#Nourish, May 2019

 

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So my word of the year continues with a post on how I interpreted nourish in May 2019.  For the second month running, I didn’t manage my ‘nourish’ day of self care, work is crazy and I’ve worked every Thursday this month, whilst its good for the financial reward, its not worth the compromise on my work life balance, its just very difficult to say no …

However, I have had a real focus on my physical health this month.  In March, I decided that I needed to focus on my running.  I love running but over the past few years, its been without direction or purpose.  In March with the lighter mornings, I started a training programme and without fail, every week I have run at least three times as per the plan.  I’m getting up at 5.15am on some mornings to fit in a run and feeling great for it.  The purpose was to start being competitive (with myself ) again and this month, I signed up and ran my first (and second) Park Run, a 5k timed run.  I would love to do one every week but with our local Park Run 19 miles away (we live in a rural location), Mr S working on average two Saturdays a month and swimming lessons, its a logistical feat to attend.   However, I’ve definitely got the bug and I’m going to aim for one Park Run a month.

Also on the theme of physical health this month, I got a new Fitbit with a HR monitor and I love the stats.  One of my #19for2019 was to walk on average 12k steps a day and I’m quietly confident on my data so far this year that this will be achievable.  However, the upgrade has given me stats on more aspects of my health, notably heart rates.  I did a bit of research on what the rates meant and I am amazed at my results.  I like to think that I am on the healthy side of life, I walk lots, eat pretty well etc.. but it appears according to the charts, I am in great health on the cusp of excellent!  I am delighted that my heart is in such a good state.  I have been monitoring my heart rate on a daily basis, interestingly its raised at work and much lower on non work days, again I think I’m picking up a theme on how I need to focus on a better work life balance, perhaps a focus for a nourish post later this year.

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Getting things done …

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Towards the end of my route, I ran down to this view, the colours of the sea and sky were a dusky grey and pink and it was beautiful


Today was one of those unremarkable days, a day to do chores and get organised on a pretty yucky day, weather wise.  We were all at home today, Mr S had lots of house admin and financial tasks to do (I leave this part of our life to him, he’s great at finding deals, managing finances etc.. although please be assured I’m just as savvy and know all that is going on)  I had housework to do and planning and packing for our break away later this week and two residential trips for the children in the next few weeks, June is going to be a very busy month.  

I started the day with a long (dry) run, it was good, one of those runs where your legs move smoothly and swiftly, you have a great playlist and the view to sea is mesmerising.  After breakfast, we started our jobs and much to their surprise and joy allowed the children to chill with the Wii U so we could get things done.  It was a wet and miserable morning by now, so everyone was keen to be inside.  I had such a useful morning deep cleaning and now I’m ridiculously satisfied with my clean and sparkling cutlery drawers, immaculate surfaces, tidy rooms, empty laundry basket etc.. enabling me to feel so much happier in my environment.  My recent extended work hours mean that the house has been neglected a little and it was great to get on top of it today.  I need a clean and tidy house to feel relaxed and comfortable in my surroundings, its just the person I am.

This afternoon, Little Man and I went over to ‘big town’ for some shopping.  I needed to go to Decathlon for my annual summer shop, UV rash vests, running gear and a sleeping mat for camp. I love the excitement of a Decathlon shop,  on school trips to France as a teacher, we always managed to find one for a quick stop! My son is not the most enthusiastic of shoppers but I felt that we hadn’t had much 1:1 time recently and I needed some time with him.  I let him choose the music and he was happy to chat along in the car, its nearly an hour’s journey so there was lots of time to talk about the important things in his life, Minecraft, cricket, army and as we passed the car garages why I need to get a cool car.  ( Honestly isn’t a C1 cool?) Although he was initially unimpressed by my shopping proposal, when we got to Decathlon he was in element trying so many sports on display, dressing up as a boxer, trying the SUP, it was such a funny trip and an unusual but great mummy / son time.  We popped into Home Bargains for some cheap toiletries as it was too wet and windy to walk the extra hundred metres to Boots and as luck would have it, I found the perfect accessories for Little Miss’ party later this summer.  I’m a bit early, but from experience, I’ve learnt that it is best to pick up something so perfect when you see it.  We are having a watermelon themed party and I’m excited by my new props.

Today was one of those days where everyone seemed to be down about the wet day and being pretty miserable.  My day was so simple but satisfying, life’s not about the big life events but those little things which make you smile.  I smiled today because of a great run, having a clean house, ticking lots off my to dos list and being able to laugh out loud with my son.

Simple Pleasures

It’s a beautiful sunny morning. So far I’ve run 5k, taken the children to swimming lessons in the neighbouring town, picked up a few bits and pieces in the shops and now I’m here in our little secret courtyard with a new book and a cup of tea. This is my happy time, the excitement and anticipation of a new story to discover, characters to root for and an ending to bring the story together. Of course it’s just a quick pause, it’ll soon be time for lunch and then off to town for the pirate festival but do now I’ll enjoy every minute of my reading break.

Euro Elections ’19

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So another Thursday in May and another election, I’m sure for turnout and efficiency it would be far easier to have just one polling day.  It seems that turnout is expected to be low today; at our polling station there were half the number of tellers, boxes and booths from the local elections a few weeks ago, where the turnout was around 42%.

Personally, I think that this is going to be the biggest protest vote election ever and I don’t believe that the results will reflect what would happen in a general election.  Today angry people are making their vote, others disillusioned with politics are trying a different approach and many are not voting, through apathy or disgust at the current political situation.  Whilst I never reveal my vote, I’m one of those trying a different approach today, with Proportional Representation in place for European elections, my vote does count.  PR is a voting system I would like to see in British elections as it would remove the power from the two main political parties and offer a platform to many more.  We have to develop a more consensus approach to policy making on key issues such as Europe, the environment, social care, the NHS etc.. and our current system does not encourage this, there are too strong party lines.

With the results not due ’til Sunday night, there’s no late night election viewing for me tonight, just a wait for Sunday and the results.  We’re only one country in the European elections so for all the fascination in our results it won’t have a huge impact on the make up of the parliament, 73 seats of the 751 contested are for British MEPS.  However the results will arguably have more of an impact on our domestic politics and for a political geek like me more opportunities to question and ponder our political system.

The little things… Cards and a Watermelon 🍉

In my last post, I did write how I dislike the SATS and the impact on our children.  However this week, Little Miss has sat the tests and its been my job to be her chief cheerleader and support (along with Mr S of course) On Monday morning, we gave her the ‘You Got This’ card and everyday she has opened her lunch box to a new little card from me, just a few words to let her know I have been thinking of her.  She’s collected them all and clipped them together in her bag, so I think they’ve been appreciated.

SATS week has been a pretty good week for Little Miss the Year 6 were invited into school early for breakfast and all took up the offer, so they’ve had sustenance, good company and a positive vibe to start the day.  Apart from the time in the tests, they have also enjoyed a lot of time outside in the sunshine playing and had a treat day on Friday, where they were all spoilt by their lovely teachers.  My memories of the final weeks of primary school were sunny afternoons on the school field and practising for the end of year show and I remember it as being one of my happiest school times.  I hope she gets to enjoy similar now.  Its strange that even with another half term left the SATS week seems like the beginning of the end of primary school.

On Thursday, I was excited that the SATS were over and expected Little Miss to be too, I had planned for us to go into town after school for a little treat.  However, she was exhausted after the week of tests and despite my offer of cake at one of the little cafes, an ice cream sundae or similar, all she asked for was a slice of watermelon!  This is not quite as easy when you live in a small town with none of the big supermarkets.  The best I could find was prepacked watermelon slices for the afternoon and on Friday I went to the weekly market before work to buy a watermelon.  Something as simple as a fresh watermelon has made her so happy.  I shared a photo with my  mum of her holding the watermelon with the biggest smile on her face, life is about the simple things.

I think we’re all relieved and happy that the SATS are now over, there’s no homework this weekend, simply two days to relax and enjoy.  I was really proud to receive the message from Little Miss’ teacher amd knowing that she has done her ‘absolute best’ is all that matters to me.

SATS Testing, another brick in the wall.

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Tomorrow, Year 6 children will be sitting formal SATS, 4 days of literacy and numeracy tests.  My daughter will be among them and having experienced this school year with her, I am against this formal testing.  My daughter is bright and talented in many areas, will the SATS measure this, no, but they will tell me if she can use the past progressive tense correctly, recognise a subordinating conjunction, calculate, do algebra and that really useful skill, use Roman numerals correctly ( As a parent I’ve used Google a lot this year for homework.) These aren’t the academic skills I want to know that my child can do, I want to know that she can read and understand, have a good range of vocabulary and do key sums and reasoning to help develop the numeracy skills we need in life.  How much of this year’s work will be ‘forgotten’ over the next few years as its been rote taught for tests and not for skills.   This year we should also be developing social and emotional skills to ensure the wellbeing of our children.

I feel the creative spark has gone this year, I like a little project for homework, yet every week its just been pages and pages of online practice.  On Bank Holiday Monday, when I was out with the children at the park, a message pinged through on DoJo (another pet hate) with a message congratulating those currently working online and the number of sums completed by the class on the day on a particular app.  It was a bank holiday and there was pressure to log on, it seemed so wrong.  How are we going to develop a love and interest for learning when we are boring our children with the content of the curriculum, we need a curriculum for our digital world, with practical activities and investigations, not formal testing.

Whilst the focus has been on the SATS at the school, with lots of homework, parent workshops, catch up clubs etc.. The staff are trying to be positive and supportive in these last few days, the children all received the letter above and have all been encouraged to relax and rest this weekend and do something fun. Little Man has been on cub camp this weekend, so Little Miss has had quality time with us, meeting up with her grandparents and enjoying a beach walk and ice cream this afternoon.  There are also great school plans for next week with special breakfast clubs, treats etc.. during the week.

When the results are published, I won’t be sharing my child’s results with others (despite some school mums’ ‘interest’)   I’ve always felt strongly about this as I have an academically able child and one with significant learning needs, I don’t want either to be judged on academic performance, they are both so much more than a number or grade.  I also know that the results have very little use in the future, yes secondary schools receive them but ours do their own testing for the subjects where there are ability groupings in the first half term of Year 7.  It does ask the question of why do we do SATS?

I can only hope that after this year’s heavy academic focus, in these final weeks of primary school, the formal curriculum is put aside and the children can spend their time being creative, sporty and arty, cherishing the last few weeks of primary school before the grand adventure of secondary school.

Voting ..

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Today where I live there were elections for both our town and new county councils, a busy day at the booth where I had to choose 8 candidates! Politics is my guilty pleasure, I studied it at uni and follow it closely.  For me its not about a political party but the processes, culture etc.. Despite this keen interest, I am exasperated about the current political system and do wonder if we are at the time in history where our party political system will implode.

I always vote in every election and say a quiet thanks to the suffragettes every time. Although, I live in an area where one party holds every seat and there is never any competition, I still gamely go along and make my choice. 

Today, for the first time ever,  I paused at the booth and wondered why am I doing this, I don’t feel represented.  In fairness, the town council was a fairly easy choice, I know a lot of candidates and despite party politics they are all good people trying hard to improve our town. 

I struggled with the next layer of government, our new council.  We pay one of the highest council taxes and yet I genuinely struggle to see how it is spent to improve services in our small town. All schools have deficit budgets and our library, with its opening hours cut, is always under the threat of closure, despite it being the hub of our town and housing so many additional services.  I don’t have direct experience of services for the elderly but I am sure it is a similar state too as there are always local campaigns for all services. I despair at some of the decisions made around education and key services and do feel other towns in the county benefit more than others. Ironically the most common council employee in our town is not for services but teams of traffic wardens raising revenue which is not reinvested in our town. The wardens are legendary in their ticketing and not just for obvious violations but really obscure ones you didn’t even know were illegal!

I’ve lost confidence in regional politics how do these people represent me and provide the best services to our population? And this is just at a local area, I’m not confident in our national political system either. I’m an ordinary citizen and yet feel unrepresented. I can’t help but feel that is how extreme political parties develop, preying on the politically vulnerable and isolated, polarising opinion, turning people against each other and I am fearful that this is how our country may become. We need to become more focused on solutions, serving all members of our communities and respecting differences so that when we do vote we are confident that our voice is heard.