Saturday, 30 July 2011

Hairy Scary

I hadn't realised until today, dear reader, I have been cultivating a moustache. If I had known I may have fashioned it into a handle bar and made it a feature.

A chance to shop alone is a glorious thing, and a cheap boost to my self esteem is to combine a (window)shop with an eyebrow shape. I am not a girly girl but I do have genetically wayward eyebrows and the chance to force them to conform is readily accepted.

I sat down, in full view of the assembled shoppers, and said "Eyebrow shape please". The lady charged with fuzz taming responded readily to the challenge and bid me be seated. She then said unto me "Upper lip also?"

"YOU WHAT?!?!?!" is what I would have said if I wasn't so horrified that I was growing a moustache so obvious that the threading lady pointed it out!

What I really said was "Oh..erm...does it really need it?" "Oh yes!" she emphatically responded! Gutted.

Then followed pain like I have never experienced before. She brought tears to my eyes which rolled down my cheeks! Her response to my emotion was "Have you not had this done before?!" in an incredulous tone. May I repeat - gutted!

Eventually she finished and began my eyebrows and they look wonderful. I probably wont use that particular beautician again though... her chair-side manner needs work. My pride is rather bashed!

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Complicated Change

The school holidays have begun in earnest and for the last couple of days Little Bear has been testing the water. I would say that he is 50% emotional and defiant and 50% bloomin' lovely. Change doesn't suit Little Bear at all.

We are back to square one with the "good thinking", he is conveniently deaf and conveniently mute at times, and when all else fails he bursts into tears!

In between the drama, he is brilliant. He showcases all his newly developed talents. Intricately drawn lizards and dinosaurs, imaginative stories about made-up adventures involving his teachers, hugs and kisses and gentleness with the animals.

Heres to another 5 and a half weeks of unpredicatable brilliance with my Little Bear!

Monday, 25 July 2011

Tattoos - Love 'em or hate 'em?

I was on my favourite forum this evening and got drawn into a discussion about tattoos. Love them or loathe them.

There seemed to be an array of opinions:

I hate them, they look horrible, trashy, cheap, always wanted more, small and subtle only, cool design then, would no doubt be a little bit shit now, I love them, could never decide what to have, etc, etc.

For me the last one is the most important. I love my tattoos. I like the idea of a half sleeve floral design but wouldn't have it meant something to me.

My first tattoo is the least fashionable or indeed exciting as a piece of art. I chose AΩ because at the time I felt a cross was a Christian symbol misused by fashion. I wanted a sign of faith rather than the possiblity that the cross would be misinterpreted as just decoration. I was reading my husband's study bible and in it he had a bookmark with the design on it. I looked up the passage. "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending." Yes, I thought that is my faith! I popped across the road to the tattooist and 15 mins later there it was on my arm. With the benefit of hindsight, I realised that when I had been shown it in the mirror I was so nervous he could have tattooed anything and I wouldn't have noticed! The tat was really lower down my arm than I would have liked, nevertheless I was very proud of it and still am. It has been the trigger for numerous convesations about faith and that was my aim.

My second is my husband's name on my shoulder. Not long after our infertility was diagnosed, he bought me my eternity ring. I wanted to return the favour and give him another lasting symbol of my love. I realise to some it appears cheap and tacky (and I have been told this) and I really, quite honestly COULDN'T GIVE A SH*T, because that doesn't change the meaning to me or to my husband.

Then when little bear arrived, I didn't want to add his name. Only because I felt more than one name on me and would read like a war memorial! We used to read a series of books to him at bedtime, and these books had a recognisable character - Little Bear. I decided to have Little Bear added to my other shoulder.

My fourth tattoo is by far the best designed and most visually attractive, it's Dad's memorial. I spent alot more on this and went to a great artist. When had my first tattoo, Dad's only comment was "Oh, if I had one I would've had a shamrock". So I had the cross I didn't want the first time around, and inside it a shamrock. As another link to my Dad's Irish identity I added "le gra go deo" underneath or "with love forever" in English.

They are my tattoo stories and have deep meanings for me. So when I am older and my arms are not what they were I shall not be showing them off, but neither shall I be ashamed of my tattoos. As age will not diminish the reasons behind each one of them.

Friday, 22 July 2011

We made it!

I have reflected on Reception already so this post is just a last day of term offering, of top tips. Tips for ensuring your child (particularly if that child is not neurotypical) has a good year at school.

Tip 1: Preparation is the key - visual calenders marking down the days to the next change. Talking about school, talking about expectations positively (even when you know deep down there may be some difficulty in achieving them).

Tip 2: Work with the school - if they are great and helpful co-operate. Ask what you can do, offer ideas from home. If they are not so helpful... well, this is a situation that sadly many people struggle with but I am not qualified to offer advice as Little Bear's school have fallen over themselves to be accomodating.

Tip 3: Broad shoulders - easier said than done. Cultivate the broadest shoulders you can manage. It is hard to hear people criticise you or your child because of their behaviour. It becomes a problem when you are taking the criticism onto yourself personally. This leads to some level of resentment towards your child, and a vicious cycle begins. They do know when you are embarrassed and ashamed of their behaviour, and for a child like Little Bear the shame was a hideous knock to his self-esteem.

Tip 4 The only way for me personally to manage the above, was to leave all problems at school. No recriminations at home for behaviour in school. School had disciplined and apart from a brief relaxed converstaion so that he knew we were aware and had the same expectations, what happened at school stayed at school. The following day was always "another day".

Tip 5 Have a sense of humour. My sense of humour is rather silly, I don't mind admitting. It helps me not to take myself or any hard knocks too seriously.

Tip 6 Now I realise for this one, a person needs to be keen on the God fella to be comfortable but I am and these are my tips! So tough! :) Prayer! Never forget to pray, as I walked away from the school each morning after drop off, I prayed that God would be with Little Bear that day. This is not something reserved for kids with difficulties either. Everyone could do with a few arrow prayers on their behalf at the start of a busy day. Myself included.

So we have come to the end of my no means exhaustive and very personal list of tips. Thank you to all who remembered Little Bear and indeed my family as a whole in their prayers this year. We hope for a happy transition into Year 1 for my bear and school have certainly been working with him to help achieve this.

My thoughts and prayers are with all those in transitional periods of their lives. Particularly thinking of new schools, new year groups and new teachers.

Have a lovely summer!

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Friends or Acquaintances

Technology is great! I like the information available at my fingertips, I like the easy connectivity of social networking, I like being able to show pictures of my dogs or holidays to my friends in an instant.

I used to be regular of Facebook, but these days I use it mainly as a photo sharing website and to publicise my blog.

I use Twitter in a far different way, as a daily communication, a means of accessing the outside world. I read opinion on the issues of the day, I offer and receive prayer from twitter contacts who share a connection with this God chap. It causes me to stop and think, on a fairly regular basis.

Now there is Google+ and with this the option to place all contacts into different circles, almost a ranking system. This ensures that certain people see certain feeds and therefore others do not. This has been cause for debate on the nature of friendship. What does it take for a person to be in the friend group rather than in the acquaintances group? How is my relationship with these people different?

In the world outside the internet, otherwise known as 'real life' I have few personal friends. Before you go all soft and worry about lonely old me, allow me to qualify that statement. I have few personal friends because in order for me to classify someone as a friend I have to have made a serious emotional connection with them. On the other hand I have many very lovely and special acquaintances. I care about all the people I am in contact with in this mortal life, they are in my prayers, I wish them well, I enjoy their company, this does not necessarily mean that they are all therefore my closest friends.

I recently had a look at my facebook friends list, and after having a look, I decided that it was time to do some reordering. There was no point having people on my list to 'make up the numbers' a sort of popularity parade left over from teenage years, if they were on the list and they never interacted with me nor I with them then they were removed. At present 99.9% of facebook contacts, are people I have met in real life. However the percentage of those who fit into the friend category as I see it, is very very much smaller.

My twitter accont is very different, the vast majority of people I follow and/or am followed by I have never met in the flesh. However, I appreciate their tweets, I am challenged, comforted, and entertained by them and I get to know people just that little bit better through reading their tweeting.

Google+ is only in its infancy - I barely understand the mechanisms of it, and at the moment in my account, like facebook, everyone is a friend. I am not sure whether a new social network would add anything to my online existance and am only tentatively involved. To separate everyone (I only have about 5 contacts at the moment anyway) into groups seems rather lacking in point. I don't feel it is appropriate to talk about sensitive subjects (i.e. subjects one is not comfortable sharing with anyone other than their closest friends) in great depth on a social networking website. I also value transparency, bitching behind other's backs belongs in the playground. So for these reasons my friends and acquaintances will be remaining mixed. As they are on Facebook and Twitter. If I don't trust them - I wont add them. Simple.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Fragrant or just plain smelly?

What's your favourite smell I wonder?
Smell is such a big thing for us all, we can be drawn to or repulsed by smells. We can find them comforting or concerning, attractive or not so attractive. Each person has a different view of the same smell.
Fresh coffee, roast dinners, the smell of the grass after it has rained; these are all appealing to me. I wouldn’t be surprised if they also feature on many other people’s lists too. They may make me smile, or salivate but they don't comfort and console. The smells which have this affect on me are less likely to be shared with another living soul.
When I was a child I had a cuddly bunny rabbit who had very long ears. I used to take this toy to bed, and with my thumb firmly fixed in my mouth, my two first fingers would hold her ears to my nose. Yellow bunny’s smell comforted and reassured me, and for a long time I would continue this ritual at night (and occasionally in the day if poorly or sad) . The rabbit sniffing continued way longer than the thumb sucking, and although I never suck my thumb these days I don’t mind admitting that a cuddly rabbit’s ears still get the occasional sniff!
Another very homely smell for me is that of a church. Now, before you call in the medics and have me assessed, may I just point out that I do not actively sniff anything. I merely step into a church and the deeply familiar smell makes it feel like a homecoming. This applies to any church, large or small, medieval or modern, cathedral or kirk, incense or none (although the lingering smell of incense is an added bonus for me).
When I was a child we sang the odd worship song, I mean odd as in occasional but one could also apply that word to some of the lyrical content. The Graham Kendrick track, May the Fragrance of Jesus used to make me titter. What is Jesus’ smell? We would ask ourselves. If we don’t know the answer to this, how will we know when it fills this place?
As far as I am concerned, for me an aspect of the fragrance of Jesus is the smell of home-coming. The smell I encounter when I step on Holy ground, and Jesus draws me to him and says “S, you are mine, you are safe and I love you” This is not the only place to experience this love, and so experience the fragrance of Jesus, in many ways for me it is the most obvious. It is also only one of my God given senses at work in it.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Reflecting on Reception

Last week seemed to be the time for school reports and Little Bear was no exception. A truly fabulous school report, which highlighted all the wonderful progress made this year. I am proud of his achievements in one year, proud of the staff at his school, and relieved that I feel so much more confident about the coming September than at this time last year!

Today is Day 2 of 2 taster sessions for the new Reception intake. I remember taking Little Bear in for this session (he had missed the first one thanks to chicken pox), he was nervous, I was nervous, it was a bundle of nerves. We were met by the smiling lovely face of Miss P the teaching assistant, who assessed the situation in one glance and guided Little Bear in to his first activity. Then I went home, worried for a couple of hours, and went back for lunch with LB in the school hall. He wriggled on his seat, ate very little and we had seats to spare all around us. I was relieved to take him home after lunch.

On the way out of the playground that first time, the conversation went as follows:
Me: "Did you like school"
LB: "It's better than nursery, Mummy, they are going to help me to be good."

They have certainly done just that, but more importantly they have shown him that he is worth the effort, and that there is more to him than the difficult behaviours he sometimes exhibits.

As a parent, I am aware that he is a big mixture of personality, extra needs and complicated history. He is wonderful, intelligent, perceptive, loyal, kind, difficult, obstinate, impulsive, cuddly but most importantly of all he is who he is Little Bear.

As he practised the "good thinking" he was taught, he made friends, and his self-esteem was boosted once again.

So this post is dedicated to teachers, teaching assistants, and other support staff. They are to be treasured, cherished and appreciated. In an ideal world they would offer all children no matter who they are, where they are from, and how they behave the same treatment as Little Bear. Academic learning is so important but for some children a greater need, particularly in their Reception year is the emotional support they receive which enables them to perform to the best of their ability.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

The Voyage

This song is one of our songs. It never fails to make me cry (in a nice happy way). Enjoy :)

"Life is an ocean and love is a boat
In troubled water that keeps us afloat
When we started the voyage, there was just me and you
Now gathered round us, we have our own crew"
On our wedding anniversary, I give thanks for our journey so far, pray for the voyage to come, and celebrate with great joy, that with Little Bear and the dogs, the Curate and I continue on with our "own crew". 

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Beanbag on your head!

A tall, athletic teacher leads he group of gangly Year 6 children out on to the field. For Miss P this is one of the highlights of the teaching year, a chance to demonstate her P.E. prowess, to show how well her class can perform on the field.

In that class is a tall gangly 10 year old, one of the youngest in the class and still head and shoulders taller than them all. She walks on to the field looking down at her P.E. pumps, and out of the corner of her eye straining to see if her mum is there to watch. She sits down on the damp grass and waits her turn, her turn to demonstrate how she hasn't really gained enough contol of her longer than average limbs yet. Her little self esteem ready to take another knock when she yet again comes last.

Soon it is time to line up on the start, may as well get it over with. She looks over to the table of medals and trophies and would dearly love to win one herself. Off they go! She runs and runs as if her legs depended on it, but of course the egg falls off the spoon, the skipping rope tangles and she is always last. No medal for her again this year, Miss P shakes her head, but at least it's over.

Now this girl has become the Mum watching on the sidelines. Anxious, and experiencing the same sense of dread and doom as she did over 20 years ago. This time it's different, the child is a boy for a start. He walks out confidently on to the field, waving. He giggles excitedly and wiggles about because he can never stand still,. It's noisy and out of routine and he sits with his house not with his class. His turn arrives and he lines up ready. Off they go! He runs and runs but like his Mum his gangly limbs aren't athletic just yet and like his Mum he is last. Last but happy, a hug from an older child and a sticker for particpating for everyone (winner gets house points). His Mum sheds tears of joy and pride.

Then it's time to exercise some demons. The Mums race is announced and now is the time to say goodbye to memories of Miss P and school sports days of old and bring it back into the now. A tennis racket is produced and a ball to balance on it, oh and a beanbag for her head. Off they go! She runs and balances and comes in last behind the sporty mums and their trainers and shorts. She did it! It was fun! Most importantly her smiley boy was pleased she had tried.

More dog tales...

Thanks to Vic the Vicar for his comment on yesterday's blog post. It is always great to read comments, indeed reading other people's reactions to my ramblings is often more fun than the rambling itself!

I wasn't planning on blogging this morning but as Blogger has seen fit to repeatedly refuse to let me respond to comments, I thought I would write another dog related post in response.

We have ended up (by chance rather than by design - although I think God is more likely than chance personally) with two very amusing and slightly dotty dogs. We adore them both even though their actions are sometimes beyond our understanding. Bobby is only 9 weeks old, he is forgiven for chewing, mouthing, weeing in the wrong places, etc. These are not personality quirks they are just the behaviours of a puppy. Monty on the other hand is, at least physically, an adult dog. He has many idiosyncrasies (although we do not deny our part in creating them as we have raised him).

To answer Vic's question, Monty does indeed sleep upside down. This is his favourite and most relaxed position - a position he rarely adopts when we are in new and unfamiliar surroundings. It is a little off putting, especially to guests or when one is eating, as in this position all modesty is lost and his "gentleman's area" is displayed in its limited glory.

In answer to the question about opening doors, no we haven't witnessed Monty open a door. He has been known to move the table we use to block the stairs when we are all in bed. The reason the table is there in the first place is due to Monty being completely incapable on letting us know when he needs to go to the toilet. If he is desperate he will push past and go downstairs to leave a puddle by the back door. These days I have become accustomed to this, and so like a parent alert for their child's cry, even the slightest movement makes me leap out of bed and rush downstairs to open the door for him. Very relaxing....NOT.

Many years ago, when I lived at home, we did have a problem with animals opening doors, but even then it was discovered the cat and dogs were working as a team. The cat threw himself on the door handle to release it and the dogs pushed, and all hell broke loose! Mum asked a friend to help, and for years all our door handles were vertical!

Monty loves to run off the lead and has brilliant recall, if we happen to have a ball. He would play fetch all day given the choice. He is occasionally distracted by squirrels or rabbits and careers off after them at speed only to return minus the ball which he has dropped in his excitement. Then some frantic searching later and we can continue on our way!

He loves to swim and is now quite accomplished and he doesn't chase the ducks (unlike one of my parents labs). However he hates the bath!

Monty sleeps on the floor in our bedroom on his mat, and at the first sign of us stirring he jumps up on the bed and goes back to sleep. He's very fond of sleep.

Monty is an accomplished thief, although again I have met worse. These days he is only likely to steal if he feels neglected. The kitchen sides have to be completely cleared before we can go out and leave him otherwise he will clear them for us. We came back from church one Sunday morning to find he had chewed and spread all over the floor a very large pack of filter coffee - it was everywhere! He is also partial to sponge scoureres, tea towels and the odd plastic dinosaur. The first time he ate a marble I was very nervous untill it passed safely through - and no Mother I did not disinfect it and return it to the child!!!

He has reeked some damage in the study as a puppy, but only destroying an old chair. No cloak eating here! A childhood dog once ate my Dad's Parson's Pocketbook - He caused weeks and weeks of confusion and phone calls to funeral directors and wedding couples which included the phrase "Sorry, the dog ate my, he did really eat my diary!" We have got off lightly so far.

I hope you enjoy the dog antics, no doubt I will have more as Bobby grows - it's double trouble now!

Monday, 4 July 2011

Greedy Pup

We have treated him well, and made many mistakes along the way no doubt, but at 2 yrs old Monty the doodle is the softest dog in the world...ever! I show only the smallest bias! He barely barks, even more rarely loses his temper and cannot bear to be more than 6 feet away from us at all times - dream dog you may think. Well, really so do we. He is a gorgeous dog with the softest temprament.

Now young Bobby has come to join the pack.

Monty has taken to Bobby very well, he has issued a few warning growls when he is disturbed from the important business of sleeping by a bouncy puppy, but hasn't snapped at him at all.

Over the last couple of days Monty and Bobby have become very friendly, and engage in rough and tumble play, at one point last night Monty had Bobby's whole nose and face in his mouth! Although this is typical dog behaviour and quite happy, we are a little nervous because of the size difference. Yet Monty appears to be aware of Bobby's dimunitive stature and avoids landing on him. Bobby has no such qualms about Monty and runs around trying to hang on to the fur around Monty's chin.

The only point when I wish Monty would stand his ground a bit more is feeding time. When I was growing up, if one of the other dogs dared to put his nose anywhere near his elder's dish there would first be a warning growl, and then a snap. It's just good dog manners. I am not talking here about food related aggression at all, if we tried to remove the bowl mid eating that would be tolerated, but another dog sniffing around it would certainly not do! However gentle Monty just relents and lets Bobby take over until we forcibly move him away to his own dish and encourage Monty to continue. As I said, he is very very soft.

So I shall be frequenting online pet retailers to find an elevated bowl for Monty, and a bowl to slow Bobby down. Otherwise I will be forced to restrain Bobby at meal times, or do what I did last night, and hold Monty's bowl up for him just out of reach.

Bobby the Labrador X Daschund certainly takes after his Labrador ancesters when it comes to greed!

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Catalogue of Errors

I think I may be a little tired this afternoon:

  • Whilst preparing food for the dogs, I turned to mix one dish and dropped the big dish on the floor sending half its content across the tiles. Bobby the puppy then proceeded to hoover it - great you may be thinking, problem solved. This was not the case, the food was for the adult dog Monty who allowed his food to be snatched up by littlest.
  • Then whilst washing up I picked up quickly what I thought was an empty bowl and send the dogs water across the floor creating an impromptu paddling pool.
  • Whilst I was distracted clearing up the mess, the puppy did his business on his rug in the corner.
  • I cleared this up and put the rug, and my slippers he had attacked earlier into the washing machine, and whilst attempting to poor stain remover into the little plastic thingy, I managed to spill it across the top of the washing machine. This required a bowl of water to clean up as it is the gel stain stuff.
  • On the way up to read stories with my lovely little boy, I turned into my bedroom too early and walked into the wall.
  • On the way in to kiss said child goodnight, the belt loop of my jeans caught on the door handle bringing the door back at speed into my arm.
So you can see why I am quite nervous to leave the safe confines of my sofa this evening - just in case I walk into, trip over, slosh about anything else.

This is why I am a laughing stock within my extended family and my brother refers to me by the nickname "Unco" as in unco-ordinated.

I will stay safely here for now then.