A Trip To Australia

We’re going to Australia this year, this is no secret. Our trip is getting closer every day and every morning H likes to find out something different about the place her father originates. This trip is going to mean a lot to her and I know she will remember so much more than the last time we went. She has changed massively since then, but so has Australia.

Every time we go I find myself taking photos of the bush around the in-laws house, while I get a kind of laugh, asking why I’m taking a photo of the drive. But you can see why.

Toodyay driveway

When we got to Toodyay last time, it was the following winter after some terrible bush fires – ones that missed the in-laws house by a very short distance thanks to the wind changing direction. Others weren’t so lucky. Bush fires are a risk when you’re out in the bush (as they are) and something you have to protect your house against, cutting back trees and wood around your house to make sure there’s a chance to save your home if the worst happens. When we got there the greenery was starting to grow back. It was sad seeing all the darkened trees and burnt areas, but seeing the land regenerate is a part of the nature cycle and often a fire is what is needed to clear the areas and start the cycle again. Us humans mess it up by causing unnecessary fires when there are red alerts. It regenerates so quickly that I’m sure, three and a bit years later you may not be able to tell it ever happened.

Toodyay - wild

One of my favourite trees (I have a thing about trees) is one on the main road, a tree struck by lightning way back when we first went there, and still standing strong when it looks so weak. All it took was one lightning strike, and that’s all that’s left. Every time I want to get the perfect photo of it, and every time the photo isn’t quite the perfect photo I want. I’m hoping it will still be there this time.

lightning tree

The drive along the Toodyay Road from Perth has a fantastic view of the city skyline as you get to the top. There’s an area you can stop to take photos of the view. Our camera isn’t brilliant so it’s blurry, but against the red sky this is one of my favourite panoramic pictures, and a view I look forward to seeing every time we go back.

Perth skyline - panorama

Toodyay is about an hour out of Perth, but a busy little town. It’s great to wander around and has everything you’d need, with the bigger Northam just up the road a few more kilometers. It’s about five kilometers from the in-laws to the centre of Toodyay, a walk we all did one morning in the heat. I only did it once as it was too hot for me, even with water. Back into Perth and more relatives live over in Coogee – right by the sea where the air is clear and you can sit and relax and chat for hours. It’s somewhere I feel comfortable, though most of all I love being by the sea. We’ve sat watching the windsurfers going up and down the coast, catching the wind, so colourful against the clear blue sky and sea, it really is quite spectactular – and fast. From distant black dots they came tearing past, everyone in their own space as they made their way down the Indian Ocean coast.

Indian Ocean - Fast

 

We’re hoping to head to Sydney this time. One of my favourite things is when the bush turns into farmland, when you see it from the sky.

 

Bush to Farmland

 

One thing I’m hoping we’ll catch is a glorious, epic Western Australia sunset. The night the sky turned this colour, readers photos made it into the local paper. It was beautiful. It reminds me of the time we sat out at our friends place in Katoomba in the Blue Mountains just outside of Sydney, sipping away on sparkling Shiraz and watching the sun set after a day touring the area – also recently devastated by bush fires.

 

Toodyay Sunset - epic

 

So yes, I’m looking forward to heading back to Australia. I’m not the only one.

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It’s Time.

For so long now I’ve held on to everything. Everything. Those first everythings, the second, third and fourth everythings. The buggy still lives in the shed.

Let’s face it, they’re not going to be used any more. I have known this for a long time.

It’s time to let go. Let someone else use our old things which are really lovely old things that H once used, but have since been washed, airtight sealed in a storage bag, taking up more and more space in the loft.

Looking at it practically, if we were to move to Australia this year, it couldn’t come with us. (We’re not, but I have to think ahead sometimes) What good is it doing stuck in the loft? Other than taking up space.

The here and now needs to be stored, the memories. The pictures, letters, cards and things that matter. The things we don’t want to forget. Those first stories and pictures, and even now we’ve overrun with those. We’re overrun with everything.

The things we don’t need any more, they need to go. There isn’t going to be a second H coming along and I’ve accepted that.

The special things can stay – I have no idea which outfit she came home from the hospital in as it was a white babygro, of which we had many. There is no emotional attachment to a pair of socks, just a load of well-used Sock-On’s which kept them on. The reusable nappies are bagged and should be used by another baby who would use them. The first pair of shoes live in their original box and will stay. The third pair too, I’ve no idea why.

The buggy has lived in the shed since H was two and a half, so that’s over two years now. It hasn’t been used in this time at all, and other buggies we had (travel ones) have been given away.

We need the space for now, and don’t have the space for then. So they need to go.

I still feel sad about it though.

I’ve given away all my maternity clothes.

I’ve always been a bit of a hoarder, it would seem.

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A Swimming Update

Such is my problem accepting all things positive in life towards me, I occasionally can’t quite believe it when they happen to H too. At the same time I’m a proud mum who is gobsmacked at what she’s achieving if that makes any sense?

After her swimming lesson today I asked her teacher if she thought there was anything we needed to work on to help her improve. The feedback I got was amazing – pretty much, she’s getting really close to moving up into the yellow hat class. That’s to work towards Stage 3. As in, she’ll get her Stage 2.

She’s only four!!!

I can’t go on enough about how important it is to get your child used to being in a swimming pool learning to swim – and every week H does me proud. She is learning life skills here and enjoys doing it. Her teacher is brilliant, and the only thing stopping her from moving up right now is her age (which I agree with – she’s very young). The pool she would move into is deeper and the water is colder so we’re not thinking about it right now – just working towards it. We’ve got all the time in the world to do it. That and she’ll need a warmer swimming costume!

I have my local pool which is deeper where we can practice, we’re in no hurry at all. It’s all about it being fun and her having the confidence to try.

I remember when she got her Stage 1 award how Stage 2 felt like a way off – but looking at the requirements she is pretty much there.

But yeah, blimey. It’s been a week full of blimey’s this week.

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End of Term

School finished on Friday for another term. When you take school into five-week blocks, things fly by. Next term I think they’re actually four week blocks as well as the wonderful Bank Holidays, oh how I love April and May.

So what is different from the end of last term to this one?

H’s reading has come on amazingly. This morning I was tired and laid in bed while H read to me from her Richard Scarry books which was nice. She read loads too (for almost half an hour!), learned some new tricky words and tackled them well with her sounding out, only asking when she got really stuck. Her previous frustrations at not working out words are now challenges she likes to try and work out which is brilliant.

She moved up a book band again recently, and we’ve left the world of Dandelion Phonics behind. I will not miss Pip and the gang… the latest book was about pirates and loads of interesting facts. Considering H quite likes being a pirate I’m quite pleased with her choice – and we get to keep it for nearly three weeks too thanks to the break.

H’s class have been given ‘tricky words’ to learn, but apart from ‘could’ she was managing them pretty well. On speaking to her teacher to find out why we haven’t had any more, she said H was finding it too easy, which made me feel proud. She needs some trickier words to learn.

So now we enter another week of Holiday Club. This time she has a trip to the London Eye – how cool? She really enjoyed her Science Museum trip the last time and I’m much more relaxed about it now she’s done a couple of big trips. She’s also down for a Pottery making event with them, can’t wait to see the results of that.

The little girl I see in front of me isn’t the little girl who was shy and wouldn’t stand up and do things – her confidence is growing which makes me proud.

At school some After School clubs have opened up for the kids, and I’ve put H down for the ICT club. All being well we have a space, but if not it isn’t the end of the world.

Soon the transition will start, getting the Reception kids ready to move up to Year 1. That’s going to be interesting – the homework increases and proper learning starts – without as much of a play element to it. I do think for us parents we need to get used to it too.. I’ve forgotten homework, but remember not enjoying doing it. We’ve time for that, anyway.

(end of term in December)

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In Your Head

This afternoon we got to look through H’s learning journey – a folder full of every little note about things she’s done at school, as well as a book for doing writing and a book for her drawing (and a quick chat to the teacher too).

It was pretty cool, the kind of stuff you love seeing as a parent, but don’t want to share with everyone.

Then we found a story she’d written. I’ll use initials, though the original story has their proper names.

“One day there was a Super Hero called J he was trying to take over the world. Then Super S came and took him away. She took him to the smelly dump there was lots of rubbish.”

This is quite possibly one of the funniest stories I’ve read – basically, H went to nursery with J and S. J and S are still in nursery as H just squeezed into the last school year. H and J have been married off since birth. Since H left nursery, S did too and goes to a different one but meets J for playdates. S now loves J, but J still loves H, but isn’t sure if H loves M (a boy in her class).

It’s all so complicated.

I find it really quite hilarious that S and J are both superheroes who have gone to the dump. Where on earth did that come from? It’s like she’s given them her blessing or something.

She’s FOUR.

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I Have Confidence In Me

Yesterday was H’s class assembly at school.

A week or so ago she was sent home with a slip of paper and a line to remember. This brought back memories of me in top infants fluffing the line “there’s no room at the inn tonight” in the Nativity play when I lined up for an audition, as I seem to have the ability to remember all my failings from a young age. I’ve no idea why.

So for the next week I coached her, asking at various intervals to say her line, and she did, perfectly every time. We were set….

Yesterday the moment came. Her whole class were so excited – sat in front of the school, and ready. Us parents from her class lined up at the back waiting, excited not knowing quite what to expect.

You know what? They were charming – completely and utterly brilliant and they all did us parents proud. H did her line nice and clear like she’d practised and were it not for five minutes of crying baby in front of us I’d have heard the other children too.

Also, the Spring Chicken song. Her class sung it at the end with actions, the whole school started to join in, a moment of joy for them all as they love the song. I’ve never heard that damn song before and now it refuses to leave my head.

It was all awesome, H went out of her comfort zone and I’m proud of her for doing that. I’m hoping this will continue – she put herself forward to speak and did me proud.

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Sometimes It Hurts

It’s tough at times, this parenting lark. Words your child says which don’t mean what she means literally can break me, but you have to hold it together.

Yesterday she was pushed over by another child at school – it was an accident, these things happen. On the palm of her hand was some grit which had worked its way in. I tried to look at it to see if I could clean it, but she wouldn’t let me near it, too terrified of what might happen.

She was pretty tired too. When she wailed in despair

“my horrible useless body”

I had one of those moments of fear. She didn’t mean it in the same way she might if she was ten years older, and the only reason she said it was due to the grit in her hand (that’s perspective there). But still, hearing my four year old declaring her body to be horrible and useless hit a nerve. I have awful self esteem issues and I’m over conscious whenever she mentions anything to do with her body, so keen to keep her thinking she’s beautiful, normal and not horrible or useless in any way.

Because she’s a lovely perfect little girl. Every night I tell her this when she’s awake and again when she’s asleep. Sometimes she answers me in her sleep, and I like to think I’m making her think positive things in her dreams.

Then I have that moment of self-doubt. What if by telling her she’s lovely and perfect and beautiful (all truthful facts, quite frankly) I’m doing the extreme of someone telling her she’s horrible or useless? Maybe I should keep it to “Mummy’s Best Girl” ; which still sounds like the kind of thing my mum or dad said to the dogs.

She broke me last night. The tiredness and sadness and despair from her as we trundle on for one more week before Easter holidays start, mixed with tiredness from our busy lives and the fact I needed to use tweezers to try and get out the grit in her hand meant it didn’t work. That and just trying to keep her hand still was a task in itself. But it was those words “my horrible useless body” which broke me the most. The translation in her world is “the grit won’t come out”. To me it just sounds like myself.

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Hanging on to Cbeebies

H is changing. The world which she lives in right now is one she understands. She no longer needs us to read what to do with things, she works it out for herself. It’s an equally proud yet sad moment as the last part of her baby-like side goes for good.

One of the last bits of that ‘baby’ time is Cbeebies. We’re hanging on for dear life for the last few programmes – Topsy & Tim (of course), Abney and Teal and Old Jack’s Boat. Occasionally there’s a 64 Zoo Lane thrown in there for good measure, but that’s about it.

dick and dom lollibop

Something changed the other day, however. It changed in a good way too; Absolute Genius with Dick and Dom is becoming one of her new favourite programmes. Basically, around twenty minutes about someone who has made a difference*, and put together in a really interesting way. We’ve been recording them to watch later on (or the following day) and of course with it being Dick and Dom there’s going to be some daftness in there. She didn’t know what to make of them at Lollibop, but since then we’ve shown her some of our favourite bits (Shaun and I are big kids at heart), including of course as many ‘Bogies’ videos that we can get our hands on (handy when you want to make a point when your child is picking their nose) and she has grown to love them.

* We’ve been watching the Alan Turing one, plus some on catchup. They actually help me explain who someone is so much better than my memory would allow, which is handy.

So CBBC – the next step up in kids programmes, where to go next? We’ve tried Newsround and Blue Peter before, and I think she’s ready. It’s a different world out there she’s finding. She wants to learn.

She got Shaun’s phone and googled to find the weather….

wethu

she stole my iPad and Googled Lazy Town. It’s only a matter of time now before she’s updating our Facebook statuses and sending emails to random addresses in our books.

 

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No Turning Back

We’ve had a few of them in the last few weeks, but it’s proper full blown stuff now. There is no turning back, no more hiding. H can read and she’s reading everything.

“Mummy, am I going to have those vitamins there soon?”
Me not realising why she could possibly think they’re for her and I ask her this
“they say ‘kids’ on there, so they’re for me”
she was right.

Sitting at the table, she’s reading my v23 print that hangs on the wall
“Slightly Off the Ground. Blah blah blah blah”

Her biggest jump in reading has been learning about the Moshi Monsters. She knows and can read all their names and devours facts about them, sounding out the words in the books and magazines we have. Extra point to them for including lyrics on the videos they put up, which help her learn to read along and learn the correct words, even if she can’t quite keep up.

“So mummy, two buses go to Purley and two buses go to Crystal Palace. Which ones are we getting?”

I think the main difference to when she started to learn to read is that she’s saying the words out loud quickly, rather than working it out and sounding it out. It’s kind of strange. Like before we could hide behind her lack of knowledge and all of a sudden the whole world is available to her. It’s kind of scary too. Like when she got my iPad and said “AH! The game you won’t tell me about is called Moshi Kart!” (though I did play it for her and she could see it’s quite difficult – I don’t mind her playing it but I don’t want her to feel frustrated at how difficult it gets. I’m happy for her to do the early levels so she doesn’t feel like she’s missing out on something)

“We can build it!” she read on my new Lego t-shirt. It’s just hearing her read things out. It’s a bit like the time I was in newborn hell with her, walking down the street pushing her in the buggy and a random stranger said to me “today has been a good day” – I looked at him oddly wondering what on earth he was going on about as it was pretty random. Then I realised that’s what the t-shirt I was wearing said.

So yeah, I’m obviously delighted she’s reading how she is, I just need to remember she is. After doing so much before she could, it’s kind of weird letting go.

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Proud of my Little Lady

Tonight as I unpacked H’s book bag from school I dreaded reading another phonics book about various funny looking creatures with phonically challenged names.

Instead, I was met with a note in the book from her teacher and a note that she’s moved up to the next book band – blue.

For all I know, all the kids have moved up to blue band together. That doesn’t matter though, it doesn’t matter if one or none of them have – the most important thing for me is that though she’s the youngest in the year she’s doing really well. Her teacher commented with ‘excellent reading’ which makes me really happy.

This is good, as we’re working on oo, ew, ue and u-e sounding words, she had a blue band book last week with split vowels in them too, and we enjoyed the challenge of new words.

This does mean that we can’t hide things from H any more. She can read them really quickly and well now – to the point she still freaks me out when she does it. Fortunately we don’t have much we wouldn’t want her to read, and it’s mostly her spotting signs for things than anything else, but it’s still huge progress (in some ways it reminds me of when she was little and would stop doing something to concentrate on something else before doing it all like she knew for weeks anyway).

To challenge her I took her to Ikea yesterday – I figured a few Swedish names might throw her a bit, but she just found other things to read instead. There really is no escape now – and I wouldn’t change a thing!

So if you happen to read this, H is the youngest in her year – she only made it into the year by a week or so. She loves reading, hasn’t felt out of her depth and I know it’s one of her strengths at school. Year 1 will be the big test, when there’s less play and more work, but for now she’s coping fine with it all, and I’m delighted she’s doing so well. Being the youngest and doing something she enjoys doing is a great thing.

And I need to get over thinking that being the youngest means she can’t keep up with everyone else.

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