Tommy Week 1

Day 1 : Parachuting home.

Day 2 : Flight of the dragons.

Day 3 : Wrapping up warm.

Day 4 : T is for Tommy.

Day 5 : Hiding in Little Miss’ blazer.

Day 6 : Rainbow Tommy.

Day 7 : Minecraft Tommy.

The Christmas Tree Festival

One of my favourite Christmas activities is to go and visit the annual Christmas tree festival at a local church. This year there are 45 trees to view and be inspired.

Our school is exhibiting again and we’ve gone for an eco theme, there is no plastic on our tree, except for the lights and our decorations are made from cones picked in the local forest, paper from the recycling basket, wooden discs crafted from old branches and holly from our school gardens.

The trees in the festival are all amazing and so creative. There are knitted characters from the knitting group, gingerbread baked by school children, glass decorations by a local artist, shuttlecock characters from the badminton club etc .. Every tree has something special and unique.

The trees create a special atmosphere in the church and it is a time to be inspired and simply reflect on the coming season.

The Rainbow 🌈 tree

This evening the children and I attended the annual Christmas tree festival where trees are decorated and displayed by local schools, groups, businesses and individuals. Whilst I will post a few pictures in a different post, this beautiful rainbow tree really touched me tonight.

This brightly coloured tree is to celebrate the life of Will a local lad who tragically died at the age of 14. The family have launched a charity to support other young people who might be finding life a bit tough, it’s brief is so positive and life affirming and I’m sure it will have a huge effect on our town’s youth. It’s the tree which made me hug my children and say a silent prayer for Will his family and friends, may their Christmas be peaceful and full of happy memories.

Yay, it’s December!

I am one of those people who before December 1st is a bah humbug but come December 1st, I become a little Christmas fairy πŸ§šβ€β™€οΈ.

It’s been a lovely start to the festive season today as we’ve had family visiting. Whilst our tree is not up yet, I have put a few seasonal items out for use, towels in the bathroom, the Christmas oil blend has been burning and of course I played Christmas songs whilst I was busy in the kitchen. My choice today was the kitsch 1950s classics, Winter Wonderland, Silver Bells etc ..

With family visiting, it was an ideal opportunity to visit the artisan beach huts for Yuletide inspiration. They are mini Christmas magical worlds with each hut beautifully decorated. I loved the Mrs Christmas model, the green fir skirt was also decorated with fairy lights.

December 1st is the return of Tommy the elf who parachuted into see us today. I love this little elf and all the joy he brings to our house every year.

Finally I love a Christmas read and we have two this year. I’m reading the anthology Last Christmas and the children and I have started The Christmas Mystery, each chapter is a different day in December. I’ve read many good reviews so I’m hoping it will give us a little Christmas magic.

I’m looking forward to embracing the season and cherishing the special moments.

My week of Little Sparkles – November 30th 2019

And just like that November is gone. It was wet, windy and grey for most of the month so I’m happy to look forward to a twinkling December.

This week was another full on week in the Sparkles household, continuing from last week’s dramas. We’ve got some really helpful advice on how to appeal the special school place and hopefully the friendship matter will soon be resolved at my daughter’s school. We are incredibly proud of all we have heard this week about our daughter’s behaviour and kindness in this awful situation, proof that good always shines through, which leads us nicely to this week’s sparkles.

1. Parents evening for Little Miss.

So this was a new experience for me at secondary school sitting on the other side of the desk! I was very proud of my daughter, her teachers all agree she’s bright and witty but when she’s bored can try to liven things up, this sums her up well! She’s doing well in all her lessons but I was blown away by her art work, it’s stunning.

2. Reducing plastic.

I am trying really hard to reduce plastic in our home. We have a lovely indie health food shop in town where I found this lovely new soap, produced locally by a small company. I also bought a shampoo which I can refill when it’s empty. I remember doing this in the Body Shop when I was a teenager, why did such a good idea stop?

3. Elf on the Shelf.

I love our little elf who has been with us for many years now. This week I’ve been busy on Pinterest drafting my 24 scenarios for the coming month. This is one of my favourite things of Christmas and I love the children’s reactions every day.

4. Sparkly nails.

I’m still undecided about all 10 sparkly nails but I wasn’t sure how the sparkle looked on my ring fingers only. I think it’s the only time I can get away with sparkly nail. The base colour is navy as that’s my colour for this season! (it’s a thing!)

5. parkrun 10 club.

This Saturday Little Miss joined the parkrun 10 club and as a junior will now get a special commemorative tshirt. When she first asked to come with me I thought it was simply curiosity and never expected the new Saturday morning routine we have developed. It’s definitely one of the highlights of my week, we run and talk about so many things, sometimes it’s very deep and personal other times it’s about hair styles. We’re not in it for speedy times just a run and chat.

Life as a student 1991 v 2019

Uni cards then and now. There will be 25 years between graduations!

In September 1991, at just 18, I left home to study for my BA in European Studies, French and Politics and finished my university studies in June 1996, having completed a PGCE. I was happy to leave my student years, I had genuinely enjoyed my studies and was looking forward to a career (and a salary) and new adventures. At the time, I had no plans to return to study, maybe an adult ed course in a creative or practical subject, but nothing academic.

Fast forward a couple of decades(!) and I began to seriously consider further study. I’ve found my niche in special education having worked in a ASC specialist school for the past 15 years. I’m now a member of the SLT and often in meetings which require an in-depth knowledge of the legal framework of SEN. I also lead on key areas in the school too and whilst I read around my subject I felt I needed something a little more. As a SEN parent I was keen to have more knowledge for my own personal battles too! So as from September I have been studying for the National Award for Sencos, a masters level course. I’m very lucky that my school is paying for the course so my focus is solely on the academic demands.

Even this early into the course I can see the difference between my experiences of being a student in the different centuries (omg I feel ancient after that sentence)

We all need our peers to bounce off ideas, discuss set texts etc.. As an 18 year old this was in the ‘cafe’ area of my Uni after lectures and seminars, we would drink 10p cups of coffee from a vending machine in horrible plastic brown cups around bench tables. Now we have exceptional catering on our taught days, freshly brewed coffees and teas, posh biscuits and a 2 course lunch, but it’s still a great opportunity to discuss our lectures. As we’re all based around a large geographical area we keep in contact digitally away from our taught days. We’re all connected through a What’s App group and are using it to check in and work together..

1991 me would have been blown away by the 2019 technology. We didn’t have mobile phones, the internet or our own PCs in ’91 although these would gradually appear in my 5 years of study. In 1991 I was reading books and paper or micro fiche journals and hand writing my assignments. One of my biggest worries about my new course was how the internet would impact on my studies, how do you reference a web page etc.. However these fears have been allayed and it all seems a little simpler than I remember. In fact the whole process seems more relaxed, sensible referencing guidelines and the beauty of word processing and an iCloud where I can access my work at any time on any device! I also don’t need to ever visit the university library. As we’re a distance course all our set texts are digital downloads and we can access all journals online too. I find it difficult to comprehend and a little sad that I will do a masters course without ever entering a library. Whilst I’m too much of a stationery fan to give up my notebook and pen, the digital learning platform accessed through my iPad complements the lectures and all the presentations and resources are there for me to read as the talk is done.

I was so lucky to have done my degree with no fees and the final days of a maintenance grant and feel equally grateful that this course is being financed by work. This is the biggest change in my student experiences, as most students are paying fees, there appears to be more of a corporate feel to studies and the expectation that you are paying for a high quality experience. This is also the saddest change as I believe that this new financial burden will stop some of our brightest students from poorer backgrounds attending university.

Despite the changes the structure is just the same, lectures, reading, research and lots of writing assignments. Life may change around us but academia continues as it always has and it does remain a privilege to be able to study and learn about my specialism.

Reading …

On a cold and wet Saturday afternoon I was enjoying one of my happy moments, snuggled up and reading. In the Times magazine, I came across this article on David Bowie and his favourite books. The images impacted me far more than the text, how wonderful to see a celebrity reading, in fact anyone simply being pictured with a book and enjoying the pleasure of reading. It made me reflect on a recent trip with Little Man’s class to the local library as a parent helper. Our library is the hub of a community and so much more than a place to borrow books. There are many activities for all ages in the community on offer and it’s the ideal place to spend time, there is no other place where you can visit for free and be welcomed so warmly. However during our visit, the librarians who knew most of the children not simply by name but by favourite genre too asked if anyone had never been to a library before and for two of the seventeen children it was their first visit. I was genuinely shocked but the teacher and librarians quickly and sympathetically arranged a school account and the children were shown around and allowed to take a book home. I just felt sad that these two boys had never had the joy of being in a library.

I have not been able to identify the creator of this cartoon, if you are able to help please comment below

As a parent I am always looking of ways of encouraging and promoting reading. Mr S reads to Little Man every night at bedtime whilst Little Miss reads to me. We do the summer reading challenge annually, Tommy the elf always brings a Christmas book to be read in the run up to Christmas and for Little Man who struggles to read we listen to stories too. I believe that we have to be the example and I try to read rather than be seen on my mobile or iPad in front of the children. I enjoy reading on all mediums and my Kindle is always in my bag for a cheeky 10 minute read whilst on taxi duty or sitting in the park. I feel that in this online world we should all step away and immerse ourselves in a literary world. We should all be a bit more David Bowie!