Monday, February 07, 2011

A Bit Out Of Touch..!

I'm feel I am seriously OUT of the blogging loop atm. I am just about managing to hold together my 365 (although even that is a week behind) and I haven't blog-hopped in WEEKS, either to my photography friends, or my HE ones ~ and for that I apologise. Somehow life just seems to have been a whirlwind since Christmas and evening are often tied up with jiggling a restless baby - like they all get in the evenings! We have decided to experiment this week with putting him to bed earlier as he was waking at 5am and really struggling to re-settle. By the time we eventually got him back off it was almost time for Paul to get up and that didn't seem to be working for us! Putting him to bed earlier means he wakes at 3, but goes back off better and we get longer until morning! We'll see how it goes ~ it worked well last night, but I am not a 7am person, even if Paul has to be and the kids naturally are!

HE-wise things are ticking along. Stitch and DD both completed a 'year' on Education City last week, meaning DD is now working at Yr1 level and Stitch at Reception (which of course he would be starting in September were he going). The work on there is just right for them and in fact perhaps a little easy in some areas. Stitch is quick as a wink and misses nothing ~ I am thinking I might be teaching them BOTH to read next year and save myself some time and work. I reckon Stitch is actually almost ready and DD definitely is. DD is already sounding out words really well, even if he doesn't yet know the sounds of all the letters. Let me explain: He can tell me that shoe is made up of 'sh' and 'oo', or mouse is made of 'm', 'ou' & 's'. He would not be able to tell me what letters make those sounds yet. However, some words, like 'b-u-s' he could probably actually write correctly as he does know all those letters well enough and his pencil control is excellent. Letters he knows sounds for consistently are (for the record); a, b, c, e, k, o, p, q (and qu), s u, x, z. ~  that's almost half the alphabet even though I've not made any concerted effort to teach him any yet! He knows some of the others sometimes; f, i, l, p, r, y.
Stitch also knows a few ~ although he seems to be learning a mixture of sounds and names due to the sources of his learning (i.e. mainly Starfall and Ed'City!). Consistently he has; a (sound), c (sound), e (sound), k (sound), o (sound), p (sound), q (sound), r (name), s (sound), w (name), x (name & sound), z (sound) ~ interestingly almost exactly the same ones as DD has picked up, only the u/w is different! I wonder why that might be???
Lilo is eventually picking up with reading at a more rapid pace, although she still does make consistent errors that I wouldn't expecting by now: she still, almost always, reads 'd' for 'b', she still sometimes still reads 'i' for 't' (and vice versa) and often cannot remember 'j' at all, or reads it as 'i'. She still forgets 'v' on a regular basis too and sometimes, when she remembers it, still makes a 'f' sound for it. I know these are all common errors in younger children, but I am surprised she is still making them when she can essentially read, and that by phonetic means! I think she needs a vision test (well I know she does), but I need her to be more consistent with her letters before she goes, so it doesn't seem she can't see them when she can! She is almost at the end of Headsprout. She had only about 10 more episodes to complete, so just another couple of weeks - she'll be finished by half term. I am thinking of enrolling her on Explode-the-Code online. They have a 3 for 2 offer on atm, so I could enrol all three youngest ones at their own levels! I think it might be a fun way to sure up Lilo's phonics, whilst still taking her forwards by doing LOTS of reading with me as-well. Her confidence is growing, and that is good, but it is still not brilliant and I believe that is half the battle with her. Where she is confident, and almost able to self-teach, she excels. Reading has not really been something she has been able to approach in that way, or that has come to her easily, but she IS getting there at last and I know she is happy about that :D
Maths is progressing nicely with all of the younger ones too. Lilo has completed Miquon Orange and is rapidly pacing through Singapore MPH 1A (it's a cinch for her now). DD is working through Grade 1 Math Mammoth, which is also relatively easy for him, but gives him a stretch. He resists the stretch a little, but the work is not too hard!

The older four are plodding along nicely, although I do feel their work is too much 'on your own' atm. I want to be able to input more with them, but just now I can't see how. They do have plenty of things they do which are not book work and there seems to be a significant of arts and crafts happening atm which is off their own backs. I like that as a&c is not really my thing at all tbh. They are enjoying playing some games together sometimes too ~ also which I like. I would like to find some to get back and finish our long abandoned Astronomy project (which we were all enjoying) and get on with learning some more History from our Diana Waring series. It all seems to have been on hold for TOO long now. Maybe after Easter Solomon (need to pick web-name for him soon), who will be 4 months by then, will be in a more predictable routine and/or be happier to sit and play while we work. At the moment, when he's awake he wants to be held, fed or stimulated by one of us. He does sleep most mornings, which gives me time with the smaller ones, but he less often sleeps after lunch so the big ones only get me avec babe-in-arms, which is not conducive to Mummy-led teaching :(  I guess sooner or later we'll find our way again ~ we usually do...

I need to get my finger out about arranging an appointment with the deputy of the local college if we are still going to look at Bugs maybe going there next year ~ time is flying by and it'll be the summer before we sneeze at this rate and he'll be stuck home with me for another year by default, which may not (or MAY be) the best thing! I must add though ~ I think he's going to need to address his work ethic before he goes to college or he won't last there very long at all! The motivation cannot come from me. I can only warn him, and coax him. I cannot force him to work. He might just have to learn his lesson hard when he gets to college. He doesn't believe me when I try to help him understand the amount of work children his age would be set from school. Not that I think that that is a good or necessary thing, but it is a reality for most kids and he simply doesn't believe me! The downside of that being, I know he will be shocked by the amount of time and effort the college will expect him to put into his studies, but I HOPE he will rise to the challenge!
I'd really like to take a trip to London (or somewhere nearer maybe) with him soon, to a photography exhibition of some sort, as I believe this would inspire him and also it would look good on his portfolio/'CV' when he's trying to impress the college deputy!!

So that's us. I feel we are treading water a bit right now, or at least the bigger children are, but all the same they are making progress and life is not too much filled with daily drudgery, so I must be doing something OK. :D Only two more weeks to half term, when maybe I might get a moment or two to look at things again. There's not much I feel I can really change right now, but I might just need to shuffle things here and there to make life a little more 'vibrant' for us all ~ especially with the nicer weather hopefully just around the corner (yeah!).

Next week, on Thursday, Minnie turns 10. I can't believe I am Mum to 3 children in double figures (and three under 6 too, with a couple in between!). She is a very grown up 10 in so many ways... ~ look out for her 'special-day' blog later in the week!

In other news...

I would be very appreciative if those of you who know about my Aunty, would please keep her in your thoughts and prayers. Having been exceptionally well right up until Christmas and having had a scan that showed very little change in any of her tumours, she then became increasingly unwell over Christmas, with a variety of different symptoms. She asked for a re-scan in January and it sadly shows that all of her tumours have now spread ~ some more than others. She has developed a cough where fluid is now gathering in her lungs (although this is not distressing her atm), but her most painful symptom is in her muscles, which simply refuse to work at all some days. So much so that she is unable to even turn herself over in bed at times. She has lost a significant amount of weight over the year (it is almost a year since she received her initial diagnosis) and is constantly nauseous (which could be due to the cancer and/or the pain-relief drugs). She is no longer receiving Chemo', but they are discussing radiotherapy to target the cancer she now has on her spine. I am hoping to visit her very soon (maybe the beginning of March, which is her birthday). Thankfully we have wonderful friends who are willing to take on our children for a weekend, so we will just take Solomon down with us. I am not looking forward to it very much because I think I will see a marked change from when we visited last in October. I am sad. I am still praying for a miracle...
Her teenage son (my cousin) is not coping well either and has been missing significant amounts of school and/or simply not completing assignments. He is due to take his GCSE's this year. I'm not sure he will. He is now on mild antidepressants (depression runs thick in my family) and not at school. He has been told that unless he makes up the time he's missed he will not be allowed to attend the leavers ball! I think the school is being grossly unfair to him ~ they have made little or no allowance for the fact that he is watching his Mum getting sicker in front of his eyes, & seemingly quite rapidly now. GCSE's are not where his head is at right now! The real world is not a happy or nice place for him to be and he prefers to bury himself in virtual-reality. I can really understand that tbh ~ pain is not real in there! At the end of the day, it's not like he can never re-trace his academic path, whereas he will never be able to have his Mum back once she's gone and just now he needs to be with her ~ at home. The world can wait!! That's my view anyway... but it's hard to say that out loud - even to them.

On a happier & lighter note... 

Solomon is an awesome baby! .... and I am over a stone lighter now than I was before I fell for him, so he's also a brilliant weight-loss machine!! :D ~ I have few more stone to go before I get to where I want to be, but it's a great start and I am happy to now be wearing jeans I couldn't comfortably wear before I was pregnant!