School’s (Nearly) Out For Summer…

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Can you believe it’s Freya’s last day of nursery today? I can’t. How can a whole academic year have passed in what seems like little more than the blink of an eye?

Her first tentative steps into education couldn’t have gone any better – for both of us, actually. None of my fears about her starting nursery  – especially the one that kept me awake for months where she clung to my leg in tears and begged me not to leave her – came true. In fact, the only time she really cried is when she couldn’t go to school when she was poorly.

It was big change at first and for a while she was often a bit overwhelmed when she came home but she always wanted to go back.

We did quite a lot of work to build it up as The Most Exciting Thing Ever pre-September but I know a big reason she settled so well is because of her amazing teachers and the brilliant, fun activities they plan for them. It’s no wonder she looks forward to going – I quite fancy it myself some days.

While I only have to look at her to see how much she has grown physically, the other ways she has changed shine bright too. Whereas, before, I knew everything she knew, it was a bit startling when she first started coming out with new things; singing different songs, using different words, cutting out with scissors and, most recently, writing and drawing things that actually resemble letters or aren’t just squiggles on the page.

name

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while it will come as no surprise that I shed a tear the first time, with a wobbly hand, she copied her name…and when she wrote an F on her own or drew a face that actually looked like a face (well, more like a cat). Goodness knows what I will be like when she starts reading.

Where she has really blossomed has been socially. She’s always loved other children but being able to make her own friends, without me there to prompt or negotiate, seems to have been an experience she has thoroughly enjoyed. Some mornings you would think they had been apart for months, the fuss they make of one another, when we only said goodbye the previous lunchtime.

She’s also brought me some new friendships.

I don’t mind telling you that, after reading many stories about the politics of the school gate, I had sort of braced myself on that first day, warding off feeling snubbed or lonely or, worst case scenario, bullied, with the sentence: “I’ve got plenty of friends. I don’t need any more.”

However, I must have looked a bit lost as Freya happily ran into her classroom with little more than a wave. One of the other mum’s very kindly took me under her wing (she’d already been through it with her older child so knew the drill). She told me how much her daughter enjoyed nursery, how great the teachers were and the fun she would have. I’m not sure I would have left the playground that day without her filling me with confidence that I was doing the right thing. I can’t tell you how grateful I was for her support, especially that first term when it was all so new. I know she doesn’t think she did anything special but it made such a difference to me.

As the weeks went on I got to know more parents and they have all been lovely. We often walk to and from school together and we’ve since been invited on playdates, to the cinema, to birthday parties and Freya’s had some fun afternoons splashing about in a paddling pool in the sunshine with her friends.

So, thank you to the teachers, the parents and the children for making our first year so enjoyable.

Some of the old fears remain but I’m almost looking forward to reception in September – and I know Freya is because she’s already asked me three times when she can go back to school (and she only finishes today).

A Mother And Daughter Afternoon At The NUA Degree Shows.

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By Tina Hannay.

And then it just stopped. The constant arguing, the blistering anger that would ignite over the most unlikely things, the need to control every. single. thing; like a summer storm it blew over almost as swiftly as it arrived.

Well, maybe not entirely. Freya is still three, after all – and has a very definite opinion about when it’s appropriate to wear sandals (pretty much any day it’s raining).

Thankfully, while she remains feisty and opinionated, it mostly seems more measured (for now).

It’s better.

Definitely easier.

I can (sort of) understand where she’s coming from and wade through it rather than just (mentally) throwing my hands up, at a loss as to know how to help her but holding on for dear life anyway.

I’d go as far as to say that nearly four is my favourite age so far.

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Last week I wanted to visit the Norwich University of the Arts (NUA) degree shows and, as the only day I could do it was Friday, I decided to take Freya, as I thought she might like it too.

 

By Rebecca Goddard and Emily Willgress.

After lunch we hopped on a bus into the city and strolled down to the campus where we toured the various buildings looking at the work of some of this year’s 600 graduates.

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By Sean Hancock.

 

Works on display include “paintings and illustrations, fashion garments and textile patterns, architectural drawings and models, sculptures, photographs, short films and animations, portfolios of graphic design work and video game demos”.

I’ve listed links for all the work I’ve featured at the end, where I could find them, but there were so many I didn’t get chance to take photos of but were equally brilliant (and many more I didn’t get to see at all) so really you need to go and look for yourself, if possible.

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By Nancy Peart

Getting Freya’s take on things was entertaining (she was really engaged and inspired to create her own painting as soon as we got home). There were tiny brains, an animal skull which she was fascinated by and a work that included sand which she found particularly hard not to touch.

She thought the photo on the left (below) was the Northern Lights.

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By Faryal Waiz.

I also found it really inspiring – there are definitely some stars of the future just waiting to be discovered.

I was buzzing afterwards (as I treated Freya to a tub of Norfolk strawberry ice-cream in a nearby cafe) – and not just because I had given my brain what felt like an intense workout for the first time in ages but also because we both seemed to enjoy it as much as the other. So often we either do something for the pleasure of one (softplay) or the other (hunting for butterflies) or neither of us (supermarket shopping). I hope we can find more things we enjoy together.

This photo by Victoria Brooks is one of my favourites, I just found it arresting. Then there was an illustrated book by Lauren Phillips I was very taken with.

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By Victoria Brooks.

Freya really liked the textiles, including these models by Danielle Taylor but also the video games (particularly as she got to wear headphones and play with a controller).

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The degree shows are free to visit but you only have today and tomorrow left so get in quick! Please check the website for opening times. There’s also a shop, Unexpected Item In The Bagging Area, full of beautiful things to buy.

To find out more about the work I featured please click on the links below.

Tina Hannay

Emily Willgress

Victoria Brooks

Nancy Peart

Lauren Phillips

Sean Hancock

Rebecca Goddard

My Sunday Photo – July 2nd, 2017.

curls rain

Even on a normal day Freya’s hair is pretty wild but when it’s humid it goes super curly, as you can see from this photo I snapped on Wednesday.

It only really started to grow in the last year and while I love it, I do wonder what she will make of it when she’d older, if it stays the same. Will she be trying to straighten it to within an inch of its life? Will she embrace the curls? Will she move to a country where there is low humidity? Time will tell, I guess.

To see what other people have submitted for My Sunday Photo link this week please click on the camera below.

Also, I have two new Behind The Book authors for you this month and they are FABULOUS. Pop back tomorrow and meet Jessica Redland who not only has a brilliant story behind her first book (I’m a proper fan girl) but also offers some inspiration for any writers who might be struggling to get published.

Wishing you a great week.

Photalife