Friday 31 January 2014

The Magic

Who wants to join me in a piece of Magic?

The Magic is starting next Monday in our house.  No, I'm not talking white rabbits, card tricks or Dynamo. I'm talking about the book called The Magic.  I guess it's best described as a self-help book, part of The Secret series of books.  It's a doing book as over 28 days the reader has different practices to do each day with the intention of opening their eyes to the magic out there.  In addition to different exercises each day, I have to write down 10 things for which I'm grateful, 10 different things each day.  Just doing that exercise alone really makes you think about your life and everything good about it.  The first time I did it, I was surprised at how much there was in my life to be grateful about, from big things like having a roof over my head to little things like a comfy pillow on which to rest my head at night.  You don't have just have to be grateful for things in the present, you can also look back throughout your life.  There were days I struggled and its days like these where you really have to be creative and look around you and your life.

Doing The Magic is all part of my New Year shift to being more positive and by doing so I hopefully bring more positive energies to the house.  It's all part of the Law of Attraction which I subscribe to (though admittedly haven't always followed in the past).  There is a big global movement that believes being more grateful brings more abundance.

When I first did The Magic, it was two years ago and I don't think we'd even started home study.  That month several really good things happened to me including being nominated for a national business award. Anyway, at the risk of sounding like Pollyanna (google if you don't know what I mean), give it a try for yourself.  That's why I've talked about The Magic today, ahead of next week when I start, to give you time to get the book for yourself over the weekend and start with me next Monday. Oh, and you'll need a notebook and pen.

I'm also taking part in #100HappyDays, the idea being you take a picture each day for 100 days about something that's made you happy and brought a smile to your face. You can share them on social media or just do it for yourself, whatever you want.  My first one was jam tart making and yesterday was a bar of chocolate - I suspect food will feature a lot in our photos.  Some will have Missy in and those ones I obviously won't put on Twitter but do keep an eye out for my other photos (@AdoptingSezz) and let me know if you are also taking part.

In other news, we have a Final Hearing date in February.  Hurrah!

Monday 27 January 2014

Enthusiasm is contagious

I'm a big believer that children feed off our own energies.  When we are stressed, they can feel it too.   So I've taken a leaf out of my own book and started to be much more positive and enthusiastic about things this year.  I may not feel like colouring in or pretending to play air guitar but I've switched my positive head on and joined in.  And actually I've enjoyed myself - I never knew I was so good at air guitar at 9am on a Sunday morning.  Plus with Missy, you only have to engage a short while before she is off doing something else.  My feelings of positivity also help me feel more motivated which helps me get my @rse in gear.

It was interesting then two things caught my attention this week on a similar vein.  Firstly, I'm doing a course about teaching children meditation and up came the phrase "kids will pick up on your energy and discomfort very easily".   When teaching meditation, the adult needs to be relaxed and in the moment, staying self-aware otherwise the children will sense this and their minds will start wandering too.

Secondly, I read an article in this month's What Doctors Don't Tell You (being a lover of all things complementary, this is one of my favourite magazines) about how gentle enthusiasm for even the smallest of changes can help your child progress.  Science has shown the our brains contains 'mirror neurons' that allow us to understand what others are doing not just through their action but also their intentions, emotions and the social meaning of their behaviour, ie our positive feelings can also be felt by our children but also so can negative feelings.  Of course, I feel a slight generalism here as who knows how our childrens' brains wiring and their mirror neurons have been affected by their background. But the writer of the article who has worked with many children with learning difficulties, ADHD and autism, talks about seeing how children with challenges to their brain development have reacted positively to enthusiasm.

We're not talking massive positive praise, flag waving and high fives but instead the enthusiasm comes from within us.  In fact, with Missy, sometimes if we do overly praise her, she will decide that what she has done is rubbish and that she's no good too.  That self-esteem and trust thing a lot of adopted kids struggle with.

Instead of the over-the-top positive affirmations, if we just 'feel' enthusiasm and delight (for even the smallest of things) and amplify it internally, children's brains will sense that something important has occurred.  The child's brain, using those mirror neurons, then helps the child work out what they are feeling and experiencing.  It's the children's own internal experience that then creates a positive reinforcement for them.

So, anyway, regardless of all the science stuff, I'm practicing being more enthusiastic around Missy.  When Missy first came home and we were struggling, I was advised to 'fake it til you make it'.  And yes sometimes I don't feel like being enthusiastic or positive but I do it and, do you know, I feel better for it.  So, if I'm more positive then hopefully Missy will 'mirror' these feelings too.

Yes, yes, I know, God if only it were that blinkin' easy.  But .... we've had a fairly calm start to 2014 - no furniture throwing or door slamming as yet to accompany the strops.

And this is as much about how I feel as I need to pull myself out of the slump of last year.  As Patricia Neal says "A strong positive mental attitude will create more miracles than any drug" which is good because I am never taking any anti-depressants.

Friday 24 January 2014

A Day in the Life

The post is linking up with The Adoption Social Weekly Shout Out #WASO where this week's theme is A Day in the Life ...

It's 7.00am and the alarm has gone off.  Daddy and I awake bleary-eyed and cling on to the last minutes before the Snooze alarm goes.  Missy is already awake and probably has been for the last half hour (although today she put on her light at 5.30am so Daddy had to go in and explain it was still sleepy time). We never know what sort of mood she'll be in first thing.

I get up first, go downstairs, say hello to the cats, make us all a cup of tea, feed the cats and then start making Missy's school lunch.  I prefer making her lunch as I feel she gets a better balance of nutrients and doesn't overload on wheat, but when the free school meals comes in next September I think we'll go with them.  Missy usually hangs around me whilst I'm making lunch, just to check what's going in.  Food anxiety is still prevalent.  Meanwhile Daddy has a shower before giving Missy a wash.  Then it's my turn in the shower whilst Daddy and Missy have their breakfast.  She's allowed to play once her teeth and hair are done and her bed is made but she faffs about so much that she really doesn't get much play in before it's time to go to school.

The morning school run is nearly always done by Daddy.  It fitted in with his old work hours and we've done it that way ever since.  It's one of the things the SWs loved - the fact that we would have breakfast together and Missy could go to school with Daddy.  Meanwhile I'm catching up on emails, or emptying the dishwasher or ironing or some other job that needs doing.

Whilst Missy is at school, I must admit I faff a bit.  I waste time and really need to get my behind in gear and sort out a loose timetable for me during the week.  I'm a procrastinator these days.  When I worked as a PA I was hugely organised but it's a different story now.  Plus, as Daddy is off work at the mo and when he's having a break from job hunting, we go shopping, have coffee. It's lovely having him around more.

Some days I might meet up with a friend but most of them work.  Once a month we'll meet up with the local adoption coffee group, which I value hugely.  Daddy and I also meet up once a month with four other adopters whose children all go to the school.  We meet in the local coffee shop and have a right laugh - we probably moan too much but we're letting off steam.

3.15pm comes around to quickly and it's time for me to collect Missy from school.  I never know what sort of mood she'll be in, sometimes good, sometimes not, though she does talk to me in the car nowadays which she never used to do in the first few months.  After school, snack is the first thing on Missy's mind and then we'll either play a game, do some drawing, play hairdressers, watch some Cbeebies (although I feel Missy is beginning to outgrow them), swimming lessons one day a week, go to the park in warmer weather - really whatever Missy fancies doing.  After her tea at 5.15pm we'll listen to her read her school book, finish off any other homework and let Missy carry on playing until 7.00pm when it's time for bed.  We aim for quiet time from about 6.30pm but it never really happens. Daddy and I take turns doing the bedtime routine and reading a story but we always both give her a goodnight hug and kiss. As Missy is always on the go, it's no surprise that she's virtually asleep by the time the light goes out.

And then we collapse on the sofa.

Our evenings are spent on the sofa.  I used to wonder why my Mum spent all evening on the sofa after tea and now I know why. Exhaustion.   Daddy and I will have tea, taking it in turns to make it, and then watch telly, read or play on the ipad before we collapse into bed around 10pm.

Ready for another day.

We're quite boring really and we both know we need to get out more and either find some new interests or reignite old ones. But I think the routine is important for Missy and there's plenty of time ahead to do things differently.

Friday 17 January 2014

A week of social workers and unexpected emotions

We've had all the social workers here this week.  Our social worker and our Post Adoption Support social worker, plus Missy's social worker.

Ours came for her last ever visit as she's moving on and semi-retiring.  We got on really well with her from the beginning; she listened, she understood, she empathised and she gave us a huge amount of support when needed.  I shall actually miss her visits as we always had a good chat and she understood Daddy's sense of humour.  Out of anyone we know, she probably knows us the best in terms of the adoption, our feelings and what we've gone through, even more than our families I'd say.  She handed over to our PAS social worker who we know already and, again, I really like.  She's friendly, reliable, I can trust her to be there when we need her, and we will need her support in the future, I'm quite sure.  We've been very lucky with our social workers.  They get a bad press but ours have worked damn hard for us.

Missy's SW also paid a visit later in the day.  I like her much more than Missy's original SW and actually I think Missy does too.  She gave us some news last week which was a surprise in one sense but half expected in another.  I can't go into it here at the moment though.

We're expecting the Adoption Order hearing date to come through any day now.  I really have no idea which way Missy will take it and her SW is visiting again very shortly to talk to Missy about what it means.

I've experienced some unexpected emotions in the last 7 days.  Firstly, two friends said they were expecting, one announced it by Facebook.  Oh how I love opening up FB first thing in the day and being presented with a baby scan.  Needless to say I burst into tears.  I really thought I could handle it, I thought that I'd put it in the past - actually its almost fine if its someone I don't know.  But closer to home.  It just reminds me that my body has failed me, I have failed in being the most natural thing, a birth mum.  I guess I'm still grieving.  I know you can't grieve for something you never had but I suppose I'm grieving for the lost opportunity.

Then yesterday I was catching up with Finding Mum & Dad on iplayer.  This C4 programme was about Adoption Parties, where foster parents and SWs take children in care to a themed party where there are also prospective adopters looking for children, in the hope that there will be some interest from the adopters which result in matching.  It took me back to when we first saw Missy; just a photo then a week later a DVD.  We didn't see her in person and I wonder whether things would have been different if we did.   The programme focused on two boys, brothers, and another little boy, all deemed to be hard to place.  Of course the programme, didn't go into their background or into more detail about the boys, so I saw a lot of comments on FB and Twitter the next day about how gorgeous they were and why oh why weren't they being adopted.  There are perhaps many reasons and I'm not going to spend time here talking much about the programme and the whys and wherefores.  But what surprised me was how I felt.  Hearing one little boy talk about his old family but also his excitement at finding a new family, I suddenly had this overwhelming love for Missy.  It took me by surprise.  Of course I do love her, but this feeling was stronger than before.  I wanted to give her a big, big hug but this had to wait until school pick up.  I know children pick up on their parents feelings and moods and it's interesting that whilst I've made an effort to be more positive this year, I think Missy is calmer too.

In other news, the tooth fairy paid a visit this week and I've just about survived a 5 day juice detox (though I did pinch one of Daddy's chips).

Wednesday 8 January 2014

It's oh so quiet ...

First week back at school and new swimming lessons - often a combination for high anxiety.  But no! All is fairly quiet on the western front.

Yes, we get daily strops and some tantrums (a big screaming tantrum at 6.15am this morning because I told her it wasn't time to get up yet ) but it's been much calmer of late. In fact, since the atropine eye drops worked out her system and her dilated pupil returned to normal, about three weeks ago, she has been a far less angry girl. Coincidence? Hmmmm.

There have been only two or three rages in the past few weeks and they passed within 5-10 minutes. A few tantrums, mainly around bedtime but on the whole it's a much more peaceful household.  The daily strops we can easily put up with, we generally ignore them.

One thing though that Missy was doing for a while was being a bit anti-Daddy. Not that she didn't want him around at all, but sometimes she'd only want to tell me something or share something with me.  We're very strong on reinforcing that we are a family and what Mummy does/loves/shares etc so does Daddy.  Actually this last week she's been quite pro Daddy; I suspect it's because he's good at tickling.

I knew 2014 would be a better year and I'm certainly trying to be more positive - maybe it's rubbing off on Missy.

We moved swimming lessons because she didn't seem to be progressing, she didn't listen and the teacher often acted like he didn't want to be there. The new lessons are at the local leisure centre where she has been many times and although she was a little anxious before going, Daddy text me half way through to say she was absolutely loving it. She was listening, the teacher was engaging and it looks very promising. 

Right, time to tackle the paperwork before I collect Daddy who is currently under sedation for a big tooth extraction! 

Friday 3 January 2014

My aims for 2014

I have a good feeling about 2014.  The synesthetic part of me sees it as yellow, a bright happy cheerful colour.

I'm not one for making resolutions as they are too hard and fast; breaking one equals failure and I'm not going to fail. Instead I have some goals and 'like-to-dos".

1.  Look on the bright side, feel positive and not feel sorry for myself. I was far too negative last year. This year will be different.

2.  Live with the attitude of gratitude. It's said that those who are grateful live with abundance. There's a great book called The Magic (written by same person who wrote The Secret) which is a sort of workbook giving you things to do each day to help you think about what in your life you can be grateful for. I've done the exercises several times and definitely feel more positivity in my life - I'll blog more when I start The Magic again.

3.  Aim to meet up with some of the lovely tweeters and fellow adoption bloggers I've got to know over the last year to thank them in person for their support.

4.  Make time for myself. I need to get out more and quite fancy learning something new like a martial art. Daddy is going to start playing badminton again. I'm also aiming to grow more of my own vegetables - Missy can get involved too and have her own patch.

5.  Don't sweat the small stuff.

6.  Improve our therapeutic parenting skills. Last year was a massive learning curve and we have so much more to learn AND put into practice. I'm aiming to get Daddy to read at least one adoption/parenting book, pref  Dan Hughes or Bryan Post!

7. Improve my health. I've been I'll too many times last year and it's a sure sign of how high my stress levels have been this year, but as well as reducing my stress levels I also need to improve my diet - I've had far too much comfort food lately and weigh far too much than I am comfortable with.  I'll be doing the Juice Master Juice Detox later this month.

Happy New Year.


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