The Intervention

Just when I thought “interventions” were only done on rather scary reality TV shows I found myself the “victim” of a very large intervention on Sunday.  There I was, innocently drinking coffee with a good friend of mine  and relating the events of my week when she announced that we were going to deal with my clothes.  My pleas to finish the coffee and continue chatting were ignored and we were off into the bedroom to begin.

Clothes flew and were flung in all directions in the hours that followed.  Luckily she is a really good friend because comments included “No!”, “Frumpy!”, “Get rid of it”, “What were you thinking?” and “Did your mother choose this?”  I should hasten to say that I owned only one item of clothing chosen by my mother and it has now gone to a  better place.  The final tally was five small gar bags of clothes to go to charity, three small gar bags of stuff that I will fit into soon and best of all, a wardrobe which contains only items that I can wear right now.  It is the first time in my adult life that I can remember having such a wardrobe.  The aforementioned gar bags went into the back of my friend’s car so there were no chances for me to change my mind and the three bags of ambition clothes are going to be boxed up in plastic crates so that nothing nasty befalls them.  The wire coathangers were all dispatched to the garbage bin and the plastic coated wire hangers were deemed to be only good for hanging up my husband’s shirts.  I have most hangers the same the now and all facing in the same direction – revolutionary!

I still have the shoe section to go and a few drawers but they seem easy compared to the task of tackling that overstuffed wardrobe.  I am eagerly anticipating being able to pull out something to wear very easily from those places as well.

The flow on effect from this will be the ease with which I can put together outfits the night before to wear the next day.  I’m intending on having Plan A outfits for days that I am working and Plan B outfits for days that I am not.  The drawback is that I don’t have as many clothes but when I think about it I don’t really have less clothes because the ones that are not there could not be worn anyway.  So it is full of win all round really.

The saying “Knowledge is Power” could certainly be applied to my fateful Sunday afternoon too.  I was lucky enough to attend a High Tea on the previous Saturday where we met Suzy the Stylist.  Prior to that day I never would have thought that I had anything to gain from listening to a stylist given that I am overweight, the majority of my clothes are bargain buys and I usually buy things without trying them on because of time pressures.  Boy was I wrong!

I now know that I have curvy figure (somewhere under there!) and what to do about dressing for that figure.  I know exactly what to look for now in shops and which items of clothing I would like to buy when I next have the opportunity.  Because I was also able to look at things through a “knitter’s lens” as well I now know why some of my projects look good and why some of them should never have seen the light of day.  I am actually having one piece frogged, the wool washed and rewound so that I can knit something else with it!  Best of all when someone mentions a  knitting pattern on Ravelry I know immediately whether it will work for me or not.

So while it isn’t an extensive wardrobe, it is completely functional and even though I needed to sit down for quite a while and collect my thought post-intervention I am really glad that it happened.  And to my dear friend – Thank-you. I needed to be bossed around and I’m truly glad that you did so.

And now dear readers:

Have you ever been part of an intervention? Either intervening or being the “intervenee”?

How do you organise your clothes?

If you are losing weight, what are you planning to do with your clothes?

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Step by Step back to “normal” life

Or as normal as it ever gets!  I’ve officially been cleared to work again, I’m no longer wearing splints and walking longer and longer distances until i start limping again and need to stop.  I did alarm the physio with a very swollen left ankle (the fractured tibia one) on Friday night so I am taped up for the duration of the long weekend but flesh coloured tape is much less conspicuous than big black lace up splints.

There are so many things you take for granted until you have your mobility taken away from you.  I’m really enjoying things like:

having a shower standing up

carrying things around from one place to another

walking around places

being able to get up off chairs

getting my own cup of coffee and indeed getting cuppas for other people

walking along hand in hand with my little boy

DRIVING – even though I have to use Anthony’s car for the time being.

I’m in the process of transitioning from convalescence to supply teaching again and I feel as if I am launching myself onto the world as a whole new person.  A wise person told me that all these thigns happen for a reason and I found that statement hard to take as I hobbled around on crutches. But now, as I find myself on the way out of it all I believe she may have known what she was talking about after all.


So It’s A Stay-Cation

I’m still trying to resign myself to spending the Easter holidays at home *every single day* and in the meantime I’ve been doing every Easter activity I can do with the boys that involves sitting down and producing something worthwhile.

So far we have blown out eggs and attempted to dye them with crepe paper with wildly varying results (more of that in another post).  We also made  rudimentary egg baskets/nests with plastic bowls and feathers.  They were nothing like the ones on the site that I got the idea from but the boys did them all by themselves and are very pleased with them.

Then we made goo – the old classic with corn-flour and water.  This has kept both boys happy for over half an hour so far and Daniel is still very happily pottering downstairs with a big messy baking tray of goo after trying to see just how much goo he could plaster over his big brother – as you do!  Eric has gone off to take more photos to document the process and I’m planning on showing them this clip from the Myth Busters show which examines whether or not it is possible to walk on goo.

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Life Skills

Since my tumble down the stairs resulting in two injured ankles, I have learned many things – how to use crutches, how to go up and down stairs on crutches, the best way of calling a cab and the best sort of socks to wear when you have to wear them under splints 24/7 for SIX weeks  – only three to go!

Eric has learned a few useful things too.  He now knows:

how to make a cup of coffee (very important for his mother’s survival)

how to make a toasted sandwich (necessary for his survival)

how to change the shelves in the oven and turn it on

which things I need on my trolley when I go from place to place

He has also walked to the local chemist by himself when I was stranded at home and really needed prickly heat powder to put on under the aforementioned socks.  As the days go on he is using his school diary to keep track of the pick-up arrangements for each afternoon which is very useful given that the arrangements are different every single day!

I wish I could say something similar for Daniel but he’s just not into trying new things without a lot of help. His main interest in my injuries is the fact that I have much more time than usual for reading stories to him and listening to him read to me.  So he is learning in a more indirect way from what has happened.  To be fair, he has filled a few water bottles for me and he quite enjoys getting me a Berocca each morning.

All of this has really made me think about the times at which we begin to teach life skills to our children.  I think about it more, when I’m stranded somewhere at home needing something done and I wonder whether I can ask one of the boys to do it.  Will they be able? Will they be willing?  I’ve got a long mental list of things they do know how to do already but I’ve been thinking about how to move them on and some more things I could teach them.

Given that Eric is 10, I’d like to teach him to do simple ironing, start a load of washing choosing water level and temperature, do some vacuuming and where to access the electricity box and water in an emergency.  For Daniel my ambitions include stacking dishwasher, hanging out small washing on clothes airer, folding things and taking simple phone messages.  That’s just off the top of my head and I’m sure there are many more things.

I’d like my boys to get into very familiar routines for mornings, after school and evenings so that the jobs we wanted them to do and homework requirements etc were all just happening instead of coaxed out of them step by step each day.  That means of course that I need to have better routines for myself and I do recognise that.  I’d like them to develop their problem solving skills so they can see that there is often more than one solution to something that is bothering or perplexing them.  I’d like to help them develop their emotional resilience while also leaving them secure in the knowledge that it is ok for a boy to cry.

Eric and I are going to a funeral on Thursday and it will be his first one.  His teacher’s mum passed away last week.   Other students from his class are likely to attend with their parents so he is feeling some safety in numbers. A friend and I had a conversation with Eric and her daughter this afternoon about the sorts of things that happen at a funeral and why they are important. We talked about what it means to the family left behind to see that their community supports them.  Both children now have some concept of what they will see, hear and perhaps feel.  Dh and I decided that it was important for him to attend a funeral now for someone he didn’t know well because there will come a time when he has to attend a funeral for someone he does know well.  When that time comes it may be a bit less overwhelming because he knows the sorts of things that will happen.

Now is the time for us to be mindful of the learning opportunities that are out there in everyday life for our children and to make the most of them even if it does take longer to get things done and they may not be done as well as we would have done them.

You may have noticed that I didn’t put on Eric’s list that he knew how to make toast with honey.  To explain I give you (as accurately as I can remember) our conversation on the Sunday morning before last.

“I’m going to make you a coffee Mum.  Would you like something for breakfast?”

I take frantic mental inventory – what can he make and bring into bedroom without spilling it?  I think that rules out cereal so I settle on toast with jam.  He disappears.

“There’s no jam anywhere Mum.  Can I put something else on?”

“Um, yes. How about some honey?”

“Sure!”

At this point the kettle stopped boiling ages ago, he’s been to the fridge several times but no smoke alarms have gone off.  Then he appears again.

“I’ve sort of made a mistake.”

“Oh yes?”

“I sort of put the margarine and honey on but I forgot to put the bread in the toaster.  Should I put it in now?”

“Um, no, that will be fine, you can just bring it in to me the way it is.”

As it turned out, he probably could have put the bread in the toaster quite easily because he eventually appeared with barely lukewarm coffee and two slices of stale bread with a tiny smear of margarine down the centre of each and about 1 teaspoon of honey altogether between two pieces.

“Thank-you gorgeous, it was so nice of you to make me some breakfast!”

“That’s ok Mum, nothing to it” and he struts away, chest out feeling very proud of himself.

We might still be learning but I’ve got very good material to work with!

 

 


Making it fun to learn those spelling words

After sailing through Year 1, 2, 3 and 4 with son #1 it has been a very different journey with son#2.  For #1 it all came easily and we had to spend very little time revising sight words and then spelling words.  He just seemed to acquire it through osmosis.  But for #2 we have had to really work hard with him, first to master the Year 1 sight words and now to learn spelling words in Year 2.  We sort of realised what we were in for when he came after his first spelling test with 4/10.  I didn’t want him to continue on this path for the sake of his self-esteem and I wanted him to really learn these words to help him with his writing.  And speaking of writing, he has to write out his spelling words each night of the week and he will do that but after that he is very reluctant to do any other task that requires writing.  So in the past few weeks I’ve been searching for and trying out ways to learn the ten words each week without writing them more than once.

So far I have tried:

Scrabble tiles – When we bring home his friend on a Tuesday afternoon I try to play a few games with them and hunt the letters with the scrabble tiles has proven popular.  It  has also occurred to me that I could set up the words myself but scramble the letters and have them unscramble them.  I wonder if you can buy cheap scrabble tiles anywhere?

Jump on the letter – 26 half pages of paper with a letter of the alphabet on each and spread out on the rug in our living area.  Dh enjoys this one so he calls out the words and #2 jumps on each letter of the word.  I could do nice letters on the computer and get them laminated I suppose.  I might do that or I might not.

Pipe cleaners – This week I had him make the letters he needed for his words out of pipe cleaners.  He needed some help initially but quite enjoyed it and it had the added bonus of giving him the chance to see when he reversed letters and to be able to correct them far more easily than if they were written.

Spelling City.com – This site is a great resource that you can pay for but has plenty of activities available for free.  I can just type in his words and then he can choose from a wide range of activities.  His favourite is the word search and he has actually asked me to make him a word search this weekend with the words he learned for Friday’s test – go Daniel!

Some things I would like to try:

Play dough – I have to make the play dough of course but I think he will enjoy making his letters out of play dough “sausages”

Sidewalk chalk – I’m sure Vera (our adopted blue cattle dog) would enjoy helping him write his words out on the driveway!

Sandy words – I’d like to dust off/de-grass the sandpit and have him “write” the words with a stick

Nerf bullets – This would take some preparation but I thought I could put each word four times on a sheet of  paper – spelt correctly once and incorrectly three times.  Then I’d put them behind some plastic and have him bring out his trusty nerf gun to shoot at the correct words.

Swing and spell –  I got this from – #2 son sits on the swing and I call out word.  he then has to say one letter each time he swings towards me.  I think we could easily come up with a trampoline version of this too!

Crazy words – a Year 2 boy, a tray, a spelling list and shaving cream!

Ransom words – Write your words by cutting out letters in a newspaper or magazine and glue them on a paper.

Secret Agent Words – Number the alphabet from 1 to 26, then convert your words to a number code.

BEDTIME STORIES
Before retiring for bed, write your child’s spelling words on separate pieces of paper. Hide them in different places in your child’s bedroom (i.e.; under their pillow, in their medicine cabinet, where they keep their toothbrush, and etc.) When they find any of the pieces of paper they must give the paper to you and spell the word correctly that is written on the paper. If they can spell it, they get to keep the paper. If not, they must let you hide it in another place the next evening. The object is to collect all the words (papers) before the end of the week.


Driving in the other Direction

I’ve had some very exciting developments this week.  Life has taken a different direction and it is one that no one could have predicted.  After a big application, interview with assessment task two weeks ago and another follow up meeting this week I’ve been offered a job at one of our favourite places in the world. Here

After years of thinking I would never do anything other than teach in a classroom, I saw the ad for this position – Learning, Activities and Events Officer – a few months ago and immediately my heart leapt.  I could do that.  I wanted to do that.  There could be a place for me beyond the classroom, a place where I could still use my skills as an educator and work with a wide variety of people.  I love trains and railways and history.  When the boys were into Thomas the Tank Engine I reveled in the language and the images of that magical world.  We’ve been regular visitors to The Workshops over the years and held annual passes for four years running.

There will be many other changes apart from me driving west instead of east each day.  As a public servant of sorts I will be working longer hours officially but less hours unofficially.  I’ll have some measure of control over when I work, being able to accrue flexi-time etc.  I will be working on most school holidays because those are the busiest times for the museum – especially Boxing Day through to the end of January when Thomas comes to visit.  If I work on a weekend or public holiday I might be paid overtime (huge concept for a teacher!).  I won’t be having holidays for quite some time and when I do they will be during school time.  We think the boys will cope with a few weeks out of school here and there for holidays down the track – I can certainly “home school” them if necessary!  I wont have my own class but I will also be doing without playground duty, report writing and parent teacher interviews.  There are lots of things I’ll miss and lots of things I won’t miss.  There are lots of things about this position that I don’t even know yet and that is both exciting and a little bit scary but I am so ready.

I’m ready to belong somewhere again, to be doing something worthwhile and working hard.  I’m ready to know where I am going each day and where I’ll be going each week.  I’m ready to be challenged, to use my creativity and problem solving skills and I’m so excited!

After initially being skeptical about me working for the government (he never thought he’d see the day) Anthony is delighted.  The boys, after some confusion on Daniel’s part, are just about delirious.  When I told the boys that they might sometimes be used as “guinea pigs”, Dan didn’t relish the prospect of living in a box and eating grass.  But when it was all explained he was delighted of course.  With their new found independence they are getting used to traveling to and from school in a  number of different ways and are relishing the slightly increased responsibility.  The extended family are already booking themselves up for holiday care.

I worked my final days as a relief teacher this week in three different schools and then today we celebrated – Eric’s first communion and confirmation.  Now I have two weeks to get everything in order ready to start my next big adventure.  I don’t know all of what the future holds but I’ll certainly be putting my sunglasses when I drive in the other direction!


Learning Is Taking Risks

This isn’t shameless self -promotion but a big “pat on the back” for my first born.  One of the jobs I’ve applied for in the past few weeks is at an “independent school ” that is run on democratic principles.  This has caused me to put a lot of thought into different learning styles and what the optimum learning environment is for a range of different learners.  A huge factor in successful learning is having an environment that is so supportive and structured in a way that students feel confident enough to take risks, make mistakes and learn from their mistakes.  I’ve certainly been doing that with my own learning over the past few months and now Eric has been able to do the same.  He attended a holiday workshop at Threads and More this week in which he had the opportunity to design and create his own soft toy from felt.  Firstly he was the only boy there and it hasn’t occurred to him that sewing and knitting and the sorts of things one does at Threads and More are not necessarily male pursuits so he is entirely non self-conscious.  He was also very comfortable there because he’s accompanied me there a few times to work on his beginner cross stitch piece while I am knitting and the staff there have always given him a really good reception.  He knows that people there are interested in what he is doing and he knows that Adam (the 6 foot chef with dreads in the attached cafe) makes a seriously good strawberry milkshake.

However, I wasn’t prepared for how well he would go in this workshop.  He’s done a small amount of cross stitch and probably some sewing in his pre-school days but that would be it.  He cannot yet tie up his shoelaces tightly enough for them to stay done up.  So I thought he’d blunder through and produce something with intensive support from the lovely Anissa.  The other members of the class as far as I could see copied the examples that Anissa had out on the table or in one case made a friend for the doll she’d made at Christmas.  This is fine and no doubt they did learn a bit more by doing this but copying something was not for Eric.  He got busy with pen and paper and drew a “Turtwig” (a pokemon character whose name I do not know how to spell) and then proceeded to create a 3-D rendering of the creature.  It’s got four legs that stick out from the bottom, a body and embroidered shell.  There are plans for a head and some sort of antenna that sticks out from that.  Annissa asked if I could possible come and knit on Sunday afternoon so that he could come with me and do some more work on it.  I was so proud of him for thinking outside the square and creating something of his own rather than going for the easier option and just copying something that was in front of him even though it was a task he had never attempted before.  Once again the learning environment at Threads and More was just right for him to have confidence and take risks with his learning.

He is bubbling over with enthusiasm since this workshop and has had a big talk to Anthony about how he will continue to accompany me to Threads and More when this Pokemon is finished so that he can make another Pokemon character for Daniel’s 7th birthday.  There is even talk of making something for Grandma to keep on her bed but I can’t imagine what that might be although I suppose we could remind him that Grandma Maureen has a thing for elephants.

In other news, I’ve completed the Lion Stripe Sweater I was knitting for Eric <insert very happy dance here>.  I finished it by about 10:00pm on Wednesday so he could show it off at the shop on Thursday and Daniel modelled it so I could take some photos to upload to Ravelry.  I’m really happy with it and pleased that I was able to stick with it even when the going got tough.  Contrary to Daniel’s wishes I didn’t start his Cowboy Cardigan that night but I did make a start on it the next day while Eric was doing his workshop.  I’m also working on some cotton face cloths to sell on the school Mothers Day stall so there is plenty to do with my knitting sticks!