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.