School’s out for summer (almost!)

Heather on her first day of school

First day of primary one- hard to believe we’re now almost at the end!

It’s hard to believe Heather’s first year at school – which started last August – is almost complete. In just over 3 weeks, she breaks up for the summer, and I honestly have no idea where the time has gone. None.

And yet, it’s not hard to see the changes in her that have happened in that time. She’s got taller, of course, and her hair is now rivaling Rapunzel’s, but it’s the things she’s learned, and what they allow her to now do, that are far more dramatic.

I don’t think Heather believed me at the start of the year, when I told her by summer she’d be able to read and write, but that’s exactly what’s happened. And I love how much of a buzz she gets out of it all – she’s even got herself a “secret” diary that every so often she records an event in… and then proudly shows us what she’s just written! Not so secret after all…

She’s been learning about numbers too, of course, and can now do adding and subtracting, sometimes without using her fingers. :) I’m guessing it will be next year (at least) before they move on to anything beyond two digits, though. At the moment, Heather seems to think that the bigger the numbers, the harder the sum, which is true to an extent, but “what’s a million add a million?” is nowhere near as complicated as she seems to think it is!

The school had a special assembly on Friday, to celebrate the end of Primary One, and to show us parents – and those whose kids will be starting school after the summer - what the year has been all about. Following a similar format to the end of nursery show, we were presented with a series of musical numbers covering the various topics the kids have covered. We got “Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to school we go”, “Chick-chick-chick-chick chicken” (in honour of the chickens that were hatched in the school back in autumn) and “The Stable Ho-down” (from the p1/p2 nativity). Megan knew all the words and dance moves for that last one, and had fun joining in.

Heather’s big moment was in the section about their Scottish topic, where she had a line to say – “we even learned a Scottish song” – which she delivered with gusto before the kids all sang “Bonnie Wee Jeannie McCall” with appropriate actions.

Now, this is one I’ve sort of known most of my life, but it was entirely new to Gem. She could at least understand the words, having lived up here for 14 years… unlike her poor mum, who needed a translation!

It was a great show though, and a great summary of what the kids have got up to all year. I have no idea if this will be an annual event, or if it is specific to P1, but I know that if we are back in 12 months time I’ll be every bit as proud as I was on Friday. Even if the rate time is passing scares the bejeezus out of me!

This autumn I'm running/cycling in a 30km duathlon and a half marathon, to raise money for Breast Cancer Campaign. You can read more about my challenge here or support me here. All donations, however big or small, gratefully received!

I can see clearly now

Trying my glasses on for size

Trying Daddy’s glasses on for size

When I was 3 or 4 years old – I’m not entirely sure, but I know I was at nursery – something exciting happened. A plastic bag had blown into a tree, and the teachers were lifting us kids up, one by one, so that we could see it. When it was my turn, I tried and tried, but I just couldn’t see what the fuss was about. It’s not that I didn’t find the idea of a bag caught in a tree exciting – after all, who wouldn’t? - I literally couldn’t see the focus of everyone’s attention.

At home time, someone had a word with my mum and suggested I might need to have my eyes tested. Which I did. And have been wearing glassed ever since, which is definitely a good thing, because it turns out I’m blind as a bat.

Gem and I always knew there was a chance our kids would end up with bad eyes. Leaving me aside, the rest of Gem’s family are spec-wearers, and my lot all have glasses too, albeit none of them have eyes as bad as mine. But we’ve never noticed either of the girls having any problems, and when Heather’s eyes were checked out last year at nursery, although she needed a follow-up appointment at the hospital, they told us her eyes were near enough perfect.

So on Sunday, when almost on a whim we took Megan for an eye test (she’d been complaining of a sore eye), we weren’t expecting any different. But we got more than we’d bargained for, as did the poor optician who examined her!

You see, being three, and all this being a brand new experience, Megan wasn’t too keen on sitting still while they looked in her eyes. So the optician gave her some drops to slow her eyes down, and sent us away for 40 minutes while they worked their magic. A cake and a drink later (virtually untouched by Megs, it has to be said) we were back, and the difference in her was very noticeable.

Apparently these drops can cause drowsiness, and in Megan’s case that was certainly true – she was almost sleeping in the examination room. Which made it all the more surprising when she threw up all over herself, Gem, the optician and the floor. It was quite the spectacular expulsion by all accounts!

I (perhaps fortunately) missed it though, as I was in the waiting area with Heather. The first I knew that anything was amiss was overhearing Gem apologising repeatedly before I was despatched to procure some baby wipes, to help with the cleanup.

Look at my new dress!

Look at my new dress!

The staff in Specsavers managed to find Megs a promotional t-shirt to wear in place of her sicky clothes, and it was dressed like this that she picked out her first pairs of glasses. I say “she picked out”… truth is she was (understandably) so traumatised by the whole experience that she just wanted to go home, and it was under much duress that she agreed to go for some pinky/purpley Hello Kitty glasses, and some similarly coloured sunglasses, which we’ll pick up next week.

It turns out Megan’s eyes are about as bad as mine are – we’re both very long-sighted, with very similar prescriptions, and both suffer from astigmatism. The fact that our prescriptions are so similar (Megan is +5.0 in both eyes, I’m +5.0 in one and +4.25 in the other) has meant I’ve been able to let her try out my glasses, which she has done a few times since the weekend. Last night she told me things look “more pointy”, which I’m taking to mean “more in focus”, which is encouraging in terms of getting her to keep them on.

In the meantime, both Gem and I are feeling a bit guilty. I’ve already apologised for giving her my rubbish eyes, while Gem somehow feels responsible for a) not noticing anything was wrong and b) not building her properly in the first place, both of which are ludicrous. Things are what they are, and having to wear glasses is nothing like it was when I was a kid – there’s so much choice now, where in my day we had a choice of blue or brown plastic frames (for the boys, girls got pink or, em, pink).

We have, however, struggled a bit to come up with positive glasses-wearing role models that Megan can relate to, which surprised me a lot. The entertainment industry still seems to view specs as being for old people or geeks, and mainly boy geeks at that. Pretty much the only girl we’ve come up with is Margo from Despicable Me, which is definitely pretty poor. Millions of kids wear glasses, it would be nice to see this reflected a bit more in movies and on TV. Something to keep an eye on (keep an eye on, geddit?)

One of my earliest childhood memories is of my first day in nursery with glasses. I can remember being on a climbing frame, and one of the boys asking me my name, because he hadn’t recognised me and thought I was new – and I don’t think he was the only one. I’m sure it won’t all be plain sailing, but I doubt Megan will have to deal with anything like that as she adapts to her new life. Glasses will be as much a part of her as they are of me, and it won’t be long before, like me, she can barely remember a time when she didn’t wear them. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. (ok, I’ll stop it now…)

 

This autumn I'm running/cycling in a 30km duathlon and a half marathon, to raise money for Breast Cancer Campaign. You can read more about my challenge here or support me here. All donations, however big or small, gratefully received!

Holding hands and skimming stones

Like many households across the country, today was the dreaded return to normality after the Easter holidays. For Heather it was back to school, for Gemma it was back to work – both after 2 weeks off – and for me it was a return to the office after two weeks mostly spent at home. I don’t know yet how the others have fared, but I had a successful morning, which included my fastest door-to-door cycle to work yet, tantalisingly close to the hour mark I’m aiming for. One day…. one day…

Our break itself was pretty successful too. We started the process of clearing out and overhauling our bedroom, celebrated Gem’s birthday with an impromptu party and a night out in Glasgow, hung out with friends (including a trip to see Muppets Most Wanted, which I highly recommend), had a new front door fitted, and even found some time to relax. Poor Heather spent a good chunk of her first Easter break ill – possibly with scarlet fever – but even she still found time to get out on her bike and play with her friends.

Possibly the highlight, though, was a trip to Millport with the extended family on the Saturday of Easter weekend, in memory of my Grandma who died last August at the age of 95. Three generations of us, seventeen people in total, made the trip over the water to “Scotland’s most accessible island”, a place that Grandma loved. She spent many a holiday there, especially in the years when her mother, my Great Grandma, ran a boarding house overlooking the sea front, which made it a fitting place in which to say our final goodbyes. And I think she was looking out for us too, as the sun split the heavens all day, with barely a cloud to be seen.

Of course, no trip to Millport would be complete without having a picture taken on the Crocodile Rock. Nothing to do with Elton John, I hasten to add, this one is an actual rock, similar in shape to a crocodile and with painted eyes and teeth. First painted around 100 years ago, it’s one of Scotland’s best-known landmarks, and if our photo collections are anything to go by, one of its most photographed as well.

My dad has been scanning old pictures and slides recently, and compiled a set of Crocodile Rock pictures to share with everyone at the weekend. Obviously we took a few more, meaning we now have four generations of Blacks pictured on top of the Croc – a veritable family tradition!

And one which is likely to continue for some time to come – Gem and the girls enjoyed their first trip to Millport (yes, shame on me for not taking them sooner) so I’m sure there will be plenty more trips – and photo opportunities – in the years ahead. Although I don’t expect the sun to be blazing every time we go :)

Grandma and Grandpa, c.1939

Dad and Aunt Eli, 1950s

Paul, Ali, me, Gill, Rachael and Uncle John c.1992

Rach, Matt, Iain, Me, Gem, Ali and Gill, 2014

Me, Megan and Heather, 2014

This autumn I'm running/cycling in a 30km duathlon and a half marathon, to raise money for Breast Cancer Campaign. You can read more about my challenge here or support me here. All donations, however big or small, gratefully received!

Let’s get the party going, and we’ll party hard

image

For most folk, the lead up to Christmas involves a party or two. Only the hardcore, though, can party every weekend, often on consecutive days, and sometimes even multiple times in the same day!

Believe it or not, that’s precisely how hardcore Heather is, at the ripe old age of 5. By amazing coincidence, a huge percentage of her school friends have birthdays in November and December, meaning that for the past month her social calendar would have worn out a Kardashian. And that’s before you factor in the Christmas parties!

Of course, somewhere in the middle of that was her own birthday, which featured no less than three celebrations – dinner with family, a soft play party with her friends, and an after party with our besties. As if that wasn’t enough we managed to squeeze in a cinema trip to see Frozen, which was ace, although we did have to schedule it around another birthday party. But of course.

Fortunately Heather’s birthday weekend went off without a hitch. Other families weren’t so lucky – one mum ended up in plaster, having broken her ankle at her daughter’s party!

Unfortunately I suspect that might be a preview of what we can expect in a few years. If Heather keeps the same group of friends into her teenage years and beyond, November and December will be carnage.

And that’s just the girls – I’m refusing to factor any boys into the equation.

This autumn I'm running/cycling in a 30km duathlon and a half marathon, to raise money for Breast Cancer Campaign. You can read more about my challenge here or support me here. All donations, however big or small, gratefully received!

Here comes the sun

Gro-clock sun

The sun, this morning

I’ve written before about how much we love Gro-clocks. Megan’s hasn’t been quite the raging success that Heather’s was, but to be fair to her she’s only now reaching the age Heather was when we got hers, and I think she’s just about there. She definitely understands the concept of staying in bed until the sun comes up, she’s just not very good at executing it. But she’s getting better, and that’s all we can hope for at this stage.

Now, since I started cycling to work, I’ve developed a very fixed morning routine. It’s become a well-oiled machine, just like my bike itself: out of bed, pull on my clothes, visit the bathroom, put lunch in my bag, eat breakfast, and go. No room for dawdling, something which can sometimes be difficult with small people around.

This morning I was in the bathroom, doing… well, what one does in the bathroom… when I heard the pitter patter of toddler feet. Toddlers aren’t renowned for respecting privacy, so I wasn’t surprised when Megan appeared to tell me cheerfully that the sun was up. I asked her if it really was (knowing that it would be) and she said she’d go and check. What I wasn’t expecting was the next bit:

“Close your eyes… and no peeking!”

Now, when a 2 year old tells you to close your eyes and not to peek, what can you do but comply? So I’m not really sure what the banging, huffing, puffing and muttering that followed was all about. I think she had knocked her Gro-clock over in trying to turn it round, but I guess we’ll never know. Eventually, though, I was told I could open my eyes, and there was Megan, standing proudly beside her Gro-clock where the sun was, indeed, up. “See? Sun’s up” she said. And it was!

And then, just to add to the feeling of “aren’t kids great?”, Heather appears from her room to tell us we were being too noisy! 4 going on 14, that one.

Of course, all these goings on somewhat derailed my smooth machine-like morning routine. But in this instance I’m not fussed. I don’t get to spend much time with the girls during the week, so moments like this are absolutely priceless.

I just had to pedal a little faster to make up the lost time.

This autumn I'm running/cycling in a 30km duathlon and a half marathon, to raise money for Breast Cancer Campaign. You can read more about my challenge here or support me here. All donations, however big or small, gratefully received!