Wednesday, 28 October 2015

All you need is love...

Don't make me choose

When it comes to people talking to me about adoption and specifically about Baby Boy there are a few topics that always come up. How long did it take ? Was it difficult ? Why adoption ? However, I'm most often asked one question and it's always preceded by an apology for bring 'too personal' or 'offensive' neither of which it is. All questions asked about adoption are pretty personal and it's only offensive if it's ignorant or judgemental - even then I'll do my best not to rise to it. I may not talk to you again, but I won't rise to it. How it's worded varies:

It's not the same is it ?

Obviously it's not natural at first ?

When did you realise you did ?

How long does it take ?

Did you know if you would ? 

What if you didn't ? 

The long and short of it is this - do I love baby boy as much as I love big boy ? 

I'm tempted to be flippant in my answer and present a list of pros and cons. 

  • My favourite child is the one who's cutest - except they're both gorgeous. 
  • I have a preference for the one who makes me laugh the most - they both make me cry with laughter. 
  • Maybe it's the one who annoys me least ? Well that's between two kinds of tantrum - one with words and one with loud screaming. Both drive me equally mad. 

Ok. So think about it this way. If you have more than one child you probably had a moment when you worried that you couldn't love another baby as much as your precious first born. Then there was the new child and you found plenty of love for them too. The human heart has an infinite capacity for love - if we let it. 

What's not to love ? 

I knew I'd love baby boy when I saw his photo almost a year ago. When we met him in person I couldn't bring myself to get too close in case he rejected me. The day before I'd said to Hubbie, "I know I'll love him, what if he doesn't love me ?" He smiled and said, "Of course he's going to love us." 

You see at first it really is a one way street. For some adopters it's that way for a long long time. In our case we adopted a young child so he has been able to form an attachment to us and I like to think he does indeed love us. At first though, he was crying for affection and comfort and pushing me away when I went to hold him or comfort him. It was heartbreaking. I'd pick him up and he'd throw his head back and kick me or hit me and I wanted to cry. I kept on giving him unconditional love and hoped that he would eventually accept me and want to be held. 

Then one day as I was holding him close to me his tiny arms went round my neck. I realised that this was something new and hadn't happened before and it made me see what had been missing between us - trust. I breathed a big sigh of relief and held him even closer. He had tested me and was willing to let me love him. 

When I'm asked about how I love my son I want to say, how do you explain how you love your children ? Is it logical ? Does it make any sense to you ? Do you have a method for understanding something so primal ? It's pretty simple to me really. He's my son. I love the bones of him and no matter how much he pushes me away I'm his mother and that isn't going to change.

Mind you I used to say that about the cat too. 

Cat and dog in loving harmony 

Monday, 26 October 2015

From chaos to calm - that's why a Coombe Mill Christmas is perfect.

What ? Christmas posts already ? You may well think it's too early to be planning Christmas, but I have a good reason for writing this post about Christmas. You see the lovely Fiona and Farmer Nick of Coombe Mill are offering an amazing prize win a fab festive break at their lovely family run farm. Alliteration aside I want to win this for me and my boys so please bear with me while I explain what is so special about Christmas with the Coombe Mill family. 

I think I should explain that I haven't always been the biggest fan of Christmas. I usually look like this in the run up to it. 
Bah Humbug
As a result I've wanted to go away for Christmas for many years and me and Hubbie spoke about it so many times. We always felt guilty so we didn't do it, then we visited Coombe Mill last Summer and the idea to go there was planted in my head. I mentioned it to Hubbie and we decided to go away with Big Boy as we had such a lovely summer break and we wanted to spend time in beautiful Cornwall again. 

Everything at Coombe Mill is geared toward children and families having a great time and Christmas is even more special. Before we arrived Fiona asked me if we wanted a real tree or an artificial one and when we arrived we found this waiting for us: 

A home away from home - complete with tree 
I brought some decorations from home to make it personal to us and we loved getting the tree ready and lighting the fire. We never really got the hang of this and had to ask Fiona and Nick's oldest son Ali to help us, we are such townies ! Thanks Ali for this - all the family are so very helpful.

A warming fire that we did not make

The great activities that are on all year round still go on with a festive twist so the train that runs every afternoon is transformed with a magical grotto with lights and trees. Guy - the driver - had Christmas helpers to operate the flag and signal and there was even a special visitor who gave gifts to the good children one evening.

The train shed transformed into a twinkly grotto 

We're not terribly religious as a family, but I've often heard mother in law say she'd like to go to midnight mass on Christmas Eve. To date she's never made it as something always gets in the way (gin usually) so when we were invited to see Guy and Clio (two of the triplets) take part in the Christingle service at the local church I really wanted to go. The service was so child friendly and Big Boy loved being part of it. As a bonus we also saw Father Christmas on his sleigh outside the church before he had to go and give presents to all the children in the world.

We made reindeer food with Fiona 
As a bonus the clear skies enabled me and Big Boy to look out for the International Space Station in the sky (well I told him it was Santa's sleigh actually) and that made it even more magical. The night before Christmas Fiona and Nick host a party for all the guests staying on the farm which is a lovely idea. We could have a drink, not have to cook and Big Boy dressed up as Olaf for the occasion. We both wore our Christmas Jumpers and had a short walk back to our lodge ready to put out a drink and mince pie for Santa and the special food we'd made with Fiona for the hardworking reindeer.

The view on Christmas morning 

If you want a traditional white Christmas you may not appreciate the view that greeted us on Christmas morning. We, however, were delighted to see sunny, blue skies. The highlight of any stay at Coombe Mill is the feed run and Big Boy is an enthusiastic volunteer tractor driver. When he knew that Farmer Nick was going to dress up he decided to make a special effort as well. If you've not seen Father Christmas driving a tractor with Spiderman as his assistant you just haven't lived !

Santa Nick and Spiderboy
Spidey feeding a donkey Christmas breakfast
The feed run on Christmas morning is the perfect way to start a day that will descend into chaos, presents and overeating. It's refreshing in a way that you can only know if you have woken up to this view from your bedroom. When it comes to animals it's pretty hard to beat waking up to see Alpacas outside your window. Baby Boy has been delighted to spot these and it makes missing our cat Neo much less harrowing.
I spy with my little eye an Alpaca
I asked Big Boy what his favourite things about Coombe Mill are. Unsurprisingly he drew a tractor, the sword in the stone and the train rides every afternoon. If I asked Baby Boy I'm pretty sure he'd say, "animals, animals, animals." Big Boy drew those too.

It's our first Christmas with Baby Boy and one of the things that his birth family really wanted was for him to celebrate Christmas. I can't imagine anywhere else that would be more perfect to spend with my boys who love everything about being here.

Baby Boy's thoughts 
We're no different from any other family in wanting our children to have a wonderful Christmas. The thing that we really want them to remember is not opening presents, but the experience of waking up somewhere beautiful, being in nature and enjoying time as a family. That is what we come to Coombe Mill for.

This post is my entry to win Christmas 2015 at Coombe Mill for my family. If you want to enter you can find out all about it here: Win Christmas at Coombe Mill

Friday, 23 October 2015

Visit the Rainforest and the Mediterranean in one day at the Eden Project.

One of our favourite places to visit when we stay in Cornwall is the Eden Project. Well I say 'we' when I mean me really. The boys tolerate a is it because I make sure they have plenty to do when we are there. There are proper Cornish pastys for Hubbie, local ice cream for Big Boy and Baby Boy just goes wild for all the dogs that he sees all over Cornwall, but especially at Eden. 

I first visited when the Eden Project opened and it was a much smaller attraction back then. It was mostly a quarry with a car park and the biomes were new and the main reason for visiting. Since then the site has been developed further and you now have plenty to see and do on a day there. We've been 4 times in the last two years and still haven't done everything.

When we visited earlier this week we knew we'd have a large part of the day, but wanted to make the most of our visit. When we arrived we all decided to walk down - you can also take the land train which is great fun and goes every 20 minutes taking around 15 minutes to go from the top to the bottom and vice versa. Me and Big Boy decided to walk down the playful steps which are great fun and a lot faster then at the path that we usually take. 

One of the things that makes repeat visits so much fun is that the activities at the Eden Project are seasonal. When we visited last Christmas we went to see Father Christmas and had an ice skate - more of which later. For half term there are special events for 'Halloweden' including a 'wishcraft' area.

Something else that is lovely to see is the changing colours of the seasons. This is more evident in the Mediterranean biome which has a temperate climate and varying displays. It's also where they stroytime is held and we've taken the boys to see this a few times. They really enjoy the craft activities and stories and singing. You can check the times for these on arrival so you an plan your day in advance. On the day we went there was also a tea tasting of Pukka Teas - they're wonderful and hearing about the origins of the ingredients was really interesting too. 

Inside the Mediterranean biome there is room to roam and my boys like to explore. It's colourful and spacious and you will often see school parties taking part in challenges that encourage them to visit all the different zones. Last time we visited I took Baby Boy to the Rainforest Biome with me, but this time I asked Big Boy if he wanted to come with me. We left Baby Boy with Daddy to listen to stories and went for a wander.

In the past we have had to cut short visits to the Rainforest Biome as it does get very humid and on a hot day this can be very difficult to deal with. When Big Boy was younger he really didn't like it at all. This time we took our time and it wasn't too crowded so we were able to take it at our own pace. I showed Big Boy the waterfall that provides a dramatic centrepiece for the biome and showed him the highest point you can stand to view the whole thing. We've made a deal that when he's older we will climb all the way to the top.

I'm very proud of my boys for taking an interest in something that I love so much. As a reward we had planned something very special for Big Boy to do with me at the end. Because he enjoyed the ice skating so much at Christmas we booked to go again this time. The rink is open now and there are sessions every day with sessions for toddlers, lessons and half price times. We booked a penguin aid for Big Boy to help him skate and he did amazingly well. By the end we were gracefully gliding across the ice - sort of. Baby Boy and Hubbie watched from the side and popped outside for a stroll when they got bored. While we were skating a wheelchair user also joined us on the ice and she was having a whale of a time. It was fantastic to have the room to enjoy the rink on a not so busy day.

We were lucky to be able to visit on a day outside half term and I imagine it will be much busier next week, but even when we've been during the summer months it's always a great day out. We have lovely food, walk lots and spend time together doing fun things.

You can book tickets online for the Eden Project and get a green travel discount if you walk, cycle or take public transport.
You can gift aid a ticket so it's valid for a year and you can visit as many times as you like - it's worth it ! You can also book Ice Skating online.

Disclosure: The lovely folks at the Eden Project gave us complimentary entry and ice skating. 

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Adoption: all the baby and none of the stretch marks :)

The eagle eyed among you noticed that a while back this blog started featuring a second child. There were no announcements or foetus photos. No coy references to whether it was going to be a boy or a girl. Our boy came to us fully formed and ready to rumble.
Before Easter we were a family of three then the first day after half term here I was at the school gate with a pushchair and a child who clearly wasn't a newborn. There were confused smiles, whispered remarks and occasionally actual reactions to my face. The only mum who knew about our plans had kept it to herself - even keeping the secret from her husband who was surprised when he met our new family member in the school playground. Thank you for that by the way L, you are so precious.

I wasn't sure if I should take Baby Boy with me on the school run - Hubbie was still on adoption leave so I could have left him at home with Daddy. However, Big Boy insisted that he wanted everyone to see him and kept telling everyone "he's my baby brother." They smiled at him indulgently, but didn't want to question further. I almost wish they had actually - he was really bursting to tell everyone he was so proud.


It was all still so new to us. We had been a family of four for less than two weeks and here we were facing lots of people who clearly had questions, but didn't know how to ask them. The one they didn't dare ask was, "where did he come from ?" I wanted to tell them we'd picked him up in the supermarket, but we live in an area where that could actually happen so I didn't dare.

On the second day it was Big Boy's swimming lesson so I took Baby Boy with me and wasn't prepared for the onslaught of questions that I did get. We had spent so much time preparing for our new son and preparing our older son and our family. Preparing the house and digging out pushchairs and cots that we had packed away. What I hadn't really considered was how to prepare for all the questions, I should have prepared the answers because I sure as hell didn't know them.

Oh when the questions came they were fast, furious and often confusing. 

"How old is he ?" Oh I can answer that one. 

"He's big for his age isn't he ?" Is he ?

"Does he call you Mummy and Daddy ?" Of course he does, what would he call his parents ?

"Is he with you for good or just temporary ?" Well, we certainly intend to be his forever family.

"Do you know much about his past ?" Erm yes, we have to know in order to be his family.

"Did it take long ?" It felt like it, but now he's here it seems like no time at all.

"How is Big Boy taking it ?" He's delighted and angry and jealous and proud and everything all at once.

There were the inferences about abuse and neglect and his ethnicity. I started off just being defensive about all of them. How dare people ask me such personal questions about my son ? How would they feel if I asked if they had abused their kids or if they had a history of domestic violence ? When I mentioned these questions to our social workers they suggested responding by explaining that it's all confidential and we can't discuss his private life. It made sense of a question I'd been asked at the adoption panel, would I advocate for my son ? At that time I explained to a room full of strangers that I would defend my child against a wild animal if it came to it. I hadn't known then that I would be required to defend him so soon and so often against the everyday.

There is so much more to tell and so little time to tell it. It's been 6 months since our son joined the family and we find it difficult to believe there was a time when he wasn't with us. He has had so many firsts with us, his first visit to the beach, his first ride on a steam train, his first scooter, his first holiday. The everyday milestones like feeding himself with a spoon, combing his own hair, climbing down the stairs himself.

My beach boys
When I talk to people about adoption I'm amazed at how little they know. I hope that by sharing our experience this will change. I'm a big fan of adoption - we started when we adopted the cat and haven't looked back since. The obvious reason we are so keen is that adoption has given us the second child we longed for. The not so obvious reason is that our family means so much more to us and we don't take anyone for granted.

We are the family we have chosen to be.

It's National Adoption Week (19th - 25th Oct) and the theme is 'Too old at 4 ?'

Find out more here:  0333 222 0022

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Travel helpers from Munchkin: Review

Keeping the kids occupied during half term inevitably involves a fair amount of travelling around for us. As we're well versed in long journeys I like to prepare with plenty to keep the boys busy including snacks and games. Big Boy watches movies or plays games on a small handheld console and we have found this seat back organiser is perfect for holding spare games, small toys and even a drink or snack bag. He is old enough now to manage his own entertainment so we let him play with what he chooses and if he wants to take a nap he switches off the games or movie and has a sleep.

Baby Boy enjoys looking out of the window and spotting animals or other exciting scenery. His particular favourite on the drive down to Cornwall is spotting the wind fans that we see dotted around the landscape. I've shown him a hand sign to help identify them without the high pitched squeal of delight that he currently emits which is pretty off-putting when you're driving. The other device that we've found really helpful is this seat back mirror and music player which plays soothing tunes or nursery rhymes. When we're on a long drive he likes to listen to the music and at night time the twinkling lights help settle him down. It's easily attached the the headrest of the seat in front and you have a small remote to control it from the front of the car as well.

Most importantly when we're travelling we have to have snacks and drinks to hand for the boys - including Hubbie ! I found that these snack pods were just brilliant to help manage days out on holiday too. I pop small snacks in the blue pot which has an opening that stops everything falling onto the floor and the other side has a cup holder which I put a sippy cup in for Baby Boy and a non spill cup for Big Boy. The adjustable holder can attach to the side of a car seat, but I found it worked really well attached to the inside of the door where they could reach their own drinks and snacks without spillage.

I know when I was a kid long journeys there weren't so many gadgets to keep us occupied. We would play games or look for animals out of the windows. I do this with my boys too, but I'm not a luddite. To be honest when it comes to travelling with small children anything that makes the journey easier for all of us is going to appeal. These travel helpers from Munchkin have been great for us and I can see they will get a lot more use during half term too.

Disclosure: We were sent these travel items for an honest review by the lovely people at Munchkin.  

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

A sensory walk on an Autumn day with my toddler.

Rushing on ahead to see the ducks
Baby Boy has been gabbling for a while now. He will exclaim loudly and point to get what he wants as his vocabulary is limited to family names and animal sounds. The latter is pretty helpful when I ask if he wants to go and feed the ducks as he makes a quacking sound which I treat as agreement with my plans.

As the sun was out today we decided to go and see the ducks at the local pond. I had a pot of  leftover toast slices in the car to feed them and picked up some coats as I wasn't entirely sure it was really all that warm.

Pesky Pigeons stealing all the bread 

People often ask if Baby Boy is speaking yet and will console me by saying, "it won't be long." as if I should actually be worried that he isn't. I don't worry about it at all. We communicate well enough and I encourage him to express himself and experience the world in many different ways. He is really into sensory play at the moment and today was an ideal opportunity to use all the senses during our morning outdoors.

Visual: We often observe trees and have been watching the leaves change colour for weeks now. Today we also saw lots of colourful leaves on the ground. Then Baby Boy spotted the duck pond and ran ahead to watch the birds swimming contentedly round on the water.

Crunch crunch crunch 
Sound: There is nothing like the sound of leaves crunching underfoot, I love it. Where we go to feed the birds they can be very noisy - not as loud as Baby Boy admittedly, but still. He does a pretty impressive duck quack sound which either draws them near or scares them off depending on how screechy he is.

Taste: When we feed the birds Baby Boy always gives in to the temptation to try some of the bread. This is why I have to make sure it's edible just in case he pops it in his mouth before giving it to the ducks.

Quack, quack, quack

Smell: Autumn has an amazing smell all of its own. The freshly cut grass, wet leaves and that distinctive tang of autumnal air.

Touch: On our way home from dropping off Big Boy at school we regularly pick up leaves, conkers and pine cones from the ground. We feel the different textures and compare them with each other. As we were preparing to come home for lunch I felt his hands and they were very cold so I knew it was time for something hot to eat and a nice nap.

Lovely leaves
Autumn is my favourite season by far. In writing this post I can now see why - it really is a feast for all the senses.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Pool, Pizza and Party. Done.

This afternoon after about a month of planning we had Big Boy's birthday party. It was a pool and pizza party with about twenty 4-5 year olds and a few toddlers. It was noisy, chaotic, very wet and frankly madness. It was also - in Big Boy's words - the best day he's ever had.

During the swimming part the kids all seemed to have lots of fun and splashed around. Baby Boy has only been swimming for a few months and loved it. When it came to the food and drink part

Phew ! I was so worried about it all and planned every last thing to make sure it would go well. From ordering the pizzas online last week to making sure that we took plenty of drinks for adults and children. Following a miscalculation last year with goody bags I made up plenty this year and was delighted to find we had a couple left over for my boys to have.

Tonight we had two large pizzas left, all the coleslaw and potato salad that I'd forgotten to put out and lots of drinks as everyone was driving. The reason I'm telling you this is because we are all completely exhausted. I'm so tired that I could sleep for days. Hubbie was so tired he couldn't even finish his food - which is almost unheard of I can tell you !

In a week we will be at the wonderful Coombe Mill where the kids have so much fun and we love staying with Fiona and her fab family. It's been such a tiring time I really want to rest and relax a bit while we're there. Let's hope I get the chance.

For now though, the whole house smells of pizza and the garage is full of drinks. Life ain't so bad :)

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

5 years on I think I'm finally getting the hang of being a stay at home mum

It wasn't as though I was forced into becoming a stay at home parent. It was my choice and one that I made freely and with some joy at the idea that I'd be at home with my beloved baby every day. I had been working for almost 25 years by the time Big Boy came along and quite frankly was looking forward to the break. Ha, how little I knew.

From the very beginning I had no idea how difficult it would be to be able to have a shower or feed myself while caring for this tiny bundle. That all my attention and - it seemed - all of my brain capacity was held in his tiny fists. The idea of leaving him unattended for even a minute was unthinkable so I decided to shower at night so that when Hubbie left for work I could concentrate on the baby. Instead of resting when he slept I'd tidy and clean the house or try to catch up with the things I thought I needed to do, like washing or cooking. On one memorable occasion I came back from the shops and had to park uphill from our house and was standing at the top of many steps trying to work out how to carry the car seat and 3 bags of shopping at the same time. When I got home there was a space right outside the house which hadn't been there earlier - rats !! My Mum asked me later why I hadn't just left the shopping in the car and brought the baby home and I waffled something about having food for the fridge.

I made things so difficult for myself in those early days. When anyone visited I'd make them tea and fuss around instead of sitting back and letting them take care of me. I craved adult company, but when I had it I just felt useless for not having anything to talk about other than baby stuff to share. It took a long time before I realised that I would never have a conversation that didn't involve my children ever again. I wanted to be interesting and charming company, but I'd roll up in whatever was clean, sleep deprived and constantly checking the time to ensure I wasn't going to miss being home for some precious milestone. Or if the baby was with me wanting to stick rigidly to his routine in favour of actually enjoying the company of my friends.

As Big Boy stopped being a baby and went on to become a toddler I started to see light at the end of the tunnel. He was speaking and walking and eating proper food and all these things made him more portable. We could go for day trips once he dropped his afternoon nap so I'd take him to the London Transport Museum or we could go and visit friends and have play dates. I didn't do this much though and it was telling when he did see other children as he wasn't keen to share anything or have other children in his house touching his toys.

Then Baby Boy came along and all that new found independence - including a return to work that was only a few months in - was gone again. I was thrown into being at home with a child who barely knew me and who needed a lot of attention and care, but who didn't really want it from me. I was stunned. Exhausted. Hurt. For a while I tried to keep going with part time work and shared parenting with Hubbie, but ultimately I needed to make a clean break from work. It was more important that I commit to being with this young boy who was trying to make sense of these huge changes in his life. A new family, a new home, a big brother, a pet cat and so much more.  As well as this there was also the adjustment that Big Boy had to make to being a Big Brother and no longer an only child / grandchild / nephew. It was challenging for all of us.

It hasn't been easy. It's taken a lot of energy and hope and gritted teeth to get this far. I am now as full time Mum as I will ever be. While I would walk Big Boy to Gymboree every day for something to do it was more about me seeking support and help that about the experience he was having. I hated parks and soft play, but I took him. With Baby Boy we go to playgroups that I like where I know he's having fun and where I feel relaxed. We go to the park that is opposite Waitrose and he plays while I sip my free tea. I take him swimming and accept that this is all about his pace and when he's ready. I don't take him to rhyme time because he won't sit still and it's not my idea of fun to chase him around and lift him up when he's trying to wriggle away from me.

In short I think I'm getting the idea of how to do this stay at home parent thing. That it's not about substituting my work self for my parent self. I am complete in whatever I'm doing. If I'm helping at playgroup that's something I can do with pride. If I don't like a playgroup I don't have to keep going. I only go to the shops where the staff are nice to me and my kids - they even ask after the boys if I go without them.

It's taken me 5 years to figure out how to make this experience work for me and my sons. I wish it hadn't taken so long, but at least I'm here now.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

A long walk, a newborn and part lego child: my week in photos.

Survival kit for walkers

At the start of the week I was recovering from the Shine Walk for Cancer Research UK. It was great to take part and I'm delighted that me and my walking pal Carole did it in such a fantastic time of just over 4 hours. I did feel it for a few days afterwards though !

Oi, Legohead !!

This week Big Boy turned 5 years old and he had so many presents it took ages to open them all. He is so very lucky to have so many people who love him so much. I bet you'll never guess what his favourite toys are ?

Teeny tiny baby 

By far my best moment this week was having baby cuddles with my first nephew. He's so adorable and I could quite easily have spent all day fussing him, but I gave him back to my sister - albeit reluctantly.

A rose between, well many thorns 

I'm often embarrassed by our front garden as all the neighbours have such neat and tidy lawns and borders and ours is such a jungle in comparison. Then I noticed this beautiful rose and it made me forget all the straggly plants around it and appreciate the beauty in one single bloom instead. 

Nose to nose - fur to fur

Tonight I'm typing this while sitting up in bed and Neo is lying at my feet with his new friend. I'd say that's a pretty good way to end the week.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Creating memories from birth and beyond

Yesterday Big Boy was 5. I was talking to him about how wonderful it was waiting for him to be born and how much it meant to meet him for the first time. He looked past me and said,
"Mummy can I watch the TV please ?"
In the days before he answered me back

I often talk to Big Boy about when he was a baby and he loves to watch video of himself when he was younger. He's really keen on hearing about what he was like as a baby and now he has a baby cousin he's even more fascinated. Seeing my first nephew and holding him made me realise how tiny they are when they are so new and how much my own boys have grown since birth. It also gave me a pang of sadness that I have no knowledge of Baby Boy as a newborn and no photos of his first days.

When I talk to the boys about their babyhood it's with an awareness that there are gaps in what I can tell Baby Boy. I didn't carry him for 9 months. I wasn't his first Mummy. I am his Mummy now and the love I feel for him is as fierce as it is for his brother. However, I feel guilt that I don't have baby photos of him, stories about his first days, memories of what he was like as a newborn.

My boys playing nicely 

Instead we have memories that we have created with his since he's been with us. Going to the park and pointing at the dogs - 'oof 'oofs. Riding his scuttlebug around the house - I know, I know. The cheekiness, the fun and the games that we play together. It's not a bed of roses as the last few days of almost constant tantrums will attest to, but it's so worth it.

When it comes to his birthday we will take just as much effort to make it special and fuss and spoil him just as much as his brother. He will have a cake and candles and lots of presents and helium balloons. We will Skype the grandparents and contact his foster carers so they can wish him a happy birthday too. He had his first birthday with them so it seems only fair that they get to share his second one too.

We're still learning about Baby Boy and he's still learning about us.

How he came to us is irrelevant, that he is here is all that matters.

We are family