannot relate to his peers (but is great with much older and much younger children), confidence issues and is struggling generally.

I just feel a massive sense of relief.

Within 10 school days we will get a copy of the IEP and once we read it, sign it and return it, it becomes “activated” and off we go.

There will be more meetings, more reviews. This is not a one-off thing, but the main hurdle has been jumped and he will get more help.

And now for the second good thing of the day.

I went for a pre-operative assessment with the surgeon who would perform my hysterectomy if agreed to.

Well, take a shufty at this ladies and gentlemen:

For those in the audience who cannot read doctor handwriting (it’s a skill), he had agreed, without any hesitation, to perform:

A TOTAL ABDOMINAL HYSTERECTOMY

WITH BILATERAL SALPINGO OOPHERECTOMY

They are taking Every. Single. Thing. Out!!!!

I could have kissed Mr. Surgeon Man.

πŸŽ‰πŸŽŠπŸŽ‰πŸŽŠπŸŽ‰πŸŽŠπŸŽ‰πŸŽŠπŸŽ‰πŸŽŠπŸŽ‰πŸŽŠπŸŽ‰πŸŽŠπŸŽ‰πŸŽŠπŸŽ‰πŸŽŠπŸŽ‰πŸŽŠπŸŽ‰πŸŽŠπŸŽ‰πŸŽŠπŸŽ‰πŸŽŠπŸŽ‰πŸŽŠπŸŽ‰πŸŽŠ

I’ve been warned that because they will go in through the belly it’s going to be the full six weeks recovery time for the procedure alone, coupled with six months to feel myself and back to normal again.

That’s fine.

Parent-Teacher Conference

We had our first one for #1 Son last night.

I would be lying if I hadn’t been approaching it with at least a modicum of trepidation.

But honestly? It was amazing.

They have kept such good notes on his progress, both educationally and behaviourally.

He is improving. Slowly, gradually, but it’s visible and it’s there.

Perhaps the most important takeaway?

HE CAN READ!!!!

 

Honestly? I didn’t think he could. I knew he knew his letters, but stringing them into words (at least at home) is something he apparently couldn’t do. I now know it’s wouldn’t.

Busted kiddo πŸ˜‚πŸ€£πŸ˜‚πŸ€£πŸ˜‚πŸ€£

He is getting a lot of 1:1 support with the paras during centres, and when that happens he does well. But at the moment he doesn’t have one of his own and he’s one in a class of twenty. So they are trying, gradually, to scale back and seeing what he can cope with.

Basically it’s data gathering to bolster their bid for extra support for him. That will either start or happen next Tuesday at the Special Education meeting.

I am behind them 100% and fully intend to say so. Apparently having parental agreement and support really helps.

I would walk through fire to get him the help he needs, so let’s hope that the relevant professionals are on the sensible side and that I don’t have to go full on mama bear rage mode on them.

Or worse. Be British at them πŸ˜‚πŸ€£

His teacher also said that cognitively he is exactly where he needs to be. That he’s smart and funny. That he’s kind hearted. He’s also a perfectionist and sensitive.

She’s a true angel she really is.

Completing the Turkey Trot

Well #1 Son did complete his Fun Run πŸ…

It didn’t quite go according to plan however…

First was the change in venue from outside at Melrose Common to inside in the school using the All Purpose Hall.

Which meant that there was some confusion over whether we could actually cheer him on. However we were let in (very reluctantly by the stalwart Office Manager).

They then split the Kindergarten classes into two groups, and he was running in the second so we had to wrangle a very grumpy TT for 40 min rather than 20.

But the run started and started well.

Then #1 son tripped over one of the cones. And I could see the meltdown coming. So. I pulled up my big girl pants,

AND I RAN WITH HIM

I grabbed his hand and did several circuits while cheering him on.

I am unfit. I was wearing my galaxy leggings.

And this t-shirt:

But we did it. And he was so pleased. Both that we were there, and that I ran with him.

He hasn’t quite grasped that it was a Fun Run and keeps asking if he won gold, but for everyone that sponsored him yes he ran it thank you.

He raised $170 before the run. And the school have met their target

And not only will there be a Popsicle Party for all students, the top performing class per grade get an individual reward.

Stay tuned to hear if his have won.

Pyjama Party

It was noisy and crowded but I think the kidlets had fun

We met the School mascot, Willy the Winthrop Wildcat:

He was attempting to be mascot-y but a number of the older children were pulling his tail and attempting to knock his head off

😑😑😑😑

TT was by turns enthralled and enchanted:

She kept sidling up close to him, laughing uproariously and declaring “cat” but was sadly too shy to give him a cuddle, which quite frankly I think he would have appreciated too.

She did keep wandering out to the front where he had been sitting to try and find him though after the stories.

He and the Principal read all the children a bedtime story. It was very sweet. And he (the principal) is a man who clearly loves his job. I truly think he is awesome.

All in all it was a nice way to spend a little time.

We are also now the proud owners of a sofa bed!!!

We do not talk about the hassle it took to install it oh no.

We do not speak of

  • The rain.
  • The hoisting it over the (second level) balcony one way and it not going over.
  • The re-lowering to the ground.
  • The re-positioning and re-hoisting.
  • The having to take not one but two doors out of the frames. Yes they were put back!
  • The holding of the breath whilst it was manhandled through the kitchen and subsequent archway.

But it is safely installed.

Trying to keep TT out of the way of the workmen was… fun. I mean the cat was easy, we just shut the door to the walk-in when she darted in there to get away from said strange workmen. Who were very perplexed at both my effusive gratitude and my insistence on offering tea/coffee.

I am British – when men are undertaking work for me, particularly hard, strenuous or complex work, I must offer hot beverages. It is a cultural thing. My mammy trained me well.

But the toddler? Oh no. She had to flirt, and hand them shoes and be interested in wide open door frames πŸ™„πŸ™„πŸ™„

All members of the Shields’ clan approve.

Oh and so far #1 Son has raised $100 for his Turkey Trot next week.

Thank you!!!! Donations are both gratefully acknowledged and would still be gratefully received.

Sponsored Turkey Trot

Ok I’ve been a bad school parent.

I kind of ignored a Fun Run slip that came home because, let’s face it, I don’t actually know anyone here.

Or at least no one I feel I can hit up for money.

But on November 22nd #1 Son will be doing a sponsored run (and will be running anyway) so he really ought to be able to hand in some pennies.

I had planned to pop a link in here to his page, but apparently it’s email only.

So, if anyone wants to donate and knows me well enough to either have me on Facebook or have my email address, send me a message and I’ll email you the link.

Any donations gratefully received.

This is the email you’d get:

Yes we will sponsor him too.

Look at that face πŸ’•πŸ’•πŸ’•