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 May 2014

Footsteps to calm and serenity

Many mums will be juggling lots of balls constantly and sometimes it just takes a slight change of weight with one of those balls and we end up dropping them all. This happened to me at the beginning of the month and despite picking up the balls, I have not been able to get my rhythm back, so I inevitably keep dropping them. Of course if all I kept dropping were juggling balls or beanbags it wouldn't really matter but it's not its housework, organisation, patience, children's routines, nurse, teacher, taxi driver, confidant, support worker and numerous others so when all those hit the floor and  despite being picked up keep falling down the whole of our family life and beyond is affected.

This weekend I decided that enough was enough, time for me to take back control, but how. I have friends that have learnt about cognitive behaviour therapy and through this, if somewhat American self help course that I have been doing, I understand the need to find a way out of a negative mindset by actually doing something, perhaps doing something different following another path. We did a fun activity a couple of weeks ago with our ecourse  that was to make a calm map, this map would direct us from a difficult time to find a place of calm and stillness.
The map legend  was to list all those things that help to make me feel better - a cup of tea, a walk along the beach, a roaring fire, a good book and laughter with family and friends. Ok then, my sister was down this weekend and the sun shone on Sunday so a family trip to the beach was my choice of soul soothing. Sea air, picnics and people you love are truly good for the soul, I returned home feeling exhausted, windswept, with a full belly and aching legs but I was back in a place where I could count my blessings and not feel the weight of my burdens.
I am so blessed to have  a husband that trusted me enough to make that first step on our adoption journey, 3 amazing children who have followed us along this road of adoption  and one who joined us along the way with a song in their hearts and a skip in their step. A family that have supported me every step of the way and still provide all the love and support I could ever ask for. Friends who laugh with me and provide me with rationality, emotional support and wine when I need it. We live in an idyllic rural environment where our children can flourish and grow surrounded by green fields, woods and fresh air, the community provides nurture and support and life is good, really good. These are the things I must remember and focus on when other stuff threatens to stifle me. The other stuff does need my time and it's needs to be given the focus that it requires but it only needs that, it does not need all my focus, it does not deserve a focus that interferes with my family, my sleep or my enjoyment. This does not mean to say that some issues do filter in, I just need to recognise the signs and pull myself out of my doldrums to follow my map legend to a better and happier me.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Number 5 skim a stone

Yes I know the weather forecast said rain with maybe some sunny spells but my sister was down with her youngest son so off we headed to the beach with raincoats or as Enid  Blyton would have no doubt said sou'westers and wellies, picnics of sardine and chilli sandwiches (our favourite) or for the littler ones sausage sandwiches, crisps, chocolate covered flapjacks and Nanna best chocolate cake and of course flasks for tea and coffee.

Today's adventure was full of stone throwing, how far could we throw, and skimming them across the freshwater pool that sits at the top of the beach. Child 4's throwing is pretty spectacular but he had yet to understand the nuance of skimming a stone across the top of a calm pool, all the other children skimmed to their hearts content trying to outdo each other with the number of stone to water touches they could achieve before gravity won, taking the smooth flat stones into the watery depths of the pool. From there we headed off on our usual walk looking for crabs and fossils but today's exciting find was russet red anemones their tentacles waving in the warm waters of the rock pools until we tried to touch them and the tentacles disappear. We spotted loads of them hiding out under rocky overhangs in the rock pools as we scrambled and explored our way to the metal steps that take us up to the cliff top.

My sister chatted about how none of us ever seem to bore of this beach, when the children are tiny they are happy to just potter along, learning the art of rock hopping, pool splashing, mud slurping and rock and shell collecting, then at primary age KS1 they love exploring the pools finding sea creatures of the weird and wonderful, stepping on the seaweed air pockets making them pop and hunting for fossils, this spills into brave forays up the cliff sides and down to the sea, navigating the slippery green seaweed and sticky mud flats as they bloom into KS2. Then they race across the rocks tempting each other to more dangerous endeavours, wider pools to jump, higher rocks to climb and they build rock cities and damns. The older teenagers still seem to enjoy the clam outing over the rocks, looking for the best way to make our way along the coast but they wander, somewhat aimlessly chatting and catching up with a camaraderie full of teasing laughter that makes us parents and grandparents smile.

All in all I truly believe that there is magic here, a magic that makes us all slow down and enjoy the pleasures of being family.

A heart full of love, a heart full of grief

I cannot tell you how relieved I was when I had a telephone call from the county letterbox team.  I had sent off our 6 month letter contact to the letterbox team on the 1st April and had received confirmation from them that child 4's birth parents were in receipt of our letter on the 10th but we had yet to receive a response. I filled our letter with all those little idiosyncrasies that come with a toddler of 2. How much he had grown( 2.5 cms, I even drew a little example,) his shoe size he has jumped two shoe sizes in the last 6 months, new words, nursery rhymes, favourite toys and books. Just all the little things that I thought child 4's birth parents would want too know and as they had requested we had  made a beautiful picture of a yellow chicken, it's feathers were made of strips of yellow tissue paper and the red comb was child 4's handprint. Not expecting a quick reply I kind of put it to the back of my mind, but then a couple of weeks ago I began to worry that perhaps they were not going to write back, not necessarily because they couldn't be bothered but because it was too heart breaking.

The letter box team were calling because they had received a response but included in it was a poem written I presume by birth mum, a pouring out of her heart and soul, or maybe I should say her broken heart and damaged soul. The letterbox team wanted to know if we wanted them to forward on the poem or would we rather they kept it. Of course I said send everything on, I may well be upset by what I read but my pain is nothing in comparison to theirs and we will now sort child 4's memory box into a can have now box and a can have when he is older box. The poem will sit in the latter.

The letters and poem arrived in Fridays post and yes they touched my heart. Mums out pouring of grief was tangible as I read the poem but if you read it I think it would give you a little bit of an insight to who she is and possibly why her child was to all intents and purposes taken away.Child 4 has brought so so much joy to our family and our community, he is very special and what we have gained far far outweighs what we can give him, I wish that I could share all that with his birth parents but I know that they could not take care of him. When he has tantrum he is really full on and now that he is growing so big and strong, he is harder to control in the physical sense, like strapping him into his high chair or buggy for example, even just grabbing him before he runs off is getting harder because he is so quick and when he falls to the floor in the middle of the supermarket I am finding it hard to pick his squirming, fighting little body off the floor - he is very good at pulling hair and his excellent hand eye co~ordination means that when he is punching and kicking his aim is usually spot on.  There is no way that his birth parents could remain calm and consistent like I "usually" can, after all he is my number 4 and we knew what we were letting ourselves in for. I like to think that most of the time I have this aura of calm and peace about me, although inside I am often cussing and counting to about 200!!

I guess the bottom line for me is that any contact no matter how mundane or how emotional is better than none at all. Child 4 will have the opportunity to read everything that is sent once he is the right age and we will be there to hold his hand, hug him tight and answer any questions he may have. His birth parents are exactly that, they made him it's their genes running around his little body, they are his history. As a family we are lucky enough to be part of that history and definitely part of his future but more importantly we are his present and we will provide him with everything that he needs.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

The dangers of texting

Ok I am harping on about bullying again but that is because our lives seem to have been impacted by it such a lot at the moment.

The emotional form "I am not going to that because you won't do what I want you to do"
The intimidating and humiliating type. I have asked you to do something that you feel is unethical but tough I will force you to do it either by scaring you or embarrassing you.
Cyber bullying, in this case sexting. Where a girl has forwarded on inappropriate photos of herself to her boyfriend who has then forwarded them onto his mates and then they have done the same.

Today my focus is on the sexting, some girls at child 4's school have been involved in this and this encouraged me to investigate the prevelance of sexting and what we as adults, parents and teachers can do to support our children both boys and girls in this new technological world. Sexting is a new phenomena and I suspect that if you are over the age of 20 it's will be something that you have probably only heard of via the media.
Firstly, exactly what is sexting. The NSPCC explaination is "Sexting' is the exchange of self-generated sexually explicit images, through mobile picture messages or webcams over the internet.
Young people may also call it:
  • Cybersex
  • Sending a nudie, picture or selfie.
'Sexting' is often seen as flirting by children and young people who feel that it is part of normal life.
One of the most common forms is girls sending pictures of themselves onto their boyfriends, not necessarily considering the possible consequences once they have pressed the sent button. Once that has happened they no longer have any control over those images and sadly they have to live with those consequences. We, I think are now very aware that once something is on the internet it cannot be completely removed and that can impact someone's future. I wonder though are those that have passed on pictures aware that the law views those pictures as indecent and as the girls who send them are frequently under 18 it could also be a sex crime which if the police were informed can lead to arrest and being charged with child pornography and end up on the sex offenders register for life. The effect on a young persons future could be devastating and all because they don't have an understanding of what it is that they are doing. 

We must educate our children, giving them all the facts so that they can make decisions involving social media and texting. We must ensure that they no that they can say no and just as importantly telling an adult  about anything that makes them feel uncomfortable is not telling tales......

http://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/14_plus/need-advice/selfies-and-sexting/ http://www.nspcc.org.uk/help-and-advice/for-parents/talking-about-sex/sexting/sexting_wda96795.html

Sunday, 18 May 2014

A perfect weekend for adventuring

At last the sun has made a proper appearance. We have had azure blue skies, cotton wool clouds and the breeze has been warm and caressing.

This means that the children leave the electronics behind and head out into the great outdoors. We filled the paddling pool, interesting when our garden is on a slope. The sand table is full of play sand, dinosaurs and buckets and spades, the bubble mixture is dotted around the garden in a variety of bowls awaiting a child and a wand ready to magic up circular prisms of pinks, blues and greens.

Meals become picnics and barbecues, glasses clink full of brightly coloured drinks and ice. Perfick. There is still May blossom on the trees and the breeze sprinkles the petals like confetti around the apple tree, which this year sits waiting for someone to climb her, perhaps even build a platform amongst her welcoming arms.

Our garden of course is full of noise, shrieks when the water from the pool is splashed, laughter as the children chase each other around, singing and shouting as they climb the climbing frame or the tree and as the warmth begins to wane, grumblings and tears begin as children feel the exhaustion creep up on them.

And so they are bathed, pyjama'd and tucked into their beds, smelling of summer - sun cream, sticky ice lollies and outdoors, pink cheeked and brown bodied after frolicking in the sun. I watch them drift to sleep wondering what adventures their dreams will hold.

What a wonderful life I have!

Friday, 16 May 2014

Pretty little bubbles in the air

Take 100 ml of washing up liquid, 100 ml glycerine (which can be purchased in a pharmacy) and 800 ml water. Mix together very very gently to avoid any foam and hey presto you will have some fantastic bubble mixture, which is better the older it is. The glycerine helps the bubbles to last longer so well worth adding to the mix.

Blowing bubbles can help children with
  • motor skills. 
  • Visual tracking skills. 
  • Hand/eye coordination.  
  • Sensory processing skills. 
  • Oral motor skills. 
  • Social and communication skills.  
  • Gross motor skills. 
  • Following directions. 
  • Identifying body parts. 
  • Language and cognitive skills.
Lancaster university did a study that showed that children who could blow bubbles are more likely to have stronger language skills. 

In our house we just love blowing and chasing bubbles. There is nothing nicer than watching bubbles light up in hues of pink, blue and green rising up on the breeze and floating until they are out of sight. Well that's the ones that get away the others are popped by delighted children chasing them around the garden.

We all have washing up liquid in the house and a bottle of glycerin cost me £1.70  and you can make wands out of old coat hangers, an old kitchen roll inner or even you fingers and thumbs. I have just kept some from the old bottles we had.  That and a dry day leads to hours of fun in the garden, indoors is not such a good idea as when it is spilt the mixture is really, really slippery.

So go and enjoy

Sunday, 11 May 2014


There are so many forms of bullying and sometimes it can take you by surprise when you are on the receiving end.  Most of us have been bullied at some point or other in our lives. How we deal with this says a lot about the type of people we are.  I guess most us think of bullying as being the school type but this can also spill in to the work place and even family or friendship groups.  It can be as obvious as someone using intimidation tactics to force you to do something you are not comfortable with or as insidious as ignoring you, humiliation and unacceptable criticism.

If bullying is allowed to continue it can destroy self esteem and self worth, victims of bullying will become depressed and isolated if no one steps in to help.

We all have a responsibility to step in when we see someone suffering because of the actions of another person. In many cases I am sure that the bully is unaware of how they are being perceived so the only way for them to change their behaviour is for someone to confront them.

As a parent it is hard to see your child upset because they are being bullied in some way and we need to ensure that we can offer the support they need. It maybe that the school needs to be involved, after all they are all children and educating them in how to behave socially is as important as learning to read, write and count. Children that are not tackled about their behaviour when they are young will, perhaps, unknowingly continue these behaviours in to adulthood. Which in actual fact often will leave them being isolated and left out because the community they are within do not want to be part of their lives.  Of course we need to look after the bullies too, after all most people would not intentionally hurt another person unless they were lacking something in there lives.

When I think of the times I have come in to contact with any form of bullying it is usually because of emotionally charged issues elsewhere spilling into school or work life or envy, which often leads to the green monster belittling the one they are jealous of.

Someone once said that silence is a strong weapon to be used when in an environment where bullying is rife, but for me silence is never the way. Silence is good when you wish to prevent an arguement spilling out of control, but not once a situation has spiralled out of control.

It is imperative that we speak up and out about all forms of bullying, it may well make life uncomfortable for a while for all those concerned but how can we move forward and resolve differences if we never speak up.

I am a fixer, a doer, I like to try and make things better, sometimes this inevitably means that things get worse before they get better, but if I sat and did nothing I honestly believe that is worse.  I teach my children that standing up to be counted when you believe something is wrong can be daunting but is the only way to keep our dignity and pride.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Let's play hide and seek

Aren't children brave or is it just trusting? Today on our walk home from school this morning, child 4 took the path that leads around the field as his chosen journey, he has often wandered down the trail made by walkers and their dogs, usually because there is a lovely muddy bit for him to stomp in but today he walked the whole circular route and quite happily traversed it on his own. Obviously I was there but I had the buggy with the little bit of shopping we had done on the back. I couldn't really push the buggy along the walkers track so followed his progress as I pushed up the hill following the Tarmac path that runs along the edge.

What made me think of his courage was the fact that the field is now completely overgrown, full of dandelion clocks, bright yellow buttercups, pale lilac wild orchids and full headed yarrow all their faces reaching high trying to touch the sky. The tall reeds of swishy swashy grasses bend in the breeze, their blades aiming higher than the wild flowers looking up towards the spring sunshine. The whole field is now taller than our little boy, but off he went exploring in what must have been a huge territory for his little legs. As we walked parallel to each other, he slowly making his way through the towering grasses hunting for bugs, birds and plant life and hiding from his mum too. I watched for that tow head and flashes of red raincoat.  He was perfectly safe, the field is surrounded by hedge rows of holly, elderflower and hawthorn the gates for entering and exiting are at either end of the Tarmac track that I was slowly strolling along.

This must be how our children gradually learn independence and autonomy. This ability to hide for a while, just until they wish to be found and then allowing us to pursue and catch them. All this teaches them that as parents we will always seek them out. It must be life and love affirming  especially I think for children who have been in care where fear of being left behind must remain in a corner of their psyche. Hide and seek in all it's childhood formats whether it be peek a boo or the physical hiding away teaches our children that we will return to them.

They learn that it is safe to go and explore when mum or dad is close by, we won't leave them. If they find exciting creatures or plants we are there to enjoy their discoveries and share our knowledge. Children love finding snails with houses on their backs, furry caterpillars that will build cocoons and re awaken as beautiful butterflies and pools of frogspawn that give birth to tadpoles, little fishes that evolve  into jumping frogs. These early explorations will surely encourage our children to head out into that big wide world to explore life in all it's colour as they grow up, knowing that we will always be there for them to return too.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

A day for making memories

Another beautiful morning so we decided to skive off from the house work and head off to the secret garden to play. 3 children, 1 buggy, 1 dog and a nature hunt to complete we headed off. Child 1 chose to stay home and enjoy the peace and quiet and the man of the house was going to mow the lawn, a job impossible to do with a 2 year old and a springer spaniel both of whom want to be outside.

This little corner of childhood idyll is just down our hill, turn left, follow the road to its end, turn left at the cross roads walk about 2 metres and the black wrought iron gates that hide this peaceful paradise from view are right there in front of you. This was child 4's first real foray into the magic of the secret garden and he had no idea of what adventures awaited us through those gates.  We are so lucky to have such a safe place for the children to play and explore, there are hills to scramble up and mud slides to slide down. There are trees to climb and bushes to hide in, there is a stream to leap over or paddle in where the water rushes down to a storm drain after we have had rain. There are hidden stone steps and green edged paths to lead you to places that only your imagination can take you.

Leaving the buggy close to the entrance we set off on foot to hunt for butterflies, caterpillars, dragon flies and other mini beasts. What is marvellous about children is there is no set pace, no plan just the here and now. They have no real concept of time, the older ones my be able to tell the time and know when they are hungry but other than that they just enjoy the moment. Taking a leaf from their book I left time behind and let the children take the lead. We climbed trees and collected the leaves to match to the nature hunt, beech, hawthorn and horse chestnut to name but a few. We picked wild garlic and tasted it, we hid in the undergrowth hunting out places perfect for hidden hideaways, in preparation for hide and seek games in the future. We tiptoed across the wooden bridge that traversed the stream so that we didn't wake the troll that lives beneath it and headed for the witches house. Child 4 found the orchard that was full of sheep and their baby lambs where he watched until he grew bored and then hand in hand we began a slow stroll home.

Somewhere today I decided to leave the chores and routines of ordinary life until tomorrow, we barbecued for lunch and then rolled down the garden in the plastic tunnel we have, we played with the sandpit and blew bubbles until we ran out of mixture and had to make more so that we could blow more.  We bounced on the trampoline and found a furry caterpillar.

Sometimes we are so caught up in life I think that we forget to actually live, today I have made memories with my children, maybe if the sun is shining tomorrow I will make some more......

Friday, 2 May 2014

Argh stop the ride I wanna get off!

It's been one of those weeks, maybe one of those fortnights, in fact one of those months. We have had celebration hearings, Easter holidays, a baptism, year 8 exams and child 4 is dropping his afternoon nap and I think starting to have night terrors.

All the household jobs were getting on top of me, I've been back to work a month so have lost 2 days well 4 hours of potential child free time a week. I began to find myself in a bit of a melt down spiral, the house was untidy, the washing and ironing baskets were overflowing (plus I had the parish table cloths that I had borrowed for the baptism sitting in a huge pile waiting for their moment of clean and ironed glory) I was losing the organised mum effect so homework wasn't being monitored properly and the kids bedrooms were beginning to look like rubbish tips. Morning after morning I was waking up to stress, someone once said that if you spend just 3 minutes in every room each night before bed just tidying then mentally you would have a tidy uncluttered mind and a tidy uncluttered house. The final phrase in this article squashed that idea for me as apparently this system won't work if you have a couple of children. I HAVE 4 CHILDREN and currently an overgrown springer spaniel who loves swimming in a mud pool during his morning walk. AAAAAARRRRRRRGGGGGGGHHHHH!!!

On Tuesday I woke up thinking ok get a handle on this what can I sort today to make me feel better, just complete one job. Child 4 would probably have a nap as he was at nursery on Monday. First I texted my mum to ask if she had two hours this week to watch child 4 so that I could clear the ironing pile. Of course that meant Tuesdays job had to be clearing the washing pile. Mum took the little one on Wednesday afternoon for me. I cleared the 3 bags and 1 basket of ironing and child 1 played with child 4 after school pick up so that I could put it all away.  Then on Thursday I hoovered the floors and child 4 and I cleaned the glass doors and steam cleaned the hall and kitchen floors. The older three children have stepped up in loading  and unloading the dishwasher, put out the washing and child 1 even cooked dinner for tonight.

I now have a clean and tidy kitchen and bathroom, the windows in the conservatory are sparkly and a very empty ironing basket (thanks mum). Of course the washing basket is currently overflowing into the bath but hey I feel ok. Life it back on a more even keel. It's a bank holiday weekend so hopefully pottering in the garden can be a priority!! So is "encouraging" the children to tidy their bedrooms. I feel an internet free day coming on!!!