Monthly Archives: November 2012

Who’s That Staring Back At Me?

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My daughter loves playing games with her reflection.  Every morning, after she gets up, the first thing she checks for is the baby in the mirror and they have a little chat together.  We bought her a mirror of her own for her play area.  One day, I put it flat on her playmat and tipped about half a packet of uncooked macaroni on it.  She absolutely loved, pushing the macaroni around and seeing little glimpses of her reflection through it. 

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Treasure Baskets

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Ever get frustrated that your baby would rather play with a cardboard box than the expensive toy sat in the corner?  It has been a parent’s lament for many a decade.  So, why do we bother buying such fantastical toys that the babies in our lives don’t even care about?!  Ah, the wonderful power of advertising!!  Here, despite the fact that grandparents and other relatives think we’re odd and when we go out instead of the usual baby toys people carry with them, I pull out whisks and ribbons, we have not bought our daughter any “toys”.  Any actual toys she owns came as gifts from others.  Why?  Well, because she’d rather play with stuff in the house already, and hey, if it’s in my house already that means I’m not paying for it………………BARGAIN!  And so we come to treasure baskets.  If you have never heard of a treasure basket before, here’s a little introduction.  Treasure baskets are a proven Montessori teaching method which is based on learning through touch, taste and sound.  Treasure baskets can be introduced from a very early age, via things like a jar filled with dried pulses, or beads that you can roll back and forth for baby.

When introducing a treasure basket:

– try to pick a time when your little one isn’t tired or hungry

-place basket within reach of baby

-allow baby to choose his/her own item fron the basket to investigate while you sit nearby and talk to baby about the item.  For instance you could describe the object they have chosen to investigate.

-check all items before play to look for signs of wear and tear

stay with baby at all times during play!

-rotate items regularly to keep baby’s interest

 

So what kinds of things do you put into a treasure basket?  Well, some people do mixed baskets of wooden and metal objects and material.  Others like to do themed baskets.

 

Here are some themed examples:

Kitchen: pastry brush(a big hit here!), wooden spoons, ladels, whisks(another fav around here!), dish cloth, little jars filled with dried lentils, raisins etc…….interesting to look at and make a noise……bonus!

Nature: leaves, pinecones, seashells, grass, stones(obviously not small enough to be swallowed) etc

Metal: old tins with lids, metal spoons, teapot, metal cup, bunch of old keys, spoons, whisks again, little metal bowls

Food: an orange, a carrot, a banana, dried fruits, breadsticks

Material: silk, satin, wool, flannel etc

And basically the list of themed baskets is as limitless as your imagination, but there’s just a few ideas.

 

Here’s some photos of treasure baskets we’ve had here:

 

Metal Basket-Cuski is not part of the metal basket, but it goes everywhere 🙂

 

Autumnal Natural Basket with leaves of varying shape, size and colour and pinecones all gathered from the nearby park

 

Has anyone else got any good ideas for a treasure basket?  Plese do share.

 

Nothing Is Wasted

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Are there events in your life that you feel were a waste of time?  Paths you went down and you wonder what the purpose was or how it would ever be useful?  I’ve felt like that.  When I did my BA degree, I did it for fun…………..I loved languages, I loved manipulating sentences,  I loved the grammar involved etc.  I didn’t know what I might end up doing with it besides being a teacher of some sort.  When I finished my degree, I left with no real sense of where I was going or what I was doing, besides planning my wedding for the following year!  I had applied to various teaching places to no avail due to the fact my degree was in Modern Languages even though there was a major push to get Modern Languages into the primary school and to have specialised MFL teachers.  At the same time, I was applying for jobs to be a Teaching Assistant in schools as I figured a) it would get me more experience for reapplying to teaching the following year and b) I’d have money coming in!

There is a deadline for applications to teaching, and I gave up applying in the end.  I found a few courses that actually were specific to MFl so you could do say a Primary PGCE( Post Graduate Certificate of Education) with French/German/Spanish specialism.  Due to pressure from family who were having panics about where my life was heading and what I was going to do with this degree, I appeased them by applying 3 days past the deadline for a particular Primary PGCE with German specialism.  I LOVE German!  Shortly after sending off my application to keep the peace and hoping that’d be the end of it, I was called for a job interview at a school and later that day got the job.  AMAZING, I was so thrilled.  It seemed like a lovely school with lovely people.  The following day, I check emails to find an email from the director of the PGCE courses at the university I had applied to with an invitation to come in and speak to him as there were still spaces available on the PGCE with French specialism course which is my other language.

Oh dear……………what to do?  Well, first thing I did was arrange a meeting with my new employers(!!).  Thankfully, they were aware that I wanted to do a PGCE and had been applying, but oh the awkwardness of going in to say I had this interview after being offered and accepting the job.  I told them that I wouldn’t go without their blessing.  I wasn’t going to do anything behind their backs, and if they wouldn’t be happy about having to find someone else to fill a position they had just given me, then I would gladly pass the opportunity by.  But, they fully supported me and told me to go to the interview, and, if I got through, to take the place and they would be behind me 100%.

In short, I got a position on this course and thus began a very long, dark, deep, stormy period in my life.  Two weeks into the course and I knew I didn’t want to continue.  I knew teaching in this capacity wasn’t for me for life, but pressure forced me to carry it on to the end, and I hated every.single.day.  I had migraines all the time, and ended up on medications which I took daily to try and relax the muscles into the brain and reduce the severity of these migraines.  And, for the record, DO NOT TRY TO PLAN A WEDDING AND GO THROUGH SOMETHING LIKE THE PGCE……………………..you will not come out the other side as a sane person-I don’t think I will ever fully recover 🙂 !

After completing this course and getting married, I was then under pressure from family (not my husband) to actually use it.  For a while when we were in limbo about where we would end up living I did supply teaching which gave me an insight into the varied running of many mainstream schools.  When we moved I started applying for jobs and ended up with what I thought was a dream job in a private primary school teaching solely MFL to all the year groups.  What could be better?!  My health and soundness of mind is what could be better.  I started in the May and by the Dec was so depressed and ill from issues in the workplace, that I handed in my resignation letter and have never looked back.  In fact, I thank God every day for getting me out even though I’ve had to deal with questions as to whether I plan to re-enter the world of professional teaching etc.  I don’t!!

But while doing the PGCE and knowing it wasn’t something I wanted to do longterm and since leaving teaching I’ve often thought that it was such a waste of my time, and I couldn’t see any real purpose to it…………………………but God uses everything in our lives to bring about good for His glory.  Cue my daughter’s arrival! I’ve always had a keen interest in Home Schooling/Home Education/Un-schooling, but when my daughter arrived I felt called to go down that path as well.  She may only be 9 months old, but I’ve already been getting my feet wet by finding out what groups are available in our area and seeing what the support is like, what the law is etc etc.  Yesterday, we joined in one of those groups as I figured it was never too early to get to know people.  Have you ever met up with a bunch of strangers and had that instant feeling of belonging and being at home?!  That’s what I felt yesterday!  Wow, it was great to finally feel like I belonged somewhere again!  In chatting, it came up about me doing my PGCE and working in both mainstream and private schools and not liking either and not wanting my daughter to go to either, and this dear old lady who comes along said, “well, it was all preparation wasn’t it?  Doing that gave you an insight into the teaching world here and you can make a very good and informed choice for your children because of it.”  It was like God himself was speaking to me!  FINALLY, I understood the point of that year of torture and the time in teaching that followed.  I got to see firsthand what the education sector is like and I know it’s not for us as a family, and it also sets me up well to educate my own children………..not that you need a teaching degree to do that, because you absolutely do not; it’s just that I personally probably wouldn’t have the confidence to deal with the coming onslaught of doubts and questions from family without that little certificate sat there reminding me that if they thought I was capable of teaching classes of 30+ children at varying ages and stages, then I am also capable of teaching 1 or a few children at varying ages and stages!  But, I came away with a light heart and could put to rest my demons of, “I wasted 2 years of my life on teaching for nothing.”  or “I should’ve been braver and just quit after those first two weeks.”  I may never enter the professional teaching world again, but I have gained valuable insight into the runnings of schools and into the National Curriculum which is in place and the areas of it I want to avoid!

So, if you look back on your life and think time has been wasted on things that turned out to be pointless and you don’t see their purpose, God does.  He takes everything good and bad and weaves it all together for good for His glory.  There IS a reason you were on that path, and all will be revealed one day.  I am so thankful, He knows what He’s doing!!  Jeremiah 29:11

Caught In A Downward Spiral

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Life has been particularly stressful over the past few weeks.  There have been plenty of incidents within the family to cause steam to come out of the stress’n’worry-o-meter as it blows its top. From miscarriages(not me personally)to loads of ill relatives being rushed into hospital and wondering how long they are still going to be with us.  Today, my dad is having an extremely risky heart procedure done, which comes with a whole new level of stress and worry.  Add on top of that the fact that teethy, high needs baby is refusing to sleep, refusing any sort of sustenance that is not mummy milk, refusing anyONE that is not mummy and there we have a complete recipe for disaster.  Me: worn out, worried, stressed, uptight, frustrated, and in a very low mood = Baby: worn out, stressed, uptight, frustrated, grouchy, shouting, teary.  And round we go on a endless downward spiral, the two of us, feeding off of each other and escalating this situation at break neck speed.   I try to do nice things for her, for instance, yesterday we went to the park to play on the swings as she loved her first experience of it, but,of course, yesterday swings were not what she wanted and she let me know big time.  So, I end up taking it personally and getting really cross and falling out with a 9 month old because she doesn’t appreciate the nice things I’m trying to incorporate into her day.  The rational part of my brain knows it’s pointless falling out with a 9 month old who doesn’t understand, but, hey, that part isn’t in control right now!  Add to this, 2 hyperactive dogs who seem to know just when to stir up trouble, and long hours of being just the two of us (or 4 counting the dogs) as my husband has such long commutes to and from work, and every day has just been getting a little worse and a little worse.  I feel like I’m on some awful high speed carousel ride that’s spinning round and round with no one at the controls to press the stop button to let me get off and shake this dizzy, nauseated feeling.  I want to take this dear child and hand her over to someone else who I imagine is more capable of caring for her than I am. I want to hand in my resignation letter, except I have no one to hand it in to!  So, we are at a stale mate, she and I,on the battlefield that is strewn with angry feelings, mistrust, confusion, frustration, disillusionment, worry, stress, fear.  Where do we go from here?  How do we get off this crazy ride and start again?  Can we get off this crazy ride to start again, even?  How do we repair the damage done?  How do we rebuild that which has been ruined?  There is no one to press the stop button on this ride, no one, but me.  I started the ride, and I must choose to press the button.  I must make the decision to stop this downward spiral before any more damage is done.  For her sake, for my sake, for my husband’s sake, for everyone’s sake.  But I have no strength left with which to do it on my own.  I’ve been carrying on in my own strength and look where that’s got me.  So what do I do?  The only thing I can do and the only thing that will help………….PRAY.

Lord, I’m choosing to press the stop button on this crazy ride of life.  I’m choosing to stop trying to do it alone.  I’m choosing to admit that I cannot go on without Your help.  I need Your grace, Your strength, Your rest.  I invite You to come now and help us restore our relationship, to bring peace to our hearts and minds, to start loving again as we should love.  And, Lord, please, now that I am choosing to press stop on this downward messy sipiral, keep me away from the start button!!  Amen

My Days Will Never Be The Same Again

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My daughter has always loved being on her feet even from a few days old and she’s always had good strong legs since then as well.  Yesterday she discovered the joy of supporting herself with the couch and standing on her own without mummy’s help………………..and now she refuses to sit!!  When I try to sit her on her mat with some toys I am greeted with stiff legs and an arched back.  When she’s not sleeping, my time is spent sitting or standing near her while she perfects this new trick so we can avoid any really nasty head bumps.  She’s taking one more step down the road to gaining her independance, and soon I shall be the mum who needs eyes everywhere so I can watch what she’s doing and see where she’s going.  I can imagine she will be one big energetic bundle of mischief once she gets these feet to toddle.  I look forward to that day with great anticipation mixed with a small amount of apprehension 🙂

 

Butternut Squash Soup With Chilli

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In this household, we love soup.  Now that we’re moving into the colder weather, soup tastes even better.  A few weeks ago, we made a Jamaican curry that needed 500g of butternut squash.  My husband brought home one triple this weight, so we decided to get a soup recipe that could use up the rest of the squash.  I found this recipe, and we made the soup then froze it to have for nice, easy lunch on a Saturday.  Oh, it’s so yummy!  Especially with the cold weather, the chilli helps warm you from the inside out leaving you feeling like you’ve just had a great, big hug.  Enjoy!

  • 1 butternut squash , about 1kg, peeled and deseeded
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 onions , diced
  • 1 garlic clove , thinly sliced
  • 2 mild red chillies , deseeded and finely chopped
  • 850ml hot vegetable stock
  • 4 tbsp crème fraîche , plus more to serve
  • Heat oven to 200C/180C      fan/gas 6. Cut the squash into large cubes, about 4cm/1½in across, then      toss in a large roasting tin with half the olive oil. Roast for 30 mins,      turning once during cooking, until golden and soft.
  • While the squash cooks, melt      the butter with the remaining oil in a large saucepan, then add the      onions, garlic and ¾ of the chilli. Cover and cook on a very low heat for      15-20 mins until the onions are completely soft.
  • Tip the squash into the pan, add the stock and      the crème fraîche, then whizz with a stick blender until smooth. For a      really silky soup, put the soup into a liquidiser and blitz it in batches.      Return to the pan, gently reheat, then season to taste. Serve the soup in      bowls with swirls of crème fraîche and a scattering of the remaining      chopped chilli.