Sunday, 22 February 2015

How far have we come?

A year ago we were struggling. We were seeing a counsellor regularly - both the NC and I had individual sessions, and we had joint sessions (sometimes including Mini too).

Mini had moved schools not long before and although he was settling well there, it wasn't having the huge impact at home that we wanted.

Spelling test day was awful, and Mini went from bouncing downstairs all enthusiastic, to argumentative, slow and in denial about going to school. He dreaded that day of the week.

The NC was having to go away infrequently for work - something that had never happened before. On the day of, or following his return he'd be met by an angry little boy, intent on punishing his father for creating these feelings of loss within.

Just over a year ago, I was washing Mini's school trousers every day through either wetting or soiling AND his bedsheets every night, as he endured horrific nightmares, and felt anxious about school everyday.

Last year, like every year I would dread half term. I'd make charts, and games and plan to make sure we had things arranged (even if it was just movies or resting) to help me feel more in control.

I was falling down a big black hole of despair. Further into depression than ever before, with the black dog constantly by my side, or -as it often felt- sitting on my head, weighing me down and clouding my judgement.

It wasn't all bad though...A year ago, Mini called me the best mum ever for making his some cool cupcakes to take into school on his birthday (and first day).

So let's have a look at just how far we've come...

We've finished our sessions with our counsellor. We could benefit from more individual sessions, but we're coping without. We're now in the middle of a package of monthly sessions to catch up and keep in touch, but last time we finished early as we had nothing to discuss with her...things are going THAT well.

Mini is much more comfortable now at school. It's like he's always been there and he loves his teachers - yes, even though we've got another job share set! He likes going to school. He likes playing footie with his mates. He loves football club each week. He is part of the class.

Spelling test day is no longer feared. In fact, I don't even know when spelling test day is anymore!

The NC hasn't been away too much this year, but the most recent episode - this week in fact, was completely different. On his return, I'd let Mini stay up a little later to make sure he saw daddy before he went to bed (well, it is half term), and instead of being an angry, red faced person, he was kind and cuddly and just pleased to have his dad home.

Mini's trousers have been much better since moving schools - and although he has the odd accident, and went through a soiling period too, I'm not washing daily through wetting, but from muddy knees instead.
I rarely have to wash his bed sheets, and have to remember to change them weekly like everyone else's!
I did not dread half term! Even though the NC was away for a couple of days. I was rested before it started, happy to spend time with the children and not at all daunted about entertaining them.

I'm now on anti-depressants. And happy about it. It took time and several attempts to find the right one for me, but I'm feeling better little by little. I know it's going to be a long journey, but I'm confident in my ability to recognise my own depressive signs, and confident that I have an approachable GP.

And I'm pleased to report that Mini still thinks I'm the best mum ever. Even more so for allowing him to have a guinea pig, creating a guinea pig cake for his birthday and letting him get Minecraft.

So that's how far we've come. I'm in the right place to recognise progress, and hope that we continue to make more.

Sunday, 8 February 2015


Do you ever make things to eat that you're pretty sure the children won't like? And that's OK, because actually you don't want to share it?

Yes well. Today I made flapjack, a dairy free flapjack from my new favourite recipe book 'Deliciously Ella' by Ella Woodward. It's made with nut butter, and I used peanut butter purposely because no-one else in my house likes it. I'm finding it pretty tough this cows milk free diet, especially as we have lots of things in the house at the moment that I can't eat, so how great would it be to have something that only I like?

Except, it turns out that when it's in this flapjack EVERYONE likes peanut butter! Yes, that means EVERYONE likes the flapjack.

Guess I'll have to share then. *sulks*

Monday, 2 February 2015

Recipe time: Vietnamese style veg and noodles

In my last post I mentioned that one of the things that is bringing Mini and I closer at the moment is our shared love of cooking. I also mentioned that he's becoming more adventurous, and want to share a recipe with you that 6 months ago I would never have cooked as a family meal because I know it would have been rejected...not only does Mini now eat it, but he can make it too. (And the bonus is that it's vegetarian and milk-free for me!)

Vietnamese Style Veg and Noodles

1 red chilli, roughly chopped
1 stalk of lemongrass, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tbsp. soy sauce
2 limes, juiced and zested
2 tbsp. sesame oil
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 packs of mange tout/baby corn
1 red pepper, sliced
Wholewheat noodles - enough for 3/4 people.
2 tbsp. fresh chopped coriander (optional)

Using a pestle and mortar, grind the chilli, lemongrass and garlic to a thick paste. Add the soy sauce, lime juice, lime zest and half the sesame oil, mix together.

Heat the rest of the sesame oil, along with the olive oil in a wok or large pan and stir fry the vegetables for about 8 minutes, until just cooked through.

Cook the noodles as per the instructions, then add to the vegetables, along with the chilli mixture.

Continue to stir fry for another minute or two until the sauce is heated through, then serve. Add a little chopped coriander if you like.

Make it different:
If your kids won't eat it with chilli in, then just serve them the noodles and veg, adding the chilli mix after you've dished theirs up.
Last time we made this, I added a few salted peanuts to mine for extra crunch.

Adapted from a recipe found in Tesco magazine, January 2015.

What's working at the moment

Things have been so up and down recently, and I'm still struggling with problems with my wrist, so typing isn't always easy but here I am...

Mini had a new teacher at the start of the year - his previous teacher for this year was covering maternity leave, so in fact the new teacher is returning after having a baby. Mini however, hadn't met her before so was - understandably - anxious. She's only come back 4 days a week, so he has another teacher too. Yes...another job share class. His third set of job share teachers since he started school.
Now, regular readers will know that previously Mini has struggled with multiple teachers, however, we're really pleased that he seems happy with his new teachers and is coming home more enthused than ever about education.
Today he's (well, Dollop too actually) had a visiting theatre company in school and has talked lots about it since coming home. And he got his homework book out and is working on his maths as I type - without us asking/prompting him, and 3 days before it's due in!

The down days are still there. Since his birthday at the beginning of the year, Mini has been hard work at times but we're finding strategies to help...

We're definitely having lots more of it. Mini's maturing and his sense of humour is developing. He is hilarious and he gets our jokes...most of the time. We can take the mickey out of each other and he is much less sensitive than ever before.
I can't drive and although it makes me feel pretty useless - I can't even do the school run, I am finding that I'm much less stressed. Less stress means I can enjoy myself more.

I've written about cooking before, and shared a few recipes too. Mini is really getting into cooking, loves being in the kitchen and is more adventurous with his meals too. We've recently made all sorts of dishes as I'm coming to terms with a milk-free diet. Mini is relishing this and becoming thoughtful about what mummy can and can't have. We've bought some new recipe books and I've caught him poring over them deciding what looks good.

Guinea PigsWe had some new, unexpected recent additions. So we currently have a litter of guinea pigs and their mum in a large cage in our living room. Mini is so caring - he helps feed them, clean them out and loves giving them cuddles. He is gentle with them and talks to them in a beautiful sing song voice that makes my heart melt.
I know that things change and we have to have new tools to use all the time, but for now, I'm really pleased and feeling much more confident in my parenting, knowing what works.

Oh, and I'm super proud to say that last week, Mini got 'Star of the Week' for his class - and for especially good listening and helping his classmates *grins*.