Monday, 30 December 2013

Bye Bye 2013 - it wasn't all bad...

I'm sat here doing a bit of post Christmas analysis. We're very lucky, and have had probably our best Christmas ever in terms of Mini and his enjoyment of the season. We had a very quiet Christmas with just Christmas Day with family at my sister in laws, although all the weekends leading up to Christmas were packed full! We had our elves here, we visited friends and family, we spent time in A&E, we saw a pantomime, we went to see Santa, we had family visit us, we went to parties, we roasted chestnuts, we built gingerbread houses and we went to Church.


Since the big day we've spent most of our time at home, building Lego, playing Yahtzee, doing puzzles, making airbrushed pictures, teaching Dollop how to use her Mobigo console, changing batteries, painting nails, putting sparkly gems in hair and just relaxing.


In the last 7 days, we've had one semi-meltdown (from Mini at least, there have been rather a lot more tantrums than that from Dollop). That's a new record. I can't recall the last time we had such a long period of regulation and normality. It feels to the NC and I that perhaps Mini has undergone a period of maturity, and he's certainly going through another physical growth spurt...perhaps they go hand in hand? He's been happy, affectionate, helpful, fun, polite, great company and has been a pleasure to have around. We've found a nice mix of playtime, chores and relaxation. It's all just going well!

Don't get me wrong, we had a few wobbly moments including a couple on Christmas day but cuddles were enough to soothe them away.

We've also had a few 'I'm bored' or 'What can I do?' moments, but in all fairness I think that's because he's been a little overwhelmed by all the presents and at his age I'm sure I reacted the same way.

But I won't get complacent because I know these times (although shorter in the past) have been before, and disappeared quickly. After all, we have more anticipation and excitement on it's way as the new school term begins...at the new school, and Mini's birthday is in early January. Then the end of the month is the anniversary of Mini moving in (and another anniversary too), and no matter how quiet we are about that, he can sense it's not the easiest time.

Anyway, now we're about to begin a new year and I am more hopeful this year than I have been in the past - hopeful that I can fight some of my demons, and that we can get more help and support for Mini, and that we can move forward as a family. For now, goodbye 2013 you weren't the worse year we've had but let's hope things are better next year, see you on the other side!

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Thank you and Merry Christmas

The stockings are hung. The presents are wrapped. Letters to Santa have been written and sent.
And now my children are happily watching Christmas movies, doing Christmas crafts and later will help me make some mince pies.

Without you reading The Boy's Behaviour, commenting, and sharing, I wouldn't have the support, friends, and sanity that I now have. I am comforted by your comments at times when comfort is hard to find, and although I wouldn't wish some of these challenges on anyone - I feel supported by knowing I'm not alone, and I'm able to tell my son that he's not the only one who is struggling, there are many children out there who feel similar, and many adult adoptees too.

It means a lot to have so many people reading - this year I reached 100,000 page views, which I think is pretty good for a blog that's not even 2 yet, on a subject that is quite specific and doesn't necessarily appeal to the masses! So please do keep reading and sharing - let other people know that adoption isn't as straightforward as it sounds, love is not all you need, and not all children do 'that'.

All that I need to say now is Merry Christmas, may you have a gentle and safe time, and all best wishes for the New Year, may 2014 be calm and peaceful xx

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Time to be together

As you might have read, we take part in the whole Elf on the Shelf 'thing'. One of the great things about our elves is that they often leave activities for Mini and Dollop, and sometimes those activities need some supervision, and others are just fun to do together. So, here's was Saturday afternoon's activity...

Mini's amazing snowy chalet

Dollop's sweetie covered house

The NC helped Dollop, and I 'helped' Mini...turns out he's pretty good with a piping bag. Oh, and after all that fun, I 'decorated' Mini's face with the leftover icing - he looks quite cute with a moustache!

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Our first family Christingle

Have I told you that Mini's now a Beaver? He joined earlier this year when we first considered moving schools as a way of creating and maintaining a group of friends that would still be there when he had to say bye to old school friends, and perhaps before he'd established a new group of friends. And not only that, Mini wanted to do something outside of school - the choice was trampolining club or Beavers...
This weekend was the Beaver's district Christingle service, with 4 Beavers units attending. Not only was it the first time the children had ever attended a church service, but it was my first Christingle too. The vicar was great, the service didn't last too long, and it was beautiful when they turned the lights out....


I'm linking this up to #MemoryBox over on The Adoption Social.

Monday, 16 December 2013

I'm wearing too many clothes

I've written newsy posts recently - you all know that Mini has left school now and starts at a new school soon.

Today I'm going to share my feelings with you because quite honestly they've been a bit up and down recently and only two or three people really know about it. Truth is, there are a number of people who are relatively close to us, but they're all too busy (or at least that how it feels) and I don't want to bother them with my (possibly irrational) feelings...so dear reader, you're getting lumbered with the job instead!
And not only that, I tend to hide away and duck down when I'm feeling low. If I start cancelling plans, it's usually because I'm either ill or feeling low. They're the times I need the most support, but have a tendency to shut myself away and find it pretty much impossible to ask for help. A few people know this and are good at pulling me out, and to them I'm grateful.

I recently went to a large event, in a place that I'm very familiar and comfortable with, I might even go so far as to say it's one of my favourite places to be especially at this time of year. I'd only met one other person before, but 'talked' online to lots of others, and count them as my friends.

I came away feeling scared, wobbly, physically sick, tearful and alone. My husband and kids came to pick me up, but I felt disconnected from them. I didn't know who I was because this type of event was the sort of thing I used to do all the time with work, yet I had no confidence this time, and felt like I was there as a fake. I'd lost my identity. More than that, I just felt totally confused and lost. At times I was standing in a room full of hundreds of people, but had never felt so alone. I stood outside for some air, with people pushing past doing their Christmas shopping, and instead of enjoying a bit of a break from family life I felt panicky, small and vulnerable. A nervous breakdown perhaps? I don't know.

And now, a month later, I'm still feeling just as unsure of myself. And worse, unsure of my relationship with the NC, with my kids, of everything. It's been a really difficult time, and I'm grateful to the NC who is really the only person who knows the extent of my feelings and is still putting up with me. Mini is about to go through one of the biggest changes in his life and I feel like I'm the only one supporting him...everyone else is going about their lives - even those people who are really important to him, and I'm the one whose trying to hold it together for him, whilst inside I don't even know who I am anymore.

It kind of feels like all the different roles that I have are an item of clothing - mummy, wife, friend, daughter, website host, in-law, aunty, blogger, trustee, Godmother, cook, cleaner, taxi driver, and sometimes I can wear lots of those things and feel OK, but other times I have to wear them all and it gets too hot and I get panicky and nothing fits properly, and I just want to hide in the shower and wish them all away. Trouble is, I'm not sure who I'd find underneath all of those clothes these days...

When they're all out at school and work, I sit home and cry. I cry for all the things I've done and don't anymore, I cry for all the things that I miss, I cry for all the things that I don't have. And when I'm not crying, I'd like to say I'm doing all the mundane things that stay at home mums do, but in all honesty I'm struggling to even flick a duster around, so instead I sit and paint my nails - because people who have nicely manicured nails aren't struggling are they? Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful for all that I have, but I'm clearly going through a big grieving process right now...

And here comes the big admission. I'm jealous. Jealous of all those mums who *seem* to have it easier than me, jealous of people who get more support than me, jealous of people who have their mums close by. Jealousy is an ugly thing, but I can't help how I feel at the moment.

Do you know where the real me is these days? Can you tell her to come on home because I miss her...and if you know any of the other bits of me, can you just give those bits a hug every now and then. x

Guest post: To be, or not to be, Santa by Last Mother

Over on The Adoption Social, we recently ran a special Secret Santa for bloggers where instead of giving little presents, the idea was that we'd give the gift of a blog post. 14 bloggers signed up and this weekend, those gifts have been dropping into inboxes not only across the UK, but even internationally. This week we hope to see those guest posts popping up on some of our favourite adoption blogs.

Mini was the one who picked names from two bowls to establish who would be writing for who, and I was pleased when he picked Last Mother to write for The Boy's Behaviour. Here's the guest post she sent for me...

To be, or not to be, Santa…

…That is the controversial question! Most of the people reading this
will live in either the UK or the US. That is, countries with a Christian culture, big on Christmas and also nowadays, big on SANTA. And oh, how debated Santa has become! We all start planning Christmas early, and making decisions about what is going to happen, but suddenly, our decision to either ‘Be Santa’ and leave our children presents but pretend good old Saint Nick did it instead, or ‘Not to be Santa’ and tell our children that Father Christmas does not in fact, exist, is a decision that we will be JUDGED for.

“Lying to your children is WRONG, always. You are tricking them, they will be devastated when they find out their parents are liars”

“How could you be so cruel as to DEPRIVE your children of the magic of Christmas? Santa is lovely harmless fun, and you are taking away something wonderful from them”

The strength of the feeling sometimes expressed, is the kind of passion you’d expect to see in an argument about whether it’s okay to smack children with a hairbrush - not an argument about exactly how we choose to give our beloved children gifts on one day of the year.

As you might now be able to tell, I personally have no strong feelings about what is ‘best’ (indeed, I do not believe there is an objective ‘best thing to do’), and am slightly bemused about why the choices of some parents on this matter, are such a problem to other parents.

So you ask, what do I personally do? What did I do with my now adult and older teenage children? Well – I’ve done it both ways.

Here are my experiences with Santa, which are what has led me to take the view I do today:

Firstly, our own feelings are often strongly linked to our own childhoods and upbringings. I can tell you that we had Santa in our home. We had a small stocking each, with nuts and oranges and a few gifts inside. I remember Santa as something lovely and fun and exciting. Christmas itself was a wholly fun and exciting time. Why? Well, it was a nice extension of my whole childhood, which was stable, secure and in which I felt loved, safe, cared for and calm. My general feelings about life and my family were amplified at this lovely time of year. More fun, more security, more safety, more family, it was all good. Surprises were fun, because I knew that they were always so. Well, apart from surprise dentist and doctors’ visits ;)

This left me with a desire to make Christmas as wonderful for my children as it had been for me. And because Santa was a component of my wonderful childhood Christmases, why would it not be a component of my future children’s Christmases? I always assumed I would do Santa, and the idea that I would not pretend to be Santa while my kids were young enough to believe – well, it would not even have occurred to me.

When I was first approved to adopt, I had an age range of 3-12. Unusually large, and it left things wide open Christmas wise, given that if I adopted a 12 year old, Santa wouldn’t be a part of Christmas anyway simply because of their age. But I was sure that if I adopted a young child, I would do Santa. And an exciting thought it was to my young and honestly naïve adult self! As it happened, most of the children I considered were in the upper half of my age range, and eventually I was chosen for my eldest daughter (I call her Rhea online) and brought her to live with me, when she was 10.

She already knew Santa didn’t exist, so I never had to make that decision. But I did have to confront my assumptions about a family Christmas nonetheless. Rhea didn’t think Christmas was fun, exciting, happy or something to look forward to. It was uncertain, confusing and scary; a reminder of awful things. Everything could and surely would go wrong for her. And so I changed my plans and adapted to a new kind of Christmas. A low key, just-the-two-of-us kind of Christmas, with little traditions and no uncertainties or surprises.

Then in 2004 I adopted my second daughter, “Kestrel”. She was 7 when I met her, and had her 8th birthday during our introductions. She had a mild learning disability and was very emotionally and socially delayed. In addition to that, every year of her life as far as I know, Santa had actually come to her, and left some presents, no matter how few or what they were. There was something and she was told that Santa brought them. And so, I finally had a child who believed that Santa came at Christmas. That was surely a good thing, no? Well…no.

Who is Santa? What does a child understand Santa as? Ask a child, and they will probably tell you that Santa is a man, who wears red and says ‘ho ho ho’ and drives a sleigh (etc etc), and who comes to your home at Christmas, sneaks into your bedroom (or maybe your lounge) and leaves you nice presents.

Now ask yourself this - what does it mean to a child, the idea of a man coming into your bedroom at night?

For most children, well they’d think ‘uh….oh, Santa does that!’ But there’s a group of children who wouldn’t think of Santa, because a man sneaking into your room at night means something else entirely.

And there lay my new Santa problem. Kestrel believed that Santa was real and that he was a present giver, yes, but she was also terrified and scared of Santa coming. As well as finding Christmas scary, uncertain, over stimulating and confusing in general. So what could I do?

I did the one thing I would never have foreseen myself doing pre-children. I told my daughter “Santa isn’t real”.  It’s an adult you live with, just pretending. It’s me. Your mum, giving you presents because I love you and you deserve nice things. This house is a man-free, Santa free zone.

I had become one of those terrible parents who so cruelly “deprive” their children of the “magic” of…oh no wait, I was a good mum who was doing what she thought best for her daughter.

And here’s what I’ve learnt from my Santa-less Christmases with my daughters:

That Christmas is not less magic without Santa after all. That Santa is not what Christmas is all about, and is not the most important thing to happen on Christmas Day. And that Santa is not a good idea for some children. It’s as simple as that. 

In 2007, I adopted my son, “Parrot”, who is Kestrel’s biological half-brother and who was 23 months old when he came home. And Parrot has always had Santa. He has come running into my room on Christmas morning, and said “Mummy, Santa’s been! Look at my presents!” and nearly cried with excitement.

Here’s what I’ve learnt from being Santa to Parrot:

That Santa is fun and good for some children. A way to try and teach the power of imagination and fun, which is something Parrot has shad difficulties with. An aid in developmental skills, basically. And fun for me, too!

Overall, what I’ve found from my own parenting experience, is that we all do what we think is best for our own children, and that whichever way we choose we are usually committed to giving our children as good a Christmas as possible.

To be, or not to be, Santa? It’s up to you – and this mother supports you either way, because she thinks that at the end of the day, it doesn’t make a difference. It’s not about cruelty, love, lying, truth, magic, deprivation or doing-it-in-an-exact-way. It’s about doing what you think is best for your individual child. And in the grand scheme of things, if your child can look back at Christmases with you and think good things about what you did – that’s what matters. 

Merry Christmas, readers :-)

And a very Merry Christmas, and many thanks to Last Mother for writing this Secret Santa guest post.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Last days at school

Mini is leaving his school this week. Next week he starts having transition sessions at his new school. He's nervous, I'm nervous but we're talking about it, and listening to his feelings and empathising with him and he also seems quietly excited too. We're certainly not seeing the wetting that's our normal anxiety indicator.

I really feel for Mini at the moment. Moving school is scary. But he's asking lots of questions and we're doing our best to find the answers for him. I was able to share that I was also leaving behind the mum friends that I'd made in the playground, and that I wouldn't know any of the mums at the new school - so I knew how he felt about leaving his friends and making new ones. I reminded him that he still has his Beaver friends, and we made a pact that I'd try to chat to some of the new mums, and he'd try to talk to some new classmates and we'd chat about who seems nice and not! It might not be the 'right' way to do things, but it made him feel happier.

Mini's also missing out on his school play which is happening next week - he is disappointed, but we'd always felt that doing it 3 days in a row would be too much anyway, and this way he doesn't have to go back and forth between schools for transition sessions.

Poor little guy also missed out on his school disco this week. It's traditionally been a Year 2 privilege, and it's always been free. But this year it was opened up to Year 1 as well, and there was a charge for tickets. 3 days after the invitation, Mini was going to take his money in, but all the tickets had been sold. Again, he was disappointed, but luckily has his Beavers disco and party tonight.

And school is still stressing him out - yesterday he came out telling me that they were doing a special showing of the school play today and the Head teacher had told them photos would be taken. He knows he's not allowed in any school photos and was highly stressed at the very thought of it. Unfortunately the teacher who was covering his class yesterday afternoon knew nothing of it, nor did the TA, so to appease and calm him I had to send a note in today making it clear he wasn't to be included in photos.

So his last day at school is tomorrow, which also happens to be 'Wear a Christmas jumper' day AND the school Christmas fayre. It's going to be mayhem, but hopefully good mayhem, and we can look forward instead of fearful dread every day.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

New school!

Finally!

We had disappointing news recently when our application to a new school was rejected. It was kind of expected - they had no spaces, but we'd hoped that their governors would make one for Mini.

So I viewed another school and I'm happy that they will support us, listen to us, and more importantly, suit Mini. It's a primary school so from Year R - Year 6, rather than his current infant school which is Year R to Year 2, but despite the bigger age range there are fewer pupils and much much more space.

And today we got confirmation that Mini has been accepted and can start before or on 16th December. In reality he'll start transition sessions soon and then start on 7th January.

And, he seems OK with the idea so watch this space for more updates!

I'm linking this post upto #MemoryBox on The Adoption Social because this is something we've been working towards for a while, and I'm so pleased it's finally happening!

Thursday, 21 November 2013

An update - school, therapy and counselling

I haven't written much recently. I'll be honest, we've just been really busy as a family and nothing much exciting has happened to tell you about!

We're still waiting to move Mini's school. We held on a bit because we didn't want to move schools without the support of our social worker - that was important to us. Our social worker wanted to speak to school before he'd support us. Well, you can guess what happened - school agreed to all sorts with the social worker, a week later it had all been forgotten. Our social worker even chased up, I mean, was curious with school about how things were going and was told 'we MIGHT do those things we agreed to do, but ONLY IF we have time'. So it's all still as stressful and we've now resorted to not sending Mini in on the days where we can see he's struggling.

I'm not entirely comfortable with not sending him to school. I don't want him to be difficult at home just to get a day off, and as manipulation and control is important to him I can see it happening but so far he hasn't tried to do that yet. And I don't really want to antagonise the Headteacher who is working very hard on raising attendance by taking him out of school - BUT...

It feels like the best thing for Mini. If he's needing that time and space with me then so be it. If school aren't going to support him then I feel I have little choice but to keep him close when he needs that.

So after all of that, our application is now in with the local council - has been for a few weeks and we're just waiting now. I've only applied for one other school and I hope they can find space for him.

We've also had a Theraplay review and our therapist seems happy with how far we've come since we last saw him. We spoke to him about moving schools and he was also supportive of the plan. We've even started to mention it to Mini. One of the biggest things that Theraplay helped us with was reinforcing our safe, secure relationship with Mini. The therapist worked hard in sessions to help Mini see that we were looking out for him and taking care of him. So he suggested telling Mini about the new school and reinforcing that it's our job to make sure he's looked after and we don't feel like school is doing that so we're fighting for a school that can. It's not gone down brilliantly so far, but we're taking a softly softly approach...

We're having Attachment Focused Counselling too at the moment - for now just the NC and I, but bringing Mini in later hopefully. It's brought up lots of things which I'll tell you about another time, but suffice to say I think I need some counselling separately and our attachment counsellor agrees and can facilitate it.

So that's us. Sorry for not writing more - and with Christmas approaching I can't guarantee I'll write loads and loads, but if you want to read more about adoption and blogging, then you'll find me over on www.theadoptionsocial.com where I spend much more time...and do drop either myself or Sarah a line at theadoptionsocial@gmail.com if you'd like to contribute to either The Adoption Social or a guest post on The Boy's Behaviour.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Taken to the tower

Do you remember earlier in the year I talked about Mini's enthusiasm for a school project on London? Specifically he was learning about The Great Fire of London, and we'd encouraged that by buying a book about London, and so had Nanny too. He drew some pictures of where he'd like to visit - they're all in this post.

With so much other stuff planned for Summer Holidays, we never got around to London too, so had planned to go in October half term. We gave Mini a choice of where he'd like to visit - The Tower of London and St Paul's Cathedral were top of his list.

We're not *too* far from the city and certainly live in what's considered a commuter area, but instead of getting a train down, we drove to an Underground station on the outskirts, paid a bargain £5 for all day parking and got the tube into town. This was a first for Mini and Dollop - and they loved it. Mini took a little while to relax, he seemed really hypervigilant to begin with but that goes with most new experiences. Dollop settled in straight away and was a natural both on the trains, and with the running around stations changing lines!

We headed straight to the Tower of London, which is close to a tube station, several eateries and importantly - a Starbucks. And with our tickets we were able to head straight in (though there were quite long queues for those who didn't have tickets in advance). As we'd gotten there pretty early it was fairly quiet to start with.

Because we wanted to make the most of our day out, we knew we'd only have about 3 hours maximum at the Tower before we'd need to head off for lunch and move onto our next destination, so we started in the bottom of the Wakefield Tower, where we saw some pretty impressive torture equipment - the children didn't think it was quite so impressive though, and didn't really understand the point of it, so we moved rapidly on to look in the Cradle Tower (which was built for Edward III between 1348-55), then some pretty impressive cannons and guns, and then headed up to the White Tower - my favourite of all the buildings at The Tower of London.

The kids were thrilled to see some of the famous ravens, these ones caged, and then we climbed the stairs to start our tour of The White Tower. On the way up to the entrance, we passed a little area where it's said that the remains of two boys were discovered. If you watched, like the NC and I did, the recent series The White Queen - you might take a guess at who those children were...


There was so much to look at inside The White Tower including the Royal Armouries - here are just a few of the photos I took.



As it was half term, there were activities for the children to do too.
Here's Mini making a spinner with Henry VIII on one side and Anne Boleyn on the other. When spun it looks like they're holding hands. Both Mini and Dollop got to make these, and enjoyed colouring in as a break from wandering around.











Whilst they did that, I looked at a display of Tower guidebooks - here's the inside of just one of them:


As we wandered around we reached an area with lots of hands on things for the kids to do. Sadly, being half term and with one small child and one who is nervous in busy places, we couldn't get close enough for the children to try much of it out themselves. Though it looked like lots and lots of fun, and if we can go back at a quieter time, they'll definitely enjoy getting involved.

Then we headed on down and out, and over to the queue for The Crown Jewels. It wasn't too long considering it was half term - it took us about an hour and 15 minutes to queue, get in, through and back out again. But it was worth it. The look on Mini's face was priceless - much like the jewels we were looking at. He particularly enjoyed the crowns, and Dollop (as you would expect) liked the sparkliness of it all! Mini also enjoyed watching the guard parade up and down in front of the jewel house, and attempted (as I'm sure many young boys do) to copy him.


So with not much time left, we walked down by Tower Green and the Queen's House. Mini took this photo of a raven sitting out on the green, and if you look carefully you might be able to see one of the guards at the back? Yep by that lamppost!


Finally on our way out we managed to catch a Yeoman Warder for Mini to have his photograph with...and that was Mini's favourite moment.



So that was our trip to the Tower of London. There was so much more to see, but we didn't have time to do anymore, and to be honest although the NC and I would have enjoyed it, I think at 6 and 3, Mini and Dollop had seen enough and were keen to eat and move on.

All in all, a great morning out and enjoyed by everyone.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Kids crafts - Slipper Socks

Over the Summer holidays I wrote a few posts sharing some of the crafts and activities the kids and I had done together - there were Dirt Cup Puddings, our Rice Maze/Story Maker, Bean Bag target toss and Melted Bead Bowls. These posts went down really well, and we really enjoyed both making them, and photographing them for blog posts.

So since then, we've carried on doing some activities and crafts, and today I'd like to share a favourite of the children - homemade non slip socks. So we all remember those Totes Toasties you used to get right? I'm not sure if they're still available but I recall receiving them as Christmas presents when I was young.
In our house we have no carpet at all - a rug on part of our living/dining room laminate flooring, tiles in the kitchen and bathroom, laminate again in our bedroom, and floorboards in the children's room, landing and stairs. As you can imagine, it's pretty slippery especially when the kids are charging around. Slippers just don't stay on but socks are a different story. These could make lovely gifts too...




Slipper Socks

You will need:
Socks to fit your children
Fabric 3D paint/puffy paint in a variety of colours (available from craft stores/online)

Lay all the socks out in pairs.
Let your children go mad with the 3D paint - making sure they draw/write on the bottom part of the sock.

Allow the socks to dry - at least 24 hours to dry properly. Depending on how much paint your child has heaped on, they might take an additional 24 hours.

Wear around the house and revel in the non-slipperiness. Wash in the machine at 40degrees or less.

Mini and Dollop had 5 pairs of socks each, which in retrospect was too many. Just a couple of pairs each would have been fine. I encouraged Mini and Dollop to both draw their designs out first on paper, but in reality it was difficult for them to copy them onto such a small area, with the fine nozzle of the paint. So perhaps just let your child go freestyle...

Beware: when you lay out brand new socks it's not easy to see and draw just on the sole, because of the way they're pressed and packed you'll see the sides of the sole. This is what we decorated and it worked out just fine.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

The easy bit and the hard bit - National Adoption Week 2013



It's National Adoption Week. That means that lots of people across the country work hard at trying to recruit more people to adopt some of the many children that are in care. One of the common themes in trying to do this is myth-busting and over on The Adoption Social, we have a number of guest bloggers this week showing how they've overcome some of the things that could be seen as barriers, and indeed - myth busting!

Promoting National Adoption Week always feels a little bit weird, because although there are many children in care, waiting to be adopted, I'm still not convinced that adequate post adoption support exists to help the many adopters that are needed. So I'm not going to sit here and tell you that you simply *must* adopt, and that it's the most wonderful thing we've ever done. I'll just tell you what's it's been like for us...

Adopting our son was the easy bit.
Yes it was a long process from initial enquiry, through home study, to approval and then matching. But every. single. bit. of that process was absolutely necessary and vital to ensure that we were the right people to become adoptive parents and so that we could be matched with the right child.
It was an interesting and reflective process during which the NC and I learnt lots about ourselves and each other. We never saw it as jumping through hoops, we never saw it as invasive - just necessary for us to proceed on the journey towards our ultimate goal of building a family. And despite it taking a while to get there, the speed really wasn't important to us - it's more of an issue to the children who wait in care longer than they should.

Parenting our son has been the hard bit.
It's challenging, but that means that it's rewarding too.
It's tiring, but that means I enjoy the rest more.
There is violence, which makes the affection so much sweeter.
It's frustrating, but such an achievement when things go well.
There is often shouting, which makes the peace of term time twice as peaceful.
There is much guess work, but it feels like angels are singing, awooga horns are blaring, and fireworks are popping overhead when you guess right!

Ultimately there is a family. I am mum to a sweet, kind, caring, chatty, gangly, excitable, bouncy, vibrant, inquisitive little man. I'm lucky enough to be mum to a kind, loving, cuddly, energetic, all singing, all dancing Dollop too. And despite all the struggles, I wouldn't be without either of them.

National Adoption Week 2013. www.nationaladoptionweek.org.uk
I'm linking this post up to the #WASO special for National Adoption Week.

Britmums Carnival - After Dark

Remember, remember the 5th of November....isn't that how it starts?

For those involved in adoption the 5th of November means more than just Guy Fawkes and fireworks - it also falls in National Adoption Week, and for us it's just a couple of days before Mini's Adoption Day, the day on which we remember going to court and having a judge rule that we were officially Mini's parents, and officially a family. I don't want to go on too much about National Adoption Week, but if you want to read more then check out my other site www.theadoptionsocial.com where you'll see all sorts of posts supporting this initiative.

But onto the main event...or so I'd hoped. I had thought this Britmums Carnival could celebrate the Guy Fawkes and Fireworks theme of After Dark, especially now the clocks have gone back, the evenings (and the dark) are drawing in, and many of us spent some time out after dark last week with our little ones trick or treating and dressing up for Halloween.

Given the theme, I was hoping for a deluge of posts of your little cuties dressed up, over-sharing of pumpkin carving cleverness, a few cracking squash recipes and maybe even some beautiful firework photos.

But similar to Crewcutandnewt.com's carnival a couple of weeks ago, despite my tweeting, blogging, retweeting and facebooking, it seems few of you are up for a jolly carnival time right now...perhaps too many of you got blown away by the storm last week? Maybe you're all just hunkering down inside away from the cold weather - incidentally have many of you had frost yet? We've woken up to a white shed roof on a few occasions now.



So, this carnival is sadly not very celebratory, or vibrant, or any of the things you'd expect from a carnival. But, we do have a couple of participants to whom I'm grateful for keeping me company (and stopping me eating all the toffee apples and spiced pumpkin soup over there in the corner) -  go and read Tiger Tales who shares what happens after dark in her house...and Yummy Mummy Survival tells us all about her six year old teenager!
And do feel free to help yourself to a toffee apple too, or some soup...it's very nice.


Monday, 4 November 2013

REVIEW: Scooby-Doo! Adventures, The Mystery Map

I don't know about your children but mine are both huge Scooby-Doo! fans. This pleases me because I grew up with Shaggy, Scooby and the gang too, and have fond memories watching and waiting to see who the villain really was.

My kids have watched all sorts of Scooby programmes and films - some with real life actors, mostly as cartoons, so when I was sent this new DVD to review I was interested to see what they'd think, because Scooby-Doo! Adventures, The Mystery Map is a puppet movie.



In this DVD Scooby and the gang have to find pirate Gnarlybeard's hidden treasure, but encounter - as expected - some chilling obstacles during their pizza-fuelled dash!

Mini and Dollop really enjoyed it. 3 year old Dollop was a little confused to start with, and couldn't work out if they were real people, eventually coming to the conclusion that they were talking cuddly toys. Mini took it all in his stride, and enjoyed the story. The first time he watched it, it sort of semi-concluded half way through, and Mini got a bit disappointed thinking it had finished, but he was thrilled when it continued. He's since watched it another couple of times, and has been engrossed each and every time.

From my point of view I found the puppets a little creepy, but then I've never been a big fan (except for The Fraggles!) but the story doesn't disappoint, it's just as I remember - a typical whodunit, full of phantoms, ghosts and monsters, with that line about 'meddling kids', except in this story, the villain is a meddling kid too!

The DVD is available h, and if you've got Scooby-Doo! fans in your house, then I'd suggest buying a copy, settling down with some Scooby snacks and enjoying!

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this DVD for free in return for an honest review.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Forget the future #WASO

It’s a cliché to say ‘I just want us all to be happy’.  Will it happen? I don’t know.

The future is such an unknown, as it is for all families – no-one knows what will happen. I’ve kind of stopped thinking or worrying about the long-term future so much.

Tomorrow is unknown, next week is unknown, to be honest, I don’t even know what’s going to
happen in half an hour when Mini walks through the door after school, I can't begin to think about a year's time, or beyond that.
 
Live in the moment, that’s what I think we need to do more of. We need to read Mini more – now, not think about his actions and body language retrospectively. After all, things are easier with hindsight. We need to have fun and be spontaneous with our children now. We need to respond to their needs and wants (even if they don’t know what they are) now – not in a minute, or later.

We need to make memories with them now, so that they can carry those memories of good times into the future.

I still have worries of course I do, and immediately the worries are around Mini’s education and schooling. They’re around how he feels about school, and how making him go to school makes him feel about us. I hope education in the long-term changes for him, and he begins to accept, if not enjoy it. And I'll still plan - planning means we don't dither about what we're doing, we can just get on and enjoy it, knowing the details are sorted, and yes I'm already planning the next few months.

But for the long term future…can we be happy? I hope so.

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Cutting it

Recently I spoke about facing my fear - of the hairdresser.

What I forget to mention was Mini's fear of hair cutting too, and it's only this afternoon's antics that have reminded me! You see, when Mini came to us, he had relatively long hair for a little one. We cut it quite soon into his placement here into quite a short style, and it stayed pretty much that way until the end of reception year at school! And when I say 'we' cut it, I mean me and occasionally the NC - I cut the NC's hair too, with my trusty clippers.

Over the years it's become harder and harder for Mini to have us cut his hair. He absolutely will not let his father do it these days. To begin with the noise was an issue, however a spot of CBeebies was enough to distract, but over time he's given other reasons for avoiding a trim...he's scared we'll clip his ears off, he doesn't like the cape he has to wear, the chair is too hard, it hurts, he's got something else to do first, and almost always the itchiness (of the little bits of hair that irritate his neck).
We've tried all sorts to help him with this fear, often it's been easier to just drop it and try again another day - we really do have to pick our battles, even though doing this has often attracted comments about his messy, unruly, long, girly hair. We even had an unkind comment where someone asked me which of my children was my daughter, because from the back his hair was so long it was hard to tell.

It came to a head (boom boom!) at the end of reception year at school, when we'd had so many battles I agreed that Mini could grow his hair over the summer as long as he let us cut it in September. When September came around his longer style really suited him and so we let him keep it a bit longer...and a bit longer. Then it got too long (and not just by my standards, but it was irritating Mini - in his eyes particularly), but long hair is beyond my capabilities with the clippers, and really a proper scissor cut was needed. After about 6 weeks, 2 attempts resulting in meltdowns, and a bit of good old fashioned bribery we got him to a proper barbers, and the hair was trimmed.



I can't remember exactly what prompted the full on clip again, or whether it was just before or just after the return to school this year, but Mini requested a proper short-haired 'do' again and so I returned to clipping duty. Whatever it was, it was that long ago that over the last ten days or so, it's been in need of another trim. Too long to spike up for school, so long that daily bed-head occurred.

So after warning Mini this morning - a particularly unruly bed-head day- that today was clipping day, we returned home after school and I fetched the torturous tool! Cue one full-on, screaming, body flinging, weeing at will, tearful meltdown.
Ah yes, that was the reason we avoided hair cuts!

But, I'm pleased with myself and pleased with Mini because it's only taken an hour to calm him, talk to him, cut his hair, calm him again, bathe him, dress him and hug him :-) Yes a whole hour, but that's about an hour shorter than previous battles...which often resulted in us giving up anyway! And he looks bloody gorgeous now I can see his whole face properly again!
So well done Mini, and thank you for letting me calm you, hug you and tidy you up!

Yes it was a battle, but it was also an achievement, so I'm linking up with MemoryBox on The Adoption Social.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Severance

Severance - The Culture and Narratives of Modern Adoption, An exhibition of artworks by adoptees, adopters and those involved in adoption.

Have you heard about it? Where have you been? This exhibition, running for just a few days (so make sure you don't miss it), is curated by The Open Nest, a post adoption support charity. It's full of artworks by adoptees, adopters and those involved in adoption and is a must if you're in London between 6-10th November.

Here's the info...do show your support.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Britmums Carnival time on The Boy's Behaviour

I'm really pleased to let you know that I'm hosting a Britmums Carnival here on The Boy's Behaviour in a few weeks time.



A carnival you say? What's that? Well don't get too excited - you don't need to be shaking it down the high street, nor will you be crowned Carnival Queen! It's virtual, but in spirit it's a bit like the real thing - a time to get together and socialise, and if you want to dress up in sequins and feathers then I won't judge you - promise!

The Britmums Carnival is a collection of blog posts all written in the last month, all shared in one post. Bloggers take turns to host the Carnival which takes place every other week. It's a fun way to show off your latest blog post and find new great blogs to follow too.

I get to choose a theme (woo-hoo!) and given that the Carnival will be here on 5th November, it seemed fitting to choose 'After Dark'.

So whatever your interpretation - night-time explosions of the pyrotechnic variety, ghosties and ghouls, beautiful sunset pictures, insomniac children or those evening classes you've always wanted to take, please send me your links no later than 1st November to theboysbehaviour@gmail.com

I'll see you there... x

Monday, 7 October 2013

Caching and Conkers

Autumn is my favourite season - the changing colours of the trees, and that beautiful red of Virginia creeper that turns so quickly, the cooler days and excuses for hot chocolate after school. I look forward to Pumpkin Spice Lattes, fluffy slippers, open fires, wearing scarves and getting my lovely boots out.

Mini and Dollop enjoy it too – they look forward to jumping in leaves, buying new woolly hats, thinking about their Hallowe’en costumes, and going for long walks to find geocaches.

Yes, we’re a geocaching family. Have you heard of it? No? Well, there’s more information here but basically it's an outside treasure hunt with containers (caches) hidden in all sorts of places. You use a GPS unit/app on your phone to find the caches - some you just write in, then log online, others have small swaps in. I like it because it gives me a destination - something to head for when I'm out walking and I enjoy solving some of the puzzle caches, the kids love it because they sometimes get new treasures and they enjoy poking around in all sorts of places to find a cache, and the NC loves it because it's outdoorsy and geeky all at the same time! We've got the NC's family converted too - even his Uncle and Aunt in Australia are very much into it now.
As a newbie you can just look for caches, but when you get into it, you can hide your own too and between us we own several now, even Mini has his own special one hidden!

 
 




So, last weekend with many things in mind – hiding a new geocache, finding another, checking out dog walking facilities, bug hunting and just getting out, we went for a walk around our favourite local woods.











The kids were armed with their bug hunting kit, the NC was armed with his geocache ready to hide, I had my trusty camera and a stash of Barny Bears for cute, filling sustenance.

 
With the cooling weather we had trouble finding many bugs…just a few spiders and a large number of woodlice but the kids were thrilled to find something much better…

CONKERS!









AND LEAVES!!














And after the thrill of the conkers came tree climbing! In fact, we had a really positive moment with Mini. After climbing a tree - the biggest he’d ever managed - he didn’t panic (like normal) but asked for help and then trusted the NC to get him down safely. Yay Mini! This is a really big thing for us as a family and was a big confidence boost for Mini.























So on with our walk and it was time for a break (and a Barny bear). Whilst Daddy carried on looking for that other cache, Mini and Dollop ate their Barny’s. I may have snuck one too. To be honest, they’re the perfect size for me and the children…




Then back home with our haul of conkers. The kids are already asking when we can go again and I know Mini's looking forward to a bit more tree climbing!

"This post is an entry for BritMums ‘Little Adventures Challenge’ in partnership with Barny, the bear-shaped snack providing a little discovery in every bite. Find out more about Barny here"

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Facing fears

This week I have had to face one of my fears.
 
Hairdressers.
 
After doing some serious diy colour work on my hair, it finally went a little bit wrong when it came to stripping it all out and going back to natural.
So here I am in a swirly chair writing whilst waiting for orange strain to neutralise my green ash coloured hair.
My fear stems from a bad experience about 13 years ago with hair extensions...and since then I've avoided the swirly chairs, big mirrors, bright lighting and cheery scissor wielding people!
 
As I've gotten older, I've become more fearful and I wonder if that would have happened anyway, or whether having children has something to do with it? I have some (possibly irrational) fears and as I sit here and write I realise that infact, I have quite a lot of things that I'm fearful and scared of - needles, cats, spiders, scary movies, hairdressers, wasps and water come to mind.
 
When you become a parent you have to hide some of your fears. I can't tell you how horrible I've found taking my children for their vaccinations, but it's something that has to be done. And the number of times I've tried to calm Mini who panics with wasps, when in fact inside I want to scream and run away too!
 
However I do think that having fears has helped me identify with some of my children's fears. I can empathise with them. I can help them through difficult moments. And it's working because with our growing and improving attachments, Mini is gradually starting to believe in us, and do what we say when he's struck down scared. That belief in what we're saying is proof that things are getting better.
 
What do you think? Have you become more fearful as you've gotten older? And even worse since having your children? Or am I just totally irrational?

 

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Nursery and school

It's been a while I know - I'm sorry.

It's just you know with back to school, Dollop starting nursery...oh and having to miss her first week because she was ill. And I'm struggling with drop-offs at nursery each day because Dollop is getting so so upset. I know she's fine within 10 minutes. I know they'd ring me if there was a problem. But it's heartbreaking (as it was when it was Mini all those years ago) to leave her crying. And I know there are lots of people who get upset because their children don't show emotion, but I think they're both just as bloody hard! And I'm struggling to compose myself ready for a series of appointments I've had each morning this week...because of course there is the super big news.

We're changing Mini's school.


Yes, after a horrendous meeting with Mini's teachers where it was made VERY clear that support was not going to be available, we are looking at other schools. Ins and outs?
- Well, the home/school comms book doesn't work for Mini's new teachers, so we're not having it, we'll have to cope with just the reading diary which they find perfectly adequate (Funny though, they're not writing the diabetic child's blood measurements in his reading diary?).
- After just 3 days at school, the teachers were happy that Mini asks to go to the toilet, so they won't be implementing the bladder training that the hospital consultant has asked them to do.
- Mini seems confident and happy, so they see no need to give me notice of changes in school, clearly he needs no preparation.
- Unlike previous years, Mini doesn't need to have a primary attachment figure in school because he seems fine.
- They've seen no signs of wetting, so clearly that was just a past anxiety.
- And no, they don't really need to meet with our social worker because they have children of their own, they understand how precious the children are.

And that's just what I can remember from before I broke down and cried in front of them. No, I'm not writing that for dramatic effect, it happened. I then turned into a blubbering wreck for the rest of the day.

They appeared to believe that I am totally paranoid. They appeared to believe that I'm just an overprotective mother of a little darling. They appeared not to believe the violence and aggression we endure. They appeared to 'know it all'. We believe they have been spoken to by the head teacher who has made it clear that additional support is not to be made available. Now we really do sound like paranoid parents.

So, this week I'm viewing schools. I've read OFSTED reports, I've spoken to admissions, I've spoken to a number of schools, I've read through prospectus after prospectus, I've sought parental opinions, I've asked around for advice and tips. I've viewed an OK school, I've viewed a fantastic school. And now I am going to push as hard as I can to get Mini into the right school, where he and we will get the support needed.

So forgive me if I don't post very often at the moment. We're fighting for Mini right now, and we're about to start Attachment Focused Counselling too, so bear with us while we ride this rollercoaster, I'll be back as often as I can.


Sunday, 8 September 2013

And Year 2 begins...

Back to school, for us, like most, has now happened. Mini started getting worked up about 3-4 days before, as I started to pull together all the various bits of new school kit ready for naming etc.

My content, playful, mostly happy child of the Summer has mutated into a grumpy, angry, defiant boy again. The boy who couldn't stop talking about anything and everything has become tight-lipped about everything that occurs between 9am and 3pm.
Over the holidays, my little man gradually got better and better about going to bed; we heard less of the nightmares, less of the remonstrations about bedtime and fewer excuses to stay up. Now? Back to bedtime struggles, and not enough sleep.

Everything we do has become a battle again.

I know the phrase 'don't sweat the small stuff'. At times this becomes our mantra. So we're letting some battles go and we've introduced the use of consequences again. After posting for help on The Adoption Social, we've taken Sally Donovan's advice and each time Mini hurts either myself, the NC or Dollop he has to do a chore/household job...with us, and we provide a narrative as we do it together. Knowing that there is a consequence doesn't seem to prevent Mini hitting out (yet) but it is isolating the incident and we're moving on quicker than before, plus it's helping to get some of those jobs done!

I won't lie and say the summer holidays were perfect...we had our moments. And as usual, after the really good days, we had the bad ones. But for the most part it was much better than previous years and we had some really nice times and hopefully made some great memories. This though makes it all the more clear that it's during term time that Mini's difficulties come to the fore. Is it being at school? Is it being somewhere other than home?

Without a doubt, this school is not right for Mini, and this transition hasn't been well-managed - elements of it yes, but others no. And I'm afraid a clash of personalities with the Headteacher hasn't helped. I can't carry on fighting this woman who is more interested in raising attendance than looking after the pupils who ARE at school, who is more interested in improving academic skills instead of caring about emotional well-being. And whilst I know that school is about academic learning, surely if the children feel cared about, important, special, safe and listened to, then their ability to learn will be better too? Ah, but what do I know, I'm just a paranoid mum!

It's only been two days so far, and I'm dreading (let alone how Mini's feeling) the rest of the year. I'm not letting on to Mini of course. And with all this awful feeling I'm also caring for Dollop who has shingles! Yes, very rare for a child to get, and coincided nicely with the start of pre-school and the end of the broken leg saga!

How has back to school been for your children?

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

The best bits of our Summer #MemoryBox

This week Mini goes back to school as a Year 2 boy, and Dollop starts pre-school doing 5 days a week part-time. I'm anxious and excited - anxious because Mini is already struggling with being back at school and he's not even there yet, and because my baby is growing up and this is the start of her independence (and the end of me being needed 24/7).
I'm excited because Dollop is ready for pre-school. She is looking forward to making friends and I'm looking forward to see how this new adventure impacts on her character. I'm also excited for Mini, because although he dislikes school, and is unsettled by it, he is generally a sociable boy and enjoys the time with his friends.
And there's the obvious change to my own day too - 3 hours of time to myself...with which to clean, do laundry, shop but most importantly...write.

So with this last #MemoryBox before the return to school, I'm remembering the lovely Summer break we've had, as I'm sure next week the focus will be on something entirely different and I fear the memories of Summer will have faded...
There are so many memories and great moments (I'll tell you about the not so great another time), here's just a selection:

Visits to...the zoo, the beach (several times), the farm shop, a theme park, Legoland, nanna and grandad, the park, town to go shopping, a large football ground for special footy training, the strawberry fields to pick our own fruit (rather a lot!)


We've made...melty bead bowls, bracelets, pictures, chocolate dirt cups, a rice maze and story maker, mosaic pictures, Tie dye t-shirts, tents, cakes, plaster of paris handprints



We've played... Lego, beanbag toss, on the trampoline, Jenga, Scrabble, puzzles, shopkeepers, librarians, with the water table, video games on the tablet, outside with chalks, lots of made-up games



Mini and Dollop have had firsts...night in a hotel, turn on a rollercoaster, theme park ride by himself, let a caterpillar crawl up his arm, held a sea urchin



And between us we've...had leg plaster removed, been given the all clear for Epilepsy, been geocaching, had Nanny to visit, and Great Nanny, Great Aunty and Uncle and a young cousin, been to a 90th birthday party for another Great Nanny, played with cousin baby Whizz, managed to have pleasant meals out, been to several other birthday parties, shopped, baked, read, cried, laughed



Our best Summer yet...

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Safe spaces

Mini is an anxious person. There is no denying that there are certain places where he feels safe, and certain places he doesn't. In those safe spaces, he can be himself and he can share his feelings (even if he doesn't always realise he's doing it).

Home, particularly the living room, is undoubtedly his safest place. That's not to say he feels totally comfortable here, we know he feels different, we know there are many times when he clams up, but we've tried to make it safe and secure for him.
Of course it's not just about the physical space, the actual room/house/garden etc, it's about the people that are in the space too. We limit visitors - not just unknown or (in Mini's eyes) scary visitors like social workers, therapists etc, but everyone because having too many people at once, or too many visits in quick succession unsettles Mini. And I've written before about another safe space that we use - it sounds silly perhaps to consider this cookie cutter coffee shop a safe place, but it's precisely that cookie cutter aspect that makes it so safe and comforting.

And us? Well, as an adult my safe space constantly changes depending on my feelings and needs. Mostly my safe spaces are wherever I can find other likeminded people - where I am not judged, where I give and receive sympathy, where I find myself nodding in agreement. That's online, at my friend's house, with family...but sometimes it's just at the beach on my own staring at the sea and listening to the waves crash.

I can't guarantee much in Mini's future. But I hope the tools we're trying to give him now in the safe spaces we are nurturing will stand him in good stead to find safe spaces he needs as he grows - whether that's with us, beside us or in places without us - with his own likeminded and understanding people.

Today I'm linking up with the Weekly Adoption Shout Out - this week's theme is 'Safe Spaces'.
The Weekly Adoption Shout Out




Monday, 26 August 2013

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #Memorybox

Last week this happened:


If you don't already know - these green creatures are the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Mini thinks they are fantastic (especially Leo). We went to Legoland last week, and it so happened that on the second day of our visit, a special Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle weekend was starting. 3 days later, Mini is still grinning and randomly telling EVERYONE that he met The Turtles. I only wish I could share a shot of his beautiful gappy grin on here. After this photo, he hi-3'd them all, then posed for photos, then had a special hug from Leo. He'll remember that day (and so will we) for years to come.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Snacktime! #My99pSummer

It's really important to both me and my children that we have regular snack time. Me to keep my sugar levels (and hopefully diabetes) in check, Mini to maintain a routine, keep his energy levels topped up and stop him from starving (which he assures me he does on a regular basis) and Dollop, to keep her energy going too and stop her copying her brother's tendencies to starve.

However, if the kids had their way, the snacks would be a kilo of jelly sweets every day, washed down with a pint of chocolate thickshake, preferably from a well-known takeaway place.

So we're compromising. This Summer we received some vouchers to spend at 99p Stores to help us have a fantastic summer. I let Mini choose half the items - it's his Summer holiday after all. As well as some toys, Mini picked up a tin of Luxury Chocolate Straws - you know the wafers filled with chocolate cream that often accompany a bowl of icecream. Mini and I both LOVE these, but don't buy them that often, so he felt they'd be a perfect Summer snacktime treat. (and we get the tin after for crafting with or storing Lego men in!).



With my half of thevouchers I bought various craft bits and toys (more about those in another post) and a packet of Dr. Moo's quick milk magic sippers - the chocolate flavour ones. If you haven't heard of these before, they're plastic straws filled with chocolate flavoured beads. As you suck milk up through them, it turns chocolatey. I could have picked juice, I could have picked squash, in fact we did get a pack of Apple and Blackcurrant drink pouches for picnics, but I got these magic sippers to make sure the children drink some milk every now and then.

In case you think I give in and allow my children chocolate for all their snacks, I'll add that along with just one chocolate wafer straw each, they had a handful of sultanas, a couple of dried apricots and a few cashew nuts. So that was the compromise - chocolate straws but only if accompanied by fruit and nuts! And a lovely cold cup of milk, disguised as chocolate milkshake.

So today's snacks are provided courtesy of 99p Stores, and very nice they are too - I had to 'test' the chocolate straws didn't I? And given the Magic Sippers have 30% extra free, I might pinch one of those to go with a glass of milk too!

What do you give your children for snacks? Are you completely healthy? Or do they get treats every now and then?

Monday, 12 August 2013

Project Linus - can you help?

As you might have recently read, Dollop broke her leg. It's been about a month now and she's having the cast off (all being well) this week. Phew.

It's been a relatively easy ride to be honest. We've been mindful of things that might be uncomfortable for her, and avoided them where we could. We were told that she could walk with the plaster cast on if she felt able to, and they gave us a special shoe to strap on it. And she started walking on it within 24 hours of the full cast going on!
We were warned that walking with the cast would tire her out, but the buggy wouldn't be suitable because it doesn't support enough of her leg. So we borrowed a children's wheelchair from the local Red Cross. We were also warned that long car journeys would be difficult for her, again because there wasn't enough support for her leg, and leg room was limited. Mini's missed out on a fair bit because of these restrictions, so we did a one-off trip last week with a long journey, and although she had an amazing time at the theme park, we could see the impact of the journey on Dollop, and we're thankful that life will return back to normal for her at the end of this week. She'll be able to have a bath which she is longing for.

The night of the accident, I tweeted for ideas on how to keep a 3 year old immobile child amused. I got a few retweets, and a few ideas, and I was also approached by someone from Project Linus, offering to send a quilt for Dollop. Slightly suspicious at the kindness of this stranger, I immediately looked up Project Linus and was amazed to find this incredible international organisation that collects quilts and blankets from a network of volunteers, and then they donate them to children who are ill, disabled or have experienced trauma. And they thought that Dollop could make use of one.

Despite the heat, I felt that Dollop would really appreciate the comfort of a special quilt, so gratefully accepted and within a week a beautiful quilt had arrived - we've used it to line her (rather scratchy) wheelchair, she's had it on her bed, she's traced the lines on it with her fingers which has kept her occupied, she's used it as a picnic blanket for her teddies, she's covered her cast in it so as not to scratch her good leg (the plaster is rather rough and abrasive - she's got battle wounds!) and she loves it. It's provided so much comfort.

 I was so grateful (despite my initial suspicions) that someone would do this for Dollop that I offered to write this post to highlight the work that Project Linus do. I know of at least one person, that as a result of seeing me tweet about the organisation has offered to volunteer her services and if more people can make and donate quilts, then more children will feel safe, secure and comfortable. A blanket won't fix the problem, but it can provide that bit of comfort. And as they say on their site:

"It may not seem much, but when you’re away from home in a hospital bed being poked and prodded by medical staff it’s the little home comforts which often bring the most relief to patients. For a young person being given a gift like a quilt to treasure can bring a smile to their face in spite of their pain and discomfort. For the parents of children who spend much of their time unwell, knowing that someone else is thinking of your child can be a comfort and additional source of emotional support."


I've been so grateful, as has Dollop, and I can see the benefit of a quilt for children who have experienced other traumas or have other illnesses. Indeed with Mini's background, I was pleased to see that quilts and blankets are donated to foster carers, care-leavers, and social services to distribute to children in care, as well as through children's wards, neo-natal units, renal units, hospices, visually impaired children, special schools, respite homes, refugee centres and various organisations who work with children.


Project Linus started in America, but now there is a UK network too. And over the years some 2000 quilts have been donated to children in the UK.
If you think you could help, please please get in touch with your local co-ordinator. There are volunteers across the country. And even if you can't make a quilt, perhaps you could donate fabric or help with the administration. You might even know someone who would benefit from a quilt, and if you do, then get in touch.

Disclaimer: Dollop was sent a blanket (it's double sided which is why the pics are different) for free, this was for her because of her accident. By way of a thank you I've written this post to help highlight Project Linus and their work.