Category Archives: Useful Things I did Today

Since becoming in-valid…. I am really excited by every little thing that I can get done. No dishes yet, but I can stack the dishwasher!

Harry Potter Themed 9th Birthday Party

Harry Potter 9th Birthday Party

Guests were asked to arrive promptly for sorting into houses. They were then sent in for wand making (sticking washi tape and sparkles on to chopsticks), and then to Professor Moody for Defense Against the Dark Arts (Pin the Wand on a large poster of Harry).

Then they were sent outside to practice Wingardiam Leviosa (balacing a baloon on a wand tip), while waiting for Divination class.

Cheryl made a brilliant Professor Trelawney (albeit without the sherry fumes), and some kids loved her class so much they wanted to do it twice!

While Divination was in session for one house at a time, Brooke ran History of Magic (Harry Potter trivia), and Vish ran them ragged with outdoor games.

We then had snacks and cake and present opening, and finished up with a herbology class, putting Extract of Murtlap and Bubotuber Pus into small jars for potions lessons at home. Preferably in the bathtub!

A wonderful time was had by all the kids, and all of the adults were driven to gin. Thank you to my wonderful professors, and Angi who quietly helped where it was needed and helped everything to run smoothly. I have had some lovely thank you messages from parents, which make all the effort worthwhile (as well as having a happy kid!).

Lara’s Magic Cast On

I really love Judy’s Magic Cast on for toe up socks. And now I am teaching toe up sock knitting, and about to release my first sock pattern, I have been knitting a lot of socks.

Judy’s cast on gives a great finish, but it’s just a bit too fiddly for me. I am a very lazy knitter, so if I can find a short cut, or a way to fudge something, I’ll do it. This is a very quick and basic video, and hope someone finds it useful.

Just remember that on the second needle (the one on the “top” in this video), you will need to knit the first round of stitches through the back loop to untwist them. The ones on bottom needle can be knit normally.

May 2016

I just turned 46. It’s not so bad. I’m full of gratitude for the life I am able to live right now. Still terribly fond of Mark, so blessed to be mama to the best kid in the world, and doing fulfilling work, both in my volunteer role, and in in actual paid employment.

Yesterday, I taught a knitting class and had great feedback.

Inigo learning to knit while daddy played tennis

This morning, I finally taught Inigo how to knit (he learned to spin at the end of last month).
And this afternoon I published my first ever pattern on Ravelry – it’s nothing complicated, but great fun, and a good beginning project for a learner.

Next weekend we have Woolfest – the third annual pop up fibre market in Auckland, and the second one since I tok over as area delegate. Festival went off with nary a hitch, and for the first time eve, Inigo seems to not only be enjoying school, he has great friends, and he seems to be heading for some positive academic results for the first time.

I hope all is well with you too.

Children are weird

Mine is currently rolling around a problem in his head – he is hilarious, but his friends don’t yet get it. They ask him to stop being hilarious, but he is convinced that if he keeps being hilarious, eventually they will get the joke, and everyone will have a good laugh. In the meantime, they are throwing rocks at him. Actual rocks. And he keeps cracking jokes.

I put it to him that “most children are assholes”, and that expecting them to change will be an exercise in frustration, so he had better choose between sharing his gifts, and protecting his soft fleshy bits.

He is taking this under advisement, but thinks that hiding his light under a bushel won’t allow him to be true to himself. Ergo, children are weird.

Meanwhile, round three of “meetings with the school” starts tomorrow. Wish us luck!

Twice exceptional

Squishy Electronics

We finally took the plunge and spent the money to have a full educational psych assessment for His Squishyness. $825 for two sessions over two days of 2 hours each. Except that he took so long, each session took three hours, and we were asked to come back for another hour the next day. On the third day, he answered more questions, and his fluid reasoning score increased – but he still left some of the questions unanswered.

He’s bright. Really bright. Like genius level clever.

But so fricking slow that it’s hard for a teacher to notice the clever. Like someone gave him a huge library of information to pack into his brain, but the librarian is senile. And maybe on psychoactive drugs.

He’s above the 99th percentile in general intelligence, but at the 27th percentile for cognitive efficiency. That is well into learning difficulty territory.

This “asynchrony” is referred to as being “Twice Exceptional”. Which means that we have a kid with a brain the size of a planet, who also has a significant learning difficulty. He’ll need extra time than most kids on lots of things, and less time on others. It’s going to mean he’ll need some really wonderful, creative, and patient teachers, and parents. There is also a very strong (99%) chance that he also has either Inattentive ADD, or something similar, but that is yet to be diagnosed fully.

It means we’ve been on the right track with how we have parented him, and how we have pursued the right educational opportunities, and not just let things slide. And now we have a lot of work to do, but at least we’ll have support, and guidance.

Gainful Emloyment

The New Zealand government has a philosophy that all kids should be catered to in the school environment.  

“The New Zealand School Trustees Association describes school policy as a framework that integrates culture and practice, values and actions. Inclusive schools ensure that the principles of inclusion are embedded in their policies, plans, and actions. They develop specific policies for the inclusion of students with special education needs…”

Which is great, right?

So Squish’s school has approached me to ask if I might consider helping out as a teachers aide for a few weeks while they get a more permanent person in to work with a new kid.  I’ve started back at uni, so I don’t know if I’ll be able to juggle work and uni and family in the longer term.  

The new kid has a global developmental delay, and he needs an aide with him the whole time while he is at school.  I did my first shift today.  

And it was fine.  He’s a lovely kid, responsive and keen to try new things, and he has loads of energy and enthusiasm.  It was hard work, but I can see that working with him has the potential to be quite rewarding in the long term.

But yesterday, a teacher in the same school told me that there simply wasn’t enough resources to be able to give my kid the differentiation and attention that he needs in order to be integrated into exactly the same school.  That he would need to be home schooled if I wanted his learning to be tailored to his needs.

So much as I hate the whole “my kid is a precious snowflake” syndrome, it is rather a double standard to claim that the school can be all things to all kids – except the ones at the wrong end of the bell curve.

At the Mind Plus information session we went to last week, I asked about emerging research and best practice in the field of teaching gifted kids.  Internationally, more countries are starting to have classes just for gifted kids, and that these classes give kids the best opportunity to develop their strengths and work on their weaknesses.  

NZ policy is to cater to everyone, and giving extra support where it is required within the school setting – just not to kids like Squish, who struggle at the other end of the spectrum.

The Meaning of Life

Well, if there is a silver lining to being poorly, it’s having an excuse to stay in and watch movies all day.

And introducing Squish to Monty Python’s “Meaning of Life”. He recently discovered some of their less child appropriate music, so I figure that horse has already bolted…

Sit on my head

Tuesday adventures

This morning Squish and I traipsed off to New Lynn to the New Zealand Association for Gifted and Talented education, for him to have a another cognitive assessment, with a view to seeing if the one day school was appropriate for him. The appointment was for 10am, and took a few hours, so we had lunch (and a milkshake) with daddy in the city afterwards.

He’s been offered a place, and I’ve been strongly encouraged to take up the offer. Apparently, he scored above the 99th percentile for reasoning, which means that the way he thinks is highly original (we knew that!), and that he is unlikely to ever fit well in standard school (we were starting to understand that too).

On the up side, from next term he’ll have one day a week of inquiry based learning, in a small class environment (about 12 kids per class), where he will be encouraged to engage however he sees fit. And he’ll be with his academic peers – which is huge – rather than having to wait until he’s at university, I am really hoping he’ll find a bunch of kids that really get him. And don’t punch him for being “eccentric”.

And if you’re wondering why I used the word “eccentric”, read this lovely piece by Amy Gray.

A mobile apartment building
Today’s culinary adventure – potted stilton with chocolate digestives and rhubarb jam.  

We’ve been watching “How to Cook like Heston”, and this was his choice of what he wanted to cook. Not macaroni & cheese, or even fondue. No – he wanted this…

140gm Stilton
70gm Marscapone

Mix well, pot, and chill

Chocolate digestives

Port wine reduction (or jam if you can’t be arsed, and you live in a country where port is considered to be for winos only)

Adventures

Today I did my first session as a counsellor for a new project trialling using Google Glass for breastfeeding information and support. I didn’t get any calls, but I did have a lovely time fiddling with the technology (I don’t get the glasses, just the software!), and working out the kinks. And I got started on uni for this semester, Cognition I, another one of those units that puts fear into the hearts of second year students. I’m only doing one subject this semester, with the aim of getting great results and lifting my GPA – and eventually being offered a place in honours.

And… There is further talk of Mark going to New Zealand. Still nothing confirmed, but we have agreed to the idea of thinking about considering a short term move. No idea what we would do with the house, or the creatures, or any practicalities, and it all may fall over (if a single person without a family volunteers for the role!), but we’ll see.

Genetics

Squish is doing really well at school. Last week he went up a few more reading levels, and is now at year two reading level. Socially, he is having a great time, his peers like him and he always has someone willing to play with him.

 

But for a while, I've had a nagging concern. At school, he is doing year one maths, but at home, he is exploring concepts far beyond his age level. Nothing astounding about that, given his fathers contribution genetically, but what I am seeing at home is at odds with where Mrs D has him in the classroom.

 

He's still “lazy” (for want of a better word!), and happy to coast along. He likes being the best in the class, but doesn't see any reason to put in effort. A trait that both his parents have in abundance.


Yesterday I had a chat with a friend from Uni who is studying primary education, and also works as a tutor. I explained the situation, and asked whether I should let it slide (because he is happy at school and not disruptive), or pursue it (so that he is set up for good experiences and habits at school). Unequivocally, she advised that we should make sure he was being challenged, and that it's not too early to encourage him to do his best.

 

Mark came with me to talk to Mrs D, and she agrees that he isn't being mathematically challenged in the classroom, but explained that it isn't possible for him to do group work at his level, and that she was concerned about removing him from his social group. But we've agreed that he won't miss anything if he does go to another class for a bit here and there, so she is going to talk to another teacher about him doing maths groups with a year two class.

 

Inigo will love it! I'm so excited for him, and I'm still so thrilled that he has such a wonderful caring teacher.

Another great weekend

Fiji Flag Bearer 2012.jpg

We watched the olympic opening ceremony, this guy was a highlight for me ;)

Yesterday was Leapy’s second birthday, Karl’s fortieth, and Marks company half year party. Bev and Ted kept Squish overnight, so Mark and I had a lovely night. I am slowly getting to know some of his colleagues and their other halves, so the parties are a bit more fun now. Last night was amazing. I met the wife of one of the partners, and we bonded over cracking jokes and drinking cocktails. I solved the problems of the world with a young guy from Melbourne who described his recent Hindu wedding ceremony, and reconnected with Magda from Poland, who apparently was inspired by my story at the last party, and has decided on more study and a career change. I was really touched.

I’ve cooked up a storm, had a great nights sleep, and bought a new kitchen appliance. Life is good.

And I am completely unprepared to start uni tomorrow!

80%

IMG_1592.JPG

I can swallow without painkillers, I can breathe, I can stay awake for more than an hour, and I can eat! I’m not feeling 100%, but after the past few months, 80% feels pretty damn good :)

Inigo and I took his paperwork up to school on Wednesday morning, and he is now on the road to being enrolled in big school. His school transition program starts next month, so we are gearing up for a big end of the year, and hopefully he is looking forward to the exciting elements of school rather than the scary ones. We’ve chosen a school that is just a bit further away than our local school, it’s just a bit smaller, a bit more diverse, and it has a school garden program, and no canteen. It’s still in easy cycling distance from home, and we’ve been attending playgroup and other activities there since before Inigo could walk, so he is very familiar with the environment.

I am trying super hard to be upbeat and positive, and not give in to the “he was only born about a week ago, and now I have to give his care over to the state, and he’s still my tiny baby” panic. He is sooo ready for the academic side of school life, and we are doing our best (with the help of his new preschool) to support his social interactions with kids his own age. He has no trouble holding long conversations with adults, but tends to find his peers pretty boring. Since that reminds me so much of me, I do worry, but I also know that we have made good choices for him, and that he will be well supported. And school for him will be worlds away from what I experienced in the mid 1970′s!

Uni is on a break for another week, so all I have to do is look after myself (and avoid getting sick again), and look after my lovely family. A new development that I would like to record for my own recollection is that in the past couple of weeks, bedtime has (touch wood) ceased to be a drama. After my very low point a few weeks ago, I’ve managed to institute a new routine that involves reading a long form story (starting with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and now James and the Giant Peach), after a few chapters of which he now snuggles in for a cuddle and drifts off to sleep in my arms. I hesitate to say that we have cracked the sleep problem, because it has been the bane of our existence for four and a half years, but the last two weeks have been great. Sleep time is now a time of loving connection and joy rather than a two hour screaming match that leaves everyone emotionally traumatised. Long may it last.

And tomorrow I am having friends over for a crafty morning. Mark has been going out on a Monday evening to follow his crazy hobbies, so I am co-opting Saturday mornings for mine. There is an open invitation to all, so if you are up for a bit of cake nibbling and yarn fondling, do pop over!

Happy 40th Birthday Mark

My darling husband turned 40 last week, and today I am throwing him a party. Now please don’t be offended if you didn’t get an invitation – this is a party for special people. Very special.

The type of “special” that still loves to play Dungeons and Dragons into their 40′s.

We’ve moved Cocky into the living room so that the players can take over the kitchen. I’ve made a huge pot of soup, and bread, and am bringing in pizza and making sausage rolls and popcorn. Perfect for a boys own adventure for grown ups, while the kids and widows take over the living room and watch movies :) In my fantasy version of this party, the weather was good so the kids could play outdoors, but we’ll muddle through.

Happy Birthday darling. I love you.

20120317-203828.jpg

O Week

No tutorials or pracs this week, but thanks to Bev and Mum I am able to attend the first lectures of each of my two subjects (Social and Personality Psychology, and Cognition 1). So today all I had to do was get my student card, and try to borrow a book from the library.

After the walk from the carpark, I was already sweaty and lightheaded. I found the line for the student card, and quickly decided that I would either pass out or vomit if I had to stand there for more than a bout 5 minutes, so I gave up. The school leavers around me in the queue were outraged that I was planning on staying on campus without a valid student card. I thought one of them was going to hyperventilate because of the wild and unbuttoned anarchy. And that is clearly the problem with mature age students on campus ;)

I found myself some water, and joined the Dr Who society, the Greens, the Psychological Society, the Womens Collective, the LGBTI group (poor chap wasn’t quite ready for me), and the atheists. By which point I was ready to take to my chaise. I then came across the Campus Wellbeing stall, and it occurred to me that I might as well go and make friends with them, being that if this year goes well I’ll have a baby, and I may need extra support, and if things go badly, I won’t have a baby, and I will very shortly afterwards be certifiably insane…

So I staggered upstairs, explained my history to the lovely Jackie, and made an appointment to see a disability support officer in a few weeks time. She then offered to help me get my student card by taking me to the head of the queue. I almost protested, but better sense prevailed, and I gratefully accepted. And then, once I got it, I had another sit down for an hour to recover my strength to get back to the car.

So I spent about 3 hours in total, and managed to get 1 student card, drink about 2 litres of water, and book in to the wellbeing centre.

But I appear to have completely bypassed all of the promised O Week craziness.

Should I go back tomorrow? I still have a book to find!

Well…

That was about as much fun as stabbing yourself in the eye with a fork. And I am not done yet.

The subjects I have chosen all have prerequisites, which I will be exempted from because of previous studies, but that credit wont be applied until
Some time over the weekend. Once that is done, I should be able to apply online on Monday or Tuesday.

Then I can buy textbooks, and start the serious business of study. Finally!

Enrollment day

Tomorrow is enrolment day at Macquarie. I am all kinds of conflicted about the decision, but for now, I am going to stick with Macquarie. If it all goes pear shaped, I am pretty sure UNE would take me back, and give me credit for anything I achieve at Macquarie, so it’s a pretty low risk experiment.

That said, it’s a lot of hassle to avoid being away from my kid for one three day residential school. Now the wheels are in motion, and I am going to make the best of things, and try to be excited about my first ever experience as an on campus university student. At 42 years of age, I’ll be finding out what I missed out on by having my *head up my own arse at 18 years old.

*Disclaimer – while I think that most 18 year olds have their head up their own arses, I think there are exceptions, and some of them even pass first year. I also think it is fair to note that in the intervening years my head has not been entirely, or permanently removed from its place of lodging.

Wish me luck!

Was about to go to bed…

…when I realised that I had forgotten to check UAC for mid round offers, which were released today.

I’ve been offered a place in a Bachelor of Science at Macquarie.

Now I just have to decide if I’ll take it. Which probably sounds bizarre given the amount of stress I have been vibrating with over this issue.

I suppose the disappointment, and the waiting has taken its toll, and I am realising that Macquarie is a great big faceless institution, and UNE is a lot more student friendly. I’ll be swapping support for access. There are a lot of factors to weigh up – but at least now I have a CHOICE.

And in Squishy news, he came home last night declaring an unwillingness to go back to preschool today. So we talked a lot, and took it easy this morning. It turns out that he’s a bit overwhelmed with the busyness and noise of preschool. He’s only ever been with a maximum of four other kids at daycare, so it’s a big adjustment. And one of the kids said something mean to another kid, then Squish thought they were talking about him (he wasn’t), and he found the whole thing very upsetting.

We talked about how interpersonal relationships are hard, even for grown ups, and that the best you can do is use your manners and be kind and friendly. If you can do that, you will always find someone who wants to hang out with you. And that sometimes it can be hard to make new friends, but the rewards are great.

He agreed to go (we were nearly an hour late), and before we left home we rehearsed asking Christian if he would like to play.

This afternoon, when I went to pick him up, he was surrounded by kids, happily drawing away. About six of the kids piped up with, “Inigo, your mum’s here!”. He ran to me, and on the way home told me that he and Christian had played together.

It feels like a huge win. I am so proud of that kid, I could burst.

Update

Just spoke to Chad from the admissions center, told him the whole story, burst into tears, and he was really helpful.

Hes going to look further into it, and get back to me on Monday or Tuesday.

In the meantime, Im going to change my preferences to put a BA into the mix. With an entry ATAR of 75, its much more likely that I will get in, and the switch from there.