Learning about prefixes and suffixes today was a breeze as both children seemed very confident in this area. My son immediately gave the example of how the prefix “un” changes the meaning of the word “detectable”.

We looked at the prefixes “tele” “auto” and “anti” with the help of a workbook from Marks and Spencer picked up in a local charity shop. I asked the children to define “anti-ageing” “anti-bacterial” and “anti-freeze”.

They both went to town on anti-ageing having heard me rant on about the expense of anti-ageing stuff and how all it does is build up company wealth and continue the myth that women are not good enough as they are. Note to self – must attempt not to brain wash my children.

My son thought “anti-freeze” might be something to help with hypothermia which I thought was a really inspired guess. When I explained it gets used in cars, he was clear that we should not put it in toothpaste.

Learning about prefixes and suffixes went a bit awry when we moved onto suffixes looking at “cian” and “ist”. The world “beautician” came up at which point my son told my daughter that she obviously needed one. At this point, my strong-willed daughter pretty much downed tools and I am learning that is OK because she will come back to things later in the day or week.

Prefix – letters added to the beginning of a word

Suffix – letters added to the end of a word.

They get it! Tick on prefixes and suffixes.

We moved on to the absolute joy of reading Peter Pan and then the less obvious happiness of factors in numeracy.

Learning about prefixes and suffixes gave us a positive start to our home education day with a little bad behaviour from my son but I guess real teachers have to deal with that in classroom settings too.

Learning About Prefixes and Suffixes

What is life after depression like?

Life after depression

I am becoming increasingly aware and joyful at how differently I find things now the black clouds of depression have disappeared.

1. I don’t mind the house not being clinically perfect. I don’t have the housework skills to make this happen or perhaps I do but not when a husband, children and animals are around. It does not matter. However, it did and it hurt me so much that I could not meet the standards either of myself or others. I always did housework every day but could only see what was not right. Now I focus on what I have done well.

2. I don’t feel pressured to find a 9-5 job to justify my existence in the world. I have found a role that suits me and am proactively building on that at a rate that is comfortable for me. For so long, I spent hours trawling job sites trying to find something that would fit in practically with the particular needs of my family and then beating myself up emotionally when I did not find it or ranting at the unfairness of society. Neither of these made me happy.

3. I am standing up for myself in all my relationships. Instead of sulking or being aggressive, I am stating quite clearly what I will and won’t accept and also looking for areas of negotiation which has to be a healthy thing. My husband said the other day that he no longer comes in worrying what mood I will be in and how to handle me. We are talking more openly and honestly and laughing a lot again.

4. Instead of hating the school run, I now home educate and am learning to play with that experience rather than stressing it. I can do it for goodness sake. I can’t really remember why I thought I would mess it up. I am highly educated, have had lots of life experiences, have a real love of learning – if I pass on just some of that to my children and encourage their passions, how lucky they are!

5. I have worked out that I don’t need a totally in my life best friend. I just need to feel that there are people I could go to in a crisis and also people who are good either in the real or virtual world for good times even if that is just a cheery hello from someone in a shop or cafe.

6. It is OK to be me and to celebrate that. I have nothing to apologise for and am a rich woman. It took me a very long time to realise that. Looking back, it is clear that I was carrying trauma from the circumstances of my first year in the world and rejections thereafter. All this has contributed to making me the sensitive and caring person that I am so it was all fabulous in the end. I had such dark days and years but I value the good ones so much now.

7. I am strong enough to keep toxic people at a distance whilst managing not to be cruel too. Toxic people tend to have their own very real issues. I am also courageous enough to allow people from my past back in knowing I have nothing to be ashaemed of.

8. I feel young again and enjoy playing with my lifestyle and fashions just like I did back in my late teens and early twenties. I am walking taller and sometimes in the kinky boots! My new jumper has “Ooh la la!” emblazoned on it which says a lot about my new sense of self-worth.

9. Christmas and birthdays are not giving me any cause for concern. We will have a good time. We don’t need to spend a fortune and we don’t need to run round in some vain attempt to make everybody else happy. We will do it our way because we have a right to and prefer it that way.

10. Overall there is a sense of balance that I love. I do housework, I paddle canoes that matter to me, I work, I reach out, I go shopping and bargain-hunting, I am part of the local community, I inspire my children and we laugh a lot, I make time to read and to walk in the fresh air often several times a day.

Roll back 10 years …

1. Living in darkness metaphorically and literally with curtains firmly closed.

2. Not coping with parenting or housework. Making big mistakes and hating myself for them.

3. Worrying when people judged me.

4. Working in jobs that were not practical as a young mum and then wondering why I was not managing to do it all successfully.

5. Not telling anyone what I needed or that I was struggling.
Not seeking help from a GP.

6. Being obsessive. Being angry. Sometimes a degree of self-harm.

7. Convinced that only one bloke could ever want or fancy me and therefore holding on too tight and being desperately insecure. I still have work to do in this area but I know think I am as good as any woman which helps immensely.

8. Sleeping on the school run rather than home-educating which is what I actually wanted to do and with a lack of strong support system in place and a husband commuting 100s of miles per day would have been the sensible option.

9. Feeling utterly isolated and abandoned.

10. Not celebrating my very real and unique qualities and skills.

11. Listening too much to the toxic ones. Not listening enough to those kind voices out there. If they knew me really, they would hate me. If they saw me, they would be repulsed by me. All in my own mind!

12. Hiding in baggy and dark clothes often in sizes too big for me. Trying to be invisible. Getting in the way.

13. Trying to deliver the perfect Christmas for everyone not just my immediate loved ones. Never managing to gain approval and then being miserable at not being the perfect person. Spending too much to make up for all my other sins.

14. Striving and failing to be the person that I now see relishing life.

It can be done and I hope this reaches someone who is giving up hope and that they seek help.

Help for me included counting my blessings however tiny they seemed helped loads by taking part in Reasons to be Cheerful set up by Mich and now hosted by Becky and Jo.

Someone finally realising something was wrong with me.

Building up online friendships and feeling valued again

Then going to the GP and saying “Excuse me, but I think I have had depression for about a decade”. For me, Prozac rocks!

If you’re dealing with depression and you don’t know where to begin start here

If you have overcome depression, I would love to know how life is for you now and what you think can help others most.

What Is Life Like After Depression?

Cuddle Fairy

Bristol Old Vic today revealed the cast who are to bring Sally Cookson’s newest family show to life- the dreamy Christmas tale, Sleeping Beauty. Bringing the much loved fairy-tale bang up to date, roles are reversed as our male beauty is tricked into a deep sleep for 100 years, before being woken by a poor young girl with the heart of a lion.


Based on the famous fairy story and also taking inspiration from the Welsh folk tale, The Leaves that Hung but Never Grew, this magical tale sees the pampered and protected Prince Percy team up with the determined and feisty Girl who helps him wake from an enchanted sleep, battle the evil Fairy and discover the magical tree with leaves to cure all ills. Together they discover how friendship can come in unlikely places and how we are all stronger together than apart.

I am keen to see this with the whole family but particularly my daughter. I am a big fan of girls learning how to be feisty and I like the creativity of the role reversal in a traditional tale. I am also very keen to look into the Welsh folk tale and to add it to our home education efforts. Life sure teaches us the best friends come from unlikely places (like blogging!) and that it is strong to reach out for support and to work together.

It’s a bit of a trek for us but an excuse to revisit Bristol and the prices of the tickets are affordable.

27 Nov 2015– 17 Jan 2016
Sleeping Beauty
A Bristol Old Vic production
Devised by the company
Times vary
Prices £34 – £7.50
Tickets www.bristololdvic.org.uk | 0117 987 7877

What is the best way to learn about maths?

I had a difficult day on the home education front as I tried to teach maths to my daughter.

It got me thinking about what is the best way to learn about maths.


I look back and I remember playing shops with my Mum before starting school. I also remember having a little blue circular container for holiday savings. Mum went mad when she found out I had being dipping in regularly for Chewitts so there was not much left at all by the time the holiday came round. An early and valuable lesson about saving, spending and the need to budget for special occasions.

Moving onto primary school, the only clear memory I have is of doing regular speed tests in arthimetic. At the same age, my daughter according to Key Stage 2 needs to know about numerals, digits, integers, graphs, percentages, fractions and a whole lot more besides. I learned about integers this week for the first time as far as I can recall.

At secondary school, I hated maths lessons more and more as the years rolled by. I could see no point in most of what we were learning. I was bamboozled when numbers became letters in algebra. I was more interested in chunky chicken pie than Pi. I used to spend maths lessons moving my ruler about so that light would appear on the blackboard and distract the teacher. I still managed a disappointing but adequate B grade in my O-Level.

At university, when I got into money trouble, I knew Dad would write a cheque or the bank would lend me money. My only real concern about figures was how college could justify charging 20 pence for a portion of vegetables.

In my working life, if any job description mentioned financial management, I would avoid it like the plague. I did help families with their budgets and carry out calculations of welfare benefits and debt repayments whilst working as an advice worker.

In a later job, a boss said quite casually that I had a learning difficulty around numbers. She was bright so presumably knew what she was talking about.

At the moment, my children are doing daily worksheets on maths set by myself and guided by Key Stage 2 of the National Curriculum requirements.

My daugther loves art and I have learned this week that there are ways to harness that passion to get numeracy across to her. My son, like his Dad, is keen on maths anyway so they work together a lot.

Both children are using maths games online too which captures their imaginations.

We bake which involves loads of maths and we go shopping comparing prices in different stores, working out how much things add up to and how much change we are due.

What is the best way to learn about maths? I still don’t have the answer but finally I am enjoying finding out and think we are making progress as a family with this topic.

Are your memories of learning maths good or bad?

How do you help your children with numeracy?

What do we really need maths wise to succeed in the real world?

Did you know that lack of tyre safety contributes to more than 1200 road accidents?

Driving with defective tyres can result in heft penalties such as £2500 along with three points on the licence!

Tyres matter and I asked my husband’s view as he is the driver in our family.

“I have always loved driving and recently bought a second-hand Jaguar car.

I use my car for the daily commute to work and for days out with my family.

My tyres are important. They are my only contact between my car and the road. They provide grip for steering and braking. Tread patterns help to disperse surface water from the road which could cause aquaplaning.

My usual daily journey involve urban roads and motorways so I need to make sure that the important parts of my tyres are kept within the limits the manufacturer of both my car and the tyres specify. Whilst the law states minimum tread depth of 1.6mm I never allow mine to fall below 2mm. Regular inspection of the tread and sidewalls is essential.

As the tyres approach the end of their useful life I prefer to plan the changes and to look around for the best prices. Point S tyre-dealers have sites around the country and it is easy to search for my tyre size and see respective prices from premium to economy brands. Once my search is complete I can find a site conveniently located and book an appointment. No turning up on spec to find my favourite is out of stock or waiting in long queues at busy times.”