Sunday, 25 January 2015

Moving on Up.....

I've been a little too self absorbed lately but stress will do that to you so I'll forgive myself. It's been hard to see the woods for the trees or even a little overgrown pathway to follow. I hate writing whingey, grumpy posts and I feel like the optimist that is my natural personality has been stuck in a muddy bog. Not gone completely, but finding it hard to slosh her way out and fearful of leaving a welly behind.  Things are still much the same in terms of stress but instead of focusing on those I'm trying to tease out the positives and take some action to help myself more.

So doing just that, here are some achievements in a more positive vibe regarding the children.....

Pip is now going to sleep without anybody sitting with him. This is a huge relief particularly as we now get to eat earlier! Some nights he takes a while to settle and seems worried I might not be there (I only generally go out a few evenings per month but that is a few evenings too many in Pip's opinion!) and you can hear him quiet calling "Mama, Mama?" as he goes to sleep. I always call back to him that I'm there and stay upstairs until I know he is asleep. I was thinking I might record my voice saying that for TCM to play on the nights I'm out. Mostly I'm sat with Katie in my bedroom reading or playing on our iPads so I can settle Katie and put Pip back to bed if necessary. Pip's speech is developing at a rate of knots. He's learning 5 words at least a day and communicating verbally all the time now. Once again my cautious approach has paid off. He will be assessed again in early Feburary by the Health Visiting team but I'm not concerned about his speech delay at all. 

Pip has settled really well into his once a week day with the Childminder. He has fun there and separates from me in a healthy manner, which involves some crying or clinging but he recovers well once I've left. He's always pleased to see me when I get back and I get lots of hugs and we spend a lot of time repeating that when I say "goodbye" then I will be back again later. Pip hugs me and says "Mama back" when I arrive to collect him.  We've just been approved for 2 year funding as well which is great news and something that adopted children are eligible for so I will get his sessions with his approved Childminder for free. We have chosen a Childminder who is Early Years trained and has lots of experience. We have a great relationship and she is wonderful with the children.

Pip and I had our first swimming lesson this week. Pip and pools are quite hit and miss (mostly miss). He screamed the place down last time I took him. The silly thing is he loves "oooowah". He's forever turning on taps and flushing the loo. He loves washing up and water parks but swimming pools...not so much.  We go to a bounce about session at our local leisure centre and he's been watching the swimming through the windows there. He gets ridiculously excited, and we even had to leave the play session early one day because he was so desperate to see the swimming, so I hoped things might have improved. I booked the lessons and I've been slowly increasing the depth of the bath water at home to help him.......

To say the lesson was an unmitigated disaster might be pushing the outcome a little too far but it wasn't far off that. He wasn't impressed unless he was playing in the showers or on the steps of the pool. It was better than the last time we went in that he didn't scream the whole time. The class level was a little too advanced in its expectations for Pip though so we've been moved to an earlier class that has more of a play and music focus.  Let's see what next week brings. I just hope it's worthy of my £35 panic buy Zoggs swimsuit at the leisure centre because I can't find any of my suits plus they've kinda shrunk in the pool....either that or there's more of me to squeeze into them!

Katie is also going to bed very nicely now. Should I dare say that aloud and commit the statement to the Information Super-Highway? Will I jinx it? She is still having some meltdowns but they are significantly reduced (if I ignore the horrendous tantrums I've had to deal with whilst unwell today - I don't think she can handle me being unwell). I think having more sleep is helping there. I'm concerned about school and how difficult she is finding maths and her concentration levels though. The report has come through from the assessing Social Worker from post adoption with some recommendations for Theraplay and seeking an assessment via the GP to determine any physiological causes for Katie's difficulties. I've made an appointment to discuss the educational issues with an Educational Psychologist. I've met with her new teacher to go over the issues and impact of having yet another new teacher and to highlight with her that Katie is hyper vigilant and not "just" easily distracted. I talked with her about being cautious in how she praises Katie due to her need sabotage after praise and also how low Katie's self-esteem is. I found her teacher approachable and interested in what I was saying. She was keen to hear the outcome of the Ed Psych appointment (as am I!). I forgot to ask about any reward charts they use at school but Katie's behaviour is fine at school so I don't think they are bothering her overly.  This year is a transition year though.  Katie has SATS in the summer followed by a move to another school for Year 3.  We will also be moving home around the same sort of time which worries me enormously because I don't want to unsettle her too much.

I've started doubting myself about what's going in at home at times and whether I'm just exaggerating it all. I suspect you get used to a situation being a certain way and no longer question how extreme it is because it becomes the norm. I am also very sure that the difficult environment we are living in and the stress levels of myself and TCM are exacerbating some of the issues. A few days ago, sensing a difficult after-school few hours, I threw the children a Mad Hatters Tea Party. Both children are under the weather and not really eating much so I decided to cut myself (and them) some slack and not have their tea at the table. Instead we had a pretend birthday party. We had fruit and cheese and cheesy biscuits and a few crisps. Katie poured the water and (mindful of how behaviour can get with too much sugar) they shared a Cherry Bakewell with two candles in for dessert. We played party games and I gave spot prizes for all sorts of silly things. We all had a blast and bedtime was more relaxed than its been in a long time, despite all the improvements. It made me think about my distraction levels and the impact it has on the children. The phone is constantly ringing with decisions to be made for the builder or issues arising related to my mother-in-law. My iPad is surgically attached to me as I am looking things up or just seeking a few minutes solace from Facebook. I need to find a way to be more available more of the time to the children (something else to feel guilty about as well).

As for me? Well I decided to take part in Dry January. The stress of the last few months has seen me supping far too much Prosecco. I was starting to look forward to my 7pm glass of the fizzy stuff a little too much. When I first thought about stopping all alcohol for a month my first thought was "Will I cope without my 7 o'clock glass of vino?". That was reason enough to stop for me. I'm well over half the way through the month and have stayed dry and am feeling better for it.  I'm not sure I will go back to drinking during the week again now although I would fancy a nice cold glass of the fizzy stuff at the weekend.  A friend has introduced me to a rather yummy alternative to alcohol however and the knock on impact is that I'm not craving chocolate either.
In addition to cutting my alcohol back I have decided to tackle the weight I've put on since developing the Vitamin D deficiency. It might have something also to do with those swimming lessons I mentioned earlier as well and the fact that Katie said her friend asked if I was pregnant!  An opportunity has presented itself through the blogging community to take part in a programme called Thinking Slimmer. It's a 12 week programme that involves listening to messages daily using a Slimpod which will help me make better nutritional choices and learn to say No! I think it must work on some sort of hypnosis or suggestion planting. I will be blogging about this over the coming weeks and sharing how I'm getting on. I'm looking forward to refocusing on my health and wellbeing and shifting the pounds that have crept on. It will make a change from me moaning about my stress levels (I hope!).  I'm excited about losing some weight and feeling healthier.  I don't generally get involved in any formal dieting method because mostly I think the industry is just making money out of desperate people and I also think the word "diet" needs to be replaced by "healthy eating".  "Dieting" is a very negative word and brings up feelings of loss and deprivation.  "Healthy Eating" sounds positive and achievable.  My Nan used to say "everything in moderation" and I think she was right.  She never put on any weight, was always slim, and often had at least two cooked meals per day, just not large meals.  I need a little bit of help to help reset my moderation button because it's been rather over-ridden over the past few years and about 2 stone has sneaked on a pound at a time.  I pick up Pip, who weighs 2st 4lbs and think my weight gain is almost a whole Pip.  He's very heavy so that is a lot of additional weight to carry around and is a rather sobering thought now I think of it.......

Wish me luck!!

Saturday, 17 January 2015

The Universe Moves in Mysterious Ways...

Have you ever had one of those experiences when something unexpected shines out from underneath a seemingly dark, dank, pile of the proverbial brown stuff? Well that happened to me today.

I had a feeling of quiet anticipation this morning. The reason for this was I was going for my very long awaited facial. TCM bought me a voucher for my local salon for my birthday back in May for a Shellac pedicure and for a facial. I'd managed to cash in the pedicure part of the voucher in June and had never gotten around to having the facial due to the difficulties over the last 6 months. When I booked the appointment I mentioned to the person I spoke to that I was using part of a voucher and that the details of what I was having should be on my file in the salon, my understanding being that this was logged on my card in June.

When I arrived this morning to have my wax and facial I mentioned this again to the girl who was doing my treatment. Her response was that the vouchers were only valid for 6 months so I probably couldn't use it. I told her I was unaware of this because I gave my voucher to the person who did my nails back in June. I reiterated that I thought the details should be on my card. She said she'd check after my wax. I could feel some tears welling. I had moved heaven and earth to get the time for this appointment and it felt like so much more than a facial. It was a few hours to myself being treated with care and kindness at a time when life is very stressful and I have been feeling very alone and isolated and low.

After my wax she asked me to get undressed ready for the facial and she would speaker to the manager about my voucher.  She then returned to say that they were unable to give me the facial using the voucher because there was no record of it. I explained again all the details and that I wasn't making the story up to get a free facial. She asked me if I would like to go ahead with the facial and pay for it. I think you can guess my reply. I told her I had already paid for the facial so wasn't about to pay for it again. She asked me to speak to the Manager to try and resolve the issue.

The Manager of the salon confirmed that they would be unable to offer me the treatment as they had no record of my credit note. I felt so upset I could barely speak. It felt like the universe was pelting me from a great height. I felt so embarrassed at being told all this initially as I lay semi-clad on a massage table and then have to re-dress to speak to the Manager. I felt embarrassed that they thought I was lying, particularly as I've been a customer of theirs for at least 10 years, even using them for Katie's birthday party recently. I felt like the universe wouldn't even let me have that one hour of relaxation, just for me, like I wasn't worthy of that. All those emotions were an over-reaction. A sign that things are all getting on top of me. In the great scheme of things this isn't the worst thing in life that could happen. However, I feel I was treated abysmally and uncaringly by the salon.

I left the salon in tears and sat in my car sobbing. I phoned TCM to tell him what had happened and I drove home. As I drove I asked the universe what the message was for me because I felt totally embarrassed and so very upset and worthless. Was that what I was supposed to learn from this experience?

And then some magic happened, although I didn't realise it at first.

I posted a message on my Facebook page about my experience. It was quite a raw one for me and included the word "bastards", which surprised most people as I'm not really a sweary person. I just needed to vent my emotions. 

Suddenly there was an outpouring of outrage on my behalf from many of my friends. People wrote messages on the Facebook page of the salon and several friends rang the salon and complained vociferously on my behalf. I asked this of no-one and I'm still shocked and amazed at the reaction. I'm sure the salon were as surprised as I was and I do feel sorry for the Manager who probably also had a bad day as a result of her decision this morning. People think I'm confident but it's all bravado with me. I can pretend very well and am confident in some situations but I know I would have scuttled off to a corner to feel sorry for myself over all this. I did plan to write to the owner though as I wasn't sure I could speak my outrage without being emotional. To see my friends rally round to take care of me in this manner moves me to tears as I write this post.

It then occurred to me. Here was my message from the universe. People care about what happens to me. When I needed it a wall of support formed tightly around me and people had my back. Words cannot express my gratitude to all of the people who supported me today.

I received a call from the Manager of the salon tonight. I wasn't able to take the call as I was putting the children to bed (as you know that's not a quick task in our house). She left me a message to say she had found the credit note and could I phone her back to come to a resolution about the issue this morning. I'm pleased to have some time to think about the issue before phoning her back because I need some time to compose myself before asking for a refund. Sadly I do not feel I could lay on their massage table and have any form of treatment ever again. Such treatments are intimate. You allow someone into your space and let them take care of you. The salon didn't take care of me today but my friends did. I will take my custom elsewhere but try and hold onto the love and support I was shown today and see this as a positive experience. 

To all the wonderful people who looked after me today I am very grateful. Overwhelmed and emotional but grateful. This is an experience that has brought me more of a gift than my original voucher and I'm touched and feel a lot less alone than I did.

The universe moves in mysterious ways......


Sunday, 11 January 2015


At risk of sounding like I'm always complaining I think it's fair to say that our family life has been fairly relentless since Pip joined the Katie household. Over the past 6 months add to that a house build; a house move; the death of TCM's dad; the care needs of Nana; driving 20 mile daily round trips for Nana and the cats; the rehoming of said cats; the health scare of my closest friend; the death of the parents of two close friends and resulting emotional impact; the passing of my Great Aunt; several changes of school teacher for Katie and the resulting impact on her emotional wellbeing (and ours); months of Katie refusing to go to bed; Pip now out of his cot and needing bedtime sittings to go to sleep; TCM's hypertension and ridiculous volume of work; and living in a house the size of a shoe box for an indeterminate amount of time and it's no wonder we're a family living on the edge of a precipice of a very slippery slope. 

I've been seeing a specialist adoption counsellor due to the secondary trauma of living in the Katie war zone and the transference of emotional impact from my own fairly violent upbringing. All this coming on the back of being unwell with the Vitamin D deficiency, which I think has resurfaced again, is making for a stressful, tiring and fairly unhappy life for us all currently. We do get on with it on a daily basis as best we can and this blog is my way of documenting our lives and reflecting on my feelings. It is my outlet; a way of processing the myriad of emotions that are assaulting my life currently. It helps bring some sanity and clarity which enables me to keep heading onwards.

Things worsened over Christmas due to the build up and excitement and the fall-out over my compliment to Katie on her behaviour on Christmas Day. Of course the new term has also now started and we have the resettling period when Katie is really tired and to make things worse Katie has now had another change of teacher at school. Another teacher has had to leave due to unexpected circumstances and another teacher has just started. Katie likes the new teacher but we're seeing the anxiety rise again as she struggles to settle. She's fearful at bedtime and won't go upstairs to the toilet or anything else on her own. A meltdown can result in having to go upstairs on her own.  Pip has reached the stage of development where his attachment to me won't allow anyone else in my close proximity so Pip and Katie fight endlessly over me like dogs fighting for scraps. Neither really seem to want TCM currently. I suspect this is partly because each is reacting to competition from the other over my affections so neither is reacting logically. It's very primal. Some of this is fairly typical for someone who is 7 and Pip's jealousy is very age-appropriate so I'm trying to accommodate their needs as much as possible with a healthy dose of ignoring as well but it's all just too relentless and intense if I'm honest. Katie is back to having toddler meltdowns over just about everything. Pip is pretty much just a manic toddler in the way many boys are. He's not particularly complicated really, just very tiring because I have to watch him all the time so it's hard to get anything done during the day. By the evening I'm falling asleep in the sofa by 8:30pm so we're not getting things done for the builder or even just household-wise after the children's bedtime.

I often try to work out what is age-appropriate behaviour with my children, particularly Katie thus far. It does occupy a lot of my thinking time. I often conclude that my children come with an intensity in their reactions that highlights their start in life. Much of their behaviour is quite similar to their peers. Many other parents report their 7 year olds are incredibly rude and demanding and very diva-esque in their behaviour (I delighted in witnessing my friend's daughter the other day) but I question whether their 7 year olds keep it going all day. 

I'm also fairly sure most 7 year olds don't attack their parent in the middle of the night when Mummy says that they can't come into their bed. A cuddle and a settle back into their own bed is freely given. If Katie would come into our bed nicely and actually sleep quietly I'd actually let her come in and sleep with us. But she doesn't. She's awful in our bed and it ends badly so other other night when I cut to the chase and said she had to go back to bed, she screamed in my face and almost head butted me and woke the whole house up. I didn't react very therapeutically I'm afraid. 

She did go back to her own bed and went straight to sleep I might add. 

Interestingly (I can say "interestingly because a few days has now passed from the incident) the bedtime episode was after a play date at her friends house. I was concerned about the play date baring in mind Katie's current heightened anxiety and because the little girl is from a non-English speaking family. Dad speaks barely a word of English and I was concerned how Katie would cope and if she'd feel isolated if there was a disagreement between the girls. Katie and the girl also seem to have a love/hate relationship so I was justifiably concerned about conflict. I would have liked some time to think about the play date but I was ambushed by the children in the playground begging for a play date the following day, catching me at a vulnerable moment so I agreed against my better judgement. As I feared Katie came home in a right temper which was blamed on anxiety over the other girl wanting her lip balm (I think they should be banned personally due to the amount of stress lip balms cause in our house). I think there was more to the anxiety than just the lip balms though and it was a point proven I guess and I am the lucky person who deals with the fallout.

With so much going on it is hard to find the energy to be consistent and also not to over-react emotionally myself to challenging behaviour. I have found myself shouting more which I am working hard (with a lot of success) to stop. It's just sheer frustration and feeling overwhelmed though. It's all a bit too much if I'm honest. I'm waiting for the outcome of a recent assessment from the Post-Adoption Team. I think the biggest thing for TCM and I would be to get back home because we currently feel rootless which is impacting on our ability to self regulate. The lack of space from each other is one of our biggest challenges and I feel constantly irritated when TCM is working on his iPad when I'm trying to deal with the children. In our other house he can absent himself. I've taken to taking longer in the loo for a bit of time out which feels ridiculous, although necessary at times.

There are blessings in amongst all the stress and I don't just want to focus on all the challenges.  Pip is really starting to speak and his character is developing more and more every day. Hearing him point to the window when it's raining heavily and shout "Mama it's weeing, it's weeing!" was hilarious.  Hearing Katie tell me she loves me "more than anyone else in the whole kintyre world" makes me smile and love her even more.  I get lovely cuddles and kisses from both children. Pip is at that squidgy cuddly stage when they can first wrap their legs around your waist. Katie loves playing "under the water, under the sea" with me and we change the rules all the time. There are funny times. The highs are getting lost in the stress at times though. TCM stresses me out a lot when he starts to panic about what we need to do and I am trying to be a chameleon and meet everyone's needs and failing miserably.  I need to set up a blessings jar I think and write down all these wonderful little moments so that I can hold them close to my heart.  We are so blessed in many ways. We have much to be grateful for. 

It will pass. Things will change. Change for the better? I hope so. Currently though the thought of a least another 4-5 months of living here feels untenable. My mood is low and disjointed and I feel emotionally like I want to shut up shop for a while. I took a mini-time out this week, refusing to deal with anything other than day-to-day stuff. I suspect this is partly the impact of the stress since Pop's death. I'm tired. I need a break. None is forthcoming so I have to pull myself up by the bootstraps each day and get on with it and try and smile at Katie belting out Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood" from her bedroom, where she is currently playing rather nicely with Pip.


Saturday, 27 December 2014

A Rookie Error!

I always find it hilarious when I attend an adoption event and I'm billed as an "experienced adopter". I'm not entirely sure what I'm experienced in really. The adoption process? An experienced adoptive parent?

Well I'm not so sure it's the latter, not by any stretch of the imagination. I made an adoptive parent rookie error on Christmas Day.

In my defence, awareness of the issue that the mistake relates to is relatively new in our family and I've not really wrapped my head around how to manage it. Regular parents would read what happened and wonder what all the fuss was about. After all, isn't that actually in the parenting 101 handbook as an example of positive parenting? It's still the default position for me and I know I'll struggle with how to remodel it.  All I can say is forgive me, I'm still transitioning from the regular parenting handbooks and venturing into the more specialised adoption parenting books. 

So what happened that had such a devastating effect? What was this rookie error? 

Well I, quite simply, paid Katie a compliment. I congratulated her on her wonderful behaviour to that point on Christmas Day and reflected on how nice it had been. We were walking back from the park (well Katie was riding her bike very nicely and I was walking along with Pip holding his little hand ) and before I could edit my words, I'd already said it. She had been wonderfully behaved and we had had a fairly relaxed day. I'd pitched all the Christmas presents right for both children and they were delighted and so I was feeling a little smug. We'd had a nice time at the park and I was feeling chilled and Katie and Pip were lovely company. I thought it would be nice to tell her how I was feeling and now proud of her I was.

Bad idea and the impact was virtually immediate. 

Within 5 minutes she started riding off and then she disappeared around the corner and didn't return. Now we weren't far from home and it was very quiet but I'm pretty strict about roads and being out of sight. She is only 7 after all. She didn't come back when I called her. A knot of fear clutched at my stomach. I couldn't chase after her because I was walking with Pip, very slowly as he has short little toddler legs. After what seemed like ages she appeared back with a defiant look on her face. I reminded her that she had to stay where I could see her but again she rode off. 

Ever since then she's been on a mission to be as annoying and rude as possible. It's like she is winding herself up into a frenzy. She had a maniacal pitch to her laughter on Boxing Day and moved herself to hysteria within seconds of something being wrong. A total nosedive. 

To be fair Boxing Day was a mixed bag of behaviour but it turned on a dime from acceptable to awful. She helped me beautifully when I was making Bubble and Sqpueak for lunch. I gave her a very grown up job of cutting up the left over roast potatoes and parsnips and she did a wonderful job and seemed very proud of herself. She asked if I'd given her the job because she was so grown up with the knife and I confirmed this's she glowed with pride. She helped taste everything as we were cooking (because she'd said she didn't want B&S so my cunning plan was to get her to help me and taste it as we went along. That worked brilliantly until we sat down to eat when she refused to eat it citing that she didn't like it! 

"Errrrr sweety you just ate some whilst we were cooking and said it was lovely!"

She did eat some eventually after she'd said she was too full up to eat it and I'd pointed out that there would be no popcorn whilst watching the film after lunch as she was full up! 

The rest of the day was a strain and Katie went to bed undear a cloud of silly decision making including tantrums and hyperness and finally going into her brother's bedroom after I'd said goodnight to her. She put her hot water bottle and new FurReal Daisy in him whilst he slept and then said she wouldn't go to sleep until she had them back again.  She's not allowed in Pip's room after lights out so she was looking for mischief and was one step ahead of me. It didn't help that I was feeling exhausted and just couldn't find the energy to do much at all. 

Today I was at desperation point by 10am so I stuck the kids in the car and took them to a nearby miniature steam railway where we rode the trains and played in the park and soaked in the puddles (Pip ended up knee deep in a ditch!). The change of scenery and a bit of fun seems to have helped and Katie seems to have blown off some attitude whilst we were out. I'm learning to use a reward instead of a punishment to turn difficult days around because reprimand just seems to make things worse. I'm also learning, albeit slowly, that compliments seem to trigger something in Katie that requires her to then sabotage the positivity. It feels wrong not to compliment a child when they are doing well but I'm learning not to compliment her behaviour. Instead I can own my own feelings and say how happy something has made me or how much I've enjoyed her company. 

I feel that I seem a lot of time lately correcting Katie generally. In fact I feel like all I do is tell her off. I know that's not helping but some of her choices are very silly. Pip ended up getting a nose bleed Chrustmas Day after she pushed him over after we'd removed her to calm her down. She was incredibly anxious that she'd seriously hurt him. I'm not sure if she was worried that she'd hurt him or worried that she could get into trouble. She was fixated on what might happen if he needed to go into hospital and what would I say had happened. She wound herself up into a total frenzy and I think all those stress hormones are taking the time to settle. Pip is ok so there is no need to worry.

So yet another Christmas with Katie causing arguments. On the plus side we did make it to 4pm which I think is a personal best. Maybe next year will be better and maybe I'll learn to rephrase my praise!

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Christmas Wishes!

Sending Christmas wishes to everyone! I hope that wherever you are you have friends or family to share it with. Thank you for reading my blog and sharing your experiences over 2014. I look forward to sharing more with you over the coming year and hope that 2015 is a kind year to you. 

Gem xxxx

Saturday, 20 December 2014

The Crazy!

There are times in life when the crazy strikes. The crazy is a set of external events that can fall very heavily upon you. It can swoop in suddenly or it can creep in, slowly building momentum until, like a tornado, you find yourself battening down the hatches and wondering what will be left when it passes. It can be an inner crazy that is yours alone or it can be a shared crazy, one where the impact is also external to yourself. It can strike at the very heart of your family unit, leaving you floundering and unable to function well together. Being able to function well together would probably help beat the crazy back more quickly but, because each person is deep in their inner stress, it's difficult to synch and be in the same book, let alone on the same page. 

The other problem with crazy is that it is contagious. It seeps into the pores and fabric of the home waiting for a moment when its next victim is tired or emotional. Then it become endemic and you can't pinpoint where it started. Tempers are heightened and sensitive. Voices are tense and angry and raised. Patience runs thin very easily and the family snaps at each other like hungry crocodiles. 

It takes huge effort to step back and reflect and take action against the crazy. Slights are still felt and can pull you back down into the quagmire. With energy running low it can require super human emotional strength to crawl back out again and to offer a hand to others still swimming in the deep. You may start to question why you are offering a hand and it is tempting to just focus inwardly at your own inner turmoil. Yet someone has to find that strength and try and pull the rest of the family to safety before the vortex spins too fast and makes rescue impossible. The problem with a rescue mission though is people have to desire rescue. It isn't something you can force.

This year has been one of the toughest emotionally for a very long time. The crazy just keeps on coming our way and the effort required to keep our heads physically and emotionally above water often feels too great. The weight of grief at the loss of Pops and responsibility for Nana plus the house build and the children drives a wedge within the family impacting on all parts of our life. It will ease. It will pass, I know, but it will leave its legacy. That legacy can be seen already in the tension in us and between us and now that spills over to the children. The challenging behaviour of the children then adds another layer of stress and tension and so it continues. This Christmas feels the saddest we've experienced in many, many years. It is only one day I tell myself, yet the day is filled with the legacy of so many other experiences and feelings. I feel like I'm fighting to make it special for the children yet am being pulled back all the time. I've done my best, that I can say, but the day will be a challenge.

My wish for 2015 is to finish our house build and get back to the safety and security of our home to regroup. We have had so much to deal with in a house we don't call home which induces vulnerability. I know I need that feeling of security and space again and to feel my roots resettle and bring strength and to nurture me. We won't be home until at least April though and I fear we will, as a family, limp slowly and numbly towards that date. The crazy isn't showing signs of pulling back and I am fearful for how long I can hold everything together for everyone. I will continue to do my best and hope that my best is sufficient but I'm so very emotionally tired that it feels like a daunting task. My attention is required constantly by so many different people that I feel totally over-stimulated and hyper-aroused. Time is a precious commodity and there is little of it to spare for seemingly frivolous things like fun and relaxation yet these are the very things that will nurture us and enable us to maintain perspective.  It's a conundrum for which the answer remains obscure and is heard differently by each of us.

In the meantime I will continue to beat back the crazy with my chocolate stick and hope that it starts to pull back and give us all breathing space. 

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Knots and Biscuits

I'm sitting downstairs at 6:45am, a woman on the brink of losing her temper so I've come downstairs and made a cup of tea and am dunking gluten-free Rich Tea biscuits to feed the knot that is in my stomach.

It has been yet another early wake up call.  Pip has been waking at around 4:30am-5am most mornings since going into his Big Boy Bed.  I think he must move into a lighter part of his sleep cycle and whereas once he might have fallen back to sleep whilst still in the cot, now he has the freedom to get out of bed he's stumbling into our bed.

It wasn't Pip who woke up early today.  Well not initially. Initially it was Katie but if Katie is awake then the whole planet has to be awake.

I suspect Katie woke up early because we had an awful bedtime last night.

I was supposed to be going to my Reiki healing group.  It's an early evening start, 6:30pm, so I had organised the children to have early baths and Pip was due to go to bed early.  Katie was having a treat and was allowed to go back downstairs after her bath.  That all seems sensible doesn't it?  Well it did until a very tired and not very well Pip decided he didn't want to go to sleep.  That's OK to a point.  I sat in with him until he was slowing down and TCM was around and about with Katie.  He came up to relieve me so that I could get ready, albeit a little later than scheduled but still workable. I got ready and went downstairs to see a snuggly Katie under the blanket watching a film.

Katie has been stealing sweets and biscuits etc for quite some time, I don't have a problem with children having sweets and biscuits in moderation and would happily let her have a biscuit or two each day but the problem is that more than 2 biscuits will make her totally and utterly hyper so we've had to put a serious embargo on sugar products after 5pm.  Katie when she is hyper is unmanageable so she was on a pinky promise that she would simply sit and watch the film. A pinky promise is a big deal  in our house.  It is something that WILL happen.  So I went to kiss her goodbye and caught my breath as I smelled chocolate.  I then saw the tale-tale smear of brown around her mouth.

"What are you eating Katie?" I asked.

She sort of triumphantly pulled back the blanket to reveal the two large bars of dark chocolate I had bought for baking earlier yesterday.  Thankfully she'd been nibbling from one only and also thankfully it was very dark chocolate so she hadn't eaten too much and wasn't too sugary.  She knew though that being caught stealing would mean certain bed.

"Right then it's time for bed Katie" I said.  I also added for the first time that I was very disappointed by her choice because we had trusted her and she had let us down after pinky promising that she would watch the film and not go into the kitchen.  I don't often say things like that to be honest but I'm so fed up with it.  All the other sweet things were on high, locked away, so we take precautions.  Katie will do things like take all the Frubes from the fridge and eat all of them.  You can tell because suddenly she will lose the plot and start running around like a crazy puppy,giggling madly like a person possessed and will not do anything she is asked.  She is literally off her face.  We can't bring any sweets into the house without them being stolen and wrappers found under the cushions or behind the TV.  I am mindful of the reasons why because I was an unhappy child and I used to steal biscuits to numb the pain - see how this blog post started?  Nothing much has changed for me except I don't have to steal them anymore.  I'm not sure that Katie is numbing pain though. I think Katie is doing something because she wants the chocolate or sweets and her impulse control currently is at an all time low.

Me insisting on bedtime led Katie to have the mother of all tantrums which of cause set Pip off as well.  I won't let an argument go out of fear of waking another child in the house because I feel that leads to an air of facilitation when the other child will know that they can get away with things because the parents are fearful of waking up the other child. Katie went to bed and I got changed out of my Reiki clothes (I don't have specific Reiki clothes but I had changed to go out) and went to sit in with Pip until he fell asleep.  I was so cross because I've not made it to Reiki in a while due of Pip's new sleeping arrangements and the impact on the rest of the house (as you can see from this post TCM can't simply sit with Pip whilst he goes to sleep and let Katie watch TV or do anything on her own because she will most definitely utilise that time to do something she isn't allowed to do) and I really need the time-out for myself. We can't put a stair-gate on Pip's door because the frame isn't wide enough in our temporary house.

I gave Katie a goodnight cuddle, after she had stomped downstairs to remind TCM that he had promised I would give her a kiss and a cuddle (I had thought she was asleep at that point in my defence). I told her that I loved her very much but that there are rules that we all follow and that she would be getting no sweets for the next week as a result of her stealing again.  Whilst I am sympathetic to the emotions she is having she really needs to learn that stealing is not acceptable.  I am hopeful that this is just another childhood phase that she will grow out of and we will continue to work on whatever emotions are underlying.  As I said previously I really don't think Katie is stealing to feed emotions per say, I think she is stealing the sweets because she likes them and she feels that she doesn't have to do a single thing that we have asked her to do.  Having said that I feel we really need some guidance on all this so I hope our referral to Post Adoption Support is actually helpful. I'm not holding my breath though.

I did the ironing instead.

So predictably Katie woke up at 5:25am with a voice as loud as a fog-horn.  I tried to shhhh her into our bed for a cuddle but she was wriggling and chatting and fidgeting instantly.  I lay there and counted about 2 minutes until I heard a familiar voice yell out from the other bedroom...


Pip was awake too.  We, stupidly, attempted to bring them both in for a cuddle. Pip will do this happily and generally does most mornings but Katie was poking him and prodding him and singing and generally refusing to be quiet when asked.  Eventually TCM put her back in her room amidst screams and shouts but any hope of snoozing was past.  I felt the familiar knot tighten up in my stomach and thought how fed up I am of our house being The Katie Show.  I'm just exhausted currently and my reserves are gone so I got up to make drinks and wash up last night's dishes which I was too exhausted to do after the ironing last night and thought I would make myself a cuppa and have a few biccies and a little writing time to calm myself down.

So here I sit. A bag of knots, feeling tearful and overwhelmed by everything going on in my life currently and dunking my biscuits (well actually they've all gone now but I'm sticking with my metaphor) and wondering what the hell to do about it all.