Thursday, 15 May 2014

Today I deserve cake!

I've been having counselling for a little while now - some attachment focused counselling initially for the NC and I (but we're bringing Mini in soon). And some individual sessions for me - all with the same counsellor which makes it easier all round. She has an overall view of family life and how it impacts on me, and she's starting to know how I tick, which helps her understand my reactions to the family stuff.

Today, I had a session on my own, and after a quick catch up with Ada about the week, we began talking about how Mini coped with Dollop's birthday yesterday. In fact, how Mini's coped with a number of parties - for Baby Whizz and Weezy's dad - Pops at the weekend, and then Dollop's birthday too. Or rather, as we usually do in my session, we reflected on what I'd done that enabled Mini to cope.
I still feel very uncomfortable doing this - not the reflection itself, but taking credit for how well that Mini managed the situations. However, this is Ada's role - to help me improve my own confidence in my parenting abilities because quite frankly that confidence is non-existent when it comes to Mini.

I find it particularly difficult to take the credit for the good days, without also taking the blame for the bad days. Several professionals have now confirmed to the NC and I that Mini's behaviour* is not our fault, that he is wired this way, that he'd be this challenging no matter who adopted him, that he has a coercive pattern, that he has suffered trauma, that his early life has had this massive impact on him which makes his reactions what they are.

However, it simply doesn't come naturally to me to accept praise for the good bits, without taking some of the blame for the less desirable bits. That feels a bit like saying 'I'm a perfect parent and I do everything right, all the crappy behaviour is because of the things his birth mother did' or 'When he's good he's my child, but when he's not he's hers...'. Both feel wrong, because despite his start in life, I don't blame his birth mother at all, she was inadequately supported and helped, and with more input perhaps this situation could have been avoided.

And of course not all the credit for Mini's 'good times' is down to me - it's down to Mini himself, his frame of mind, how good school's been that day, it's down to the NC, down to Dollop, sometimes circumstantial and sometimes - for all we know, down to which direction the wind is blowing and what phase the moon is in!

Anyway, back to today. Despite my discomfort (which Ada recognises, but pushes...naturally!), we did make headway, and I could see that some of the things that we'd done leading up to these birthdays and parties really have had a positive impact and have helped Mini cope with what he freely admits is usually difficult for him - having the spotlight on another member of the family.
And - those things were my idea, and my ideas worked! What's more, these things came naturally to me. I didn't have an epiphany; there were no new strategies to employ. When I reflected today with Ada's help, I can see that all I did was naturally respond to Mini's faint signs of unease. And what's more, because I have no recollection of those faint signs, perhaps this means I'm finally becoming more attuned to Mini and his needs.
And being able to identify those things that worked well, means I can use them again and again if I need to.

It's no secret that over the last little while I've been feeling really very rough. I'm no better now, but
these reflections have lifted me today, and whilst I have a long way to go - we all do, I feel justified in giving myself a pat on the back (and treating myself to a cuppa and a piece of cake!).

Sunday, 11 May 2014

A bank holiday picnic...

You'll know by now that the seaside is one of our favourite places to be - whatever our moods, the sea air, and the heaving crash or gentle roll of the waves can calm us, and provide respite from the stresses of life.
As well as heading there on the not so good days, we go there on the good days to make memories, have fun and relax, so when there was warm weather forecast for Bank Holiday Monday, where better to head? And what better to do there than picnic? There was no question this was to be our plan.

The NC would be in charge of handling the bucket and spade packing, the retrieval of the picnic hamper from the loft and the cool box from the shed. Oh yes, no plastic bags or rucksacks here, and if we were going all out with the hamper, then hey, why not go the whole hog and take the barbeque too?! So he was also in charge of packing the charcoal, barbeque and appropriate tools.

As it happens, I was also chosen to be a #MorrisonsMum, and so armed with a handful of vouchers (thanks Morrisons and Britmums), I headed to my nearest Morrisons (which handily is less than half a mile away) to buy not only our usual shopping, but a few extra bits for said barbeque.

So in went the lettuce, tomatoes and cucumber, a couple of packets of peppers, some Jersey Royals for a potato salad, some strawberries and a pineapple. Everywhere I looked were new little signs; 'I'm Cheaper' they boasted. Some lovely looking ready made mocktails - Mojito and Strawberry Dacquiri would provide liquid refreshment. In went the loo rolls and teabags, the cereal and the cheese. Then biscuits and frozen peas, cling film and washing up liquid.

Up and down the aisles, these little yellow pointers stuck out from the shelves letting you know where prices had been reduced...and many of them on things I actually buy anyway, so I know I'm going to be saving money.

I'm lucky in that I get to shop pretty early in the morning - I usually drop the kids off at school/nursery and go straight onto the supermarket, and so they're well stocked, and not too busy.
Shopping done I headed home, preparing to go back to Morrisons on Sunday morning to pick up some most of the supermarkets around here (and we have all of the major ones) Morrisons has it's different counters, and the fresh fish counter is always full, fresh and laid out nicely. But I didn't want to get it too soon...

Now food planning. Salad bought, fish planned, I needed something else, something celebratory, something different....

Stuffed Layer Loaf
A vegetarian loaf, filled with roasted peppers and onions, layered with homemade pesto and mozzarella
You need:
A round loaf (Morrisons do this lovely sesame seed cob)
6-8 bell peppers, deseeded, cut into large pieces
2 mozzarella balls, sliced
3tbs pesto (I used homemade wild garlic pesto, but any will do)
2 onions, cut into chunks.
A little olive oil

First, get your vegetables roasting, lay in a roasting tray, drizzle a little oil over then roast until tender.

Cut the top off the loaf, reserving for later. Scoop the bread out of the bottom part of the loaf, leaving a shell (but keep the bread you take out).

Spread pesto inside the loaf, then when the vegetables are cool enough to handle, layer them inside the shell, followed by a layer of mozzarella. Alternate until all veggies and mozzarella are used up.

If there is space left in the shell, then break up the bread you removed earlier and stuff back on top of the layers to fill the shell. Pop the lid back on.

Wrap tightly in several layers of cling film. Leave in the fridge overnight.

Et voila...on the morning of your barbeque, your loaf will be ready to slice into wedges.

All in all this should cut into 8 pieces. It works out at a little over 50p per portion which, for a celebratory loaf, filled with delicious veggies is pretty good. (Though I did already have the pesto and olive oil at home).

So on the Sunday we picked up our fish - salmon for the children and me, a stuff mackerel for the NC, and on the Monday with everything prepared and packed, we headed to the seaside. And of course, first things first - the barbeque was lit straight away...

Lunchtime - fish, salad, layer loaf, grilled corn, mango salsa. Mmm.
Then pudding - marshmallow, strawberry and pineapple kebabs on the cooling coals...
Oh, and of course playtime - jumping the waves, writing in the sand, sandcastle building, digging, and collecting precious shells and sea glass...
What a wonderful day - the sun shone, we all got a little bit browner, the kids enjoyed playing (only one tantrum and one stamping on sandcastles moment) and we had delicious food - thanks Morrisons, and Britmums too. If you want to find out more about Morrisons - you can just here.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

A bad day

I'm having a bad day today. I woke up feeling sick, with a headache and awful ear/jaw/face ache that I've been having for 2 months now. Medication isn't working, so I have other appointments to attend now.
And I feel like my anti-depressants are no longer helping, especially since doubling the dose.
I know they're not a magic cure; and indeed the nickname 'Happy Pills' really isn't right, because - certainly in my case - they don't make me happy, they just take the edge off. But they're not even doing that at the moment, and in all honesty, life isn't too bad right now. I hate to think how I'll feel if we start facing the same challenges that we've had before. However, I'm in the hands of a professional, and she - the doctor - wants me to stay with them a little longer before we try something different.

So for now, I'm coping one day at a time, but on bad days, I really miss the edge-softening properties of those pills that had started to help and make me feel closer to being on top of things.

Those bad days, like today, thankfully aren't too frequent, but that just means that when they do hit, they hit harder.

I won't go in to the ins and outs of why it's been a bad day. Suffice to say that I'm grateful that the kids are in bed, I'm grateful that Papa Johns has a delivery service, and I'm glad that the NC can help me in the morning!

Sunday, 4 May 2014

A random act of kindness

Sometimes, it's just nice to surprise everyone isn't it?
So this week, my surprise and random act of kindness was this...
And it went down a treat!