Celebrations!

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Celebrations!

Lots of birthdays to celebrate! My sister deserved a treat for her birthday and so I took her to a special restaurant, one with so many memories for us. We had a beautiful five course lunch, this is Scottish salmon, with radishes grown in the garden, with horseradish cream and cucumber. It was divine! We decided the most delicious course was Vicky’s pudding, a spectacular and incredibly rich Le Manoir version of Millionaire’s Shortbread. We, unfortunately, didn’t enjoy the gardens as it was torrential rain as we left. Just a few minutes later the sun was shining and we had a wonderful view of the glorious green British countryside. I am loving seeing all the spring green leaves and the bluebells everywhere!
We talked to Simon late in the evening, he had had a frustrating day whilst Amanda had had a great day! She mastered 8 handed clocks, such an achievement! Congratulation! Your time wiIll come, Simon! I have left the rain behind in Peterborough!

Today I had a fabulous surprise with Michael arriving from Sydney! I was expecting him to meet us in Brussels on Friday! It was so nice to have a long catch up in the car as we drove up to Loughborough to se Lara for her birthday! She was as surprised as I was!
We had a great picnic with Lara and her friends in a very pretty local park, great food prepared by Victor, Kim and Freya. It is good to see where Lara has lived and studied for the last few months and to meet her housemates and Uni friends. So lovely to see Lara too!
Happy birthdays, Vicky and Lara!

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Weekend antics!

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Weekend antics!

This was the beautiful sky as we walked Amanda back home after our pot luck today. Simon had invited the students from his class and their families to come over. Not everyone could come but those who did had a good time, plenty of good food and good company! As the afternoon wore on, we played celebrity heads – and there was much talk afterwards of which part of the brain was being used during the game, not a usual conversation after a game of celebrity heads, I suspect, and not something about which I would have given a thought before Simon started at Arrowsmith! Simon is going to check with Mr Coppins (the celebrity that I put on his head!) tomorrow and I will let you know!
Looking back, yesterday evening Simon and I went to the Showplace where we enjoyed a great concert – the first half being Professional Fanfare composed by Elizabeth Baum, Masonic Funeral Music by Mozart and then Fanfare for the Common Man by Aaron Copeland, all a prelude to Beethoven’s Symphony no 9. Our enjoyment was all the greater because the conductor, Michael Newnham, had given an enthusiastic, funny and enlightening talk prior to the concert about the Symphony, that together with a CD (lent to me by one of the Arrowsmith mums) about Beethoven’s life and the Symphony gave us a much better understanding of the music. Michael Newnham reminded me of one of our favourite Australian conductors, Richard Gill. I had thought that we were being graced by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in Peterborough – my mistake, it was the Peterborough Symphony Orchestra but, for me, whether is was the TSO or the PSO, it was a wonderful performance, and as Michael Newnham said “This music is life-affirming” and indeed it was. It was the first time Simon had seen an orchestra playing, other than his school orchestra and he really enjoyed it. It struck me that it must be a very joyful experience playing such wonderful music in an orchestra! I wish I had had the opportunity to play a string instrument and be part of an orchestra and even more than that, that I had paid more attention in music at school, rather than plotting how we could most upset our music teacher – Mr Escott, wherever you are, I am truly sorry that I didn’t appreciate your love of music and your teaching then. My musical knowledge because I didn’t pay attention is scanty to say the least.
Before the concert we had a day of preparing for the pot-luck, with shopping at the farmer’s market and cleaning the apartment and listening to the third book in the “Tomorrow” series – such compelling listening. John Marsden has captured the grimness, boredom, terror and heroics of war so well.
And of course, our weekend started at Friday night – I really enjoy and look forward to Andrea’s conversation and a glass of Aussie wine, this week with the added bonus of a delicious vegetarian chilli, Simon enjoying the fun in the basement.
Tomorrow I am off on a trip to Europe – so easy to hop to Europe from here rather than the long haul from Sydney! Simon is looking forward to his freedom! I am looking forward to seeing my family and friends, celebrating birthdays and good craic in Dublin with Michael. Happy days!

An inspiring story for your weekend reading.

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An inspiring story for your weekend reading.

This is such a great story – I thought I should share it and I know that we have as many happy parents and students at our Arrowsmith Peterborough school. And here is our inspiring young man (in his new hoodie – do you like it?) who is working so hard and going so well with his programme for the most part! This was a frustrating week for Simon as he really wants to master the next level of tracing and just can’t quite make it yet! He did, oh so coyly, tell me that he had, however, mastered another level of word!

A fascinating and inspiring story of success from Eaton Arrowsmith School to close out the week!

Thought we’d end the week with a story we received recently from one of our parents at EAS Victoria. While it is of course wonderful to hear of the cognitive and academic changes that our student has made, what is really reaffirming is that the feeling of love and nurturing that we believe is paramount in order to set the stage for these changes, was felt by this boy and his family. As a staff we always ask ourselves ‘How would we want our own children to be taught/treated?’ In only the best, most compassionate way. That’s what we want for your children as well. Happy reading!

“My son is now in his fourth and final year at EAS. He is extremely happy at the school despite the challenging work of the program.

My son was one of the youngest students at the time – I enrolled him when he was eight and had just started grade 4 in our local school. I had attempted to advocate for him for several years as it was apparent to me that he was not learning at the same pace as his older brother and his fellow classmates. Unfortunately due to the lack of resources, our public school was unable to provide him with much additional assistance and they would not even test him for a learning disability. As he had no behavioural issues he was overlooked when it came to choosing the few students who would be tested. He was falling between the cracks. It was at this point that I realized I needed to look elsewhere and have him privately tested. After much research, I discovered there were two options in Victoria: one was a Christian private school which based itself on “traditional bypass” methods which teach the kids to work around their lifelong learning disabilities and the other was a new school, Eaton Arrowsmith which promised actual cognitive change through intensive cognitive exercises that strengthen weak or non-existent neural pathways. As opposed to learning ways around the disability, the EAS method was getting to the root of the problem. EAS offered hope for a future of endless possibilities for my son. Despite the cost, I opted to enroll him into EAS immediately and pulled him out of his public school. I have struggled financially with this decision but I feel it has been well worth it to see the positive changes in my child. This is a real investment in the future – his future.

I have seen tremendous changes in my son over the last four years. He was painfully shy, would not even go to birthday parties as there were too many kids there, would not participate in sports, disliked and resisted anything to do with reading/schoolwork and had a very short attention span. He had a speech issue and was difficult to understand and could not even recognize the letters of the alphabet consistently. Today he is a completely different child. Not only is he now reading and interested in academics but he has developed a great deal of personal confidence. His speech problem has almost cleared up without seeing a speech pathologist as he did at his old school. He has many friends including some of the older kids at EAS. He can speak in front of the class and in front of groups. He has developed a great sense of humour and EAS also encouraged his creativity. He now loves phys-ed and has really enjoyed some of the sports that EAS has introduced him to. He is quite proud of his badminton skills. The most encouraging thing for me is that he is actually interested in reading! He is not avoiding it anymore but will actively try to read a difficult word by sounding it out and then is so proud when he gets it.

EAS encourages each child in their personal interests and welcomes the kids to share their ideas and interests at school. The staff at EAS has created an incredible environment that fosters a real sense of community. It is amazing to see the students encourage and support one another. EAS also celebrates each child’s mastery in the various exercises which encourages the child to keep going and stay motivated.

I am pleased with the progress my son has made particularly in the area of reading but I am thrilled with the overall development of a confident young man who will be re-entering the school system next fall.”

A sea of blue

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A sea of blue

This is the blue carpet I mentioned yesterday. I had to go back and take a photo today as yesterday was so cloudy and grey in the morning whereas this afternoon was a big blue sky afternoon. The sun was shining in the right direction and they (whatever they are called – anyone?) were pointing up to capture as much sun as they could, just like all the people who were out walking. Where have all these people come from? I think they were hibernating all winter!
The late afternoon was so glorious I just kept on walking and walking, I didn’t want to come back inside. There were mouth-watering barbecue smells, squirrels rustling in the leaves, birds singing in the trees and the sun so warm I rolled up my sleeves! There were MIL (men in lycra) gathering for an evening bike ride along the trails and children sitting fishing by Little Lake, I have to admit to worrying about the fact they weren’t wearing life jackets and would I be brave enough to throw myself into the rushing water if one of them had fallen in. Fortunately they didn’t so I didn’t have to answer that question!
Simon spent some of his day tidying up rubbish in the area around the school – I’m not sure if this was an Arrowsmith initiative or a Clean Up Canada Day or was it because of Earth Day. Anyway, he had some fun and they found a good deal of rubbish which is now no longer littering the streets. Some of the students found tyres and others found a pair of undies! Simon says there was all sorts of rubbish!
They also had a visitor, a previous student who came back to tell the current students about what they are doing now, having finished Arrowsmith. She told them about her course at Uni where she is studying biology and how to look after wild animals and get them ready to return to the wild. She said she wouldn’t have managed the course as well as she is managing if she hadn’t been to Arrowsmith. Simon said it was encouraging to hear her story and enjoyed meeting her.
The other exciting thing that Simon told me tonight is that he is playing soccer (otherwise, and more correctly, known as football!). Amazing that he is playing soccer/football since when he previously played we could never tell if he was on the pitch or off and when the ball came in his direction he would run away! Now he is playing GOALIE! He says he can do it now because his hand-eye co-ordination is better and he can belt the ball away and he is not scared of crowds running at him! Another amazing unexpected benefit of the Arrowsmith programme!

Spring!

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Spring!

Spring is slowly creeping up on us, it comes and goes, teasing terribly! Yesterday the parent’s walking group, together with Theo, went for a walk in the beautiful Jackson Park, with misty drizzle accompanying us. It was quite lovely if a little bleak still and somewhat wet and as we wandered through we discussed our disbelief that the Peterborough City Council is considering building a 4 lane bridge cutting right across this beautiful park. The morning warmed up as I made way around Downtown doing various errands and it was blissful to feel the sun warm on my face but by late in the afternoon it was so very cold again with the wind whipping through my raincoat.
Today it was cold and rather wet but I noticed that the buds on the trees on the Rotary walk have developed a tinge of spring green – it can’t be too long until there are spring green leaves bursting forth. And I noticed a stunning carpet of blue flowers (Siberian Squill perhaps?) on the grass outside my friend’s house – I believe that we appreciate small joys like these much more when the world has been so black and white for a long time as it was this winter.
I looked for an inspiring poem or quote about spring to add to this post but couldn’t find anything that really reflected the thrill of watching the gradual warming and blossoming that is happening around us. Perhaps I didn’t look hard enough – do you have any suggestions?

PreSqu’ile Provincial Park

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PreSqu'ile Provincial Park

is where we headed to yesterday. It was not the sunny day it had been on Sunday but perfect for walking and we walked quite a lot. We started at the interpretative centre which told us the history of PreSqu’ile and particularly about the loss of the ” HMS Speedy” on October 8th 1804 when a blizzard blew up. Where we stood by the lake there was a plaque saying that had 8 ships had been lost in the area we could see – the lake looked so benign it was hardly believable. Simon asked the lady in the gift shop (our next stop) if the lake was ever rough – she replied that sometimes the waves were so big you could surf on them! We looked at the lighthouse too but it was closed up and we aren’t sure if it still works as not many ships pass by nowadays.
As time was marching on we decided not to walk the Newcastle trail, the longest of the trails, and the lady in the gift shop suggested sticking to the board walk trails – we understood why later! We walked the Jobes Woods trail, through old growth forest, and a Black Ash swamp – the most exciting thing was seeing the chipmunks which Simon spotted. I would have walked straight past them! Next we went to the Owen Point Trail, which we started along but came to a halt as we met with a boggy area too wide and too deep to walk across. It seemed that all the melted snow had pooled here and the same thing happened as we set off to get to the beach by the lakeside. After that we went to the Marsh Boardwalk, a boardwalk going through the marsh, funnily enough, with lots of information along the way telling us about the wildlife, plants and birds we might spot. Other than what looked like a heron we didn’t see very much. We decided the summer or autumn (fall!) might be a better time to come! However, Simon and Sami did like the “horse trees” in the woodlands on the edge of the marsh!
We enjoyed the drive there and back, though the drive back was a lot easier with directions being remembered from the back of the car (backseat drivers, says Simon!)! The rolling hills and open countryside were beautiful as were some of the small towns we passed through. Simon was particularly taken by passing through Warkworth, having been there only 48 hours previously, this Warkworth, however, had no Medieval castle sitting on a hill covered in daffodils! I think I know which Warkworth he prefers!
Back to reality today and Arrowsmith!