Second thoughts about school

Sophia has really been struggling this year with school. It really is amazing what a difference a teacher can make.

Last year her teacher was the first to actually take her Autism seriously, as he has relatives who are Autistic as well. Most teachers so far, just expect her to fit in and don’t check in with her to see how she is doing. She thrived last year.

She is bored at school. She has learned a lot of what they are just starting to learn in her class so she gets bored and then disconnects. She also has to take Woodworking every Wednesday which she hates and is extremely afraid she will cut off her finger.

Combine her fear with her sensitive hearing, and the fact that her anxiety about the class kicks in as soon as she wakes up, and her nervous system gets overwhelmed before she even goes there. She even spends some Tuesday nights awake, unable to sleep due to stressing about the next day.

She has been home a lot this year, for a few reasons. There have been some really terrible viruses going around this year and we seem to get every one!

She has been struggling with her menses as she has a heavy flow and there is no allowances made with regard to PE while she is dealing with that, and any woman who has worn pads can tell you, running or playing sports while bleeding heavy makes a real mess and you get worse cramping.

They worship sports and physical activity here and I just don’t get it. It seems like there is a running or biking competition every couple weeks and of course it is mandatory that you participate.

This angers me, because it strips our children’s right to consent about what happens with their bodies. This is a huge issue and not only for girl’s but also, the boys. They see and perpetuate that you can force people to do what they don’t want to do just by pressuring them and telling them they have to. Also, it takes away the child’s ability to be sensitive to what their bodies are telling them. It interferes with their Autonomy and individuality, which is sadly, what schools were originally designed to do. This all needs to change.

Another issue for her, is that she keeps getting sick, some off it is anxiety, which has always manifested as stomach issues for her.  Also, she is environmentally sensitive, so she feels seismic, barometric and electromagnetic variances, so any changes in those areas and she is affected physically and emotionally. She gets that from me, I have the same thing. This has been steadily increasing the past couple years.

Her psychic and empathic abilities are also harder to ignore at this age, so she feels other people and knows things about them. It can be confusing when someone’s words don’t match the energy they are sending out. This is such a tricky age with Extra-Sensory development (now called Sensory Processing Disorder.)

She has had some of her tics coming back which indicates stress. Her appetite has been all over the place and so have her moods. The rage that comes form her is quite overwhelming at times, and I know she needs help channeling that again.

I work with her of course, but catching it in the moment is crucial to helping her recognise the subtle changes before they get to that point.

This illness, anxiety and stress… is all from school. I am seriously considering taking her out and homeschooling her again.

I know she will have great opportunities for learning, and make friends within the homeschooling community. They have an amazing Network here locally and do some really great activities.

Her class is taking a trip to Wellington next week and she can’t go. Brent asked to be one of the parents, but he wasn’t chosen, so she won’t go. I know this is the best decision for her, but it still sucks that she missed out on the opportunity.

We sat down with her and explained the trip and what they would be doing. Just the thought of it made her anxious so we decided as a family we would keep her home due to health reasons.

I can’t have her so far away in that environment without one of us there if she needs help. If she had a full blown meltdown, they wouldn’t know how to handle her. Also, her classmates may not treat her the same once they witnessed a full meltdown and we can’t allow that to happen.

We will take her on a trip down there as a family and see some if the places she missed. She has been to some of it already, when we took our family holiday last year. Thanks to IHC and their Take A Trip Getaway package they so generously awarded us. You can read more about Day 1 here and day 2 here.

Brent and I will talk with her again and go over what her options are. If she is going to keep missing school, I would prefer that she is homeschooled. Right now, she is in a state of confusion and the anxiety and stress are affecting her physically and that is not good.

At least if she homeschooled, I know she is still meeting (and exceeding) her education requirements and can join in their activities and make some friends within the group. She gets along with everyone at school, but yet has no one she is really connecting with.

We will see what happens, but for now, she is in bed, and will stay home again with a slight fever. She has a head cold and a sore throat. She has also been very angry, sleepy and withdrawn for the past few days and her tics have increased. I know she wouldn’t be ok in her classroom in this shape.

We are having a lot of seismic unrest, and that always affects her, and myself. I think we will have a good quake soon to release some of the pressure. Hopefully it will be out to sea and not affect anyone directly, but I also know that God always has a plan.

Now to make a plan with my girl and see how she feels about trying to homeschool again, or even do Te Kura (homeschooling with a Teacher that visits once per week).

Finnic for Ace

Art by 8yellowcats for +Ace (The Parademic)

On a lighter note, you can check out some of her latest works of art here, and some of her older work. This is how she copes, doing art. She is really pushing her boundaries and trying new things and I love watching her artwork blossom. She is so talented and I would love to get her into some art classes. Maybe we can take them together. 😀

This post was read and approved by Sophia. 😉 Thanks for stopping by and have a great day. Feel free to leave a comment.

 

 

 

Trialing School Day 1

Sophia is off to school today for a 20 day trial with the expectation to have her enrolled if all goes well.

This was her idea, she has been talking about it for a month, but last week she said she was ready for me to make an appointment so we did.

This past week we have been meeting with the new (to us) Principal and the Teacher of her school to set it all up.

She got the news on Friday that she would be going back, so she had time to process over the weekend. She was very excited that she was going to start today.

She has been practicing getting up with her alarm for the past couple weeks, and getting herself ready so that she would be all good to go this morning.

She showered last night so she would have less to this morning. She got up on her own to her alarm, got dressed, ate breakfast and did her hygiene routine before getting her bag ready and helping me pack her lunch.

Her Teacher is the same one who taught our son Max in year 6. He also worked with Sophia when she was there before so she is also familiar with him. He has also known Brent since they were in school together.

He is a lovely man who has extensive first hand ASD knowledge as a co-carer for his adult autistic brother-in-law.

This Teacher and the new Principal are why we decided to trial her this year when Sophia asked if she could go back to school. She knows she is ready and we are pretty confident that she is right.

We had excellent meetings and discussed her diagnosis and all of her possible triggers and preferences. I went prepared with a printout and he was happy to have it. Here is the link Diagnosis and Triggers for Teacher. We also discussed her strengths and methods for success.

He said most of the triggers and allowances are similar to those of his Brother-in-law so it was easy for him. What surprised and delighted me, is that he even knows the intuitive nature of the sensory issues with regard to feeling others emotions.

He also knows how sensitive the girls are at menses and said staying home is not an issue and of he knows when it is, he knows to be more sensitive with the girls.

We are really looking forward to seeing how well she transitions back into school. She has grown so much in the past couple of years, especially with regard to her self-confidence and knowing who she is.

I took this photo this morning of her first ‘school’ day of year 6.

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“I am nervcited Mom”

We went in early, and it was nice seeing the teacher and some of her old friends waiting for her when she arrived.

He assigned her a desk next to her BFF when she was there last, so she was even more excited. When I left, another of her old friends was showing her around and she was settling in.

She knows her ‘safe space’ and that she is allowed to go there when she gets overwhelmed. She also knows the school well and the staff and that she can ring me.

I am sure she will have a fabulous day and I am very happy for her. We are confident she will breeze past her 20 day trial and want to continue.

I will write more after school, now I am going to bake a cake for the family as they are all awesome and deserve to be spoiled.

 

 

 

Day two of our Adventure weekend

We were up early and all pretty excited about the day. We left the hotel at 9 and went in to town to get a better look around before we left.

It feels a lot like parts of New Plymouth and has some great little shops and cafes.

I wanted a coffee so we stopped in at The Coffee Gallery. They had decaf so I got a decaf mocha and Max got a Turkish delight hot chocolate. Brent and Sophia did not want anything. They were soooo delicious! Very cute little shop with a lot of artwork and jewellery for sale. Definitely a must for a great coffee and atmosphere.

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We still had time to spare, so we popped in at the OpShop up the block and found an Avengers cartoon dvd set in a metal case to add to our geekdom collection.

Then we headed up the road to Hobbiton! Road signs have never been so exciting.

The drive there was so beautiful, and the expected thunder storm had passed over night to leave us a beautiful day for our adventure.

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And there in the green countryside we found Hobbiton!

We arrived 15 minutes early for our 10am private tour so we had a quick rest room stop and a look around the gift shop while we waited. What an amazing  gift shop. We were going to but a felt Gandalf Hat for Lamby, but I will just make her one myself.

The tour was just us and our tour guide, Waiata, in a private bus. It was absolutely perfect as it was pretty busy there.

Our Guide was great and shared a bunch of movie trivia and facts about filming as we went along. The drive in was beautiful. This is still a working farm which is pretty awesome.

And here we are at the entrance. They had a huge umbrella station at the entrance too for when it rains. that was pretty cool. They handed out a small pamphlet to each of us for the tour.

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Up the path we started off with a couple homes at Gandolf’s Cutting and then went through the garden. It was just magical! All the small details, like the rabbit hutch, bird feeders and even the little books in the windows.

At the gate for the garden, he told us how they created the lichen with sawdust and paint. Also they employ full time gardeners to keep the crop seasonal and fresh.  The tour guides also help with maintaining the site which is really awesome.

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Next we headed toward the frog pond and the orchard and saw more hobbit homes.

There was so much detail and character for each home. I just loved seeing the workmanship that went into, and continues to happen on this site. Look at the chairs and the smoked fish and even the fences are all handmade. My favourite things were the mailboxes and hanging bird houses.

We made it to the Frog Pond and Orchards towards Gully’s Gardens.

At Gully Gardens there were more homes in a small group which were fenced off. I would have loved to e able to just sit down there and relax in the energy of this place. A bit up the path, there was one home with small jars out front that were so cute, and the firewood area was pretty cool too.

Next we walked up a steep hill and looked at the upper area where more homes were added on for the Hobbit movie.

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We then carried on toward Bag End, stopping at more hobbit homes along the way.

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And there, at the top of the hill, we found Bag End. It was the highlight of the tour.

We headed down towards the Green Dragon, but along the way we stopped off at more homes. We loved looking at all the detail of each unique little home and yard.

Next we went to the Carpenter’s home and Brent got to try out the tools. Very clever craftsmanship in this small area. The small ladder and the sawhorses were so cute. That is also the canopy from the backside of the party area.

We followed the path along to Samwise Gamgee’s home. It was a larger scale in a block of homes.  The yellow door that you see in the pictures is Sam’s place.

We carried on over the ‘Merry Meander’, over a small bridge and through some bush.

This brought us to ‘The Water’ and another large tent and an ale wagon. The opposite side is a small pond where we saw two black swans and their young ones decide to go for a swim.

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We then came up on the bridge and fishing area near the Watermill.

We reached the Green Dragon Inn and went in for a specialty drink while we waited for lunch. I tried the stout and Brent had the ale. Max had a ginger beer and Sophia had water in a cup like ours. They were really good. The decor was so cool inside too.

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It was lunch time after this so we headed into the Festive Lunch tent and had some delicious food.

It was a lovely atmosphere, with rich colours everywhere, buntings and flowers. The food was a buffet style and was very nice, especially the dessert table.

There was even a very plump cat who decided to sit next to Sophia and got a couple scratches (and bits of her meal.)

WP_20170811_333After a quick stop in the loo, we headed to the 2nd gift shop and had a look on our way back to the van. There was a cute tiny door outside the loo and the shop looked like a Hobbit’s shop with some great stuff in there!

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Max got to sit in the front on the way out as he had offered to get the gate for our Guide Waiata.

We went back to the start and after making Waiata pose for a picture, we headed in to the large gift shop. We the sat for a bit while Sophia wrote out the postcard for Nana. They could be mailed from there, so it was even cooler to send. I wore my new elf ears and the kids were not impressed. My husband however, thought I was adorable.

What an epic adventure this was. I would dare say the best one yet in my life and I am looking forward to going back for the evening dinner tour one day. Thank you Waiata and all the staff and workers of Hobbiton, you are all amazing; keep up the great work.

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We left Hobbiton just after 1 and headed back to Tirau on our way to Rotorua. It was such a beautiful drive. We also snapped a pic of the good shepherd and the dog from the front.

We then stopped off at the Mamuka Blue Blueberry Farm to get some treats as Sophia and I love blueberries and we all love supporting local businesses. We got blueberry juice, Blueberry Mankuka honey candies and some blueberry truffles. All delicious!

We checked into the hotel just after 3pm and were pleasantly surprised by this gorgeous place. Upstairs had 3 beds and downstairs had the main area with the large bed, bathroom, lounge and kitchen with a dining table that extended and just off the bedroom was the patio with the outdoor spa pool.

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Sophia wanted to play on the playground so Max walked her over and stayed with her. We could see her from our window, so it was just perfect. After they came in, Sophia wanted a (not so hot) spa pool before dinner so we filled it up and she told Max he could get in too, so that was nice. They stayed in for a while then when Max got out to shower, she put on her goggles to see how the bubbles looked underwater and had a nice play making a splashy mess.

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We all decided on Carl’s Jr for dinner as it is another place we rarely eat at. It was a nice place. A woman dropped her whole milkshake as we were finishing up ordering and it went everywhere. Thankfully only a small bit on the woman’s own shoes, and no one else, it was mostly the floor and the doors. Sophia felt so bad for her, she even asked where the napkins were so that she could help her clean up her mess. We told her that was very kind of her, but the worker was getting a mop and bucket to help her.

Dinner was very good. When we got back to the room, Brent and Max watched The Fastest Indian; a story about Burt Monro – research him, what a mind – I would bet that he was on the Spectrum.

I partly watched the movie while reading a book, and Sophia did more reading before bed enjoying the large bed with Lamby tucked in next to her. We placed the decorative pillows near the rail to drown out the sound from the television below.

Day two complete and what an awesome day it was. Tomorrow will be just as epic, I am sure of it.

The kids were so amazing through the whole day. Sophia showed no stress or anxiety except in the crowded shops and in the food tent when large crowds came in. She quickly grabbed my hand both times and cuddled in close, but was able to regulate with a nice long squeeze from me or daddy. She always does well when we go as a family, we all do.

Te Papa Museum – Day 2 (ihc Take A Break)

This is the second day of our ihc Take A Break getaway. You can read more about this getaway in the post about day one; Wellington Zoo.

We slept so well in the hotel. All of us had a great night’s rest and we were up and ready for the day. Brent and Max wandered up the street for some butter and jam for the crumpets we had brought with us for breakfast. Brent and Max also gave some money to another homeless man by the store.

While they were gone, Sophia showered while I wrote out Nana’s postcard and packed up the room. She loved the shower in the en-suite and they had a blow dryer which was great as I had forgotten ours. I didn’t want her going out in the cold, windy weather with her gorgeous mane of hair wet.

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When the boys got back we had breakfast and finished packing. We really loved our suite, it was so cozy that it felt like our home. They had a lovely set-up for breakfast, even gluten free hot cocoa that was delicious! The kids loved that… so did I. 😉

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Brent and Max went to get the car as we did the final run through and moved everything in front of the door. He had to park up the block as they had run out of parking spaces for the hotel. Had we known sooner that we needed to book a park, we would have booked one last month when we confirmed our room.

The brochure said there was parking but not that we needed to make a separate reservation for it. It would have been nice to know that, but it worked out as Brent is such a Trooper (see what I did there?) that he always just goes with the flow. He and Max walked together and I think they liked the time alone wandering.

After we loaded the car up and checked out,  we were off to Te Papa and were very excited about our next adventure. We hit a bit of a snare with parking so Brent and Max went to park the car up the block and Sophia and I headed in to wander about the gift shop and wait for the boys to return.

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We looked around at all the amazing items in the gift shop and Max bought himself a necklace with a shark tooth shaped charm. Sophia kind of wanted an albino kiwi, but was not sure if really she wanted it, so we decided to wait until she was sure of something. She never did decide on anything in the end.

Next we went in to the Awesome Forces display. They had some great information on the Earth and sample rocks of the layers that they could touch and lift.

There were diagrams of the Earth as well as a movie that showed moving through the layers and how the movement effects the rock layers. Sophia really like this one, I think we all did.

They really like looking at the globe and learning about navigation. Brent was in his element, he is such a great teacher when it comes to science or math… well anything really.

There was a time traveler wheel. The kids really liked spinning it and imagining how long each age actually was. You could see their minds working to try and grasp the concept.

We then saw some bones and more stones. The kiwi egg inside the kiwi was really amazing. It was so busy that I started to get claustrophobic and had to stand off to the side and slow my breathing and calm myself. There was so much nose and movement.

We waited a bit for the crow to thin a bit, then headed on toward the quake simulator. While waiting in line for that, Sophia, Max and Dad tried the quake scale. unfortunately my mind was a bit foggy do I only remembered the camera at the end, but did manage to catch Brent jumping on the scale.

The Quake simulator is a tiny house and it feels so real. We all really liked that display. This is what their website says.

Visit our Earthquake House to:

  • feel a 6.6 magnitude simulation of an aftershock from the Edgecumbe earthquake of 1987
  • see some of the damage earthquakes cause
  • get a compelling reminder to quake-safe your own house
  • start a broader exploration of earthquakes and volcanic activity in our Awesome Forces exhibition.

A visit to our Earthquake House appeals to those who learn by doing and supports the following topics:

  • Disasters
  • Earth science – earthquakes and volcanoes
  • Pūrākau (storytelling)

Here is an awesome forces activity trail sheet for your kids to do while visiting.

Next we learned about volcanoes, volcanic eruptions and lava formations.

Then on to the waterways, water erosion and water disasters.

Next was wind, wind disasters, wind erosion and fossils.

Next we went to the Mountain to Sea exhibition and that was amazing. We didn’t take many photos as we were having too much fun. The amber was really neat to see with the bugs inside. We really like the tree house with the possum on the side and the natural sounds that were playing.

The colossal squid exhibition was “icky” up close (I actually gagged), but still amazing to see a creature this large. Here is a link to learn more about it’s anatomy, it is truly fascinating. It looked and felt (energy) like an alien to me.

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Next we headed over the Bridge toward Bush City, but we stopped outside to take in the view after a quick play on the giant xylophone.

The view outside was beautiful, but it was pretty windy which made it very cold.

Bush City Trail was really amazing, I loved seeing and learning about all the different plants. Also the hole that the Moa fell into with the bones was really need to see from the top (as in the picture below) and from eye level, inside the caves.

We had to skip the Fossil Dig as it was soaked, but we will go back again when it is summer and have a dig.

They had a small version of the glowworm caves too, that was very interesting. The limestone cave also had stalactites, cave wētā, and the bones of extinct flightless moa.

Then we wandered out to see the waterfall and rocks; some which date back almost 600 million years!

You can make your visit even more fun with the treasure hunt. For the Bush City Trail Scavenger Hunt form click here.

As we exited the Bush City walk we came into the courtyard of the Te Papa Cafe and decided to have a break and sit and have lunch. That was a nice little stop and recharge.

Next we went up to see the record breaking Britten V1000 Bike. Britten bikes were made in New Zealand in Christchurch before John Britten passed away from cancer. He had an amazing mind, you should read a book about his life.

We were bummed that the Fred Dagg exhibit wasn’t yet open, but we will go back again.

We carried on and went to the Blood, Earth Fire exhibit. We spent a bit of time there as there were some interactive displays.

Then we headed on to the Treaty of Waitangi: Signs of a Nation exhibit and the Passports and Immigration one. It was really interesting listening to and reading people’s immigration stories on the interactive displays.

After this we went into the Gallipoli: The Scale of our War exhibition (Field of Poppies). My camera flash wouldn’t turn off and flash is not allowed, so Brent gave me his phone to take photos. I wish I had traded him, as then I ended up with both phones and couldn’t contact him.

Although this was amazing and I loved the giant art sculptures, our clairsentient abilities went into overdrive and we had to get out. Sophia and I left the boys and tried to exit as soon as we could. I could feel all the emotions of the previous owners from the objects in the cases. All that fear, anger, feeling trapped and the sorrow was just completely overwhelming me.

It was absolutely packed to the point that you had to wait to get through each area. Half way out I had a panic attack and Sophia was so amazing. She grabbed my face and said, “Look at me mom, you are ok. Just breath deeply and take the pictures and I have your hand, I will get you out.”  So I took a few deep breaths and focused only on Sophia and taking pictures of the sculptures. I knew I had to be ok for her.

These sculptures were stunning in their detail and craftsmanship. I would recommend going just to see them. The rest of the exhibit I don’t remember much after I tuned in to a backpack, some tools and a gun, by accident. Usually I can control these when we are out together, but I was just tired and my guard was down.

The sculptures by Weta Workshop are 2.4 times human size and took 24,000 hours to create. It is such a powerful display and story. check out the brochure to learn more. This poster from the Te Pap site gives you an idea of the scale.

Gallipoli Poster

We got out and found a seat to wait for the guys in nice quiet corner and Sophia’s feet were hurting so I gave her a quick foot rub while we waited. It took them about 15 minutes but it was a welcomed break. After they came out we decided to go in the Earthquake Simulator one more time then head out. This was such a great visit.

After leaving Te Papa, we walked a few blocks to the Reading cinema to use our vouchers. by the time we got there it was too late to watch a movie, so we grabbed a bunch of snacks from the counter and told the kids we would rent them movies to watch in their rooms when we got home. They were pretty happy about that.

We left and drove home, Max was asleep before we hit the highway, and Soph slept for a bit as well. When we got back to town, we stopped in the movie rental place and then went next door and bought everyone their own pizza just because we could. Also, that meant lunch was sorted for the next day as we were wiped out.

What an amazing weekend!

We are so grateful to ihc, Boulcott Suites, Reading Cinemas and all the sponsors who donated to this amazing programme. We feel very blessed to have participated. Thank you so much from the Lawless Family.

I hope you all enjoyed sharing our journey with us.

Check back for our next adventure  in a couple weeks!

 

Wellington Zoo -Day 1 (ihc Take A Break)

We are so blessed to have been approved for an ‘ihc Take A Break’ getaway. We were gifted one night’s accommodation, four tickets to the zoo, movie cards worth four tickets, and $250 spending money as well as a beautiful art book!

This is day one of our adventure. Thank you to ihc and all of the sponsors for this generous gift. Be sure to apply if you qualify! I told a friend and her family also was accepted.

We drove to Wellington today to go to the Wellington Zoo! We had a great drive and arrived in time to find a spot right out front which was amazing! We had packed a lunch, so we ate that before we went in, as Sophia was hangry (hungry + angry) and we just needed to let her vent for a bit from the long drive.

She had us in stitches as she hated eating outside standing up and was just ranting about having to wear her jacket and feeling like a homeless person wearing all their clothes and eating by cars. Poor girl, we could just not stop laughing which made her more angry until she was fed then she was sweet as pie and ready to go in.

This was a crucial pause in the day to allow her to vent, eat, feel the warm suns, drink some water and re-balance before heading into another new environment. Had we not done this, it would have been a rough day.

Wellington Zoo

We had been having some pretty rough weather, but we lucked out and the sun was shining and it wasn’t too windy. You could definitely tell it is winter though… brrr.

After handing in our complimentary vouchers from ihc, we stopped in at the gift shop and looked at all the soft toys. Then we used the restroom before heading in.

The first thing we noticed was the Otter exhibit. They were so adorable and so busy. They were very cheeky as well asking for treats. Right near the Otters, were the Capybara, they are so amazing! They were getting loving scratches from a carer. She described their hair as similar to a hamster but more stiff.

Next, we headed over to see the Gibbons, they were very active and it was really interesting to watch how they move as they have such long limbs!

After the Gibbons, we went into the Kiwi and Tuatara hut. There was a one legged Kiwi, and he was not even phased by having one leg, still kicking the dirt and looking for food and hopping about. There were a few Tuatara, but the place was far too dark for me, I couldn’t see to walk out, Sophia had to guide me. Hence, we have no photos for this part.

Next we saw the Cotton Top Tamarin, Bolivian Squirrel Monkey, and Agouti. There was too much glare to get pictures of the others, but we managed a few of the Tamarins, they were my favourite, especially the babies.

We then made our way up to Conservation Corner. That was pretty amazing.

The ‘Green Zoo, Green You’ exhibit was also pretty amazing with the recycled archway and sculptures.

We then went into the Wild Theatre and listened to a talk about Tuataras. Sophia actually touched it too! When she first went up there were only a few kids, but then more came and they increasingly started pushing past her and she was getting frustrated so Daddy went and stood with her to be sure she was ok and didn’t get too angry. Max was not interested in touching it so he sat with me while they waited.

After the talk we headed up towards the Big Cats as we really wanted to see them. We stopped off at the Spider and Reptile Hut. That was interesting, Soph was cool with the Bugs and Reptiles, but did not want to see the Spiders and that was ok. Max and Brent loved it all!

We also stopped to spin the Tibetan Prayer Wheel, It was so beautiful.

We then saw the Red Pandas, Cheetahs and Lions. The Lions were asleep, so that was a bit of a bummer, but they were still magnificent! You can just see their manes showing atop of these rocks as they snooze away. The Red Panda pictures didn’t really show up, because they were in the tops of trees barely visible.

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We the headed through the African Village and saw the Ostriches, Guinea Fowl and Giraffes. I was in love with the Giraffes and didn’t want to move on, we spent quite a while there on all different sides. They are just so amazing to watch, so graceful.

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Next we saw the other Big Cats; the Serval and Caracal, and Sophia tried out the ear photo spots. They were all so beautiful, we didn’t want to leave this area.

From here, we carried on to see the Baboons and then moved on to Australian Animals exhibit. We saw a Tasmanian Devil munching away on a carcass, A bird of some sort, some Wallaby, and a Lizard.

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Then we saw the Dingos, and also saw the Nyala from the backside of the African Village exhibit. We also saw a large white Crane who was making heaps of noise at a helicopter, and a crazy and clever Emu who was trying to escape, he had a zoo worker watching him and we stopped to have a chat. The Emu was being all puffy and chesty, it was very funny.

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The man gave us an Emu feather as well. We collect feathers from as many birds as we can, we love getting them from zoos. The Emu feathers are very interesting in that they are two feathers in one. This one is very special indeed.

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Next we saw the Porcupine and Meerkats, the decided to head toward the cafe and have a snack and take a break.I loved oth of these as well. Brent had o idea Porcupines were this big, I had seen them growing up in Wisconsin, so it was nice seeing one so close and brought back some fond memories of trips to my Great Aunt Anne’s with my Grandmother.

Along the way we passed the Chimpanzees who were sitting atop the poles in there enclosure watching the world go by. I admit when I saw them, they looked ike they were plotting and scheming and I had a quick flash to the Planet of the Apes movies. We also saw more amazing birds and they were so colourful and cheerful.

We found an amazing Dragon along the way as well, and had to get some pictures.

After lunch we headed over to see the Sun Bear and Tiger. Unfortunately, we didn’t get many pictures of the Sun Bear or Tigers but they were beautiful. Both were being very noisy and the male Tiger was pacing like crazy. The female was asleep, as you see in the picture.

We carried on to the Kea hut and that was definitely entertaining. They kept fighting over a twig and squawking like crazy. A little boy, about 5 years old threw a rock at them and they took off after him squawking like they were telling him off and scared him. I don’t think he will throw rocks at birds again.

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We were very excited to find a Toyota Kiwi Guardians post. We have hidden the code as you have to find it yourself to get the medal. We will send away for ours when we get home and add it to the collection.

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We took another bathroom break and the looked at the cool interactive display of farming and sustainability artwork.

We then visited the Rabbits, Sheep and Kunekune pigs, we love pigs, especially these ones. The kids got to pet the Sheep as they were eating, but we forgot to take a picture.

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Near the Penguin enclosure, we saw this amazing sculpture of Tangaroa by Ngataiharuru Taepa.

The Penguins were not there sadly. So we went back to watch the Otters and Capybaras again for a bit on our way out. We also grabbed a postcard with a Red Panda for Nana because she always sends us postcards when she goes away.

At this point we were pretty wiped out as you can imagine, so we headed to our hotel planning to have a nice relaxing evening indoors.

Our hotel was amazing and they even advised Brent that they had upgraded us to a suite! Thank you to Village Accommodation and Boulcott Suites for your generosity. It was an amazing experience.

The hotel was located in walking distance to a food court as well as a heap of shops. we had planned to order dinner in, as we assumed Sophia was done, I know I was pretty tired after a very long day, but she was still raring to go for a walk, so we did.

We checked out the food court but nothing sounded good and no one could decide what they wanted. Besides that, it was pretty loud and too much going on, especially the mix of smells, that was pretty overwhelming which made it even harder to choose something.

After 20 minutes of wandering around in indecision, Max was really keen to try Burger Fuel. He asks every time we go on a trip if he sees one. I only wanted Hell Pizza, but we have that in Palmy, so with a promise for a future trip to Hell Pizza we were off to find Burger Fuel. Sophia was just keen to get out of the food court and she loves burgers, so it was all good. We went for a pretty good walk and found it, thanks to Brent’s amazing navigational skills (phone).

We got chicken burgers and the boys got beef and it was actually pretty good. We loved the ‘doofers’ that hold your burger together. I wish I had remembered to snap a picture. The atmosphere was nice but very small, and it was a bit chaotic as people were rushing in and out grabbing orders. Soph didn’t mind a bit, she was happy as just focusing on her food.

 

I loved walking around Wellington in the evening, it reminded me so much of Santa Cruz back in the day. I miss that atmosphere and the huge diversity in people, so many different faces, cultures and styles, I loved it.

We took our time walking back to the hotel and just enjoyed the atmosphere and all the people. The kids stopped and gave some money to the homeless and we headed back to snuggle in for the night.

The kids fell asleep straight away when they hit their pillows and I am sure we did too, after watching some Knight Rider reruns. What a long and marvelous day. Sophia did so well, I am so proud of how far she has come. Max was really good and engaged the whole time as well. It was a lovely day with family.

Tomorrow we head to TePapa Museum and we are really looking forward to it!

 

End of Term two

Today we had the End Of Term Skate party for the homeschoolers.

Sophia was really excited to go and try and skate again.

She has not liked it so far, but really wants to keep trying and that is fantastic.

We met our friends Joleen and Tommy there after we finished shopping and had a lovely lunch with Daddy. She had her favourite, sushi and we had Japanese salad bowls.

Sophia started off pretty well and some of the other girls were very helpful and stayed by her while she tried. They are such nice girls, just like their mothers, always so welcoming and helpful.

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She went all the way around a couple times by herself before I helped her around as her arms were getting sore from trying to hold the bar.

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Tommy wasn’t too keen to skate, or be around all those people. He tried to run out the door, but I was right behind him and grabbed the  door handle just as he reached it.

I squatted down to his level and asked if it was too much. He told me it was too loud and he had to leave. I had the handy dandy PSP in my bag so I told him I had brought it and Lego Batman as it is his favourite game we have.

He agreed to stay and play the game so he could shut it all out. So we walked back over to Joleen who was watching Soph while I retrieved Tommy. I love that we have each other’s backs in this regard and both of our kids trust us.

Sophia only had a couple of spills, the last one hurt her arm, so we stopped and returned the skates.

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She was starting to feel overwhelmed and slight anxiety, but she knew when to stop and how to cope by using her distraction; her game.

When she was finished skating, she sat and visited Tommy and they played their games for the last 10 minutes.

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She did pretty well for only her second try skating. She is keen for our friend Emma to help her learn. Emma is a derby skater and was also an artistic skater before that, so she is the one to teach her.

We will have to remember her pads next time too, as she thinks she would feel more comfortable if she has them on and I agree.

Tommy invited us to his house after the skate party, so we couldn’t say no as he asked so sweetly. this is a big deal for him too.

Sophia and I went to the library and returned our latest mountain of library books and got a few new ones. We didn’t want Daddy to miss out so we just grabbed a few, so we can go back tomorrow.

We grabbed a couple Garfield books as we love reading those. We were stoked to find this book as it was on our to read list.

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After the library, we went to Joleen’s house for a visit and Tommy’s cousin came by so she also got to visit with her for a bit.

Then we came home and made dinner and after dinner, she watched some Pokemon episodes and read, just as she does every night before bed.

It was a lovely day and we really enjoyed each other’s company. She was very cuddly and talkative today but in a relaxed way.

My little girl is growing into a lovely young woman.

Two years of homeshooling!

It was exactly two years ago today that I got the call to say we had been approved to homeschool.

It was one of the best days ever and we were so excited.

So much has happened in the past two years and we have had some amazing adventures.

Sophia is back to herself, she is confident, happy and curious for knowledge.

She rarely has anxiety and her art has flourished along with her YouTube channel.

She is doing great with her studies and is happy to do the work as she knows it is work first and computer after.

She has discovered that she loves baking, swimming, reading, making art and videos and going on adventures. She has even discovered she enjoys listening to music!

She has learned how to self-regulate and does so well most of the time, it can be harder when it is sensory related. She has also learned to think of another’s point of view, and to be a good citizen and care about the community.

We are still working on dealing with disappointment and conversation cues, but there has been a huge improvement.

She is talking to people more, especially clerks in stores and she feels pride when she has spoken to them, always ending with “have a nice day.” which she says makes her feel good.

Overall, in the past two years we have achieved all that we have set out to do with her. We wanted to bring her back to knowing herself, and to be in control of herself through the confidence that knowing who she is allows.

She may do a school trial this year for 20 days, she has been talking about it but then decides she doesn’t want to. This is her decision and we will respect what she wants, as long as she is not in danger of receding in all the work we have accomplished.

A huge thank you to all of our friends and family for your support and to our local community of Homeschoolers for always being open, accepting and planning great adventures.

Especially I am grateful to my husband, our sons and Mam Bear for always being so supportive, you make everything so much more fun.

Love from Sophia and I.

 

We have been so busy with Family visiting

We have been so busy lately that I haven’t had time to write.

My sister and her friend came for a visit from the USA and that was a short but action packed week.

It was hard on Sophia having people here, and it brought up a lot of emotion as she misses her Aunty (and Godmother) very much.

It was my nephew’s 21st so we went over for a short while and had Nana come and watch the kids. It was a change in routine, but the kids were great. They always are with Nana, she is so good with them.

We also had dinner at our extended family’s home and that was great, she did really well.

We hosted a barbecue with family and close friends to see my Sis before she left and that was a bit loud and overwhelming for all of us just because we never do it. But it was very fun and definitely worth having everyone together.

It was on Star Wars Day, so I made them waffles as princess Leia, and Sophia and I made wookie cookies, that was really fun.

Then Sophia helped with the menu and making potato salad and getting the house ready for the barbecue.

Sophia had a few lash outs over the noise, but everyone was fine with it as they understand it is just sensory related.

Overall, Sophia did really well and enjoyed the time with company.

It was a very crazy week, but she handled it like a pro.

We also went for a long drive to deliver my sis and her friend to my niece’s house.

The scenery was so amazing and we stopped and had fun along the way. I will do a post for the individual days as soon as I can.

My niece is a shepherd so Sophia had a great time learning about what she does as well as helping to feed the pups and meeting her horse.

We will definitely be going back when we have more time and Max is not in school, so her cousin Jess can show them both more of the farm, it is huge, and Sophia is looking forward to a ride in the cart.

 

 

Ear surgery and Anxiety

I know this post is different, but it is something we all deal with as a family; our anxiety.  Sophia and I both have Generalised Anxiety Disorder.

I have had it for years but I can control it most of the time. Many people don’t even know I have an anxiety disorder, unless they are very close friends or have been with me when I have had a panic attack. So yes, I can control mine most of the time, but I hate my anxiety especially when it engulfs me out of nowhere.

Here is the reason that has triggered my anxiety. I am having ear surgery; getting permanent tubes put in in two days and I am terrified, with no logical reason. It is a simple procedure and I have had it before as a child.

 

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When the Dr first told me I needed it four months ago, he said there is so much scar tissue from previous surgeries that they will really have to cut and it may not work (while doing carving motions in the air.) I Started having a panic attack from the way he was describing it and he said he would be sure I was put under.

Of course it did not help that a couple nights before I went in, we were watching an episode of Blindspot and I was triggered. Unexpectedly, one of the characters was tortured by being strapped down and having her eardrum stabbed repeatedly with a syringe. I ran out of the room but it was too late, it had brought back the memory and terror from my childhood of the procedure I had while awake.

They have rung me twice since, regarding dates and both times I started hyperventilating and crying just talking with them about the surgery.

Today we did final arrangements and it hit me again while speaking with them. She was saying my husband couldn’t come in with me and I panicked, as I misunderstood her. He is my rock, he knows me very well and what to do to keep me grounded and calm. I am glad I asked for clarification as I thought I would be sitting in the room waiting for several hours before surgery alone, but she meant only in the operating theatre.

Then it hit, I felt like a terrified little kid and couldn’t speak more than one or two words. I couldn’t stop crying and it felt like I couldn’t breathe and the room started to go dark but I pushed back. I couldn’t pull myself completely back together once the tears started flowing and my husband was not home to take the phone. Thankfully I was able to hold it together long enough to hang up the phone. The poor woman on the other end must have been thinking I was a nutter. He is on his way home now though, so that is good.

You see I had tubes put in a few times as a child and I was left there and did not know or understand what was happening. The last time I was around 8 or 9 years old I think, and I was awake through it and it terrified me and I just froze and internalized it all as I always do.

Back in the 70’s children were not treated the way they are now, especially in the Midwest USA. I was hit by Dentists and Doctors regularly for something as simple as asking what they were doing, or saying it hurt, or crying from pain (…or by my Grandmother for embarrassing her.)

So I am pretty sure that this is subconscious childhood medical trauma rearing it’s head mixed with the recent loss of my mother who was suppose to have a successful surgery. The whole thought of it overwhelms me completely, so I mustn’t think about it.

They are planning on putting me to sleep, and for that I am very grateful, but signing in at 8:30 and potentially not going in to theatre until almost noon leaves me far too much time for my brain to come up with all the reasons I don’t want to do it and possibly plan an elaborate escape. At least I am comfortable with the ENT.

The lady was lovely and said they can give me something for the anxiety. I am so glad my husband will be with me, but I just hope I don’t loose it. I just don’t like not being in control of my emotions and thoughts in times like these. No matter how much I logically understand the reasons for my subconscious reactions, I can’t stop the physical ones.

It is times like these when I wish I had my Asperger’s diagnosis on paper so they might understand a bit more why I have these huge reactions.

This is true when it comes to my kids as well, but not to the extent of physical distress as with myself. With the kids, I worry, but I use that to an advantage by being sure that one of us is always with them when they have any procedures done. I never fear for their safety only that they will be scared, but they never are.

Sophia cracks me up, she is Sheldon Cooper without even knowing it. She walked up and said, “Mom, are you crying?” and I said yeah, just nervous about my surgery is all, I will be fine. She tapped my head twice and said, “There, there.” in her cute little monotone voice and toddled off up the stairs yelling I love you. (One of her tics is she yells “I love you!” each and every time she goes upstairs, it is one tic that I have come to love.)

Anxiety never goes away, it is just something that is lesser or greater depending on the situation and the triggers that come up.

If I got through my MRI when I almost lost the plot, I can do this.*

*After finishing the above, my husband came in with an appointment letter, they have changed ENTs on me so I don’t even know the man who will do my surgery. ugh.

It starts all over again. It may be time to go back on medication as perimenopause is making it very difficult to maintain my equilibrium as of late.

I sure feel blessed that it is school holidays while all of this is going on.

I know that I will be fine, and this too shall pass, it is just a small bump in the road.

This procedure is a very good thing in all actuality. The testing showed I have mild to  moderate loss in my right ear, and moderately severe to severe loss in my left. This should recover my hearing from what they have told me, this is the only reason I am doing it.

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We openly communicate our struggles as well as out triumphs so the kids know that they can too and we will support each other through it, whatever it may be.

Bumpy days; Art, Meltdowns and Earthquakes

We have had a bumpy few days as you do. Sophia was out of sorts and everything was upsetting her. Her senses were heightened and she was quite grumpy, but we made it through. At least she did not feel the earthquakes last night, but she always gets a bit stressed and anxious during heightened seismic activity; we both do.

After breakfast, our morning chat and feeding and chatting with our duck Sugar, we started on work. We got through the book work without too much worry and some great breakthroughs in her grasp of division for Math. She worked on Grammar and Punctuation and we did a science test and she aced it and got 100%! (Just like every test in every subject so far.) 😉

It took a bit of work and some snacks to get her to work through her anxiety and mood, but we persevered until she was able to find the way through. By this I mean that I allowed her to roll around on the couch and attack the pillows, flap and have snacks, we had a few tickle fights, she swore and she clawed me, but, with more patience than I knew I had, we found a way for her to be able to grasp it herself.

She was very proud when she saw the pattern for herself and realised she actually knew how and could do it very easily. We celebrated with a hot chocolate and some cookies.

After her bookwork she did some more art. She has been on an art quest lately, researching and trying new things with her art. Along with this comes anxiety and stress as she is a perfectionist and gets really down on herself when her hands can do what her brain sees in her mind.

We have been working on drawing traditionally, then photographing and uploading the art and digitizing it with Fire Alpaca. She started this drawing yesterday, we finished the adjustments today and she uploaded, then completed the art in digital format.

 

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I love this one! This is an OC/original character by another artist that she is trading art with. GlowheartsAJ, the other artist, is drawing one of Sophia’s OC/original characters she created a couple of days ago. They trade their interpretation of each other’s art for practice, it is great to see her working with other artists in this way.

She started another abstract piece after lunch just because it was in her head, and I can’t wait to see what it is when finished. She is dabbling with perspective and shading.

I have spent some time today going over 2016 and organizing our binders. We will most definitely need a larger art binder. I will be printing out all of her digital art again, to place in her portfolio and we will keep this not only for home school records, but for her when she is older. It is also great to allow her to browse the pages and see how far she has come, especially on days when she is feeling not too good about her art.

I will be uploading more of her essays, artwork, projects and some assignments that I found adorable; as time allows.

All in all, she did well today considering how it started. So did I, considering my lack of sleep.