Sunday, 29 July 2012

A Sunny Break from the Rain!

Well we're back on the shores of a much sunnier UK than we left behind when we headed off to very sunny Spain a few weeks ago. We stayed not far from La Zenia in the Costa Blanca. It's a lovely part of Spain.  A bit more commercialised than we would usually head for but, with a child, it's perfect. The beaches are really lovely and sandy and clean and the water is warm. The incline into deeper water is slow so children can play easily in the water.  We stayed in the house of a friend in a very friendly, predominantly ex-pat, community.

Oh it was lovely to have a break from everything (including that never-ending rain!) and just relax a bit (as much as any adult can relax with a 4 year old!) in the sunshine.  As you can see we almost had an extra bod on the trip with us as Leo decided he wanted to sneak into the suitcase. Considering we got stung for an extra 80 euros by Ryan air on the way home, due to our luggage being overweight, it was lucky we left him at home!

Spending days as a family on the beach and by the pool was much needed as Daddy has been ridiculously busy at work over the past year and has been doing two full time jobs.  Hopefully that will change over the next few months now Daddy has been appointed to one of the jobs and interviews for the other job are taking place this week. A rest was needed by us all.

Katie loved the flights again this year and behaved herself really well on both legs of the journey (with flights at 8am outward and 10pm return).  She is amazingly cool at take-off and we make a great game of the event and eat sweeties; guessing when the plane will take off and have fun being pinned back into our seats as the plane takes to the sky. I filled her Trunki with lots of toys and books and sticker books to keep her occupied. Two of Katie's current favourite toys (Lady and Amelia) also joined us for the holiday.  A flight of around 2 hours is manageable. Not sure if we could manage longer just yet although I'd love to take Katie to The Maldives.  We flew into Murcia airport this year which is closer to the house and the journey was amazingly smooth and incident free other than Daddy being very enthusiastically frisked with the electronic gadget by a real jobsworth at the airport because of his watch set the alarm off.  We picked up the hire car and were upgraded to a Mercedes C Class Eco (which was a lovely car to drive) although I wonder if the car we ordered (a Citroen Picasso) would have been more practical for the beach as the poor Merc was filled with sand by the end of the holiday!

We returned to the same house that we stayed in last year, having found that Katie settles more quickly when in familiar surroundings, and this plan paid off big time. Also arriving earlier in the day this time worked out better.  We were able to go shopping and unpack and spend time by the pool before bedtime so Katie was settled and happy by the time bedtime arrived.  We spent lots of time on our favourite nearby beach of Horadada and spent a few days visiting places such as Los Alacazares; Torrevieja and Cartagena.  I think Katie's favourite visit was to the castle at San Miguel where we met a gorgeously friendly three-legged cat! Generally it was too hot for sight seeing and I don't think it's fair to drag Katie around (gives me a good excuse to keep things simple as well as I'm not a fan of wandering around in the heat either)

I have to say that something that puzzled and annoyed me the whole time we were in Spain was the fact that the children's play areas appear to have no health and safety regulations.  For example the slides are all made from metal.'s a hot country and those slides are going to burn those little legs sliding down them! I wonder how many medical emergencies they have each year from these play parks or are the Spanish too clever to actually use them? Maybe they should grow Aloe Vera plants in the parks to help with the burns?

One of the things that Katie loves most about being on holiday is swimming both in the sea and in the pool at the house. By the end of the holiday this year she could swim a whole length of the big pool. She loved being on the Boogie Board in the sea and learning to ride the waves (albeit on her tummy) and loved the inflatable dolphin we bought her for the pool.  She is coming on in leaps and bounds in the water. A real water baby.  Daddy, Katie and I spent most of our mornings at the beach and our afternoons by the pool with Daddy and I taking shifts with Katie in the water.  The local Spanish simply loved Katie's beach outfit.  With her blonde little plaits and red suit and hat she was gaining attention from the local Spanish people wherever we went. They must have been wondering what on earth she was wearing as most of the Spanish children only wear bikini bottoms!

We were very brave in booking a homeward flight for 10pm and I did have a bit of anxiety about how Katie's behaviour would be effected by the lateness of the hour (anyone who knows Katie knows how much her behaviour deteriorates when she is overtired). Thankfully Katie helped us out by having a snooze in the car on the way to the airport which gave her a sufficient energy boost to not only last all the through the flight home but be in quite good form (other than wetting herself twice!).  She entertained all the people around us in the queue for the plane with her endless conversation about her new toy dog from the market at Torrevieja.  She was sound asleep within 5 minutes of getting in the car at around 11.30pm though and I was able to transfer her to her bed at home without incident (or waking up thankfully!).

As we are in the process to adopt again I doubt we will have an overseas holiday next year so it better blooming well be sunny over here in the UK next summer! We flew away from the rain this year for a lovely break and brought the sunshine back home with us. Perfect! Just have the school holiday to nagivate now............

Sunday, 8 July 2012

On our way again?

The rain is crying steadily down outside yet again and it seems like we've been waiting for news of the progression of our second adoption for as along as it's been raining in the UK this year.  This process feels as never ending as the awful UK weather despite claims from our government that they are reforming the adoption process and speeding things up.  It was claimed by our local authority when we commenced the adoption process that it would would take 8 months to get us to approval panel this time.  Errrr ......*whispers loudly*  "Mr Cameron we applied in September 2011 and it's now July 2012.....let me just count on my fingers for a two.....three.... four...... that's......oooooh 10 months already and we've not even started our home study yet!" 

The rain is showing no signs of easing up anytime soon but we did finally get two pieces of paper through the post from Social Services this week.

The first letter informed us that our local authority was still not in the position to offer us a Social Worker to commence our home study (the result of the cuts to public spending - no they didn't say that in the letter but I've taken redundancy from the Children's Services due to the cutbacks so I know why the delay has happened) but we could be allocated an agency Social Worker.  Our consent slip was returned with a resounding YES by return of post! I was tempted to write a little additional note on it saying....... 


 .....but thought that might not be appropriate.

The second letter contained our medical assessment forms so we can now organise our health checks.  Hoooray!!  Of course this arrived just days before we are jetting off to find some sun so we'll have to wait until our return to have those assessments (gives us a bit of time to leave a bit of stress behind though and hopefully lower the BP!). I am a glass is half full kinda gal so I can see the benefits!

So theoretically we are up and running again.  Watch this space for more the meantime we're heading away from the rain and going to find a bit of sunshine to warm our spirits; sun-tan our resolve and fill us with a renewed sense of purpose.  I'm hoping that we when get back we will be on our way again......

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

An Amazing Weekend At Britmums Live!

Yes, yes, I know, I've been a bit slow in writing about the Britmums Conference which took place at The Brewery at the Barbican in London on 22-23 June. I'm sorry!  I rather imagine I'd win the prize for the slowest blogger from the event.  What can I say?  Life has been a tad on the hectic side this past few weeks including performing in a tap show the day after the conference and another weekend away this weekend just gone (that will be another post though so you'll have to wait for that one) and I've been so busy and totally shattered that I've barely had time to organise my thoughts let alone do any writing.  Having said that, there was so much to say that I don't know where to start other than it was amazing.  I think I loved every single minute of the whole event.  I managed to overcome (rather quickly one might say) my guilt at leaving Katie with Daddy and throw myself into meeting some wonderful new people and indulging myself in the wonderful treats and freebies and workshops that were lined up for us all to enjoy.  I came home with a tired brain from trying to take on board all the amazing speakers and information and trying to remember everyone I met.

It seems that I was the only adoption blogger in the gaggle of around 500 delegates at the conference - almost as much in the minority as the 6 - 8 male bloggers who were surrounded by a deluge of female, mostly mummy, bloggers.  I was fortunate enough to meet, whilst waiting outside for the conference doors to open on the Friday, Tanya from Special Needs Jungle the BiB Winner for Brilliance in Blogging.  She introduced me to the lovely Lynsey The Mother Duck and Claire from A Boy with Asperger's and we all had a lovely evening out after the awards at a nearby bar.  On the Saturday I was lucky to meet and spent time with the inspiring Hayley from Downs Side Up; Anya from Older Single Mum and the lovely Ellie and her gorgeous baby daughter from CrazyPregnant Person.  Amazing ladies with fabulous blogs and stories to share.  I was so lucky to meet all these lovely ladies and hope to keep in touch with them all.

What did I learn from the conference?  Well I was inspired and greatly moved by Ruby Wax's keynote speech about Mental Health.  She is doing an amazing job raising awareness of the stigmas and issues surrounding mental health at Black Dog Tribe.  Her speech made me think more deeply about my own journey through infertility and miscarriage and becoming an adopter and the impact that had on my own mental health at times.  Sarah Brown gave a really lovely speech and was very open about the insecurities she has about public speaking but also about being her own person in a political world. I admire her for staying true to herself and her beliefs against lots of peer pressure.  Hearing some of my favourite bloggers speaking as part of the workshops, discussing Blogging for Happiness rather than the stats gave me lots to think about.  I have found myself looking at other blogs and wishing I could be more funny; witty; clever etc but came home from the conference with a sense of acceptance of my own style of writing and the message that I want to share.  I felt quite overwhelmed with the amount of workshops and information available within such a short space of time.  The two days passed like a whirlwind.  I also came home with so many bags of goodies and freebies for Katie that I had to forgo the pleasures of the underground back to the train station and sink gratefully into a taxi for the journey. I don't think I would have made it back on the underground (and I didn't want to ruin my lovely manicured nails!).

Katie and Daddy came to meet me at the train station and it was wonderful to see them both and be updated on the tales of Katie's antics at bedtime the night before.  Katie found new ways of playing Daddy up including throwing cat litter down the stairs (something she has NEVER done in 2 years!).  They had a lovely, if very intense, time together though I'm led to believe and, although neither of them are keen for me to spend another night away for a while, I feel confident that they managed very well without me.  Katie was over-awed at all her presents including DVDs from Disney and Warner Brothers and several soft toys and sand painting and, as for me........

.........I remain slightly over-awed by the waiter from Wine Buffs on the Friday night!!

Roll on next year's conference eh?......

P.S. A huge thank you to all the team at Britmums for giving me the opportunity to attend the conference.  I am extremely grateful!