SoftThistle Life

Hello September, thank you August!

LifeMarylin10 Comments

Wow... how can it possibly be September already? This year really is flying by, isn't it? 

August was a busy one for us here in the SoftThistle household with the summer holidays coming to an end and the boys going back to school, me signing up for self-employment and ending with us getting a new kitten!

Zack is loving high school and has been really enjoying computing, maths and music, along with joining the rock climbing and dodgeball school clubs. He's come home every day with a smile on his face, hanging out with new friends and old, spending time up at the local youth club on the nights that include first years... I really couldn't be prouder! He's even been making a point of doing his homework as soon as he gets it so it's done while still fresh in his head! Something I have talked about but didn't have to remind him to do... my jaw dropped the first time he did it!

Max is handling being in primary five extremely well, spending more and more time in his mainstream classroom with support in comparison to previous years when he needed to spend much more time in the school's ASD base. He's coming out of school happy (except for that one day!) and is no longer having to let it all out in an angry/upset manner when he gets home like he used to. And to top it all off he's started having some school dinners instead of his bog-standard packed lunches every day which have been exactly the same for the last 4 years... what a relief!

We went to the Crieff Highland Games this year for the first time... that would be where I MET EWAN MCGREGOR!!! I almost *died*!!! He grew up in Crieff and his parents still live here... his dad was the Chieftain of the 2017 games so he was there to support him. What a lovely son! 

So... we've lived here for eight years now and this was the 7th highland games we'd been around for, but until this year Max just wasn't ready to handle the people and the noise... this year though, this year he SMASHED it! He had seen the rides being built up during the week on our way to and from school and was desperate to go see them after we'd been to the fair twice previously in the last year. It was £20 for the boys and I to get in, but honestly it was worth it to see my boys having so much fun... and totally worth it for getting a selfie with Ewan of course. *grins*

We bumped into lots of friends, with Zack heading off with some pals to go on the rides and such while Max and I had a look around. So many local businesses come with their stalls... I just wish I'd had the money to buy some of the jewellery! 

I think the best bit for Max and I was when we went to the Glenturret tent which was a wee music festival off to the side of the park! A band called the Rolling Drones were playing - bagpipes, guitars, base, drums... making songs like Footloose their own. Max was dancing away having a blast and only asked for his ear defenders towards the end!

I've officially gone self-employed and oh wow, it's not easy to do when on benefits... the amount of form-filling and phone calls that need to be made isn't for the faint of heart! Luckily being in Laura Husson's Clubhouse has been extremely motivating so I felt I had enough cheering and support from other like-minded women to be able to do it! That means you'll start seeing some sponsored posts here and there, and I'm working on how I'm going to start offering card readings through the blog too! I've got so many ideas I just don't quite have the time to implement them! 

Of course when the kids go back to school, the first couple of weeks tend to be filled with catching up with friends (including a mini road-trip up the road visiting the Mirror Man in the pictures above!) and the kids having friends over, along with getting used to  Zack's burgeoning social life, so I've barely had a minute till the last few days!

Then there was the Big Surprise that I'd been keeping from Zack for the last month... our new arrival Deenah! I had been surreptitiously showing Max photos of her and getting him used to the idea that we'd have a "baby cat" to take care of soon, explaining how he could help by using his "little voice" and being very gentle with her. Zack had *no* idea!

Technically she came home on the 1st of September, but I'm including it because... HELLO... KITTEN! On top of that my absolute best friend in the world JenJen (Max's name for her stuck!) surprised us all with a visit! I was SO beyond happy to see her, and got to introduce her not just to Deenah, but one of my besties up here too! Of course they adored each other! 

So... the surprise... I told Zack about a week ago that on Friday the 1st of September there would be a surprise for him and Max when he got home from school. Well! He wasn't impressed at having to wonder and wonder for a whole week, bless him! Not once did he guess right! HA! 

On top of little Deenah, we had the extra surprise of JenJen visiting (which was the *first* thing he asked about when I told him about The Surprise, bless his heart! He and Max absolutely adore their JenJen and Uncle Shaun), so when he got home, he saw his JenJen first and was OVER THE MOON! Huge hugs all around while I recorded it... then I told him JenJen wasn't the surprise I'd told him about, and lifted Deenah up from her hiding place! He was completely dumbfounded!

Needless to say we've had an amazing August! I wonder what September will have in store for us...

Thank you for taking the time to read this, lovely! If you could leave a wee comment I'd be SO happy! Seriously... comments are blogger-crack! How has your August been? How jealous are you of the pic with Ewan (obvs we're besties now! *cough*)? 

3 Little Buttons

Back to School, the 2017 Edition

LifeMarylin8 Comments

I genuinely feel like there should be another two weeks or so to go of the holidays, and yet there my boys are, back in school as of Tuesday! I know, I know... most of you probably still have a few weeks to go, but up in Scotland we start our summer holidays at the end of June, hence going back sooner. 

Back to school with SoftThistle Life.

Anyway, that's the boys settled back in school... Max has gone into primary 5 and is now upstairs in his school. It's meant a total fresh start for him as he lines up in a different place and doesn't go directly into his classroom like he has in previous years, and so far it's been a hit! 

And then of course there's my oldest, Zack, who's just started high school! Holy crap I can't get over the fact that I have a child in high school... why does time pass so quickly?! 

I was looking out the window for him coming home for about 15 minutes, heart in my mouth, praying that he'd had a good day. He came through the door with a HUGE smile - high school is AWESOME. What a relief! The weight that lifted from my shoulders when he said that... wow I hadn't realised how tense I'd been!

SoftThistle Life - Zack and Max back to school 2017

So the boys are back at school... we not only survived the holidays, we had a blast! We actually could have done with another couple of weeks to do more to be honest. Now that the boys are older they're so much fun to hang out with!

I'll be writing a post about how I help Max to prepare for going back to school soon, so let me know if you have any questions. Hope your kidlets have enjoyed their holidays and are contented at school! 


3 Little Buttons

My First Year With The Open University

Marylin2 Comments
First year with Open University

Last summer I was chatting with one of my besties, one of those conversations where I knew it was time to do something to look towards a career once the boys are older, but I wasn't sure what. Blogging? Photography? Hey, what about you go back to uni to get your psychology degree? 

I wasn't sure, I knew my only option was to study through The Open University (OU for short) but I didn't know if I'd be good enough, or if I'd even stick at it. What about when the kids are ill, or me, and there's something due? What about when I go through these stupid bouts of exhaustion and can just barely get through the day? 

"I think you can do it, and if you don't try you'll never know."

That was enough to give me the confidence to try, so I enrolled in my first module later that week. "Introduction to Childhood Studies and Child Psychology" also known by it's course code, E102. 

The course began on October 1st and by that time I was raring to go. I'd received my textbook, had gone to the online "freshers week" webinars and, of course, I'd stocked up on pretty stationery. 

Eight months later I've completed my first year! 

Don't get me wrong - it's HARD to find the motivation and time to get things done, but ultimately it's totally worth it. I joined a couple of Facebook groups dedicated to this year's intake for the module and a WhatsApp group. Both have been absolutely invaluable. Full of support and lovely people ready to help when they can, let you vent or panic and help you pick yourself up again to get back to the assignment on hand.

You also get allocated a tutor for the year and mine has been so supportive. I introduced myself and explained my living situation over email so she was aware that there may be times things are a bit tricky if Max is having a few bad days (though luckily those times didn't tend to happen during assignment time!) or if my health wasn't great.

It turned out that January was a horrid month filled with illnesses for us all and Max needing to go to hospital for a small procedure in the last week when my assignment was due. Because I let my tutor know about this in advance she was happy to give me a week's extension (and more if it was needed) which took a huge load off. 

All in all I've managed to average around 70% in my first year - I never would have imagined I'd have been able to do that, and I certainly wouldn't have succeeded if it wasn't for the love and support of my family and friends, along with the amazing people online that I've become friends with throughout the module. Thanks so much you lot! <3

I've now registered and enrolled in my second module which starts in October: DE100 Investigating Psychology. I'm enjoying my "summer holidays" and the chance of a break for now, but I know that come October (lets be honest, probably most of September) I'll be raring to get started!