Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Yesterday, today and forever.

  So school is out. We've got 6 weeks of together time. Himself will be working of course except on Fridays when I work, so it will be mostly the three of us. I've been (mostly) looking forward to it. I find I get 'in touch' with the boys so much more in the holidays. On school days, even when they are at home, we are so busy busy that it is hard to be just us, and to relax together. We've been a bit OD'd on school recently, between us Himself and I had 6 meetings at school the other week, a lot of them to deal with small boy issues, and we get tired of it. Our boys are not a good fit in the school system, and it makes for problems.
The other good thing about the holidays (the biggy!) is no more school runs for 6 weeks. Yay!!! We can make our own timetable. And we are. 

Today so far: 
Lazing in Mum's bed with DS's - 1 hour.
Lazy breakfast - if Pup wants ham on toast for breakfast, so what?
Slobbing in front of the TV. Pup will do his PEP breathing exercises in a minute (when I chase him.)

Plans for the rest of the day:
Fill the paddling pool
Get very wet. Scream and run around a lot.
Do  whatever we feel like. Probably not a lot, as it is forecast to be the hottest day of the year. Wait for news of the royal baby.

Six weeks is forever when you are six or nine.
The rest of the holiday may be a little more disciplined than today, but this is the first 'real' holiday day, so we do whatever we like. However for the rest of the hols we've got a list of 'to do's' on our kitchen whiteboard at last two feet long. It includes bowling, picnics, visits to the river, setting up our new table tennis set, museums,  zoos, legoland, visits to grandmas and other friends,  the sea sied (sic - from Tigs), cleaning the house (mum). There is no way we will manage half of it. We are also doing a couple of trips away. I think that forever may pass very quickly.

Oh and I forgot...

We all went to 'History Live'. Run by English heritage it is a history re-enactors dream. There is  a massive field full of tents, some with displays, some with activities (some of us enjoyed the crossbow firing) Some with people from all periods in British history doing demos, making crafts or just lolling around.

There are big events including battle re-enactments (not too much gore), tournaments, a victorian showman. There was a merry go- round. Shops selling expensive desireable items. Medieval maidens queueing for burgers. Roman soldiers chatting to Victorian showmen.  A divebombing Spitfire. Himself and I both enjoy history and would love Pup and Tigs to catch the bug. They certainly seemed to get into it.

Monday, 8 July 2013

What's in a name?

One particular feature of adopted children; they don't usually come with the names you would have chosen for them.

In the case of my boys, one had a first name I quite like, and might have picked as a second name. The other had a first name I don't actively dislike but I would not have chosen. Both had second names and one of those I utterly detested.

We were advised from the begining that it was a bad idea to change their 'user' names. I get the point: they have enough changes going on around them already, to get used to a new name would be hopelessly confusing for them. Also a name is part of your identity, even toddlers (as mine were) need to keep a sense of their own 'self'. So we kept their user names. Anyway their names fitted - they were them. Changing those names would have felt like abuse, like trying to make them be someone they weren't. I have spoken to a mother that changed her childs name, for something very similar. Now that does make sense. Changing the spelling might have been sensible too - to make the boys less traceable by birth family for example. But we liked the spellings, so we stuck.

BUT names mean a lot to me. One very important part of having children for me was chosing appropriate names with meanings that fitted. So it was painful for me to accept their preexisting names. I had spent years dreaming about what I'd call my kids, now I was not just robbed of giving birth to them but of naming them too.

We compromised. We decided to give them a second name each from us, and we lost that perfectly awful name we couldn't stand. The new names had to work well with their first names and our surname too, so we had a lot of thinking to do. To me at least they had to be meaningful as well. They are, I feel they both express how we felt about the boys, and I hope that when they understand what their second names mean they will feel how loved and welcomed they were. 

Pup already choses to use his second name sometimes, although we don't encourage it, we don't discourage it either. It gives me a secret little boost to hear him call himself by the name we chose. But we've told him that he cannot change his name formally at least until he starts senior school. Then... we will have to think.

It is interesting that both have said at different times that they don't want their names abbreviated. I think that they both have a very strong sense of self. It seems funny to me that we rarely use nicknames for them. I come from a family where nicknames were always used. In contrast Himself's parents never abbreviated his name or his brothers'. He and I use abbreviations for each other. We do use endearments for the boys, 'sweetheart' is the commonest, although Pup rebels at that sometimes. We also have private names for them that we use behind their backs. But don't tell them that!

Monday, 1 July 2013

Not everyone will agree

Tigs: "Daddy, my hero my superhero!"  

  Pup: "Tigs, he's everybody's superhero!"

Whatever anyone else thinks of Himself, I think it's just nice that our boys appreciate their Dad!  And I tend to agree with them. He's a great Dad and will always go the extra mile for his boys.

Pup in action
Tigs in action

Monday, 24 June 2013

Sweet morning... sour morning

This morning

The boys got up without any nagging. Tigs only had to be reminded once to lay the table for breakfast (he does that job while Pup does his physio, which in the mornings is breathing exercises) Both finished breakfast in good time and didn't chatter. They did teeth, hair etc really quickly (Tigs only had to be reminded twice) Both packed their bags and got their scooters out without being asked. And Pup remembered  to relock the shed and the back door.
No-one shouted, no-one had a tantrum (not even me). The sad bit was that no-one remembered to say "well done" to the boys for doing so well. Must tell them tonight, and report to Daddy (in their hearing of course) how good they were. I must do that. It is so easy to take good behaviour for granted.

So the day had a great start.


When I got to school Tigs teacher Mrs M. caught me to update me on Tigs IEP - Individual Education Plan. An IEP or Individual Education Plan is a programme designed for children with special educational needs (SEN) to help them to get the most out of education. 

No-one has ever told me that Tigs has special needs. No-one. I didn't know he had an IEP. 

I did mention to Mrs M. that we should have been told. I was biting my lip very hard so I do not think she realised that I was absolutely fuming (although the steam exploding from my ears may have been a clue) I don't know where to start complaining. I am very aware that Tigs is not a good 'fit' in school.That his excess energy and poor concentration make him a difficult child to manage in a class of 30 kids. But that isn't his problem, it's theirs. I know he is behind in some areas. I do not think he is seriously behind. He is a child that will learn only on his terms and when he is ready, which makes teaching him a big challenge. He is also very ahead in some areas. When the SENCO was speaking to Himself the other day she told him that she had  visited Tigs class recently and heard him reading, and she was genuinely impressed at how good his reading level is, not just how well he read but also how much he understood.

Now I am trying to decide where to go, how to handle this situation. One problem is that the teachers were told to 'back off' from us a few months back, because I told school that I was struggling badly at home and couldn't cope with too many school problems. But it would have been a basic courtesy to send us a brief email to tell us that Tigs had an IEP. Maybe?

Mrs M expected me to sign off Tigs IEP on the spot. I refused. I asked her for a copy to take home. I'll  read it, and then...   we will see.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Adoption Memories.

There was a message on our old answerphone, that I couldn't bring myself to delete. Until we replaced the phone about two years ago it stayed there. I think it's still stored in a box in our attic. It was from to me Himself, who had been rung at work by Pup's social worker It was a very simple message. "Skye just rung me - she said "It's Yes" !"
Yes to our status as parents. We'd been matched. Pup was ours. We had a little boy. It was the end of 3 years of waiting. The beginning of 3 months of frantic preparation, planning and introductions. The beginning of something very scary and very exciting.

There is a battered old envelope in Tigs memory box that I won't throw away. It's a record of an unexpected phone call from a social worker at 'Royston Vasey', the boys birth town. She told me that Pup's birth grandma wanted us told that his birth mum had just had a new baby boy. She had very few details, but she told me that the baby, named 'Tigs', was healthy (no CF!) and  had been taken straight into foster care. We hadn't even known Pups birth mum was pregnant. I  was in a total flap, and couldn't find anything to write on in a hurry except this envelope, I scribbled down Tigs name, birth date and weight. Then just I sat down and shook - with excitement  / fear / anticipation - I don't know what I was feeling, except maybe 'is this for us?' and how perfect it would be for Pup (and the rest of us) if it was....... 
The beginning of another chapter.

Monday, 10 June 2013


Pollen count 6 trillion parts per million tonight. Not had such a bad time since I was a teen.

Miserable, Whinge. Moan. I'll even go as far as to Grump.

Havn't even got the brainpower to worry about the kids, the mother, my nieces who are in mid exam season, our sad little poorly cat or even the News.

Saturday, 8 June 2013


  Feeding is a great big raw painful area in our house. Pup and food do not go together and it has been a massive issue to us over the years he's been with us.

Pup was 20 month old when he came to us. He wasn't eating, apart from some starter baby food with no lumps. He had severe reflux, and could be sick at the drop of a hat. So he was surviving almost completely on infatrini, a milk designed for babies who fail to thrive. He had no appetite, his foster carers told us that as a baby he'd almost never cried - he never got hungry. They had struggled to get weight on him, and in their busy household the easiest way was milk. So each mealtime he had a bottle of milk followed by whatever he would eat.

  For the next two years feeding Pup became a nightmare for us. I dreaded all mealtimes. They often took over an hour I was frequently reduced to tears by the horrendous battles we had to get any sort of nutrition at all into Pup. I felt like a total failure as a mother - after all isn't feeding your kids a primary pat of the job? I was obsessional. I had plans to be such a good Mum, and when our little boy arrived I couldn't even feed him.

  Where do I start in describing his feeding problems? He didn't know how to eat. He didn't want to eat. He had missed a lot of developmental milestones concerned with feeding. he didn't know how to swallow more than tiny morsels. And he didn't care. He would keep food in his mouth like a hamster. I've seen a lump of banana stay in his mouth for over an hour, he could stuff his cheeks. He was also grieving his foster family and dealing with attachment stuff and insecurities that can make feeding a big issue in a healthy child. He had no interest in feeding himself; we were feeding him for months. 

  And he had Cystic Fibrosis. He had a body that was less efficient at digesting food, that struggled to gain weight. His calorie requirements were higher than other peoples. We kept taking him to clinics where the Doctors and dietitians would obsess about his weight and what he was eating. It didn't make for happiness. Threats of feeding tubes hung over us. We saw being tube fed as a failure. Also the Doctors would not recommend he get a tube unless he lost more weight - and he was (and still is) just about maintaining his weight enough. So, we could take the pressure off, let him eat or not eat as he liked, knowing he would lose weight... and get a gastric tube. But the risk was too great CFers can lose weight terrifyingly fast. And there is a very strong (and not well understood) link in CFers between being underweight and lung infections - which could be fatal to him. 

  We had dietitians, psychologists and speech therapists working with us to help him eat. But I don't think any of them really understood our problems in full. So many people tried to give us advice. Even close family found it hard to accept they way we pressured him into eating. So we felt really isolated. Friends would tell us to let him be. That no child ever starved himself to death (not true!) that we should let him eat what he liked (he didn't) let him graze (he didn't)  We could leave sweets and chocolates lying around the house and he'd not touch them. And he could get hysterical if we put too much pressure on him. And there was so much pressure on us that sometimes we did pass it on to him. 'Don't make a big issue of it' we were advised. But it was a massive issue. We couldn't hide that. We were so worried we were getting it wrong. We nagged. We still nag.

  Things gradually started to improve. Sloowwly. Painfully. He started hamstering less. I was dreading mealtimes less. And Tigs arrived. We suddenly had a child that wanted to eat, that enjoyed food! in fact Tigs seemed to comfort eat for the first couple of months until he got used to us. he was a role model in eating for Pup, and made us feel so much less focused on Pups issues. Even when Tigs came out with a nasty egg allergy it didn't phase us much, although it was a pain as scrambled egg was one of Pups few successes.

   And over the years things have got better. Pup will never be an enthusiastic eater. Even now he will turn down sweets. But he understands he has to eat and why, he tries, although he is still painfully slow. And we've had to make compromises. Tigs gets more crisps and unhealthy foods than are good for him (how could we give his brother all those fattening foods yet refuse them all to Tigs?) Pup still needs nutritional supplements and probably always will. But I no longer dread mealtimes, and I think Pup doesn't either. Maybe he still will need tube feeding one day. maybe we will all come to terms with that. As he gets older he is more resistant to nagging - which I hate doing anyway. He decides more and more for himself what he is going to eat. We have to learn acceptance. It is painful.