Wednesday, 22 October 2014


In Missy's spellings homework last night was the word 'one'. 

She thought about 'one', her eyes lit up and said "I only have one mummy". 

Sunday, 19 October 2014

The Open Nest Conference - Taking Care

I've just spent the weekend in gorgeous York, attending the first Open Nest conference entitled 'Taking Care'.  It's the first one the charity has held and hopefully there will be many more. Attended by mostly adopters, there were also adoptees, social workers and foster carers in attendance.

The Open Nest was founded by the inspirational and very lovely Amanda Boorman who adopted Jazz 15 years ago. It was Amanda who started the day off with her documentary about her life with Jazz, including video clips of Jazz over the years.  It's not all been rosy for them, and Amanda wasn't afraid to show that in her video. Thankfully there were tissues on the table because there were a lot of tears around the room. I cried. A lot.

Next to speak was Al Coates who writes at "The misadventures of an adoptive dad".  He talked about his life as an adopter and social worker, speaking with a mix of humour and seriousness. I think it's important us adopters use humour because without it we quite possibly would have imploded by now!

Fran Proctor is an adoptee and, in the form of an interview with Sally Donovan, she explained about her experiences as an adoptee, finding out the truth about her birth mum and her struggles to come to terms with her trauma. Again I cried. A coupe of things she said were lightbulb moments for me and will change the wording I use with Missy. I've also been considering future life story work with Missy and Fran's experience will be helpful to me in that regard.

Next up was Sally Donovan. I love her book "No Matter What". If you are haven't yet read this book and have an interest in adoption, whether a prospective adopter, adopter or professional, I urge you to get a copy. Sally's talked to us about taking care and what I was reminded was that I must not feel guilty if I need to take time out. The only way I can parent therapeutically is if I have the energy to do so. If that means an hour on the sofa rather than a hour cleaning then so be it.  Sally also made me feel much better about the dreaded school run and gave us some great tips for being an advocate for our children at school.

We also heard from We Are Family who are doing a fabulous job in London setting up parent support groups - something that is vital for adopters - and from Ella Harris who introduced the concept of Open Space events, a platform for brainstorming ideas and discussion.

Finally, Sarah and Vicki from The Adoption Social talked about how they came to form this wonderful resource for adopters, what they can offer and what the future holds. They do a wonderful job and have really brought the adoption community together under the adoption social roof.

By the end of the conference I was drained. So much to take in, all the while thinking of my daughter, her future and how to apply what I learnt.  I was grateful for the lovely calming 20 minute walk along the river to the YHA where I was staying, even if I did end up with blisters.

An hour later I was back out again, for dinner with @iris7summer before heading back to the hotel for the evening social. Now, I do like a bit of a boogie, particularly if 80s music is playing but tiredness and blisters conspired against me. I had to admit defeat by 9.30pm and return to the YHA and bed. 

This morning I was up earlier than expected and decided to make the most of my extra hour by having a look round York Minster. The last time I was in York was with my late Dad when we visited the Minster and climbed the tower. Being in the Minster brought a tear to my eye whilst I lit a candle for him, a candle conveniently near the organist who was practising for Matins. Dad loved the sound of church organs. I loved the sound of the bells that were ringing out across the city, such a joyous sound. 

I've been truly inspired by the conference.  I've learnt I need to take care more of myself, I've learnt that it's ok not to do the cleaning (phew!), I've learnt I need to take more care in how I parent therapeutically, I've learnt that I'm leading an 'epic life', I've learnt it's ok to say no to the PTA (I really need to practice this one). I laughed, I cried. I loved meeting people who up til now I only knew as a random twitter handle. I loved meeting people who 'get it'.

I, for one, cannot wait for next year's conference.  Take care.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Reminding myself of the positives

I have to keep reminding myself how far we've come since Missy came home a couple of years ago.

One battle I've decided not to keep fighting is over hair.  I now allow Missy to do her own hair in the morning as long as it is tidy and appropriate for school.  Actually she does a really good french plait, better than I could do.  Now, this time last year if I'd asked her to do her hair again, or if she didn't like what I had done, there would have been a huge meltdown with screaming, crying, "I hate you", verbal and maybe physical abuse.  Earlier this week I asked her to do her hair again and whilst she had a strop and a huff, she immediately did her her again, beautifully.  

Other things also elicit a much calmer response from her than would have been the case a year ago.  A meltdown only lasts five minutes, 10 minutes tops and I can sit quietly near her until calm Missy is 'back in the room'.  

We no longer have to sit and plan the week ahead on her wall planner (in fact I might take it down) and she talks to me non-stop on the way home from school now instead of the stony silence or "don't talk to me" mood she used to be in.

Her reading and spelling is fantastic and she's becoming a lot less controlling, particularly when we are playing games.

We're doing ok and I need to keep reminding myself this.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Monkey Business

Well it's been a while since I've updated my blog. Sorry blog to have ignored you but I've been feeling quite 'meh' lately.

The summer holidays were great and the two weeks when Daddy was off were two of the best weeks we've had in the last two years, so we are planning on doing exactly the same next year. But then school started and Missy's anxiety ramped up. Her attitude changed, she refused to do things, was rude, same old, same old.

Usually the Autumn term for me is also a time for change and new things but this year I just haven't felt like that, I've just felt flat again. However, I've recently found out I'm seriously anaemic so that no doubt contributes to my lack of energy. I'm on iron tablets now. I've also found out that my cholesterol level is high - no surprise as my diet as been crap over the last couple of years and I haven't been able to run, plus it looks highly likely its genetic - so to help lower the levels I'm taking Co-enzyme Q10 which is also good for boosting energy levels. So, hopefully in a few months time my energy will be topped up and I'll be full steam ahead.

After a few weeks of being back at school, Missy came home with the class mascot. I didn't even realise they had one, I thought it was just Nursery, Reception and Year 1.  Now, obviously it was lovely for Missy to be recognised by the teacher for doing something well and therefore receiving the mascot, a monkey.  However, whilst in earlier classes she only had the mascot for a night or, if lucky, at the weekend, this year they get to keep the mascot for a whole week! Monkey went everywhere with her; in bed, swimming, a party. She got very attached to the monkey, too attached.  But I couldn't do anything, I couldn't tell her to take it back. I knew there would be fall out.

The night before she had to take the toy back in, she got very upset at the thought of having to part with monkey and the next morning she sobbed all the way too school. Even her friends in the playground couldn't cheer her up and she stuck by me whilst we waited for her teacher to open the classroom door.  When the door was opened, she walked in crying her eyes out.  One of the TAs asked what was wrong and Missy replied that she didn't want to give monkey back.  "Oh, don't be silly", said the TA dismissively.  I took a deep breath.   By this time Missy was sobbing uncontrollably.  Thankfully her teacher is empathetic. I don't how much she knows about attachment but she seemed to handle it fairly well, immediately seeing that Missy was upset and taking her aside.  I like her Year 2 teacher, she has time for me and has already put in place a couple of things to help Missy.

Three weeks later and Missy is still getting upset every now and then about not having monkey. She can't accept that it's only fair monkey is shared around the whole class, of course she can't.  All she can think about is the loss. I think I'll have to ask her teacher  not to give the monkey to Missy again, but recognise her in other ways that build her self-esteem.  No surprises what's top of her list from Santa. Do Toys R Us sell monkeys?

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Camping and school holiday success!

Missy loves camping! Hurrah!

I honestly had worries about camping.  Our tent isn't big, although it is a 3 berth tent, and I had visions of Missy fidgeting and not being able to sleep, hating being in a sleeping bag, hating the toilets and hating the noise.

But it was a success!

She slept like a baby, snuggled right inside the sleeping bag, loved being in the tent, was  happy to use the toilets (although declined to use the showers as it would have meant going in by herself so thankfully I was armed with wet wipes).  There was loads to do to keep her happy and she happily played with our friends' children who were camped next to us which meant I could enjoy a cuppa sitting on my deckchair watching the world go by .  Missy slept in both mornings long after Daddy and I had got up (5.30am one morning, we couldn't sleep!), but I'm glad we got up then as we could get straight in the showers and enjoy a quiet morning brew watching the hot air balloons gently float into the distance.

I did wonder what we would do about the late nights because we certainly didn't want to go back to the tent in the evenings until the music had finished but Missy happily stayed up until crazy o'clock.  She loved dancing to the music on Daddy's shoulders.  We only had a couple of strops but nothing of much note.

There is so much more I want to write and photos to show but I really can't, not on the blog.  Once again, food wasn't much of an issue because Missy was enjoying herself and food wasn't on her mind.

We are definitely going camping again next year. We have decided to get a bigger tent though, with a living area, because if it had rained we really would have been stuffed.

I really can't believe how well the last few weeks have gone - far far better than I dared to hope.  In the ups and downs of adoption, we are most definitely on an up!  It's three days until school is back and, touch wood, Missy is fine and amazingly showing no anxiety.  Of course, all might change in the next day or two but so far so good.  I've actually enjoyed the summer holidays, albeit tiring with a child who still follows me around a lot, but I reckon we can safely say these school holidays have been a success.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Legoland and Missing Daddy

Last week whilst staying at my Mum's, we went to Legoland.  The forecast had been for rain but we decided to chance it anyway as it looked to be fine by mid morning.  Luckily we had no rain whatsoever although I think the forecast must have kept a few people away because the Park was by no means full, in fact we barely had to wait for some rides.

We arrived at 9.10am and headed straight for the queue for pre-paid tickets and within 15 minutes we were allowed through to the start of the Park.  Missy is actually fine in queues so there are no worries there. Having been last year, we knew to walk to the top of the hill where they hold you until the rest of the Park opens at 10am.  From there we could race down to the first ride, the Viking Splash.  We were one of the first on the Viking Splash and got VERY wet but soon dried off.  We then headed for the Dragon.

Now, when I took my niece to Legoland about 17 years ago, when it was a quarter of the size it is now, the Dragon was quite a tame ride.  So I told my Mum it was tame and there was nothing to worry about.  I told Missy it was a gentle ride, just a small rollercoaster for kiddies.   Erm.....oops!    After we'd gently meandered round the first part of the ride amongst all the Lego characters, we then started to climb and then ..........whoosh!!  Missy screamed, my Mum screamed.  My Mum was hanging on for dear life, Missy was laughing her head off.  She loved it, my Mum hated it and needed a sit down afterwards. Missy just wanted to go on again. So we did.

The rest of the day went swimmingly. We did so much and Missy went on lots of rides either with us or by herself.  I think me and Mum loved the underwater Atlantis ride amongst the shark, fishes and ray more than she did though.  Apart from the Dragon, her favourite was the 4D animation with the snow, water and fire effects.

This time she wasn't too fussed about the Duplo Valley splash park but I suspect it was more because she had ice-cream on her mind.

We left about 4pm, with only one other car exiting the same time as we did, so had no problems with queues.  My niece works in Windsor so we drove down to see her and had a refreshing drink.  Missy was beginning to get a little bit ratty in the car which is a sure sign of tiredness. But all in all a good day.

Hopefully next year Missy will have grown a little more so that she reaches the height for the rides at Thorpe Park as I think she will have grown out of a lot of the smaller Legoland rides.

We stayed at Mum's two nights and as Missy has now stayed there a handful of times, she is quite comfortable there and we find we don't have to take over as much stuff from home like her bedside light and pillowcase.  She must be feeling quite safe there as she's beginning to display more of her negative behaviours, so at last my Mum is starting to see what we've experienced over the last 22 months.

We both missed Daddy a lot although we did speak to him on the phone.  Missy loves drawing cards and pictures for people and last night back home was no exception.  She made a beautiful card for Daddy, on which she drew pictures of the lavender she had picked from the garden and so beautifully tied in a small bouquet.  She popped this under his pillow together with treasure from the garden (a stone over which she had painted with pink glitter).  So lovely.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Missing cats, trampolining and cartwheels

We've almost made it to the end of week 2 of the holidays and we're doing ok-ish.  Next week we're spending two nights at my Mum's and the following two and a half weeks Daddy is off work, hurrah!

The first week of the school holidays were a little fraught.  This happened to coincide with one of our cats going missing.  My twitter feed has had quite a few missing cats on it in the last week or so - I think the hot weather has possibly meant they've accidentally got shut in sheds or garages whilst looking for shade, or that they've just spent an awfully long time sleeping under the stars! Our cat was missing for 5 days.  Actually I'm wondering if our cat just wanted some peace and quiet - he doesn't like Missy people shouting.  

I tried to be as positive as possible but Daddy was getting quite stressed and Missy was also upset. Nevertheless, she decided she wanted to help look for him and we spent Monday morning walking around the fields and posting Lost flyers. Thankfully the cat returned and so did Missy's better behaviour.

This last week Missy had a two-day trampolining course at the local leisure centre.  At first Missy was rather anxious, although insisted I didn't stay. I stayed five minutes by which time all the other parents had gone and Missy was laughing and giggling with two new friends.  I then spent a lovely 90 minutes sitting on the cafe balcony, enjoying the sun, the peace and quiet, with a coffee and my book.  On returning to the hall, Missy was in full bounce, really enjoying herself and bouncing much higher than when I left.  The teacher came over and told me that she was certainly very capable but lacked confidence.  I suspect she also lacked listening skills too.

The rest of the day was lovely and calm in the Missy house.

Day 2 and Missy was much happier to go trampolining.  I was certainly looking forward to my 90 minutes of peace and quiet.   By the end of the course, Missy was doing some great bouncing and turning, landing on her bottom and bouncing back up again.  I would have loved to have got on myself, I do love a trampoline.

The rest of the day was lovely and calm in the Missy house.

Hmmm, see a pattern?  Maybe I should enrol Missy on a trampoline course. I've read a few reports from parents about how bouncing seems to help regulate their kids. It's also known that many kids who have a degree of sensory processing disorder have a strong need to move - all the time.  Bouncing therefore is ideal for them and also helps with their motor skills and proprioception.  Whilst Missy has never been diagnosed as such, it's highly likely from certain behaviours she exhibits that she has a degree of SPD and it was certainly talked about whilst we went through matching.

We've been watching quite a bit of the Commonwealth Games (I say quite a bit, the TV has actually been on most of the time because we love watching sport and it's only once every four years - the TV is otherwise off!).  Missy has loved the gymnastics and this morning was in her leotard pretending to be Claudia Fragapane, the amazing English 16 year old gold medallist.  Missy is always doing cartwheels or handstands - if we're out somewhwere and we walk over some grass she'll want to do a cartwheel.  We also love the swimming (I've been studying closely how they breathe because I am useless at doing front crawl and breathing properly), and the diving.  Once Missy can swim a bit better, we're going to take her for a diving lesson.

Talking of cartwheels, I'm being called into the garden to watch yet another demonstration.  Watching? Watching? Do you get this with your kids?  Them forever asking you to watch them doing things. I've lost count the number of cartwheels I've watched.

In other news, we're all getting excited about our holiday abroad - not too much anxiety shown yet - and Missy has today started to pack her Trunki (we don't go for 10 days).

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