Saturday, 9 May 2015

My heart can never get empty

From Missy to me and Daddy.

"I love you lots. My heart is filled with lots of love from you.

My heart can never get empty! xx "

Thursday, 30 April 2015


Sorry blog for not visiting you for a month, it's very remiss of me.  To be honest, I've just felt, well, meh. Not depressed but just a feeling of 'can't be arsed'.  But I'm back now after a good morning - not only have Take That been confirmed for CarFest, a friend has offered me a ticket to see them in June and I had a lovely meeting with school, so feeling pretty chipper.

Yesterday I wasn't feeling so chipper.  I asked Missy to come over because her behaviour wasn't acceptable. "I don't want to look at your ugly face" she snarled.  Nice.  Then after school yesterday I was the 'most meanest horrible mummy" because I wouldn't take her to the park and then when I said no to some more food (because it was tea time very shortly) she kicked me twice and walked off. Lovely.

But then last Sunday we did have a chipper day because we were in London cheering on the marathon runners in the final few miles.  Missy loves it, screaming and shouting at them, getting high fives and handing out jelly babies.  She was smiling and giggling  on the train there and back and making other people smile with her infectious laughter. It was a good day.

Since I last blogged, we've had an appointment with CAMHS which went ok I think, although I did want to say out loud in a sarcastic tone "Duh! Really?" when the lady looked us triumphantly when Missy mentioned birth mum.  "There, that's it, it's all about her past!".  No shit.

Anyway, that comment aside, the lady at CAMHS seemed quite helpful and understanding and has already made us further appointments as part of the overall assessment.  I just hope some meaningful support comes of it.  The lady briefly mentioned art therapy but I've just found out that school can offer that anyway.  Missy meets once a week with a teacher who is also the pastoral care worker.  She's brilliant, I really love chatting to her, she afforded me over an hour today. She gets it.  I don't talk to the SENCO, I just talk to Missy's main teacher and the pastoral care worker.  They see a very different Missy on the whole, although interestingly some negative stuff  has been bubbling recently in the way of control and manipulation of friends.  I'm beginning to see more and more how Missy can't really cope in a group and it's her social skills that need some assistance.  Unsurprisingly, control is a big thing for Missy and we're still learning how to manage that at home.  I came away from school feeling much happier and supported.

Talking of support, the Government' Adoption Support Fund goes live tomorrow - £19m is being made available to help adoptive families.  There was a great piece on BBC Breakfast this morning with lovely Amanda Boorman from The Open Nest Charity and her daughter Jazz, plus the amazing Sally Donovan, author of No Matter What and The Unofficial Guide to Adopting (I'll add the Sally interview when I have a link).  The last I heard, albeit several weeks ago, was that our local authority knew very little about the fund and how it would be administered.  I really hope by now they've got their act in gear because I shall be ringing them soon, if not for Missy then for me.

In other news, I'm loving the horticulture course I'm on.  Being out in the fresh air, learning, talking to people about things other than children!  We're half way through and I'm thinking of signing up to another course that goes towards the overall diploma.   For Missy, I'm looking at Brownies as I think the social interaction will help a lot, the sense of responsibility doing the badges, the uniform she'll love to wear and the fun she'll have. I spoke with the Brown Owl of one pack, sadly too far from us, and they have a grand ol' time.

Monday, 30 March 2015

Rages and Crochet

Lately we've returned to the rollercoaster of rages and calmness and I've no idea what the triggers may be. One recent episode arose from me putting money in Missy's moneybox which had been lying around on her  bedroom floor.  As I was crouched down, she thumped me hard on the back and it bloody hurt.  The rage lasted 10 minutes then it was over, quickly as it started.  Another because, following a two minute fringe cut at the hairdressers, she wasn't offered a lollipop by the stylist as she often is.  Outside the salon her face had anger and disappointment written all over it. I empathised and showed her I understood why but her volume in the car was turned up max and continued back in the house.  I offered her something at home but it wasn't good enough and the rage lasted another 10 minutes before she was distracted by her crochet.

My Mum showed her how to crochet a few weekends ago, starting with a simple stitch and a chain.  By Sunday she had, all by herself (because I have no clue) knitted a small hat fit for a doll complete with bobble on top!  This week she wanted to crochet her own pin cushion in the shape of an apple. Up until yesterday morning she'd happily been crocheting an ever-expanding circle of red wool then I came back from the gym (#takingcare) and an apple shaped appeared before me.  She stuffed it and closed it up all by herself plus crocheted small green leaves on top.  I was pretty much speechless, gobsmacked.  This talent for crochet is one thing sure to keep her calm and engaged.  It also shows me she is able to think about things, find a solution and execute it - because believe me I'd have no idea how to have crocheted that apple, let alone the leaves and attach them.   We need to seriously nurture this talent and think how school can also use this creative strength.

Back in November the GP referred us to CAMHS after I talked to her about my anxiety and Missy's behaviour.  Two weeks ago the appointment came through and we are seeing them soon.  I've no idea what to expect at the first appointment and sometimes I think, when Missy is laughing, loving, singing Gold at the top of her voice in the car and doing her crochet, that I'm over-reacting, but after a lovely chat with a man from the NHS who phoned for the initial triage, I realised that, no, I am not.  He took Missy's behaviour very seriously and I wanted to give him a massive hug.  Just having the chat with this man helped.   So, we shall see what the appointment brings, if anything.  I read so much from others that CAMHS are as useful as a chocolate teapot but I'll reserve judgement until we've seen them.

I've had a break recently from the usual parenting books and have been reading autobiographies (the Kemps, who else! - the concert was brilliant by the way) but today I'm back on the parenting book "Why Can't My Child Behave" by Dr Amber Elliott.  I like this one because in so many ways it is describing Missy and I can relate to many of the case histories.  I ploughed through quite a lot this morning and have bookmarked many pages to highlight to Daddy later on.  This book in particular explains a lot of why a child might be behaving in this way which is so helpful in relation to their background - some things I understand but others ideas I hadn't considered as yet.  Daddy and I need to revisit some of the strategies we have learnt over the last couple of years and also put into practice some of the ideas from this book.  Unfortunately we've been guilty of using too much reward-punishment stuff lately.

In other news, physio is definitely helping my hip and I'm feeling quite excited at the thought of running again (I really want to a do a triathlon, though it probably doesn't help that I sold my bike). In the garden, the potatoes are in, the tomatoes are coming up and I've planned the seeds to be sown.

OK, back to the book and planning for the forthcoming Easter holidays.  Did someone mention chocolate?

Monday, 9 March 2015

Retreating to happier times

There is a lovely interview in today's Guardian with Clare Grogan who, for the younger readers, is most well known as the lead singer of 80s pop group Altered Images and star of the film 'Gregory's Girl'.  I'd read quite some time ago that she was an adopter and the article today talks about the books she has written for her adopted daughter.

There is a quote in the article which really resonated with me - "It was a really difficult time in my life, and I think I've always coped with difficult times by going back to happier periods.  I was in a phase when I just wanted to retreat, to be solitary and to reflect on better times."

The reason I like what Clare says is that I am doing just that right now, going back to happier times.  I love the 80s, I was a teenager with a perm, ribbon in my hair, blue eyeliner and a love for both John Taylor and Martin Kemp.  I saw both Duran and Spandau in concert - oh the joy and breathlessness of being 10ft away from John Taylor when I went to see them at Wembley Arena and finding ourselves in the second row from the front. Screeeeam! I still remember my old fan club membership number - 762273.

I'll be screeeeeaming again next week as I'm going to see Spandau Ballet at the O2 - I cannot bloody wait. Until next Tuesday arrives, I've been stalking following them on Twitter, checking out old Spandau videos and TV stuff on YouTube and listening to their music over and over in the car.  If you use YouTube, you'll know it gives you lots of other options and suggestions for things to watch, most of which have been other 80s acts - T'Pau, Culture Club (Victims is so under-rated), early U2, Adam & The Ants (I'll never forget our English teacher playing the part of Prince Charming in the school Christmas entertainment), more Duran, Dexys, Depeche Mode, Ultravox and the list goes on.  I've loved reminiscing and remembering good times in my life back then.  The Bluebells came up the other day and that reminded me of the day I went to the filming of Top of the Pops.  I can't remember who was number 1 but Frankie Goes to Hollywood were there, as was Neil with Hole in My Shoe and Echo & The Bunnymen.   In turn, that reminds of good times at school, sleepovers with school friends - in fact I tweeted one old school friend with a "Do you remember....!"  "Yes!" she replied.  And you know what, we're going to meet up at Easter. Can't wait!

When Steve Strange died a month ago, I played the Fade to Grey video on You Tube - my brother bought the single in 1980 and I played it endlessly.   Missy loved it too although thought he looked weird.  He did and that was the great thing about it!  I then started Googling the top 50s from between 1977 and 1987 and I reckon I knew almost every single mentioned and had a memory relating to that single.  Ahhhhh, those were the days.  Who remembers waiting for the charts to be announced at 12.45pm on a Tuesday lunchtime? We used to sneak a transistor radio into the loos at school just so we could listen and I think we screamed quite loudly when True reached no. 1.   Who couldn't wait for TOTP on a Thursday night?

Next time I'm at my Mum's I need to search out my Duran scrapbooks and my videos on Live Aid - I videoed the whole thing!  Luckily we still have a video player up in the loft so I'll be able to play them.

The point is .... going back to the 80s brings back very happy memories and that's a good thing.  Missy is up and down - a few rocky weeks, then a few calm weeks, then back to weeks of grumpiness, regression and attention (attachment)-seeking, then calmness again.  Currently we're in a rocky week. She's very Highly Strung (geddit?).  Seriously, I'm getting motion-sickness from this rollercoaster.  

But the reflection on these happy times (or is that Reflex-ion - only a few probably will get that!) is bringing a smile to my face and on the whole I've felt pretty good since the beginning of the year which, following, my high anxiety last Autumn is most welcome.

In other news, my Horticulture course is going well and I am loving being in the fresh air.  And I've already passed several assessments.  High five me!

Right, I think I need an 80s fix.  Cue YouTube.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Achieving in Art #3

My daughter's latest artwork. She was inspired after watching the Fade to Grey video by Visage. Bloody brilliant I think!

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Back to school (and not just for Missy)

Monday was back to school, but not just for Missy, for me too!  I'll explain more in a bit.

Half term was pretty good.  We spent some of it in Northumberland at Daddy's sister's wedding, a very small quite affair in a lovely hotel and Missy was bridesmaid.  She did a great job.  We had the usual issue of Missy being too clingy to anyone but me or Daddy, and occasionally we had to take some action so she was reminded who her parents are, but on the whole she was great. We had a six hour car journey to get there, same back, and it passed with no problems.  Amazing! We played a few games, I was in charge of the music (mostly Spandau and ELO, but that's fine because Missy is fast becoming an 80s music fan!), we had a couple of stops and then we were there.

Last week we also went to see Big Hero 6, the latest from Disney which won an Oscar at the weekend.  There is the subject of death when the main character's brother dies early on, and towards the end it is quite sad for a few minutes, but all ends well.  Missy cried at these two parts, but then so did I. Mind you, I cried at the blimmin' advert when Brian was in trouble at the breakers' yard!

So, onto last Monday.   We had a change in usual routine because Missy started at breakfast club, just on Mondays as I need to get to college.  I've started a course in Practical Horticulture - go me!  It's nice to do something very different and, whilst I like gardening, I don't really have much of a clue so the course will be sparking some of my brain cells that haven't been used in a while.  

As I took Missy into breakfast club, I could see she was nervous but as soon as she saw the food, she was fine.  Also, anxiety that was evident before half term reared its ugly head again.  An issue at school has really been upsetting her, so much that she wanted me to move schools.  I had a chat with the teacher yesterday, who was very grateful for brining it to her attention, and will do what she can to help.  This has seemed to settle Missy as she was relatively calm this morning before school.

Talking of nervous though, back to Monday and my heart was beating more than usual as I sat in my car in the the college car park, having arrived half an hour early.  At ten to nine I took a deep breath and went in.  I was comforted to see that almost everyone on the course was my age or older, and I'm not the only one who is very much an amateur.  At least now, I can buy gardening books instead of the usual parenting/child development/adoption related books which are my usual read.

So, back to school and all is looking good.

In other news, I've started physio to sort out my hip. Hopefully, in a few months time I'll be running again. Yaay!

Friday, 6 February 2015

Reasons to be Cheerful (One, Two Three)

The theme on The Adoption Social for the latest Weekly Adoption Shout Out #WASO is 'Reasons To Be Cheerful'. Now, those of a certain age will remember a song that's been going round my head all morning - "Reasons To Be Cheerful, One,Two,Three" by Ian Dury and the Blockheads. So, here are my three reasons to be cheerful.

1.  I've been going out in the evenings a bit more in the last few months, whilst Daddy has joined a badminton club and is out once a week.  And Missy is fine about it!  Hurrah!  Slowly we are getting our social life back.  When I shut the front door behind me, Daddy and Missy usually shout "Paaaartyyy" which always makes me smile.  So it seems that Missy now knows that when we go out, we come back.  I can't tell you how liberating this is. We always go in and see her no matter the time and give the sleeping princess a kiss. Hurrah!

2.  I was at a talk recently by Helen Oakwater, adopter and author of Bubble Wrapped Children. She urged us to find "an industrial strength babysitter" because it is so important to have have a social life. For couples it is important to be able to do things together and not just rely on the other to babysit. So, with that in mind, I contacted a lady who a friend had actually recommended well over a year ago. The lady runs a babysitting and nannying service and we met her last week. Missy was very comfortable with her and in fact she is coming round again soon just to play with Missy, which is all part of the service as she believes it's so important that the child feels happy and safe with a babysitter. We're also pleased that it's the lady herself who is going to be our sitter rather than one of her employees. This means Daddy and I can now have more than one or two nights out a year! In fact we already have a date booked. Double Hurrah!

3.  Missy has calmed down and as we go head towards half term, we have noticed she is having less meltdowns than the first three weeks of the year, which made it seem as if we had gone back in time one whole year. Her confidence at school also plummeted in those weeks and she was very hyper vigilant. Really not sure why but I think it was something more than just beginning of term nerves.  However, the last week/ten days have seen an improvement at school, she is doing some great work, including maths which is never her strong point and she is calmer at home. Missy also made us very proud last week because, for the first time ever, she swam 25m, the length of the pool, all by herself and then proceeded to do it three times more.  So, currently her self esteem pot is looking pretty full which is good news for all.  Triple hurrah!

So these are my reasons to be cheerful. What are your reasons right now?

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