Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Feeling 'inspired' - thank you

I received a very exciting email this afternoon - the lovely folks at Britmums wrote to tell me that um, I've uh, been... shortlisted for a BIB award. I know! I can't believe it either!
For those not in the know, BIB stands for Brilliance in Blogging, and these prestigious awards are run by Britmums - the UK's biggest parent blogger network, with the help of generous sponsors.

So I'm writing to say a big big thank you to everyone who nominated me for the 'Inspire' category, because it's down to you that I'm in the final 16!
I'm up against some tough competition, with some amazing blogs, several of whom inspire me. I know you've already done an amazing thing by nominating me, but if you do feel you could vote for me now I'm in the shortlist, I'd be really grateful. Here's a link - just note that you can only vote once. And whilst you're there, you might also like to vote for The Adoption Social too - as um, yes, we've been shortlisted over there too for the 'Social' category. I bloody know! It's amazing!

I'm so proud to have even been nominated, and very grateful to you all. To be shortlisted is fantastic, and my feet haven't touched the ground since finding out...and after feeling particularly sorry for myself this morning, it's lovely to have a grin plastered on my face...I'm hoping it'll last for a good few weeks yet.

So that's it, if you want to vote, you have until 16th May to do so. Click the link below to do it.
Hence forth the campaign to keep me grinning like a loon begins...


Sunday, 27 April 2014

Mini is maturing

I haven't blogged so much recently. That's partly because for the last few weeks, things have actually been a little better, and I haven't felt the need to come and rant at you all about how challenging life is.

We've made a few little changes...

We now have guinea pigs. We'd thought some time ago about a dog, but we were all quite adamant we wanted a rescue dog. However Dollop's age is a problem and we just couldn't find a rescue dog (despite looking for months) that would be suitable for our family.

Dollop's empathy is developing, as we hear her talking to Bo about how hard it is to come out of the hutch for cuddles when she's been so comfortable inside, and how difficult it is when you're young and scared, her gentle reassurances are mature and heartwarming to hear.
So instead we have 2 baby guinea pigs. April is Mini's and Bo is Dollop's. We've had them for 3 weeks now and so far the novelty hasn't worn off. The children like helping to clean them out, love to handle them, and sit outside talking to them, listening to them 'wheek' and watching them popcorn around their hutch.
Mini's kindness and gentle touch are improving, as he sits outside the hutch talking to April, or runs around the garden seeking out the juiciest dandelion leaves. He loves the responsibility of filling up the water bottle each day, and cutting up fresh food for them.

We kept super busy over Easter. Instead of my normal timetabled spreadsheeted plan, I made a tick list of activities and stuck it on the backdoor. The rules were that we had to agree on what happened each day, and we didn't expect to tick everything off. The children and I chose one or more each day TOGETHER, instead of me planning it all. Except for a couple that were actual organised events, we chose according to the weather and what we all fancied. This worked well and gave both children a sense of achievement when we ticked something off. It could have gone wrong of course - there were opportunities for disagreements, disappointment if we failed to complete what we'd set out to do, but actually it didn't go wrong - phew! And it meant we got some things in - clothes shopping and haircuts - that they didn't really want to do, but wanted to get ticked off ;-) (In case you wondered, we
had 'Eat cake for dinner', 'Design your perfect bedroom', 'Do a photographic scavenger hunt', 'Make snack necklaces', 'Go to the theatre', 'See The Muppets' and much more!)

We've stopped stressing over bedtime. Routine is good for children - of course it is. Mini thrives on chaos, which in turn makes him more chaotic, so routine is vital in our house. But bedtime is a battle that we can't have anymore. Dollop goes to bed first - usually between 6.30 and 7pm. Most of the time Mini is in bed by 8pm, sometimes a bit later. Yes it's late for a 7 year old, yes is takes up some of the evening when the NC and I like to chill and relax. But ultimately Mini needs this time with us, and if we try to get him to bed earlier it turns into a screaming, stressed warzone around here, and ends up with him going up and down until 10pm, leaving him an overtired little wotsit the next day. Remember pick your battles, it's taken us a while to back down on this battle, but I'm glad we have.

We've spent loads of time together. That's with and without the NC - I'm really making more of an effort to just be with the kids, instead of tidying/cooking/cleaning etc. And we're making a point of going out or doing something together at the weekends - we're missing family again who we're not seeing as much off, but our own little family is benefitting from this strong togetherness.

Mini is maturing at a great rate in fact. He seems to be more secure at the moment, and is just enjoying being 7. He loves Beavers, he's developing an interest in football, he's had guitar lessons at school, he likes the freedom of playing in the garden, we can trust him to play in the garden (without decapitating the flowers, climbing on the shed, throwing stones at the neighbour's greenhouse or vaulting the fences), and with all of this comes increased affection for me, a more helpful child, and one who is more accepting of praise.

So that's where we are right now. It feels pretty good. I'm going to enjoy it as long as I can...

Thursday, 3 April 2014

The Things We Do: White Light

I'm no therapist. I don't practise meditation properly. But I read lots about meditation when I was younger and still use a few techniques to help clear my mind. I'd like to share one with you today...
I use this sometimes when I'm feeling low, or after an argument, or even in the middle of Mini having a meltdown - I can practise this in the same room as him, so I'm still nearby. Sometimes it takes just a few minutes, sometimes it takes half and hour.

This is something you can do with your children if they are willing and able. When I first started, I used to have to lay down in a quiet space, but now can do this almost anywhere with any level of noise (which is just as well, as there aren't many quiet spaces these days!).

Lay (or sit), and close your eyes. Imagine your body being full of brown light - no bones, no muscle, no organs, just dirty brown light.
Slowly inhale, and as you do, see that breath bringing white light with it, up through the core of your body, slowly spreading through your body.
As you slowly exhale, watch the brown light gradually disappear down your arms, and out through your fingers.
Inhale again, bringing more white, clean, calm light into your body.
Exhale, and feel the brown light rise out of your head, leaving your mind clear, and only full of white. As you concentrate on only those lights moving in and out of your body, your breathing will regulate.

Continue this until all brown light has disappeared and your body and mind are full of white - clear and clean.
Take a few more slow breaths, and slowly open your eyes and refocus on your surroundings.

I also use this sometimes when I can't sleep. It doesn't always help me drop off, but it stops my mind whirring quite so much.
If you try it, let me know how you get on...

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

The Things We Do: Plan school holidays

With Easter holidays fast approaching, I wanted to share something that I do that makes our school holidays slightly easier.
It's not a magic wonder cure for all of Mini's issues. It doesn't stop the meltdowns. But, it helps me feel in control and when I feel in control then I can manage the meltdowns and other issues a little better. Especially at the moment, when I'm feeling particularly low.

Apologies to my regular readers, many of you will have read about my planning tendencies before - but for those of you new to The Boy's Behaviour...

I plan. I draw up a timetable for the entire holiday period, with morning and afternoon slots for each day. And I try to plan something in for each slot - sometimes that's a whole morning's activity, sometimes it's just an hour's craft, maybe even a ten minute puzzle together. I believe that my children need some time to use their own imagination and play without me leading that activity, so I don't fill every single minute with stuff, but I'm there all the time so that if they want me in their play, I can be.
This time I've started by drawing up a list of things that we'd like to do, including things that we already have booked - a circus skills workshop and a story telling session at one of the local theatres. Now I'll look at slotting them into a plan. Nothing (bar the events I've booked) is set in stone, and we can change them depending on the weather, other plans that might come up, illness, mood etc.

I have been known to make up proper packs, with instructions and everything needed for a certain activity - science experiments, crafts, recipes. I made them all in one go, so when it came to the holidays, I could just pull out an activity with very little preparation.

Anal - possibly. Control freakish - almost certainly. Essential to my sanity - abso-bloody-lutely!

If you're interested, I have Pinterest boards set up and regularly add to them when I find things my kids might like:
Kids games and activities
Kids crafts
Kids cooking
And lots of other things I think my kids might like...

Mini? More like a Lamborghini!

Things are bad here right now.

I'm now on anti-depressants, and I'm pleased to say that at the moment they are at least taking the edge off of the all consuming black thoughts. Those black thoughts have been very very dark at times, and it's scared me. I have been on such tablets several times before, but this time has been different. Because of the way my dad died, these dark thoughts feel terrifying. I know that I'm lucky...lucky is that the right word? Probably not, but I was able to go to my doctor, share my feelings and thoughts and get help - dad didn't, so that already puts me in a different place to him. But I feel vulnerable,  and when those dark thoughts are there, my vulnerability allows them to seep deep into every waking thought.
I have been unable to drive on my own, for fear of what I might do whilst in the car. I'm OK with the children in the car, my strong mother's protective instinct kicks in and the incessant chatter of my three year old protects me from thinking - drowning out the dark with talk of princesses, fairies and daffodils, but when I'm on my own, it's different.

We've finally had a referral to a child psychiatrist after Mini reported voices in his head telling him to
do bad things. Luckily the psychiatrist feels it's not psychotic, but a typical attachment based reaction. After a long talk, where we ran out of time, it seems that Mini appears to have what the psych referred to as a 'coercive pattern'. He's either angry, comfort seeking or fearful most of the time, but displays each one of those in the same way, and so it's super super difficult for us to read him at any time. Timing will be crucial, and the next step is to get some more support on timing and attunement. It was comforting to hear that we are not causing any of these issues, we're not making them worse, and it seems that we're unlikely to make things any better right now. This pattern is a sticky one, hard to get out of, but it is possible, and our journey will be a long, rocky one. All the work on attunement we've done before is great, but not enough.

Our journey was likened a little to driving.
We've been on the course, we've passed our driving tests, and we're well equipped to drive a Ford Escort. We do that with Dollop most days.
But Mini isn't an Escort. He was never going to be an Escort - with his trauma, his lifestyle, his beginnings....he was always going to drive faster and harder. He's a Lamborghini.
We've done lots of advanced driving courses, but still, getting into that Lamborghini is different. The bite point on the clutch is hard to find. The slightest nudge on the accelerator sends you from 0-60 in 2 seconds flat, and before you know it, you're driving around at 100 miles an hour, but slight taps on the brakes make the car stop dead. He is frequently retuned (as his knowledge/understanding change, recede and grow), and so you can never get used to the drive of the car. No amount of advanced driving courses can prepare you for that.

So now we wait to hear back from the Child Psychiatrist, and our Social Worker, and we continue to see our counsellor for more help. And in the meantime, the Social Worker is going to arrange some life story work too as Mini has been asking many many questions about his birth family. We can answer them, but it's felt that Mini may blame us or become angry with us if we share it, so the Social Worker will 'take the flack' instead of risking damaging our relationship.

Waiting....for professionals to get back to us.
Waiting....for tablets to kick in properly.
Waiting....for more help, more counselling, more therapy.
Waiting....all the time.