Another Year Older!

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Another school year has started. The routine of being out of the house by 8am has stumbled upon us once again. School lunches are always needing to be sorted, as well as making sure uniforms are washed and ready and bags are packed! And of course the afternoons are now spent doing homework!!!

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It’s been quite a smooth transition back to school and work this year. Bay started grade 3, loves his teacher and has a few of his old-time friends in his class. He is mister cool this year and kisses me goodbye at the car and I don’t see him again until the bell goes at 2.30 when he walks down to Sienna’s classroom. Then there is my little (but big) grade one girl, who if you’re a regular follower of my blog would remember how she had separation anxiety at the beginning of prep. She had been super excited all holidays to be going into grade one, especially as she has Bailey’s year 1 teacher. The tears started the night before school started back…it’s never because she doesn’t want to go, it’s always because she’s going to miss us!

After lots of positive encouraging and keeping the morning quiet and calm, I’m so proud to say my baby girl started grade 1 with NO tears…they came the next day and the next…but no where near as bad as last year! They are very minimal and stop very quickly. I’m so grateful that Sienna has the most beautiful natured teacher who is very understanding and has taken her under her wing and nurtures her like her own. I really can’t wait for the day though when she happily skips off without needing 5 minutes of reassurance;(

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Sienna has come such a long way from the little girl who started school 12 months ago though. Already her teacher has noticed the confidence in her, that even her brother didn’t have in year 1. It’s just that pit in the bottom of her belly (you know that home sick feeling) she gets and when she doesn’t have that, she oozes confidence and spark!

Each morning always brings a new start to the day and I wait with positive encouragement and distraction when I can see my baby girl let her emotions take over….separation anxiety sucks – for everyone involved! But my tough love approach is the only way to kick it to the kurb….this parenting gig was never meant to be easy! We are almost at the end of week two and there are still a few tears, but they are decreasing and I know she is so happy as she is making so many new friends…and OMG girls at that…and always comes out of class each afternoon with a smile from ear to ear:)

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It’s comforting knowing that Sienna has her big brother and cousin there. The other day Bailey was walking past Sienna’s classroom when she had a few tears…quick thinking from her teacher promoted her to call Bay in to comfort her and that helped heaps! She sure pulls at the heart-strings this girl. I asked her yesterday who she played with at lunch. Her response…”no one today, just myself!” I asked Why? Her response…”I just couldn’t stop thinking about you mum!” “I was picturing you where you stand and wait for me!” God bless her…it’s so nice to be loved!

My response to her innocence was “I love that you love me and want to see me, but I don’t want you to let your thinking of me spoil your fun at school!” “You know I will always be back to pick you up when the bell goes…school time is your time to learn and have fun!” I know exactly how she is feeling as I did the exact same thing to my mum…karma really is a b;$@ch Lol! I know she’ll get there…time is the essence to this issue!

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It’s hard to believe that my babies will be turning another year older – 8, 6 and 3…where has that time gone?? As I watch them grow and develop, it makes me proud to be their mum. I’ve certainly been dealt some rough times with my trio, especially when it has come to their health, but apart from the usual ups and downs of children, we are in a good place at the moment!

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Now that things are in full swing and we are back to routine, life ain’t that bad. Yeah things are busy again (especially on my two work days) but they are going to get a whole lot busier next week when all the after school sport starts again. But like usual you manage and when the chips are down and the exhaustion sets in, I will be making sure I still stop and smell the roses….and look at all the wonderful memories we created on our summer holiday lol!

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Goosebumps!

Are you the sort of person who when told something either wonderful or sad gets goosebumps? I am and this week I’ve had a few of those moments!

With the kids returning to school on Monday it meant I also had to return to work. We had a fabulous holiday together so none of us wanted to part with each other Monday morning, but we did! After Sienna went to bed crying Sunday night because she didn’t want to go back to school and leave me, I went to bed feeling sick. I was expecting something like this to occur, but I was so hopeful that she had overcome the separation anxiety feelings she gets. Thankfully after a bit of a shaky morning getting ready for her first day back, she has been fabulous at school all week! Not one tear has been shed just lots of beautiful big happy smiles! Phew!!!

Tuesday night was parent teacher night. I arrived a little bit early (I know what some of you are thinking – early?? Lol…yes I am capable of being early lol) When I walked up to the lady who was directing all the parents where to go, with a sincere smile she said “are you Bailey’s mum?” very proudly I said “yes!” She proceeded to tell me how wonderful she thought my son was and how much determination he has and that any adult that knows him thinks he is just fantastic! I started getting goosebumps and I couldn’t thank her enough for her kind words. But when she said it’s obvious he has great role models, I stopped for a mere moment and let out a sigh of relief! It was in that moment that I said to myself….the grey hairs, the wrinkles, the bad cop moments, the times when you sound like a broken record have been so worth hearing such kind words about one of my children!

But it didn’t stop there. I had Sienna’s interview first and her teacher said the same thing! Well mannered, caring, kind, pleasure to teach, tries hard, doing well….another goosebump moment! Then over to Bailey’s teacher who claimed the very same things….hard worker, great role model, mature, working above year level standard, we love having him in our class!!! I walked away on such a high!!! The children they were talking about were ours….very different from the ones we sometimes see at home lol….but they were ours!!!!

Then another goosebump moment occurred the very next day when Bailey came home and told me he had been chosen for the third year running to lay the wreath for his class during their school’s Anzac Day Parade. I was so proud of him. And finally I was able to be present for the parade today. He did such a fabulous job and like always he takes any job he is given seriously!

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Then there is our littlest one. Well what can I say. She is at the ‘sponge’ age of 2 where she is taking in everything, saying any word that is asked of her, stringing words together, using her beautiful manners, telling us what to do next in the routine, learning her colours and her goosebump moment this week was when she counted past ten for the first time to twelve…fourteen and eighteen then followed but that is awesome too as she knows that teen numbers are to follow. I’m really enjoying our time together when the two bigger ones are at school, but love it even more when we are altogether!

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It’s these goosebump moments that make my life so fulfilled. It makes all the sleepless nights worth it. It’s worth the pain you go through to finally be able to hold them in your arms. The tantrums, the billion times we are endured to the word no and the back chatting which I would have to say grinds my nerves the most! And even though parenting is a road full of flat, bumpy curves, with lots of ups and downs, it’s the moments that bring us to goosebumps or tears which usually accompany the bumps, that make this job the best around!

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From One Term to the Next!

As I sit here in the peace and quiet of my home while Mia has a nap and the two bigger kids watch a movie, I start to wonder how term 2 of school is going to play out. With the school holidays coming to an end and what a great time we’ve had, I can’t help but pray that it starts differently to term 1.

As you know, my prep baby Sienna, suffered terrible separation anxiety at the beginning of the year, but with lots of perseverance from her wonderful teacher and myself, she overcome her emotions and settled so beautifully. The worst part was over within the first two weeks, but then it took another couple of weeks for her teacher to knock down this brick wall that Sienna had tightly built around herself hindering her confidence from shining. By the middle of the term Sienna finally relaxed. Relaxed enough to let her guard down to show her teacher what she is capable of. We saw a huge difference in her at home. She was finally coming home and talking about school and all the wonderful things she was learning…it was like music to my ears!

When we reached the last day of term, I thanked Sienna’s teacher for all the hard work she had put into my daughter and we discussed how far she had come. I felt such a sense of relief that term 1 was complete! Although it was only a short term of 9 weeks, we were all ready for a holiday and to celebrate that Sienna made it through her first term of school….and came out the other end a better student!!!

We’ve had a wonderful time this school holidays. Our Easter long weekend celebrations were fantastic and the kids had a ball celebrating my birthday with me! We’ve gone for bike rides, played at parks, swam, had lunch dates and play dates with friends. We’ve laughed together, chilled together, read books, sang songs, baked and had the odd disagreement here and there, but all in all it’s been a great couple of weeks! Mia has thoroughly enjoyed having the kids home. She plays so hard with them now or should I say bosses them around while playing with them lol, she will be lost for a while when they return to school next week and so will I! I LOVE school holidays. No rushing, no lunches, no ironing uniforms, no homework. Life is cool, calm and collective…it’s like the calm before the storm (of the next term lol)!

Sienna has been pretty good these holidays. She has continued to engross herself in her love of learning which is lovely to see. She’s asked several times when are we going back to school. At first we had to go through each day how many days until school went back. I didn’t think too much about it until the other day when I said 7 days and she replied “that is ages away” I said “yes” and her response as she skipped off was “yesssss!” I instantly thought “oh no!!!”

It’s getting to the point now where I need to start counting down the sleeps with her until school starts back. I need her to be emotionally ready again to tackle another term of school. I feel that Sienna wasted half a term of her learning in term 1 and I can’t wait to see what she will be capable of once she has a full term under her belt. I think I’m worrying for nothing and I believe she will be ok, but Sienna can be unpredictable! I return to work on Monday so for the first couple of days mum will be dropping her off. So far this year she hasn’t cried with mum, it’s only me she cries with. I’m hoping she doesn’t but am expecting her to hold it together Monday and Tuesday and lose it on Wednesday with me!! I just asked her if she is looking forward to going back to school and she said “yes, I just want to go everyday and not have so many holidays!!!” We may just be onto a winner…but like always I’m always ready for the unexpected!!

I hope everyone has enjoyed the school holidays and I wish you all a successful term 2! Ours starts with parent/teacher interview on the second day and Bailey starts the term with a new teacher! I shall be thinking of all the school mums on Monday as the rush of life begins again for another 10 weeks!!!

Some pointers to assist you in term 2:
*take the time now to check all bags, lunch boxes, clothes, shoes, uniforms etc to make sure nothing needs to be replaced.
*rename or relabel if they have worn or fallen off.
*term 2 is the start of the cool weather – buy at least one jumper before school goes back and keep it in your child’s school bag incase they need it!
*on the same note, start to organise their school winter wardrobe.
*term 2 is report card term so the kids will be facing lots of assessment – allow them plenty of chances to go to bed early at night, this will help them from being super cranky after school!
*finally term 2 for me is the term where I expect the kids to do more for themselves – I allow them term 1 to really settle back to school and from term 2 my expectations go up a notch and I really focus on independence,
independence, independence!!!

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Highs and Lows!

Last week I published a piece about my little preppie and separation anxiety. I’m ecstatic to announce that we have SUCCESS with no more tears and nothing but a confident happy little bunny! I feel like I can finally breathe! After starting the week terribly last week, by Thursday her tears when saying bye to me were very minimal and it was her first day at school where she didn’t shed a tear. Friday was our break through day with NO tears at all! I can’t express enough how overjoyed I am feeling right now…it took two weeks, but I have my beautiful cheerful daughter back again!!

Sienna is like a different child since the anxiety from the pit of her belly has left her precious soul. She is awesome at getting ready in the mornings now and she is relying on me less and less when doing her morning jobs at school. She is happily completing tasks at school now and as her teacher said to me “she is working like a trooper!” To say I’m proud is an understatement!!! I went into the weekend feeling completely the opposite of what I was feeling the week before and what a fabulous weekend we had! I expected the cycle to possibly start again on Monday (not at the extreme) as it was after the weekend, but she was as happy, settled and content as she was where she left off last Friday! We made it Sie Sie girl…we never gave up!

Which brings me to why I’m writing this blog. Prep is such a trying year in our little people’s lives. They have gone from going to preschool 2-3 days a week and being in the comforts of their home for the rest of the time, possibly even having a day sleep, to 6 hours a day, 5 days a week where they are learning several different curriculum areas and being asked to sit still, listen and pay attention more than they ever have in their lives! NO WONDER THEY COME HOME NEAR DELIRIOUS!

I don’t know about anyone else, but I find the first 6 months of prep the toughest. Going through prep for the second time around you’d think I’d be use to it, but I’d forgotten what the school day does to their young minds. It drains them, zaps them of all sensibility and hinders them from making rational choices! First time prep mums if you are questioning their behaviour at the moment…I promise you it does get better!!! But like everything we have to ride with the highs and lows and allow time for it to even itself out.

I describe early days prep behaviour very animal like…I mean this with absolute love when I say this! It’s like they are on the prowl just waiting for a moment of time where they can annoy someone or explode like a time bomb when things don’t go their own way. Sienna is either a weeping mess at EVERYTHING or a hyperactive hyena! Self-control is difficult at this age anyway, but at present its as worse as ever! I thought boys were bad, but geesh, god help me when Sienna goes through puberty!!!

What to do mummas?? We need to be more consistent than ever! It’s very easy for us to keep saying “but they are so tired, they just started prep!” yes, yes they did, BUT like any phase they will come out the other end and if we don’t act on their inappropriate behaviour they will store that one in their little brain files and remember that forever. I think the biggest thing at the moment is to keep life simple.
*Limit after school activities and just allow them plenty of down time.
*Bring everything forward half an hour…earlier dinner means earlier bed time.
*Allow time on the weekend for a nap in the day to help catch up on sleep.
*Stick to a strict routine…especially in the mornings and at bedtime.
*Praise, praise, praise when things are going great!
*Follow through and be consistent when things aren’t so great!
*Remember you have to be cruel to be kind!

You will feel like you are on a rollercoaster with many highs and lows over the next wee while, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. They do get use to going to school everyday and their little minds adapt to all the fabulous learning they are being exposed to. But it is up to us to be a bit flexible at the moment and provide some changes to cope with an ever-changing preppie. If we allow the things I mentioned above to happen, it will eliminate us from wanting to be put in a padded room with several bottles of wine lol!….On that note I’m off to pick up the kids from school…mmmm I wonder what mood I will strike this afternoon?:/!

To answer that question…we were an angry and grumpy little girl yesterday…today quite happy but at times hypo! I use three strikes and your out system. Three strikes and it’s bed for the night! Yesterday was 5.30 and thankfully she slept until 6am this morning! Today we only made it to strike one and her normal bedtime of 7pm…I’m sure tomorrow will be different again!

Keep strong mummas…remember we have the power to give our babies great things and the power to take great things away, now if only they would remember that!

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The End of a Road….

Today marks the end of another class of graduating year 12s! It’s such a massive thing finishing school. For the past 12 years, these young adults have been spending 6 hours a day, 5 days a week institutionalised and suddenly they are now set free to conquer the world! Some will go onto study, some will travel, some will get a trade and some will get stuck into working straightaway! Amongst the class of 2012 there will be doctors, lawyers, teachers, accountants, builders, plumbers, athletes and the like! It’s up to them now to make of themselves the best they can be, after having many influential people in their lives since the first day they started school!

This day and moment brings me back to my last day of school! I still remember it like it was yesterday…even though it was exactly 15 years ago! For me it was such an emotional time in my life! I loved school and what it provided for me! It was fun, it was full of social gatherings be it discos or sports days! It served a purpose and most of all it brought me wonderful friends and the person I would one day call my husband!

The last week of high school was one of the best and memorable weeks of my life! The formal, speech night, graduation day, our celebration trip to Dream world…memories that will last forever!

The Formal….

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Oh the day after the formal….

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Lol

Speech Night….

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Literally a handful of awards:)

The last day of school….

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Walking out of the school gate for the very last time was both scary and exciting! Scary as I was saying goodbye to my safe place, the place where I was the most comfortable and confident, but exciting because I had the world at my feet and the rest of my life ahead of me to pursue my dreams! And that I have! I live with no regrets – wishes yes, but no regrets! I’m proud of who I am and what I have achieved in the past 15 years! I’ve become a teacher, a wife, a mother and a home owner! I’ve travelled overseas and along the way have experienced many ups and downs which has helped shaped the person I am today! But of course I owe a lot to my wonderful parents and the up bringing they provided us!

So if I was to give a speech to the graduating class of year 12 it would be….

Live life to the fullest, but keep safe. Life is a precious gift that should never be let waste away! Enjoy your younger years while you still have them and if you can travel and see the world through different eyes! Reach for the stars and don’t give up on your dreams. You have the ability to be whatever you want to be so keep striving to turn your dreams into reality! Think wisely and use your common sense! Don’t do what others tell you to do, do what you know is best for you and your future! When you’ve got something good going, don’t let it go and keep working at making yourself better! It’s up to you now….you are now after all these years in complete control. This maybe the end of the road for school, but it’s only just the beginning of what could be something pretty special!

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If you are doing your absolute best than that’s all you can ask yourself of!

Teacher By Profession….Mother For Life!

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I’ve been a teacher for almost 11 years now…longer than I’ve been a mum! Before I had children of my own, my life was teaching and my children per say were my students! Pre-children I loved being a teacher! I would go to the ends of the earth to create a unit of work or innovating activity for my students to gain a learning experience from! I would spend my days being not only a teacher but a surrogate parent to some, nurse, psychologist and the like! I planned excursions, camps, multicultural events, coached netball and made many a phone call to parents regarding their child’s well being!

Then I became a mum. My love of teaching never left me, but something did change and that is the way I think now! I’m not for one second trying to imply teachers who are mums are better than teachers who aren’t, but since becoming a mum, I look at things differently now and am quite a different teacher than I use to be! Pre-children I was such a control freak really when I think about it, but it worked and I always got the best results out of my students academically and behaviourally! I would ring a parent or refer a student for a problem and it didn’t affect me as bad as it does it does now!

For the past few years I’ve been teaching in special Ed or behaviour positions so I’ve found myself in many situations where my heart has ached for a child…I’ve become such a softy and even though I’ve always been an empathetic person, now I’m a mum my empathy has changed if that makes sense?? I always think now imagine if that was my child or me receiving the phone call! I tread so lighting around parents now and how I approach a subject as the child in discussion is their baby just like I have babies!

Being a teacher can be a good thing and a bad thing when you are a mum! We have a good knowledge of so many areas that can benefit our own children, but then we know too much about other things and the worst thing a teaching mum does is diagnose their own child! We spend so much of our time hoping and praying that our children aren’t going to struggle at school, when provided we allow a safe and supportive environment from the day they were born, we sometimes just have to realise we don’t always have control over this!

Then that day finally arrives for your own child to start school and your professional role has to take a back seat while your mummy role takes precedent! It was weird at first being a school mum. You feel as the ‘teacher’s’ child, they should always be the best role model and doing the best in the class! I soon let all those feelings go because I didn’t want to put my child under anymore pressure than what kids are already under these days!

My son is in grade one now and up until last month I haven’t been in the position that I as a teacher have had to corner a parent during drop off or pick up! It was those handful of words that you dread to hear from your child’s teacher….”I need to speak with you!” I’ve been waiting for this moment though. You see my son Bailey has always presented a lot of behaviours on the spectrum and although he is perfect at school and leaves those behaviours and melt downs for home, I’ve been waiting for the call to let me know those behaviours have been presenting at school.

Of course I expected the worst and any experience of being a teacher didn’t matter at all, as this time I was the mum being delivered the information. Thankfully it wasn’t anything relating to his behaviour. This one moment that a teacher took to speak to me though has led to a chain of events. She was concerned about his hearing and understanding what she was saying, we had a meeting with Bailey about this and things improved a little. I then took him to my GP to see if he needed an auditory processing assessment done, he noticed Bailey’s ears are full of fluid again and after having a hearing test, we found out that Bailey has a complete blocked ear and one that isn’t very flash! A trip then to our ENT ended in us now having to wait to see if the fluid will drain otherwise he will end up with his fourth set of grommets!

My poor boy has obviously been sitting in class and not hearing things as clearly as he should. The mum in me wants to hug him tight and wrap him up in cotton wool, but the teacher in me is working hard to make sure he is in a learning environment that can cater to his needs at the moment! Thankfully Bailey goes to a wonderful school with a very supportive admin and his teacher is just fantastic! This situation has highlighted even more to me how important a teacher is in our children’s lives and more importantly how important it is a parent and teacher work together!

We have been through so much with Bailey and even though my professional job deals with children like Bailey all the time, nothing prepares you for when things happen to your own child and the shoes on the other foot. I am so
proud of his achievements so far and as I read his first report card yesterday it brought a tear to my eye how awesome our son really is! I am a teacher by profession, but I’m a mother for life and I try everyday to make sure I distinguish between the two roles as best as I possibly can!

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