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My Son Had A Stammer

Posted on 16th February 2011 in child/ son/ Speech Therapist/ Stammer/ Stutter/ The Kings Speech

I haven’t seen the film yet, but all the hype about The Kings Speech has reminded me of the time when my son had a stammer.

He must have been about 3 or 4 when I could no longer ignore that fact that DS1 was stuttering. He would often seem to get stuck on the first letter of a word or he would repeat the first few words of a sentence over and over.

I admit that I was guilty initially of committing the cardinal sin of speaking for him. I would guess at the word, or phrase, I would finish his sentences for him – sometimes with impatience.

I mentioned it to my Health Visitor and remember being really upset when she immediately referred him to a speech therapist.

My brain was flooded with worries of whether there was something wrong with him, he’d had quite a traumatic birth – had that caused a problem, would he have a stammer forever, would that affect his whole life, would it get progressively worse?

The speech therapist was amazingly reassuring.

She told me that stammering in a child of that age was often an indication of intelligence. Apparently some children stutter because their brain actually works faster than their mouth can!

She gave us some verbal exercises to do, and we saw her 2 or 3 more times. To be honest I think the stammer would have gone by itself just as mysteriously as it arrived, but I don’t doubt that the exercises sped the process up.

DS1 is now 11. He is a very bright articulate boy – looks like she was right!

V is for… Vegetarian

Posted on 14th September 2010 in bear grylls/ headless chicken/ son/ vegetarian

My 9 year old announced yesterday that he is now a vegetarian.

Prior to yesterday he was probably the biggest carnivore on the planet.

His reasons for becoming a vegetarian are:

• the animals don’t ask to be eaten

• it might hurt the animals when they are killed

a chicken once lived for months without it’s head

Bear Grylls knocked a toad out on a cave wall and then ate it’s guts and it was gross

I have decided to humour him and so far (yes for 2 whole days….) he has been eating a vegetarian diet.

I’m not sure if this is the right thing to do or if I should tell him to wait until he is older? Can a 9 year old get sufficient sustenance from a purely veggie diet? What foods should I include to ensure that he receive sufficient protein?

Does any of you have vegetarian children – are there any pitfalls that I should be aware of?

2 is for… Two Moons Tonight?

Posted on 27th August 2010 in 2 moons/ 27 august 2010/ astronomy/ hoax/ mars/ moon/ son

Update:

I did take a photo of the moon last night, and there WAS a planet to the right of it, not quite the ‘2 moons’ extravaganza but there was something there.

But. What planet was it?

Is Friday the 27th of August 2010 the night the WHOLE WORLD is waiting for? Or is it not until 2018?

The rumour is:

“Planet Mars will be the brightest in the night sky starting August. It will look as large as the full moon to the naked eye. This will cultivate on Aug. 27 when Mars comes within 34.65M miles off earth. Be sure to watch the sky on Aug. 27 12:30 am. It will look like the earth has 2 moons.”

The next time Mars may come this close is in 2287.

Whether it is tonight or in 2018, NO ONE ALIVE TODAY will ever see it again.

My 10y/o is very excited about this (have promised faithfully to wake him up at midnight if I can see 2 moons…..) but I’ve also heard that this is an internet hoax – hmmm.

True or false – what do you think?

Making The Best Of It

Posted on 25th August 2010 in brighton/ children/ complaint/ contact/ customer service/ Premier Inn/ son/ step-dad

The plan was that my boys went to stay with their dad for a week (commencing Sat 21 Aug) and that me and my OH would go to Brighton for 2 days leaving on the 22nd.

We would never, ever book for a whole week as my ex is too unreliable for that!

To cut a long story short, sadly (for my boys) my ex did not have them at all. Leaving us with our precious 2 days away disappearing before our eyes AND 2 very disappointed boys.

We decided to still go to Brighton with our vast budget of £200(!). After much trawling of the internet we found a nice looking hotel on Regency Square which offered a ‘family room’ that was actually a double room and a twin room with interconnecting doors via a bathroom – for £120. Huge chunk of the budget but at least it meant that once the boys were in bed we would have our own space to quaff ludicrous amounts of wine, eat chocolate and watch a movie.

Unfortunately, when we checked into the hotel it left A LOT to be desired :(

We’d been really trying to be upbeat about not having time alone, we’d accepted that our trip to Brighton would be very different with 2 boys in tow than on our own, but the state of this hotel was a bridge too far.

Quick list of complaints: damp patch on ceiling in twin room, damp pillows in twin room, no tv in twin room, the double room was actually a twin room too, tiny tv in double room, no chair or mirror in either room, bathroom had a back door in it that was half glass and looked out onto god knows what, bathroom had damp all up one wall, bathroom looked as though someone had vomited up again back door, bathroom paint around the sink was falling off in clumps.

There were other things but that will do. So I got our money back (OH was stunned – said I had no chance of a refund) and we walked 5 mins into town and checked into the Premier Inn.

£77 for a massive family room, all clean and all dry – and we all breathed a sigh of relief!

Off to the pier we went and the boys discovered why mummy saves up change in the big pepsi bottle in the lounge! After we’d emptied a disgraceful amount of change into the machines at the pier we went off for lunch at The Seven Stars – the boys loved it and the OH was very happy too as he had a sneaky pint of Bombardier.

We sat on the beach while the boys threw stones at the sea (never understood that, must be a boy thing), we walked along the sea front and wound our way through the lanes. OH showed the boys the shop where we bought my engagement ring (we got engaged in Brighton – didn’t tell anyone – then on xmas day that year my OH ‘proposed’ on one knee in front of our families).

We had dinner in the Ha Ha Bar which was really nice and the waitress was lovely, we were reminded of how good customer service can be!

Back to the room and we popped the TV on for a 5 minute chill out and OH couldn’t find the freeview channels. After much button pressing, head shaking and tutting he rang down to reception and a lady said she would ‘send someone up’ sure enough, 5 mins later a lady came up, pressed 1 button on the remote and hey presto there were the freeview channels! My 9 y/o who was sitting on the bed with my OH (his stepdad) said “That must have been the only button my dad didn’t press!”. #MagicMoment

Bedtime went smoothly, the boys were good as gold and didn’t make a sound after we’d put them in bed (the promised trip to the LEGO store if they were good may have helped).

Next day started with a massive breakfast (the boys were ridiculously impressed with the premier inn breakfast) and then off the the LEGO store where for some reason our £40 of LEGO rang up at £30 – I did query it as I’m too honest for my own good, lol, but she said if that’s what it rang up at then that’s what it was. Cool. They have a snazzy machine in LEGO shops where if you hold the box up to the screen a 3D image of all the little men and the LEGO model come to life – it’s really cool and OH and I played with it while the boys chose what to buy! My 10y/o was mesmerised by the LEGO Architecture range.

We had booked Sea Life tickets in advance online as it is £15 cheaper that way and had a lovely trip around looking at on the fish, the rays were especially wonderful as we fed them and then they kept sort of standing up in the water and showing us their lovely smiley faces! The boys loved the glass bottom boat trip where we saw sharks and turtles and discovered that a cute little yellow fish was the most dangerous thing in the tank!

A late lunch at an italian restaurant was yummy and then we began the trip home – sadly all the roads were shagged which meant that a 2 hour drive turned into a 4 hour drive but we still all came home happy.

In retrospect, although we missed our weekend away, I think the weekend that we ended up with was pretty special too and I know that it has created some happy and lasting memories for the boys.

Eczema friendly washing liquid

Posted on 17th August 2010 in child/ children/ eczema/ Itchy & Scratchy/ son

A quick post, it’s a review but I want to stress that it’s a review because it’s a product that I wanted to try.

One of my sons has quite severe eczema, this is worsened by almost everything and means that finding suitable laundry products are a bit of a nightmare. Please see The Itchy & Scratchy Show for details of our battle with eczema.

I recently tried a laundry product from Alma Win which claims to be completely safe for people with eczema.

I have tried several other washing products that weren’t meant to be skin friendly and in general have either found them to be completely ineffective at washing or in some cases, actually make his skin worse.

But, I have to say that this stuff actually got the clothes really clean! And he has shown no effects from it.

The bain of my life (well, one of them!) is the kids school polo tops. They seem to be dirt magnets and almost never come clean. But, this liquid detergent got them clean!

Before washing:

After washing:

The only downside to the product, and it’s an obvious one really, is the smell. It has a very subtle aroma of herbs. I quite like it now but found it unusual to start with. It honestly is quite subtle. They do also sell a lemon concentrate that you can add to scent the wash but I was scared of trying it as one of the major things that upsets his skin is citrus.

Product retails for £6.06 for 750ml and is available at www.almawin.co.uk


To eleven plus or not to 11+?

Posted on 17th August 2010 in 11+/ child/ CRGS/ eleven plus/ grammar school/ son

What do you think about the 11+?

My oldest son is quite a clever old sausage and always does very well at school.

We had to move schools recently (1/4 of way through year 5) for 2 reasons, 1 because we weren’t happy with the head teacher at the old school (long story, more of a politician than a caring head teacher), and 2 because we wanted to move nearer to a better comprehensive school. The one we were near was getting around 46% in the league tables which we didn’t feel offered the boys a good enough chance.

The subject of the eleven plus had come up at the old school and the head had said #quote “he hasn’t got a hope in hell”. So, much as I disliked the man I did accept that he probably had a better idea about that sort of thing than me and we forgot all about the 11+.

Fast forward to new school – after 2 weeks the class teacher asked to speak to me and asked me how he was getting on with his eleven plus tuition. I explained that he wasn’t sitting the eleven plus (and why). She was horrified. She said that she was very sure he would have a really good chance of getting into the grammar school and literally said that she begged me to reconsider.

Extra dilemma here is that the grammar school near us is Colchester Royal Grammar school – one of the best grammar school’s in the country. That should be a good thing, BUT, it means that the curriculum is massive and very intense.

From a pressure point of view, it is only acceptable to get As.

Oldest stepson lives in Kent, near him there are 3 grammar schools all of varying degrees of excellence. If we lived in Kent I would be very happy for oldest son to do the 11+ as he would almost certainly pass (nearly 500 boys get in there as opposed to 96 here) and the 2nd/3rd grammars aren’t as intense.

We discussed this with oldest son who said he DOES NOT want to go the the grammar school. He did do 11+ tuition for a while but was incredibly unhappy so after a lot of conversations we agreed to stop the tuition and let him go to the comprehensive.

505 boys sat the exam last year, only 96 got in.

This is a quote from the local gazette (by James Calnan):

TOP selective schools in Colchester are attracting parents who cannot afford to go private.

A “Migration Monitor” used by home move website moveme.com finds the town, which has two of the country’s top five grammar schools, is the third most attractive destination for people looking for a new home.

Chelmsford, with two more grammar schools in the top ten, heads the list and experts believe one reason is that parents who cannot afford to send their children to a fee-paying school are instead paying for private tuition in a bid to get them into a grammar school.

Colchester Royal Grammar School (CRGS) saw the numbers of youngsters hoping to gain entry in September this year increase by nearly ten per cent.

Last November, 505 children hoping to join CRGS sat the 11-plus exam, compared to 464 the previous year, while Colchester County High School has seen a smaller rise, from 485 to 499.

Roseanne Bullen, sales and marketing manager for Linden Homes Eastern, predicted this trend could become more marked in the next few years.

“As a growing number of families shun private schools and their expensive fees in favour of some of the UK’s top grammar schools, Colchester is set to benefit from a surge of families moving into the area,” she added. Read more in the Gazette

I discussed this recently with a lovely lady on twitter – who suggested that I was insane for not putting him in for the 11+ as passing it would mean that he would be educated at one of the best state schools in the country.

Since this conversation, and because I am the queen of indecision, I have discussed this again with oldest son. I also shared with him the aforementioned lovely lady from twitter’s opinion. “No” he said “I don’t want to go”. His reasons are pressure, losing friends, too many languages to learn (he prefers maths and science stuff).

Fine.

Next day, at bedtime, oldest son says “Ok, I’ll go, but can I do the tuition at home?”

EEEEK!

So, with just 3 months to go we are now planning an emergency 11+ tuition programme…. fingers crossed!

But what do YOU think about the eleven plus and about grammar schools? Let me know?

K is for… Kids’ Kitchen

Posted on 18th July 2010 in child/ children/ cooking/ masterchef/ son

Today my boys have taken over the kitchen!

They have made their breakfast (cereal and brioche), made their lunch (grated cheese sandwiches) and for the finale they have made @DhruvBaker1‘s ‘Easy peasy chicken curry’ and some chocolate muffins!

Here is how they got on in Kids’ Kitchen

To start with, need to thank MasterChef 2010 winner Dhruv for his recipe and hope that we’ve done it justice! The recipe (and many more) can be downloaded from The Big Lunch website


This is youngest son, who turned 9 last week, he has expressed an interest in becoming a chef, so let’s see how he gets on! We don’t have a whizzy blendy doodad so this is him using a mezzaluna to chop the garlic and ginger.

Ok, so now he is adding some chopped chicken. As mummy is a bit squeamish with bones we’ve gone for just chicken breast, although the recipe does suggest that you can use whole chickens that you’ve cut into pieces. The onion is a bit rougher than the recipe suggests as again I don’t have a whizzy blendy thing, we’re hoping it won’t adversely affect the overall result.

Seems like an awful lot of fluid! Fingers crossed it will reduce ok and make the ‘thick sauce’ alluded to in the recipe – find out in 40 mins! One thing that you can’t convey on a recipe or indeed a blog is the smell – it smells amazing!

It has reduced beautifully, sauce is quite thick now and tastes gorgeous. Nice one Dhruv!

And so, dessert

This time we have the 10 year old, he has no interest in becoming a chef, but a LOT of interest in chocolate cake!

His only questions during this whole process were “Can I have the bowl?” and “Can I have the spoon”

These babies taste as good as they look! Have a feeling they will be to die for if warmed slightly in the microwave and then served with some cornish ice cream. Mmmmmmm.

Desperately Seeking… Bear Bear

Posted on 29th June 2010 in birthday/ Colchester Zoo/ Keel Toys/ KidAround Magazine/ son

When my youngest was 6 months old we went for one of our regular walks round Colchester Zoo and out through the gift shop. My slightly older son had a habit at the time of collecting plastic animals – we had zillions of them – but youngest son had never really shown much interest.

On this day however, youngest son reached out and plucked a bear off the shelves.

From that day onwards, he and ‘Bear Bear’ were inseparable. Youngest son turns 9 in a couple of weeks and even now Bear Bear goes to bed with him every night.

When Bear Bear needed washing I went back to the Zoo and bought a second bear (Spare Bear) and for a while I got away with swopping the bears.

One weekend when my ex husband and his then girlfriend had the boys, they returned them home without Bear Bear. Youngest son was devastated. Ex husband claimed he was ‘lost in town’ and they had been back to every shop but the bear was no where to be seen.

The next morning I started phoning shops. I rang and continued ringing until I found a shop who said ‘yes, we had a bear left here yesterday’. And so I picked up the bear.

As time has gone on and other toys and computer games have competed for attention, it would seem that Spare Bear has been well and truly lost.

We do still have Bear Bear, but, youngest son has a few abandonment issues and he gets quite sad about the lost bear. He sometimes is tearful at bedtime because ‘he thinks Bear Bear is sad about missing his family’, it is quite heartbreaking.

I have appealed in the newspaper, via KidAround magazine, on a ‘toys reunited website’ and I’ve rung Keel Toys and I’ve been back to the Zoo. It would seem there are no more Bear Bears to be found! After the appeal in KidAround a very lovely lady did contact me and say she had a Bear Bear – I went straight round and it turned out to be a mini-Bear Bear. Youngest son was delighted but he was still sad that we hadn’t found ‘Bear Bears family’.

So this is a last ditch appeal. It would be just amazing if I could find a bear (in any condition) for him for his birthday. Can the power of twitter find that person who has a tatty old brown bear tucked away in a cupboard? Fingers crossed.

K is for… Kreativ Blogger

Posted on 16th May 2010 in 1932/ Blog/ child/ grandparents/ KidAround Magazine/ meme/ Mother/ New York/ son/ wedding
Damn and tarnation, I have been tagged by @himupnorth to do a photo version of the 7 things meme. Actually, sorry – the rules say you have to THANK the person who passes the Kreativ Blogger award on to you, so, ahem, thank you @himupnorth for passing this to me… To try do this justice, I am for once going to attempt to use as few words as possible and let the images do the talking….

Picture 1.

I was quite a cute baby…

Picture 2.

But my mum was cuter!

Picture 3.

I have 2 boys. My DH has 2 boys. The picture below is from a day out at Bewilderwood in Norfolk – we built the den that they are sitting in. And yes, I may have buggered about with the pic in photoshop just a little!

Picture 4.

My grandparents 1932.

Picture 5.

My job – I make this.

Picture 6.

I have lots of amazing pics from New York, and couldn’t decide which was the most iconic – the Empire State? The Algonquin cat? Central Park? The Chrysler building? The Statue of Liberty? In the end I settled on something that surprised me – a black squirrel!

Picture 7.

Last but not least – 3rd April 2009.

And so, to pass the Kreativ Blogger – photo version – 7 things meme onto 5 others…

1 – @1chicmama

2 – @Jon_Stead

3 – @Metajugglamum

4 – @christinemosler

5 – @supersinglemum

So guys – I pass the Kreativ Blogger award on to you – have fun!

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