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.

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! 

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Blessings

I like many other adopted parents hear comments about how "lucky" our child/children are. We know that they aren't, any child being forcibly removed from their birth family is not lucky but it is so hard to get that point over. I guess it is much easier to ignore the reasons why children are adopted than to think about how sad, traumatic or just plain terrible our children's lives have been to end up in the position they have and through no fault of there own.

I have struggled with this lucky commentary, often saying that actually we are the lucky ones rather than debate whether or not child 4 is lucky.

 Luck means  success or failure apparently brought by chance rather than through one's own actions. I don't think that chance plays much of a part in the adoption process, everything seems to be discussed, procrastinated, carefully thought out and weighed up. We have frequent meetings with a social worker, courses to attend, reading to complete and panels to sit through - not much seems to be left to chance.

However, do I think that we are blessed? Yes, I do. We have been blessed with another member of the family and he is blessed with parents, siblings, extended family and a community whom love him very much. I definitely prefer to think of our adoption journey as one that attributes adoption to some one who cares rather than a random act of chance.

So from now when anyone says that child 4 is lucky I can whole heartedly respond with we are all blessed to have him in our family. Although I may need reminding on the days that he throws chairs at the window, draws all over the bedding with a red sharpie or wee's in the corner of the conservatory blowing the electrics.





Sunday, 7 August 2016

Five go on a picnic or two.

I honestly don't think that you can beat England in the sunshine. Warm sunny days make the perfect memories, like tales from your favourite books. We may not remember everything about the day, but we will always remember the feeling that the memory brings home.
I am hoping to add a whole host of happy, contented memories for the whole family this summer. 

Child 4 has finished nursery for good and will be starting school in September, my experience has been that once the children start school they begin to test their wings, they grow and flourish becoming day by day the adults they will eventually become. This is my last summer where he will still be my baby so the making of memories is as much for me as they are for him. 

With the weather being so gorgeous we have played in the Secret Garden . We met with friends some who had never visited the Secret Garden so child 4 loved introducing them to climbing trees as if they were pirate masts avoiding the very hungry sharks circling beneath, teaching them how to navigate the hills using tree roots as hand and foot holds to clamour to the top then slide down to the dried up stream beds below and then the exploration of the natural dens made by the undergrowth.  When there has been a crowd of them you can spot them or their shadows playing hide n seek amongst the tree tops on the paths that traverse the tops of the valley strolling, running or chasing single file, reminding me of the scene from Peter Pan when the boys play "Following the Leader"  Only returning to us mums on the picnic blanket when they were hungry or thirsty.

We have adventured to our local Palace gardens with a homemade picnic in tow, we have made pork,sage and onion sausage rolls, jammy tray bake, chocolate cake and cut up strawberries and pineapple. We have fed the swans with their 8 cygnets who are growing big and strong, their fluffy grey down now speckled with white feathers are preparing to fly the nest and look for mates and good nesting spots of their own. Settling under the boughs of an ancient tree that cast its shadow over the natural wells, we have enjoyed the dappled sunshine and the sounds of cool running water. Child 4 sat his toes dipped in the icy cold waters playing his version of pooh sticks for ages, he would lie on his tummy allowing the water to run over his hands, through his fingers , lifting and wiggling his fingers, watching the water drops fall, catching the sun in the drops like miniature rainbows. Other children joined him and he played and laughed with them until it was time to go and find an ice cream.


These are the memories I need to hold close, to remind me of the wonder of being 4, the joy of children playing together, the counter balance to the bickering and tantrums that take over on the days when the weather is wet and grey or the witching hours before bed when everyone is tired and irritable. The days when fight or flight is about fear and worry rather than aiming for the second star to the right or the taking on of Captain Hook.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Coming Home

I am preparing a big family lunch, a get together following the adventures our two eldest children have had. We have an enormous roast chicken, crispy golden skin hiding the succulent meat steaming below, home made sage, onion and sausage meat stuffing, a crunchy top and lusciously smooth beneath, Chipolatas, golden crispy yet fluffy roast potatoes, ginormous Yorkshire puddings with beautiful dips in to fill with gravy and broccoli, carrots and green beans as sides. Yesterday I made Favourite desserts,  summer pudding, using the raspberries growing in our garden and Nutella cheesecake, my mum is bringing my husband's favourite apple cake over with her. All this requested by child 2 as he has just returned from NYC. There has been lots of adventure in the Five Go On An Adventure household the last couple of weeks.

Child 1 has had an amazing week working with an anti slavery charity in London. She stayed with my brother in North London, travelling daily by tube from his home to her work experience placement, a huge adventure for a country girl. She has returned home, rather reluctantly, full of everything she has learned and the amazing people she has met. She was lucky enough to attend an event in Canary Wharf which was discussing a report created by Sisters of Change about slavery in the garment trade, which has probably changed her outlook about the clothes she will buy from now on. Child 1 is planning more work experience maybe with Amnesty International or Sisters for Change, she has returned home as a much more confident young lady, one who is willing to ask for an opportunity to do something, to not worry about rejection, to just go for it.

Child 2 left in the early hours last Sunday morning for his drama trip to New York City, a jolly really but one full of exciting places to see, World Trade Centre, Statue of Liberty, Times Square, cycling in Central Park, rememberance at Ground Zero, Wicked on Broadway and then all the amazing food, bagels, pancakes, burgers, Po Boys, hot dogs and ice cream. After an adventure first thing - arriving at the meeting point at 3am to find that the coach had not arrived. A car pool of parents saved the day driving the children the 200 miles to Heathrow to catch their plane. He has returned home exhausted but full of exciting tales of the places he visited, the food he ate and the people he saw.

I love these family get togethers, the ones where my children are at home and can share their adventures with their grandparents and aunt. This time though, I feel a little sorrow, nostalgia for the days when they were all little. You see as I peel the vegetables, I have just realised that my two eldest in particular child 1 are getting ready to fly the nest, child 1 is planning her gap year travels, following her A levels next year, to Europe, to visit all the galleries and museums she can during a month of inter railing then onto India, Far East Asia and beyond. She is visiting University's in London, Edinburgh and Sussex where she hopes to study history and politics. Soon she will be creating her own home and returning to us just to visit. Don't get me wrong, I know it's what should happen and I am beyond proud. Parenting is ensuring that our beloved children grow into the people they are meant to be. Adults full of compassion, love, a desire to learn and an ability to find contentment.  But ...............

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Where is the rainbow?

It's been raining again, the sun is just coming through the grey clouds, but the clouds are darker in the distance.

For the first time ever I am going to confession at my own violition. I am so very angry at so many people, some of whom I don't even know. I know that this rage is unhealthy and I know many will say that it is "bad form or sour grapes" but I don't think it is. I think that I have every right to be angry. I think that many people have been completely let down by those who made promises that they had absolutely no intention of keeping and for those of us that voted remain we are left bereft, angry, anxious and saddened by what is playing out in front of our eyes. I am hoping that confessing this anger and despair will help me to move forward and to find some peace so that I can look after my family.

My rage, I know stems from fear, funny you may say, an adoptive parent recognising the fight, flight, freeze responses in herself.

I am a first generation immigrant - something I have never even thought of, not until the EU Referendum. I have and still am really proud of my heritage but now that nagging fear of what may happen in the future makes me think of immigration, when I look at my birth children who have the beautiful characteristics of having a mixed heritage or when I look at myself in the mirror. I have always been jealous that my siblings have been blessed with the exotic eyes, colouring and hair of my mothers family where I take more from my British/Irish father (immigrant again) but now wonder if their lives will become more difficult because of it.

I am sure that many used this vote as a protest vote against austerity, complacency and corruption and yet our leaders are still not listening, they are too busy fighting among themselves or passing the baton of responsibility.

My fear is that as the protest vote hasn't given the people the outcome they hoped, for they will protest again, leading us into a society split by race, culture, sexuality, colour and class. I keep telling myself that our society nowadays is a wonderful melting pot of so many different people that hate will not win. But fear stops good people standing up or stepping in. I am wearing my safety pin and many of my friends do to, I hope that this is enough, that something so small will give us the courage to stand up should we need to.
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jul/01/britain-racism-safety-pins-brexit-migrants-xenophobic

I look out of the window hunting for the rainbow that should be here, a reminder that after the rain the sun will shine again but as yet I can't find it.