The little things… Cards and a Watermelon ūüćČ

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.

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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.

Date day

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Whilst we like to do lots as a family, Mr S and I do ‚Äėdates‚Äô with each of our children to give them special time with us individually.  Today was one such day and it was my turn to take Little Miss out whilst Mr S and Little Man went to their favourite museum, with lots of interactive exhibits.  The children get to choose where they would like to go and Little Miss knew exactly where she wanted to go, the cat cafe.

Last year we came upon the cat cafe by accident when we were in a neighbouring town, the only problem was that it was closed.  However I did a bit of research and found the cafe online.  It‚Äôs a really interesting project, a cat rescue centre for 12 cats with a cafe within run by volunteers, many with learning difficulties.  You pay an entry fee of ¬£5 per person for the care of the cats and then order from the menu.  I‚Äôm not a cat person but Little Miss was in her element, she was so happy stroking and playing with the cats, chatting away to the volunteers learning the cats‚Äô names and characteristics and just loving it.  The cafe was busy with customers all keen to do similar. The building has been beautifully prepared for the cats, lots of  beds, toys, stunning playgrounds, everything has been done to make the cats very well cared for.  Little Miss‚Äô reaction to our trip was simply ‚Äėamazing‚Äô and she hasn‚Äôt stopped talking about the cafe.  Her reaction shows why we do these dates, to let them choose something to share with us and have a little treat.

Mother’s Day 2019

I think I’ve written before that Mother’s Day is a strange day of mixed emotions in our house. Mr S’ mum died when he was young so its a day he hasn’t celebrated for many, many years. For me it’s one of those days when I think of our little boy who died in my pregnancy and I also pause to think of the children’s birth mother. However it’s also a day which I wish to enjoy surrounded by my little family.

Today was a busy day, Mr S was working until 2pm and I had promised the children a trip to Laserquest. Normally, Lazerquest is really busy on the Sunday’s children club but the combination of the clocks springing forward and Mother’s Day meant there were only 6 children there instead of the usual 30, so the children had a brilliant time and got more games than normal. We had a picnic in the town gardens and then it was time to come home and do the Sunday jobs. There will always be Sunday ironing to be done and dinner and packed lunches to be made, even on Mother’s Day.

As we had an early start, I didn’t get my cards or presents until we got home. It took a fair while for the children to remember it was Mother’s Day this morning, the lost hour was definitely affecting us all. I’m afraid I have to specify if there’s anything I would really like, as present buying is not one of Mr S’ strengths. I had hoped to get Michelle Obama’s autobiography for Christmas so I decided to make it an explicit wish this Mother’s Day writing a note for Little Miss to help Mr S. I was delighted to receive it and can’t wait to read it, she’s a mum I can aspire to. I also got a beautiful flower arrangement. Yesterday afternoon Little Miss went to our neighbour who had bought all the flowers and materials and taught my daughter how to make it for me, such a wonderful and kind gesture. I loved my handmade weaved card from Little Man and the verse inside Little Miss’ made me laugh!

I know how difficult today can be for many and I thought I would just end with this beautiful quote on social media today.

To everything there is a season …

This passage has helped to guide me in difficult times and to appreciate and celebrate the good times and respect and understand the harder days. ¬† In the last few weeks, I have through my circle of family and friends rejoiced at the most joyous news and been saddened by devastating news. ¬†These are not my stories to share but I’ve cried both happy and sad tears and have reread this passage to give comfort and hope.

At present, our life is in a bit of a transition and we are having to make decisions in a period of uncertainty. ¬†We can’t plan fully as each stage is dependent on a previous step, for someone like me who craves order and security its hard and I’m seriously out of my comfort zone. ¬†However we can’t hide away and are trying to plan for the best outcome for all of our little family. ¬†The reason for the changes is our son’s secondary education, we are seriously needing to consider more specialist schools to meet his needs but living in a small seaside town in a large rural county means that the schools we are looking at are a considerable distance from our home. ¬†However, neither of us feel that it is fair to expect Little Man to travel more than an hour each way for school and are trying to come to a compromise which suits the whole family. ¬†There is no easy solution but we are considering moving inland to a small market town, 30 minutes away which would facilitate the journey. ¬†However, it means giving up our seaside idyll, a life we love and planned for our family, the beach as our playground and being part of a wonderful community. ¬†Its a hard decision. ¬†We are also subject to our son being given place at the school we think is right for him, we know that on average there are 14 applications for each place and having visited a number of other special schools this feels like our only option, it is the best fit. ¬†The change would have less effect on our daughter, catchment areas for the secondary schools are big here and a move would not affect her place at the secondary school she will start in September.

There is so much to consider and it is a situation which cannot be resolved quickly, our timescale is a minimum of about 18 months.  It seems overwhelming and is dominating so much of our thoughts, trying to do the best for everyone.  I need to remember that as in the passage from Ecclesiastes that this time will pass, this is our time to plant the seeds for a safe, happy future for all of us, all that matters is that we are together, secure and loved, no matter where we are.

 

 

 

#Blogtober18 : Day 15, Ones who couldn’t stay ..

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Today’s theme is for #babylossweek.¬†¬†¬†I¬†have never written¬†my full¬†story and I won’t be today, people deal with grief in different ways, to me it is just too heart breaking.¬† I will repost the links for the two posts¬†in which¬†I have mentioned the loss of our baby boy on this blog.¬† By not writing does not mean not remembering, ten years¬†later,¬†I think of him and I love him with¬†such intensity and depth, words simply can’t describe my feelings.

https://seasidesparkles.net/2017/02/13/my-valentine-sadness/

https://seasidesparkles.net/2016/02/08/a-few-of-my-favourite-things-a-painting/

Sending my love and thoughts to all of who have lost their precious children x

 

Butlins 2018, High Ropes, Nine Bots and Hot, Sunny Days.

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Our family loves Butlins, to us its our happy place and we try to visit at least annually for a short break. Over the past 7 years we have done 11 breaks, initially to Minehead but since discovering the amazing hotels at Bognor Regis, we now drive down to West Sussex. ¬† I don’t normally write about each trip, but our visit last weekend was special and different, it felt like the passing of time and deserving of a few words. There are some trips which we have done to Butlins which will always stand out, our first visit was our first holiday as a family and came the week of our adoption order and my first mothers’ day, we’ve also done Easter, Christmas and Halloween at Butlins which are always special for their seasonal celebrations, decorations and personal touches.¬† We love Butlins for its attention to detail, family friendliness and the variety of activities on offer, there really is always something to do.

Last weekend was special for a number of reasons.¬† Firstly the weather was stunning, we have never had such gorgeous sunshine and high temperatures at Butlins and finally got to enjoy our room’s balcony as well as al fresco dining around the site.¬† Mr S in very impressive form had booked me a spa experience and massage as a birthday treat and I had a wonderful afternoon in the spa.¬† I went from the sunshine and warmth of the outside hot tub to the snow and ice room and many more treats in between.¬† The massage was one of the best I have ever had and I felt so relaxed and refreshed after my spa experience.¬† Bonus points for Mr S!

During our little break, we realised how quickly the children are growing up.¬† We started going to Butlins when they were toddlers and Mr S and I¬† looked nostalgically at the tots funfair, the toddlers activity centre etc.. all those hours we had spent with the children¬† in those areas as well as watching the shows and having photos taken with their heroes, Fireman Sam, Angelina Ballerina etc…¬† This time we didn’t watch any of the children’s shows, only the evening ones in Centre Stage or Reds.¬† During this stay the children were ecstatic that they were now tall or old enough for new experiences.¬† They did the High Ropes and although they started cautiously they quickly developed the skills and confidence on the course.¬† They also tried Nine Bots which are junior versions of Segways.¬† I was worried how Little Man would cope as he has some motor difficulties, yet he was the stronger of the two and picked up the instructions and directions immediately, he was zooming around the course at such a speed and so happy with his success.¬† The swimming and slides were great and a welcome relief in the heat, the pool party on Saturday night with DJ and inflatables and props was especially fun .¬† However, we’re all looking forward to our trip next year with the new water park opening in Spring 2019 as it looks fantastic with lots of new rides and slides to try.

We found this break that Mr S and I had a little extra time too, the children are now at an age where they’re looking for a little independence and we allowed them some unsupervised parent time in the staffed areas like the games room or arranged a meeting point at the fair whilst they did the stomach churning rides that neither of us fancied.¬† Holidays are now starting to get a little more relaxing for us too (I’m whispering that as we have our summer holiday next week and I don’t want to jinx it!)

I can’t imagine a time when we won’t be coming to Butlins.¬† I only discovered it with Mr S and the children as I had never been to a Butlins resort as a child and it is now my happy, safe place.¬† As soon as we enter I feel relaxed, ready to have fun and make happy memories with our little gang of 4, Butlins really is special to us all.