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.

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Happy Halloween

I love and hate halloween, I love the dressing up and making halloween party food but I detest trick and treating. Up until last year I had banned trick or treat, primarily because the majority of our neighbours were elderly and I didn't want the children disturbing them on a dark winters night. The children asked many a time why I couldn't just ask the neighbours if they could knock but to me that was like saying, the children will be calling in for sweets tonight. Last year child 1 was old enough to trick and treat with her friends at our local family friendly housing estate which meant it was difficult for me to ban the other two, so I have now joined the hoards of children out and about on the 31st October.

This week has been busy, as it's been the holiday my brother and sister have come down to meet our new addition. My sister was down with her youngest son last weekend and my brother arrived on Tuesday with his two children, so today the children all came over to carve pumpkins, decorate Dalek biscuits, have their faces painted and go trick and treating.

Despite all the noise, child 4 throwing all the pumpkin innards over the floor and a house full of over excited children, we have had a ball and I am sure created some fantastic memories x

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Five go on an adventure with their cousins

A 5.30am start this morning, which is a bit better than the 4.50am yesterday, I have to say that the clocks going back has been of absolutely no benefit to our household because child 4 is still working on last weeks time!!!!! Still the dark morning gradually lit up, our bedroom sits in the north east of our home so the early morning sun always finds the gaps in our curtains and this morning I smiled because my brother and his children were visiting, so a trip to our favourite beach called. Whilst the kettle boiled I nipped out to wake my hens and enjoy those early morning rays that just take the edge off an autumn morning. By the time our early morning caffeine had been consumed the sun was wide awake and ribbons of icy blue sky sparkled. Breakfast and a picnic to make, not even the dog stealing 5 slices of defrosting bread could dampen my spirits too much, although having to make different fillings for my children's sandwiches is a pain, guess I'll have to take my sisters advice and get the older ones to make their own!!!
Before I knew it, it was time to load the car with a picnic lunch, 4 children, 1 dog, 5 pairs of wellies,5 coats, 5 sweaters and bags full of dry clothes. And we were off. Leaving civilisation behind we journeyed into the country, surrounded by fields and woods, child 4 on the look out for his beloved cows. The sun shone through the clouds making dappled patterns on the fields and through the trees, autumn is definitely here, the trees that lined the way are now dressed in hues of red and gold. This could be our last visit to the beach this year, so we intended to enjoy every moment.

What I love about this rugged coastline is that every time we visit it is different, the storms that hit earlier this week have impacted the cliff faces and our huge rock has moved further up the beach.

 We squelched and squerched through the mud just as Michael Rosen did on his bear hunt from the car park to the beach itself and wow the tide was out and the rocks looked so flat and smooth encouraging us all the way over to where the waves washed foam over the rocks and for the first time the children and the dog could jump the waves and run away from their foamy fingers up a pebbly beach area

child 1 and 4 crossed a narrow waterway to climb on an island while the others hunted for crabs and jumped on the wraiths of seaweed that decorated the rocks to make it pop and parp.

The pools were overflowing so child 3 and her cousin spent ages daming up miniature waterfalls and rivers, oh and the fossils there were hundreds of them, just sitting there in the rocks. With so much to explore and having a two year old our ramble over the rocks and through the pools took a lot longer than usual, especially after a couple of tumbles into the pools but we did make it to the cliff path where the last few surviving blackberries were picked and eaten to stave off the hunger pangs until we made it back to the picnics.

Child 4 had a marvellous time and a picture I will carry and always be disappointed that I couldn't capture in time is of child 4 not wanting to leave my brother behind when it was time to go. My brother was on the phone to work as mum and I loaded the cars and as I turned to check where child 4 was he and my brother were strolling towards us hand in hand, my brother still on the phone and completely oblivious to the picture of uncle and nephew. Perfect.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

The Odd Life of Timothy Green

Whilst out with child 3, 4 and Dylan the dog this morning one of our neighbours stopped us to congratulate us on our new addition! she went on to say how she has friends who are just starting an IVF programme. She thought that they were wasting their time and should just adopt as there were so many children out there in desperate need of a loving home and family. Is she right???????

After I gave birth to my first son, a wonderful calm home delivery, I became very poorly and ended up being rushed into hospital where I needed 4 pints of blood and intravenous antibiotics to fight peritonitis. This meant that when we decided to try for a third baby it was very difficult. I don't think I will ever really forget the monthly disappointment when I found that I wasn't pregnant or the memories of praying each month just before my period was due that it wouldn't come and that I would be carrying a baby. After a year of trying I went to the doctor, where I was tested and checked over but eventually referred onto a fertility clinic. I found myself to be pregnant just 5 days before the appointment, even that wasn't straight forward as the doctor was initially concerned that the pregnancy could be ectopic so my initial joy was marred with fear and uncertainty. As my beautiful little girlie was born 8 months later everything obviously all worked out in the end. What this taught me though was that until you have actually walked in someone else's shoes don't be too quick to judge. My experience cannot be anything like those of people unable to have children without medical intervention as I already had two children, but my sorrow and desperation does strike a chord when I hear IVF being discussed, until I heard a radio interview yesterday I was completely unaware that only one third of those who undertake IVF actually have a baby. For those that are not that lucky they have to have the opportunity to grieve for those children they are unable to have and probably the milestones and lives they would have seen and lived, before any contemplation of adoption can happen.

At the weekend we watched The Odd life of Timothy Green a magical, enchanting story about a couple unable to have children who do end up considering adoption because of a little boy called Timothy. We watched and cried as a family because so much of the story was like ours or as an Incurable romantic who lives their life looking through rose tinted glasses would like to believe. I truly believe that we all have the power to love a child, perhaps not as a parent, maybe a godparent, a mentor or just someone who is there to support the parents but we all need to find our own way. Our neighbour needs to support her friends on their journey, it may be they end up with exactly what they need.

Monday, 28 October 2013

The kids are ok

Our social worker called in to visit today, her aim to speak to all of the children to see how family life was going. Of course she turned up early, whilst I was out shopping with child 1 and 4. Child 2 and 3 were home alone, playing on the Wii with no little aggravating little brother around to steal away the controllers, turn off the screen or just get in the way, still in their pyjamas!! Oops, well at least she sees us as we are!

The three older ones agreed that child 4 could be a pain, but they all loved him and there was no way that they would ever want to send him back. Child 2 who initially struggled with our decision to adopt is loving his big brother status and explained how despite the change to routines he is really glad that child 4 is now ours. Child 3 admitted to struggling with a new toddler in the house especially when he demands so much of her mums time (she just isn't able to see that that is what causes her temper tantrums)  I feel so very lucky to have such a wonderful support in our social worker, she seems to always know the right things to say and to know the right questions to ask. She spoke to the children in such away that she she gleaned huge amounts of information about how they were really feeling and helped child 3 in particular to explain her feelings, this then led to me being able to consider how I can change how I behave so that we can diffuse or avoid some of the tantrums.

A little later when we were tidying child 3's room we found a little pile of papers from the end of last year. These included a family tree, a timescale of how the adoption process works and a list of questions that should have been placed in the social workers question jar.

 Despite all her confusion about her feelings and the changes adoption has bought to her life, she without any doubt loves her new baby brother she just quite understandably is battling with that naughty little green monster that rears his ugly head in many families where new little ones are introduced.

All in all everything is ok, all the behaviours we see are normal and over time family life will settle down. We are already living and loving as a family should and I am praying that by Christmas most of the green monster triggered paddies will have passed.

Saturday, 26 October 2013


Child 4 has been calling all the women who cross his path "mum" it is not something that I thought had particularly bothered me. After all, all the women in his life have left him, how would he know that I will never leave him, I belong to him.

This week though he has started to call other women Jan, a lady he has met recently and who obviously made some sort of impression!?!?!?? I am now the only one he calls mummy! Once the realisation of this sunk in, my heart swelled with love and pride. He has started to seek ME out to check that I am around and he has started to cry and want his hurts kissed better.

It has only been 4 weeks and I am hoping that this means that he is beginning to realise that this is his home and family forever. I am however not foolish enough to think that this is life sorted but I do know that it is definitely the beginning of something very special.............

Thursday, 24 October 2013

When I grow up

When I was doing bath time tonight, child 3 was singing "When I grow up" from Matilda. She has been learning it with the school choir, and as I listened to the words they made me smile, those childish dreams tug at the heart strings, but the more I listened and the more I thought I actually felt a bit sad as once we are adults we sometimes forget or become oblivious to the beauty and excitement of the simple things. Child 3 sang with all her heart making me believe that she meant every word and I hope that she will always see life through rose tinted glasses and not become too cynical as she grows up.

"When I grow up, I will be tall enough to reach the branches that I need to reach to climb the trees
you get to climb when you're grown up.

I will be smart enough to answer all the questions that you need to know the answers to before you're grown up.
And when I grow up I will eat sweets every day on the way to work and I will go to bed late every night And I will wake up when the sun comes up and I will watch cartoons until my eyes go square
and I won't care 'cause I'll be all grown up!
When I grow up! I will be strong enough to carry all the heavy things you have to haul around with you when you're a grown-up!
when I grow up I will be brave enough to fight the creatures that you have to fight beneath the bed
each night.
I will have treats every day. And I'll play with things that Mum pretends that Mum's don't think are fun.
And I will wake up when the sun comes up and I will spend all day just lying in the sun but I won't burn 'cause I'll be all grown-up!"

So many of the words are true, as adults we do carry so many heavy things real and metaphorical, I am brave enough to fight the creatures under the bed, behind the curtains and hidden in the wardrobe and on occasion still do. I occasionally go to bed late and now with a two year old in the house we are often awake before the sun is. 

All children probably want to be able to do all these things and of course think that once they are grown up they can do these things, but as a grown up, who climbs trees, eats sweets every day, watches cartoon after cartoon, goes to bed late every night and wakes early the next morning to watch the sun rise?

Maybe tomorrow when I have that first cup of tea, I'll sit and watch the sun rise. On the way home from school drop off maybe child 4 and I will share a bag of jelly babies (although too many will make me feel sick). Once home we could watch cartoons and have treats. And just maybe we can climb the apple tree to pick some more apples. (Risking falling and breaking something) 
Hmmm, why is it that real life tends to get in the way!

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

A class size British bake off

Following, last nights exciting final on the British Bake Off it seemed appropriate that today was child 3's class cake sale and it's nearly Halloween, I love Halloween cake sales it's the perfect time for orange and purple butter cream and spider sweets. Now that child 4 has arrived there is no way in a million years that I would have time for any fancy, creative baking, so keep it simple. I made up some Dalek biscuits last night (don't you just lurve Lakeland) and today child 4 helped me make the cup cakes. It was a definite déjà vue moment with a toddler standing on a kitchen chair, learning how to turn on my Kenwood mixer and then watch his face light up with mischievous delight when he realised that it has speed settings!! I showed him how to break eggs, ooh dangerously exciting and he very happily emptied in the bowl of flour. I turned my back just long enough to get out the cake trays and when I glanced back he had BOTH hands in the cake mixture "yum!" Good job we did the proper hand wash before starting.

Handing him the mixer part, just to keep him busy whilst I plopped spoonfuls of mixture in the Halloween cases, I quickly moved them into the oven to be baked. And then the best bit, licking out the bowl. If all the children were home they would fight over this bit. Wish they felt the same about the washing up.

Once child 4 went off for his nap, I could ice my wares in peace and quiet, the decoration is the most important bit as primary age children love icing and lickle edible decorations and they are always drawn to the biggest, chocolatiest, most colourful or most sweetie adorned cakes and as I would probably be helping I would be devastated  if no one wanted to buy my cakes.

When we finished setting up the stall, I swear the tables were groaning under the weight of all the gorgeous cakes that parents had made and then like a swarm of locusts, what felt like hundreds of noisy little people arrived at the table, their little hands clutching coins, their faces wowed with the delights sitting before them, oh the choice, then the panic what if the cake they want is sold before they can attract the attention of one of the women manning the stall. More children push through shouting, look at the chocolate and gold cakes, the orange ones, the Dalek biscuits!! Phew all sold.

Then all of a sudden the stall is clear, the playground deserted and peace descends. Time to go home. A nice cup of tea and a chocolate spiders web cake I think.

Any cooking with children has got to be a good thing, according to latest figures From the National Child Measurement Programme  a third of  11 year olds are overweight or obese and a quarter of  4/5 year olds are too. We need to move away from quick, processed, fat laden foods to a much healthier regime - says the woman baking cakes with her children - but this is just a starting point. Child 1 and 2 can both cook a three course meal and could if I asked make an evening meal like lasagna or sweet corn fritters and sticky chicken, they would just prefer that I cooked.
I learnt to cook at my mothers knee and insist that my children do the same, I believe that it is not only a crucial life lesson but also something magical. A meal cooked and then shared with love is what family and life is all about.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

The perils of a public toilet

I find that now my pelvic floor is crap, which I blame very squarely on my three oldest children,  I frequent public toilets much more often. This week I have had to take an inquisitive two year old with me. "Oh no I hear you say" hmm a two year old in any type of public toilet could be a terrifying experience.  When you think of toddlers and public toilets you worry about filthy floors and walls. If you let it, your imagination can take you to places and images you really don't want to think about! In my case not for the reasons you maybe thinking. No my child 4 doesn't touch the walls, the toilet or the sink oh no, no he does much, much worse.

The first experience happened in the local secondary school on Sunday, where child 3 was competing in a gymnastic competition. As child 4 wanted to join in the fun, I decided to take him out into the hallways in between the actual competition events so he could run around and during one of these decided to nip to the loo. This particular toilet is huge as it's the disabled one with a first aid point, so houses a medical bed and a wheel chair. Taking child 4 in with me I locked the door and headed over to the loo that is situated in the far corner! my lovely son, of course waited for the perfect moment and pulled the light switch, leaving us in complete darkness! pitch black darkness. I am sure you can imagine the panic, then me redressing and trying to find my way back to the door without tripping over something and breaking an ankle or worse. Child 4 didn't even have the audacity to be scared.

The second experience was in the local coffee shop. Once again taking my lovely boy with me and noting with relief that the light is sensor driven by entering, I foolishly believed that this quick toilet stop would be relatively stress free, hahaha - this time he waited until the perfect moment and unlocked and opened the door!!

Next time I need to visit a public loo, child 4 will be incarcerated in his buggy!

Monday, 21 October 2013

An adoption review

This afternoon we had a house full of professionals, our social worker, child 4's social worker, child 4's health visitor and an independent social worker. All gathered together with us parents and of course child 4. Child 4 of course was the centre of attention and believe me he made sure we all knew it.

We gathered to discuss how everything has been going over the last four weeks. How has child 4 settled in? How are the other children? Who has he been introduced to and how did the introductions go? Does he look like he is meeting his milestones in speech, coordination, and behaviour? Does he sleep well, eat well and play well?

All was text book fine, he is one of the family and other than the normal sibling rivalries the children have all settled, he has met our immediate local family and loves them all especially Randad, he is confident in the playground and school. His speech is coming on leaps and bounds, I think he is going to be left handed. He can run, he prefers that to walking, he can climb especially onto window sills so that he can see the chickens and he can paint, play trains and throw very well, could be an England bowler me thinks. Thank, The Lord he naps in the afternoon and sleeps all night. He eats like a horse using forks, spoons and fingers and he can entertain himself, although if it goes quiet it's best to see what he is up to!!

After two hours of questioning, in a very noisy environment, did I mention that child 4 was on form, tea, coffee and homemade apple crumble squares the professionals left, very happy that child 4 had settled in very well with us and that we have settled in very well with him. They will return sometime early next year, I think much of the date setting got lost in translation or I wasn't concentrating on the conversation, probably because I was watching child 4 climbing on the radiator to get to the window sill!

I can't believe that it has only been four weeks, it feels like he has been here forever. The house is scattered with child 4's paraphernalia, the buggy, muddy wellies, hard backed books and fireman Sam DVD's, I frequently find wooden shapes or crayons in the dogs crate and the crockery cupboard now houses plastic bowls and cups depicting tractors and diggers. The fridge is full of full fat milk, dairy lea and little yoghurts, the lower half of the conservatory doors and windows are covered with sticky, grubby fingerprints. The taps are left running and toilet roll decorates the hall. I find toothpaste and cheese in my hair and on the back of my cardigan. The washing machine is on constantly droning in the background, we are reminded of Charlie and Lola and In the Night Garden late each afternoon and are remembering a multitude of nursery rhymes, Incy wincy Spider , 5 little speckled frogs and 10 In the bed being the current favourites.

Despite the occasional complaint, ok ok frequent muttering, would I change it? Not in a million years!

Sunday, 20 October 2013

The battle of the bedrooms

How is it that a two year old can create so much mess? Not really a question because I know exactly how, they don't just take one book from the book shelf, no they tend to pull them all off, then they are distracted by the train sitting on the shelf to head to the box of train set which is customarily littered over the living room carpet, after building the figure of eight track he is distracted by some cars and in the car box he finds a red crayon so then it's all the crayons, the cushions and the jigsaw puzzles. If the mess is still there when the other three get home from school they seem to view this as permission for them to leave a trail of destruction, generally shoes, school bags and uniforms from the front door. Even the husband, who uses the excuse of being tired is slowly following suit. Everyone has regressed back to primary age untidyness. I seem to spend my life either picking stuff up or yelling at someone to collect their belongings as I am not a servant!!

After seeing a friends Facebook update last week, where she had confiscated the XBox until one of her boys had tidied his room, I decided to try a similar tactic with my older children, (can't really expect the two year old to clear up after himself and actually his bedroom is the tidiest.) so last Tuesday I very calmly explained that they had until Friday bedtime to have tidied and hoovered their bedrooms, including bookshelves and wardrobes or lose mobile phones, IPods, laptops and access to the computer and IPad until I deem their bedrooms clean and tidy. At first they all took it in their stride but as the week progressed the cracks began to show.  By Thursday child 2 was beginning to have a meltdown, due to the teachers strike he was at home and wanted to clear up, but he honestly didn't know where to start. In the past I have often just piled everything up in the middle of the room and told him to sort through it. This time I broke it down into steps, clear the dirty washing and hang up clean clothes (funnily enough everything was dirty even if it wasn't, I guess it's easier to empty everything into the wash basket than hang things back up!) then clear his bed and make it, then put all the Lego away and so on. He was frankly, horrified when he realised that, that was all the help he was going to get. For a while I was a wicked and evil woman, no where near good enough to be his mother because I wouldn't help him. But, to give him his due once he realised that, that was how it was, he cleaned his room and hoovered up like a trooper. Child 3 did need a little help and isn't really big enough to handle the Hoover, but she tidied and wiped her shelves - she loves the IPad. Child 1 was the most amusing, being the power hungry teenager, she was going to ensure that she tidied up on her agenda and no one else's, as she was busy Friday night she immediately broke the deadline grinning smugly but on Saturday morning when she realised that I was sticking to my guns and the target literally so no phone even for emergencies I became a Nazi!!  Despite, her little fight for her rights, by the end of the day her bedroom was also clean, tidy and hoovered.

Why is it that untidy bedrooms can create so much aggravation in a household. There is loads of information out there explaining why some teenagers are untidy, often because they are going through so many changes, they are leaving their safe secure childhoods and entering adolescence. They are making huge decisions within their education and are trying to keep up with their peers in so many different ways, that it shouldn't really be any surprise that their confusion manifests itself in mess, clutter and chaos. They are also striving for independence, so their own private space becomes their domain and they feel that they should be allowed to keep that space as they desire. If they want to live in a pigsty, why shouldn't they. For me it's about finding a compromise, they need to learn how to tidy their rooms, how else will they keep an organised home, when they leave for pastures new. Interestingly, social media has as many discussions about how parents enforce bedroom tidying as teenagers asking how they tidy their rooms. For me,  I am hoping that by reaching a compromise the bedrooms will be tidier and the mess that was spilling out into the rest of the house will be curtailed. If anyone knows how I can train, coerce, force my husband to tidy up after himself please, please share!!!

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Animal magic

One of child 4's favourite activities is to feed the chickens. He is obsessed with them, we have to visit them every day.

This morning as I was on early duty, a very early duty that started at 5.30am I thought child 4 could help me with the breakfasting and cleaning out the chickens. So after our breakfast of porridge we pulled coats and wellies on over our jammies and headed out into the early morning autumn sunshine.   After filling child 4's chicken cup with corn I grabbed the less exciting scraper, straw and very necessary rubber gloves.

We could hear the chickens calling before we reached the run gate and child 4 was quivering with excitement "chihens, chihens" he called back almost dancing with glee.

When I opened the door of their house the four girls piled out clucking away and child 4 called to them waving his corn. He grabs a little of the corn and throws it for them, revelling in the way they dart about pecking up the corn and running back for some more. I can clear out the house in peace whilst listening to the happy chatter of my son and our girls.

The interaction of children and pets is really good for self esteem, animals have a tendency to convey unconditional and non-judgmental love, which is something that children really can't received enough of. Child 2 often unloads his woes to the dog after all Dylan can't give any advice he just provides a warm fluffy body to lean on. If the children are involved in caring for a pet they learn to give, to respect others and learn how to love. Research shows that pets can help prevent depression and encourage calm in difficult circumstances and of course pets teach our children all about the life cycle as we have only recently found out.

It's wonderful to watch child 4 with all our pets he is so gentle even if he does continually get the dog in trouble. I am not quite sure that when he needs a warm, fluffy body to lean on, how the chickens will provide it though" there's a thought?!?

Thursday, 17 October 2013

When life gives you lemons reach for the gin........

Life is certainly handing out lemons at the moment and unfortunately I haven't got the time or the inclination to bake anything fancy, cup cakes and the simple family favourites of lemon cake or chocolate cake are as far as I get. Instead I am reaching for the gin!!!!!!

Today the main man of the house went to the dentist because he had toothache, he eventually returned home not quite one tooth less, the young dentist man managed to lose/push a chip of this broken tooth up into his sinus! This means a visit to a specialist in hospital, possibly a general anesthesia and of course time off work ( he is self employed so no work means no money). The dentist has arranged for an initial exam next Tuesday and a course of antibiotics to ward off any infection.

Nanna, love her has offered to come with us to the hospital on Tuesday so that I can tag along to ask any questions I may have whilst she takes child 4 for a stroll in his buggy. I am not ready to leave him with anyone yet and like many wives, I am sure, I want to be fully aware of the actual facts rather than the ones my husband half hears.

I know that I shouldn't be cross with the main man, but honestly why! Why! Why! Why him and why now. I am not really cross I guess, but juggling everything has been a bit tough the last couple of days and the thought of losing that pair of hands that often saves my sanity at the end of the day, whilst he recovers does worry me. All will be fine I am sure.

Anyway on a brighter note, the non baking recipe I followed today was
2 cups of plain flour, 1/2 a cup of salt, 2 tbsp cream of tartar, 2 tbsp vegetable oil and 1&1/2 cups of boiling water. Mix to a dough, split into three and then add food colouring. I chose red, green and blue, that's all I had in the cupboard. Knead the colour in well and hey presto homemade, fairly non toxic playdough ( although with the high salt content I wouldn't recommend eating it and to prevent the dog wolfing up any bits that fell or were thrown on the floor he was once again relegated to his crate.)

Child 3 and 4 had a fantastic time creating stuff, in between the confiscating it because child 4 likes to throw it all over the kitchen. Which led to yet another tantrum!

I keep thinking, it's a brand new day tomorrow............

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

A cuddle make sit all better.

Well, what can I say other than child 3 and 4 are in bed, I have a tall calming G&T sitting here beside me and I have a craving for chocolate!!!

Today has been more bad than good, I keep telling myself that this is a good thing as it means that child 4 feels safe enough to start pushing those boundaries.

I should have known not to get out of bed when I realised that it was not just raining but pouring and windy (I really believe teachers when they say windy weather effects children's behaviour and not for the better.) However, anyone who has ever had real contact with a 2 year old knows that staying in bed once they are up is not possible.  Favourite things today have been the word NO! Throwing lots of things, train track, cars, food, plates, bottles and books, stomping of feet, very loud voices, at their worst high pitched shrieks, unrolling the toilet roll. I need a machine for rolling it back on because there is no way it will fit back on the holder now. Throwing toys at the dog and getting him in trouble for chewing them. Walking along the window sill and climbing on the furniture as if he was a tight rope walker. Turning off the TV when his sister was watching it, painting on her picture and hitting child 1 on the ear with a toy iron!! He started stomping and throwing himself on the floor from 8 am this morning when he heard me on the phone to my parents checking to see if we could stop by for a cuppa after school drop off. He then stood by the front door, well he stamped and thumped and shouted "RANDAD. RANDAD!!!!!" By the front door until we left for school. Not a patient little man.

By 5.30pm I was counting the minutes until his bedtime.

The good things erm, erm,erm. Watching his face light up with real delight when I said he could lick out the cake mixture bowl! He scraped it all out!

Laughing that delicious baby gurgle when playing peek a boo and then tonight when I put him to bed he wrapped his arms around my neck and actually cuddled me, nestling into my neck, then he kissed me.

It's a new day tomorrow!! Right now, under the gin haze I do believe it has been worth all those tantrums to finish the day with a real cuddle.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Balloon contact

Many adopted children have some kind of contact with their birth parents, studies and history have shown that this contact helps the children whilst they grow up and I am sure that it must have many positive benefits for the birth parents too.

Our number 4 has letterbox contact, which is where we (until he is able) will write to the birth parents via social services about what he has be enjoying. They, hopefully will also be writing too. As this can be highly emotive Christmas and birthdays are avoided. Our twice yearly contact is April and October. As child 4 has only just been placed our initial contact will be next month.

As we, like many adopters, are unable to include any photographs with our letters (a security measure, with social media being so prevelant now it's not worth the risk of the birth parents uploading a photo and asking people to look out for him*) I thought a drawing or painting would be nice for the birth parents to have. So today after school drop off we went off to buy some A3 paper and some finger paints. I cut a balloon stencil from a finished cereal box and child 4 set about painting balloons, the table, his hands, his feet in fact anything that was in the vicinity. I wanted his birth mum to know that, as promised at our meeting last month,we had let off the ballon on child 4's birthday.

I have a huge amount of compassion for this girl, knowing that the best outcome for child 4 was to be removed from his birth parents doesn't make that little guilt chip I will always carry go away. But how do we discuss the birth parents with child 4, we agreed that they would be known as mummy xxx and daddy xxx. I certainly don't want to pretend that they aren't child 4's biological parents, however he has only just started calling my husband and I Mummy and daddy and I really, really don't want to confuse him. So today I used their first names. When I write the letter I will address it to mummy xxx and daddy xxx and I will share their letter accurately with child 4, but for now their first names will have to do.

I am making notes already about what to write in this letter, but I don't want to sound condescending or make them feel that I am a better parent than they could be, at some point child 4 could/ will want to meet them and if we are to be involved (something I really hope he will want us to be) I want us to be able to have some form of relationship. A little bit of empathy will probably go an awful long way.

* A little while back someone shared a message on their Facebook timeline, something along the lines of " help us find this little girl last seen on whatever date" along with a picture. Most people would automatically share, thinking that they were helping a distraught parent find a missing child. As the parent of an adopted child, this scares me as one day it could so easily be a picture of our little boy loaded on by his (no doubt distraught )birth parents  attempting to locate him. How distressing could that potentially be for him!                     

Monday, 14 October 2013

A death in the family

Today was the day our oldest baby had to be put to sleep. Gertie the cat aged 17 had been suffering from kidney failure. She couldn't eat properly, couldn't wash herself and was looking, for the want of a better word mangy. We took her to the vet 10 days ago but weren't quite ready to say goodbye so brought her home for her last few days where we fed her on poached chicken, salmon pate, sardines and clotted cream. We gently washed her face with baby wipes and shared our chairs and laps with her and watched her enjoy the sunny spot in the garden.

Child 1, who had a migraine last night so wasn't at school, and child 4 came with us to the vets to say their goodbyes. We told the other two when they returned home from school.

So our afternoon and evening has been quite traumatic, tears and upset from all. Gertie has been with our children their whole lives so you can understand their sorrow. It's hard when I am upset to deal with the children, but I think that is good for them to see that it's ok to be sad and to cry.

Of course they are already arguing over the names of the kittens that we are apparently getting!!!!!

As child 4 our little two year old said when we were waiting for Gertie to fall asleep at the vets. "Night Night"

sleep tight Gertie girl.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Cookies of fortune

Today we all went out for Dim Sum at our favourite Chinese restaurant this was child 4's first lunch date out with his grandparents and his Auntie Joan and quite probably his first Chinese. Well what a success he devoured all that was put in front of him, egg fried rice, char siu buns, sticky glutinous rice, prawn and roast pork chung fung, paper wrapped prawns, turnip cake and deep fried calamari and a few chocolate buttons for when he became bored. After the meal our favourite waiter brought over 4 fortune cookies to welcome our new son into the family.

Child 1's read " you will inherit something of value to yourself"
Child 2's " Life is a roller coaster at present, but it will soon calm down"
Child 3's " Laugh everyday, it's good for your health"
And believe it or not child 4's " a lifetime of happiness is ahead of you"

So, so appropriate, life currently is just like The Smiler roller coaster at Alton Towers, you just catch your breath after one moment and then you spiral into the next.

Child 3 seems to spend her life screaming at me so a laugh a day for the two of us will definitely be good for our health, especially mine.

I pray that all my children have a lifetime of happiness ahead of them, not just child 4.

As of child 1, she read hers aloud and then said to her grandparents and her great aunt "well which one of you is dying soon and what are you leaving me!"

Friday, 11 October 2013

This weeks progress report

I thought that I would start to include a weekly report on what progress we have made as a family along our journey.

Life has settled quite a bit, the novelty of being part of something wonderful is wearing off and everyone is beginning to act out.  Child 3 shouts at me quite a lot, well almost all the time, child 1 and 2 have returned to normal behaviour pretty much, except that we see more of child 1 now than we did before child 4 arrived. Poor old Dylan the Dog is slightly psychotic and has regressed back to being a puppy in some of his behaviours especially the stealing and chewing ones. Even child 4 tells him off.

Child 2 is loving being a big brother, he who we were so concerned about in the Spring has taken this whole adding another, completely in his stride. He adores his baby brother and loves to provide all the rough and tumble a toddler requires, he even puts up with fingers being shut in a door and a door being slammed on his head!! Child 4 wanders the house when his big brother is at school calling for him and his whole face lights up and his body quivers with excitement when child 2 wakes in the morning or returns home from school.

Child 4 is definitely settling in well, he is confident in running around the house, he knows where everyone sleeps and where the bathroom is because there is nothing better than turning the taps on and leaving the water running or decorating the house in toilet roll. He laughs more and tantrums more. His speech has improved , I suspect that he could always speak fairly well, he just kept it under wraps. He calls me Mummy and all other women mum, so is differentiating between me and other women, he knows all the immediate family names. He no longer just lies in his cot waiting for someone to get him, he knows that if he calls someone will come and get him ( I may not be too impressed with this at 5.20am though!). When he is hurt he looks for me to show me instead of just carrying on. He still doesn't cry though. I spent yesterday morning moving furniture in the living room so we can now set up his toys in the middle of the floor, at last he has started to attempt to play with some toys instead of just running around. He will sit for a bedtime story and sings and dances, especially when the children are all joining in.

All in all, the last couple of weeks have gone so much better that I thought they would? I am so proud of all my children, they show so much love and resilience. I know that everything will be okay in the end.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

I know another boy who stole my heart

For the first time since child 4 arrived, I snuck out to meet a friend for a quick drink and catch up. Normal conversation, that of course was mainly about me, and my family!!! It was really lovely to have a catch up on life outside our home and off load some of my angst.

When I crept back in through the front door at the horrendous hour of 10.45 pm, child 1 was waiting, looking worried, a frown marring her forehead. About 20 minutes after I had left, my new baby boy had woken, his big sister had heard him crying and went into his room where she found him sitting up and sobbing in his bed,  she of course lifted him out of the cot and took him into the living room, where he curled his little shaking body into her arms, tears silently streaming down his cheeks. Daddy came to the rescue and settled him, sung to him and a little while later returned him back to his cot where he slept soundly until morning.

Oh the guilt, was he upset because he thought I'd left him or was it just a bad dream and coincidence that on my first evening out, he should wake (he has never woken up in the night before) and I wasn't there to tell him "it's ok mummy's here, ssh sleep now." Of course I checked on him, gently brushing the wisps of blonde baby hair from his head, whispering words of love and comfort as he slept the peaceful sleep of innocent babes.

I had only just suggested a curry night out, thinking that my mum could babysit, but would hate for him to wake again with neither of us there, so instead of a curry out, it may have to be a curry in.

My two little heart thieves 

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Why are we not enough?

The ranting of a 7 year old maybe tiring, even exhausting but I have found that they don't tend to do me any real emotional damage. Tirades of I hate you or I wish you weren't my mum tend to be ignored as I am sure she doesn't mean it, she is just lashing out at me. (She has been lashing out at me quite a lot over the last few days, so although I am fed up with the noise I'm getting quite used to it and am learning what the trigger points are, so am becoming quite adept at avoiding some of them)

However, teenagers are a completely different matter, they can be very articulate when they want to be. They know exactly which point to press and then twist that point with exactly the right word, phrase or argument so ensure that they cause the maximum amount of pain.

"Why aren't we enough, why did you want more?" Was child 1's anguished question. Well, what a question. When I had three children were they enough? Obviously not as we have added a fourth. I wasn't complete with three and I think it likely that everyone is hoping that I've found completeness with four, including me. I always wanted between 4 and 6 children and I always wanted to adopt, so the journey to this adoption started many years ago in my dreams and I've been lucky enough that others have been willing and wanting to join me on my path. However, I am very aware that the children, although they have had a say and their opinions are important to me are having to walk with me regardless. Adding another child whether through birth or adoption is a huge lifetime change for a family, everyone's place within the household changes (even the dog is slightly psychotic at the moment) and by introducing a two year old we haven't had the slow introductory period that we would have had with a baby. No we have dropped a live hand grenade into the centre of a what was occasionally, a calm household and are now left dealing with the fallout. Of course this fallout will effect all of us in different ways and for a teenager who has started her GCSE years at school and whose brain is going through some major growth changes at the moment, will no doubt cause some emotional upheaval within the home.

Studies of the brain now highlight that it isn't only during the very early years that the brain develops in fact huge changes occur during adolescence, hence why so many teenagers behave in such erratic, irresponsible and selfish ways. By understanding this normal phenomenon, hopefully I can help our teenagers stay connected.

Sarah Jane Blakemore talked about this on a TED talk and a paediatric neurologist Francis Jenson studied the teenage brain when her sons hit their teenage years.

"Recent studies show that neural insulation ( a completely connected frontal lobe) isn't complete until the mid-20s. This also may explain why teenagers often seem so maddeningly self-centered. "You think of them as these surly, rude, selfish people," Jensen says. "Well, actually, that's the developmental stage they're at. They aren't yet at that place where they're thinking about — or capable, necessarily, of thinking about the effects of their behaviour on other people. That requires insight."
And insight requires — that's right — a fully connected frontal lobe."

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Scrumping and windfalls

I love this time of year. The mornings are just beginning to slow to light so it is easy to cuddle down under the duvets for an extra 10 minutes, I can still pad quietly into the kitchen without needing slippers and watch the fingers of sunlight creep over the roof, whilst I make our morning cups of tea. Often mists encircle the surrounding hills giving a mystical, mythological feel to where we live, almost as if fire breathing dragons are sleeping at the base of the slopes their heated breath caught on the morning breeze lifting until it dissipates into the sky.

The leaves are turning red and gold and the boughs of our apple trees are heavily laden with green and red fruits awaiting to be scrumped or for that gust of wind that will blow them to gardens new. It won't be long before we can go kicking the fallen leaves on a cold, crisp, dry day. They are beginning to fall just not enough to wade through yet.

As child 4 loves going out to see the chickens, especially with a handful of corn to throw for them, we spend many an hour pootling around outdoors. Today we collected up the windfalls - that for me is THE autumn word, windfalls, it just rolls around the tongue making you think of apple and blackberry pie, apple cake, apples and cinnamon, apple and hazelnut crumble, toffee apple pudding and there are still pears and plums too. Pear and toffee tatin, baked plums and Barbados cream I could go on and on. This then takes us on a journey to open fires, long afternoon walks wrapped up in winter coats, long woollen scarves, mittens and wellies, Halloween with its pumpkins and little callers at the front door all dressed up in scary outfits, little hands and sticky mouths awaiting more goodies for their sweetie laden baskets. Guy Fawkes night, when the sky lights up with a million different coloured sparkles and bangs, whizzes and whooshes can be heard all around, hot dogs, toffee apples, marshmallows on a stick, hot chocolate with that canned whippy cream, not long until Christmas.

But, back to the garden and child 4 helping me collect the windfalls in a big old fashioned tin bucket, the chickens love the windfalls, it gives them something to chase and peck at in their run and it entices in  all types of bugs they love to eat, which means we will have big fresh eggs for scrambled or fried eggs on those really dark, wet mornings a little bit of warm yellow sunshine on our plates makes it all well with the world. Today though child 4 has found that Dylan the Dog will chase the apples if he throws them so boy and dog played, the dog was so patient waiting for the boy to throw the apples, he didn't try to snatch them or become over excited and silly as he often has done these past few days, meaning that he has had to retire to his crate to calm down. The two had a marvellous time playing together just like a boy and his dog should. Oh happy autumnal days ;-)

Monday, 7 October 2013

A little bit of space and a big imagination

Today, I actually put the upper part of my body inside the washing machine to see why child 4 was so obsessed with unloading the clothes clean or dirty from the machine so that he could attempt to climb in. It's shiny, the drum is full of little holes and it moves other than that I really don't get it.

Interestingly though all the children like to clamber into big or small spaces, cupboards, cardboard boxes and dog crates in fact, once we put child 4's Little Tykes cozy coupe together both of our eldest two children had to squeeze themselves inside it, just to check that they could fit inside.

When child 2 was little he used to put himself in my parents coat cupboard and today child 1, 2 and 4 were seeing if they could fit in the dog crate. They were having a fantastic time, lots of delighted shrieking and laughing.

Why is this behaviour so important to growing children
Spatial awareness - what a way to learn about  how your body moves, how it can stretch or scrunch up.
Comfort - we all love to be wrapped up in our duvet, children love to be in small places to feel secure, just like when they are wrapped up in their mothers arms.
Empowerment - it must be fantastic to feel big in a small box rather than the littlest person in a big room
Sensory play and imagination - a cardboard box can be made into so many things, a car, a rocket, a castle. They can be painted and decorated. A table cloth over a table can create a den to hide and play in, although child 3 won't allow child 4 in her beautiful pink, pillowed and toy laden den because he always destroys it.

All these little spaces in our house are great for the children to learn through play and they are free.

PS, the washing machine has been made safe, child 4 cannot shut himself in.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Sibling rivalry

Adding another to a family is bound to create a few issues, child 1 spends more time with us as a family because she loves spending time with her new brother, although despite continual prompting he has not yet said her name. Child 2 loves to build as much excitement as possible and then when everything gets too much he makes a quick exit to the peace of his bedroom and his DS, leaving the fallout to his mother. Child 3, who was only a few days ago the baby in the family has had her little spot usurped and unsurprisingly is finding life a little difficult. She is currently pushing all the boundaries, demanding the impossible and exercising her lungs when life doesn't go her way. She absolutely adores her new baby brother, proudly introducing him to everyone we meet, she builds dens and sets up tea parties for the two of them to play, which is wonderful, it's just that a two year old doesn't know how to play so within seconds it's "muuuum, he's spoiling it" screamed at 100 decibels. Generally, everything is my fault and I am the one shouted and screamed at, the one blamed for missing toys! wrong hairstyles, homework written badly and so on.

Yesterday, it took us an hour to walk home from school, because I wouldn't buy her something that she wanted. "You love child 4 more than me" "you are not my mum any more" are a couple of the insults that were thrown at me. All this in between the stropping off and stomping away to be on her own, I think to have time to calm down a little.

How to deal with this is I think to bombard child 3 with love, unfortunately, attention is in short supply with four children, a husband and a slightly psychotic springer spaniel so I have been ensuring that the thirty minutes after child 4 has been put to bed are just for child 3. A cuddle on the sofa, a story or a TV show, warm milk and a biscuit. Then today a visit to the pound shop, just the two of us mother and daughter time.

Eventually life will settle and hopefully the non stop screaming and shouting will ease up.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

A contented exhaustion

"I've got a great ambition to die of exhaustion rather than boredom" Thomas Carlyle

Life is certainly not boring and I am definitely exhausted, however I am not sure that I want to die from exhaustion.

 Child 4 does not sit still ever, not even in sleep. When I check on him before I go to bed he has invariably made his way to the opposite end of the cot, even in sleep he is on the move. Mind you I do wonder what he must dream of!  I have obviously forgotten what it is like having a two year old in the house, the last time I lived with a two year old was five years ago and I was in my thirties, to be perfectly honest I don't really remember it.

I spend my days following my little explorer around the house, garden and local area, he particularly likes visiting the chickens, walking the dog and meeting up with the cows who wander the fields of a nearby field. Life at his height is full of so many exciting things to look at, today we found baby slugs, spiders, blackberries and apples that roll down our hill bouncing off the kerb causing gurgles of delight from the little chap standing next to me, a pile of windfalls beside him awaiting their turn to race and tumble down the hill.

Despite the constant low grade headache I have, you know the one when you are really tired that sits just behind your eyes, a dull ignorable pain until you bend down or move to quickly and it kicks in reminding you that it is still there? I am having a whale of a time, yes it's tough going sometimes but all the rest of the time it's amazing, especially nap time!

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Flying the nest

I am trying to keep life pretty low key at the moment so that child 4 can become accustomed to his new home and family. However, for my sanity we cannot stay stuck within our four walls. So after dropping child 3 into school we headed off to visit the ducks and the swans a short walk away. After detouring via the corner shop to buy milk and the chemist for those much needed everyday essentials - headache tablets, we took a stroll along the waters edge. Child 4 called to the many ducks and we watched the swans glide so elegantly up and down their waterway. The cygnets that not so long ago were grey and fluffy are now maturing into adults their grey feathers now intermingled with the white that will soon coat their bodies, they followed their parents single file, causing child 4 to chuckle delightedly when they dived down hunting in the water depths, their bottoms stuck up high into the air.

When the cygnets reach about six months old their parents encourage them to fly the nest, and off they will soar seeking out other adolescent swans to hang out with for about 4 years until they reach full maturity. Sounds a bit like our teenagers heading out to university.

We have another 16 years before our new and youngest addition can consider leaving home, should he decide that University is the way forward for him, he may not, it maybe an apprenticeship or employment which inevitably means that leaving home may not be an option. I can't see us encouraging our children to fly the nest as such, I am not saying that I intend to hold onto them but I will not banish them either.

Our children will always be welcome here,this is their home but at some point they need to spread their wings and fly, exploring their world on their own.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Just one hour

Just one hour equals 60 minutes or 3600 seconds. An episode of Call the Midwife, Dr Who, Casualty............

Just one hour equals a walk to see the cows, a visit to feed the chickens, a sing song, a dance around the kitchen, car racing, held high above mummy's head flying through the air from room to room, building, destroying and rebuilding jigsaw puzzles. Stories and colouring, finger, hand and foot painting and play dough.
(A morning playing with child 4)

Just one hour equals quickly peeling, boiling and then mashing potatoes with milk and butter. Whisking together an egg and milk pouring over plain flour and stirring in to make a thick batter.  Snipping a string of sausages to separate them and toss them higgledy piggledy into a large dish. Peeling and slicing carrots and removing broccoli florets from their stem leaving in a steamer ready for tea. One large mug of tea, curling up in a comfy chair and a sigh. The first complete hot mug of tea today.
(Child 4's nap time)

Just one hour equals the beginning of a headache, child 2 panicking because child 4 has once again climbed on the window sill to look at the chickens, child 3 screaming because child 4 has turned off the TV whilst she was watching it. Child 1 needs a lift to dancing which means I have to force child 4 into his much hated car seat, tears streaming down his cheeks. Giving up all attempts of starting or completing anything because child 4 follows me calling Muuum or Mummy his arms held up in the air tempting me and demanding me to pick him up and if I try to put him down he scrunches his legs up to his chest his arms wrapped around my neck. Making it so impossible I just sit down with a book or a lullaby waiting for daddy to get home.
(The longest hour of the day, the witching hour sometime between 4.30 and 6.30pm)

Just one hour is 60 minutes that feels like 30, the next feels like 10 and the last like hours and hours!!