Monday, 29 April 2013

Learning about London

It's no surprise that things have been pretty up and down here. Just when things start to improve, something goes wrong, and I wrote about highs and lows last week.

We're now definitely looking at moving Mini to another school, hopefully for September. And I've already spoken to our local Admissions Office so I have details on how to apply, and I'm waiting for a call back from a fairly nearby school to talk about Mini's needs and whether they can meet them.

But for now, I want to show you something that Mini has done. I've talked to him and he's happy for me to share this here. Quite recently they did a topic at school on The Great Fire of London. For some reason this really captured Mini's imagination, (perhaps there's a hint of a pyromaniac in there?!) and he has talked about it pretty much constantly ever since. He's been educating Nanny and Grandad, asking intelligent questions about St. Paul's Cathedral, telling Dollop about the relevance of Pudding Lane and I now know all about fire hooks.

Knowing that he was getting interested, Nanny recently gave Mini a new book all about London, and it's fast becoming one of his favourites. He's spent some time going through it, reading a little, and drawing pictures of the places he'd like to visit.

The British Museum...

The London Eye...

St Paul's Cathedral...
 
 
The Tower of London... 

Nelson's Column at Trafalgar Square...

 
And the book that has helped...
 


 After our concerns about going to London last year, we decided that as he was a year older, getting interested in the Big Smoke, and we were more comfortable managing behaviour we'd go to the London Marathon. That didn't quite work out as we'd double-booked ourselves, but we still hope to take Mini (and Dollop) to the city this year...soon if we can. Now we just need to decide which of these, and all the others things there, that we'll be doing. I'm sure Mini will have a strong opinion on that!

Friday, 26 April 2013

Blogging is for sad geeks

Yes, that's what I overheard when I was walking home this afternoon having collected Mini from school.

The conversation, which I strained to hear over the noise of the traffic and a whining 6 year old accidentally heard as I followed two women and their herd of children, went a bit like this:

"I've sat inside playing Candy Crush all day"
"Yeah, I was on there earlier. I'm stuck on Level 95"
"Have you ever read any of them bloggy things on the web"
"Nah, full of emotional shite and made up crappage"
"Yeah, that's what I'd heard too. The people wot write them must be proper sad geeky types"
"Yeah, with no friends. Bet half of them aren't even real people anyway"

Wow! I thought. Here are two women who clearly know very little about blogs, and what they do know is clearly wrong. I began to wonder though, as I walked behind them if I would be considered one of those proper sad geeky types. Well, to be honest, yes I probably would. The NC and I are self-confessed geeks. He works in IT support so it's pretty much a foregone conclusion that he is of the geek persuasion, and I married him so... Plus of course there are our addictions healthy interests in Dr Who, Torchwood and Red Dwarf!

So here we are, a world of proper sad geeky types who write emotional shite and made up crappage, some of us real, some not? I wonder if there is a difference between those who write blogs, and those who only read them?
I don't care if my bloggy pals are sad or geeky. To me, they provide a world of support, interesting stuff, laughs, amazing images and emotional, heartfelt writing. And last time I checked I was real, and I have real life and online friends.

Do your non-blogging friends understand you blogging? Are they interested in what you write? Have you encountered blog ignorance?


Weekly Adoption Shout Out #WASO Week 14

Last week saw another good week on the Weekly Adoption Shout Out with some great posts covering a diverse area of topics; you really are all very creative. It’s really good to share experiences and through doing so we hope to help others to feel less alone and also assist people in understanding more about the lives of those involved in adoption.

We have a lot going on around the Weekly Adoption Shout Out at the moment and both The Puffin Diaries and The Boy's Behaviour are very excited for the future. We can’t tell you much yet but we look forward to sharing our future plans soon. For now we are here this week to enjoy some great posts from all you bloggers. Those who wish to can join the theme for the week, which is “regression”, however as always it is optional and therefore you can add your posts about any aspect of adoption that you’ve written about recently.

As always both The Puffin Diaries and The Boy’s Behaviour are hosting, this linky will appear in both places but you only need to add it once below.

Also we now have a Facebook page, where we are sharing your posts and other WASO snippets so please hop over and LIKE us and join in.

It would be great if you could visit some of the other blogs that link up and please let them know who you are, and how you found them, you can even share your favourites on twitter or tweet your own post with the hashtag #WASO.
A badge? I hear you ask...Here’s the code:
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Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Highs and lows

Last week I felt flat. I had gone to a dark place after some meetings took it out of me. Perhaps there's a lesson learnt there - don't have 3 important meetings/appointments in 2 days!

This week, I'm already feeling a little brighter. I've had many messages, emails and comments all wishing me well and they've made me stand a little taller, and pick out some positives from the week too...oh, and I've had the re-written IEP which does now reflect some of my concerns...so although they were aggressive and inflexible during the meeting, they have worked in my suggestions after it.

This does seem to be the life of an adoptive family. I know in all families there are highs and lows - we certainly had plenty before Mini came along, but the highs seems to be even higher and the lows lower now.

Recently Mini ran off to play with his friends in the playground when we arrived at school one morning. For many, this is something taken for granted, but this was HUGE for Mini - it was the first time ever he'd been confident enough to leave me and find his friends amongst the busy, noisy crowds of mums, dad, children and buggies. My eyes leaked a little bit.
We've also had times where he's been able to tell us how he's felt. And his play has changed from all baddies, cars crashing and people dying, to much more positive play where he is crashing the cars, but then fixing them after, or he becomes a superhero to chase away the baddies. Such progress, and a real high to see him developing this way.




Equally though we've had lows, where hours have been spent tiptoeing on eggshells for fear of setting off another blazing meltdown, and when it comes (which it inevitably does) there is 'the fear'. Fear in Mini's eyes and actions, fear somewhere deep inside him, fear for his and our safety, fear that Dollop will copy this seemingly erratic behaviour, fear that we will not be therapeutic, fear that we will do the wrong thing.




We spend much of our life in fear, but our job as parents is to allow Mini to feel fear in the safety of our arms and then help the fear recede quickly, replaced instead by comfort, reassurance, and security. We don't always get it right, and we cannot ultimately change or stop the things that make him scared, or the things that make him anxious, or the things that make him meltdown. We are however, beginning to give him better tools to cope with all of those things.

So this week, I shall continue to become brighter again, and I will keep all your positive comments with me. And I will continue to fill up the Positivity Pot - seeing those little slips of goodness will remind me that it's not all bad, in fact, a lot of the time, it's good...very good.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Flat

So now you know what happened to us this week, with our meetings and appointments.

I'm feeling really flat now, and wondering where to go with school. I need to find some fight from somewhere because I have a feeling that things aren't going to get any easier are they?

I need school to support Mini, and me. These are people that have responsibility for my son for 6 hours every day. That's a long time for a child to be surrounded by people who have little understanding of him, and little empathy towards him. And for Mini to spend 3 years in an environment that is target based, reward chart obsessed, academically focused with little regard to emotions, feelings, and pastoral care is worrying me.

So, why is it that I feel like the one in the wrong? Why do I feel like I shouldn't have complained? I think perhaps there was a small black dog hiding behind the chair of the head teacher. I fear that at some point during that school meeting, the black dog's lead may have attached itself to my wrist.

Frustration and anger are surrounding me...are they enough to help me fight the school?
Progress at theraplay and things to look forward to are positive...will they be enough to help me shake off that dog's lead?

Meeting after meeting

If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you might have seen that we've had a busy week. And if you read this, you'll be relieved to see I'm still here, not shot, but slightly emotionally battered and bruised!

We started with a review of our Post Adoption Support, although our Post Adoption Social Worker was unavailable. Instead it was with our CAMHS therapist, who we've not seen in a while (she'd signed us off!), and Dave-the-therapist, who does our theraplay.

I don't want to go too much into the details of the review, but basically they feel that Mini has made great progress, as have we. They feel that another half a dozen sessions might even be enough to send us on our way, then we'd have a few more top-up sessions later in the year. They feel that we've got the tools now, and we just need to continue using them.

Now, whilst I'm really happy they think we've made progress, and I know we have - I can see it; I'm surprised they think we've made enough. I'm nervous, and I just hope that even once we've finished our theraplay sessions, we'll still have access to appropriate support. So now the CAMHS therapist is coming back on the scene and it appears she will start re-visiting us again, presumably to ensure we're supported through the final leg of theraplay.
So that was that one.

We've also had a hospital visit to discuss Mini's continuing seizures. Mini's had another couple of seizures in the last few months, and so we had to remake the appointment we'd cancelled (which we'd done on their advice, because he went 6 months without a fit). Our appointments are with a paediatric neurologist, and she's never seemed particularly worried by the seizures. After the first EEG showed nothing, she's now suggesting a sleep-deprived EEG. She mentioned medication, but also suggested that most of the medications she would normally recommend can adversely affect behaviour. To be honest, whilst he has occasional seizures, and they're scary for us to see, I'm not keen to medicate unless they can give us a diagnosis or reason why they're occurring. I did ask her about any links between children who have suffered trauma and epilepsy/seizures/blanking (which all seem to be considered together), but my question was pretty much dismissed - she had no idea if there was a link, and didn't offer to research it or look for other research. We were told that children with behavioural issues are more prone to seizures/epilepsy than other children. I feel that the neurologist has become quite fixated on Mini's behaviour, and isn't seeing it as an expression of feelings and anxiety, but simply as poor behaviour. We'll have the next EEG and see her again in a few months.

Finally we had the big one...the school meeting.

Before the end of term I wrote a letter to Mini's teacher. It was quite strong, but after a whole half term of waiting for an appropriate IEP, and an IEP review that didn't actually review anything, I was pretty pissed off and frustrated.
So my letter asked her to clarify how she saw the IEP working...was it for Mini, or the staff working with him. If Mini, had any of it been shared with him? If the adults, then why was it written in language appropriate for a 6 year old?
I also asked for more detail, more information about how the targets and progress would be measured. I reminded them that an IEP should be written using SMART principles - Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Related. I asked for a meeting with her to discuss further and suggested a day.
On the last day of term, we get home from school to see a note in Mini's home-school book about a meeting that has been set up on the day I suggested. Except it's not just with the class teacher, it's with the SENCO (last year's class teacher) and the head teacher (new in post, never met before).
All holiday I've been thinking about it, worrying about it, wondering why they're bringing in 'the heavies', when all I wanted was another session with the class teacher.

So, back to the meeting. We went in, sitting on soft, low chairs in a corner, whilst 3 women sat on higher chairs, towering above us. Already feeling intimidated, this seating arrangement put me further on edge. The Head started the session by asking me my concerns. I shared that I was worried that after half a term we still didn't have a second IEP in place.
I was met with aggression and a barked 'yes we have, we're working to it at the moment'. I replied that I hadn't signed it, and as far as I was concerned, appropriate targets were still being considered and discussed. Both the teacher and SENCO agreed with me.
It kind of carried on like that with every one of my concerns being met with either a 'yes, we're doing that' or a 'sorry, that's not always possible'. I felt like the Head was going to attack me or defend her teachers, with no middle ground or room for discussion.
And it was made clear that because 'emotional targets are soft, they aren't measurable'. Yes, her words, not mine.
There were no reasons given for the lack of preparation time and notice on two important occasions before Easter (a police visit, and a church visit). Nor any apology for me having to find out about the Easter church service from another mum, the day before it happened. I got an excuse from the teacher about being forgetful. Well, I'm sorry, forgetful doesn't cut it. What if I 'forgot' to take Mini to school? Or 'forgot' to ring in when he was sick?
All in all, I don't feel much was achieved by this meeting. My previous frostiness towards the SENCO has thawed a little as she played a peacekeeping role between the Head and myself, and made thoughtful suggestions. The teacher cowered and looked at times- like she was going to cry. (Admittedly, all my issues were with her lack of forethought, warning and care in writing the IEP). Whilst I did get lots of praise for Mini and his growing confidence and academic skills, it felt very much like because they couldn't see the damage in Mini, or the anxieties that school seems to cause him, the Headteacher wasn't prepared to believe it or offer any support to help prevent it.

So, I'm becoming fast disillusioned with this school, and this new Head who seems more focused on improving attendance and meeting targets, than the emotional well being of her pupils. And we still have another year and a bit to go with her for Mini, and Dollop should be starting at the nursery in September. I'm waiting to hear if Dollop got into this nursery, or whether the Head will have black-marked her because I'm a troublemaker?! I'm now considering whether to look for somewhere else to send Dollop for nursery, although I do think despite the difficulties we've had with Mini's schooling there, Dollop could settle well, and of course doesn't have the same needs as Mini.

So that's our week, and now, we're waiting for Nanny and Grandad to arrive for the weekend, whilst also preparing Mini and Dollop for the NC being away for work again next week. Oh, and Mini and I have our first session of theraplay without the NC next week too. All go here!

Weekly Adoption Shout Out #WASO Week 13

Welcome to another Weekly Adoption Shout Out. Last week was another successful link-up with many of you sharing posts about Transition. There are some really interesting posts, so if you haven’t had a chance to read them yet, you can still see them all here.

As usual this week is theme-free, but next week we’re inviting you to write and link posts about 'regression'.

You might have read last week that we now have a Facebook page , do pop over and say hi.

As both The Puffin Diaries and The Boy’s Behaviour are hosting, this linky will appear in both places but you only need to add it once below.

There are no rules to taking part in this link up, but it would be great if you could visit some of the other blogs that take part and let them know how you found them. And why not share your favourites on twitter, or tweet your own post with the hashtag #WASO.

Want a badge for your blog? Here’s the code:
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This linky list is now closed.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

The firing squad

Adoptive parents lonely hearts....

WLTM. Proud parent requires brave teacher. GSOH, experience of traumatised children is a must, communication skills must be top-notch, thick-skin is a bonus. Can offer lots of unwelcome advice, tantrums inevitable - from both parent and child, I will interfere in your planning regularly and make unreasonable demands from you in order for my child to be supported and safe.

Sound attractive? Contact me for more information.

Perhaps not, but I do wonder sometimes how I come across to Mini's teaching staff. His old teacher just switched off whenever I was there. She didn't take much notice, and certainly didn't take me seriously. She's now the SENCO.

Now Mini's teacher in Year 1 is also the head of year. I have a meeting with her, the SENCO and the head teacher tomorrow after I wrote rather a strong letter asking lots of questions about Mini's IEP. And made suggestions on things that I didn't feel needed to be included, and some that hadn't been but should be.
I feel like I've been summoned to appear in front of a firing squad, when all I really expected was a 'yes, thanks for those suggestions, I'll add them in' type response.
I'll report back after the meeting...if I haven't been shot down. If I have, well, you'll know never to question your child's IEP ever again.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Brilliant times...

Once upon a time there was a girl called Stix and a boy called the NC. They both had jobs, nice cars, they had breaks away, ate out lots, saw friends, went to lots of gigs and had a brilliant time.
They loved each other very much, and after a very very short time, they got married. And for a while, they carried on in their jobs, with their nice cars, having breaks away, eating out lots, seeing friends, going to gigs and having a brilliant time.

They bought a house which took up some of their money, and so they sold one of the cars, and shared the other.

Then they decided to have a family, and along came Mini, and simultaneously Stix got made redundant from her job. All of a sudden money became tighter, and it became important to spend time together as a family. So with one job down, one car down, the breaks away stopped, eating out stopped, seeing friends stopped, the gigs stopped, but they carried on having a brilliant time especially with a new little person in their lives. (Oh, but they changed the car to one a bit older, but more child friendly with a bigger boot for the buggy.)

A little while later, there was more news - a baby was coming! And with that news, came the announcement of the NC's redundancy. So 2 jobs down, oh, then the car went wrong, so got changed for something even older, all the breaks, gigs and restaurants (except for the odd Starbucks lunch and coffee) had long since stopped. Life was still brilliant, with some super-stellar bits even, but getting harder.

A new job was found, but with lots of commuting, then a second job was found to bring a bit more money in. The children got bigger, one started school, then things started to go really wrong.

Now? Well, a much better job has been started, the second job is still there but for pleasure and pocket money rather than necessity. The car is now an even older one, but it goes. The eating out is starting again...but at more family friendly restaurants, a holiday is planned, seeing friends has resumed, and Stix is going to a concert next week! And they've started therapy and things are on the up. So they're all still having a brilliant time, even though it's sometimes punctuated with not brilliant bits.

Yes, times have changed, we've changed, our family has changed. We'll keep on changing too, and moving from one thing to another, but I hope we'll keep on making memories and having a brilliant time.

Weekly Adoption Shout Out #WASO Week 12

Last week we had another good week on The Weekly Adoption Shout Out. It’s great to see new bloggers joining in, some from different parts of the world, adopters and adoptees. We always wanted WASO to be for all those in adoption, to give a broad spectrum of views and experiences. We hope you are all enjoying reading all the different posts, we definitely do.

This week’s theme is “Transition”, which we think can be interpreted in many different ways in the world of adoption. I’m sure you will no doubt enlighten us with your own slant on this topic. It is, as always, optional. Writing to a theme is not for everyone or other things may be happening that you need to blog about instead and that is fine, everyone is welcome to join in with their posts.

As both The Puffin Diaries and The Boy’s Behaviour are hosting, this linky will appear in both places but you only need to add it once below.

Also we now have a Facebook page, where we are sharing your posts and other WASO snippets so please hop over and LIKE us and join in.

It would be great if you could visit some of the other blogs that link up and please let them know who you are, and how you found them, you can even share your favourites on twitter or tweet your own post with the hashtag #WASO.

And please do add our badge to your own blog to let everyone know you take part in the Weekly Adoption Shout Out. Here's the code:
Weekly Adoption Shout Out



This linky list is now closed.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Cleaning the Seas - An Ecover Campaign

I like to think of my family as pretty environmentally friendly. We shop local where we can, and we're lucky to have some great farm shops very close by. We tend to eat seasonally (and love the opportunities to go fruit and veg picking). I meal plan weekly and rarely have food waste. When we do, we compost it. We plant bee friendly plants in our garden. We walk often, ditching the car. The NC and I shower, rather than having baths to save water. We take reusable bags to the shops. I've at times, made my own washing liquid, so as to avoid chemicals entering the water system. I buy environmentally friendly products (including Ecover). We re-use and recycle...and not just food packaging, but as much as we possibly can. We give clothes to charity to be re-sold and re-used, and we buy second hand clothes. We're currently looking at second hand furniture for our living room, why buy new if there is something out there that meets our needs, and will go to landfill if it's not bought? And we use Freegle and Freecycle - I'm even a moderator for my local Freegle group.
I'm sure we could do more too, but this is what we're capable of doing at the moment. Little things that are now second nature.

At 6 and 2, Mini and Dollop already know what is recyclable and what isn't. And understand the importance of taking litter home, rather than dropping it. In fact, Mini is the kind of child that would march up to someone and confront them if he saw them drop litter!
I think it's really important to give them gentle reminders about why we have to look after our environment, so that doing so becomes part of their lifestyle.

So, when Ecover sent me the following infographic, I really wanted to include it here on The Boy's Behaviour. As you'll know, our family LOVES going to the beach. We spend a lot of time at the seaside, all year round. We're very lucky, we don't see much litter on our favourite beach, and certainly never plastic bottles, but for our beach to stay this way, we need to tackle sea plastic, and this initiative of fishing for plastic and then recycling it has really struck me.

Cleaning the seas, one bottle at a time

Cleaning the seas, one bottle at a time. Visit The-Splash for more information and to read the pledge.


So if you're interested in finding out more about Ecover's Cleaning the Seas campaign, or the special sustainable plastic they've developed, have a click through.

Disclaimer: I have not been paid for writing this post, however, I am receiving a free bottle of Ecover Washing Up Liquid (which I use anyway) as a thank you.

Friday, 5 April 2013

To my darling daughter...

Dear Dollop

You are the most special little girl do you know that? You are a miracle, because after years and years of trying and treatment, Daddy and I never thought I'd be able to get pregnant.
The doctors gave us some hard choices, but we decided that it would be best to try to adopt a child, instead of spending lots of time in and out of hospital. After the lovely social workers said we were allowed to be a mummy and daddy, your brother Mini came home and we were thrilled to become a family. He was a cute, lively, happy boy and we adored him then as we do now.

A positive pregnancy test late the next year was a complete shock. I had to take 4 tests just to be sure, and even then I didn't believe it until you were in my arms. A beautiful, chubby little baby girl, with heaps of hair and sparkling eyes.

Life hasn't been easy for either of you has it? You see, before Mini came to live here, he had some tough times. He moved a couple of times. It was hard for him to leave his first mummy, and then his foster mummy too. He still has some memories of them, and he can remember the way he felt back then. It makes him sad sometimes, and other times he doesn't understand why he's sad...that makes him cross with himself, and cross that we're not helping him. And he gets cross that he's different to you.

And for you? Well, you put up with a lot...
You are such a happy, content little girl, full of cuddles and kisses for all of us. And you're very clever too, and that's why sometimes I worry - that you're so clever perhaps you understand too much, especially when you're not even 3 yet.
You know that Mini takes up lots of our time, but you never complain. Sometimes you speak over Mini to get your voice heard, but I think all brothers and sisters do that. Sometimes you hit him too, but usually only when he's hit you first...I think that's normal too (because me and my brother used to do it aswell!).
Mostly you watch Mini scream, shout, tantrum, hit, kick and cry. And then you give me cuddles and check if I'm OK. Sometimes you ask if Mini's OK too, and you stroke his back and tell him to 'cheer up' or 'have a cuddle'.
You are really clever and very kind when you do those things, and it makes me very proud.

I want you to know Dollop that even though we spend lots of time with Mini, me and Daddy love you very very much. And even though he gets angry sometimes, Mini loves you very much too - he tells us, and sometimes he tells you too. Most big brothers get a bit cross with their little sisters sometimes - that's OK. And it's OK that he annoys you sometimes too. He still loves you, and we know you love him - as you say, he's the bestest brother in the whole world ever! And we love Mini too, he's our little big man, and just about the most special big brother you could ever want.

I've written to Mini before, but this is especially for you Dollop. It won't always be like this I promise. We're seeing a special man who helps us and Mini play, and it's already helping Mini be more cuddly, comfy, relaxed and friendly with us. Perhaps one day you'll come too, but for now, you enjoy spending time with Nanna and Grandad (remember, grandad LOVES reading to you!!).
For now darling, remember that we all love you, and we love being with you and seeing you grow and change into a big girl, a very clever, chatty, big girl. Don't ever change my lovely.

Love you loads and loads (like chocolate toads)

Mummy xxx

Weekly Adoption Shout Out #WASO Week 11

Another fab week for #WASO last week with our theme of play. Great to see so many of you taking up the challenge of our themes, and very interesting to read through your posts.

No theme this week, it's your week off! But next week think about 'Transitions'. This could be transitions for your child, for adult adoptees, for birth parents, foster parents or adoptive parents, or for your wider family or community. Lots of possibilities and we know you'll rise to the challenge. However, don't worry if you haven't got a post on 'Transitions'. As always, the theme is optional.

As both The Puffin Diaries and The Boy’s Behaviour are hosting, this linky will appear in both places but you only need to add it once below.

Please show your support by visiting some of the other blogs that link up and please let them know how you found them. And please share your favourites on Twitter or tweet your own post with the hashtag #WASO.

If you wanted, you could add our badge to your own blog to let everyone know you take part in the Weekly Adoption Shout Out. Here's the code:
Weekly Adoption Shout Out




This linky list is now closed.