Showing posts with label development. Show all posts
Showing posts with label development. Show all posts

Thursday, 7 January 2016

The year that was - 2015

I always enjoy writing these end of year posts on the blog.  What we've done, where we've been, who we've met and what we have learnt. It's always lovely to be able to look back and see where the year has taken us.  For me, 2015 has not been easy - from keeping things going as a solo parent while Ian was working away to making some difficult decisions about how best to make the work/life balance work for our family as we move into 2016.  There have been some good times too, weekends away with Ian and with friends and a trip to Wales with old school pals and our growing brood of offspring!

Ian finished his year working away in August and is now back working locally.  We all love having him home and seeing more of him even though I know he misses the air ambulance (don't feel too sorry for him though, he's managing to fit in some regular locum shifts to keep his hand in!).   

Ella has grown a lot in many areas this year - most noticeably going from being a pre-schooler to starting in reception at our local primary school, but more of that later.  She still makes me beam with pride everyday and has developed a real cheeky streak this year.

Lucy has also changed massively from tiddly toddler at the beginning of the year and has become a very articulate and confident little girl who all of us dote on.  

January




February
In February, we celebrated heart awareness week again by wearing red and donating to the British Heart Foundation. 



March - we yet again donned our odd socks for DS awareness day on the 21st and once again thank everyone who also took part and donated their lovely pennies!





April



May

I attended the Blog-on conference in Manchester. Lovely to have such an awesome blogging event on the doorstep as so many of them are further afield. There was lots to learn and get involved with whether you're a blogging pro or a mere beginner/novice like me. I've already signed up to go this year (won my entry ticket in last years raffle!). 

We quietly celebrated Ella's 4th heart-day with a heart shaped cake (and a little candle) and lots of thankfulness, while thinking of those little ones who are going through their surgery or have it yet to come.  

This year we celebrated whilst eagerly awaiting news from my brother that a new little person had finally arrived. The little man who made me an aunt and gave the girls the new title of cousin (!) arrived later that evening.  A day of multiple celebrations from now on!...  


June


At Ella's eye exam it was decided she did need glasses (always a given due to the fact Ian and I both wear them, it was just a case of when). Getting them before the summer meant we had a good couple of months to get her used to them before she started school where it would be most important that she was able to see everything in order to learn and to enhance her fine and gross motor skills too. She wasn't sure about them at first and would take them off a lot but with persistence and the fact that they do help her see better she was soon wearing them for long stretches before she started at school. She still regards them very much as a part of her school uniform and they soon get taken off when she gets home at the end of the day! 


July




We went on a special trip to see The Take of Mr Tumble which was on as part of the Manchester International Festival. We finally got to meet Florence and her mum Rachel (you can read all about it here). A special day for us all.


August



Ella and I had some lovely day trips together during August while she was on summer holidays and Lucy was at nursery. It was lovely to spend some quality time with her and be able to give her my full attention. We went to the Museum of Transport, Crosby Beach, the Lowry, soft play and spent lots of time in the garden.


September


I know you already know this but Ella started school! A long time in the planning and there were lots of things to consider but 3 months on, I am sure she is in the right place. She is happy and that was all I wanted for her. Her speech has come on so much and her love of drawing and being creative has been nurtured. She has talked a lot about school and her friends over the Christmas break, (Lois, Grace and Chloe got mentioned a lot!). 


October




We celebrated as a family at a lovely house in the Cotswolds for Granny Sarah's milestone birthday. Ella and Lucy absolutely love their baby cousin as you can see from the above photo! 

Ella really loves animals. We have two cats who she loves to pick up and hug (not sure they feel the same way!). She also loves meeting dogs when we go for walks or to the park and enjoys days at the local farm feeding the animals there. We went to the Viking festival in Stockport and Ella got the chance to hold an Owl called 'Fally'. Ella was very patient, still and quiet and followed the instructions she was given by the handler beautifully. She was very proud of herself as the picture shows.



November


5! How did she become 5??? She had a great birthday, soft play party at the weekend with her friends and then a family tea on the day itself. And just like last year she loved being the centre of attention, especially where singing, cake and candles were involved! 


December
A big month for me personally in that I swapped my nursing career for being a full time mum to Ella and Lucy. It was a difficult decision to make for lots of reasons but was definitely the right thing to do. We don't know how long my career break will be, but I am able to pick up bank shifts as needed to continue my professional registration and keep up my skills. It's been a real change in pace, choosing when to work and being able to work around Ian's rota instead of clashing or working complete opposites as we were before. So for us, 2016 = more family time, although less work doesn't seem to mean we are less busy! Everything just seems that little bit easier when there is one less ball to juggle.

This year we got the first visit from 'the kindness elves. The elves replaced an advent calendar in our house although they didn't visit everyday (need more time!). The kindness elves are a lovely and meaningful alternative to the elf on the shelf idea, started by Anna of the 'imagination tree' blog. The idea is that the elves will teach and reward kindness and make us think of others during the festive period. The elves did lots of fun activities with the girls - from making bird feeders to give as presents (and to feed the birds while it's cold), messy play, donating food to the foodbank and general festive fun. All with the idea of reminding the girls to be kind and ways they might be able to do this. It's an idea that can be adapted and can grow with them each year. Lucy already keeps asking when the elves will be back so I can see them becoming a part of their childhood Christmases. 






Here's to 2016 - more time for family, for fun, for blogging and maybe even more time for me...




Monday, 6 October 2014

Pre-school begins

We are already 3 weeks into Ella's first term at pre-school.  Time is flying by!

And I'm happy to report that she seems to be loving it and has settled in really well.  I was able to drop her off on her first day and she happily left my side, making an immediate bee-line for the sand pit.  She already knows the nursery and the staff as she's been attending one of their opportunity groups since we moved to the area 2 years ago.  This has definitely helped with her transition into the nursery and feedback from the staff is that she is doing really well.  I had a lot of anxiety over this change for her.  It's a new era, a new setting and it also coincided with Ian working away.  Other than her waking once or twice during the night (very unusual for Ella) she seems her normal, happy self and has taken all the change in her stride.  Not that I'm worrying any less mind!  

I've been off this week so have been able to drop her off - she's correctly picked out her name off the board when she arrives and can almost find her peg to hang her coat on (although she's so keen to get into nursery that she just throws it at any peg as she charges in!).  And she knows where the nursery is too - every time we drive past the end of the road where it is, a little excited voice in the back seat pipes up 'Charnwood!'. 


I've shelved the attempt we tried over the summer at starting potty training. She's definitely lost interest for now so we will try again when everything has settled down a bit for her. I don't want to overload her and put her off. Having said that, she did manage to use the toilet once at nursery a couple of weeks ago and I was awoken at 5am yesterday morning to her crashing about in the bathroom putting her toilet seat onto the toilet saying 'wee wee, toilet'. She didn't do anything but we will keep trying when she asks and then go for it properly in a few weeks time.  I'm very keen to get her out of nappies, at her own pace obviously but it would be nice to have her dry (at least during the day) before she starts school next year. The other issue I have is changing her nappy out and about is now nigh on impossible as she is too big for the baby changing tables in public places. I don't think it's right or dignified for her to be changed on the floor or not in a toilet environment.  She will get there and I have lots of advice and experience from others to draw on, I just feel now is not the right time to be pushing it.

For now, she's concentrating on putting more words together and practicing pronunciations. She's started storytelling during her imaginative play and is also confidently walking up and down the stairs instead of on her hands and knees. Quite enough to be going on with! 



Happy Monday everyone xx

 





Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Little butterfly


Today was Ella's leavers party at nursery. Saying goodbye to all the children leaving to go to school or pre school. They had a great day, with bouncy castle, games and party food.  

There was still very much a party atmosphere when I arrived to collect her and there were lots of parents as well as children in the toddler room. I was struggling to see where Ella was in all the chaos... One of the nursery girls saw me looking and pointed me in the direction of their outside area. 

And there, away from the crowd was Ella having her face painted. Something she has never been keen to have done before. Apparently she had said no all afternoon then changed her mind at the last minute. She was sitting beautifully still, having a pink, glittery butterfly painted on her face. She smiled when she saw me but didn't move, just signed and said 'butterfly'. 

I got a little bit teary, she looked so grown up sitting there - my independent, chatty and beautiful little girl. So proud of how far she has come from the little 9 month old baby I first dropped off at the nursery, with a bagful of spare clothes and medical equipment (and a suitcase full of worries and uncertainties). I'll always remember the staff and the nursery fondly - the place where my girl learned to fly...

Unfortunately I'd had to wash her face before we managed to skype daddy tonight (tiredness and rubbing the eyes not such a great look when you've got your face painted!), I did get a few pictures of my little butterfly though...


Signing butterfly



Sunday, 3 August 2014

On a Roll

I suddenly seem to have a little girl by my side, no longer a toddler...


She's very independent, chatty, pushing boundaries and generally growing up way too fast.  



Over the last few weeks, the biggest change in her has been her communication. She's now mastered putting two, sometimes three words together in sentences and I find that I can actually have a conversation with her where I'm not just asking questions that require a 'yes' or 'no' answer. She initiates conversation and often approaches me with 'mummy...' followed by lots of words and signs (we still use makaton to support her speech). I can mostly work out what she is trying to say, fill in the gaps and always repeat back to her what I think she's said. I know when I've got it right because I get a smile that's full of understanding and pride. She struggled at first stringing words together and for about a week she developed a stutter as she tried to get two or three words out together. It was so hard to bite your tongue, knowing what she was trying to say but wanting to let her get there by herself.  

Using makaton at home (and at nursery too) has also had a big impact on Lucy. From her first sign at 11 months old ('gone'), now at 14 months she is also picking up words and signs everyday. She's got herself a reputation as a chatterbox at nursery already, will be interesting to see if that theme continues in future school reports! She's also mastered saying yes and no when you ask her a question (you can guess which one we hear more of!)... She's still not yet walking but is cruising and is climbing on everything (daddy is very pleased!). 


Signing 'gone'

They both seem to love being sisters. Lucy likes to be where Ella is (Ella not so much) and Ella still likes taking toys off her sister (to which Lucy shouts 'share!'). They're mostly quite affectionate with one another though and I even caught Ella giving Lucy her beloved cat and snuggle after their nap last week...




There's some changes happening over the next few months in our little world. Ian's going to be working away from August and Ella is moving to her new nursery in September. I'm sure both girls will take it all in their stride even though I am worrying about how the changes will affect them.



I am sure they won't notice... Life is so very busy...constantly on a roll...


Happy Sunday everyone xx




Tuesday, 6 May 2014

The Learning Journey

Last week we received confirmation of Ella's pre-school place...


Can't actually believe I've just typed that. Pre-school?! Where have the last 4 years gone?! 

I'm already an emotional wreck about it.  She will be leaving the wonderful nursery she's been at since she was 9 months old and moving to our local resourced nursery that we first heard about when she was only a few weeks old.  Charnwood is an amazing place and Ella's been attending one of their opportunity groups for the last 2 years.  She loves being there and it will all be very familiar to her when she starts.  It won't make leaving The Christie nursery any easier though.  She really has had the best start to her educational journey there and I know the same can be said for every child that walks through those big blue front doors.

We wouldn't be moving her unless we had good reason.  Her current nursery is in Manchester but we live in Stockport and that's where Ella will be going to school.  Charnwood is the right place for Ella to be for her pre-school year, they have experience of children with additional needs, can help with school selection and the transition into school when the time comes. 

And on the same day we received Ella's news about her learning journey, I got news about the next step on mine.... 

 

For me though, it has to be having children that has been my biggest learning journey.  You don't attend lectures, gain specific qualifications or a fancy certificate to file in your record of achievement. Being a parent is not something you can prove with a qualification, it becomes you and you become it. I've learnt more over the last three years being a parent than at any other time of my life - about myself, my relationships, family, friends, love, patience, frustration, guilt, happiness, pride....too many things to mention here.  It's the hardest but most amazing and rewarding experience.  

Thankfully, you get the best teacher there is. A teacher who lets you know just what you need to know, just when you need to know it...



Your child xx  


Wednesday, 5 March 2014

The rest will follow...

Ever since Ella was a tiny baby there has been huge emphasis on supporting and helping her development.  Over the last three years she's had medical and developmental input from physiotherapy, speech therapy, dietitians, paediatrician, specialist nurses, cardiac team, feeding clinic, play therapist, portage, sensory support service, ophthalmologist, educational psychology, ENT consultant, audiology, pre-school special needs service.  Their knowledge, experience, treatment and interventions have all impacted Ella and contributed to how well she is doing today.  

As Ella's mum, I took all the advice we were given on board.  I don't think a day has gone by over the last three years when I haven't thought about Ella's physical development, speech, understanding or her heart and feeding issues and how best to address or overcome them. Depending on what Ella needed, I too became a physio, speech therapist, dietitian, play specialist, advocate, teacher, nurse.  Just being her mum often came second, third (sometimes fourth) down the list and it's only now looking back that I see that. 

One of the earliest things I picked up on was that play was also an opportunity for Ella to learn. Even now, I find it very hard to just let Ella play without incorporating a learning agenda - shapes, colours, letters, numbers, speech sounds, counting... She's getting wise to it though, often refusing to co-operate or answering my questions incorrectly with a mischievous grin on her face...






A couple of weeks ago I went to a talk by Debby Elly who has twin boys on the autistic spectrum. She started the Aukids magazine which is published monthly and is also a platform for lots of other autism related resources. 

There was one thing she said during her presentation that stuck with me. When you have a child with additional needs you can get caught up in all the extra help and therapy they need and the worry of the unknown, such as when will she achieve something and how well will she do it?  

Her take home message for me was simply 'stop being your child's therapist'.  Stop being their therapist and just be a mum. That's when things really happen because you take away the stress and the need for a result. 

I'm taking her advice on board, from now on - no hidden agendas, I'll let Ella lead me.



Just being a mum... the rest will follow xx



Monday, 20 January 2014

Living arrows 3/52 - Moving Up

This last week, Ella has moved up to the over 3's group at nursery.  She left the baby room 18 months ago and has continued to flourish since then.  And suddenly, she's become a real little girl now, certainly knows her own mind and lets us know it! She continues to make me proud every day.

I am also really proud of the staff at the nursery and so grateful for the time and effort they have put in with Ella.  Ella's key worker, Lucy took on the challenge of learning Makaton so that she could communicate more effectively with her. Makaton signs and symbols can now be found all over the nursery and they've incorporated it into everyday activities, including play and singing time. Ella's favourite is the 'hello song' where they sing hello to each child in a morning. Ella knows all her friends names and the other children have all learnt to communicate with Makaton too, it's lovely to see them all using it with Ella when they interact with her. 

Lucy has subsequently become a Makaton trainer and run a successful Makaton course for other parents at the nursery.  So many good things have come out of having Ella in a mainstream setting - for her and also importantly, for those around her.  And she has always been very happy there, as this weeks picture (which has pride of place on the fridge) shows.


My Big Girl xx

Saturday, 11 January 2014

The Little Things (again!)

Watching Ella develop and grow into the independent, defiant, funny child she is today has been one of the best things about being a mum. Along the way, we've always been more appreciative of the little things she achieves. Small milestones that may be overlooked or not recognised as such in other children - two word sentences, starting to undo buttons & zips or being able to follow simple instructions.  She's had to work harder to learn and perfect new skills and it's taken her longer to get there. 

But get there she does. 

Recently we've been practising threading beads onto a piece of string. Putting the string through the hole in the bead was mastered straight away. However, she's struggled to work out how to then pull the bead through onto the string (she hasn't yet worked out what the knot in the string is for and often tries to thread onto this end -cue shouts of annoyance!). Well, this week with some frustration, perseverance and encouragement she has managed to do it! Not consistently yet, but it's definitely getting there...




And having Ella to teach us all about the 'small things' has meant that we are more aware of child development. So now we have the pleasure of watching Lucy develop, we notice and celebrate her small steps too... A pointy finger, pincer grasp, her understanding of object permanence, reaching up to be picked up, taking toys out of a container... This week she's started clapping, sitting and kicking her legs at swimming. 


I suppose these are actually all big things when you're only 7 months old! Looking forward to what they both have in store to show us this week xx

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