If I could give you one gift it would be to see yourself through my eyes and then you would see how special you really are.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Ghost of Christmas yet to Come.

Not quite the image of the grim reaper as styled in Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol, but as I sit watching the flames flickering in the grate, finishing off the last of the mulled wine my own ghost of Christmas yet to come, leads me to dream of what I hope are our future Christmas' will be.

Now that number four has joined us the magic of Christmas is guaranteed for another 6 or even 10 years and beyond that I contentedly dream of my children grown into young adults with their friends in tow sitting around the extended dining table or curled on sofas in front of the fire or wood burner drinking mulled wine and cider, eating party food, cakes and chocolate. Playing silly party games, pulling crackers, singing and laughing and falling in love. With a 12 year age gap between the youngest and oldest I dream that as the last teenager is ready to leave, grandchildren will hopefully be appearing from his older siblings and so the magic starts all over again.

If my dreams come true we will have happy Christmas' year after year. Each year will change but I just know that our home will always be full of family and friends. Which means lots of home cooked food, hot drinks and fizz. Every room will be filled with Christmas cheer, tinsel, glitter, twinkling lights, music and laughter. There will be board games involving screaming, Pictionary and UNO no doubt firm favourites and silly parlour games like guess the celebrity or hum that tune. Then in the quiet times we will sit and watch old favourites on the telly, Die Hard, Star Wars and Indiana Jones eating our way through tins of chocolates and drinking copious cups of tea or mugs of hot chocolate.

Dreams these maybe but our number 4 has settled in like he has always been here. He has coped with all our visitors, all our visiting, the excitement of Father Christmas and the celebrations of the birth of Jesus. I know we may have difficulties ahead but based on this year, I am certain that Christmas will be full of love and laughter.

Friday, 27 December 2013

Happy Holidays

Christmas is the only holiday where we spend so much time with family and friends, somehow we find the time for lunch, early evening drinks and long walks with the dogs followed by mugs of steaming hot chocolate topped with swirls of whipped cream and marshmallows.

In the lead up to the holidays I find myself slowly working my way through the Christmas Radio Times looking for the family movies we can watch squeezed together on the sofa, a fire blazing in the grate, a tin of chocolates being passed from lap to lap and mulled wine and cider fill the grown up mugs, of course with DVDs and so much available on the TV now, our lives are not dictated by the schedulers like they were when I was a child. However, there is I think nothing better than settling in to watch Indiana Jones, 101 Dalmations even Die Hard and if there is a break for the adverts we can pop to the loo or refill our mugs.

This time is so important to reinforce the ties that bind families together, a board game, shared breakfasts, lunches and dinners, baking biscuits, mixing Rocky road and icing cakes. Walks over fields, times spent helping those less fortunate, singing and dancing, laughing and debating. Perfect.

Of course there has also been bickering, aggravation and irritation. Today I took child 4 out to give the other three some much needed time without toddler tantruming, this also helped my sanity as on his own, he is an angel. He has just learned how to open the other children's bedroom doors - oh dear!
But, there has also been train track building, holding hands, teaching of Christmas carols.

A first of many more holidays, a house full of my four children for years to come and hopefully in the future their children too.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

'Twas the night before Christmas

Our first Christmas Eve as a family of six. Stockings are hung, carols have been sung, the First Christmas and 'Twas the Night before Christmas have been read and milk, mince pies and a carrot have been left out for Father Christmas. All is quiet throughout the house. This is my favourite moment of the whole Christmas season, the anticipation of what is to come.

The children have been bursting with excitement and are now tucked in their beds, all asleep no doubt dreaming of a little fat man dressed in red, riding in a sleigh pulled by reindeer.  How amazing is that, that belief in magic, children have this amazing ability to see the magic that surrounds them, the magic that we don't even notice. Mine know to look for a rainbow when the sun shines through a rainstorm, they know to look for signs of fairies in the woods and to believe I. Father Christmas no matter their age - after all if you don't believe in him how can he slip down the chimney to deliver presents. 

What a way to look at life, without rain there can't be a rainbow, without an imagination how can you dream big dreams and if you don't believe in magic how can anything magical ever happen.

Merry Christmas to one and all.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

We believe........

Yesterday was child 3's nativity dress rehearsal, she was a beautiful angel, you know dressed in a simple long white tunic, the bottom and the sleeves edged in tinsel. I love a nativity, it really reminds us of what Christmas is all about. After the performance, the Headteacher announced that there was a very special visitor, the children had to be very, very quiet and listen really hard. The whole hall fell silent, there was a tinkling sound and you could see the children take a deep breath, looking at each other their faces pink, their eyes wide and huge, was it? Could it be? Then another tinkling sound yes rippled around the room an all their heads turned to the doors, watching, waiting, expectant, all holding their breath. Father Christmas arrived!

The excitement in the school hall was so tangible, you could feel it. The gasp of delight then as the big man in red came in through the doors, the squeals of delight from everyone, regardless of their age. After his visit the children had a run around in the playground, all of them went hunting for a sleigh and reindeer, was it on the school field, on the roof or hiding in the car park. Of course. Father Christmas would have hidden his sleigh with Christmas magic otherwise the whole town would have been clamouring to come into school.

Believing is something we encourage in our family, if you don't believe then nothing will happen and this stands for virtually everything that may head our way now and in the future. "Everything will be alright in the end" is the mantra to be heard echoing through the rooms of our home.

This belief for me is the magic that surrounds our family, no matter what may happen, we can resolve it and move forward, life has a tendency of surprising us, those old adages of be careful what you wish for and sometimes you get what you need rather than what you want are very true. But, by believing that all will work out in the end is definitely the way forward, after all sometimes life can really surprise us with something wonderful. Perhaps we should travel our days being thankful for all we have, than for wanting what we don't.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Almost peace.

At last, a whole day without child 3 shouting at me............
Since child 4 has arrived, well following the honeymoon period, it seems that in child 3's eyes at least I haven't been able to get anything right. Some days the shouting and shrieking, followed by stomping and slamming of doors seemed a constant. But, today I have just realised that we have not had any of those happen. If anything she has been a model child. She has not bothered her baby brother and if she is trying to "help" and I ask her not to she has happily obliged. Now is this because it's only 10 sleeps until Father Christmas visits or is it because the little green monster that has been sitting on her shoulder is beginning to fade away? I am hoping it's the disappearance of the monster myself and I pray that he does not make a return visit on Boxing Day, we shall see.

It's been a tough few weeks for child 3, for the last 7 years she has been the baby, everyone has spoiled her and of course there has always been someone around to give her some attention whenever she has needed it. The arrival of child 4 must have upset her life a lot, after all mummy was now being dictated to by a little man, every time anyone came to visit, it was to see child 4 and as he is so charming he has usurped her position of centre of attention. Tough going for an adult, talk about being a precocious 7 year old.

I think that we have passed the point of seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, we are now passing through, ready to feel the sun on our faces!

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Christmas is coming.......

We've had a lovely week so far, we've visted a reindeer parade, been to a carol concert in a cathedral (child 3 was singing) and have done more Christmas baking. The mince pies have been baked and frozen and the ruby red cranberry sauce is all jarred up ready for the big day.

It was child 3's carol concert in the cathedral, it was beautiful! the setting was perfect and the mix of choirs from different schools, all of different age groups were uplifting. It was an opportunity to stop and let the spirit of Christmas sweep over, reminding us that Christmas is not just about gifts and spending vast amounts of money.  The chair of the local council spoke from the pulpit about the 500 children currently in care in our county. Not all these children can or will be adopted, some will be in long term foster care as they are probably too old or too damaged to be adopted. We have one of these children and by next Spring he will be ours and no longer classed as a child in care. It makes me sad to think that there are more children just like our number 4 who will probably be safe this Christmas, but will they be off to visit Christmas events,  baking Christmas goodies possibly not and they certainly won't be with their families celebrating a time of family together.

 I listened to woman's hour earlier this week where people talked about Christmas and the family politics. As a family, certainly on my side we are so lucky that we don't have to worry, there have never been any demands as to how we spend Christmas, my brother and sister have families of their own and live a 3 hour drive away. It's easier for them to stay at home, although if they wanted to come we have the space and certainly the food to cater for them all. We get together through out the year and talk on the phone or we email or Facebook, now in the era of social media staying in touch is really really easy. As my parents and aunt are local they will come here, it's much easier than us traipsing with the children and presents to theirs and it's so much less stressful. So we will have a houseful, I just keep reminding myself that it's just a big roast dinner and I find that I don't worry any more. Mum usually helps out with a ham, some nibbles and some mince pies and my Aunt will bring some very nice wine.

Our child 4 will be spending his first Christmas with us his forever family, he will take part in Christmas Eve mass,  drinks with friends, he will help hang the stockings and put out the milk and mince pie for Father Christmas and a carrot for Rudolph, maybe scatter magical reindeer food in the front garden. We will keep an eye on NORAD's Santa watch via the internet and then a reading of the nativity story and 'Twas the night before Christmas" before being tucked up in bed. It will no doubt be an early morning, stocking gifts will be ripped open to a cacophony of excited voices shrieking with delight. Christmas music will fill the air as will the scent of toasted panettone and the turkey roasting away. The aroma of mulled cider will pervade each room as will the spices from the Christmas pudding. Corks will pop, door bells will ring. More gifts, toasts, crackers snapping. Lunch will be a noisy wonderful affair. Maybe followed by a noisy board game and a walk with the dog. More gifts, then for those, (the children usually) tea and then it's time to curl up in front of the fire with the Quality Street tin to watch Doctor Who.

A house full of noise, laughter, food, family and love. Perfect!

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Oh Christmas tree

It's the lead up to Christmas that is the best bit, I love the lighting of an advent candle each week, stir up Sunday, the baking and freezing of mince pies and the preserving cranberry sauce all ready for the 25th. Then there are carol concerts, nativity plays and Christmas parties all building the anticipation.

It's been a week of Christmas trees, we have done potato printing, made Christmas tree shaped cakes and been to purchase a tree. Child 3 was given the important duty of choosing the tree, the only prerogative was that it was taller than me. So she chose that saddest looking tree in the room, we tried to encourage her to choose one of the more bushy styles but no she wanted the one she wanted. On the way home in the car she explained her choice saying that the tree she had chosen looked so very sad and no one else would buy it, so it would be left all alone. Despite smiling at her gorgeous comments I was hoping that once the tree was decorated if would not look so very sad.

The decorating of the house has always been an important family event and I have many happy memories when I was young of decorating the Christmas tree and hanging plastic blow up trees and Father Christmas' in our living room and I hope that I am passing this on to my children. Each year I buy a new decoration for each child so that when they leave home they can take their decorations with them, taking a little piece of family with them. So today they unwrapped their collection of decorations and hung them on our sorrowful tree, as I entwined the hundreds of lights through the branches child 4 watched and the surprise and amazement on his face when I flicked the switch and the tiny lights flickered into life was truly magical, he then began to try and blow them out

Our home is full of homemade bunting trimmed in the shapes of Rudolph the reindeer, Christmas trees and Christmas stockings, fabric wreathes and a beautiful knitted nativity, all care of my amazing mum. Tiny droplets of lights edge the eaves of the front of our home, welcoming us even on the darkest and wettest of nights and a comical Rudolph head nods hello from his wreath on the front door. More twinkling lights fill the house and a roaring fire is often flaring away in the living room, the house smells of Christmas, the Christmas baking is in full flow, puddings, mince pies, cake and cookies. The children will stud oranges with cloves and mulled wine and cider will soon be  simmering permeating the house with is warm scent inviting everyone who knocks across the threshold.

Christmas is about family, friends, laughter and giving. We share so much over the coming weeks and  I think that it's the only holiday of the year where we spend time as a family, slowing our lives down to just being together, curling up in front of the fire watching a family movie with a tin of chocolates, playing a raucous board game or walking the dog over the fields returning home for hot chocolate, whippy cream and marshmallows. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year.

"Elf or Pictionary anyone?"

Friday, 6 December 2013

Being bullied

Bullying a tough issue to crack I think. Oh yes it is so easy to say that bullying is an unacceptable behaviour and all school have anti-bullying policies to ensure that all cases of bullying are dealt with quickly and appropriately but bullying  can be a slow, insidious behaviour that creeps up on its target. It gradually strips self esteem so at first the target doesn't necessarily recognise what is happening, by the time it becomes apparent those involved don't know how to break the cycle and either stop the bullying or who they should go to to ask for help.
The child being bullied sees themselves as a victim and so their behaviour becomes that of a victim and they gradually isolate themselves from all those around them, they become defensive or aggressive, which of course means that other children instinctively wish to avoid them, thus making the cycle self fulfilling, leaving the target feeling alone, disliked and even suicidal.

Much research about the victims of bullying show that those who are different say in size, weight or looks are more likely to be targets of bullies, just as the bullies themselves often have issues in the background often at home meaning that they need to be in control or the aggressor in different situations. This research also indicated that victims are more likely to suffer from depression or self harming and bullies are more likely to commit crimes or become abusive within their relationships as they grow into adulthood.

So how to help those involved, well as I am dealing with a child who is currently a target of bullying I have thought long and hard about the best way forward. Firstly, I need to be in a position where my child can speak openly and honestly about how they feel. Then by validating those feelings we can move onto how to resolve some of those issues, this bit I cannot do alone. This is where I need the school to support. Fortunately our school so far has been fantastic, they will deal with the issues of the bullies directly and hopefully quickly but they will also support our child in how to deal with situations that leave children open to bullying and will help our child to find and make new friends. This will mean the rebuilding of self esteem and having a safe place to be at break and lunchtimes with other children who don't fit into the cool kids gangs you know the gangs of boys out playing football or the perfect girl groups. We know exactly which groups of people I mean as we have all experienced them, when we were at secondary school. They will listen and help find solutions to the problems raised. It is imperative that children who have been the targets of bullies learn how to avoid those situations, they need to recognise their amazing qualities, realise that they are worthy of having friends and that it is ok to be themselves. Once that self belief has become a part of who they are then they will fly!!!!
(I hope)

Thursday, 5 December 2013

The court order

The court paperwork has now been completed, YIPPEE!!!! we had to wait 10 weeks from child 4's moving in date before we could apply to the court for the formalisation of the adoption. This should happen sometime early spring 2014.

Funnily enough child 4 is already one of our family, he has slotted in perfectly so much so that it feels like he has lived with us forever. We are of course keeping his first name but will be changing his middle name to that of my paternal grandfather, they share the same birthday, a perfect mix of his heritage and his future and of course will be given our surname. We already think of him as son number 2, the children call him their brother and my parents are with out any doubt his grandparents.

A court date will be set for a judge to decide if the formal adoption should go ahead, we will not attend the hearing, child 4's birth parents do have the right to attend and contest the adoption requesting that they have their son returned to their care, they would have to prove a complete change of lifestyle so it is unlikely to happen.  We will go to court for a celebration visit at a slightly later date. Apparently the judges really go to town on these occasions, I guess if you spend much of your time hearing how children are abused and neglected to finally be there when a child is placed with a family that can offer a child a home they deserve you would want to enjoy every moment too.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

The lot of a social worker

Social services have been in the news ever such a lot lately and the media always portrays them in such a negative light. We only ever read about the terrible "mistakes" that are made, we never see the fantastic happy ending stories. Where families make it through their difficulties and keep their children, providing happy homes for them or like in our case where children are removed but placed in loving families where they can flourish.

It seems that social services are damned if they do remove a child and damned if the don't. Hindsight is a truly wonderful thing and I am sure that everyone has, with the benefit of hindsight wished that they had done something differently in their lives. I am also certain that we have all made mistakes in our jobs, it's just that our jobs probably don't involve the safety of children.

I am sure that some staff within social services do make mistakes or are not very good at their jobs but we shouldn't vilify a whole profession based on a minority. Our experience with social services has been on the most part very good, the social workers we have been in contact with have had the children's best interest at heart, they are working in a highly pressurised environment that is dictated by the law. Children can't just be removed, there are numerous reports to be completed before a court can make a decision about what should happen to them. This of course can be good and bad, good in that it protects the family as a whole but on the flip side it could mean that children remain in dangerous environments whilst paperwork is completed.

Interestingly, I caught Thought for the Day this morning, where Ann Atkins shared her thought provoking views about the removal of children from their families.


 We should always be reminded that it is not social services that should be responsible for the care of the children in our society, that is the role of parents, family and the community. Social services is there to step in when parents and families fail to take care of those within their care. When I think of how I am supported daily by my husband, parents, siblings, friends and community which enables me to provide, I hope, everything that my children need. It makes me wonder what support is in place for those who really need it. After all if child 4's parents had such an abundance of love and support he wouldn't be with us, would he?????

Friday, 29 November 2013

A very long walk home

I have just started to let child 4 "free range" when we are out. That is he can walk home from school without reins. Our walk home takes us through school grounds and a field before we have to cross any roads, so the journey is safe for the most part and it is a wonderful opportunity for some safe exploring.

Today after mother and toddler, then coffee with work friends he couldn't believe it when I let him out of the buggy to walk home. What normally takes about 15 minutes took 45. We followed the lane,  picking up golden fallen leaves, throwing them in the air to watch them swirl and whirl in the wind. Have you ever noticed how when then wind takes them they spin and circle like the bath water does when the plug is pulled. We collect twigs and sticks, banging them together to make music. Then letting them go when we spot a drain, perfect for posting leaves between the bars. There is a bump halfway along the lane, perfect for clambering up, on two year old legs then turning and running back down. Just before the bridge that takes us over the by pass there is a fork in the path leading either side of a triangle of recently cut back bushes and trees, where piles of leaves sit invitingly, just waiting to be kicked through and tossed around into the wind.
Eventually, we make it to the bridge, where we watch for a while cars, lorries and buses trundle along beneath us heading off to so many different places. Over the bridge there are more leaves to stomp through and then there are sea gulls to chase, banks to climb and dips to run down into.  As we reach the school buildings there are groups of steps to climb, slowly one step at a time until we reach the top where the path is over hung by oak and horse chestnut trees so more leaves to crunch through. Back and forth, back and forth, up and down, then my strong little boys pulls open the heavy green iron gate to let me and the buggy through into the field, where he can run through the grass safe from any cars or traffic.

He is flagging, tired. But daddy is here with the dog, his broad shoulders a perfect resting place for a little boy whose legs need a rest. The perfect spot to throw a ball from and the perfect viewing point to watch the dog chase and fetch the ball, to play again. Nearly home, time for lunch and a nap.

If you have the time and the patience a walk with a two year old, looking at the world through their eyes, reminds us of how beautiful the autumn is, with its colours of reds, golds and ambers. To feel the sun on our faces and the wind in our hair. To wonder where people in their cars or on the bus maybe travelling too. The excitement of climbing to the top of even the smallest slope and to run down the other side, to run into a dip and land in the leaves in its bottom. To feel the crisp dry leaves between your fingers as you gather handfuls up and throw them into the air, just to watch the wind swoop in and let them dance away. To run into a group of white and grey seagulls and watch them take to the air, the skies filled with their annoyed squawking. To watch you son, spot his dad and run to him! calling daddy. It's worth every second.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Dan Hughes

I have been watching the amazing Dan Hughes over the last few days. Our social worker lent me a copy of  "Building the bonds of attachment" which interestingly is just a DVD of Dan Hughes talking about  Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy, it's not full of CGI or flash imagery, just a man, a flip chart and a microphone and I am completely and utterly hooked. He has been researching therapeutic parenting for twelve years and his treatments have evolved over this time always changing and  developing following experiences and contacts he has with children who have been fostered and or adopted and their new parents. He helps the children come to terms and deal with abuse and neglect and helps the parents find therapies to ensure their child receives the best support. 

He consistently hits the nail on the head, when he talks about toddlers and how they attach to their parents or not in the case of many adopted/fostered children. I can see some of those behaviours in our child 4 and then know that we can overcome them generally just by understanding them and why they happen.  By understanding why adopted children behave as they do, we can help them understand why they behave as they do. This does not mean carte blanche on their behaviour, they still need to take responsibility and live and deal with any consequences of their actions but without a shadow of a doubt this form of parenting will help them to flourish and grow to be the people they deserve to be.

Dyadic Development Psycotherapy  
DDP involves creating a safe setting in which the child can begin to explore, resolve, and integrate a wide range of memories, emotions, and current experiences, that are frightening, shameful, avoided or denied.  

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Pride before a fall

It serves me right really. 

Every year I aim to have completed my Christmas shopping by the end of November. December is such a busy month full of carol services, panto, nativity plays, parties and meals out which are so much more enjoyable without the stress of last minute shopping and wrapping. I have been merrily and smugly announcing how organised I am to anyone who would listen.

This year with a new addition I have been wrapping all the gifts as I have gone along. I purchased four different styles of wrapping paper and have wrapped each child's gifts in the same wrap to make my life as easy as possible. The presents have been placed into large shopping bags and stashed in the corner of our bedroom. Haha I thought, the children couldn't know what was in the wrappings and I was all organised. Until...........

Child 3 asks " Mummy, are the ones wrapped in the doggy paper for me?" 

No, they are not hers they are her baby brothers but they are the presents from Father Christmas and she is observant enough to notice that on Christmas morning. "How come child 4 has the presents from your room, I thought you said they were from Father Christmas" So, today bought a new roll of wrapping paper and I re-wrapped ALL his presents, which are now hidden in a black sack ready to be stored at Nannas house until the big day.

Child 3's belief in magic is not going to be traumatically ended by my desire to be organised!

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Joy and sorrow

Today was a new introductions day as we visited family, about 3 hours away. As life is so impossibly busy during December we tend to catch up with the in-laws and my brother and sister towards the end of November. They all live relatively close to each other.

This would be the first meeting of my husbands mum, dad and sister and her family.

What is so lovely about child 4 is the way he welcomes people into his life, I am so very aware that many of his behaviours are probably linked to his unsettled start in life, so watching him interact with people tends to give me mixed feelings. Many of those he meets comment on how wonderful it is that he "goes to anyone" that he holds up those chubby toddler arms for a cuddle and he chuckles and laughs to encourage those around him to communicate with him, they are totally unaware that this is probably a survival instinct, he needs to be sure that everyone likes him so that they will take care of him. I sit there unable or unwilling to educate them as they are so over the moon that he so obviously likes them and wants to be with them, to explain why he is the way he is will detract from those moments of acceptance and so I invariably hold my tongue, keeping that nugget of sorrow to myself, after all it is better that everyone views him as an open, affectionate child rather than one who could potentially have deep seated issues with attachment.

For me as his mother, I always have that niggling concern when I watch these behaviours that he may never fully attach to me, he may view me as his main care giver at the moment but I am not sure that he views me as his mummy, after all he hasn't really ever had a mummy in the way that his three new older siblings have. I sometimes wish I knew what was going on in his head, so that I could help him to really understand that he belongs to us and we belong to him forever, these are all things that cannot be explained to a two year old, only shown hourly, daily, weekly, monthly and so on and on.

Maybe I will always carry the joy and sorrow that I often feel as I watch him grow, I can only hope and have faith that I and the rest of our family will be able to provide him with everything that he needs. And that at some point he will understand that the love we hold for him is unconditional and everlasting.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

To cry or not to cry

Yesterday when I went to put child 4 down for his nap, he started to cry, he doesn't often cry and we had been out at a mother and toddler group all morning so I am positive that he was tired. He did drop off to sleep for about 15 minutes in his buggy on the way home, but that usually doesn't effect his nap time. So I was torn, all the adoption training we did taught us never to leave an adopted child to cry because they had probably been "abandoned" in this way in the past. Yet in our case our little man is unlikely to have been neglected in this way,  because he was removed at a few weeks old and had been in foster care until we added him to our family.
I was tempted to leave him for a few minutes as I had a million things that needed doing and nap time is quite literally the only time I get each day to get stuff done. His tears however touched my heart and I lifted him up for a cuddle and that was that, no nap!

This of course meant that by 5pm he was a nightmare, he was so tired that he did not know what he wanted and the tantruming, clinging and crying drove us all mad.

His social worker popped in, in the afternoon and when I explained what happened she too thought that leaving him for a few minutes probably wouldn't do any lasting harm.

I am finding that my head and heart are full of so many mixed messages at the moment and sometimes I think that I look for issues that aren't there. It is so hard to distance yourself when you are so emotionally involved. I worry that I may spoil my youngest son too much and on the other hand I worry that I don't give him enough time and love to teach and build the relationship he should have naturally with his parents.

In reality all parenting is trial and error, if he is tired then perhaps leaving him to cry for a few minutes (maybe just 5, no doubt very long minutes ) is ok. I guess I'll just have to see how things go tomorrow!

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Christmas is coming

Child 4 had his first stir of the Christmas pudding tradition in our house today. I know that it's not quite stir up Sunday but we are off to my sisters on Sunday and I make her a Christmas pudding each year, so stir up Sunday became whisk up Wednesday. Not that you can really whisk up 4lb of dried fruit, Guinness and this year, because I have run out of brandy! Cointreau.

The tradition in our house is for everyone to stir the pudding mix and make a wish before I decant it into pudding bowls to be steamed in Bain Marie's overnight. The smell we will wake up to for the next three days is Christmas. You know the feeling you get when watching family Christmas movies this is exactly what our house smells like.

I often wonder what they all wish for, is it world peace or the end of famine, an IPad, a Furby, a win on the lottery or maybe a home and a family for life.

We are all so lucky in our household, it is a house full of love, laughter, noise and often disputes. As I stir I wish for many years of wishing and stirring with my children and sometime in the future, the distant future, I might add, their children.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

How to catch a chicken

The last couple of days traumas and tribulations have left me exhausted, ragged but contentedly happy. This morning child 4 wanted to help with making the packed lunches. Firstly we made up daddy's cheese sandwich, as I grated the cheese he was scooping it off the bread and stuffing it in his mouth, then I rolled up a ham wrap for child 2 and cut it in half on an angle so that it looked posh but as I turned to grab the cling film my little helper took a sneaky bite, destroying my lovely clean cut edge with toddler teeth imprints. No longer did we have an artistically prepared wrap, rather a stunted one. Finally after buttering child 1's bread he leant over and licked the butter off. I have to admit that I just spread over a bit more butter added the cheese and cut them into little squares and put them in the lunch box- surely they all share the same germs by now?????

Just as a side, child 1 made the lunches for the first time on Sunday night! She is very, very particular about her sandwiches, at the moment she likes finely grated cheese sandwiches, no crusts and on occasion for them to be cut into flower or star shapes. Funnily enough on Sunday everyone including her had ham made with a bit of slap and dash!!!!!!

Food shopping is a very noisy affair, child 4 must have been very noisy today because when we finally made it to the checkout two members of staff materialised to entertain him - or rather I think he entertained them.

Allowing him to free range is fantastic, until you actually need to aim in a specific direction. He has the art of falling to the floor, either holding his body rigid or going completely limp if I want him to journey with me rather than the other way around. Putting him into a buggy or car seat when he wants to be doing something else is noisy and near on impossible.

But then, I watch him trying to catch a chicken in an old children's fishing net. We cuddle up with a book on the sofa before bed. He dunks his cow biscuit in my tea, leaving those soggy biscuity bits in the bottom. And when I came home from Christmas shopping yesterday he ran to meet me arms outstretched calling "mummy!"

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Tantrums and tiaras

And so the tantrums begin. Child 4 is obviously feeling very safe and secure as he now feels no concern about having a full on, lying on the floor, stamping his feet and shouting at the top of his voice temper tantrum every time that he does not get his own way. At home, in the car,  in public in fact wherever he wants.

If he is tired, hungry or thirsty they seem to be triggered more easily, so he is behaving in a way most two year olds behave. The difference is that time out is not really an option for us. I have to say that although I am tired and a little frustrated with the number of tantrums we are having, I am not overly embarrassed or concerned, in fact sometimes I have to really work at not laughing. It's just that they are over the same disputes. Holding my hand when we cross a road, sitting down when he is drinking from a cup without a lid and climbing on the table are favourites this weekend. I will be interested to see how long he lasts before he recognises that I will win these battles and I will win them calmly.

It is so simple really, either hold my hand or sit in the buggy, sit with a drink or don't have one and just give up climbing on the table.

My patience however does not seem quite so unlimited with child 3 who this weekend constantly pressed those buttons and pushed her boundaries. I thought that we were seeing the light at the end of the tunnel but it must have been a mirage. In probability she is tired after a couple of late nights and now that fireworks, carnival and a Dads birthday are over the Christmas excitement begins. Hopefully life will settle again this week and the screeching and stomping will ease off!!!

Saturday, 16 November 2013


The last couple of weeks have been carnival time! For the last couple of years we have got together with friends for an early supper of chilli con carne, lasagna or sausages followed by a lush chocolate pudding all washed down with mulled wine then we wrap ourselves up in winter coats, scarves, hats, gloves and lots of pairs of socks and head off to the carnival route aiming for a spot that will give us a  fantastic viewpoint of the many floats that will pass.

This year we were child 2 short, he was collecting money with the scouts but a new little man was with us.

A firework signals the beginning of the show which is made up of float after float covered in a million brightly lit bulbs, loud music and people attached with safety harnesses dancing in synchronisation. Tan tights are a favourite as are men in panto dame style outfits all raising money for local charities.

This was child 4's first carnival experience, in fact it was a first for visiting our friends house and a first meeting the husbands and children of these friends. He was absolutely fine, occasionally a little serious but, absolutely fine. He ate sausages and played with the other kids, he was happily bundled up and put in his buggy and was happy to sit on shoulders to watch all the amazing sights until his eyes became drowsy and he held out his arms for mummy, a cuddle and gradually dropping off to sleep, I placed him in his buggy where he fell asleep amongst all the noise and lights.

He, I think and hope had a marvellous time, he certainly seemed none the worse the following other than being tired. He seems to have slotted in with us as a family in no time.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Disciplining an adopted child

Oh the advice I have received for dealing with an errant two year old who likes to throw things, when I say throw things I mean glasses, knives and forks, eggs, plates, bricks and so on. Not only does he have a mighty throwing arm but the accuracy of his aim is spot on. Now I would eventually love to have a world famous cricket bowler in the family but for now would prefer the throwing of inanimate objects to just be a tennis ball.

The supporters of our endeavours have been suggesting the naughty step or sent to the bedroom types of discipline and I have to say that thus worked marvellously well with my older three, however it has been shown that this type of parenting does not work for the adopted child.

Foremost in my mind is the fact that our child 4 has already in many ways been rejected or abandoned by those who looked after him, he was removed from birth mum at a few weeks old, then placed with foster carers who each time they went away on holiday would have left him with respite foster carers and then a few weeks before being placed with us there was a breakdown with his foster carers and he was placed in respite care for the weeks leading up to moving in to his new and permanent home.  By placing him in time out I am highlighting rejection, this form of rejection with the older children is successful and not emotionally damaging because they are very secure in their loving environment. So how to discipline after all I cannot allow the throwing anything to hand to continue. Well, I am trying to enforce my will in many other ways, for example today he would not hold my hand to cross the road, so he continued his journey strapped into the buggy - much to his very vocal disgust I might add. Every time he climbs on the chairs or moves the chairs in the kitchen I lift him down and/or move the chairs back explaining why I am doing it. I am hoping that when he realises what No means (I know he already knows, he says it enough himself, but his no is obviously different to my no or so he thinks) the throwing will stop. Am I deluding myself? I have no idea and will update you in the future. I work on a six week turnaround so by Christmas fingers crossed the throwing will have stopped and I am sure that something new will start..........

Worth a read
Parenting Your Adopted Child (McGraw-Hill, 2004) by Andrew Adesman

Read more on FamilyEducation: http://life.familyeducation.com/adoption/nontraditional-families/45805.html#ixzz2kYuQXouI

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Oh simple thing, where have you gone?

And so the Christmas advertising has begun! The Morrisons one made me smile, but the one that touches a cord with me is John Lewis. A simple thing, a little  silver alarm clock made Christmas for the hare and the bear.

What, will make Christmas for you?

Our Christmas is likely to be a noisy excited affair, 4 children awaiting Father Christmas and Nanna, Randad and great Aunty Joan joining us for a traditional roast turkey dinner with all the trimmings. Presents will no doubt be numerous, gifts in all manner of shapes and sizes, beautifully wrapped in gorgeous paper and tied up with ribbons and bows. We, I know will be caught up with the gift giving as most of our society will. But, I hope that we will be very aware that it is our Christmas as a new family and that actually it's the simple things that create our greatest memories. How often have my memories been of the gift I was given? Certainly, not as often as the memories created by the feelings shared because of a special event. It's how we feel not the material gifts that form the basis of the best memories.

These start at the Christmas Eve mass, which we along with many of our friends and community will attend, squeezing into the freezing cold church, all wrapped up in warm coats, scarves, hats and gloves, so that we can be part of the Christmas Story that has been told for over 2000 years, our voices joining together in cheery renditions of favourite Christmas Carols. The kisses and hugs as we call a very merry Christmas to all as we leave to return home to hang the stockings and curl up in front of the fire with mulled wine, hot chocolate and a warm mince pie.

Of course everyone is spoilt with too many presents but for me it's about us all being together, sharing the excitement, a meal, champagne (or cava) walking the dog after lunch and collapsing in front of the fire for the late afternoon movie, Doctor Who and a tin of chocolates. Child 4 will now be part of these Christmas traditions and I am certain that he will have as many happy memories of Christmas over the years as I do.

Monday, 11 November 2013

I believe in fairies, I do, I do ,I do.

Letters to Father Christmas are currently being written, list of toys and gifts along with all the good things that the children have done over the year, in the hope of ensuring their place on the good list.  This is one of my favourite parts of the Christmas season. Over the last couple of years I have been asked if some of these magical beings that are a part of children's lives really exist. Is it really the tooth fairy that sweeps in exchanging tiny pieces of ivory with a shiny coin, does an elf fill the pockets of the advent calendars that my mum has made each child. Does Father Christmas really make his way down the chimney with a sack of beautifully wrapped gifts to leave for Christmas morning.

What I believe is that magic can only exist if you believe in it, if you do not believe then it ceases to exist. Child 1 understands this and whole heartedly encourages the belief in magic with her younger siblings.

I know that one day for us, the fairies will disappear for a while, but when my four have families of their own, the magic that awaits quietly in the background will weave itself around the next generation of our children,  infusing their life with dreams, hopes and laughter. After all what would life be with out a dream to follow?.........

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Twenty Things Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew.

Taken from 1.Twenty Things Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew. Adapted by me

I suffered a profound loss before you adopted me, you are not responsible for that.
It makes no difference as to how old I was when I was adopted- because I was adopted!
2. I need to be taught that I may have special needs because I have been adopted and not to be ashamed of that.
It's ok to have been adopted and it's ok to have positive and negative feeling and behaviours because of that fact.
3. If I don't grieve my loss! it will hinder my ability to love and be lived by yourselves and by others.
Don't hide it or ignore it, let me talk about it and work through it.
4. My unresolved grief may make me angry with you.
We all get angry about things outside of our control
5. I need your help in grieving.
Love me, hold me and comfort me.
6. Just because I don't talk about my birth family! doesn't mean I don't think about them
I will wonder who, where they are , I may not talk about them because I don't want to upset you
7. I need you to take the initiative in talking about my birth family.
Even if I don't seem to be interested I am really.
8. I need to know the truth, no matter how painful the details may be.
Honesty is always the best policy
9. I am afraid that I was taken away because I was a bad baby, I need you to help me overcome my shame.
Don't we all blame ourselves for things that go wrong?
10. I am afraid that you will abandon me.
Because everyone else has
11. I may pretend to be whole, so I need you to help me uncover those parts I hide away.
It's easier sometimes to pretend everything is alright
12. I need to gain personal power.
I need to be  and I need to understand that I am in charge of my own destiny
13. I need you to accept and celebrate our differences.
It's important that I can be myself and know that it's ok to be like my birth parents
14. Let me be my own person, but do not let me cut myself off from you.
I need to know that I can be me and still be lived by you
15. Respect my privacy about my adoption, do not tell people about it without my consent.
I don't want people to talk about me or know about my history.
16. Birthdays may be difficult
As May Christmas and other holiday times
17. Not knowing my medical history, maybe distressing.
What if I suffer from any mental health problems!
18. I am afraid that I maybe too much for you to handle.
I don't want you to give up on me
19. Even when I am obnoxious, hang in there and respond wisely
I will push all those boundaries, possibly to see if you will abandon me
20. When I want  to find my birth family, please remember that you will always be my parents.
I could be curious but if you have enough heart to love 4 children why can I not love you and others?

Good advice from Sherrie Eldridge and her book Twenty Things Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

A 5am start

Since the clocks went back last month child 4's morning rising pattern has been disturbed. He tends to wake up anywhere between 4.40am and 6.20 am and so invariably I have found myself some where between sleeping and waking, clinging to that dream yet knowing that a little voice will interrupt it with a call of "mummy".

You know that place between sleep and awake, that place where you still remember dreaming?” Tinkerbell from the movie Hook.

In all honesty it's hard to drag yourself out of a warm cosy bed on a cold autumnal morning, even if it's to fetch the new baby from his cot.

This morning though was different, special even. Dad went to get child 4, popped him in bed with me and went off to warm his milk. Child 4 snuggled down facing me tracing my features with his fingers, quietly chattering away and then letting me trace my fingers over his eyes, nose and mouth. When Daddy returned with a bottle of warm milk he settled into the pillows and guzzled away before tracing his daddy features, then taking it in turns to kiss us.

Bonding is so important for us all, for child 4 to become a member of the family he needs to have bonded with us and there are many ways that we can encourage that bonding but then we have to wait, watch, hope and wait. We follow all the advice, we play games together, like building train tracks and marble runs, we frequently share stories and are now building a library of favourites, we sing songs especially Incy, Wincy Spider, Row, Row, Row your Boat and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, we chatter away together, we make skin contact, ruffling hair, tickling and blowing raspberries on his fat belly and we carry him a lot, giving lots and lots of cuddles, not necessarily expecting cuddles back.

This morning, was the first time that child 4 has initiated the skin contact, copying our caresses of his face, by gently stroking our faces. We are still at the beginning of our journey and the bonding won't happen straight away, but we are making good strong steps in the right direction.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

A letter to write

It's time for our first indirect contact with child 4's birth parents. We will be swapping letters twice a year once in April and then in November. This is primarily for child 4's benefit but I also think that his birth mum will be waiting for our contact every six months. I know it's strange but I feel that I have some responsibility for our baby boys birth mother, I guess I can feel her grief and sorrow or at least I imagine I can, although I know those imaginations cannot be anything like what the reality must be.

Research has shown that some children benefit from some form of contact with their birth parents. In our case indirect contact via a letterbox system is what has been chosen by the social services team in charge. This means that we write a letter to the birth parents every 6 months no photographs are to be included to protect child 4.  Hopefully, the birth parents will respond. All letters are sent to County Hall to protect us, the letters are checked and then the letter for child 4 is sent to us, but the birth parents will only be able to view their letters in County Hall. Social services keep copies of all the letters so that once child 4 is an adult he will be able to see all the information and history of his childhood.

So what to write, I empathise with birth mums situation so I really want the letter to make her feel that she did the right thing in agreeing with the adoption of her son! I know that she had no real choice, child 4 had been removed from his birth parents care and the courts had agreed that he should be adopted. But for her I think it's important that she knows that he is safe, healthy, happy and loved. So I start the letter with how we took a balloon to the top of a hill on child 4's birthday and let it go. Then I shared his favourite foods and activities, what his favourite book, nursery rhyme and TV programme are. What he can say and what mischief he gets up to. Finishing with how we are awaiting their response so we can share it with child 4 and then keep it in his memory box for when he is old enough to read it himself.

I cannot guarantee that the birth parents will keep up contact but I know that we will. It maybe that child 4 doesn't want to have contact and that is fine we can keep the contact ticking over just in case, when he is old enough he can choose what is best for him and as his family we will support him and walk alongside him on his journey regardless of the path he chooses.

I keep this quote close to my heart, to remind me of how very lucky I am ........


Monday, 4 November 2013

Why adopt

This week is National Adoption Week, it seems a little inappropriate for children to be advertised on the BAAF (British Association for adoption and Fostering) and This Morning, to me it feels a bit like window shopping. But, with 4000 children who are waiting to be adopted and not enough willing adopters out there I guess that it is a way to highlight their plight.

So why did we adopt, this is a question that I shy away from, not because there is a weird response but because I am a little defensive about it I guess. People have  tended to react in three different ways to our adoption, one is to say how amazing we are and paint us as angels, then there are those who really don't understand and think that we are do-gooders that are risking damaging our existing families by taking in a damaged child who will no doubt end up in trouble of some kind examples given would be drugs, alcohol and prison and finally there are those that are just not interested.

I am embarrassed when people say how amazing we are because I honestly don't see it like that! we haven't adopted to ensure a place in heaven, I just wasn't done on the children front and instead of adding another by conception thought that why not "rescue"  a little person in need of a family. After all we have a huge family, some amazing friends and a fabulous community. We had room in our hearts and home for another child and to us it really didn't matter where that child came from, so why not take one from the system and give them what very child deserves a loving family.

I am infuriated by those who tar these children with the so called behaviours of their parents, those behaviours are the ones usually found splashed across the front page of a tabloid newspaper primarily for shock value, not an educated debate. There are those who still believe that the sins of the father or mother are passed to their children, conveniently ignoring the fact that adoptive parents will be these children mothers and fathers and therefore will hopefully break the cycle of poverty, neglect and abuse. Their lack of empathy for all those involved, especially the birth parent is quite possibly why the cycle keeps spiralling instead of being halted by love and support.

And I am saddened by those not interested.

Please just look at the information available about adoption, maybe you could adopt like us. It's been worth every moment, so far.



Sunday, 3 November 2013

To infinity and beyond

Today I really appreciated the support network that surrounds us, people who are just there and step in to help in some way or other. They are probably completely unaware of how a moments kindness, smile, hug or conversation shares any burden you may be carrying. Making you look at life in a different way, making you grateful for what life has given you, rather than being blinkered because you have a had a tough morning.

This week has been tough but fantastic, as it's been half term I have spent all week with the children, our first holiday all together, so it's been fabulous for us to grow together as a family, but it has rubbed off some of that rose-tinted effect that has encompassed us the past few weeks. Child 4 has not lost any of the love and affection we feel for him, but he is no longer the cherub that can do no wrong. All of us have had moments of upset and have wanted to just crawl into a corner and cry, just because the stress has become too much.

This morning child 4 woke at 5.40 am, and by 9.30 had flushed away a toilet roll, climbed on a chair and dropped an egg on the floor, I am sure just to see what would happen and finally tossed a brand new jar of homemade strawberry jam over his shoulder, smashing one of the tiles beside the oven.  By the time we had made it to mass this morning, late of course, my stress levels were peaking. But then all of a sudden,  people just seemed to offer their support, hugs were readily available for all, friends supplied tea and biscuits and an ear for all the children. A fab friend spoke to child 3 about a Christmas movie they must see this year, just the two of them, she listened to child 1 telling her how fab she was and offered child 2 reassurance about being a teenager. An older parishioner just sat and chatted to child 4 as he devoured a cup cake smothered in buttercream and chocolate buttons. Others just found the humour in my stories of this mornings trials and tribulations taking away the grumble and stress and replacing it with laughter.

I returned home lighter, more able to cope with what ever would lie ahead for the remainder of the day. What is done is done and I am really so lucky to have such and amazing mix of family, friends and community. With that sort of love and support anything is possible. Thank you

Friday, 1 November 2013

The weeks progress

Well, where to start............ Child 4 has shown off his prowess in climbing, particularly on the kitchen table, he can unravel a whole toilet roll in seconds. Not only can he turn on taps he can also flush the toilet over and over again. He can now get into the conservatory and is a dab hand at turning off the TV especially if the others are in the middle of a race on the Wii. He is now able to amazingly manoeuvre his arms out of the straps on his car seat, meaning frequent stops to strap him back in and his aim with an apple, a spoon even a porridge filled breakfast bowl is spot on!!!

To be fair though he now only calls me mummy, his speech is moving on leaps and bounds, he kisses everyone good night and he even cried yesterday, a big first. He puts his wellies on in the morning to see the chickens and actually curled up with me on the sofa to watch In the Night Garden for about 10 minutes, this evening. He now finds a book for someone to read to him and will play trains for a little while before the need to throw overtakes him.

He is just a part of the family, sometimes a pain in the bum, but at other times he is a delight. It is like he has always been here. Despite the exhaustion, although it was a 5.50am start this morning, it's getting better, now is that because we are getting used to him or the other way round??? I wouldn't have it any other way!

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Happy Halloween

I love and hate halloween, I love the dressing up and making halloween party food but I detest trick and treating. Up until last year I had banned trick or treat, primarily because the majority of our neighbours were elderly and I didn't want the children disturbing them on a dark winters night. The children asked many a time why I couldn't just ask the neighbours if they could knock but to me that was like saying, the children will be calling in for sweets tonight. Last year child 1 was old enough to trick and treat with her friends at our local family friendly housing estate which meant it was difficult for me to ban the other two, so I have now joined the hoards of children out and about on the 31st October.

This week has been busy, as it's been the holiday my brother and sister have come down to meet our new addition. My sister was down with her youngest son last weekend and my brother arrived on Tuesday with his two children, so today the children all came over to carve pumpkins, decorate Dalek biscuits, have their faces painted and go trick and treating.

Despite all the noise, child 4 throwing all the pumpkin innards over the floor and a house full of over excited children, we have had a ball and I am sure created some fantastic memories x

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Five go on an adventure with their cousins

A 5.30am start this morning, which is a bit better than the 4.50am yesterday, I have to say that the clocks going back has been of absolutely no benefit to our household because child 4 is still working on last weeks time!!!!! Still the dark morning gradually lit up, our bedroom sits in the north east of our home so the early morning sun always finds the gaps in our curtains and this morning I smiled because my brother and his children were visiting, so a trip to our favourite beach called. Whilst the kettle boiled I nipped out to wake my hens and enjoy those early morning rays that just take the edge off an autumn morning. By the time our early morning caffeine had been consumed the sun was wide awake and ribbons of icy blue sky sparkled. Breakfast and a picnic to make, not even the dog stealing 5 slices of defrosting bread could dampen my spirits too much, although having to make different fillings for my children's sandwiches is a pain, guess I'll have to take my sisters advice and get the older ones to make their own!!!
Before I knew it, it was time to load the car with a picnic lunch, 4 children, 1 dog, 5 pairs of wellies,5 coats, 5 sweaters and bags full of dry clothes. And we were off. Leaving civilisation behind we journeyed into the country, surrounded by fields and woods, child 4 on the look out for his beloved cows. The sun shone through the clouds making dappled patterns on the fields and through the trees, autumn is definitely here, the trees that lined the way are now dressed in hues of red and gold. This could be our last visit to the beach this year, so we intended to enjoy every moment.

What I love about this rugged coastline is that every time we visit it is different, the storms that hit earlier this week have impacted the cliff faces and our huge rock has moved further up the beach.

 We squelched and squerched through the mud just as Michael Rosen did on his bear hunt from the car park to the beach itself and wow the tide was out and the rocks looked so flat and smooth encouraging us all the way over to where the waves washed foam over the rocks and for the first time the children and the dog could jump the waves and run away from their foamy fingers up a pebbly beach area

child 1 and 4 crossed a narrow waterway to climb on an island while the others hunted for crabs and jumped on the wraiths of seaweed that decorated the rocks to make it pop and parp.

The pools were overflowing so child 3 and her cousin spent ages daming up miniature waterfalls and rivers, oh and the fossils there were hundreds of them, just sitting there in the rocks. With so much to explore and having a two year old our ramble over the rocks and through the pools took a lot longer than usual, especially after a couple of tumbles into the pools but we did make it to the cliff path where the last few surviving blackberries were picked and eaten to stave off the hunger pangs until we made it back to the picnics.

Child 4 had a marvellous time and a picture I will carry and always be disappointed that I couldn't capture in time is of child 4 not wanting to leave my brother behind when it was time to go. My brother was on the phone to work as mum and I loaded the cars and as I turned to check where child 4 was he and my brother were strolling towards us hand in hand, my brother still on the phone and completely oblivious to the picture of uncle and nephew. Perfect.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

The Odd Life of Timothy Green

Whilst out with child 3, 4 and Dylan the dog this morning one of our neighbours stopped us to congratulate us on our new addition! she went on to say how she has friends who are just starting an IVF programme. She thought that they were wasting their time and should just adopt as there were so many children out there in desperate need of a loving home and family. Is she right???????

After I gave birth to my first son, a wonderful calm home delivery, I became very poorly and ended up being rushed into hospital where I needed 4 pints of blood and intravenous antibiotics to fight peritonitis. This meant that when we decided to try for a third baby it was very difficult. I don't think I will ever really forget the monthly disappointment when I found that I wasn't pregnant or the memories of praying each month just before my period was due that it wouldn't come and that I would be carrying a baby. After a year of trying I went to the doctor, where I was tested and checked over but eventually referred onto a fertility clinic. I found myself to be pregnant just 5 days before the appointment, even that wasn't straight forward as the doctor was initially concerned that the pregnancy could be ectopic so my initial joy was marred with fear and uncertainty. As my beautiful little girlie was born 8 months later everything obviously all worked out in the end. What this taught me though was that until you have actually walked in someone else's shoes don't be too quick to judge. My experience cannot be anything like those of people unable to have children without medical intervention as I already had two children, but my sorrow and desperation does strike a chord when I hear IVF being discussed, until I heard a radio interview yesterday I was completely unaware that only one third of those who undertake IVF actually have a baby. For those that are not that lucky they have to have the opportunity to grieve for those children they are unable to have and probably the milestones and lives they would have seen and lived, before any contemplation of adoption can happen.

At the weekend we watched The Odd life of Timothy Green a magical, enchanting story about a couple unable to have children who do end up considering adoption because of a little boy called Timothy. We watched and cried as a family because so much of the story was like ours or as an Incurable romantic who lives their life looking through rose tinted glasses would like to believe. I truly believe that we all have the power to love a child, perhaps not as a parent, maybe a godparent, a mentor or just someone who is there to support the parents but we all need to find our own way. Our neighbour needs to support her friends on their journey, it may be they end up with exactly what they need.

Monday, 28 October 2013

The kids are ok

Our social worker called in to visit today, her aim to speak to all of the children to see how family life was going. Of course she turned up early, whilst I was out shopping with child 1 and 4. Child 2 and 3 were home alone, playing on the Wii with no little aggravating little brother around to steal away the controllers, turn off the screen or just get in the way, still in their pyjamas!! Oops, well at least she sees us as we are!

The three older ones agreed that child 4 could be a pain, but they all loved him and there was no way that they would ever want to send him back. Child 2 who initially struggled with our decision to adopt is loving his big brother status and explained how despite the change to routines he is really glad that child 4 is now ours. Child 3 admitted to struggling with a new toddler in the house especially when he demands so much of her mums time (she just isn't able to see that that is what causes her temper tantrums)  I feel so very lucky to have such a wonderful support in our social worker, she seems to always know the right things to say and to know the right questions to ask. She spoke to the children in such away that she she gleaned huge amounts of information about how they were really feeling and helped child 3 in particular to explain her feelings, this then led to me being able to consider how I can change how I behave so that we can diffuse or avoid some of the tantrums.

A little later when we were tidying child 3's room we found a little pile of papers from the end of last year. These included a family tree, a timescale of how the adoption process works and a list of questions that should have been placed in the social workers question jar.

 Despite all her confusion about her feelings and the changes adoption has bought to her life, she without any doubt loves her new baby brother she just quite understandably is battling with that naughty little green monster that rears his ugly head in many families where new little ones are introduced.

All in all everything is ok, all the behaviours we see are normal and over time family life will settle down. We are already living and loving as a family should and I am praying that by Christmas most of the green monster triggered paddies will have passed.

Saturday, 26 October 2013


Child 4 has been calling all the women who cross his path "mum" it is not something that I thought had particularly bothered me. After all, all the women in his life have left him, how would he know that I will never leave him, I belong to him.

This week though he has started to call other women Jan, a lady he has met recently and who obviously made some sort of impression!?!?!?? I am now the only one he calls mummy! Once the realisation of this sunk in, my heart swelled with love and pride. He has started to seek ME out to check that I am around and he has started to cry and want his hurts kissed better.

It has only been 4 weeks and I am hoping that this means that he is beginning to realise that this is his home and family forever. I am however not foolish enough to think that this is life sorted but I do know that it is definitely the beginning of something very special.............

Thursday, 24 October 2013

When I grow up

When I was doing bath time tonight, child 3 was singing "When I grow up" from Matilda. She has been learning it with the school choir, and as I listened to the words they made me smile, those childish dreams tug at the heart strings, but the more I listened and the more I thought I actually felt a bit sad as once we are adults we sometimes forget or become oblivious to the beauty and excitement of the simple things. Child 3 sang with all her heart making me believe that she meant every word and I hope that she will always see life through rose tinted glasses and not become too cynical as she grows up.

"When I grow up, I will be tall enough to reach the branches that I need to reach to climb the trees
you get to climb when you're grown up.

I will be smart enough to answer all the questions that you need to know the answers to before you're grown up.
And when I grow up I will eat sweets every day on the way to work and I will go to bed late every night And I will wake up when the sun comes up and I will watch cartoons until my eyes go square
and I won't care 'cause I'll be all grown up!
When I grow up! I will be strong enough to carry all the heavy things you have to haul around with you when you're a grown-up!
when I grow up I will be brave enough to fight the creatures that you have to fight beneath the bed
each night.
I will have treats every day. And I'll play with things that Mum pretends that Mum's don't think are fun.
And I will wake up when the sun comes up and I will spend all day just lying in the sun but I won't burn 'cause I'll be all grown-up!"

So many of the words are true, as adults we do carry so many heavy things real and metaphorical, I am brave enough to fight the creatures under the bed, behind the curtains and hidden in the wardrobe and on occasion still do. I occasionally go to bed late and now with a two year old in the house we are often awake before the sun is. 

All children probably want to be able to do all these things and of course think that once they are grown up they can do these things, but as a grown up, who climbs trees, eats sweets every day, watches cartoon after cartoon, goes to bed late every night and wakes early the next morning to watch the sun rise?

Maybe tomorrow when I have that first cup of tea, I'll sit and watch the sun rise. On the way home from school drop off maybe child 4 and I will share a bag of jelly babies (although too many will make me feel sick). Once home we could watch cartoons and have treats. And just maybe we can climb the apple tree to pick some more apples. (Risking falling and breaking something) 
Hmmm, why is it that real life tends to get in the way!

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

A class size British bake off

Following, last nights exciting final on the British Bake Off it seemed appropriate that today was child 3's class cake sale and it's nearly Halloween, I love Halloween cake sales it's the perfect time for orange and purple butter cream and spider sweets. Now that child 4 has arrived there is no way in a million years that I would have time for any fancy, creative baking, so keep it simple. I made up some Dalek biscuits last night (don't you just lurve Lakeland) and today child 4 helped me make the cup cakes. It was a definite déjà vue moment with a toddler standing on a kitchen chair, learning how to turn on my Kenwood mixer and then watch his face light up with mischievous delight when he realised that it has speed settings!! I showed him how to break eggs, ooh dangerously exciting and he very happily emptied in the bowl of flour. I turned my back just long enough to get out the cake trays and when I glanced back he had BOTH hands in the cake mixture "yum!" Good job we did the proper hand wash before starting.

Handing him the mixer part, just to keep him busy whilst I plopped spoonfuls of mixture in the Halloween cases, I quickly moved them into the oven to be baked. And then the best bit, licking out the bowl. If all the children were home they would fight over this bit. Wish they felt the same about the washing up.

Once child 4 went off for his nap, I could ice my wares in peace and quiet, the decoration is the most important bit as primary age children love icing and lickle edible decorations and they are always drawn to the biggest, chocolatiest, most colourful or most sweetie adorned cakes and as I would probably be helping I would be devastated  if no one wanted to buy my cakes.

When we finished setting up the stall, I swear the tables were groaning under the weight of all the gorgeous cakes that parents had made and then like a swarm of locusts, what felt like hundreds of noisy little people arrived at the table, their little hands clutching coins, their faces wowed with the delights sitting before them, oh the choice, then the panic what if the cake they want is sold before they can attract the attention of one of the women manning the stall. More children push through shouting, look at the chocolate and gold cakes, the orange ones, the Dalek biscuits!! Phew all sold.

Then all of a sudden the stall is clear, the playground deserted and peace descends. Time to go home. A nice cup of tea and a chocolate spiders web cake I think.

Any cooking with children has got to be a good thing, according to latest figures From the National Child Measurement Programme  a third of  11 year olds are overweight or obese and a quarter of  4/5 year olds are too. We need to move away from quick, processed, fat laden foods to a much healthier regime - says the woman baking cakes with her children - but this is just a starting point. Child 1 and 2 can both cook a three course meal and could if I asked make an evening meal like lasagna or sweet corn fritters and sticky chicken, they would just prefer that I cooked.
I learnt to cook at my mothers knee and insist that my children do the same, I believe that it is not only a crucial life lesson but also something magical. A meal cooked and then shared with love is what family and life is all about.