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Friday, 21 July 2017

End of term or end of an era?

So, as school breaks up for the summer holidays, I'll admit it hasn't quite been the end of term I thought we'd be having.

Thank you teacher from Sasha

This is Sasha's message to her teacher at the end of this school year; this teacher has been great with Sasha and tried very hard to accommodate and teach her and it's true that she will be missed.

Sasha has now been at home full time for four weeks; in that time there have of course been many meetings and phone calls and emails for me to deal with. At the same time, I've had to try to persuade Sasha to do work which has been sent home, and have tried to keep her occupied whilst also managing the various workmen in and out of the house. It's not that Sasha doesn't want to be at school; in fact she is currently definite that she doesn't want me to home educate her. She wants a school to go to, but one where there will be more children like her. 

We attended a meeting at school yesterday and arrived as the children were outside playing. Sasha hid behind me as we walked in; she wanted to avoid the attention from lots of children at once. Once spotted though, there were shouts of her name and a couple came closer. I could hear one of the classmates instructing others not to approach Sasha, saying very clearly 'she doesn't like that, remember?!'. One girl came right up though and put her arms around Sasha to give her a big hug, even though Sasha still kept her back to her and her hands over her ears! 

I think both actions were good in different ways; the instruction to stay away actually showed great understanding, but the hug showed Sasha how much she was loved, by many of her classmates. I like to think she's taught them a fair amount about difference....

Classmates group hug in park after end of school
Today was the last day of school with an early finish after lunchtime. The tradition has always been to go to the local park with a picnic once school is out and so I tentatively suggested to Sasha that we might go and join them at that time even though she wasn't in school. I honestly wasn't expecting her to agree to go, especially as she was aware that many of her classmates would be there and so the same excitement might happen. Maybe it was the hug swung it for her though; she was a little unsure but agreed to go. We went early so that she had time to check the playground out, and then we watched from a distance as her classmates started to arrive.
  Sasha running towards friends in park

As I watched her run across the park towards the first two girls, tears sprang to my eyes. Then I was even more amazed as she went off to chat with a bigger group for a little while, leaving me to chat with the mums (who I've been missing - it's amazing how much you want a school run when you don't have one any more...). Despite being a little anxious of dogs generally she then made friends and played with this cute dog belonging to one of her classmates:

Sasha taking dog for a run
There were then some group photos as we left (amazing that Sasha agreed to pose momentarily for those) and more hugs for Sasha from her lovely classmates. 

I went through a whole bunch of mixed emotions; love for the children who have been so understanding and accepting of her, happiness that she has in fact managed so well at mainstream school and for much longer than I ever thought she would, but also sadness that we've now reached the point where she has realised she's too different for that and it's not a way of learning which suits her, and the knowledge that there is no easy path forward. Or at least that's how it seems for now. While you're enjoying your summer ice creams, watch this space and keep your fingers crossed everyone...

Mummy Times Two

The writing of the card and this whole school year has been a huge achievement for Sasha and so I'm also linking up with:


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Monday, 17 July 2017

Siblings {July 2017}

Wow, another month has flashed by and time for the Siblings photo has come round again!
Stephs Two Girls by front door

I love this photo even though it's pretty rubbish in terms of showing off my skills (one day I'll make it onto that photography course, promise....).

There are the usual 20 photos preceeding this one, where one or other (but mostly Sasha, I'll be honest) of the girls was pulling a face or moving too quickly for the photo. Tamsin has now cottoned on to the fact that the sooner they both look at the camera and smile, the sooner I'll stop taking photos... she's not daft, my oldest girl. This time, she promised Sasha that they could play on Minecraft together if Sasha would just pose for a 'nice' photo, so I snapped a few more 'fixed pose' ones before Sasha spontaneously reached to hug big Sis. 

The main photo 'warms the cockles of my heart' - definitely makes this parenting lark all worthwhile. They had already been playing beautifully together in the park shortly before this - swings and roundabout, reminded me of their early childhood!

Another busy month with house renovation and school events galore - we're all looking forward to the summer holidays now and some time to relax!

The Siblings Project - Dear Beautiful

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Wednesday, 12 July 2017

School Update

Time to update the blog, very briefly, about how Sasha is getting on.
Sasha building dens in wood
Sasha exploring at the local Bluebell Wood, where she told me about the 4 different types of energy that she had learned about by watching the Stampylongnose Wonderquest series on YouTube

For reasons which will be clear to many, I'm not able to go into too much detail at this point. Sasha had been attending a mainstream primary school, but we reached a point about three weeks ago where it all became too difficult for her. Right now, she is at home, and adamant that she won't be returning to that school.

The positive news is that she says she does want to go to school - she has asked for an autism school. A school where there are children like her. That leaves me with somewhat of a challenge, and possibly helps explain why I can't tell our tale in all its glory right now.

There is much to try and do right now that I'm not sure where to begin (and that's not just the housework I'm talking about...) so instead I decided to share with you the highlight of my week so far.

Sasha and I went into school for a meeting with the Headteacher and SENCO this morning. I'd suggested it, so Sasha could tell them in her own words how she is feeling about everything. I suspected she might not say much, as conversation can be a struggle for her - especially at times of high anxiety. Being back in the school where she doesn't want to be, sitting down in the Headteacher's office, was always going to be a difficult situation for her (for many of us, if we're being honest!).

Questions were asked, answers were somewhat stilted and quiet, and then the Headteacher made a comment in relation to what could be done at school.

'Anything is possible, Sasha', he offered with a smile.

'What, like flying when you're pooping?' questioned Sasha, quick as a flash, with a cheeky grin.

Tears sprung out of the corners of my eyes. To be fair, the Headteacher only took a moment to compose himself before responding that aeroplanes do have toilets. And the SENCO pointed out that birds can do it.

Honestly, I have no idea where life will take us next on this journey with our amazing little girl, but one thing I know for sure. Life will never be boring. 

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Friday, 7 July 2017

Live at Pizza Express!

I couldn't believe my luck last week when I was offered pizza, Prosecco and dough balls at the newly refurbished Pizza Express in High Holborn, London.

Pizza Express Live brochure

Not only are they three of my favourite things ever, but it meant I got a chance to escape the house and pretend I was a grown-up again - my journey even took me past the tall glass office block in central London where I used to work many moons ago!

This restaurant is very near to theatre land and Covent Garden so is well worth noting in your memory bank for when you are next in the big city. It has been given beautiful tan leather seating and the flooring is now a high quality oak, making the whole space feel very upmarket. There's also some beautiful artwork and a very stylish bar area towards the back, which is where we were put to work with the dough.

There were several bloggers invited along the evening I was there, as you may notice from my arty shots with other cameras in...

We took part in a pizza making party very much like the ones you can book for your child's birthday in Pizza Express restaurants across the country (except with much more Prosecco). We were given a demonstration of how to flatten and stretch the dough, which is actually much trickier than it looks.

Our chef flung his up into the air but I had a suspicion that if I tried likewise, pizza would then be off the menu, so I decided to stick with a rolling pin.

Of course I couldn't resist a nod to my two girls while I was there; I knew this would make them smile....

Making pizzas at home with children always seems so simple in that 'throw it on' kind of way, but it would seem there's an exact science to every step - a ladle full of sauce, spread from the centre out so it's not too thick or too thin, for example.

I think we were all quite proud of our efforts as we sent them off to the kitchen... however eating my cooked version which was returned to me only served to prove cooking is not my strength. My pizza was good, but not as amazing as the ones made by the real Pizza Express chefs!

After our food, we were excited to see this sign as we were led downstairs to the real star of the show in this particular restaurant.... 
Pizza Express Live

 ....a basement venue for live music to go with your pizza and Prosecco. 

High Holborn Pizza Express Live venue

It's an amazing space set up with a variety of table options for couples or groups of various sizes, and there's a semi circular bar right at the front of the stage if you're keen to be up close. Food will be served before and during the shows, which will be ticketed events, and the sound system which we got to test out is brilliant.

A variety of music and comedy acts are being booked to perform here in High Holborn when it opens in September; Pizza Express Live already has five other venues in the UK, including their Soho setting which is exclusively for jazz. For more information on what's on when, check out the Pizza Express Live website.

Will Young picture
Will Young performing at Pizza Express Live in Birmingham

Disclosure: This is a collaborative post with Pizza Express. All experiences, opinions and words are my own!

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