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

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Sweet fillings

I've been thinking about how to minimise our tricky behaviours especially after school and at the weekends. This has meant a backward step or two for me personally, a return back to those first days when I had to be on hand tso manage those late afternoon, early evening witching hours and at the weekends to be in a 24/7 supervisory mode. I am now ensuring that dinner is prepared before I do the school pick up, on work days I prepare stuff in the slow cooker or go for simple pasta bakes when I get up in the morning. Mornings are good, child 4 wakes early but is happy to potter, eat breakfast, watch a bit of CBeebies or play with some toys. Other days I make it whilst the children are in school. This seems to alleviate the agression after school as I am more available, I can cuddle up on the sofa with child 3 & 4 or we can play, read, paint or bake. The hair pulling, the throwing and the hitting have begun to disappate. At the weekends we have to be more structured as the days are long without school.
We have been having our neighbours children over for an hour or so most Saturday mornings the last few weeks and I have found that structuring their time has been the best way to manage them. We have made biscuits, on Halloween weekend we iced ginger bread men shaped biscuits into skeletons and on Firework night we made edible sparklers by dipping breadsticks firstly into melted chocolate then a variety of cake toppings, such as 100's and 1000's, glittery sugar and chocolate sugar strands.
I've extended this to cover much of the day through Saturday and Sunday, not just baking just more structure and it is working slowly. Yesterday went extremely well, especially as Mr L and child 2 had headed off to watch the football 3 hours away. We made Christmas shaped bird seed cakes, did a bit of shopping, made lunch, went to a party, went for a walk and played in the bath.

Today was a little trickier probably because after lunch with my parents we relaxed on the sofa to watch Babe, child 4 isn't quite ready for a 90 minute movie, he soon became restless and looked for ways to annoy his siblings, very successfully. Now he is asleep in bed and I am finishing off my blog before checking out Pinterest for new ideas for activities!!!!
This mornings creation - White chocolate cookies. We also made our Christmas Cakes.  Busy busy busy hands mean less chance of trouble maker hands.

Sunday, 6 November 2016

The end of the school honeymoon

This week meant a follow up meeting in school, to see how child 4 was settling in. Child 4 has settled in well, there are no concerns regarding his academic ability and he loves forest school and PE. However, he is hurting someone every single day. I was hoping that his agression and sometimes violent action remained within the home and I was saddened if not surprised that my hopes had not completely come to fruition.  In reality since half term we have been struggling with many difficult behaviours, it's quite exhausting, days that easily spill into anger, rage and fighting, evenings of clingy battles against sleep and a move from when safety was in sleep to a need from him to end up in our bed. A need to feel secure and loved despite or because of his behaviour earlier in the day.

The school are being amazing, they are planning to add yoga to help with his anger and a social behaviour learning scheme using stories in school, supported with stories at home with additional ELSA support in school, they will also look at an additional staff member to help support within the class as child 4 cannot cope without an adult presence, the minute he is left to his own devices especially in free flow play or playtime something will happen. Hopefully as his days become more structured he will feel more secure and his behaviour will calm down. He has build a strong and respectful relationship with his teacher to the degree that sometimes if he feels unable to cope he will find her and stay close to her until he feels safe again.

At home Mr L and I are going to do a Conscious Parenting course, I did one three years ago when child 4 arrived but of course he was 2 then, now at 5 things have changed and evolved and I could do with a reminder and some new ideas in managing some of the more difficult behaviours that seem to be exhibited more and more often.

All this left me a little despondent for a while, in so many ways we have made so much progress, then something reminds us that life is not plain sailing I am just so grateful that we have such a good relationship with the school and that they are willing to put huge amounts of support in place when it is required. Also with our post adoption team who have already found places on courses for us to attend, Mr L this month and me early next year.

I often wish that I had a magic wand and some magic spells to fix it all, but that I guess would be too easy.


Sunday, 30 October 2016

National Adoption Week, belated thoughts

National Adoption Week brings such a myriad of feelings, it reminds me at every mention on the news and social media that our last baby was adopted and with that comes the mixed feelings of adoption. 
Rightly adoption should be the last resort for children, where possible they should remain with their families however our society has made the decision that where a family cannot care for their children the children should be removed and placed in an environment where they can be cared for. 
I honestly don't know what is the best thing for these children so badly hurt by those they love. The decision is made by those with greater authority than I. I, like those who adopt are left to deal with the fallout big, small or indifferent. 
All the training, all the reading and if lucky the support does not really prepare us, any of us for the trials and tribulations of adoption. Our parenting becomes central to our whole way of life, if we get it wrong, which is often as we are human and evolution has taught us to react sometimes defensively other times aggressively especially when we are tired, confused or stressed. Our children seem to know exactly which buttons to press to get some form of reaction, not necessarily the one they were hoping for but once the roller coaster ride  has begun it can be really, really hard to put the brake on and preferably not when we are all hanging upside down. The fixing of these errors in judgement can be lengthy and saddening. 
Us adoptive parents all understand the need and benefits for PACE parenting, Daniel Hughes is a hero of mine, but the realities of constantly and consistently using therapeutic parenting are very very difficult. The expectation for us as parents is to always be calm, to be playful, to be able to wonder why something has happened, to accept it as the way that it is for the moment, to empathise with the child in question. We have to think like this when a car is being thrown at our face, whilst furniture is being pulled over, when one child is really really hurting a sibling, biting, hair pulling, slapping and kicking. In reality we react often in anger, despair or even desperation and then that often means that the situation spirals out of control, so we not only have to deal with a distraught child but also the pangs of guilt, knowing that we have made the situation worse.
I took a therapeutic parenting course not long after child 4 arrived and three years later need to go to the same course again, I need to be reminded of how to remain calm, how to be playful, how to consistently use I wonder. 
Some of this I am sure is because I am surrounded by families who have no idea about realities of adoption, who will say but all children do that, don't worry he will grow out of it or you should use the naughty step. It makes me question my worries and my parenting. Some time spent with other adopters is needed if only to make me feel that I am not alone, that we need to look at the positives. We have so many positives child 4 is loving school and he is loving rugby. He wants to cuddle up and says sorry when he has hurt someone. He sometimes recognises that he is getting angry or scared and will find his trusted adult to sit with. He has become such a part of the family that when life is calm we forget about adoption. I suspect that being back to school and normal routines life will settle down and I will once again just get on with things. That is until the next National Adoption Week 

  

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Love

Usually, when someone asks if I love child 4 like I love my three older children, I answer bluntly and to the point but this week it was different. The person who asked was careful with the way they asked the question and it wasn't a curiosity about my relationship with my children, it was an honest question, a question from her heart, she was asking if the love for an adopted child could be the same as that for a child you give birth too. She was asking because in probability the only way for her to have a child would be through adoption.

My answer was as quick as always, but, a little later it did make me stop and think. I could understand the concern, there is so much in the parenting world about pregnancy, mothers bonding and that desired mothers love. Interestingly, I didn't really like my first baby when she was born and when I, concerned by my lack of love for this beautiful, helpless baby told my mum of my fears her response was "well I didn't like you too much either"

As a new young mum, I did not speak of my worries with my new found post natal friends, fear of looking like a bad parent meant that I kept my worries to myself. I wonder how many other mothers feel the same as I. Many I suspect. As a society we worry so much about how things must look, about  how we should behave so that sometimes we miss what is right in front of us. Of course I struggled to love my baby in the way that magazines and today social media portrays, bouncing, perfectly dressed babies and mothers. No one seems to show the long hours of labour, the stitches, the blood loss, the agony of breast feeding, the exhaustion. It was no wonder that I wasn't overly fond of my first born. But, the mothering instinct kicked in, I fed her, changed her, talked to her and when she did sleep I sometimes watched over her, slightly awed by what my husband and I had created.

Those want to be parents, who can not chose the birth route must feel just as scared, but in a different way. I would not even try to guess their worries and concerns, how could I have any real idea. But, having been fortunate enough to have done both, birth and adoption I can say, unreservedly and wholeheartedly that the love I hold for my children is the same for each of them, they are four totally different characters with different  strengths and different flaws. As parents we have to adapt our parenting to fit with who they are to ensure we support them the best we can and yes I am more protective of child 4, his uncertain beginnings mean that his need for us is a little different, more demanding maybe. But the love is the same.



Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Singapore slings and sunshine

Wow, what a difference after a week of tantrums and more tantrums we returned to Singapore to contentment.
Considering that we travelled straight from Changi Airport to our Aunties house for a popiah party. Popiah are uufried spring rolls, rice wrappers spread with black sauce and chilli stuffed with a mix of bean sprout, cucumber and carrot, topped with prawns a slice of hard boiled egg and extra chilli. Everyone made their own, the art of course is in the rolling, too small and you don't get the flavour, too big and it falls apart at the first mouthful. 
The next day we met at China town, a stroll down Smith Street to shop for gifts to take home. Chop sticks, Chinese charms and choi sums. Tuesday brought our Forest Adventure, climbing through the trees, jumping into nets and zip wires. Split trousers and so much laughter. My brother flew in with his children, girlfriend and her children so we met up for a dim sum dinner, a beer and some Durien. Wednesday took us by bum boat to the beautiful island of Pulua  Ubin, where we hired bikes and explored the island spotting monkeys, lizards and snakes. 
Once fed and watered we played rounders on Changi beach. Thursday entailed an exploration of Little India, 
henna tattoos, murtabak and Prata then off to the famous East Coast Seafood restaurant for a celebratory birthday dinner. The whole family were there, mum, dad, my family, my sisters and my brothers families, my aunt with her family and some very good friends came along too. All our favourite foods appeared, soutong (tiny deep fried squid) chilli crab and the special sweet fried bread rolls that are served with them, lemon chicken, Kang Kong  (green veg and chilli) stuffed yam, egg fried rice, enormous prawns and so on. If you ever have the chance to go to Singapore this is one of the places you must eat and all the foods listed are the ones you must try. Every time we make it to Simgapore we eat here. It's noisy, chaotic and the food seems never ending but I have so many memories, the heat, the smell, the noise. 
The weekend arrived quickly and there was a party for mum, satay, barbecued prawns and chicken curry with Singapore slings to celebrate. Then a surprise, mums brother flew over from Australia. Perfect! 
All the children had an amazing time, we didn't stop, we were out every day and every night, we travelled on trains, buses, boats and taxi's. We ate until we couldn't move, we tried new foods, drank amazing juices. We saw the sights. It was wonderful. As to why the tantrums ceased, I don't really know. Maybe it's because we were surrounded by family!!!!


Wednesday, 31 August 2016

The Good, The Bad and The Opportunity.

If you had the opportunity to visit family in Singapore and the chance to add on a stop off in Siem Reap, Cambodia, you would jump at it wouldn't you. Well we did. And so far it has been amazing.
Singapore is a bustling hub of people, markets, high rise buildings and noise. We have visited before as we have family here and I have noticed a difference every time I have had the chance to visit since my first time Christmas 1981 when I was 11 years old.
Siem Reap reminded me of that old Singapore, old, colonial, exotic and mysterious. it is a really green lush country, well we were visiting at the tail end of the monsoon, which meant for turbulence on our flight and the occasional thunderstorm during our stay. We visited the main temples, Bayon, Ta Prohm (The Lara Croft Tomb Raider Temple) and Angkor  Wat and we walked along the Elephant Terrace rode an elephant and travelled in a Tuk Tuk and we shopped in the old night markets. We did take in a little of the Pub Street scene but found that we preferred the restaurants and markets on the outskirts.
There are loads of charities and NGO's supporting the poor, the land mine victims and the street children through the restaurant trade. We ate at Joe to Go, Sala Bai, Genevieves and the Blue Pumpkin all of whom help to educate those in need and enabling them to move out of the poverty trap. Each establishment asked for patience with their staff as many were illiterate so writing down an order or calculating the bill was complicated.
Our boutique hotel was charming and there were only 12 travellers staying at any one time, of whom we made up 6. So breakfast was a quiet affair and we were for the most part the only people in the swimming pool. The staff were amazing very taken with the blondes in our family group, in fact they took child 4's many tantrums in their stride.

Of course as to be expected child 4 struggled, we had spent 3 busy days in Singapore, adjusting to time differences, heat and a faster pace of life. A two hour flight to another country another set of hotel rooms and a new environment. We saw a huge escalation in tantrums, defiance and agression. Add supporting the other three children, who also struggled with his spiralling behaviour, at times it was beyond exhausting. For the most part the other guests ignored the difficult behaviours and would smile reassuringly, there was one chap that really wasn't impressed, it's funny isn't it how just one person makes it so very hard because they show their disapproval. I may say that I ignore them, but it really isn't that easy. However, I would say that the good bits outweighed the bad, child 4 spent some happy times exploring temple ruins, watching geckos, playing in the pool, learning Uno and eating noodles. As a family it was good to spend those days in Cambodia together, just us. Although our mornings were busy, the afternoons were spent by the pool and we had early dinners and were in bed by 10pm. It was good for the children to see a different world some of which is beautiful but some that helps them appreciate everything they have. Child 1 is studying the cold war in Asia at ALevel and for her and her dad to visit the Killing Fields Memorial will give her a fresher view on those terrible years in the 1970's.

We are now back in Singapore with the rest of my family, 18 of us have travelled to celebrate my mums 70th birthday. Hoping that as its all family, all together, child 4 will calm and we can enjoy the coming days.

Despite the need to remain patient and pro active I would do it all again in a heartbeat.

Monday, 22 August 2016

A holiday. Well the beginning

What a week, the lead up to our holiday has been tricky for child 4, the excitement of a big holiday and no pre-school routines have led to many tantrums. Much like the ones the older three had when they were two. The terrible twos at nearly five bring an interesting slant, child 4 is bigger and stronger so much hard to physically "restrain" and he is much more articulate with a what seems like a dictionary of rude words, only the occasional swear word but hearing I hate you, you big butt head screeched across a supermarket is pretty horrendous.
Child 4 is very lacking in patience so we kept the holiday plans, fairly low key until the week before, tricky with three older ones in the house, one of whom was awaiting her AS results. To my surprise child 4 knew his days of the week so on Sunday night we were able to count the day down to our holiday. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Once we had done this we could work out that it was 6 sleeps. This stopped the "when are we going" repeat, instead every morning he could announce to all who would listen that it was however many sleeps left until the holiday.
Eventually, results day came with a very happy child 1 and proud parents, then holiday mania could begin. I had to work Friday morning, so it was a quick change and out the door for the 3 hour drive to Heathrow. As we reached the M25 the Radio 1 3.30pm summer mix came on, opening with The Vengaboys, which was child1 and 2's favourite tune when they were toddlers. Well everyone in the car was singing and a dancing a perfect way to start our holiday. Everyone was happy and excited all in a good way.

All I had to hope for was a quiet 13 hour flight haha!


It's my wonderful Mum's 70th birthday and the whole family, Mum and Dad , our 6, my sister and her 3 and my brother his partner and their 4 are meeting in Singapore her birth place to celebrate. We are tagging in a visit to Siem Reap, Cambodia whilst over that way. A trip of a lifetime!