So the end of the year is nearly here. It is that time when we look back on the year and look forward to the new. Last year I wrote a #Nurture1314 post and found it interesting to look back as well as give my hopes for the following year, so let us see how I got on.

1. I hope that I can continue with my juggling act of mummy, wife, teacher, friend and Nichola!
So I think I am managing this! It is a very hard juggling act but there we go.

2. I hope that my boy continues to grow in to a kind, funny and crazy boy. He turns four in 2014 and starts school. Scary for me but I am sure he will rise to the challenge.
Ben has taken to the challenge of school with both hands. He loves his school, his teacher and his new friends. His language is developing all the time and he is already learning to spell and do some basic writing.

3. Continue to spend quality time with my family. I just love spending time with them but it is hard when life gets in he way.
I write this post from the comfort of my mum and dad’s snug. We are here for Christmas and I believe we have spent lots of time with them, though there is always room for more time.

4. Holiday. We have 2 holidays booked again this year. One in February in St Ives with my inlaws, brother in law and his girlfriend. It is to celebrate my MILs 50th birthday and I am sure that will make for fabulous memories.
The trip to St Ives was a memorable one. It was a LONG drive from Manchester to St Ives, even with a stop in Bristol on the way there. However, we were very VERY lucky with the weather. The floods of the weeks prior had gone and the sun came out for us nearly every day. It may have been February but from the photos you’d never know. Such fun times, though I can’t say I’m in a rush to do that long journey again! That holiday also saw me see a friend in the Winter Olympics in the Bobsleigh for Team GB. Amazing to see someone I know become an Olympian.

5.The other is in my childhood memory home of the area of Norfolk near Cromer. My parents may join us for some of this holiday if possible. Either way I hope the sun shines and memories are made.
My parents did join us and we had a great time, although B and my parents’ dog, Max do wind each other up when in close proximity for long periods of time. The weather wasn’t quite so kind (typically British summer weather!) but it didn’t stop us enjoying time on the beach, fish and chips on the front and a trip on the Steam train.

6. I hope that one of my friends has a fabulous wedding day to her lovely fella and we are part of it.
Her wedding was fantastic. The forecast had been rubbish but in the end it was a lovely day, with the rain holding off until the evening. The venue was stunning and it was lovely to have live music in the form of a brass band and a choir.

7. I hope to continue to enjoy choir and maybe talk our conductor in to us singing some of my favourite music.
Sadly choir took a long break this year and I only got to sing until February. Our conductor had to take some time out. Choir is back on again, though other things I will talk about later mean I haven’t made it back yet. Maybe in the new year!

8. I hope to grow as a teacher. Increasing my knowledge and experience.
I have met some really interesting people, read a lot of articles and continue to learn from those around me.

9. I hope to stay within pmld and sld teaching, especially pmld as my love for it is growing all the time.
I had a lovely 2nd year with my class, saw some special things with them, and have now got a mixed PMLD/SLD group who are very different but bring their own challenges and delights.

10. I hope to increase my online work relationships. I feel they are really helping me to grow as a teacher and help me feel not so isolated as it is so easy to feel in the world of special ed.
I have spent quite a lot of time on Twitter this year, and most of it has been spent engaging with fellow teachers, learning from them. I am hoping to go to Oxford in February for the SEN TeachMeet, so we shall see if I manage to make it there.

11. I hope to find the time to go to the theatre. I love musicals and saw not nearly enough in 2013, though Wicked and Rent were fabulous.
I did get to the theatre a couple times this year, not as many as I would like. Fascinating Aida has to be my favourite. If you haven’t seen them, I suggest you look up some of their work, especially the Ofsted Song, Cheap Flights and Dogging! Not for those of a sensitive disposition! I do have several things booked for the new year, fist up is Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time at the Lowry in early January.

12. I also hope to see more live comedy. It is a great night out. Comedians such as Greg Davies, Ross Noble, Dara O’Briain etc have made me cry with laughter over the years.
I have some comedy tickets booked, but I can’t say who as my husband is reading this (probably) and they are a secret! Didn’t make it to anything other than Fascinating Aida on the comedy front.

13. I hope to spend time with my friends. Some I haven’t seen for months. However, they are there for me and me for them regardless.
I’ve had some lovely times with friends this year. Always wish there was more time with them, but life, work and family get in the way.

14. Most importantly I hope to have fun. In work, home and play!
Fun is always important to me, especially when things are tough, and there have been tough times.

5 Positives from 2014:

1. I moved house! This was not at all on the radar this time last year, but thanks to some money from my parents, we have moved to a lovely new area, about 20 minutes from where we were. The house is fab (despite some problems when we moved in) and it really feels like home.

2. B has started and loved school. Due to number 1, we had to get a last minute place for him, so he could start with all his peers in September. Thankfully there was a place in one of the local schools and they welcomed us and B with open arms. We have been made to feel a part of the school community, even though I don’t do pick ups and drop offs. Nights out with some of the mums have been lovely and it’s great to see B when he has been to a few birthday parties, seeing his new friendships blossom. He has a real love for learning (oh and a love for being outside!). It’s great to see. He is trying so hard with his reading and writing and for a summer baby, he is doing really well. Proud mummy.

3. I know I am good at what I do. This year I applied for 2 jobs. I got interviews for both. I interviewed well, had great feedback from my teaching in class, but sadly did not get either job. This really upset me at the time, but I lost out to someone much more experienced than me for one, and I think to someone who could start sooner for the other. It is always good to know that what I am doing is good, especially from outside of my own school. I still want a change, but the right jobs are few and far between. So I am crossing my fingers and we shall see what the next year brings.
4. I have rediscovered a love of cooking/baking. I mean I’m no Mary Berry and I will never be a Great British Bake Off contestant but since moving house I have been trying to cook more from scratch (mostly in my slow cooker due to lack of time) but it is quite fun to do.
5. I have spent lots of time with my family. This is always a positive. We try and see at least one set of B’s grandparents each weekend, sometimes we squeeze in both. I have such happy memories of times with my grandparents and I want B to have some amazing memories too.

5 Wishes for 2015
1. I hope to continue to grow and develop as a teacher. I have a few Teach Meets planned, hopefully the SEN TeachMeet in Oxford in February and I have booked my ticket for Northern Rocks 2015 in Leeds for June. Always good to meet others. New challenges are always around us.
2. I hope to make my home more my own. We have only been in the new house for 3 months and there is still so much to do to make it truly our home. The first job is to paint B’s bedroom as it is rather flowery and girly at the moment, not that he minds!
3. I hope to continue to spend as much time as possible with my family and friends. They bring me such joy and happiness and I wish I had more time for them, especially B.
4. I hope to get back in to performing, of some kind. I miss it. I miss singing, playing, dancing, performing full stop. I need this in my life.
5. I hope to get a bit more exercise. I need to get in to a routine. I promised myself I would get in to Aqua Aerobics or something similar as I struggle to find things I can do thanks to my previous ankle, knee and hip problems!


Reading #blogsync

So I was reading @cherrylkd and @clyn40 joint post about their conversation about their reading habits. I found it really interesting and was prompted to write my own post so here I am.

As a child I was always surrounded by books. Both mum and dad were and still are avid readers of magazines and books. Mum being a teacher meant there were always loads of kids books and work bools around and I do remember using some of them for my own entertainment! I have a particular fondness for Fussbuzz for anyone who remembers that series. Mum used it a lot with some of her groups.

I remember being a good reader as a child. I would always bring my words home in a tobacco tin (one of the teachers or maybe their husbands were avid smokers as we all had them! I remember struggling to find things to read at school that I hadn’t already read several times and I remember resorting to reading National Geographic magazines of which there were many in the junior library. Authors such as Roald Dahl had been firm favourites as an upper junior, especially as we had written to him in Y5 and had had a lovely reply which I can still remember to this day. I also remember that I read The Hobbit but don’t remember whether or not I enjoyed it. I loved the Chronicles of Narnia and I loved the bbc children’s series too. My ideas I had created and their ideas were very similar.

Then something happened. Secondary school English is what happened to be precise.

The days of just reading and enjoying a book appeared to be gone forever. Instead as we read such classics as Adrian Mole, Of Mice and Men, Animal Farm, Romeo and Juliet, Roll of Thunder Hear my Cry and Z for Zakariah we had to look in detail at each page, each paragraph and what it all meant. I wasn’t just allowed to laugh at Adrian and his awkward teenage moments. I wasn’t allowed to be drawn in and taken away to the semi-realistic world of Z for Zakariah. I couldn’t enjoy one of the most well known love stories Shakespeare ever wrote. This is where my love of reading stopped.

This is sad but true. I couldn’t enjoy a book any more. This feeling stayed with me for a long long time, way past my time in high school, beyond 6th form college and past university. During that period it was all about reading for information and not for pleasure. I read so many interesting texts in those years, some of which I have revisited since, though I can say with honesty that my attempt to reread The Odyssey failed on numerous attempts. My classics teachers of Mr O’Brien and Mrs Harris did their job with such skill that I wanted them with me when I tried again.

When I got to university, the reading list was huge. Each subject had its own list plus people like Piaget and more general books about teaching from people like the fabulous Sue Cowley were all there for me to gain knowledge from. And I did. I took in lots. Heck I was even interviewed for one of Sue’s books many years ago and read it cover to cover. However. I can honestly say I read all these books because I felt I had to, not because I wanted to. My bookcase was weighed down with academic books alongside all the children’s books I’d owned as a child and bought as a teacher but no adult fiction could be seen.

Now where am I? Well somewhere between the two. I still read novels but few and far between and they are mostly “children’s books” such as the Harry Potter series (and yes I even went out at midnight to buy a couple of them and read them in a day in my years before becoming a mum!) or the crossover book ‘The curiois incident of the dog in the night time’ which I really really enjoyed. I still read the odd book related to my work, heck I even have a couple on my amazon wishlist for presents. I have also discovered the wonderful world of audio books. I have listened to a huge number of autobiographies from people such as Stephen Fry, Jennifer Saunders, David Attenborough, James Corden, Rob Brydon, Sue Johnston and many more. Listening to them telling their own life stories has been a real treat and keeps my toes in to the world of books.

I rarely read a book these days but I still read a lot. I am an avid user of the internet and I love to read twitter and facebook, blogs and articles. I also still read a lot of children’s books. Most of the time with my son. He adores bed time stories and I love that he loves it and that 20-30 minutes before his bedtime is the most precious time in my day on the nights it is my turn. I hope life in school, which seems to be filled with test after test these days will not turn him off books like it did me for a big part of my teenage and early adult life.