Thursday, 22 November 2012

I only want a front door!!

This post is as simple as the title.  I only want a front door!!!  As I have written about before, we bought a 1950's property that needed work about a year ago.  In that time we have transformed the inside and it is nearly a proper home.  Today I gave a deposit for the flooring and we hope to have some laid by Christmas.  We are rushing a little bit now because it is getting colder.  Without the floors covered, warm air is leaving the house faster than the radiators can pump it in.  The front door is another fly in the ointment. It is old and lets in a lot of cold air too.  I thought I would refurbish it and see if it helped.  I was sanding it back and on reaching the bottom panel, I discovered that it was rotten all the way through; so in-repairable.  This is a shame on 2 levels, one, because it is a lovely door and two, I now need to find the money for something else!

This task of door hunting is proving very difficult for a couple of reasons.  Our door is an odd size - or so I am told by the carpenter - it is a large door.  I do not want to reduce the door as that means messing with the frame and costing more.  I have looked on ebay, googled it and checked many other places and it seems that I need to spend a large amount, just on the door.  Plus those doors are unglazed and so glazing would be on top.  I have found some beautiful doors but they do not seem to come in the size I need.

After paying out for the flooring we do not have the funds at the moment to get a new door.  Plus some of the flooring cannot be laid until the door is done so it is a catch 22 situation.

Who would have thought that looking for a solid wood door with some glazing panels would be so difficult?

My plan is simple, I need to try harder to fix this.  If there are any door people out there who supply wood doors, please contact me.  On the same note, if anyone needs some odd jobs done that I can complete from home, let me know!  One way or the other, I want to try and get the front door sorted.

Thank you in advance.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Toys going too far?.....

I was pottering away on the computer the other day, had a look at facebook where someone I knew I had written about their disgust of a new toy.  At this stage I should tell you about the toy so that you are aware from the start.  There is a new doll on the market which comes with a breastfeeding bra to enable the child to put on the bra and feed her doll.  Think about this before you read on....

On the face of it, the toy could be seen as just that, a toy. I feel, however, maybe it goes a tad too far but not for the same reasons as others.  My friend was worried that this is why we have a problem with teenage pregnancies.  I disagree. I  cannot see that a doll could increase or decrease teenage pregnancies.  Many children try to mimic their mothers while she feeds siblings does this mean we are all to blame?  What I fear is that giving the child an actual feeding bra has taken the concept too far.  Children are happy with fake bottles and the make believe that that conjures up for them.  They do not need to know or re-enact anything more than that.

The issue of teenage pregnancies is a complex one.  I really disagree that dolls can affect this as I said above.  What I fear is that people/parents are passing the blame too much.  As a parent it is your responsibility along with schools, (and I mean along with) to educate your child.  Learning things from an early age with take away the mystical world of intimate relationships making the child less likely to start too early.  If your child does fall pregnant as a teen you need to deal with it. It should not be seen as failure on anybody's part.  You as the parent are there to support and educate your child through whatever life throws at them.  Don't judge them and don't try and find reason to blame someone. 

Back to toys in general, there are many toys on the market that 'go too far' but our children have grown up faster than we did.  Who would have known that children as young as 5 would use computers?! We need to move forward with the next generation.  We also need to make sure that our children get to be children even if that is with a computer or games consoles.  Different generations, different attitudes.  Just don't let yourself get carried away with advertising.  If you do not like the look of a toy, don't buy it.  Simple.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Is anxiety going to creep back in??....

The title really says it all.  I am worried that my anxiety issues are going to creep back in.  I have been doing so well and really felt I had turned a corner recently.  Then the aching in my belly started again.  I have tried to ignore it, even prompting myself to think of other things.  I am hoping this is just a little blip which will pass as fast as it came. 

Living with anxiety is a life long thing and that is that part I fear the most.  I do not want to go back to where I have been.  I want to live a normal life for myself and my children.  My plan is to ignore it.  The feelings start in the belly and spread over me like water.  The body starts to feel detached although everything is working.  I then realise my heart is speeding up and then I remember the breathing techniques - in for 4, hold for 4 and out for 4, repeat 4 times - and this settles my heart.  I am stronger this time as I will not run from it.  Running away from the situation only reinforces the fear and would set me back years. 

If this happens to you, I urge you to dig deep inside your mind, however hard it is and think.  All the symptoms you feel are the bodies way of trying to win over your mind.  You have to take back the control.  The speeding heart, the flushed feelings, the nausea, the urgent loo visits, the dizzyness; the list does go on. They are all symptoms created by your body to make you fail.  I deal with each symptom at a time.  The dizzyness and heart can be controlled by breathing deep and using the technique above.  For nausea, I use a herbal tablet called 'nux vom. 30c' and it takes away the nausea feeling.  The flushed feeling will release with the other symptoms being tackeld.  Finally the toilet visits.....well this is simple, I have had to learn to go in any toilet.  If my IBS is playing up, it use to stop me going out but now, I realise that I can't let that happen (unless it is really bad!) if I let it control me, I will never make progress.

I suppose a little slip back is inevitable but it is how one deals with it that is the main thing.  I am dealing head on.  It will work.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Getting to know me.....

I was sent this lovely blog by three for a girl, who like me, is new to blogging.  Her blog is lovely and you should check it out.  Anyway, I will quickly do this before my mind wanders as it is not working today!

When was the last time you cried?
mmm not sure about this one.  I keep getting little pools of tears in my eyes at stories of children hurt, lost e.t.c on the news but only at certain times of the month.  So my tears are only as an outlet for my hormones!

Are you named after anyone?
As far as I know, no I am not.  My parents just liked the name.

Do you have kids?
Yes, 2.  My eldest is 13 and my youngest is 4.  Big gap, yes I know....

If you were another person would you be a friend to yourself?
I would like to think so.

Do you use sarcasm a lot?
I am unsure what this word 'sarcasm' could mean....

Will you ever bungee jump?
Thought about it in the past but probably not anymore!

What’s your favourite cereal?
I love crunchy nut cornflakes but I eat rice krispies most days. Am partial to chocolate waffles after being made them in Chicago last year.

What’s the first thing you notice about people?
Their face and especially their eyes. You can tell a lot from someone's eyes.

What’s your eye colour?
Bluey silvery grey.

Scary movie or Happy ending?
Usually scary movie although there are a few happy ending movies that I enjoy.

Favourite smells?
No idea.....

What’s the furthest you’ve been from home?
Texas.  That was a great holiday with my parents many moons ago!

Where were you born?
Redhill, Surrey.

Do you have any special talents?
Is this suppose to stay clean?  I think so.  Ok, so I can turn my tongue upside down. Try it, not many people can do it.  It has to be totally upside down, no cheating!

Do you have any hobbies?
Writing has just started to become of interest to me again.  DIY, reading and getting my figure back.  (just started the fitness thing again too, long story but am looking forward to the results!)

Do you have any pets?
Nope.

Favourite Film?
I do not have one singular film that I love.  Different films hold different memories for me.  For example, I use to love 'Interview with a Vampire', not just for Tom and Brad being in the same film at the same time, but it is a great film. Then I like 'Notting Hill' as it is the first film my husband and I saw together.  Then there is 'Titanic'.  This was given as a gift to me by someone a long time ago and also, a dear friend took me to the cinema to see it; he has now passed away but I always remember him taking me while I was on crutches and making people wait for me as I hobbled into the cinema! There are a few others, but I can't write them all down but you get the idea, a film is a favourite if I have connection with it.

Do you have any siblings?
Yes, luckily I do.  2 brothers and a sister.  I love them all and I know we are there for each other no matter what.  I am lucky to have a close family and great parents.


So all done.  Although, I do feel a little weird, emotional even, thinking about all the films I have enjoyed with others and now those people that I miss.  Life has its own way to keep you on your toes!



Writers block

I had hoped to write an interesting blog post today.  It's a Monday morning and what a better day to start the week than to write?!  Wrong!!  I have writer's block.  I had loads of ideas but the morning has washed away with me so far.  I have been unable to concentrate on one thing for longer than 20 minutes (rushing this post!).

Last week was intense for me and maybe that is why I am a little numb today.  My youngest had a sickness bug that started Tuesday.  This continued until I too was visited by said bug on Thursday.  Knocked me out until Saturday lunchtime.  At this point, my youngest had started to eat more and I thought everyone else was clear.  Sunday lunchtime and my eldest succumbs to the illness too.  She is currently sat on the sofa watching everything and anything.  The complaints have started though - apparently, because we did not move Sky television with us to this house, there is nothing to watch on the TV. I am sure Freeview does in fact give her enough, but it is a delight to hear her complain, I know that means she is starting to feel like her old self again!

As I look out the window though, I wonder if this cold dreary day could have anything to do with my mood? Probably.  Last week, I had loads to do and it was halted due to illness and that is probably what has thrown me today.  I need to go back to my mind as it was last Monday and ask "what to do this week?".  Maybe once the back log is clear, then I can start this week properly!

Thursday, 27 September 2012

First days at Primary School

My youngest is now nearing the end of her first full week at Primary School.  I am unsure what she has made of it due to the differing reports that come back from her.  I will paint you a picture......

First day, which was a half day, as we walked out of the school, I asked if she enjoyed herself and if she had made any friends - like you would as the expectant mum, making sure it's all alright, more for your own nerves rather than hers - I was met with a smile which changed to a frown.  Then she said "I did like it until we had to tidy up and I didn't like that bit.  So I don't want to go back tomorrow as I don't want to tidy up".  My first reaction was to laugh.  I let out a little giggle and stifled it upon seeing her face.  She was serious.  Oh dear... I explained that there was no choice and she would have to return and learn to enjoy tidying up.  Incidentally, her nursery always commented to me how helpful she was at tidy up time and I had arrived early sometimes to see her sweeping the floor; so I know she does tidy!

After her first full day at school, I knew she would be tired.  As we left, I asked about her day as I do everyday and was met with this reply "Now I have done the afternoon, I don't think I need to do it again so I will stick with mornings".  I had to laugh at this one!  This tiny blonde little monkey was actually trying to negotiate something where there was nothing to negotiate!!  Here started a conversation about how school worked, the fact that you stay all day and there really is no choice.

Yesterday was better and she seems to be settling.  She loves the fact that they now give her stickers or hand stamps for tidying up or good work.  She has come home with the stamp on her face also, where she had been so happy to receive it, she had kissed her hand and in the process, also stamped her face.

Starting school is hard on the parents and the child.  The child has to adjust to new settings, new friends to make and new teachers to listen to.  Parents have to realise that their little people are starting properly on the growing up process and during their school years, they learn the most both academically and emotionally.  That is the scary part; emotions and letting go - just a little, mind you, she is only 4!

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

The 'Fifty Shades' trilogy.

Before reading 'Fifty Shades of Grey', I had heard all sorts of stories about it and some were conflicting as to what the story was actually about.  I have not read a book for a while.  Something that I use to love doing but during depressive times, I could never concentrate.  I feel great at the moment so thought I should have look at the first book but I left it a while.  In the end, my intrigue did get the better of me and I borrowed the book.

It did not take me long to finish reading the first book.  It was an easy read.  The story flowed and for someone who doesn't really like your typical 'love story', this had a different edge to it.  It has your basics, man meets girl, but then, man doesn't see women in the same way you would normally suspect. The man in this tale is Christian Grey.  You do not get to understand him too well in the first book but then I felt the first book was more about the girl - Anastasia Steele - and her finding her feet in 2 new Worlds - relationships and money.  Neither of which she had had previously.

I went out and bought the next 2 books.  'Fifty Shades Darker' is where you see the dynamics change of the relationship between 2 people, who are completely alien to their current environments, it makes them stop and think what it is they want and need from one another.  At first you wonder where the story can go from here.  Then you get to the final chapter and it lays the foundations for book 3.

'Fifty Shades Freed' starts quite softly.  Lulling you into a sense of security between the characters.  Halfway through this security is shattered leaving the story to unfold in a way you really did not think it would.

I would love to write a proper review on these books, but won't because if you haven't read them, anything else I write could and would spoil story lines for you.  I enjoyed the trilogy and I am sure I will read again.  They have also reignited my passion for reading and writing, so thank you E L James and the Fifty Shades Trilogy!!

All alone again....but in a good way!

My youngest has now started Primary School full time.  I am finding the time alone odd but enlightening.  It wasn't like this with my eldest and it made me wonder why.

I had my eldest during studying for my degree, so I was always leaving her either with my mum or in a nursery.  After I got my degree, I went out to work.  This carried on while my emotions jumped and I spiraled more and more into my depression.  I worked at different places, always worked hard and always enjoyed the work.  When she started school, I had just started to get help for post natal depression, which in turn had turn into depression and anxiety issues.  I got help and continued working.  Had a fab job as Marketing Assistant in a College.  Then Junior came along.

We couldn't afford for me to go back to work.  Yes, it is true, nursery fees would have taken all my money.  I was faced with a conundrum.  I enjoyed working, but on reflection, I had totally missed everything with my first daughter.  I had worked the whole time, never had 'at home mummy' time.  My husband and I decided I would stay at home with this daughter.

I have done this for over 4 years now and she has started school.  I have worked bits and pieces in that time - freelancing marketing projects, web sites and even back at the College.  Now she is at school, I want to do something for me again.  I have loved being a stay at home mum and would not have changed it for the World and I intend to do more freelance stuff so I can continue giving my girls the support they need.  After 4 years with her and me all day, every day, it is odd though.  Going out does not need to be planned around a little one.  I can get up and go anywhere. It is in fact quite liberating!  I feel a new surge of energy.  I need to re-establish myself as me.  This is my time.  I just can't wait for things, I want them to happen. Only I can do that. So here goes.........

Monday, 24 September 2012

It's been a while!

The summer holidays took over me and for a while, I have not had a chance to sit and think to myself.  My blog has been a ghost since July and in fact I has missed the writing. 

My youngest started school full time today which means, I have a full day- yes, a FULL day, to plough through things that take twice the time when you have to stop at 11am for nursery pick up.  I have drawn up a list and will start it later.  (Yes, later! I know it does not sound very productive but I am going to help someone with their computer, so in fact, that could be my good deed for the day!)

I know that, as I sit here, at the desk, if I were to turn around, the mess that would confront me is too much to worry about today.  Today is all about me and trying to get a few things into action.  The list looks a little like this:
1) Help a lady with her computer.
2) Blog (currently doing....)
3) Print off 2 novels that I started a few years back, read through them and decide if they are any good to continue and finish.
4) Remind myself of the short stories I wrote and if there is a market for them. (Research needed)
5) Finish an edit job - sister's wedding! Guilt here as the wedding was in April....
6) Web sites - sort, update, create etc.  This is a whole separate list itself!

I think that list will take longer than today but, I will endeavour to touch on everything.

Wish me luck!!

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Continued struggle with Anxiety

Everyday I wake up knowing that today can go one of 2 ways - positively or negatively.  Obviously we all want it to be a positive day but sometimes, my brain just does not want to listen.  Since finishing my cognitive behavioural therapy, I have had days where I have said 'no' to things, just in case it induces a panic attack.  Then I realised, that can take me back onto the slippery slope that is depression, anxiety and panic attacks.  I cannot let that happen.
The therapist said something very interesting to me quite a few times during our session, 'give yourself a break'  This in turn, made me say 'no' to things before even trying them.  If I am sick on the day then fine but I cannot disregard them before I have tried.  That was not the original plan and so it should not be the plan now.  Forward is the way. 
I do not see my life as so much of a battle these days which is great.  I can do things and help people more. I am enjoying that.  My new motto is to always say 'yes' - unless I really cannot do something due to a conflict in the diary! 
I do not want to go back to the place that took away my inner self worth and I will battle continually to make sure that does not happen.  I feel like I have lost 13 years of my life through worry, self hate and overall negativity.  I do not want to lose another 13 years. 
It will be hard, but every day it does get easier.  If you are reading this and are at the beginning on the journey to fight depression, anxiety and panic attacks, you are not alone.  Even though I am coming out the other side, I know what you are thinking and feeling - so do a lot of other people.

Friday, 4 May 2012

I hope the anxiety doesn't creep back

My youngest now does not have a Primary School place for this September.  This is because we rejected the place offered to us.  The school is further away than any on our list and we just want a local school.  That is all, we just want a local school.

We have decided to appeal to all the schools on the list and the reason is simple, pointed out to me by someone close to me.  If I was to do the journey to the allocated primary school, I would be stuck in traffic everyday.  The main road to the school is notorious for traffic just due to the sheer weight of cars going that way during the rush hour.  This to some is not a problem.  For me it could be.  Here is why..... If my IBS is playing up, I need to be near the bathroom.  If during those traffic jams I had a sudden urge, this would induce a panic in me, leading to a rise in anxiety.  In the end, and I know this is true as I know the cycle, I would start the whole saga of panic attacks again resulting in my daughter going late to school when I know the traffic has dispersed.  I do not want to go down that route again.  I have just finished cognitive behavioural therapy for the second time and I am trying to get things back on track.  I really do not want to put myself in a position where my mental health issues affected my daughters schooling.

I really hope the appeal process works or that she is offered a place at any of the schools on the list via the waiting list.  Being offered a place is more favourable so I do not have to go to an appeal board - the last thing I want to do is sit and discuss my issues with a group of strangers whose job it is to judge me and my family.  Goodness knows what they will make of us!


Monday, 23 April 2012

Primary school saga continues.....

I knew that I had to speak with Croydon Council to see what had happened with our placement.  As I said in a previous blog, we had entered the schools as per the listings on the Croydon Council's interactive map.  Twice I have spoken with the council and have had a few conflicting responses - albeit from very helpful people -  I was informed that all the local schools have had half or more than half their places given to siblings! I cannot really argue with that and that is why we did not get anything on our list.  We will be appealing.  This is where it gets hard.

On appeal you need a really good reason why you should be allowed a place at a school.  I know that my daughter has had hearing problems, so I can use that but I am also wondering about my issues.  My IBS and depression/anxiety issues can mean that on a bad day, I would need to get her to school as soon as possible so I can get home again.  The school they gave us would leave me in traffic and so would increase my stress levels bringing everything to the forefront again.  Do I use that?  That is the decision I am faced with.  Do I tell complete strangers, people who are there to judge me, all about my insecurities?

Thinking starts here.......

Friday, 20 April 2012

Primary School Places

The education system in this country has its ups and downs.  From a parents point of view, you want the best for your child and therefore you want them to go to the best school locally.  I have a 12 year old and a 4 year old.  When it was time for my eldest to got to primary school it was very straight forward, she got into the school we wanted, we lived close and that was that.  Now for the second and youngest child.  Changes have happened, for example, the eldest has gone to secondary school and we have moved house.  Slightly different area of schools so we re-visited all of them.  You hear stories about people not getting schools on their list and you think they must have put down schools totally out of the area and not enough locally.  So we used the interactive map that Croydon Council have on their website to find the schools most local to us.  We could choose up to 6 but only put 5 down.  We thought that would be enough.  Especially as our top 2 were in the top 3 results from the Croydon map.  Sent off the form and waited.

April 18th came and the day we would find out the decision of the council.  We were not too nervous as we thought we had covered the bases, choosen 5 schools all close to us and we would be happy with any of them.  The email started with 'We regret to inform you......' and I thought I would cry.  We had been given a school that was not on the list,  one that was further away than any on our list.  I had to call the council to find out why and part of the conversation went like this:
Me:  'I was wondering if you could tell me why we did not get any of the 5 schools we had placed?'
Council Person: 'Let me see...... ah well, you see, all the local schools did not have any spaces.'
Me: 'So no school local to us had a place?  Out of 5 schools, nothing?'
CP: 'That seems to be the case. You can appeal the decision and your daughter is on all the waiting lists'
Me: 'I really do not understand how that can be, we followed your rules on your web site, placed the schools all locally and you are telling me there is nothing?'
CP: 'Yes that is right.  As I said you can appeal and she will stay on the waiting lists.'
Me: 'I will need to know the distances of the children living furthest out who did get accepted at each school.'
CP: 'I cannot give you that information at this time, but email in and they can do that for you.'

Helpful as ever!  Actually, to be fair, she was really nice but she cannot tell me what she does not know.

I am left still confused.  I am fully aware that the system is automated by computer.  This computer selects the children for the schools and the idea is you will get a place at the highest selected school on your list.  It is not definate you will receive an offer for a choosen school and the list is meant to be your 'preferred' choices.  But I followed the rules.  I used their software and still I did not get anything.  I have been left with a school much further out that does not meet my child's needs on more than one level and I have been left with a much longer journey to and from the school which eats into my work time. I have to decline the place.

I am not the only one, of 6 of my friends, only 2 got something on their list.  The rest of us got schools not on the list.  This does not make sense on many levels.  I was told by a teacher, that Croydon changed their selection process this year and I think something may be wrong with it!  They will have a lot of appeals to go through I think, especially after hearing another 2 parents at nursery complain they had not got anything on their list either.

I have requested paperwork and details from the council.  I can send the appeal paperwork to Croydon council between 2nd May and 16th May.  Wish me luck, this may take some time.

I love a good Wedding!!

Weddings bring out the best in people.  You have all the stresses and strains in the run up until the day breaks and it all disappears.  You are left to (hopefully) enjoy the day and what it brings as you start your new life as husband and wife.

My  sister was married at the weekend.  She and her partner have been together for a long while now but only now did it feel right for them to take the next step.  Good for them.  It is important that marriage is not rushed into and you know you are doing it for the right reasons.  The sun shone the whole day - it was a tad chilly at times, so I will call it a bright and breezy day!  The church was decorated beautifully with flowers and the blossom started to fly from the tree as the bride arrived.  It was like nature was sprinkling its own confetti.  The marriage was finished off with a reception at a local golf club complete with a trip on a golf buggy for the bridge and groom!

The speeches are always something that make people nervous but it is also a time for the fathers of brides to talk.  Let's face it, they do not always get themselves heard during wedding preparations do they?!  The speeches bring the room together.  All the guests finding different parts of the speeches relevant to them and smiling when they do.  A great time to get pictures is during the speeches especially of the bride.  As her father's speech starts, she is smiling, this can turn to embarrassment, shock, tears (joy or happiness) and then finally back to smiles.

I have been to a few weddings where people have had unusual cakes.  A few years ago, friends had an Inca Temple as their wedding cake, (made by my Mother in fact, as she is brilliant at cakes) with caricatures placed on top.  It was fantastic!  Something different and it had meaning to them.  The bride and groom had met while traveling, with the Temple being the spot where they interacted for the first time.  My sister had 5 tiers of differing types.  Fruit, sponge and red velvet were the choices and all tasted beautiful.  Yes my mum made them too and no I am not bias as other guests commented!

This wedding in particular encompassed all the good parts and no bad ones.  The day saw beautiful weather, smiling guests, flawless timetable of events and of course, a smiling happy couple.  What more could anyone ask for?

Marriage is a special day and one to be remembered forever.  Make it special but just remember, it is not about the cost you spend or the size of the venue/flowers/dress, it is about you showing family and friends just how much you mean to each other.  Anything else is just the icing on the cake.  I love a good wedding!!

Friday, 23 March 2012

Are our schools failing our children??

The question is simple, are our secondary schools failing our children?  You will obviously need to hear more than that to make a decision so let me tell you why I am asking this question.  I work in a college, interviewing the students and I love my work, I really do.  From there I have heard a lot from the students and seen disappointment on their faces when what the schools have got them to study, does not help them with their career pathway.

For the first few years at secondary school our children study all the same subjects. Then, usually in year 9, they select the subjects they want to study for GCSE.  When I was at school, this was quite straight forward and you chose subjects you enjoyed and studied those. Back in the late 90's BTEC's were introduced to secondary schools after originally only being used in further or higher education.  The idea was never to have these to replace 'traditional' GCSE's but to complement them.

Before I go on, I want you to know that I do not oppose BTEC's nor do I think they should be removed as they do serve a purpose.  They are practical, hands on courses that students can thrive in and can give them a great experience of a subject that they may not otherwise receive.  I feel it should be student/parent choice if they want to study them.

The BTEC is now in schools and over the past few years, I have noticed a trend in secondary schools that are offering more and more BTEC's and I have to question why.  The BTEC, as far as I can tell, while in secondary school, is setup so the student does not fail.  I have spoken with some teachers and they all agree.  Students can re-submit work until they reach a level that is passable.  Students are happy with that and the schools seem to be too as it keeps their result levels up - make of that what you will.  Schools explain to parents/carers/students why the child is studying for a BTEC and the advantages.  Parents during these sessions are reassured that they are the equivalent to a certain number of GCSE's which is true, they are equivalent but NOT the same as.  This is where the issues arise. Students who want to go on to study A Levels, cannot use the BTEC marks as part of the entry requirements in most further educational establishments.  If an A Level course asks for 5 GCSE grades, they mean 5 GCSE grades.  Not 3 GCSE's and a BTEC. 

If a student is looking to go to college to continue the BTEC route then that is great.  They can follow the path straight through and the basics they have learnt at school become their foundation.  If, on the other hand they want to do something different, issues can arise.  A good example of this is, a few times, I have had students who want to study medicine.  Their school have put them in for BTEC science and not the GCSE.  To gain entry onto the A Level sciences, you need to have the GCSE's.  I have to sit there a let down a students dreams gently and watch them sometimes get upset. I do tell them that they can go into the medical arena in another area but they usually just want to be a doctor.  Or, a student wants to study A Levels but they are studying 3 BTEC's and only 3 GCSE's.  This will not give them the entry requirements on an A Level course.    Then you get the parents who will argue for their children - and quite rightly so, as I know I would - I always just explain these are our entry requirements.  The parents cannot understand why the schools told them these qualifications are best for their children when clearly they were not.

Some teachers will argue that the students thrive better in the BTEC environment rather than the GCSE ones.  I still think that is something that the parents and students have the right to chose.

I think the schools need to be clearer with students and parents about what they are studying. I would go so far as to say, schools should stop trying to compare them with GCSE's and leave them as a stand alone qualification.  They are separate and they are different. The students and parents would then have more information to make those informed choices.  The schools should not tell people they have to study something when it is not going to help long term.  Then it comes back to league tables.  So many schools are worried about staying high on the league table and I wonder if this is their way of staying on top - leagues tables are another discussion totally! But, if this is the case, then they have failed some students whose life ambitions could be dashed just because they were not offered the right information at the right time of their lives.

Your thoughts are appreciated on this subject.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Home renovations

When we completed on our new home back in November, I do not think me or my other half thought it would all take as long as it has.  Money side of it, we had budgeted for and although the budget is spent, we are spending time doing the things we can before needing to pay out for big things like carpets.  Some think this is strange - 'no carpets?' they say and my answer is simple, 'no, no carpets'.  I do not feel the need to explain the situation to them or anyone in fact as to why it is taking its time but I need to vent it somewhere so here it is.

We had completed a lot of work before moving in in December.  We had a working kitchen and bathroom - neither finished nor are they yet - but we are living around it all.  I am finding it is all the little jobs that take the time like painting skirtings, sanding and painting doorways; at the same time these take the longest to do.  You see my husband is not a carpenter and we cannot afford to hire one so it takes him a little longer, a lot of swearing, a bit of throwing tools around and a few diva type strops.  I try and do things when children are out at nursery/school or in bed but that does not leave much time for work or blogging.  I have had to start scheduling my days to incorporate everything that I have taken on at the moment.  I am not sure I always follow said schedule, but it is there!

I think the funniest comment so far was from a neighbour pointing out that we still have a bath in the front garden. I laughed it off.  I do not need to explain that after 4 skips, we ran out of money and the bath stays until we have stabilised finances a bit more.  At the same time, I fail to see why it bothers her so much? My garden, my mess.

So the plan now is to work backwards.  We do not use the front room yet as it was not plastered when we moved in.  It since has been done but life has taken over and we have not finished it yet.  The sensible thing to do now, is to work from that room and out.  Finish the downstairs then work our way up and do the final things upstairs.  Bedrooms are all decorated and it literally is skirting so that should be the home straight when we get up there.  Systematic, logical work and it will fall into place.

The comments will continue I am sure, but I do not mind, no, not at all.  Why?  Well  because at the end of the day, I can say, we did this, yes it took time, energy and money but we did it.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Mental Health Carnival!!

I was asked about joining a Mental Health Carnival and after thinking about it, decided to give it a whirl! It is being hosted by mrsshortie on her blog.  I entered my blog and she accepted it.  Yeah me!
So if you fancy seeing what it is all about, check out mrsshortie's blog  by clicking on this link and read through.  If you find anything helpful let me know.

Driving gestures

Driving gestures could make you think of anything really but one issue is starting to bug me.  When I am driving down the road and another driver kindly lets me pass, I do try and say thank you with a swift raise of my hand.  Sometimes I have been known to forget due to children arguing in the back or the use of my hands trying to drive.  The other drivers then seem to take it on themselves to shout obscenities or raise their hands in rude gestures as I pass.  This of course makes me react badly!

It happened again this morning and I thought, well hang on, according to the Highway Code, I do not have to say anything.  Usually one side or the other has the right of way and in other cases it is down to individual incidents.  So why does everyone feel obliged to thank everyone?  And if a driver cannot say thank you, why does the driver assume it is then OK to be rude?  You have no idea why they did not gesture thanks even though they do not have to.  Why do we as drivers feel we need that?  Is that all our insecurities coming out?  Wanting and needing that recognition that we did a nice thing and let someone pass through?

I am all for thanking as and when, but when I am unable, I should not be made to feel bad nor should I get angry at someone as they decided they should direct their anger at me for not rubbing their ego.  Opinions wanted on this one.  Should we all just calm a little on the roads??

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Anxiety in the beginning.....

As I was looking through my blogs, I realised that there is no background to my anxiety or panic attacks, just what I have gone through recently.  So I thought the best way to solve this is to paste an article I wrote a few years ago when I was trying to understand what is happening.  I hope it gives you a little insight into how far I have come....

From the beginning to the middle, there is no end!

I have only come to realise that after years of suffering, I really should not be ashamed of it nor should I keep it from my loved ones. I cannot sum it up in one word and like anyone else that has suffered, it really is not that straight forward.......
It started after having my first child. Circumstances meant I could not slow down and I had to throw myself back into my life with full speed if I was to achieve my goal of finishing my degree. I use to feel sick everyday and sit on the motorway wondering where I could turn off to go home or sit in lectures and have to suppress the feelings of nausea and dizziness. I felt safe at home, with my partner and daughter and this was to become my haven.
After 2 years, I completed my degree and got married. Life for me then stopped and I had to take stock of what had gone on. I got worse. I started having panic attacks with some resulting in me fainting. I remember once, we were out for my birthday and I suddenly knew I had to leave after a guy had had me in a head lock trying to kiss me and I was trying to get away! I ran outside and just collapsed unconscious on the floor. The bouncers apparently wouldn't help, (I was told this by a friend as I was out cold) as they thought I had taken something and if it had not been for a guy who worked for the St John's Ambulance, helping me, then that could have got worse. My friends took me home and I slept it off.
I did not decide not to go out or leave the house, but that is where I ended up. I would not go to social events, feigning some illness or other. I would not use Public Transport and started not seeing friends. My body changed the way it dealt with these things as I think it knew people needed to see something to believe I was unwell. I already suffered from IBS and so my bowels would just open (excuse the graphics) and I could not leave the house.
Eventually after about 4 years, I agreed to take anti-depressants from my doctor. I never wanted to go down that route, I had always thought they were a taboo, something weak people took. I could see it in my people's faces when they found out, they could not understand but they knew I had not been myself; and supported me. My husband always found it hard, as he was also in that frame of mind. He stood by me.
I saw a Councillor who talked things through with me and said I was suffering from post-natal depression, social aniexty and general anxiety. After a few sessions with him and the tablets, I thought I could take over the World and stopped both. Bad move.
In my head, I thought, these are the things I can do and the things I cannot. I stayed away from trains and buses but was able to start going out more. I did notice when the aniexty started to creep back in but tried to ignore it.
My first child was 8 now and we decided to have another. Straight after having number 2, the anxiety started again. Now, don't get me wrong, I thought it was all under control. Plus I was not depressed at all so I could not understand what was going on. My doctor decided that this time around, we needed to deal with the issue and not just mask it with drugs. I started on a low dose of medication and was referred for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. It took a long time just for the appointment to arrive but the after the first session, I felt different.
By no means am I cured nor is there an easy answer. I have to take each day as it comes. I finished the first stage of therapy and have started to go out more again. I am building it up slowly. As for the trains and buses, I am yet to tackle them but I will. From the therapy, I took away ways and means of dealing with the anxiety as it happens plus I also met others who were like me and I did not feel like the odd one out. I talk more and have a close friend and a husband that I know I can tell anything too, even if it sounds mad in my head, it has to come out so that it doesn't fester.
There is so much more to this story, the ins and outs but I don't need to bore you with it all. I just wanted to tell my side a little and if that helps just one more person, then I have achieved something. I will grow stronger, I have to grow stronger.

Friday, 20 January 2012

what a couple of months!

The house move has been crazy in so many ways.  We completed on the house at the beginning of November and have spent every spare minute since then working at the house.  It is in need of complete modernisation.  The kitchen consisted of a sink and a cupboard in a lovely shade of orange!  The bathroom smelt and I would not let my children in there.  Rooms were musty and the house was heated via a warm air system that came through the house in big steel tunnels from roof to ground floor.

We set about ripping everything out, got an electrician in to re-wire, heating guy in to install central heating and a plumber to install a bathroom.

After a few months of hard work and good workmen, we managed to move into the house on the 23rd December and got Christmas in our new house.  It is nowhere near finished but we are happy to be in and working around all the mess.

The only nightmare has been the plumber.  We used a friends husband and thought that would be a 'safe' thing to do.  His costs started to spiral and the time he took to do things got longer for example, he wanted a day's rate to put a water connection and waste pipe in the garage for a washing machine - bear in mind the water was already in the garage, he just needed to T off the pipe!!!! - he never put in the waste, we did it ourselves but he still wanted a whole days rate for it.  I let that and other things slide but did ask to see receipts for materials.  The costs got to nearly £300 and I had not seen anything so asked for receipts and invoices.  He got evasive about it and finally said he would not show them to me.  My accountant could not understand why not unless he was hiding something........ The plumber started to get rude and the texts I received from him were just vindictive and a way for him to make me look like the one in the wrong.  It is more long winded than this obviously but too much to write here without me getting angry again about the situation and what he put us though.  He ended up walking away from the job and leaving us totally in the lurch.  He did not go away quickly either and the stress levels increased when they really did not need to.  This is the only negative incident in the build so far but we did find a new fabulous plumber who has been fantastic and working weekends and evenings just to get the work done.  Because of the nice new plumber, we were able to get in for Christmas and so I am very grateful to him for that.

The new year brings more building work including more plastering so no more unpacking until the that is done.  It is all very exciting watching the house develop in front of our eyes.  I cannot wait for it to be finished!