Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Drowning, and juggling badly at the same time

I've said it. 
I'm drowning.
Drowning in a hundred things that need to be done RIGHT NOW!
And hiding from a fist full of things that should have been done a long time ago.

In a couple of weeks we are going away.  This is a good thing.  Really it is!

Every year we go to a fantastic games convention called ConCeption (yes, I know.  I didn't name it!)  We have been going since it started - this is our 14th year.  It is a place of happy memories, familiar enough to feel like "Home" and full of friends. 

The children are so far beyond excited it's scary.  In September M began asking how long it was until we went away.  Even the fact that Christmas was before ConCeption didn't stop the holiday being their focus.

I kinda feel sorry for a dear friend - S - who has been told about the event in detail every time we have seen her for months now!

So why am I drowning?  Well, this is a games convention, there will be much playing of role playing games there (as well as card and board / boxed games.)  And each year I run some children's games.  This year is no exception - I am scheduled to run two kids games, and one game for my brother in law (the infamous Uncle N who always comes with us.)

And therein lies the problem.  None of the games are written - one is very almost done.  Needs proof reading and a tiny bit of character creation.  The game for N I have no ideas for at all.  And the final game - a Pirate LRP - I have ideas for, but they are refusing to line up and be sensible. 

The main issue is that my creativity drains away when I am tired, and right now I am exhausted.  M is back to regular night terrors (though usually very short ones), and I am feeling run down :(

Add to that some organisational stress at Church (where I co-ordinate Junior church, no where near as grand / impressive as it sounds!), a bit of family stress, reorganising the kitchen as we have run out of work space (new microwave taking up too much room), a bookshelf needing drastic repairs, having to sort and archive home ed stuff, storing things in the loft - which then needed a bit of reorganising and The Letter, and that's why I'm drowning.  Too many balls in the air, and not one I can easily afford to drop.

Oh, The Letter?  Didn't I mention?  We got the report of J's last assessment, and it is full of factual errors.  We need to write correcting it - it's really that bad.  It says he had surgery to have grommets fitted - his hearing has always been 100%.  No surgery needed.  Some problems I listed have been minimised and trivialised, and others have been left out entirely.  The conclusions given look very much like a dismissal of our major concerns, even if they have agreed to further assessments.  The report made me feel really angry - like I had been to a different meeting than the person who wrote it - and I am struggling to work out how to phrase things politely but firmly.  We need these people to listen to us, not write off our worries.  I think I have written a dozen letters in my head, but none that really fit the requirements.

I am determined that I will get it all done in time, and if I don't it won't be through lack of trying!
 But I am starting to worry now.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Not bad, all things considered

Hello world :)

I know it's been a while, but Life did that stealthy ninja trick and snuck up on me.  I blinked and weeks flew past.  Finally we're back to something resembling normal, and I have a moment to gather my thoughts and write a bit.

Today was our first proper "lets get back to it then" day.  I've realised that there are three times a year when I feel the gentle prickling of conscience when considering intentions Vs reality.

January is a fairly obvious one - Christmas is done and packed away, the house seems so much bigger, clubs restart, days get longer, and thoughts turn towards the future.

The other two are after Easter - not too sure why there, but we have lots of Church busyness and family visits, so routine always tends to go a bit awry - and September.  I suppose September is much more obvious - the overwhelming "back to school" nonsense permeates even my subconscious, local schooled playmates disappear, clubs resume, so back to the plan we go.

We try to do three bouts of "sit down work" with the younger three a week - not sure how we came to that number, but it fits around the daytime activities quite nicely and has served us well for a long time.  Everyone here thrives on a bit of routine - not a structured day as such, and far more reflective of how things are going at any given moment than it may sound - M is very demand averse, so needs to do sit down and focus tasks regularly or his attention span drops, J needs to see that he isn't stupid, and unless he does what he considers "work" he thinks we aren't home edding right (and he will tell us so, loudly), A has always loved workbooks.  So a bit of work gets done, and everyone is happy.  Now L is following a more externally-imposed structure he needs to work most days, but he is pretty accepting of that.

So, today L was worried that having not done anything formal since . . . well for a long time! that he would find it all a bit tricky.  To my delight he whizzed through the Maths exercises in record time.  He was manipulating fractions / % / decimals, and had found it a bit tricky to keep straight in his head before the holidays.  That break seems to have helped him absorb and process things, and everything was much smoother than anticipated today.

M was happy to sit, though he was bouncing and swinging like mad.  His writing has taken a few steps backwards, but in terms of understanding, willingness, effort and progress he was flying.  We have yet to find a point at which he struggles with Maths or science - mostly he reads the explanation paragraph and then has no trouble at all.  I wish he'd do the same with English, but that is his weakest area.  He has started reading a Sea Quest novel, the first of the set, and his reading is much better than last time he was reading aloud to me.  He was also willing to try spelling words for himself today, instead of asking me for anything longer than three or four letters.  Both of these are big progress - rather delayed, as he's homing in on 12, but progress nonetheless.

J surprised me.  He wasn't happy about doing any sit down work, and kept putting it off.  As a result he was the last to join me at the dinner table.  Once he did sit down I had to tell him I had no idea where his special pen was - he refused to use any other.  I thought that I was in for a miserable time of him grumbling about every little thing, and we'd get next to nothing done.

Suddenly he jumped up, and shouted that he knew where the pen was!  Off he ran, but he took ages . . . I was just about to go looking when he reappeared - pen in hand and finally dressed too (he'd been refusing to get dressed all day, this was about 4 pm)

He was then very willing - we did a bit of cursive writing practise, which he really worked hard on, then looked at angles, and he chose to do more than the exercise asked.  Then a bit of science about insulators and conductors, a bit of English about fables, and a final surprise - he was willing to read to me :)

J has been able to read for years, but always refused to read to me.  If I pushed him to read to me it would be an uphill struggle that left us both wound up.  I knew he was reading though by the number of books on his bed, the times I spotted him curled up with one, by him reading over my shoulder, or reading instructions.  Today he was happy to start reading a Humphrey book - My Big Birthday Bash -and he's doing awesomely :)  

Although I am listing her last, A was actually first to do anything with me.  She was hugely enthusiastic, and wanted to get going before breakfast!

We did some adding of tens, some sorting rhyming words, and some finishing off of old workbooks.  Along the way there was lots of reading, so we didn't start a book.

All told, the day went rather well - especially as we're all coughing and grumpy!

Now A is waiting for me to help her try and find her favourite cuddly, J is immersed in Minecraft, L and M are out with their Dad at a games club, and I am enjoying a bit of solitude whilst I write this :)

Tomorrow will bring more work for us all - and hopefully some family gaming too.

Life continues, as it is wont to do, and for us there is a little more structure, a little more focus, and a sense of achievement at the end of the day :)