homeschooling with a new baby

While I’m on a roll with homeschooling posts I thought I’d write a few more. This was a phrase I’d put into google because I was getting worried how I was going to homeschool with a new baby in the house. Blog posts would say you won’t be homeschooling, you need to change things, take a break, some made jokes. I had plans for what would happen but some of them went out the window. In reality everything changes when a new baby comes into the house. Your whole life changes, routines go out the window and everyone is adjusting to life with a baby that feeds and sleeps and needs lots of nappy changes and attention. So homeschooling will have to change. Once you accept that then you keep moving forward and doing things but just in a different way. This is how we’ve been doing things for the first 3 months with a new baby……not all at the same time! I’m not going to suggest you try all of these approaches otherwise you’ll be exhausted and burnt out. Just try what works…………

First thing we did was plan a few research assignments for my girl. My big girl is in year 3 and loves making posters and using the internet so she had a few countries to research and made some posters and brochures which ticked a few subject boxes and she had fun doing them.She also researched a few saints and created 1 pagers on them with a drawing.

Take a break and keep working through the holidays. With the older kids it’s easier for them to continue their work if they work independently. My big girl does so she was able to keep on top of her english, maths, religion and history which are all in her books. That was easier. For my little girl we did some colouring, reading books and playing board games and playing with her little brothers.

It can also be a good time to work on problem areas that you are getting stuck on or where you have gaps in your learning. Let’s say you haven’t kept up with geography or history or science experiments. Now is the time to catch up and do a few things with the big kids taking the lead. Teachers pay Teachers have some great units of study that can help a student who is stuck on something. We used a great one on division that including colouring activities and was really fun for my daughter to complete. I just printed it off before I had the baby and she worked through it at her own pace.

Computer time and DVD’s are perfect when you are busy with the baby. My big girl loves watching David Attenborough on apple tv so she watched a few episodes and she was learning about animals and the world. We also had some dvd’s from the library on history which were interesting. Catching up on her online maths work was also completed and the kids love being on the computer. Make sure the computer is in a room where you can see them….otherwise mine switch to youtube and cat  or harry potter memes.

Now might be the time to get some help in. You could always have a university student or tutor come in and help with some subjects if you really can’t fall behind with work or lose your routine. Set the work while you’re pregnant because it will be hard to do when baby is here.

Read, read and read. We have a few baskets around the house full of picture books and the kids can easily grab one and I can read while the baby is feeding. It’s nice to snuggle up and read books together.

Keep up your recording. I have a notebook for each homeschooler and I write in each day what we have done. When the baby arrived home I switched to weekly and would think back over everything we had done and how we met our subjects. If you can keep your notebook next to where you feed then you can be taking notes and keeping your recording up to date without any dramas

If you’re not getting your older children to work independently then now is the time to try it. You should be able to set a child work (for us we started from year 2 when we started homeschooling) and they can complete it and see you if they get stuck. This makes life easier when they get older as they are used to working independently. Now of course if you need to teach a new concept then you need to take the time to sit down and do this but generally older students should be able to work on their book work on their own.

Fill the portfolio. If you’ve fallen behind with keeping your portfolio up to date with work samples and artworks now is the time to get the kids working to fill up the portfolio. As a rule I just add a sample of something we’ve done each week to the portfolio. I’ll flick back and see what we’re missing in terms of subjects and then the next week I’ll do that subject. That way when it comes time for renewal of our home school registration everything is done.

If you’re not keeping a reading log/journal of books read now is the time to start one. We just keep ours in a plastic sleeve in the front of their portfolio and I write in the books we’ve read.

Go to the library. It’s nice just to break up the day and get the kids out of the house.

Use your time while you’re pregnant to print off activities that the kids can complete on crazy days. I keep a folder with plastic sleeves and it has maths, english, religion and other activities all printed up for my youngest so when we are having a bad day or she’s having a bad day we can pull one out and she loves them. Teachers pay teachers is my favourite site.

Educational games are perfect for the younger homeschoolers to learn. Check out the sales section of educational stores and homeschool buy/swap groups as well as eBay. We picked up this little set for $5 and it’s so handy and all the little kids love using it. I had never seen one before but it’s very popular in our house. I have a large plastic tub that is full of games, board games and flashcards so I can pull something out when I feel we need to break things up or do something educational for my little miss.

Do some art and craft. Something easy, nothing too messy but now might be the time for them to use youtube and do some craft projects. A quick trip for supplies or having a tub for art and craft means they can access everything easily. My big girl loves to do pom poms and can sit for hours making them………..and I also find them all over the house too.

And don’t stress. Homeschooling shouldn’t be stressful and the kids will be learning great life skills by helping you care for the baby. They can be baking and helping you with your jobs and learning what it’s like to have a new baby in the house. You can always catch up and you might actually enjoy homeschooling more because you are taking it a bit easier. Don’t beat yourself up and remember that this could be the time that the kids really learn for themselves and learn in an enjoyable way without a strict routine.

homeschooling a child with special needs

Following on from this post I thought I’d write about how homeschooling is going. Earlier this year we removed our daughter from a small special school to homeschool her. It was a stressful time because our plans for the year had to change. A new baby was coming into the family and we were certainly worried how we would manage it all.

And before I start I have to say that special needs really does cover a whole range of things and every child is different. But when you are searching on the internet for resources or help you just need to type in special needs homeschooling to find that information. I’m not assuming all children with special needs are the same!

When we started out our little girl knew a few letters of the alphabet and could write a few letters too. She could count to 5 but after that it was muddled up. She has a mild intellectual disability (moderate for verbal) and a genetic deletion (which also causes some physical issues).

I liked that we were starting at a local learning centre and we are there twice a week for a total of 2 hours learning. In fact it was during their assessment when I was shown a plan of what they would teach and what she could work through that I decided that she was certainly not going back to school. I could see that we could do much more in those 2 hours than she would get in a week at school. Edited to add this is where we attend, if you live in Sydney and can get here you will love the personalised attention, happy and dedicated teachers and there are a wide range of students who attend from kids who just need a bit of help in maths or english to special needs children. We also do our speech here and that’s amazing too.

They have taught her the alphabet with letterland and a variety of resources and at home we’ve been doing handwriting and more activities. She can now write the entire alphabet. If you spell out a word letter by letter then she will write the word, She copies whole sentences if it’s written above for her and she correctly forms all letters as well. She always had great pencil grip but this was much faster progress than we were expecting.

She is being taught to read simple readers and a few sight words. She loves writing and spelling out words and just last week spelt out the word ‘jam’ as I was making breakfast and was very proud of herself then saying ‘here tis again j – a – m, jam!’. Tears in my eyes that morning.

Numbers are tricky and she can count to 10 and write the numbers to 10 but still can get a bit muddled so I think maths will be harder for her.

Our week is quite busy but it’s much more relaxed than a school day was. Monday and Tuesday mornings we are at the learning centre, Wednesday is our home day where we get things done (as in I catch up on washing, floors and the kitchen), Thursday mornings we have speech, every 2nd Friday we have OT in the park, Saturday mornings we do gymnastics and Sunday afternoons she has swimming. In between we play at home, do our handwriting books and activities, she loves to play with her little brother and cook. We do colouring, read books, write out our letters, play outside on our scooter, visit the park and library, run our errands like the Post office, shops. other kids activities and dr’s appointments. She is learning lots of skills wherever we are and I now realise even more than ever that life outside a classroom will be her best teacher. I am always there to prompt her when she needs it or help her out and no where else would she get that focus.

Her speech which has always been our greatest challenge is coming along so well because we are always helping her with it. She is saying longer sentences and often blurts out words that are perfectly pronounced. She can tell us what she wants, when something is hurt, when she is angry (oh she likes to tell me that one) and we working on pronouncing our name as everyone thinks it’s annie when she says it.

We see benefits all the time and are amazed at her progress. She won’t go back to a classroom anytime soon. Our goals are to have her reading and writing and to find her talents. Our bigger goals are to see her have a part time job, travel on transport independently, have friends, participate in special olympics and her activities. We have a family dream of running our own business to provide her and our other children with opportunities to work together and be happy. It’s always a big worry what happens when we won’t be here but that’s for another blog post.

In terms of resources we are using lots of different ones. I love letterland, teachers pay teachers, seton handwriting books, pre-k workbooks designed for preschoolers before school, online resources too.

It’s not easy to homeschool, there are days I would like a break because it’s a big job having a child who still needs assistance with a lot of tasks that other children her age would be able to do. Every day without fail we will have an emotional moment. It just is part of life when she doesn’t get her way or is angry. That’s the hardest bit for me. The beauty of an unstructured day and not being tied to our books at this age is that we can go and do something fun to tire her out or change the mood of the day. The hard bit is when she decides she doesn’t want to do her hour at the centre or speech. At the moment banana bread and a hot chocolate (she calls it coffee tea) are making things easier.

In the beginning we also had a big problem with separating. As in I couldn’t leave the house without her. She wanted to be with me all the time and when the babysitter came in so I could go to the dentist she would want to come with me not be left at home. This lasted for a few months and thankfully we have moved on from this stage.

If you are thinking about taking a child out of school I would say do it. You’ll never regret it and you’ll only wish you did it earlier. School will always be there as an option if you need to and some homeschooling families do put their children into school at various times when things happen or if things aren’t going to plan. I do wish it was presented as a viable option for schooling instead of being seen mostly as a last resort option. It shouldn’t be. It’s a more natural way to teach our children what they need to learn and I feel that by being at special school she would be locked away from the outside world for most of the next 11 years or so.

I do have to say that I know families with children with special needs who need the time that their children are at school. Children who run away, hurt themselves or others, can’t be left alone unsupervised or have severe behavioural issues or very high care needs. I am sure those parents would wonder how on earth they could do the care 24/7 for 365 days a year and be the teacher as well. I can’t tell you that everything would be perfect and that you could cope. In those cases I would really say you would need your respite and breaks organised so that you did get a break. Whether that could be provided by the NDIS as part of your plan or through the AIC payment and you paying for that help yourself.Any questions just ask……….

some thoughts on homeschooling + special needs homeschooling

Before I write how well we are doing homeschooling I thought I’d write a few thoughts on homeschooling and special needs homeschooling. Otherwise it was going to be a very long post.

Firstly,  I love teachers. Whenever I share a homeschooling post on FB I seem to get someone commenting on how hard teachers work. Absolutely. That’s a given. My mum and granddad were both career teachers and devoted their lives to it. Teachers work long hours and have even more work as they try to teach a crowded curriculum, prepare children for NAPLAN, testing at earlier ages, more children in the class and more children with a range of special needs in there (without help). So I love teachers, we’ve had lots of great teachers in our schooling life and I have friends who are teachers and wonderfully dedicated.

Next up inclusive education is wonderful…………when it’s well funded. Unfortunately for us we were never going to get funding and an inclusive education locally. Having a mild intellectual disability means any access to funding in a public school is equal with children who are struggling to read, have dyslexia, learning difficulties or are undiagnosed. Mild ID  as a diagnosis is a bit misleading because mild makes it seem like it’s the mild end of things but really it’s a lifelong disability that affects every aspect of a person’s life. There is a local private school that has a great reputation for children with disabilities and it does it very well for children with physical or hearing issues but if you have an intellectual disability you need to provide your own aide or go to their special school which starts from a moderate ID later in primary grades.

When you start homeschooling any child you realise that children don’t have to go to school to be well educated. 13 years of a child’s life spent in the classroom doesn’t always make them happy, well educated, lead to a job or a successful life. When you throw disabilities in there you really question why a child needs to be in a classroom when really they need to be prepared to live in the real world. Homeschooling allows you to choose your own priorities for what they need to learn, fit in therapies comfortably into their day and pursue their interests as well.

Even as a homeschooler I have to provide a year’s plan of what we will teach and how I will meet all KLA’s of the NSW curriculum. And it still strikes me as a little bit silly that I need to teach geography and history to a child who is still learning how to use the toilet independently or learn what ‘in’ and ‘out’ or how to ask for something.  Thank goodness we have a sensible Authorised Person from NESA (formerly the Board of Studies) who tells us what to focus on and meets the child before approving your plan. Yes we have a plan that shows we will meet all subject areas but we do our maths and english every day and try to tick off our other subjects in less conventional ways compared to how they would be taught in a classroom. It’s still a lot more work than would be done in a special needs classroom or meeting goals in an IEP and that makes me happy.

If you live in Australia, Centrelink have a scheme called Assistance for Isolated Children whereby parents of a child with a disability can receive $4k a year ($1k a term). This money could be used for tutoring, supplies, help coming into the home, classes, courses and more. It is a huge help and we use it for our sessions at a local learning centre. There are 2 forms to fill in and your GP or paediatrician needs to complete the medical form.

Homeschooling any child is a big responsibility and commitment, it assumes that there is someone at home who can do the teaching and care during school hours. Not everyone has a parent who is home during the day and there can be a huge financial cost to homeschooling if one income is lost. I know that families might have a parent stay home during the early years and then when the children start school that parent goes back to work. There are families where both parents work and homeschooling is achieved and it’s worth researching how other families make it work before ruling out homeschooling.

You will have good and bad days just like you do when you send your child off to school. Sometimes the bad days make you want to pack everyone off to the local school tomorrow but I’ve found once I relaxed our daily routine and stopped stressing over everything we had to cover that we just got into our routine and everything seemed to get easier.

There is a lot and I mean a LOT of support on Facebook. There are local groups, special needs groups, australia wide groups and more. You will get lots of tips, advice and reassurance on the groups and sometimes it’s nice just to know that there are other people out there with a bit more experience or you can help out someone new.

 

ditching some of our textbooks

We now have 1 year of homeschooling behind us and are already 3 weeks into the term (mind you I had to ask one of my girls what week we were up to!). For those who are new, last year we started homeschooling twins in year 2. One went to a new school after 6 months (his request and he was never the big reason we were homeschooling) and he’s doing great. He loves caching the bus, lunch orders, playing footy at lunchtime and just being in school. His twin sister loves being at home and having her own time to do things and work at her own pace. She is doing the most amazing art and has come so far in all subjects and just her overall happiness and life.

When we started out last year we used a mixture of textbooks and workbooks that we found at the educational bookshop and from a catholic curriculum. This year we chose to go with a different catholic curriculum but it hasn’t gone as well as I planned. It’s a classical curriculum and just too much book work and memory work for my girl. The maths (Abeka) was from the US and very arithmetic based which would have suited my son but he’s not home anymore. So first we ditched the maths and swapped back to her favourite maths book which is Stepping Stones (by Origo Education) and it’s a really good one for kids who don’t love maths. Lots of pictures but a big thick book and lots of exercises to work through at their pace. Her school had used it in year 2 and it’s working well for us. We picked up a new copy on ebay.

Science was lots of book work so we’ve ditched that for an experiment book and nature book. Nature Anatomy is a book I had seen on instagram and has been a great choice as its a really interesting book. I read the reviews on amazon and decided it would be perfect. Lots of illustrations and an interesting book full of facts. We picked up our copy on book depository and it’s been a huge hit so far.

At the start of the year I had swapped the history and geography books from the catholic curriculum for australian books aimed at year 3-6 but they were so boring and wordy we lost her interest. So now we are using The story of the world for history and MAPS and our own interests for geography. We are researching different countries we are interested in and creating posters or brochures on those countries. That is working out really well as she learns a lot more and has fun with it.

I think what we’ve learnt is that there is no right or wrong way to approach homeschooling and that it’s ok to ditch it if its not working. I already know that each of my children will learn differently but I’ve ended up realising that set curriculums aren’t going to work for us and neither are lots of textbooks (with the exception of maths and english as they are working well supplemented with our online programs too). We do love the Seton handwriting books, they are really thick and both my girls are using them (kindergarten and year 2 because we didn’t get through it all last year) and they’ve been a great choice.

Next week I’ll be sharing how our homeschooling a little person with a disability is going and spoiler alert….the progress is beyond what anyone expected!

2 months today

That’s gone quickly…….2 months old. We are in the middle of Baptism preparations this week and I’ve given myself the week to totally transform my house from cluttered mess to beautiful welcoming home. Let’s hope we get there. We have so many appointments and sporting activities this week so I hope it’s not a last minute rush. Oh what am I saying of course it will be……..

Our Lottie is a very sweet little baby and pretty easy going. Especially considering she has to go in and out of the car umpteen times a day. She loves to smile and has just started making very sweet baby cooing noises which I love. She doesn’t like being put down and I know that once I do put her down and walk away to start a job that I’ll hear a little crying coming soon. So the sling has come in handy and like most mums I do a lot of things one handed.

Life is still pretty crazy with a 2 year old (and 6 year old) ruling the house. Tantrums and behaviour always seem to get worse when mum is busy with a new baby but they aren’t as bad as the first few weeks. So we’re grateful for that. Toilet training has not gone well and I really want it to happen so he can join the little room at preschool for just turned 3 year olds next month. So fingers crossed he gets it and I don’t forget that we’re toilet training and then realise when I have a wet toddler on my hands. Jeans and all.

Dinner is still in the slowcooker most nights and if it’s not in the slowcooker then the whole dinner, bath and bed routine just falls apart. We’ve had some ‘creative’ meals where I’ve just chucked everything in and hoped for the best. And because the kids have been loving the sausage casserole I’ve been doing and my little girl calls it hot dog soup and asks for it every day! I’m using sausages and not hot dogs…every time she says it I have visions of pink soup with hot dogs cut up in there. Tonight was chicken and chorizo casserole but I also dumped in some macaroni to cook for the last 15 minutes and it was delicious (and time saving!).

So that’s life. Still busy. We’re just waiting for our new van to be finalised and that’ll be a great day because it means we can travel together as a family of 9 and not in 2 cars which we are now doing. Well actually it’s only really sundays for church that we all go together. We’re getting the VW Caravelle since we’ve been happy with the multivan for so long. There isn’t much choice when you outgrow the 8 seaters  we turned the 7 seater multivan into an 8 seater when baby number 6 came along), there aren’t many 9 seaters on the market and after that you’re just in hiace territory and that wasn’t on hubby’s list of dream cars. So caravelle it is.

 

our little strawberry

Lottie is 7 weeks old today. When she was born I noticed that she had a little pale pink mark under her ear. It kind of stayed the same colour and shape in  hospital and when the paediatrician visited I’d forget to ask him. I guess I though it was a little birthmark that would stay that way. Well then of course once we got home it started getting bigger, darker and became more raised. When the child health nurse visited she explained it was a strawberry hemangioma and would fade away….eventually. I’ve since read it might be by the time she is 7-9. She said the paediatrician probably didn’t mention it because they are quite common and generally go away.

I have to say that I didn’t know it was going to get so dark or big and I’m not sure it’s finished growing (which is of course a worry) but I’ve now researched it (more than a few times, if I’m honest) and not too worried. I have to say ours is more like a raspberry in that it has little raised bits like a raspberry but I just keep an eye on it every day. The kids think it’s cute and like a paw mark and that she’s a fan of paw patrol already. And when they saw the word hemangioma they decided to call it hermione granger!

You can read a good explanation of them here and I have to say that I was surprised 1 in 10 babies have them because we’ve never had one and I’ve never seen a baby with one before. It’s definitely been something new for us but in the whole scheme of things isn’t too much of a worry. But of course I do hope it doesn’t become an issue for her as she grows up. I’d love to hear if you’ve had one in your family and what happened to it…….

weekend in a sunny garden

Well the garden has been full of surprises since I’ve been spending so much time inside caring for a little baby. I walked out there this morning and couldn’t believe how many flowers there were!

There are just flowers everywhere and the fruit trees have so much fruit we did 2 sessions of picking. The grapefruit tree is our biggest and we’re not grapefruit fans so I’ve got a box full to take to church tomorrow and that’s just for starters.

We have 2 orange trees and they are usually the last to get really sweet but we have no shortage or oranges! I liked when we played netball and were on oranges duty as we just used our own!

The mandarins are just perfect and much bigger this year so we’ve been enjoying them as we pick them but now we need daddy to get up there and also get a ladder and get the ones at the top. They’re so sweet and perfect to eat right now. The kids ask me to come over and help them but at 5ft myself I’m not really much of a help!

And because I’ve neglected my lemon tree with just a few picked each week we have some really big ones that will be great in lemon delicious. While we were picking we had our littlest member of the family out getting some fresh air. It’s just been so cold and we’ve been indoors so often lately. When I had my first baby and then the twins I tried to get out for walks whenever I could but it’s a bit hard with my big entourage to get out there and go for a big walk.

Chester our labradoodle is now the size of a horse, well almost, and he loves having someone to play with. He’s like a race horse when he runs around the backyard and is not so little. We had been told he was medium but there is nothing medium about him. He is now 18 months old and lots of fun for the kids and no longer knocks over the 2 year old when he bounds by. We had to make him an outdoor dog as he’s just too big to be in the back part of our little house anymore and he’s had a nice warm coat for winter nights. And I have to get back to dog training each week because he doesn’t listen to me only my hubby. I was going to dog training each week and then fell pregnant and didn’t have the energy then my tummy got too big and we’ll be back soon and get him listening to me. Well that’s the plan.

I’m feeling much happier after that time in the sun. Well that and I watched north and south again last night and had to get right to the end to see one of the best endings ever. Again. Now I might get back to reading the book again since I have so much couch time on my hands. I started reading it then passed it on to grandma then I bought another of Gaskell’s books and passed that on to her too so I’ll get back into north and south and then do the other book.

6 weeks and chicken teriyaki

The 6 week mark always signifies things getting a little bit easier after I’ve had a baby. Little lottie is sleeping a bit more at night but still likes to be on or near me. I’m getting up at 7.30ish because all the little kids want breakfast and their favourite cartoons put on but it’s still hard to get out of the house anytime before 10am! In fact yesterday the big kids were invited to a last minute playdate and it was 1 o’clock by the time we left the house. Mind you today we were 20 minutes early to our 9am swimming class so I’m getting a bit better when I set my mind to it and skip a morning shower.

I’m gaining weight while breastfeeding but no surprises there. Not one of those mums who just gets back into shape easily and making milk is hard work and leaves me soooo hungry I eat whatever I can find. I’m hoping once everyone goes back to school and routine and I do a few more things that I might eat a bit less and instead of gain weight start to lose some. Well I hope. Today I’m making a huge soup in the slowcooker which hopefully will fill me up and keep me away from the sweet treats.

The slowcooker is still working overtime. I honestly have the most basic slowcooker but it’s working well for me. You don’t need big and fancy really. Last night was a sweet potato risotto with chicken stock we made 2 nights ago from a whole chicken in there. I’m without a stovetop (it died) but am discovering all the great things you can do in the thermomix like boil spaghetti and potatoes and so we’ve been using that a lot too. I’m hoping that this weekend we might get a few meals made and in the freezer like our favourite sausage rolls, a few lasagnes and more.

My big girls love to cook but I’ve had to ask them not to for a few days so I can keep the kitchen clean as it’s mess everywhere when they get in the kitchen. Now my favourite slowcooker recipe doesn’t have any photos but is so delicious so here goes – 1kg chicken thighs (just put them in whole), 1 can of crushed pineapple (I think its 440g), 1/4 cup tamari/soy sauce, 1 onion diced up, some ginger and garlic all go into the slowcooker on low for about 6 hours. Serve with steamed rice and even your fussiest of eaters will gobble it up. I put some chopped up veggies in there for a complete dinner. Total winner.

My big girl devised a weekly chore chart so we can be a bit fairer in dividing out the chores. Each of my big 3 has 2-3 jobs a day to do – nothing too big- and hopefully getting that routine in place now will help when everyone goes back to school.

I’m managing about 1-2 rows of knitting………..a week. Yes a week and sometimes I wonder will I remember how to knit but as things get easier and a little one sleeps more then I know I’ll be back to my crafts. I did make this little kina to gift last year and Lottie did a great job of modelling it for me. Pattern is here and I used adagio alpaca in 5ply.

And thank you for all of your tv suggestions on FB. I asked what to watch since I’ve worked my way through all of Shetland, the Crown, the Keepers, Silence the movie and need some tv viewing for those late night baby feeding sessions. After all of the suggestions I think I won’t be leaving the house anytime soon. I started with a rewatching of North and South. I could watch that one 100 times and still just love it right till the end.

 

we survived the first month

Well our miss lottie is now 1 month old. It’s been tough getting back into life with a newborn again but somehow it’s the 2, 4 and 6 year old that make life just that bit harder rather than a new baby. It’s trickier to deal with the 2 yo tantrums too when you’re wearing a baby or trying to get her back to sleep. But then I think back to life with 3 under 3 and remember that it was back then that was really hard. Thankfully, we’re just starting to get into school holidays and having the extra hands on deck at home is great. I had my big girl vac downstairs for me today and the other girl was tidying up toys. I’m using my washer and dryer around the clock and then every weekend it’s a team effort to get clothes folded and put away. My twins make their First Reconciliation tonight and my son’s trousers are in the dryer as I write this so I’m a bit last minute with everything but we’re getting there.

On the homeschool front we’re continuing to work through the holidays but at an easier pace so we can get everything done. I also have to write their first semester reports so will get that done and I like to check everything off and make sure their portfolios and book work are all up to date (and marked) so that we go into 2nd semester on top of everything. I also have to move our homeschool room as we’re putting a wood fired heater in our fireplace so are going to move everything into the playroom so we can put some couches and enjoy sitting in front of the new fire.

We are loving using the slow cooker for dinner most nights. The house smells great and I don’t need to worry about finding time to cook when everything is crazy at 4 or 5 o’clock at night.

Lottie is a very sweet baby, she’s a bit too used to being carried everywhere and held and I think I might need to start wrapping her up and putting her down for naps before it’s too late and she wants to be carried everywhere. Not that I’ll mind too much since we all just adore her and there is nothing nicer than sitting on the couch with a warm little baby on you. To pass the time while breastfeeding I’ve been reading the book Silence (it’s so good), discovering episodes of Shetland on netflix (also so good) and telling children to grab things or help one of the little kids.

We’ve been trying to get back to regular things like the shops and church. Again it’s not the new baby that’s trickier it’s managing everyone else. I’ve done the craft show which was lots of fun (yay to being back at darling harbour).

And we did a big first holy communion on Sunday which was gorgeous but seemed to take up the whole day by the time I got everyone dressed and looking lovely and out the door. I wore makeup for the first time in a long time and my dear hubby said I think I prefer it when you wear less makeup! Wrong answer but I had to hide some serious bags under my eyes. I think I get 2-3 hours sleep at the moment and then wake up like a zombie until I’ve  had a coffee. But we are getting there and I’m sure that we’ll be celebrating our baby’s 1st birthday in no time!

lace cardigan from lullaby knits

I was still finishing this cardigan the night before I went into hospital. I’d finished the knitting on it months ago but just never got around to seaming it up and adding the buttons. And I still need to duck into spotlight and grab some buttons tomorrow to finish this off.

This is the lace cardigan from lullaby knits. I reviewed the book here a while ago on the blog and still love it. It’s a european knitting book (written in english, don’t worry) and I just love the patterns. They’re a bit different and so beautiful. I follow quite a few european knitters on instagram and love their patterns that are never written in english so I kind of feel like I get a taste of their knits….in english with the lullaby knits book.

You have to knit each piece separately but they work up pretty quickly. I used Bendigo 8 ply cotton on 3.5mm needles and turned out nicely, the sizing would be 0-3 months and it’s a bit on the small side which is perfect for my little baby.

Ravelry details are here.

Lottie’s birth story

Last Wednesday I was going in to hospital for my 6th c/section, I knew it would probably be my last but my OB was still joking before we went in that we’d be back for baby number 8. Well the thing about having a baby is that you never know how the birth is going to go. I thought I had it all down pat with another c/section. I knew what to expect, I’ve never had any problems, this pregnancy had been very straight forward and I was really looking forward to the new hospital where I could have the baby with me in recovery. Things didn’t go to plan and there will be no more babies but I have the most beautiful baby girl in our family now and I’m so grateful that things worked out in the end.

We had agreed on a c/section date at 38 weeks, because of his schedule the actual date made Lottie 37 weeks and 5 days. I’d had a few last minute nerves about the new hospital and new OB. We wanted to be closer to home and our previous OB who has delivered 6 of my babies has seen his fees go up each time and the out of pocket management fee was close to $7k and I  knew that we really did need to find someone else. A lot of the catholic mums I know had been telling me about their OB over the past few years. He was closer to home and more affordable and with 7 c/sections to the one lady I knew I’d be in safe hands for another c/section.  I booked in with him and from the first time I met him I was glad he was my new OB. He was very warm and friendly and when I had a big bleed early on he had me come in that day for an ultrasound to check everything was ok. He is experienced, a Christian and sees a range of patients ranging from first time mums to some of the bigger families I know. And he never keeps you waiting, he always kept his appointment times!

So the big day finally arrived. We had to be at the hospital at 12. We left the kids at home with my mother in law and my dad and a babysitter was coming in later that night to help with dinner, bath and bed. She also turned out to be an amazing hair braider so the girls also had their hair done in the best braids they’ve ever had.

Just as we were parking the car at the hospital hubby let me know that he hadn’t had time to grab something for lunch so we sat down in the hospital cafe and I watched him eat a very nice toasted sandwich while I continued my fast before the big operation. I was busy texting friends that I couldn’t believe we were hours away from meeting our baby. We filled in all the paperwork and went up to maternity. By this stage I was so excited and emotional that if I started talking I was fighting back the tears. It really was a dream come true to be having another little baby and a baby girl made it even more special. All the waiting during the pregnancy and in a few hours I’d have a little baby.

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The midwife came in and told me how things would happen but we did joke that I could tell her as I knew the drill. I had my shower, got into my gown and lay in the bed while hubby was on his phone watching french rugby. When the wardsman came to wheel me down we asked should hubby come down, he said no. Little did we know he was supposed to say yes and that we’d end up calling maternity and mobile phones trying to get him down to the operating theatres! Anyway I met the anaesthetist, I told him I really wanted a spinal block as I preferred how I felt afterwards compared to the epidural. He agreed, he said well since this is your last c/section we’ll make it your best ever (he came back to joke about that later). Then his nurse came to get things ready and by this stage I said do you know if anyone is getting my husband because he’s still sitting up in the room. He tried calling maternity, then hubby’s phone, then my phone but hubby didn’t want to answer it. In the end they got onto someone in maternity who ran him downstairs as I was being wheeled in. It’s pretty funny and I knew they wouldn’t start without him!

The spinal went in fine, I know that’s the worst part just receiving the local in my back and my OB was holding me while they did it. The next bit goes so quickly, they were doing quite a bit of pushing and pulling so I was taking deep breaths and then before I know it this beautiful baby girl was pulled out. Lottie Evelyn Mary. We chose her name because we finally agreed on something that sounded pretty, was a little bit different and went nicely with the other names. Evelyn is after my mum’s name and Mary after St Mary of the Cross McKillop who I prayed to and left my intention at her relic when it was visiting the parishes in our diocese. I went to her relic twice in a week praying for my intention and then I found out I was pregnant just a few weeks later. And then she was born on the Feast of Our Lady Help of Christians the patron saint of Australia so I knew that she needed Mary in her name.

She wasn’t really crying but she was perfectly pink and chubby. I thought I’d cry but I was just so shocked she came out so quickly and was hoping she’d start crying. She didn’t really cry until she was being cleaned up. Her apgar scores were 9 and she was perfect in every way. While they were cleaning her up and cutting the cord I heard my OB say we’re going to be a while, he said to the anaesthetist we’re going to need to put her under. This is where I started to panic. I could tell his voice was serious and I’ve never been put to sleep before after a c/section. I can tell in the photos that I’m so happy to be meeting the baby but I also know that I’m about to go to sleep and I have no idea what the outcome of the surgery will be or why they need to put me under. The anaesthetist was on the phone as he was going to be longer with me than planned and I was starting to feel my legs tingle and I was freaking out. I said um I can start to feel things in my feet. The OB called the anaesthetist and told him to put me under now and he couldn’t work until I was under.

I asked is everything ok? Am I going to be ok? I was really panicking inside because this has never happened before. I’ve always been told at this point that everything is looking great and you’re fine for another c/section. My OB was so serious and said yes you will be fine, your bladder is stuck to your uterus and we need to separate them and we’re going to put you to sleep so we can do it. I said bye to my hubby and told him to look after the baby. I had a single moment (probably overly dramatic) where I thought what if something really bad happens and I lose my bladder or have long term damage or don’t make it. A quick hail mary and our father while they had the oxygen mask on me, they put something into my canula and that was all I remember. Next thing I know I’m being wheeled into recovery and they are waking me up. I woke up so quickly and was fine. Talking to the nurses and relieved it was over.  I told the nurse what a shock it was. I really did just feel in disbelief that things hadn’t gone to plan.

Some time had gone by and I didn’t realise how late it was. Lottie had been born at 3.02, I was wheeled into recovery after 5pm and back to my room at 6pm. It was dark outside. When I got to the room my hubby was there with Lottie and my dad too. We’d arranged for him to come in that night but didn’t realise how late I’d be. They didn’t know how things had gone so it was so good to be back and talk about everything that happened. I was also worried about feeding Lottie. She hadn’t been fed at all and I like to have a little feed as soon as I’m back in the room. Thankfully all went well and is still going well with feeding.

Later that night my OB came in to talk about what happened. My bladder was well and truly stuck from one end to the other and he said he was sorry that they had to put me to sleep and operate. He also said now I know we talked about more babies but you really can’t be getting pregnant anymore. I would risk the placenta getting stuck next time to the uterus and bladder and I wouldn’t be so lucky with my bladder coming out unharmed next time. I told him that I knew when it was all happening that would definitely be my last and I can’t risk my own health when I have my family to look after. It’s hard to hear those words because there is something nice over the years about the surprise of pregnancies. I will now look into natural family planning and have to be diligent with it but whenever I feel sad that she’s my last I remind myself how lucky I’ve been to have 7 babies, 6 c/sections and my beautiful big family. I had my first baby at 30 which is a bit later than most and my last baby at 41 so I think I’ve been busy the past 11 years and am so grateful to have been able to have the big family I really hoped I could.

I joked to my OB that the catholic mums need to talk up his skills more as he did a little tidying up and removed the skin between my laparoscopy scar that I had after my ectopic pregnancy and my c/section scar so I had a bit of bruising above and below the new scar but now only have 1 scar and hopefully no overhang which I used to have. The anaesthetist came in a few days later and talked through everything he did and joked we did say we’d make it your best ever.

I had a wonderful stay in the new hospital (the SAN). All of the staff were so wonderful, I had such experienced midwives caring for me and the midwife who cared for me the first night (which is always the worst when you’re stuck in bed with a catheter) popped in later during my stay when she was working in a different ward to say hi and check in on me. The paediatrician visited me most mornings and the food was lovely and fresh. There is something nice about having all of your hot meals delivered to you when you’re usually the one responsible for feeding the troops. Everyone who visited commented on how new the hospital was and how lovely the staff were and I really had a better than expected stay. I also loved that each room has a baby bath in there so you can bath the baby in the room whenever you feel like it. I’m used to having to bath the baby in the same place where they sleep and I just loved being able to give her baths in the room and the kids could help out too.

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Now I’m home and am much more at peace with everything that happened. It took a few days to process everything and it wasn’t the easy straightforward birth I was hoping for and my excitement in that hour that Lottie arrived was  definitely dampened by the operation after but I have the most beautiful baby to care for and she’s a little dream. She’s so easy going and placid and looks like so many of my other babies. And to have a girl is just the most wonderful little treat for this lover of pink and girly.

Recovery is a little tougher than my previous c/sections and I feel more tender this time and can’t do as much as I’d usually do so I’m taking it slower than usual and have been lucky to have hubby home helping with the driving, lunches and routine. The kids are so in love with little Lottie and we’ve never had so much excitement about a baby before. Every morning and night they need to know where she is and how she’s doing and want to hold her. She’s popular!

Thank you so much for all of your beautiful messages and comments over the past week. I really didn’t think I’d be lucky enough to squeeze another baby into our family so it’s just the most wonderful time to be caring for her and I am just loving it.

Lottie Evelyn Mary

I’m home from the hospital and enjoying being back in familiar surroundings, making coffee when I feel like it and not being confined to one hospital room! I’ve already shared a few photos of our precious new addition but just in case you missed our news here is our little Lottie Evelyn Mary who was born last Wednesday. She is absolutely perfect and we are all in love with her. Thank you so much for all of your kind messages and words since she’s arrived.We just adore having another little member of our family.

I’ll write and share her birth story later this week as it did not go to plan but we’re grateful that all ended well and she’s so healthy and perfect. If you’re on instagram and facebook then I have plenty of photos as I just love seeing how her little face changes each day.

our experience with the NDIS so far

I know some of you are in areas that are waiting for NDIS to roll out or are just waiting to get a planning meeting. We finally got a plan last week and are so excited about it. I thought I’d put a few things down that helped us and how long it all took……….patience was definitely something needed.

Why it’s so important

When the NDIS was first announced I thought it was a such a good thing because of the families I knew who had children with disabilities…never knowing we would need it. The current system of funding for under 7’s is really a tick a box for a number of conditions. There is no funding for children with global development delay or intellectual disabilities if they don’t meet the criteria for Better Start or Helping Children with Autism. That means there are children with moderate to severe disabilities or rare genetic conditions who are not getting the funding they should be able to access because they don’t tick a box. That is where we found ourselves 4 years ago. The NDIS looks at the child, their disability and their needs and works out a package for the child and it’s not based on ticking a box with a list of some conditions.

Does it fund everything?

No. And that doesn’t make everyone happy. People want big packages to fund a certain type of intensive therapy or to cover all of their therapy costs and I went into the process knowing that I might not get everything we wanted but that it had to be a whole lot better than what we are receiving which was a few blocks of therapy sessions each year provided by early intervention.

Now in saying that I know families whose children require wheelchairs and significant assistance and have had to appeal their first plans. On the flipside I also have seen people complain in forums because their child with no physical or intellectual disability who can attend a regular school etc won’t get weekly therapies or their orthotics covered. So not everyone will be happy and if you do need to appeal then you are entitled to do so. However it can be a long process and you might not be able to access your original plan until the appeal is completed.

If you are currently receiving services then be sure to write down everything that you are receiving from organisations and how frequently and put them into your plan.  Take note of their rates/charges under the NDIS especially for services that you are paying for privately, you will most likely see rates rise once you have a package.

Also if you are with organisations who are transitioning over to the NDIS make sure you find out beforehand. We didn’t know that our swimming club are transitioning over and that it has to be included in our plans and not paid by us anymore. As a result it’s not in our current plan and to add them would require us to go through the whole process again and get a new plan so we’ve had to leave that to include into our next plan next year.

How long did it take?

Roll out in our area started July 2016, we were accepted into the scheme in September 2016 ( I cried that day as it was a big deal for us) and told it would be about 6-8 weeks when a planner contacted me. Then there was a big change and the early intervention planning process was handed over to Early Intervention providers, this meant staff needed to be trained and so on. So by the end of the year it was looking like it might be February or March. Then we were told we’d have a plan by June. In the end my planning meeting was held in April and my plan was approved and came to me the 2nd week of May so nearly 11 months from the launch in our area.

What did I do beforehand?

I gathered all of our reports and documents into a folder so that I had everything to hand for our meeting. Because we were already accepted into the scheme with our disability we just needed to submit our speech reports because that was really our greatest need.

It’s good to write down a typical day and everything you do for your child and I mean everything. Can they dress themselves, feed themselves (even little things like are they using a fork or a spoon). I had to think about some things during the meeting because I hadn’t written down a day so I think that would be a big help beforehand.

How many goals did I have written down before my meeting?

Actually only 2 or 3 but somehow we got to 5 goals during our meeting and they were approved into our plan.

What does the plan look like?

The wording will be different to what you are used to. We have 2 amounts of funds in our plan. One is called CB Daily Activity (CB = Capacity Building) and this is the bulk of our funding to be used for speech, OT, physio, early intervention and social skills classes. The other amount for us is Consumables for our continence products. There are other categories for people who require transport, access to community services, equipment and so on. And if you are not self managing then an amount will be allocated to someone else like your early intervention provider to manage your fund for you.

Why I chose self managed?

I have a physio I have used in the past who is very good and she is at one business, I have to find a new experienced speech therapist who will be at another business, we love the early intervention program we are doing privately so she is at another business and we have a lovely OT who includes the little kids in the sessions and we will use that at another early intervention provider. Because I’ve managed my own BAS and tax in the past I figured I could manage the fund and the online system myself and it wouldn’t be too daunting. You do need to keep records for 5 years, open a separate bank account, keep good records and so on but for me I figured it gave me more flexibility to find therapists that I wanted to use.

What was the hardest part of the process?

Waiting….I kept telling myself patience is a virtue!

Best tip

Talk to your planner after you receive your plan. Go over any concerns, make sure you understand everything, ask questions. If you are self managing find out the info you need to get everything up and running. You might need help being put in touch with local suppliers. It was so good to meet with the planner the next day to go over the plan as she hadn’t seen it and to check a few things. I felt so much better afterwards and reassured.

And another tip is to budget out the money for the 12 months ahead. I’m going to ask my spreadsheet guru of a husband to work out planned spending and actual to help me allocate everything to our goals. It doesn’t cover all of our therapy costs and we are still paying for more than half of our early intervention ourselves but it is a whole lot better than the past 4 years. Also a reader just let me know about this app which is coming soon to help you if you are self managing

Overall feeling

Good! We are both (hubby and I) so happy to get started with things that we’ve wanted to do on a regular basis. It’s not life changing in the sense that all of our struggles are going to magically disappear but it is life changing in that we can work on speech with a therapist we want, to continue with OT instead just a few sessions every few years and to go back to physio and work on a few things as well as a few other things we wanted to start and continue with.

And the best thing for us is having something that doesn’t just stop when she reaches a certain age. She has a lifelong disability that will affect her life forever and it’s nice to be working towards small goals and big goals and know that help will be there as she grows older (and we grow older).

 

how to convince someone about homeschooling

This was a question I would put into google before we were homeschooling….and as the enrolment papers for my little boy sit in the kitchen it’s something I have to come back to. How do you convince someone (aka your other half or a concerned family member) about homeschooling. For most people it’s pretty out there, it’s unconventional and most people put their children into school because….well that’s what you do. That’s how most of us grew up and that’s what the norm is. And so for me I had a big job to convince someone that yes we can do this and we should do it.

Deciding to homeschool is a very big decision and probably one that your family and friends aren’t doing. Perhaps you’re the only person you know in real life who homeschools or wants to homeschool. And perhaps the only thing holding you back is someone who doesn’t agree with it. What’s my advice?

Be clear about the reasons you want to homeschool. There are lots of reasons and a wide variety of people who homeschool so make sure you know why YOU want to homeschool and what kind of style you would like to follow. Some people use distance education where school work is submitted and marked and there are dates for projects and assignments. Others use a workbook approach or follow a set curriculum or create their own curriculum using a mixture of books and then you have unschoolers who really don’t do school at home but something very different that follows their children’s interests and talents. Oh and the great thing about homeschooling is that it’s flexible so you can change how you do things if it’s not working out as expected.

Join local homeschool groups, there are plenty of preschoolers and mums with babies so join a local group or two and start going to activities. I feel a bit spoilt for choice living in a big city because there are lots of groups and I’ve found a great smaller group near me that meets each week (we even went out for a mums dinner!) and I have my Catholic homeschooling mums too who all have big families like ours and I’m also part of a special needs homeschool group that I haven’t met yet but find great support from them online. So start making those connections so that it doesn’t feel like a big leap into the unknown.

Watch Ken Robinson’s Ted Talks. He’s so funny and knowledgable and the videos are very convincing.  Because another way to approach the homeschooling vs regular school debate is to take a different angle and look at what is wrong with a lot of schools at the moment. You can find his most popular talks here, here and here. Why are schools failing some children? Why is more and more money being spent on testing in an effort to raise standards? Why is there so much pressure and work in the earlier years of primary school? Why isn’t there funding for inclusive education? What values are being taught in school and do they meet our family values?  And what about creativity and letting children follow their natural interests. BTW I’m not anti school and have 2 children who love school and are in school but I don’t believe it’s for everyone and I think it’s very different from when I went to school.

Start your homeschool room, buy resources (you can find some great ones in the Australian homeschool buy/sell/swap page on FB) and at book sales etc. I think this booklist is the best and why not start with educational games, toys, art and craft supplies. Show that you are committed and this is what you want to do.

Don’t nag. Ha ha I’m a nagger but anyway giving it time and space might be the strategy that works for you.

Collect great articles, stories by homeschooling families and so on. Because we’re Catholic I found a lot of Catholic /Christian homeschool websites and businesses and I was able to find stories of families who are homeschooling and looking at the success stories, the struggles and how they do it helped me (and someone else) see that large families can and do homeschool.

Give it a trial period, if you are committed to homeschooling and providing a great environment at home with the right resources and dedication then you don’t have anything to lose if you give it a trial period. For some families there is an urgency to removing a child from school and so your hand can sometimes be forced before you’ve fully understood the registration requirements in your state and got everything sorted but if it means a happier child and home life then it’s worth it. And they can always go back to school. One of my twins really wanted to go back to school and play footy at lunchtime with other boys. He got a spot at the local school and loves it, he isn’t doing as much work as he did at home or as challenging but he’s happy and wishes saturday was a school day! And we’re all fine with it.

Do the sums. If you’re married to a numbers person then look at the financial side – the current cost of education vs homeschooling. You can homeschool on a very tight budget thanks to online resources and 2nd hand books and materials. Take out the cost of school fees, uniform and transport from your budget. We do more excursions than they did at school and it only costs me about $60-$100 a term for excursions for the homeschoolers and we have so much fun. For us we have put our money into good books, a curriculum from the US and now tutoring twice a week but it’s still much better for our finances than having children in school.

Jobs of the future. My husband and I are both accountants and he’s seen first hand through his own work that jobs have been moved offshore and done by graduates who are much cheaper. Employees lost their jobs and had to train up overseas staff to do their job (all in effort to cut costs). We’ve lost count of how many restructures he’s been through but that’s life in the corporate world these days. So perhaps looking to the future and that we don’t know what jobs will look like for our children might be another avenue to think about. What do your children want to do when they grow up? What jobs will be available in the future? Do you need to sit in a classroom for 13 years to have a job in the future? There are lots of pathways to university and further study without needing to attend school and sit the HSC (or year 12 equivalent).

Do it for the benefit of the family The greatest benefit of homeschooling is a stronger family. Bigger kids help the younger kids, everyone learns together, bonds are strengthened and you get to learn together. You can take days out and instead of saying goodbye to your children you get to be with them. Instead of being stuck in a classroom being told what to do they get to have a say and go outside when they want to or make a cake when they’ve finished their work or find a great art or craft project to do. And it’s not like school holidays where you might hear ‘I’m bored already’. We have a structured morning where our bookwork has to get done and we do our creative things in the afternoon. And when we get stuck on something we can spend more time on it until we’ve got it, then we can move on. The class won’t move on while we still don’t understand a concept because we are doing things at our own pace and adjusted to where we are at. 

That’s not an exhaustive list  and I could add a few more but it gives you something to think about if you’re having to make this big decision right now or in the future!

Hope this Easter

Well the grocery shop for the Easter weekend is done, I’ve got all the times of services at Church over the next few days, grandma is coming to join us for the weekend, OB appointment was today and everything is ticking along nicely and I just need to clean the house and put my feet up a little over the weekend.

Easter is a big deal for us, a time to reflect and make sacrifices and come back to our faith with a new energy and focus. That’s what it means for me. This Lent we gave up drive thru food which was a big thing for some of the family and I can honestly say that I don’t miss a cheeseburger at all! I’m sure we’re all healthier because of it and my wallet has certainly appreciated giving up that expense. It was a bad habit we had fallen into it and I’m so glad to have broken it and hopefully for good.

I like to write a little message at Easter and Christmas and this year I can look back over the past 12 months since the last Easter and see all of the obstacles and challenges we’ve overcome. The blog and my instagram makes everything look rosy and perfect but of course that’s just a few photos here and there. I’ve always been happy go lucky too and try not to dwell on what troubles us. We’ve had a wonderful year but also had some big decisions to make, some hard financial times as our family gets bigger and expenses just seem to never end. Just when we thought we were getting on top of everything our little guy has to go in for grommits (again!) the week before the baby is due so combined with our expenses for the delivery we’ll have another round of hospital bills. But how grateful we are that we can avoid waiting lists and just get it done so he can hopefully pass hearing tests and improve his speech.

We’ve pulled children out of school, put one back in, pulled another one out and are making big decisions about what to do with another little guy who is due to start school. And just because we’re homeschooling doesn’t mean that it’s a simple decision to have another one at home and take on the responsibility for his education. I’m busy convincing someone that I can do it.

Why am I saying all of this? Because I know that families struggle. Whether it’s financially or emotionally, struggling for time, to put ourselves first, overwhelmed with our responsibility or just wondering when things will get better. Maybe you’re dealing with difficult behaviour from a child, loneliness, poor health, unemployment, a recent diagnosis, a troubled marriage, family tensions or financial troubles. I wanted to assure you that we too have our struggles and we use this time at Easter to pray, hope for the future and be grateful for everything we have. I couldn’t do it alone, I couldn’t be raising my large family if I didn’t think that I had the grace and help from God behind me. I also have a vision of our family as we get older and knowing that everything we do now works towards that vision of what we will be.

And what’s my practical advice to get through the hard times – never give up hope for the future, stop watching the news so you don’t have to worry about the world’s problems when you’re struggling with your own, have a way to escape even if it’s just for a little while (a book, craft, your favourite movie), talk to someone, start saying no to things that aren’t essential, put you and the people in your own house first and start getting them to help you when you need it. And most of all be honest with yourself and everyone else. Thank goodness for my husband, my friends who listen and a God who listens and loves me.

This is my favourite song on the radio at the moment, I know the video has nothing to do with Easter but it’s just an inspiring song that I am loving…and I make everyone in the car be quiet so I can hear it and we all end up singing along…even the littlest members of the family.

Wishing you a peaceful and happy Easter for you and your family. If you are having a hard time then I hope this Easter gives you a break from your troubles and hope for the future.