Monday, 30 December 2013

So that was Christmas and 2013

Our second Christmas with Missy has passed; such a long build up and then, whoosh, it's done.

It was lovely to see Missy far more excited this year about Christmas, about Santa coming, about receiving presents, about making mince pies and, well, Christmas in general.   Santa brought her, as requested, a cat onesie and a big dolls house full of furniture and people (my mega-find on ebay!).  Daddy and Mummy got her a bike and a few other presents, alongside the mountain she got from other friends and family.  

For the first time ever Missy visited a church, first of all to attend the Christingle Service and then the Crib Service on Christmas Eve.  I think she liked it.  I certainly did.

On  Christmas morning a very excited Missy was in our bedroom at 4.06am and then again at 4.30am.  I managed to get her off to sleep again and then we actually had to wake her up at 7.50am so we could all go downstairs and see what Santa had left.

My Mum stayed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day nights and spent a lot of time with Missy.  Missy loves her grandmas -she also spent a lot of time on Daddy's mum's knee when we went to visit his family for a few days.  Interestingly, previously when our families have been around, Missy hasn't screamed or shouted, but this time she certainly exhibited some less than festive behaviour - I suppose in a perverse way we should see this as positive as Missy is now beginning to feel comfortable enough with them to be herself and express her feelings.

The weekend before Christmas I was ill, completely off my food for nearly four days - thankfully my appetite was almost back to normal by Christmas Day.  However, since then I've had bronchitis and have been coughing like a mad thing.  This past year I've been ill so many times which just goes to show how stressed I've been.  That's one thing I really need to change in 2014.  My diet has been dreadful this last year and that will definitely change.

Another lovely thing this Christmas was sitting down and watching films.  Last year Missy couldn't hold her attention long enough and was constantly up and down and asking what was going on.  This year however we've all thoroughly enjoyed sitting and watching Polar Express, White Christmas, The Jungle Book, It's a Wonderful Life, Gangsta Granny to name but a few.  Mary Poppins is on in half an hour and I'm pretty sure Missy will like it.

We've only had a couple of big meltdowns in the last two weeks which is great.  Yes, we've had tantrums, strops and the word 'No' is the most used word in Missy's vocabulary, but on the whole, all things considered with the lack of school routine, visiting Daddy's sister's house for the first time, excitement of Santa coming, food anxieties etc, it's been an ok Christmas I reckon.  For me, it's been made all the better by having Daddy home full time too.

Looking back over the year, it's been a heck of a ride and I'm looking forward to a calmer 2014.  There's still lots we have to learn about therapeutic parenting; I'd give us 5/10 this year.  We need to learn to not sweat the small stuff far more than we do, not to take things personally (most times we don't but there's only so much verbal abuse one can take), we need to empathise more, accept more and learn how to deal better with situations so as to diffuse them rather than escalate them.  But we're doing ok.  We're still here. We haven't imploded and ended up a chocolately sticky mess on the floor.  Daddy and I need to get out more too, get a bit of life back for ourselves.

Right, time for Mary Poppins.  I wonder what she'd be like as an adoptive parent?


Wednesday, 18 December 2013

A Secret Santa Blog

The lovely ladies at Adoption Social arranged a Secret Santa whereby we write a blog post for another adopter blogger.  I've received a lovely post written by Adopting Safe Mummy Ways at www.adoptmum.wordpress.com and I'll definitely be making these:-

Guest Post

Adoption Social told me I was randomly picked to share a blog with Dear Daughter and I was quite excited about this.  The similarities of Sezz “Keeping sane with cake, chocolate, reiki and EFT” and my own calming, distressing tools of baking, chocolate and hypnotherapy are very well matched!

Christmas is a tricky time in our house and we do lots every year to reframe and reinforce the good stuff around Christmas.  Of course, it also needs lots of time with my girls to connect and calm, so baking in our house, is the go-to resource.  Therefore I thought I’d share one of my newer baking events and hope that it may be new to Dear Daughter or some of the blog readers.

Christmas Surprise Buns

It all starts with a basic bun / cake recipe. 

125g sugar
125g butter or margarine
125g self raising flour
2 eggs

Make a flat tray of sponge (like a swiss roll type).  We use Gas 4 for about 15 minutes. Cook for minimum time possible until just baked then allow to cool. 

Using small cutters, stars, tree, stocking shapes (whatever you like really) cut out the shapes from the cooled sponge mixture.  Then freeze the shapes.

Later or next day, make another batch of mixture, we often do chocolate version for this one and put small dollop into bun cases.  Then take the frozen shapes and push into the uncooked bun mixture.  Make sure you push the shape in quite firmly (first time I just sat the shape on the top and they turn out so well!).  Then bake as normal.

You should end up with some lovely Christmas Buns which you can decorate or just leave as they are!  Enjoy.



Friday, 13 December 2013

Identity Theft

In an article in this month's Adoption UK magazine, nine adoptive mothers talk about their experience of a change in identity.  They talk about moving away from their old role to a new role, with some transitions coming as a shock for some of the women.  This really resonated with me as I think I'm still in shock.


I'm really not sure what my identity is, I feel I've lost something over the last year and I can't quite put my finger on it.   I think the speed of our approval, match and placement left me in shock even though I thought I was ready for motherhood.  I'm still not sure I feel like a mother yet, though I'm not exactly sure what I should feel like.  I look at birth mothers and wonder if there is something different they feel, or maybe being a mother is a shock to many, be birth or adopter.

The article talks about 'public identity' and here I struggle too.  Whilst many of my friends and acquaintances know that we've adopted, only one of the 'school mums' knows (well, actually two know - an acquaintance told the second mum and it wouldn't surprise me now if most of the mums knew thanks to second mum), and it's these mums I come into contact with most nowadays. I don't want to be judged and I don't want Missy to be judged.

Before we adopted, I was self-employed and prior to my self-employment I had been a full time PA.  But I don't know what I am now.  I don't feel I can go back to self-employment as logistically it won't work, plus it's also very hard work and takes up far more time than being an employee.  I loved the industry I worked in and the work I did sits strongly with my core values.    Maybe that's it, maybe I need to look at my core values and rebuild/rebrand myself.   I'm going to start another blog in the New Year under my real name with the subject matter that is dear to my heart, nothing to do with adoption, and that will give me something on which to focus and maybe I can rebuild my identity upon that.  I don't want to be seen, or view myself more importantly, as 'an adopter'.  Some birth mums I know who are mums full time still talk about themselves in terms of their jobs, even if they are having a five year break until kiddy goes to school full time.  I don't know what I am going to do and Missy is already at school full time.  I'm confused and the more I think about identity the more confused I get.

One quote in the article hits the nail on the head for me  - "It's all about confidence isn't it ...."   My confidence is one thing that's disappeared faster than a bar of chocolate after Missy has gone to bed.  So I guess I need to work on my confidence as a base for my identity.

In other news, I've done all my Christmas shopping and it's only the 13th!

Monday, 9 December 2013

School

I've read many posts from adopters who have constant struggles with their child's school appearing to have no understanding of adoption and the issues adoption can present in a child.

Thankfully, so far, Missy's school have been great.

We had our bi-annual PEP meeting recently where Missy's social worker, our social worker, me and Daddy, her teacher and the advisory teacher from the LA attended.  The headmaster is also the person in the school responsible for LAC so he attended too.  I'm glad he did as he's quite a cool dude, very willing to help where he can.

The report back from the teacher was that Missy is doing fine in school, is happy and quiet.  I pointed out that "happy and quiet" could probably be read as "compliant" as Missy hates the thought of her teacher being angry with her and is desperate to please.  We explained the anger Missy was exhibiting recently and how the girl they know at school is very different from at-home Missy.  However, because she is doing ok academically, the general concensus is that, as far as school is concerned, there is nothing for us to worry too much about.  And actually Daddy and I agreed with that.  Yes, we have to keep an eye on how 'compliant' she is, and it's obvious that she's holding a lot of emotions in at school, but on the whole we are happy.  Her workbooks look great, her reading and writing has come on leaps and bounds and she has lots of friends.  Her teacher is very happy to work with us and the headmaster suggested a couple of things to which Missy's Pupil Premium could be applied, such as emotion cards.  They realise that Missy struggles with the social side of things and have suggested a few things they can do to help her.

All that said, I still attended a workshop arranged by our LA on how to support adopted children in school. The day was led by an educational psychologist who certainly knew her stuff and definitely came across as understanding where parents are coming from.  We all shared why we were there and it was awful to hear of some parents' school stories: condescending headteachers, children being punished for their behaviour, parents being blamed by the teachers for their lack of parenting.  Whilst we have no issues with Missy at school at the moment, we know it could change, particularly when she goes to secondary school, so it was good to get tips and advice so we can be prepared.  Even though Missy is in Year 1, many of the parents said it definitely wasn't too early to start checking out the local secondary schools.

Straight after the workshop, I met up with the Play Therapist who offered to spend some time with us talking about Missy's current anger.  I explained the strategies Daddy and I were using and I admitted our patience was being sorely tested, and it was good to hear that she felt we were doing everything right (even if at times it feels like we aren't).  She gave us some other techniques to use and we'll catch up with her again in a few months.

In other news, hurrah for Kian being crowned King of the Jungle.  I've only just cottoned on to Kian - even my Mum was a Westlife fan years ago!

Friday, 29 November 2013

Sorry isn't always the hardest word

After a particularly difficult day of meltdowns, hitting, biting and screaming, Missy disappeared into her room and reappeared with this note for us.




Wednesday, 27 November 2013

The day our freezer broke down



This blog post is my  entry into the Tots100/PartSelect ’Love Your Appliance’ competition.

We've recently bought a new freezer because our old one packed up (thankfully it was fairly empty).  I can't be without my freezer, it's so convenient and means leftovers can be saved for another day. However, it always seems to be freezers that conk out in our family. With Christmas fast approaching, you can bet the mention of a freezer will trigger someone in the family to tell the story of when our freezer broke down one Christmas.

I was about ten years old at the time. Frozen food was the in-thing in the 70s with lots more households buying their first freezer. Mum had filled our freezer to the brim for Christmas as she liked to put on a feast over the festive period and we usually had various relations around. Unfortunately this particular Christmas morning, before we sat down excitedly to open our presents, Dad discovered a problem - the freezer had bust overnight.  

Of course, there was nothing that could be done to fix it and even Santa couldn't have done his magic that day and magically make a new freezer appear.  Mum didn't want any food thrown away so saved what she knew could be safely defrosted and used over the next few days. Croquette potatoes and chicken vol-au-vents for Christmas lunch was a new one for me, whilst fish fingers for supper was even stranger. But what to do with the rest of the food that we didn't want?  Well, since it was the time for giving, why not give our food away to the neighbours.

So off we went. Frozen prawns to Mr Fisher (how apt), frozen veg to Mrs Mitchell, a gateaux to number 30, Crispy Pancakes to another neighbour and various other 1970s delights to our delighted neighbours.  They thought Christmas had come - oh, wait, it had!  

Sadly for our neighbours, our freezer never broke down again at Christmas but the tale has been remembered for many years.

I must remember to check the freezer on Christmas morning.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

The Climb

I can almost see it
That dream I am dreaming
But there's a voice inside my head saying
"You'll never reach it"

Every step I'm taking
Every move I make feels
Lost with no direction
My faith is shaking

But I gotta keep trying
Gotta keep my head held high
There's always gonna be another mountain
I'm always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be a uphill battle
Sometimes I'm gonna have to lose

Ain't about how fast I get there
Ain't about what's waiting on the other side
It's the climb

The struggles I'm facing
The chances I'm taking
Sometimes might knock me down
But no, I'm not breaking


I may not know it
But these are the moments that
I'm gonna remember most, yeah
Just gotta keep going

And I, I got to be strong
Just keep pushing on
'Cause there's always gonna be another mountain
I'm always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be a uphill battle
Sometimes I'm gonna have to lose

Ain't about how fast I get there
Ain't about what's waiting on the other side
It's the climb, yeah!
There's always gonna be another mountain
I'm always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be an uphill battle
Somebody's gonna have to lose

Ain't about how fast I get there
Ain't about what's waiting on the other side
It's the climb, yeah!

Keep on moving, keep climbing
Keep the faith, baby
It's all about, it's all about the climb
Keep the faith, keep your faith, whoa



Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, Curb Music/Curb Records/Mike Curb Music/Curb Songs

Sunday, 17 November 2013

"Living with the Angry Child"; a seminar by Holly van Gulden

Missy has been really angry for the last couple of months so when I received an newsletter from PAC mentioning a public seminar called "Living with the Angry Child", I knew I had to attend.  Thankfully, our local authority paid  for me to go.


The speaker at the seminar, attended by about 70 people, mostly parents, some professionals, was Holly van Gulden, a worldwide expert in child development and who works a lot with children in care.  She was brought up with her birth parents and they also adopted four children.  She is an adoptive parent herself, so is very experienced to talk about the subject.

The seminar was held near Euston station in London, a mainline station with some trains heading to the north of the country.  I had a fleeting thought of jumping on a train and disappearing for a few days.  I think I even said it out loud!  However, I didn't, I went to the seminar via the coffee shop where I treated myself to a massive almond croissant.

One thing I love about attending seminars and workshops is that other attendees know exactly what you mean.  They are going through the same problems, the same tantrums, the same behaviours with their children and are experiencing the same emotions as me.

I immediately warmed to Holly, a 60-something from Vermont USA.  She spoke to our hearts - I was in tears after only 20 minutes and had so many lightbulbs going off in my head that I should have worn shades. She was funny, she was serious, she spoke our language, not some pyscho-babble.   She talked about permancy and constancy, two building blocks for attachment and it's clear Missy experiences neither as fully as she would if she'd had a normal, healthy upbringing. She talked to us about the pyschology of anger and how this appears in our children, and ourselves, and gave us some techniques to de-escalate the anger.

Permancy is "the capacity to take it for granted that the item, or person, or the self continues to exist when out of sensory contact" whilst constancy is "the capacity to take it for granted that no matter what part of the other or the self you are currently experiencing, all the other parts of the other or self continue to exist".   We have to remember that Missy, at times, is not acting as a 6 year old, but as a much much younger child who hasn't normally would not have yet developed these capacities.   Two of the many lightbulbs for me were that attachments are sensory, not cognitive, so talking/talk therapy does not help here.  Holly also mentioned "to have and to hold" - of course this is a phrase used when there is a strong attachment between two individuals, ie. at a wedding.  With our children, they may well have and show signs of attachment, but their ability to hold it long term is not there.  Without constancy, the child assumes they are being abandoned as soon as they perceive, rightly or wrongly, there is discord, tension or disapproval.  Without self constancy, the child has difficulty controlling impulses, difficulty with transitions, refuses to accept direction and rages for no particular reason - that's Missy to a T.

I'm just re-reading my notes as I type this blog post.  Even now, I'm getting some lightbulb moments and we have much to put into practice.  I tried this morning but angry child with her primal scream and ability to physically (and at times verbally) hurt was not for calming.  This morning I could not help but break down in tears which Missy saw and ten minutes later had calmed down and apologised.

I know Rome wasn't built in a day and the techniques I learnt yesterday and those that Daddy is reading in 'From Fear to Love' by Bryan Post, will take some time to work.  I hope I haven't jumped on a train before they do.



Friday, 8 November 2013

A Love Bracelet

Missy loves her art and making things.  This week she made this bracelet for me.  Quite fitting I though, considering it's National Adoption Week #NAW2013.



It's a Love Bracelet and if I feel I need some love during the day whilst she's at school and Daddy is at work (she hadn't quite understood that Daddy isn't working at the mo), then I should press the square gem and love will pour out of the bracelet from her and Daddy to me.  How lovely is that?!  I nearly shed a tear when she gave it to me.  For all her anger, Missy can also be extremely thoughtful and sweet (and creative).

In return I sewed and stuffed a little heart, made with material with hearts on, that she has in her school bag so she can do press if she needs some love from us during the day.

I know I write about the negatives a lot, I guess it's because they consume us more.  But it's little things like this bracelet that make me remember why we adopted, why adoption is so important and why, albeit with more research and support, I would thoroughly recommend it.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Adoption paperwork, Tate Modern, Mammograms and Tantrums

We've done it, we've posted the adoption application paperwork. It's quite appropriate really that we've sent it this week and it's National Adoption Week.  No idea how long things will take now so I guess we just sit back and wait.  I'm quite glad to get it out the way really.

So, last week was half term and Daddy was off all week (actually he's off all the time now, hurrah!, until he find a new job).  Half term went ok actually.  We had some lovely days out, including doing one of our favourite walks down by the river.  This time last year we went on the same walk and Missy moaned constantly, but a year on she enjoyed it (probably helped by the stop at the riverside cafe).   We also went up to London for the day where we climbed 311 stairs up The Monument, went to Borough Market (Missy tried Vietnamese curry and loved it) and went to the Tate Modern.

I do love that kids say what they think, and where better than an art gallery.  I'm not a huge art lover although I do love Monet and do like visiting the National Portrait Gallery, but I'm afraid I just don't get some of the abstract stuff at Tate Modern.  I mean, come on, a plain canvas with a cut in it, an old pair of net curtains and another canvass painted entirely in black - I just don't get it.  Missy can do miles better.  I loved her thoughts on one particular picture - a canvass painted in blue with a white shape and a couple of other shapes which was supposed to represent a horse in a dream  - "it's rubbish!", said Missy, not too quietly. I laughed.  We left soon afterwards and headed up to Leicester Square for a massive treat, taking Missy to the Haagen Daz cafe.  Ice cream?!  For dinner?!  Well, it was a treat and it wasn't a school night.  Not surprisingly, she didn't sleep on the journey home.

One day last week we had to get my Mum over to babysit for the morning as I had an appointment at the breast clinic.  I had experienced some pain and felt a small lump, even though I'm fairly lumpy anyway.  Four hours we there!  Not the best experience of my life, mammograms are bloody uncomfortable and the hospital itself is so drab it can send you into a state of depression just sitting there.  Just relax, said the radiographer. I can't with the plate sticking in my bloody ribs!  Anyway, all is well.  Although with all the stress of the last two years, I wouldn't have been surprised if news had not been so positive.  I'm glad we waited to send in the papework because if results had shown something wrong, I'm not sure how we could have gone further with the adoption legalities.

Since my last blog, we've also had Parent Consultation Day at school.  It's good to know that Missy is doing ok academically, no worries from the teacher, although numbers isn't her strong point.  Not surprisingly, it's the social side of things that Missy still has problems with.  If someone isn't sharing, or tells tales, it's most likely that Missy will be the one who starts to wail.  She's been wailing a lot lately.   But generally, she's quiet at school, but as I explained to teacher it's because she is being compliant and her lack of self-esteem means she desperately wants to please.  Teacher is going to have a think about how to help Missy and we'll have a longer discussion at the forthcoming IEP meeting.   Sometimes I just can't fathom what triggers Missy's change of behaviour, but I guess sometimes there is just no answer.  Yesterday she specifically asked for a plait in her hair, and stood there happily whilst I did it.  As soon as I finished she turned and shouted "But I didn't want a plait in my hair!", and proceeded to have a tantrum.  This morning she growled at us and showed her teeth - honestly, it's very disturbing to see a little 6 year old girl act like a dog.  Harsh to say that but if you saw her you'd think the same.  Trying to comfort her is difficult as she screams she doesn't want anyone to touch her, but leaving her to calm down also results in further tantrums.  Sometimes she can regulate herself and at other times she can't, and quite often we don't know what to do either.  I think Daddy and I need to have another review of our parenting style - I've been reading about "Love Bombing", a technique from Olive James, where you literally bomb your child with love whilst giving them a day where they can choose what goes.  Sounds simple, sounds also a recipe for disaster but testimonials are positive so I'll let you know how we get on once we've tried it.

In other news, I actually really like the new Little Mix and One Direction singles.  There I said it, and I'm no teenager.



Saturday, 26 October 2013

One Year Ago Today .....

This post links up with #WASO on The Adoption Social and this week's theme is the Future.



One year ago today Missy came home to us.

One year ago my and Daddy's life changed beyond anything we could imagine.

We've survived, just about in tact.  Healthwise, it's been a crap year for me.  For someone generally pretty healthy, I've had so many colds, D&V, depression and back pain.  Daddy got to the end of his tether with his job (and so did I) and tomorrow is his last day - hurrah!

Missy had grown in so many years, not just physically.  In fact this morning both Daddy and I commented that she seems to have had a growth spurt recently.  Even though her emotions are up and down, she's come on leaps and bounds in so many other ways - she understands more about right and wrong, she is funny, she's stopped telling whopping lies (the odd one or two sneak in), she can be delightful, she is thoughtful, her reading has improved no end, her anxiety about certain things is lessening, she is catching up with her peers in terms of social behaviour and she copes with change pretty well for the most part.    The graph below is how I see the last year - some ups, some downs all the way along, but the overall result at the end is up.




As Daddy is working today and not home til after Missy's tea time, we are going to celebrate with a family meal next week but for today I've said that Missy can choose her favourite thing for her tea.  Pizza, of course.  We were also so proud of her this morning as she did a brilliant run of 1.7 miles and beat her PB by 3 minutes.   I'm not sure how other people celebrate this time, if indeed they do.  Once the adoption order goes through, we might end up celebrating that day instead, not sure.  One friend very thoughtfully sent a One Year Anniversary card which was lovely, particularly as I haven't heard from her much this year.  I don't suppose anyone else will remember it's been one whole year.

But what of the future?   I hope her anger is a 'phase', maybe Year 1-itis (I'm sure I didn't get this much homework when I was 6).   I hope her anger doesn't get in her way as she grows up as she has so much potential.  I hope her self-esteem improves and doesn't hold her back.  I hope her relationship with food doesn't impact on her life.  I hope we can build a great mother-daughter relationship. I also hope we can build a positive relationship with her much older half-siblings when the time is right.

For me and Daddy, I hope he can find a great job that is Monday to Friday although I'm really not sure what I want to do.  Being self-employed is too hard for me at the moment as I don't feel emotionally strong enough, but I lack so much confidence to go back to being an employee.

I think we just need to continue month by month, year by year at the moment.  Maybe we should live by the quote from Buddha - "Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present".

Thursday, 17 October 2013

It's Party Time

Did you see in the news this week the report about a teacher banning party invitations being given out at school unless it was the whole class?   Even though Missy has been invited to several whole-class parties, I felt for her it would be too overwhelming (and us too, lets be honest!).  Instead I suggested she invite 5 friends from her class.  This meant I had to surreptitiusoy give out the invitations - or at least it felt like it - in the playground.  I do hope no-one was offended, but if Missy doesn't get invited to a couple of birthdays then I'll probably know why.


Missy had been out of sorts of late and one of the reaons could have been her birthday - not knowing what a birthday means in this house, would she get a present, would it be fun?   We found it easier to involve her and not let there be any big surprises so she knew exactly what her cake was like, the games we would be playing, what we were doing on her actual birthday, that we had got her a Birthday badge etc.   On the birthday itself we got up a little earlier so she could open her presents - not too many, just one big one from us and close family plus the neighbours.  Pizza was chosen by Missy for her birthday tea and I decorated some muffins with icing and stuck a few candles in as I thought it would be nice that she didn't have to wait for her party to blow some out.

Party-day arrived and Missy was brimming with excitement.  We had a semi-Hello Kitty theme and the girls wore their best party dresses, which makes a change from Princess or Pirate outfits to be honest.  Daddy and my Mum were here and the school gate friend offered to help out as well.

I'd taken a few cues from the party Missy had been to last week plus included a few standard games like Pass The Parcel, Pin the Bow on Hello Kitty, Musical Statues etc.  Of course, One Direction figured as well with dancing to said group several times during the afternoon.  After games it was time for tea - mini burgers and rolls, home made ice cream and cake.  The home made ice cream was a Jamie Oliver recipe and his little ones seemed to love it - not in this house though. No-one really liked it, except of course Missy.  Oh well, it seemed a good idea.  What was a good idea however was decorating cup cakes.  Thankfully not that many hundreds and thousands and silver balls ended up on the carpet as we had forgotten to put a covering down. No sooner were they decorated than they disappeared into tummys.  Then it was time for Birthday Cake and candles and Happy Birthday followed by a bit more dancing and then it was 5pm!  I breathed a sigh of relief at how well the party had gone and Missy seemed to enjoy herself without getting too overwhelmed.  

And, now that's she six, she hasn't hit me or wet her knickers because "six year olds don't do that".  

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

"I'll stop hitting you when I'm six"

"I'll stop hitting you when I'm six" said Missy, as we drove to soft play.   Thanks, I thought.

Missy has been off sorts lately.  I've seen a couple of big tantrums, some full-on, throat wretching, ear-piercing screaming with venom in her eyes.  The word 'no' is prevalent, she's been talking about "when I was a baby" a lot and would definitely win Miss Attitude.  She's also been very lovely, sweet, helpful and funny, don't get me wrong, but the negative behaviour is of the like we saw earlier in the year.  

Could be several things that have set her off - perhaps her birthday, bringing back memories, not really knowing whether her new mummy and daddy will actually buy her a present, what happens on birthdays in this house?  Perhaps it's the eye drops she is back on.  I can actually pinpoint the day the tantrums started again and that was the day she started back on the eye drops.  If there was a more natural way to help her eyesight improve, I'd jump at it, but unfortunately the drops are the best solution right now.  One of the side effects is irritability and  I can't imagine what it's like to have one eye's vision blurred out so the lazy eye will work harder.  I think I'd be irritable.  It may be both these issues mixed in with a dose of school stuff.

A couple of times in the last week I had to walk out her room, once after she'd kicked me quite hard.  I was nearly in tears and Daddy took over bedtime duties instead.  Yesterday, she angrily wanted me to choose what she was going to wear, but unfortunately didn't like anything I chose.  I calmly said that it might be better if she chose and when she was ready to let me know and I would help her get ready and then we could have a hug.  I walked downstairs, again nearly in tears because of her venom towards me.  Crying and screaming followed but then silence and she appeared five minutes later in a lovely pink skirt and top, we had a hug and started playing with Lego.

At the beginning we felt we were walking on eggshells around Missy.  I think that feeling has pretty much gone now.  I can, largely, deal with her tantrums, help her make decisions, know when she needs some space, when simply watching Cbeebies is the right thing for her, when she's hit the tiredness wall.  

Missy went to her friends birthday party last week, where her friend had invited five other girls from the class.  Friend's mum invited me to stay and asked if I would like to help out which I was happy too, not necessarily because I wanted to keep an eye on Missy, more to make a few notes on what the heck you do for a girl's birthday party!   There are loads of way in which you can see how Missy has grown up, progressed over the last year, but along side her friends I could also see how socially and behaviorally she is a few months behind.  Not by much at all, not compared to, say, the school disco.   Reading is one area in which she is behind, she's only just reading books for the 4-5 year band, but you know what, I'm not going to stress over this. I doubt she read or was read to much before. Missy shows her flair in other areas: drawing, creating, sport.  In fact she came for a little jog with me yesterday, just half a mile which we'll gradually increase as we've signed up for the Sport Relief Mile next March.  She's also just about got the hang of riding a bike although straight lines are a little difficult at the moment.

I wonder if she'll remember what she said to me in the car.

In other news, I went to a House of Colour open day last weekend and got myself a bright red lippy! Never ever worn bright red before but the make up artist chose just the right colour for me.  I tell you, it does wonders for your confidence.





Friday, 27 September 2013

Support

This blog links up with #WASO - the Weekly Adoption Shout Out.

Like all adopters, when going through the process towards approval, we had to show that we had a good support network.

On paper ours was excellent: family, close friends, other friends, adopters, work-related people, social services, neighbours.

The reality has been, well, different. Some friends have disappeared, some people who I thought would call regularly haven't called once to see how we are. It was rather like when my Dad died - lots of people immediately expressed their sorrow, their care, their sadness but then went quiet on me - in fact one friend never called and when I later asked him why, he said that he didn't know what to say. Maybe that's it, people don't know what to say to us, think they're intruding, think we'll be too busy. I don't know. I don't think it's just up to us to be constantly updating people is it?

Of course, we have had some wonderful support. My mum has been brill and one mum at school has been so lovely (the only mum who knows); adopters who live locally; social services have been very good too (yes, really), spending lots of time with us in the early days listening, offering suggestions and arranging theraplay and one of my best friends has been so supportive.

But I think one of the biggest areas of support are from people I've never met, may never meet or even know their real names and that's the online community.  Through Twitter, the blogging community and The Adoption Social website, I've linked up with other adopters, shared problems, shared positive moments, shared advice, cried, laughed and compared chocolate binges. These are the mums and dads who completely understand how we feel, who have children with similar behaviours and just 'get it'.  Even when I'm stuck indoors, not wanting to leave the sofa, I know I can log on to Twitter and find someone to chat with, someone in the same shoes as me and then I don't feel so isolated.

Blimey, how on earth would I have coped without social media!

In other news, I wasn't successful in the London Marathon ballot <breathes sigh of relief>. Once again, Daddy, me and Missy will cheer from the sidelines.








Thursday, 19 September 2013

Theraplay Review and a big change

Firstly, do you like the new colour of the blog?  I like the autumnal feel and the slight quirkyness of it.

Today we had a review meeting with the Theraplay therapist just to discuss how the summer had gone and to decide if we need more sessions.  Daddy came too.  I emailed her in the week with a summary of the two months since we'd last had a session and discussed one or two points such as her food issue, anger management and her relationship with Daddy (which I think is brilliant).  The therapist felt that her attachment to Daddy was much quicker than me because she had had experience of a chaotic birth mum, so wasn't sure what I'd be like and therefore tested me a lot, whereas she'd never experienced a father figure before and so just assume that how Daddy acted was right.  I hadn't looked at it from that point of view before.  Daddy isn't still sure he feels like a Daddy yet, he says he feels like a Guardian, but that's a step forward from a few months ago.  I think he makes a great Daddy.

The post adoption support social worker was there too and both asked us if there was any more support we needed.  I feel like we've reached a plateau at the moment but feel that when Missy turns 8/9, at the age when cognition is greater, that she may need to return for some sessions.  Before we put in the adoption order we wanted to make sure that this support would still be available post adoption.  I must have asked several times and each time they assured me it would still be available which is very comforting to know.   So, for now, weekly Theraplay sessions have stopped until such time we feel we need them again.

In other news, and it's a whopper really, Daddy has decided to resign from his job.

A risk yes, but we'll take it.  For any prospective adopters reading this blog, if you are in a couple and one or both of you work on a rota basis, think very hard about your work situation.  Daddy currently works five days in seven, always has to be in on a Saturday and most Sundays.  Working at weekends doesn't mix when you adopt a child who goes to school.  When Daddy isn't working he sees Missy in the morning, and then again 3.30pm til 7pm.  We can't go out for family days out and Daddy is too knackered from work on his days off to want to do much.  Daddy has been very stressed lately and it all came to a head this week.  I'm fully supportive and we have enough in the bank to keep us comfortable for a while whilst Daddy looks for a Monday to Friday job.  He has a fantastic work ethic and will work bloody hard during the week, it's just that working at weekends doesn't work for us as adopters.   And we'll get a proper Christmas, hurrah!  Daddy's always had to work Christmas Eve and is usually back in work on Boxing Day or the day after.

I think it can only strengthen the family unit as there is soooooo much we can do all together at weekends.  We told the therapist and the post adoption support worker yesterday and they also felt it will be very good for us.

Right, time to go to the hospital for Missy's appointment with the eye consultant.  Oh joy. Do you know, they charge £3.50 for parking?! Out-flippin-rageous.


Monday, 16 September 2013

Earth Mother

The start of the September term still feels to me like a new year, even years after finishing school.   I often re-evaluate what I'm doing, start new projects, even more so than on 1st January.  This year is no different yet it's very different.  Actually, as they say in Vietnam "Same, same but different".

I gave up work a year ago as requested by the social workers so I could devote all my time to looking after Missy.   Back in April I desperately needed to find a focus to help me out of my depression and I turned back to one of my roles which is a home-based business.   Unfortunately, something unpleasant relating to that business completely threw me off balance 6 weeks ago, so much so that I'm not sure if I want to continue. It's left a bad taste in my mouth and I don't have the energy to fight it.  Yet it might be good for me in the long run.

I was reading Green Parent magazine this weekend and, what with the change in seasons, I'm feeling a connection back to what I think in my heart I'm truly about which is related to holistic health and trying to be more green than the average person in the street.  One friend described me as an 'earth mother' type. Not how I'd describe me but I quite liked that. However please don't get the image of flowers in hair and flowy skirts; I do like Costa Coffee and flying long-haul (that said, I did bag a bargain flowy skirt for a £1 in the local charity shop yesterday).  I do have things in my hair although it's more than likely some decoration that Missy has fashioned out of paper.  Though come to think of it, she did put a twig of thyme from the garden in my hair last week.  Ha, maybe I am earth mother after all!

Anyway, I'm going to start looking at how I can fit what I want to do around Missy's school hours - I still definitely need to be there for her after school.  I've also signed up to a course teaching children how to meditate with a view to doing this in schools.  Somewhere along the line, I'd love to utilise my skills specifically to help children with trauma but this probably won't be for a few years.

Going back to the hairdressing, it's one thing that seems to help Missy relax and regulate.  She would do it for hours in my hair and I'm happy to let her.  I've also introduced her to meditation using a CD which we play after she's had her bedtime story and isn't too tired already.  She loves it and often requests it and I definitely noticed a difference in her behaviour when I started using it.  Hence why I want to learn it.

My own relaxation comes from reading a good book or magazine, baking, giving myself reiki or, on a sunny day, just sitting in the garden (obviously mostly activities I do when Missy is at school). Vegging in front of the tv is also high on the list particularly if its a cooking programme. I love running too although haven't done much this year but I intend to start again regularly next week.  If I'm feeling flushed I might even treat myself to a massage. I also LOVE Bowen therapy and have just come back from having a treatment to help a back and shoulder problem.  I love relaxing; it's hugely important and one thing I would tell my clients over and over was to make time for themselves.  Sod the dusting!  Chilling out and being good to yourself is key to good health and less stress and boy do us adopters have stress!

Right, where's the five foot pile of magazines I need to catch up on?

This point links up with #WASO



Friday, 6 September 2013

Back to school - and an Award!

Whilst the holidays were more enjoyable than I was expecting, I was truly glad when last Tuesday came around and Missy returned to school.  My Facebook timeline was full of mums posting tearful messages and photos of their darlings in their uniform on their first days back.  Of course, I can't post photos.  I also didn't feel tearful.  Thankfully, the one Mum at school who knows about Missy was also hugely relieved and not at all sad the holidays were over so we were both glad that someone else felt the same and didn't feel so guilty.

Missy has had mixed emotions about going back to school.  Throughout the summer, if asked, she's been very proud to announce that she's starting in Year 1 this term.  To her, this means she's a big girl now.  Depending on when you asked her, she was either looking forward to going back to school or not.  She wasn't sure about having less playtime and more learning numbers and letters.  Actually, going on what the teacher said last term, she won't notice the gentle transition they put in place from Reception to Year 1.  The first few weeks is still very much child-led play-based, moving gently on to teacher-led work.

In the few days before going back to school there wasn't much change in Missy's behaviour.  Bedtime was a little earlier than it had been during the holidays and we talked lots about seeing her friends and the teachers. Tuesday morning there were no tantrums or tears as expected and as soon as she got to the playground she was straight back into playing with friends, like they hadn't been apart for 6 weeks.

What we have noticed is that even for Missy who is always on the go, these last four days back at school have been exhausting for her.  Last night she was almost falling asleep before she'd had her meal and this morning she was very unsettled, wanting lots of hugs and reassurance.  She wanted to stay at home all day with Daddy and me, but again once when we got to school she was fine.  Very early night tonight methinks.

The wetting has started again though (sigh).  Throughout the holidays I think she only wet a couple of times and I thought we'd got past it.  Missy even said to me without prompting that she wasn't going to wet herself as she was in Year 1 now.  But yesterday, as she came out of school with a plastic bag in had, I knew she'd wet herself again.  At least this time she'd told a teacher who got her changed into fresh knickers.  Still haven't got this one sussed yet.

Actually, it seems Missy's first week back has gone very well indeed   - whilst writing this post, Missy has come in from school having been awarded the school's UNICEF Rights & Respect Award for her year for settling back into school so well and learning the class routines.  How cool!  Well done Missy.

And no wet knickers either.



Wednesday, 4 September 2013

We made it!

Hurrah!  We made it through the school holidays relatively unscathed.  Missy went back to school yesterday and whilst she was a little unhappy in the middle of the night, on arrival at the playground she settled back in straight away and was happy to see her chums.  I was happy to go home to some peace and quiet.

On the whole the holidays were fine if not a little exhausting on the attention front.  Missy seemed to enjoy all the activities we did and only had a handful of small tantrums.  She is going through a stage at the moment though where if she gets upset or frustrated she will cry that she's missing her 'old mummy' or that she doesn't want to live here anymore.  When she's calmed down from her tantrum she usually says that she didn't mean what she said.  However, it's still something I shall mention at the review with the Theraplay therapist in a few weeks time.  Control is still something Missy wants.  Several years of being in control is not going to be changed by a few months living with us.

Having spent all this time with Missy, I've learnt a few more ways to calm the situation and not let my anxiety levels rise too much.  Partly I ignore her.  Not completely.  I do take notice of her issue, what's troubling her, how she is reacting, but I've learnt that sometimes letting her work out her issue and regulate herself whilst I explain that I'll be, for example, downstairs or in the kitchen when she is ready for a cuddle, is the way to go. I don't get into a debate or argument with her, I make my point and then shut up eg whyyyy do I have to clean my teeth - first time I'll say 'to keep them healthy' but the next time I'll just be quiet - she usually goes and cleans her teeth or does whatever she's supposed to then.  There are some things I won't tolerate though if she carries on, such as rudeness, hitting or chatback. Saying that, she hasn't hit much recently, maybe 2 or 3 times in the last 6 weeks and they were out of frustration.  On the whole she is a different girl from the girl who arrived 10 months ago - still bloody exhausting and demanding attention - but so many of our initial issues have gone or reduced considerably.   I've no idea if we're doing the right parenting, the correct therapeutic parenting, the PC way of parenting but I think on the whole we're doing an ok job.

I even printed out the Adoption Order paperwork!  I've started to fill it in but currently it's sat on the desk.  We're not quite there yet.  Daddy expressed some wobbles the other day and something is holding me back but I don't know what.  But at least we're considering the paperwork and that's a positive move.

Right, I'm off to make the most of the glorious sunshine and the peace and quiet for an hour before the school run.


Thursday, 15 August 2013

Summer holiday update

I haven't written for a while because my MoJo has done a runner.  Not sure why really.  I was doing well and felt quite motivated for a while but lately, well maybe it's the warmer weather, maybe it's because Missy wears me out.  I did have a work related issue that hit me for six and knocked my confidence so maybe that's it.

But here I am again so I'll update you as to what's happening as far as Missy is concerned.

Obviously it's the summer holidays and so far so good.  Daddy has currently escaped to the supermarket for a breather no doubt.  He's off for two weeks which is heaven and really takes the pressure of me.  We've had a good time so far these holidays.  We've had play dates, been on holiday to a farm, been up north to visit Daddy's mum, been to a kids tennis camp (for one day only though), been for walks, been shopping, played at home, done drawing and making things, cooking and other stuff that I've forgotten already.   There have been a few tears and tantrums but actually on the whole it's going swimmingly.  We're off to Lollibop, the children's festival in London, this weekend and Legoland next week followed by a trip to the Isle of Wight.  The change of routine doesn't seem to have affected Missy too much, thankfully.

Missy has wet herself a few times but it's not a daily occurrence as it was before she broke up from school.  I'm hoping she'll carry on in this vein but we'll wait and see what Year 1 brings.

So, that's  quick update for now.  More to follow.

Monday, 8 July 2013

First Swimming Lessons

I mentioned in a previous post about how Missy absolutely loved being thrown around the pool on holiday in Portugal.  She has no fear of the water at all and could play in it for hours.  So I decided to take her for swimming lessons.

It was her first lesson last week and for half an hour she had a permanent smile on her face.  She wasn't exactly swimming as such but her confidence in the water meant she was happy to be there and without arm bands.  In the lesson they use floats and those long bendy things, no idea what they are called!   There are only 5 kids in the lesson with the teacher in the pool too plus a teacher out of the pool.  As with gymnastics, Missy needs to concentrate more  - actually that reminds, we were watching the tennis yesterday and Murray was 4-1 down in the second set when Missy shouts "Murray, you need to concentrate". And he did just that!  :-)

Back to swimming.  We've only had two lessons but there's definite potential there.  Legs are going the wrong way and she's swallowing rather too much of the pool but the smile on her face for the whole lesson tells me she is thoroughly enjoying herself.   I was really proud of her last week.  Not sure yet if swimming and gymnastics will be too much for her - I suspect so at the moment so we'll see how she fares next term.

In other news, Missy is still wetting herself.  Haven't cracked this one yet.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Our gorgeous cats

I am a massive animal lover.  Cats are my main thing but over the years I've had smaller pets including rats, gerbils and hamsters.  My cats keep me sane, they offer unconditional love.  My first cat Floyd (which actually was my ex's cat) loved me, I was the first lap she'd ever sat on.  She was a grumpy thing too, demanding and liked her own way - hmm who does she remind me of I wonder?  I looked after her like no one had before, I combed her and talked to her.  For logistical reaons, she actually lived with my parents. My Dad and her got on fantastically and when my Dad died, she went searching for him and would often sit under his electric keyboard in their spare room.  She died 6 months later.

My second cat started life at my brother's but moved to mine when she was 2.  She was my best friend when I lived alone - my eyes are welling up now thinking of her.  She always said hello in the morning, she was my rock.  When I had depression back in 2002, Lulu was the constant for me.  If she could talk, well ....  Sadly she died a few years ago, I was devastated, her photo is still the screen saver on my phone.

But now we have two cuties.  We adopted them, of course.  They are brothers, Badger & Jersey, who are mainly white with black spots, although as brothers they couldn't be less alike.  Jersey is fluffy and a home cat, very cute and doesn't mind being picked up.  Badger is slim and short hair, he likes adventure and will be gone for the whole day, coming back after a day of micing in the fields.  He hates being picked up but always comes for a hug in the evenings and loves having head rubs.  Our boys.  We love them dearly.

When Missy arrived, we hoped she'd like them and they would like her.  In the very early days, our concern was for the cats when she was having a screaming fit.  Both cats ran the other way when they heard or saw Missy and we were worried, we didn't want our cats upset!   But a few weeks in, an amazing thing happened.  The fluffy home cat saw Missy with the cat hair comb and immediately went up to her. That was that, friends for life.  The strange thing is he always knows when its storytime, wherever he is he will come into her bedroom when we are reading the story and sit on her bed until lights out.  If Missy is crying, he'll come and see what's up.  He's so cute.

On the other hand, Badger the adventure cat still hasn't really warmed to Missy.  He doesn't run a mile, but he's not that happy about being in the same room as her.  He likes to be alone, he likes the quiet life.  He'll tolerate her and Missy doesn't take that much notice of adventure cat now.

Cats are an integral part of the family.  They are our de-stressers.  I can't imagine life without them.  I've even contemplating writing a children's book about our cats' adventures.  Watch this space!

This post is being linked up to #WASO





Wednesday, 3 July 2013

An Obstacle Course

It was Missy's PE Day at school today and one of the things she did was an obstacle course; some of the part of the course were easy for her and others not so easy but she got to the end.  Life is like that at the moment; some whopping great obstacles in the way which are tough to get past but with persistence we get there.  It's tough and it stretches us but on the whole we are moving forward.

Missy is up and down at the moment.  As another adopter put it so well, she has "Reception-year-itis".  The routine at school is being interrupted with PE Days, school trip, moving up day, supply teacher this week and arts week.  The thoughts of moving to Year 1 is no doubt in her mind.  She is still wetting daily.

In contrast, she absolutely loved her first swimming lesson and I saw that relaxed, smiley happy little girl that appears every now and then.  She was awarded Badge 7 in her gymnastics and her counting and recognition of numbers is improving.  We've been talking about Dream Boards and she has chosen a couple of things to put on hers.  We'll do these in the holidays (which I need to plan!) and post them here.

Missy loves the word 'no' and tries to outsmart me by saying things like "If you don't do (xyz) then I won't ever draw you a picture again".  Recently though she was darker and said "If you don't play with me then I'll stab you".  Slightly disturbing and I can only think she's heard that phrase from her birth mum.  The next day she commented that she didn't mean it and when she said she hated me she said she was only pretending.

One minute she is delightful, funny, in the moment, the next she is in fight, flight or freeze mode.  It must be so tiring for her physiology.  It's blimmin tiring for me keeping up with her mood.  I try to stay as calm as possible whatever mood she's in and several people, whose opinions I really value, say how calm me and Daddy are.  And breeeeeathe.

We've got our Adoption Review this Friday, our third.  Oh joy.  No doubt they will ask us about putting in the Adoption Order.  I'll update on that after Friday.

In other news, I've lost 8lbs in weight! Yeehah!

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

A step backwards and Fathers Day

I haven't felt very inspired to write my blog lately.  Not sure why. Maybe it's because I had nothing of significance to write - all was going swimmingly (well for the most part) in our house.   Until this weekend.

Last Saturday Missy was cheeky, belligerent, crying at everything, crying each time I said no to something, kicked me, very nearly bit me, shouting, screaming.   My heart was pounding and whilst I attempted to remain calm, twice I had to lock myself in the bathroom to have a deep breath and a cry.  I haven't felt like this since back early in the year. Daddy was working all weekend so he wasn't around to help.  I know I shouldn't take what she says personally but it's hard not too when all I hear is how nasty I am, how she doesn't love me and wants to go back to her old mummy.  Once Daddy got home, we had tea and I disappeared upstairs and left him to do the parenting.  Of course, all was pretty much fine after that.

I really can't think what was the trigger for last Saturday.  Maybe it's a culmination of things such as preparing for Year 1, Daddy working all weekend, having breakfast early with Daddy and so it was ages til snack and lunchtime, not going to soft play (I changed my mind and decided Sunday would be a better day).  Perhaps we've been a bit too loose lately with boundaries, forward planning etc so I think I'll tighten the reins a bit.

Sunday was calmer.  It's Fathers Day so Missy gave him his cards this morning, one of which included a badge that Daddy wore all day and we visited him at work before soft play to check he was wearing it (he was).   I let her watch TV all morning, not something I usually do but she was much calmer and enjoyed watching the programmes and I had time to catch up on a few things.  I even managed a chapter of my latest book!  The rest of the day was pretty much ok and passed without incident. Sadly we didn't really get to celebrate Fathers' Day as Daddy and I had our tea much later than Missy as I wanted to get her bathed and bed early, but he did take her to one of the local playgrounds (erm,which happens to be in a pub garden!) for some Daddy/Daughter bonding before tea.

Last week ago I had to attend a PEP (Personal Educational Plan) Meeting at the school with Missy's SW, her teacher, her Year 1 teacher and the LA Educational Adviser.  SW started the meeting by talking about Missy's anxiety and about me and Daddy, like I wasn't in the room!  I surprised myself with my reaction - "that's my daughter you're talking about" and felt a little defensive.  This is good!   SW has seen me twice and Missy once in the last 2-3 months, she hasn't seen how Missy has changed! Grrr.  Anyway, I am now warming to her teacher who is certainly keeping an eye on her.  Anxieties appear in the classroom, particularly when she has to change activity or change her book.  She's still wetting herself almost daily too.  The Year 1 teacher is also the school SENCO which is good news. I'm still not convinced that her quietness in the classroom is quite right.  Quiet is not Missy.  I feel a sense of compliance or 'freeze' state, but we'll keep tabs on it.  The SW also let us know that she is moving on in August.  For me and Daddy, that's fine, we haven't warmed to her like our own SW who is fabulous.  But  I think Missy will find it challenging having a new SW to trust and like.

In other news, I went on a course yesterday "Trauma & The Body - How to support yourself using Somatic Experiencing".  More about this in another blog.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Our first holiday abroad

Today is the last day of the half term holidays (inset day today) and about time I gave an update.

The week before half term was unsettling for Missy.  She wasn't herself and school noticed this too.  Whilst she wasn't having meltdowns or major tantrums, she was more tearful than useful.  Anything would set her off.  I put this down to a variety of things: forthcoming holiday to Portugal and all that goes with it, not being in the talent show at school, her family finder SW telling her it would be the last time she was visiting and Theraplay.

We did our best to prepare Missy for the holiday - involved her in packing, bought her a book about airports showing what Passenger Pete did at each stage, talked about what we would all do once there, explained about our cats going on their own holiday, talked about what we would do when we all got back home etc etc.  More about the actual holiday later.

The talent show was a learning curve for Missy.  Being in it was optional and although Missy said she did want to participate, she didn't want to rehearse.  Teacher spoke to me about it and I spoke with Missy about it, explaining that it's important to practice and practice when you want to do something new.  In the end I agreed with teacher that Missy wouldn't be in the show - it wasn't fair on those who practiced a lot and Missy would have looked a bit of a lemon on stage.  Lesson learned for next year.

Back to the holiday.  It went well.  Hurrah!!

Missy enjoyed virtually every moment.  She was excited about going, didn't appear apprehensive, was really good at the airport and not overwhelmed.  We had a very early start at 3.50am (when we left the dawn chorus was in full swing and a cuckoo was making his presence well known - such a great sound).  We met my brother, sis-in-law and mum at the airport in time for breakfast. We had bought Missy a Trunki (got a bargain on ebay) which she loved when we showed it to her, and indeed it proved useful for packing her toys, colouring and books for the flights, but pulling the thing along was not of much interest to Missy and Daddy and I ended up carrying it. The flight was good, the long drive to my brother's house passed without incident and once at his house she made herself right at home straight away.  We practiced the night time routine which we always do in a new place; going from her room to bathroom and her room to our room.  Her room was in between both our room and the bathroom and she found her way to the loo in the early hours with no problem, and not a wet bed in sight.

Missy's highlight was the pool.  Previously I'd taken her to the local swimming pool where she hadn't really ventured from the side even with arm bands.  On holiday, however, within minutes she was treading water and doggy paddling with her arm bands on.  The best bit for her though was being thrown and chucked in the water by Daddy.  She absolutely loved it. I wish I could show a video, it's hilarious.  She'd still be in there now if we didn't have to come home.  I'm really pleased she has so much confidence in the water considering she'd only been to a pool a couple of times before.

We visited the beach, which was stunning.  A vastness of sand, the tide out a long way and not another person in sight.  If any of you know Formby in the North West, it reminded me of there. Whilst the weather was sunny, it was very windy and too cold to sunbathe so we paddled, walked, climbed the sanddunes and made sandcastles.

What I valued was having a break from being the centre of attention.  My brother and sis-in-law were brilliant with her and mum is a complete star.  Mum is an early riser and seeing that Missy was also up early, offered to read her a story each morning, which Missy loved.

It was lovely to see Missy so relaxed and care-free.  She has a beautiful smile and a lovely giggle when she's really enjoying herself and we saw this on many occasions.  Yes, there were a few grumpy moments and the food issue was evident though low-key but on the whole it was a great week.  We only went for four nights as we weren't sure how it would go when we arranged the holiday, but it's great to know that Missy enjoyed it and bodes well for future holidays abroad.

Back home, Daddy continued his holiday, going back to work tomorrow.  I love it when he's home as we share the parenting well, it takes the pressure of me and it's important bonding time for him and Missy.  The last few days have been enjoyable too, not least because the sun has been out and it's been really quite warm.  We've played a lot with Missy (she's still very demanding of our time), we've had a picnic as part of national The Big Lunch event (which led us to a local park we never even knew was there!), and we've been bird spotting in a local reserve (saw a kingfisher and a heron fishing).  Today was Parent Consultation time at school which was fine; no major issues from either side, a few things we pointed out but nothing either side are too worried about.  Missy has been stubborn, cheeky and talking back a fair bit the last few days but I think it's because she's in her safe surroundings and feels able to do this.  A couple of adopter friends reckon this is good!  They're a bit more experienced than me so I'll take there word for it at the moment!

So, all in all, a good week and another few steps forward.



Monday, 20 May 2013

What is normal?

On the whole life in the Missy household has been fine for the last week.  It's been normal.  But our normal includes wetting, tears, screaming, kicking, anger, angelic, funny, sweet.   Actually there's been not much on the massive tantrum front for a while, just the daily strops.

Last Tuesday was a tearful afternoon but I put that down to the Theraplay session where the therapist encouraged Missy to think about emotions such as scary, happy, sad and excited and got her to think of times she felt like this with birth mum.  Consequently, she was very tearful later and anything and everything set her off.

Contrast this with last Saturday.  We went into London to Mums Show Live and met up with a friend and her 5 year old.  I wondered how Missy would react but for the most part she was relaxed and really did seem to enjoy herself.  She gets on really well with my friend's daughter which is lovely to see.  Both of them had their faces painted, played in tents, did drawings, made butterflies, had their nails painted, had their hair done and ate ice cream.  Missy was a little quiet during Carrie and David Grant's book launch (I think Carrie is so inspiring - three birth children with seven issues between them - ADHD, Aspergers and Dyspraxia to name three - and one adopted son).  It was a noisy dance-a-long launch and whilst friend's daughter joined in fully, Missy clung to me and was a little overwhelmed. But apart from that, she relaxed, smiled and laughed most of the day.  And the day was long - 10-5 at the show, home at 6.30 which is over an hour after Missy's teatime and then an hour later to bed.

The thing I struggle with with Missy is working out what is normal 5 year old behaviour, what is normal but just that little bit more intense with Missy and what is not 'normal' 5 year old behaviour that is a direct consequence of her background.

Missy has been recognised at school lately on a couple of occasions for being so neat and tidy.  Teacher tells us she is a joy and a quiet member of the class.  Missy?  Tidy?  Quiet?  Now is this being too compliant or is she, like I was at school, just being, well, a good girl?

Sometimes Missy does something, acts in a certain way, but then I see her friend act exactly the same and I think 'oh  good, she's being a 5 year old, nothing more, nothing less'.

I'm still a new mother and still getting to grips with what being 5 means.  I know her wetting and her frustrations are a direct result of her background.  She can be very intense and my friend noticed this a few times on Saturday.  Sometimes, she cries at something that one of her classmates may cry at, like many youngsters she's probably excited yet wary about going on holiday abroad for the first time, but I know with Missy her emotions are heightened.  This may come out in her language - whilst playing hairdressers and with me as a customer, she's asking her 'customer' if she can stay with them forever.  We've done that a lot this week.

I hope one day (and I know it's still early days) that I won't be forever analysing Missy's actions, language, tears and laughter.  It's hard work and I wish we could just be - but we can't - for now anyway.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Achieving in Art

Do you ever dream that you know the answer to something, can sing a song all the way through, or have the perfect reply to someone?  I dreamt a fabulous blog post last night.  It was about achieving.  I'm no journalist   so I kinda write as I think but this blog in my dreams was brilliant!

However, you'll have to do with this one as I can't remember what I said in my dream.

When we were going through our assessment, our social worker asked where we thought we'd be in 20 years time.  We'd be 64 and 70 and Missy would be 25.  I said I'd hoped she might have had some further education, working her way through her first job, maybe even a mini-entrepreneur.  Our social worker said we shouldn't hope for much as adoptees are not achievers.  Ooooh, I wanted to blow my top right there!  I don't really get annoyed much but that comment got my goat.  How dare she label children so freely.  And what, anyway, does achieving mean - everyone has different meanings of achieving and success.  Just because she might not want to go to uni does not make her a non-achiever, just because she might not want to be a lawyer, a doctor, a city high flyer does not make her a non-achiever.  Whatever she does she will have achived.  Uni is not the be-all and end-all.  If she's a hairdresser, she will have achieved; if she's a dancer, she will have achieved; if she's a waitress, great!   (I said it far more articularely in my dream).

Right now, Missy is achieving great things in her artwork.  Her pictures often leave me and Daddy speechless, they are so good.  Drawing and making things is her passion and her resourcefullness makes me smile a lot.  I certainly was not that good at art when I was 5.   The school have noticed her talent and we're looking forward to creative art week at school.

Here's a sample of her work:

A peacock (not copied, all from her own little head)



Rapunzel, the prince and his horse



Daddy's breakfast - she painted some sponge to make it look like toast, glued it to a plate and stuck on some coloured paper baked beans and a knife and fork.  Brilliant.



A pony


Thursday, 9 May 2013

How I've changed - a SpecialK30 Linky Challenge

I've been lucky enough to be chosen, along with other BritMums bloggers, to try the brand new Special K cereal and be a part of their #SpecialK30 Linky on BritMums.  Special K haven't changed their recipe for 30 years until now.

It got me thinking about the last 30 years and how I've changed.  Looks-wise I actually haven't changed that much.  In fact at a friend's recent 40th the theme was the 70/80s so I dressed as though I was back at school - I still have my old school blazer and it still fits!  I've also still got my old school tie; I backcombed my hair, applied black eyeliner and light pink lip gloss and there I was, back in 1983, not looking a day older!



Duran Duran, Culture Club, Fame, Phil Collns, Spandau were the big things back then.  I was a massive Duran fan back then and would scrapbook anything in Smash Hits or the newspapers that I could find.  These days there's info anywhere and everywhere thanks to the internet.  I can remember years by the music that in the charts - I'm rarely one year out on Radio 2s Pop Master!

Back then I wasn't the quietest but I also wasn't the loudest.  I wasn't a member of the cool crowd at school, in fact I was bullied by one of them.  I was very shy actually.  Still am to some extent but am far more assertive in many situations these days.

I was a good schoolgirl runner back then, winning my year's 100m race at the Sports Day.  They don't do sports days any more at school apparently as it's too competitive, which in my opinion is quite ridiculous.  At least I can run a bit further than 100m these days.

Anyway, back to Special K.  I've always loved Special K, often substituting it for lunch or dinner, and have to admit I was a teeny bit disappointed when I had my first taste of the new recipe.  It was too sweet, reminded me of Frosties.   But then I had another bowl, and another, and another (not at the same time you understand!).  The packet didn't last long and neither Daddy nor Missy got a look in.   Sometimes when you're used to something it takes a while to get used to change.  I'll definitely be looking out for the new recipe when it's on the shelves.




Disclaimer:  I wasn't paid by Special K or anyone else to write this blog, though I did get a free packet.


Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Walking and learning

It's been a walking and learning weekend for us.

On Saturday, whilst Daddy was at work, I decided Missy and I would go for a drive to a local nature reserve.   I'm no twitcher but I do like it there and it reminds me of when I was little and I loved my bird watching books, ticking off the birds as I saw them.

Earlier in the morning we'd been shopping with my Mum and bought Missy some new summer clothes.  Of course, she immediately wanted to wear her new summer dress when she got home, which was fine by me.  But as it was a little cool outside, I asked Missy to change into leggings and t-shirt when we went out.  Well, that was that, full-on meltdown ensued.  Missy got so enraged that I had to resort to holding, but in the end I had to let her go.  This lasted for half an hour and Missy was screaming so much she was retching.  I had to step away as I didn't want to a) over-react and b) let Missy see I was close to tears.  Eventually she calmed down, changed her clothes, and within 5 minutes it was as if nothing had happened.

The rest of the afternoon was lovely in the Reserve.  Missy was given a little quiz on a clipboard which made her feel very important and she carried it all around, ticking off things the quiz required us to see such as a Kingfisher, RSPB logo and Great Tit.  We probably walked about a mile in total and she also collected a few things along the way; some leaves, pussy willow, feather.  I learnt a few new bird names and Missy learnt lots of new stuff. Back at the main building they provide copious amounts of pens, crayons and coloured pencils and loads of picture of birds to colour in, so Missy was in her element whilst I had a cuppa.

Yesterday, following Missy's suggestion, all three of us went for a lovely walk in the countryside.  This time when Daddy suggested she wear shorts and t-shirt, after having put her summer dress on, she happily went upstairs, explaining that yes it would be a good idea because she might tear the dress on trees.  Wow!  Had she learnt from yesterday?

The walk was absolutely fabulous.  We packed a picnic and walked through the woods and across fields, spotting things on our 'list of things to spo't such as a rabbit, pine cone, tree (!), deer, buttercup and nettles to name a few things.  Missy loved it, we all loved it.  We ended up at a lovely local pub which has a large beer garden and a great playground for kids which Missy enjoys playing on.

An hour later, with the temperature getting much warmer, we set off for home.  I really thought Missy would start to complain about tired legs - but she didn't and two miles later including a few hills through the woods and fields, we were back home.  I was so impressed and proud of Missy for managing the 4 mile walk, and for enjoying herself all the way, pointing out loads of things she'd seen.

One of the things Daddy loves is walking in the Lake District and he's introduced me to some beautiful parts of the Lakes in the time we've been together.  We had worried that it would be many years until we'd be able to go back, but yesterday Daddy said "this gives me hope for the Lake District".  Missy does seem to love the outdoors - not always, sometimes she's not in the mood but that's like any child - but I reckon we'll be back up to the Lakes sooner than we think.




Saturday, 4 May 2013

Firework

Missy asked if she could see this song on the computer today after hearing it last week.

I think the words and the video are brilliant, so empowering.  In fact I think I may print out the words and pin them up in the house.





Do you ever feel like a plastic bag
Drifting through the wind, wanting to start again?
Do you ever feel, feel so paper thinLike a house of cards, one blow from caving in?

Six feet under screams, but no one seems to hear a thingDo you know that there's still a chance for you

'Cause there's a spark in you?Just own the night like the 4th of July

Come on, show 'em what you're worthMake 'em go, oh, oh, oh


As you shoot across the skyCome on, let your colors burstMake 'em go, oh, oh, oh


You're gonna leave 'em falling downYou're original, cannot be replacedIf you only knew what the future holdsAfter a hurricane comes a rainbow


So you could open one that leads you to the perfect roadLike a lightning bolt, your heart will blowAnd when it's time, you'll knowJust own the night like the 4th of July


Come on, show 'em what you're worthMake 'em go, oh, oh, ohAs you shoot across the skyCome on, let your colors burst


Make 'em go, oh, oh, ohYou're gonna leave 'em falling downEven brighter than the moon, moon, moonIt's always been inside of you, you, you


And now it's time to let it throughCome on, show 'em what you're worthMake 'em go, oh, oh, ohAs you shoot across the sky


Come on, let your colors burstMake 'em go, oh, oh, ohYou're gonna leave 'em falling down


Even brighter than the moon, moon, moonBoom, boom, boomEven brighter than the moon, moon, moon



Do you ever feel already buried deep?
You just gotta ignite the light and let it shine
'Cause baby, you're a firework
Baby, you're a firework
You don't have to feel like a waste of space
Maybe you're reason why all the doors are closed
You just gotta ignite the light and let it shine
'Cause baby you're a firework
Baby, you're a firework
Boom, boom, boom
'Cause baby you're a firework
Baby, you're a firework
Boom, boom, boom

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

The Positivity Pot

You may be forgiven, from reading my blog,  for thinking there are no good days or positive moments in the Missy household.

We do have good days, positive moments and fun times honest.

Raucous laughter after a water fight with Daddy, days out in London, baking cakes, Missy's superb artwork, going to the park, planting seeds and watching with delight as they grow, round of applause game, massive improvements in reading and counting, learning to do plaits, dancing, playing musical chairs, tickles, running, cuddles, shower time, learning to ride a bike.  And loads more.

To remind myself of those good memories, I'm taking a leaf out of The Boys' Behaviour blog and creating a Positivity Pot which I shall fill with daily positive notes; things that have happened, things that Missy says, places we've been etc.  It will be interesting to look at them at the end of the year (or maybe just dip in and out when we're having some down days).


Today's positivity note was a reminder of our fab day out at a 5* hotel for a spa day and champagne lunch - a Christmas present to us from my Mum :-))



Friday, 26 April 2013

Regression - mother and daughter

This post is part of the Weekly Adoption Shout Out #WASO where this week's theme is regression.

Mostly this post is about regression as far as Missy is concerned but I'll also touch on it as far as I'm concerned too.

During our training we were told that adopted children often regress to a much younger age.  Apparently it's them filling in parts of their lives that they missed out on before.  It can also represent comfort, something familiar.

Missy is five and a half but in the past six months we've also had a baby and a toddler living with us.  Missy likes to play 'the baby game', although much less so recently.  She pretends to be a baby, crawls along the floor talking in a baby voice, saying 'gaga', 'thirsty' and 'cuddles'.  We have to pretend she is a baby and pretend to feed her a bottle and then usually give her a cuddle on my lap or rock her like a baby.  Daddy doesn't feel comfortable doing this and I didn't at first but I just go with it now as the game doesn't last long. Our SW suggests it's her acting out scenarios and helping herself to understand that Mummy and Daddy do actually do what Mummys and Daddys should do.  This role play is likely to be something she missed out on on several occasions when she was baby.  Our SW also explained that children, however, won't re-enact something for months that they missed out on for months.  They may only do it for a while, a few days even, or everyone now and then.  At least with Missy it's just pretend and I don't actually have to get the sterilisers, or jugs out!

For Missy, there isn't a pattern for her regression, or at least not that I've noticed yet.  It doesn't happen when she is anxious, in fact it's probably more when she is - or appears to us to be - settled in her surroundings.

It's not just Missy that regresses.  I feel I've regressed to a person I was 15 years ago.  That person had little confidence and that's how I feel now.  I feel like a shrinking violet at the school gate.  I felt worried about going into town this evening for a night out, and nearly didn't make it (and cried in the restaurant, oh for goodness sake!).  My self-esteem has taken a nose dive. 14 years ago I went backpacking round the world and it did wonders for my confidence.  I can't do that now of course (though to be honest there are many days when I wish I could).  I've started re-reading the book that helped me make that shift 14 years ago - Feel the Fear And Do It Anyway - bloody brilliant book - you can throw all my other books away but don't touch that one!!  And another good book I'm reading (I have at least 4 books and 3 magazines on the go at the moment) is What to Say When You Talk To Yourself.

It's when I start drinking Martini & Lemonade that I know I've regressed to an 18 year old!


PS.  Saturday -  Baby has appeared today!   Baby turned up half an hour ago wanting bottle (used her Hello Kitty bottle that was on the table), burping and cuddles then sleep.  Now baby wants nappy changed!  Baby wanted pasta for tea not the rice I've put on - that was until I explained that babies do eat rice in their meals, not pasta.  Baby is now climbing the furniture - I'll be climbing the walls shortly!


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