My Half Term Artist

Half term has been and gone, and much as I kind of dread school holidays and how we’re all going to cope, this half term was super. I think a week, with enough distraction, is just enough for him. And it’s just enough that I don’t resort to the iPad all day every day!

Dont get me wrong he was on the iPad a fair amount. Especially in the mornings when he’d been up since five and mama seriously couldn’t be doing with “building a bigger track” right now. Am I the only one whose child seems to wake up fully ‘on’? It’s like he’s got some internal flip switch, that I just don’t have!

Anywho once I had come around sufficiently, we had some really great days this half term. Lots of joint interactions, some of which lasted ages. I did my heart good to see him really collaborating with me and really showed me how far he’s come since starting school.

We did all sorts last week, from trips to the park, to train rides, to hair cuts to meeting up with friends. All of which was wonderful. But really the things I enjoyed the best were the days when we turned to the art cupboard.

When Oscar left Nursery back in July, he still wasn’t drawing anything, despite his well developed fine motor skills, and the artwork that came home was only ever daubs of colour. As the Educational Psychlogist noted, he still wasn’t engaging in any “meaningful mark making”.

That all started to change almost as soon as he started school and over the last term the paintings and drawings have been becoming more and more recognisable. And not only is he now drawing things both he and others can identify, he loves it. And I mean LOVES it. So last Tuesday we spent a couple of hours with pads of paper and markers and he went for it. Each image he drew, I cut it out and he’d blu-tac it to the wall.

And before long the walls were covered.

The aquatic wall, including fish, sharks, “shark whales” and even a squid! All named by Oscar

Sodor. Can you see the steam and the tenders? So detailed!

Alllll of the rockets. Blast Off!

I worked out that over the course of the week (as he added a few more here and there over the week) he drew 44 fish, 31 engines and 24 rockets. And 4 ambulances, randomly. He’s nothing if not prolific!

Yes he has his favourite subjects, but these marks ARE meaningful. I kind of wish the EP could see them. I think they’re ruddy glorious!

Obviously when he went back to school I needed a bit of my own space back and yes I did take them all down. But never fear, I painstakingly transferred them to his room. The fish are swimming up the stairs and the engines hiding in an alcove. And he loves them.

The aquarium is now swimming up the stairs to his room!

And for that I’d have all the blu-tac marks on my walls in the world 🙂

 

Friends, fish and fire – our first school Half Term

Half term has been and gone and while Oscar definitely showed me that he was missing the routine of school, he did really well and we had lots of fun.

Cousin love

We started the holiday with a lush visit from Ben’s sister and her two little ones. I love my niece and nephew so much and watching Oscar play with them (sometimes happily, sometimes grumpily!) just makes me so happy. We had such a lovely time, I was even willing to forgive that they both asked over the course of two days “Auntie Lisa why is your house so tiny”. Out of the mouths of babes I guess!

Cousin cuteness

Cousin cuteness

We took them to our favourite hangouts while they were here, including Applegarth Farm and Dylan’s Milk Barn. Rachel said she felt like she knew Dylan’s already having heard me talk about it so often. I might start charge Ben, the owner a PR fee!

The Neicephews discover Dylan's

The Neicephews discover Dylan’s

Home Start

Once they’d returned home we had a lovely visit from our old Home Start Volunteer. Despite being released from the programme that helps preschool families, our wonderful Rent a Gran (as I lovingly call her), was worried about how Oscar had got on since starting school. It was so touching to know she’d been thinking of us. She popped over for a catch up and bought me such a lovely begonia. It reminded me of the one’s my own Nanna would always have in the house when I was small.

begonia

A kind and thoughtful gift

National Marine Aquarium Plymouth

We finished the week with a short trip down to Plymouth to see some friends. Oscar loved having a sleep over with their daughter and they played so nicely (he kept asking for her once we left). Our friends couldn’t get over the improvement in Oscar’s language. When you hear it every day it’s hard to remember just how much has changed in such a short space of time.

We couldn’t go all that way without a trip to Oscar’s absolute favourite – The National Marine Aquarium. You might remember we went at Easter and I kid you not it’s the only place Oscar has ever asked to go back to. Again and again! Periodically since April he’s just asked “We go Quarium?”. It’s been heartbreakingly cute. And so we planned to take him for the last hour when we arrived on Friday, as we did last time. And like last time we didn’t have to queue and we kind of tailed the majority of the other visitors. Or rather we would have, had Oscar not just been sat in a car for four hours. He went in at top speed and raced around glancing at the tanks as he flew past. When we got to the end he announced he needed the loo. So we found one near the beginning and when he came out, we just started the Aquarium all over again, this time much slower. It worked a treat!

The main tank at the National Marine Aquariu

The main tank at the National Marine Aquarium. Stunning

father and son at aquarium

“Look daddy it’s broken!” Oscar was fascinated by the environments created at the aquarium

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Oscar loved getting up close and personal with the biggest fish tank he’s ever seen!

boy and fish

Happy Boy

A rare still moment.

A rare still moment.

The staff at the NMA were just as lovely as always. I realised half way down to Devon that I’d forgotten our DLA and Carer’s letters to prove we were entitled to concession tickets. Just in case, I tweeted them to ask if there was any other way of getting the concession price. I was told to ask for Olly at the desk. When we arrived we did just that and he told the front of house to waive our fee. It was just so kind and much appreciated. Thank you Olly!

Out of interest I also saw this while we were going round. I’m gutted we will miss it again, but if you know anyone who may appreciate a quieter session at the National Marine Aquarium then the next one is on 16th November. Find out more here.

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Bonfire

We finished our stay with a family bonfire at our friend’s dad’s beautiful cottage just outside Plymouth. We had an amazing bonfire, a bbq and a chance to catch up with friends we’ve known for years. And I mean years. I met our hosts sister on her first day at secondary school. 26 years ago! It was so lovely to see everyone and to watch our children get to know each other. Oscar was nervous of the dogs to begin with, but once he started playing with the children he relaxed and stopped noticing them. He had so much fun. And it was a night of firsts for him too. His first sparkler, that he loved and was very good with (with 100% supervision) and his first McDonalds, that he didn’t like at all. Fair enough. Thank you to the Pringle clan for making us so welcome. As always.

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Family Bonfire

Oscar's first sparkler. I held his hand until he said, "no mummy I do it" !

Oscar’s first sparkler. I held his hand until he said, “no mummy I do it”

Back to school

I was worried how the holidays, the first break from school since he started in September, would go. And I know I definitely saw some signs that he was missing it, but really, he coped amazingly well, showing off his improved language and social skills. And despite being ill this week (impetigo apparently, no I didn’t know what it was either!) he’s had a great return to school.

And today he had his first fully dry day without accidents since he started.

This year just keeps getting better for him!

 

 

KidRated’s Top 10 for Half Term

It’s half term. Another week in which to find things to do and hope your kids don’t massacre one another with boredom have a great time. If you’re in or near enough to London for day trips, this is always an option for boredom busting. I’ve never been brave enough to take Oscar up to the big smoke yet, but I can’t wait until I am. We went to our local science museum in Winchester recently and he loved it, so I can only imagine how much he’d enjoy the National Science Museum when we’re both ready.

But if you are there already, taking the children up to London for the day can make amazing memories. And you don’t have to just visit the usual suspects. My buddy Simon over at KidRated, has been doing some research and has come up with this amazing list of things to do with children, in and around London, this half term.

 

HMS Belfast

HMS Belfast is a ship, permanently moored on the Thames and run by the Imperial War Museum. It’s a firm favourite with kids and over half-term week, they’ll be teaching children how ‘dazzle’ camouflage was used to keep the ship safe during WW2!

Kids Will Love: The nine decks to explore

Adults Will Love: Kids go free and there’s a great cafe.

 

Thorpe Park Fright Nights

Teenagers should visit Thorpe Park this half term if they want to be seriously scared because Fright Nights are back. The horrors include riding Colossus in the dark and, exploring the new circus themed Big Top scare maze.

Kids Will Love: Anything that scares them witless.

Adults Will Love: Dropping them off.

13+ and over.

 

Brick or Treat at Legoland Windsor

The fantastic plastic park promises a whole host of ‘spook-tacular’ activities, plus their usual 55 rides, live shows and attractions. It all kicks of on the 17th October and runs until 2nd November.

Kids Will Love: The New Heartlake City attraction

Parents Will Love: The fireworks.

 

The Shard

A half-term visit to London’s highest landmark is well worth the trip as kids go free. Timed access to the Viewing Gallery means it never really feels busy and overcrowded, and kids rate it highly!

Kids Will Love: The express lifts, the friendly guides and the digital time travelling telescopes.

Adults Will Love: The view and the bar!

26th October – 1st November

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Bletchley Park

Packed with exhibits, both historical and interactive, you can easily spend the day here and many people do. The huts in which the code-breakers worked have been lovingly recreated and other highlights include authentic Enigma devices, a restored Bombe machine and a dedicated exhibit to the great Alan Turing.

Kids Will Love: The snazzy iPod guides.

Adults will love: The costumes and props from The Imitation Game still infused with essence of Cumberbatch.

Under-12s go free,

 

London RIB

We doubt there’s a kid in NW10 who doesn’t love the London RIB Voyages. With their distinctive red ‘Rocket’ boats, it’s one of our best-reviewed attractions. Warm coats are provided and don’t forget to take your camera because the sights look amazing from the Thames.

Kids Will Love: The funny guides and super speeds.

Adults will love: The 80s/90s soundtrack on the boats.

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Tower Bridge

The Tower Bridge Exhibition was always great, but since it installed the glass walkway it’s become a must-see. There are maps, films, interactive exhibits and of course the best views in London – both up and down the Thames. Don’t forget the bridge opens, so time your visit right and you’ll catch that as well.

Kids Will Love: The glass walkway of course!

Adults Will Love: The Victorian engine rooms at the foot of the bridge. Two experiences for the price of one!

 

RATATOUILLE and FROZEN at The Royal Albert Hall

Visit the Royal Albert Hall for a winning combination of animation and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. This half term they’re screening Frozen & Ratatouille. The former is the musical that has driven parent insane and the latter is the animated classic about a cooking rat. Both are true stories apparently…

Kids Will Love: That song

Adults Will Love: That song ending and seeing films in such sumptuous surroundings.

Booking required

 

Dark Arts at Warner Bros Studio Tour (The Making of Harry Potter)

Halloween is the perfect time to make the Potterhead pilgrimage to Watford. Kids will be able to test their duelling skills against Death Eaters and explore a carriage on The Hogwarts Express

Kids Will Love: The Great Hall, which will be decorated with apples, pumpkins and cauldrons of lollipops.

Adults Will Love: The incredible animatronics and handy transport links!

Booking required

WhatsOn_DarkArts

 

And of course there’s always the CINEMA

Handy if it rains and even better if you’re hungover, you can’t beat the cinema.

Younger kids and first-timers, check out Maya The Bee. An animated adventure about a cute bee and her friend, Willy.

For more experienced cinema goers check out Bill, a Shakespeare biopic by the Horrible Histories team. Paper Planes – a heartwarming film about a young Australian competing in the World Paper Plane Championships in Japan. And Pan, a new take on the J.M. Barrie classic.

Kids Will Love: All of them but especially Bill.

Parents Will Love: Bill.

 

KidRated is a website where all the reviews have been done by kids.

You can sign up for their Newsletter, follow them on Twitter, like them on Facebook or even K-Rate something yourself by uploading a review.

 

This is not a sponsored post, I just wanted to share some great ideas with you all.

Hope you have a great half term!

Mummascribbles

Back to School

What a shocking start to June hey?! Its blooming awful where we are but I’m pleased to inform you the trampoline is still where we left it, despite the wind. I tell you I’m relieved we had our gutters professionally cleaned yesterday. They’re working over time now!

Oscar’s had a terrible week or so, with all recent the changes in routine. I think he’s just telling me he’s not happy about it. His return to preschool, which I thought would bring him some relief, actually didn’t seem to be the magic wand I hoped it would be. As soon as we turned into the school’s road, he started squirming and crying and shouting ‘Uh Uh’, ‘Uh Uh’. I eventually talked him into getting out of the buggy, but then he insisted on being held and would not get down or even be passed to his favourite Miss Tasha. I guess a lot of children go through this when they return to school after any sort of break, but it kinda threw me. He’s never, ever been clingy to me the whole time he’s been going there. Not on his first day, not after Easter, never. And I guess I handled it badly. I stayed with him, less for Oscar’s sake (I fully appreciate that children are often fine as soon as their parents leave) but more that I didn’t want the staff to potentially have to deal with a true Autistic melt down first thing on a Monday morning!

So I stayed. I went in the garden with him and told his TA all about how amazing he was on our recent trip to Wales and he calmed right down. So then I tried to leave and he started all over again (see I told you I handled it poorly!) Anyway eventually I managed to leave him, and was grabbed for a quick, impromptu meeting with his EYIA (local authority lady) who was visiting that day. Which was fine, until I heard Oscar screaming outside the room we were in.

I know I should have left it. Let the staff deal with it. But I just couldn’t. I jumped up and practically ran to him. Which, of course, made things worse and worse. Eventually I asked his TA if she just wanted me to stay, but she (quite rightly) said it would be better for me to leave, or he’d expect me to be there every session. She assured me she was prepared to deal with any melt downs and so I left. In a great big mental tizzy. I wasn’t upset, so much as confused and.. well no I was upset.

You see I don’t cope well without the surety of his routine either. I’ve always needed to know we had things planned from his earliest days, but the older he gets the more I need the small amount of time I get without him. Two weeks being ‘on’ with him has been exhausting. I feel the disruption in the rhythm of our lives just as keenly as I suspect he does. By the end of last week neither of us were coping very well.

I was totally focusing on him going back to school, rather selfishly, for my own relief. When it didn’t work out how I expected it threw me kinda sideways, I wont lie to you. So when I finally left him I did what every good 21st Century mama who has an hour to kill does. I headed to a favourite haunt, ordered coffee, a granola bar (granola’s healthy right? 😉 ) and dived into social media. I thought I might write a post, but it turned out having a rant/laugh on Twitter, was much better for the soul that day.

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I returned to collect him feeling calmer but actually quite apprehensive as to what I’d find and, more importantly, be left to deal with for the rest of the day. His teachers told me he’d calmed down eventually, although had continued to ask to leave. He was pleased to see me and keen to get in his buggy, which in itself is unusual, but they were right, he was calmer. The tears were gone and he did seem much more relaxed.

So maybe it just took him a while to figure it out. To hear the beat that we usually live our lives by and start to dance in to it again. I don’t know. I’ll probably never know. He’s been much calmer the rest of the week too (despite the filthy weather). Monday left me dreading Friday’s drop off. Now I’m just aware it might hard. And being aware means I can change my expectations and plan to act accordingly.

What’s the betting he runs in without a glance back, like usual?

Hope your back to school’s went well and your children are finding their rhythm this half term.

xx