Another great Canadian museum!

Sianna, who is also one of Stella’s friends and my room mate for this trip, and I went to the Museum of Anthropology today. We had a great guide who was full of amazing information and we were especially taken with the large room with over 10,000 exhibits from almost every culture in the world as well as the Bill Reid Rotunda with his sculpture, The Raven and First Men.

image imageHeading off to meet up with the group organised by Stella to help her celebrate her birthday by cruising the North West passage! Amongst the group are Catherine and Judy, we all worked together with Stella in London almost 30 years ago! I haven’t seen Catherine and Judy since! Such fun!

Have a great weekend everyone. I have heard that the wifi on the ship is not great so you may not hear from me for a while!


When next you hear from me I will be on my way to Alaska!

Simon is going well with his testing – very relaxed about it which is great. I am almost packed with a taxi coming in an hour or so – last minute things to put in the suitcases (there are two as one is full of presents for Simon’s classmates!).

Sydney has been fabulous, lots of fun, friends and food! And theatre (couldn’t find an F word for theatre!). 03-06-2008 09;25;13PM

it was Mother’s Day here last week so here is an old photo when all the children were with me, unlike this year! Times change and we move on but weren’t they gorgeous? That is not to say they are not still gorgeous!

An Arrowsmith update

It is high time for an update about the Arrowsmith program! I am thrilled to be able to report that there are currently more than 1700 students enrolled in the program with 73 educational organizations in four countries offering the Arrowsmith Program. There are 25 sites in Canada, 32 sites in the United States, 11 sites in Australia and 5 sites in New Zealand.

The reach of the Arrowsmith program is extending and I know that all of those students will be benefitting in ways which are hard to describe adequately, we parents watch with joy as our children (whatever their age!) blossom with this program. I have seen, in Simon’s case, a previously unimaginable growth in his confidence and his self esteem as well as in his academic and social abilities. This time last year we could never have conceived of him living in a student Hall of Residence with me being here in Sydney leaving him for weeks on end. He is not only managing but thriving with his new-found independence – it is so exciting to see!

I am sharing the words Matt wrote to Simon at the end of his latest report as they reflect, to me, what Arrowsmith is all about, full of encouragement but challenging at the same time.

Simon: This progress report represents the culmination of a very successful year. Some of the highlights from this past month include putting in a big effort in your Broca’s exercise to ensure that you met Benchmark expectations and a dramatic increase in your Predicative Speech scores. In your Predicative Speech exercise you went from falling below expectations last month to exceeding expectations in April!  Your efforts behind your Broca’s and Predicative Speech accomplishments do not go unnoticed. The people around you value hard work and it resulted in you earning the most recent Brass Hammer award! You have worked hard and challenged yourself, and it has paid off with the discovery of new abilities.  As we enter into the end of the year, it will be important to stay focused on the big picture. It has been a long and productive year, and now is your opportunity to think about putting your new strengths into practice. You have new powers—remember to use them. When you leave for the break, don’t undersell yourself. You are capable of a lot. Be brave. Use your courage to try new things, and work hard to become better at the things you need and want to be better at. Don’t sell yourself short and don’t fall back into old habits. You have a good sense of how much progress you have made and how far you have truly come.  Put a lot of energy into everything you do—it will always pay off and help you to build good habits. We are looking forward to a strong finish to the year, and we also know that you are looking forward to a well-deserved break in June.

It is almost the end of the academic year with the two week assessment period starting next week, after a long weekend. Simon is off to Ottawa with one of his fellow students and looking forward to spending a weekend in a family home, a change from Argyle. Whilst he is not exactly looking forward to testing, he is keen to have a measure of how far he has come in this last two years. We are keen to see his results too but we don’t really need them as we can see for ourselves the immense gains he has made. He is no longer in the no man’s land, floundering somewhere between special ed and the mainstream, where he was overwhelmed by fast flowing conversations amongst his peers or by too many instructions, unable to remember the names of his fellow workers on his work experience days. Excitingly, he is reading and has been reading every day for over 100 days now! There is so much more I could mention but that is enough from me for now! If you would like to find out more about our Arrowsmith experience please email me – wise words 3

And perhaps in my next post I will tell you what I have been up to (sorry Richard!).

Northern lights revisited.

This is a link to a fabulous time lapse video  – it was so close to the beautiful lights that Simon and I saw in Churchill that I thought I should share it so you can enjoy it too. In our case there was no musical accompaniment and the time lapse makes the lights move faster than they do in real life. So wonderful nonetheless! Enjoy! (thank you Annette for this link).

More wise words

wise words and Kyle!How many of us are that courageous? How often do we saddle up anyway? Not very often I suspect. I love these wise words from Mr Coppins as I think this is what our Arrowsmith students do every day – each morning they have to saddle up and face their learning difficulties in order to overcome them. It is hard to face the things that you know you aren’t good at and work at them day after day, it takes perseverance and courage. The great thing is that the perseverance and courage pay off’ and here is how it is paying off for Simon. Read the email from Matt below bearing in mind that until recently Simon was terrified about reading and had a real block about it, the mere mention of “having” to read sent him off into a spin (and it was Simon’s idea to make a sticker chart as he wanted something concrete to see how his reading was going).

As you know, Simon puts stickers on a calendar to track his daily reading. When Simon started tracking his reading I gave him a packet of 100 stickers. Last week he asked me for a new packet because he used them all!! He has been reading for over 100 days! I always tell the class that it takes 21 days to form a new habit, but if you do something for 100 days it can change your life. He is doing very well, and let’s hope that reading becomes a core part of his life.

Well, I think these last 100 days will change Simon’s life – how exciting! What a wonderful moment in an otherwise pretty bleak week for the world. My thoughts are with the Nepalese people and the families of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.

Another lovely moment was joining in the birthday celebrations of two of my very favourite people – you know who are and how I wished I could have been with you rather than on the computer screen via facetime. Still, I love the fact there is such a thing as facetime which still seems completely miraculous to me and I am grateful for the connection that it brings in a world where we are far apart.