Saturday, 31 December 2016

Come on 2016, let's be having you

In my annual round up of the year I thought I'd cover the obvious first:

It's been a year of celebrity deaths - some have done the sums on whether more famous people have died or if it just seems that way. Well firstly it's that people we all know and have heard of died this year. Also with instant news reporting and social media we all know about them immediately. I'm not going to lie, the deaths of David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Prince, Terry Wogan, Victoria Wood and Caroline Aherne made me feel sad. However, I didn't know any of them in real life, so it is not my grief to feel.

I know, I know Lemmy was last year

With all the attention on entertainers it was overlooked that some eminent scientists also died this year, including the man who found the smallpox vaccine and many female scientists of great standing. The obsession with entertainers over academics was most clearly demonstrated one recently. I was pretty shocked when on a rare foray into watching TV news (we were away and channel options were pretty limited) the lead news item was the death of Carrie Fisher and Richard Adams was 6th. I realise that TV news is a scheduled 'entertainment' programme, but that's still a bit rude isn't it ?

Talking of entertainment news being taken a bit too seriously there was the big break up. Yep Brad and Ange called it a day and apparently no one could believe it. Really ? Does anyone really know the truth about any relationship ? Well it seems not. Oh well, life went on. 

Political shenanigans included the EU referendum and the US election. I don't think I need to elaborate, unless you have been hiding under a huge rock for the last year that is. I do want to mention, however, that I was listening to the radio during the day when I heard that a Labour MP called Jo Cox had been attacked and was in a serious condition. The subsequent details of how she was stabbed, shot and died leaving a husband and two young children was truly shocking. Colleagues on all political sides paid tribute to her and her widower Brendan gave an inspirational alternative Christmas speech.

So, to my own 2016.

Well it started with a pretty spectacular highlight. Blue Bear officially joined our family. In January we attended court and the judge handed us a certificate and gave him an 'adoption bear' and we took some nice photos in the courtroom. It was a wonderful - if belated - celebration. 

Hubbie and I have been making more time for ourselves so we've been to some pretty amazing gigs: we've been to watch the Pixies, Stewart lee (ok we haven't managed to see him together this year, but it's on the cards. Our annual weekend gig to see the Wedding Present in Brighton every August is a fixture now and we also went to see them in early December for a pre-Christmas treat. Thanks to some bizarre event to celebrate the Great Fire we managed to miss almost all of the Jesus and Mary Chain gig - we made it for the encore - so I've booked for us to see them next year instead.

With my love of theatre and live arts I've also managed to drag Hubbie to the theatre to watch the Shawshank Redemption and he enjoyed the Rogue Theatre outdoor event we took the kids to over Christmas too. Earlier this year we took the boys to see Stick Man at the Leicester Square Theatre and Blue Bear sat and watched all the way through - he can concentrate for almost an hour now. I am so excited that he can go to watch children's shows now. Not quite the 2 hour marathon of a panto like his brother, but still this is progress. 

We went for a child-free mini break in Cornwall in October for our anniversary and discovered a new favourite place to eat in Rock at the Mariners Arms - thanks Nathan Outlaw.

I also had an entirely me only break earlier in the year when I went to a retreat - again in Cornwall. I recall school gate mums being appalled when I said I was going to spend Mother's Day on my own, but I can honestly say it was the best decision. I am mum every day of the year so for the day that is designated to me I chose to have it just for me. It also meant I looked forward to seeing the boys when I did see them.

I did also spend some quality time with the boys and on our summer holiday I went surfing with Brown Bear. It was our first time and I can honestly say I'd love to do it again. I hope he does too. 

Seeing Blue Bear flourish and find his voice has been amazing, he speaks so clearly now. I've also noticed his love of animals has really flourished while we stayed on the farm at Coombe Mill and he has become more confident.

A few milestones then.

In 2017 who knows what is going to happen. I guess we will all just have to sing along with Prof Brian Cox:

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Adventures old and new in Cornwall

While we were in Cornwall over Christmas we decided to go on some of our tried and trusted family days out, but we also went to an event we'd never heard of before and it has become a firm favourite.

The Eden Project: 

I've loved the Eden Project since I first visited in the year it opened and try to go there whenever we are in Cornwall. We hadn't planned to go this time as we had missed out on the very popular Christmas Grotto visit bookings - hardly surprising as Father Christmas at Eden is amazing. We thought we'd go anyway as this year there is a sound and light show after dark and we thought that sounded like something the boys would enjoy. 

It wasn't the warmest of days, but that doesn't matter when you have the indoor biomes, soft play and great dining. We always eat at Eden as the food is so great and this time was up to the usual standard with the addition of some seasonal treats too. After a hot lunch we took the boys to listen to a story in the Mediterranean biome. It's a lovely spot and the storytellers at Eden are so talented. We always check the times for live events including Pukka tea tasting (Hubbie's favourite) and live storytelling and this time there was also a history of pirates. Most of these are repeated during the day so you get another chance if you missed it. 

An area that we've not taken the boys to before is the soft play and learning zone. The soft play is for under fives only so Blue Bear got to do this while Brown Bear played with magnets and pumped water. It was a good break actually and meant that when we got back to the outdoor spaces we were all refreshed in preparation for the sound and light show. The boys took the landtrain which is a great option for young children or anyone who doesn't fancy the walk up the long paths or many steps. At the top we had a great view of the lasers although these photos don't really do justice to the show. Even without a visit to see Father Christmas we still had a fantastic day

Winter Wood - Rogue Theatre: 

The new favourite for us was the amazing Rogue Theatre which took place at Tehidy Woods near Portreath. The show we saw was Winter Wood and we were told about it by the lovely Pippa of Story of Mum who suggested it to me when I said we'd be in Cornwall for Christmas. I'm do glad she did as  despite being an hour from where we were staying it was everything we had been promised and everyone thoroughly enjoyed it. 

A theatrical experience that takes place in the woods already sounds magical so when you are greeted by a fairy and walk through trees strewn with baubles and decorations you know it's going to be special. At each point we were met by fairies who sang, juggled with fire or invited us to make a wish  on the trees. By the time we go to Old Man Winter the boys were already convinced of the magic of the woods. 

Old Man Winter and his silver wishing feather 

A brown paper bag of sweets later and we were ready for the next adventure. By the time we reached the heated marquee for hot chocolate and face painting (all included in the ticket price) we were enchanted by it all. I made a special decoration with Blue Bear and Brown Bear tried hot chocolate and liked it (I think it was the marshmallows personally). We also bumped into lovely Hayley of Down Side Up and Brown Bear made friends with Natty. She told me that Rogue Theatre is very popular with locals and it's hardly surprising as the show is fantastic, featuring outdoor activities and indoor performance with hot chocolate, face painting and a craft activity all for only £8.50 for a whole family. We also donated a ticket to the wildcard scheme where they offer a ticket to a family who otherwise cannot afford to go. 

Our lovely handmade natural decoration

I can see Rogue Theatre becoming a fixture of our visits to Cornwall as they do shows during the summer too. Apparently Old Man Winter becomes Old Man Summer, but I'm sure there's more to it than that. The greatest compliment I can give it is that even Hubbie enjoyed the day and it's not often that he is captivated by magic. 

Disclosure: The lovely folks at the Eden Project gave us complimentary entry for our visit. 

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Your festive playlist sorted - you are welcome

Now the kids are off school and nursery it's the bit of Christmas that's the most testing - two boys aged 3 and 6 are enough to test the best of us. We've had days out as a family, time with each of the boys alone and - by far my favourite - singing Christmas songs in the car. We heard possibly the worst one ever yesterday. It was a version of Last Christmas sung as a melancholy ballad. Now let's face it even though it's a classic it's hardly a great song as it is. As I explained to hubbie it's gone from being the campest anthem featuring terrible knitwear and longing looks over baubles to being a sombre lament on lost love. There are, however, some cracking Christmas songs out there and I'm about to share some with you so you have a playlist for the big day and some tunes to prepare turkey to. You are very welcome.

We played this on our radio show His and Hers last year and now it's being played in Sainsburys. I'm not saying it's because of us but... :

If you don't know this Ramones song don't worry- the Asobi Seksu version is so much better:

You already know the song, but maybe not the band - enjoy:

This is my all time favourite classic if only for Chrissy Hynde dressed as one of the Sally Army:

And of course the song that my son now sings in the car - I am beyond proud of this:

And finally the best of all - who knew the Manics did a festive tune ? I did that's who:

Merry Christmas - see you on the other side ! 

Friday, 16 December 2016

Giving, not getting. That's the secret.

This quote from the Grinch may well be familiar to you - not least if you are a fan of Dr Seuss - but I only heard it for the first time this week. It made me stop and think as this is exactly what I want to express, but I didn't want to sound all priggish and judgey. Having spent far too much money over the years and bought - and received - many gifts I've come to the conclusion that I just don't want to do it any more. 

I've decided to scale back on Christmas this year. Partly it's financial reasons - I'm not working (well not paid work anyway) so I don't have money to spend. The other reason is that I have always found it overwhelming how much is expected at Christmas. The food, the gifts, the cards, the driving from place to place to see everyone. I've just realised this year that there is just too much going on for me. I'm keeping things really simple. I have already mooted the idea of an even more basic celebration next year.

There is so much waste and greed that this year I've spent more time and energy on people I don't know. I gave blood a few weeks back as I know stocks run low at Christmas. We have sorted through bags of baby clothes and donated them to a refugee charity local to us that needs them. The boys also helped me to bag up the toys they don't play with any more and we have given some to the same charity and others to the Samaritans. We've given to the food bank and collected hats and gloves as well as warm clothes for homeless charities.

A local cafe collects money to provide meals for homeless people and we have put some money in for that too. I'd rather do that than buy yet more toys or toiletries or mince pies. No really I would. Ok, maybe I'll get some mince pies as Hubbie loves them, but to be honest we don't need to pile up a shopping trolley with food or stock up like armageddon is upon us.

Giving to others is pre-programmed into me. I'm the oldest of 4 kids born into a family where I was expected to do for others as a matter of course. Thinking about others used to take the form of buying gifts for everyone I knew. Now I don't have the money to do that so instead I volunteer, give my time and think about ways to support causes. I still get my children gifts, but they also know that it's not about having piles of presents, but about seeing the people who love them and thinking about children who might not be having such a great time. I'm not going to guilt my kids into doing for other people. I hope that they will choose to do it themselves because of what we do now.

After all, Christmas is only one day of the year. Being caring and kind is something I hope we do every day.

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Practically perfect is no way at all.

A while back I went to see Russell Brand's show Messiah Complex in which he compared his life with some famous world leaders for comedic purposes. As we drove back from a visit to family this afternoon and the boys were being insane in the back of the car my mind drifted to how I'd make a similar comparison.

Gandhi - I think we all start out this way. Benign and with a patient and loving attitude. In the early days I also found I was pretty much on hunger strike, not like all the other new mums on a post baby diet, but because I just didn't prioritise feeding myself when I was caring for a tiny baby. Some days I didn't get dressed so my clothing pretty much resembled Gandhi's too. I never took up weaving or surrounded myself with pretty ingenues though.

Malcolm Luther King - once they're on the move we become a bit more "I have a dream" about our children. The aspirations take full flight and we approach parenting from a non-violent, but pragmatic standpoint. As soon as they make sounds that resemble words we begin to teach them songs and spend hours at a time repeating things so they will learn to say, "Mama." It's always, "Dada" frist though isn't it ?

Malcolm X - as my boy developed an attitude I became a lot more, 'by any means necessary' about it all. As he developed into a tantrum prone easy to tears toddler I had to find ways to keep myself sane in the face of a meltdown of epic proportions in the supermarket. If it took bribery (I will take you to the park if you stop screaming) I went with it. If I had to threaten to take stuff away (no bear fruit if you keep shouting) that was what I did. It wasn't pretty. It was, however, for the greater good.

Mugabe - then he went to school and became a know it all and a mini adult. He knows better than me  and argues about everything. I've had to go hardcore and lay down the law with him in no uncertain terms. I've gone from previously heroic to always trying to ruin his life. It isn't about what he wants, it's all about what I need him to do. I even find myself saying, "because I said so." A sure sign that it's not going my way. It's not going well I'll be honest.

So I've decided the only way to go from now on is... 

Trump - yep total batshit crazy. When my child gets up in my grill I'm just going to talk utter crap at him until he's so baffled he will be reduced to thinking I've lost the plot. When he says, "I want cake," I will respond with, "I have all the cake, I have the best cake. No one has better cake than me." He's just going to stare. We've already planned to tell him that we're building a wall (between his room and his brother's) and that we will not accept any judgement of our parenting that isn't in our favour. I draw the line at the orange hair though.

I wish I could go back in time and be all Mary Poppins about it, but I think that ship has pretty much sailed now. I mean a spoonful of sugar ? In this day and age ? We'd get such a hammering on the Mumsnet forums it's not even worth thinking about.

Still I wonder what Russell's take on it is now he's a father to baby Mabel.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Three bird roast and a Bellini - ultimate Christmas snacking

Now that it's December I can officially talk about planning for Christmas. Hubbie gets all squinky when the Christmas TV idents start in early December as he believes they should only run from Christmas Eve. He does get quite curmudgeonly at this time of year to be honest. The only way to cheer him up is to plan our festive feasting.

I realise that there is traditional food and drink you are supposed to buy at this time of year like tangerines, nuts and egg nog. I don't see the appeal of nog, mulled anything or anything scented with cloves so that makes my shopping list a lot shorter to start with. Nuts and fruit we buy all year round anyway so I don't feel the need to stock up on either. Where we do go to town though is on nice cheese and posh crackers. Alcohol, not bothered. Fancy meats, nah. Crunchy snacks, yes please ! If it's a mixed snack pack then Hubbie will go for it. Pretzels, cheese nibbles, bombay mix, you name it and it will make it into the festive basket when he goes shopping.

This year we've been sent what I can only describe as the zenith of celebration snacks. The lovely folks at Tyrells sent us some fancy schmancy crisps and poshcorn. The three bird roast crisps (RRP £2.19) are more of a Hubbie thing - let's face it with the kids we're lucky to get them to eat just one roast never mind a combination of them ! The birds are duck, chicken and turkey and contain actual meat so I will treat myself to some Tyrells veg crisps while Hubbie chomps his way through these. The mixed root vegetable crisps contain carrot, parsnip and beetroot and would make up pretty much a whole meal so treat yourself to both and call it lazy Christmas dinner. I'm only half joking ! Tyrells are so moreish it wouldn't surprise me if he finished the whole bag (it's massive !) in one sitting. Sharing size you say ? Nah.

The Bellini cocktail poshcorn (RRP £1.59) is definitely mine all mine !! I love peach bellinis and these have a slightly fizzy sensation to get the celebrations going. I can see these being a great party snack - strictly for grown ups only though - and I still have some of those popcorn bags left from a kids' birthday party so they will come in handy. Who am I kidding, I'll be chomping through them in front of a cheesy Christmas film with a glass of something equally fizzy. Getting the tikes to keep their paws off the popcorn will be pretty difficult so I might have to hide the bag from them. Alternatively I can get them their own poshcorn. I think they'd enjoy the sweet and salty or even the strawberries and cream. Anything to stop them eating mine !

So that's the snacking sorted. I'll let Hubbie deal with the actual food shopping.

Disclosure: The lovely folks at Tyrells sent us some samples to try their new seasonal flavours. 

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Mother's pride

Every Friday you ask me to attend the celebration assembly at school and every week I dutifully turn up and try to catch your attention so you can see me there and when you do, the smile and wave I get it so worth it.

So I join in with the hymn and sing happy birthday to those celebrating and smile as all the teachers hand out certificates to their favourites. Each week I sit there and think about all the wonderful things you have done this week and hope it's your turn.

I think about how the other morning you saw a younger boy crying in the playground before school and went over to see if he was ok. I then watched you take Billy over to play a game to cheer him up.

I remember that day when a new child started and he was upset about his dad leaving him and you invited him over to join you and your friends to play football and showed him the ropes as the new kid.

I was there when you handed in your precious picture for the Christmas competition having taken time to carefully design it and thinking about all the detail and colours you used.

I know that when we talked about giving toys to children who had none you wanted to give even more than I had expected as you wanted to make sure other children would get to have something nice for Christmas.

I've seen you gently stroke Neo and keeping him company when the fireworks were frightening him and you read him a story to help keep calm.

I swelled with pride when you were struggling during the park run on a freezing cold morning, but you kept going and I watched your face break into a huge smile when you made it over the finish line.

So you see when they call out another child's name and I see your shoulders fall in disappointment I am right there with you. I am smiling, but I'm feeling sad for you too. It makes sense that you are wondering why it isn't you. I think the same. Still we put on our best smiles and are happy for those who get the praise that you don't get. I've applauded when other children get recognition for:

Swimming a width of the pool - when we both know you can now swim a length without help and on both your front and back (that took a lot of work)

Taking another child under their wing - when I know you've made time for other children to help them feel welcome or to cheer them up

Writing a whole page - when you write pages and pages of news and stories and lovely notes - in your best writing

Being kind - when I have seen how much it took for you to share your home and family with Blue Bear and now you are fiercely loyal to him as he is to you

We will always smile and be happy for others and applaud their achievements. I will be there to give you a big hug afterwards and bring a snack for the ride home.

You see I do know all these wonderful things you do. I remember every little thing you do that makes me proud and I tell you. Just because it's not in front of the school doesn't make you any less than a kind, caring, loving, bright, boy who does his best.

You and me kid - we know.

Friday, 25 November 2016

A crazy little thing called love

Blue Bear woke up crying and upset this evening. He was shaking and incoherent so I talked to him softly and held him until he calmed down. As I tucked him back into bed I reassured him that Mummy and Daddy are here to protect him and take care of him. Brown Bear chimed in to say that if Blue Bear cries he will rush in to look after his brother too. This from a boy who wasn't feeling all that well himself either, but seeing his brother upset he stepped up. If that isn't love I don't know what is.

Love is being not saying. Even though Blue Bear now says, "Bye Daddy. Later. Wuv yoo." as he leaves for work (Hubbie, not my baby boy) and it's the cutest thing ever, it's not necessarily the gold standard of expressing love in this house.

Maybe it's because I'm raising boys, but I'm not exactly overwhelmed with declarations of love every day. Instead I value the slight and almost imperceptible acts of love.

A hug when I'm not expecting it - Blue Bear was sitting next to me on the sofa the other day and he leaned over and gave me a hug then sat back down on his side. 

Random notes telling me nice things - after sitting with Brown Bear one morning and drinking a cup of tea while he ate breakfast (something I never get to do usually) he wrote me this note:

Being nice to the cat - both my boys respond to Neo's pleading for food with an immediate proffering of cat food or biscuits. Tonight Brown Bear whispered, "Mummy let me show you where Neo is hiding." He was under the rocking chair and Brown Bear was delighted to have the cat in his room.

There are days when it's just too tiring. The running around, the picking up boy socks, the smells. Oh my the smells. Some days it's hard to feel love never mind show it. 

Then one of the boys will do something lovely and it's all ok. I think they get it from their Father. 

Monday, 21 November 2016

Me before you (my boys)

Before I became a Mum:

I earned money

I trawled travel websites for holidays 

I could book to go away for a long weekend and then go 

I had clothes for 'best' - they got worn 

I often had time to just 'do nothing' 

I wouldn't call my family for days / weeks at a time 

There were times I'd look for ways to spend the days as I had no plans 

I'd clean my house and it would look pristine for days afterwards 

I could go without talking to anyone some weekends (before I met Daddy) 

I only bought things for myself; shoes, clothes, handbags, music, movies. 

I'd go to the theatre, cinema, live gigs.

I could read a whole book and more than one at once.

In essence before my kids:

My house was cleaner

My pockets were fuller

My appearance was smarter

My days were my own

I thought about myself more

However since I've been a parent:

I love unconditionally

I care passionately

I laugh uncontrollably

I cry without shame

Being a parent is much harder than I ever imagined.

I wouldn't change a thing.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Mirror mirror...

I'm sick to death of how much I hate my body.

Of the shame of red marks where clothes are too tight.

Of being unable to bring trousers up to fit.

Of not being able to fasten buttons or zips because of my size.

Of the disappointment at clothes I used to wear just not fitting any more.

Of avoiding looking in the mirror because I know I don't want to see what I've become.

Of seeing a huge fat woman where I want there to be just a woman, a mother, a wife, a yoga teacher.

Of not knowing what to do to make this better.

Of walking, swimming, running and still not changing my body shape even a tiny bit.

Of thinking this is just how it is from now on.

I find it hard to accept that this is me.

How can I learn to love myself at this size when it disgusts me.

This body that grew a baby, birthed him, fed him and held him.

That continues to hold, and care for both my boys.

This body that I rely on, that I compare with others and find lacking.

That doesn't look the way it's 'supposed' to.

So this is my pledge:

To learn to look in a mirror and see the real me.

To not judge and despise the woman before me.

To be kinder to her and try to look at her more often.

To take care of her, choose her nice clothes and make up

To stop hiding.

I pledge to be real 

I created this post as a competition entry in support of Dove and the Be Real Body Image Pledge

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

So this is Christmas...

We're going away for xmas. It's been decided and it's booked. Not just anywhere mind - oh no. It's the  ultimate Christmas destination for a family like ours. We've booked a big lodge with woodburner and playroom. There's a train in the afternoons and animal feed run in the morning, loads of space to play outdoors and inside and there is even a visit from the big man on Christmas Eve. Yes we're back at Coombe Mill for our first official Christmas as a family of four.

Last year we had hoped that the adoption would be signed off before Christmas so Blue Bear would officially be part of our family. In the end it didn't happen due to a tiny technicality. The date was postponed until January. It was pretty disappointing and we had a quiet Christmas at home. We still did all the fun things, but having the adoption hearing hanging over us did overshadow things somewhat.

This year we are all one family and Brown Bear is an old hand with Christmas so he can show Blue Bear the ropes around Coombe Mill too. I imagine that we will take it in turns with the feedrun as Brown Bear isn't really interested in the feeding as much as driving the tractor. The games room might be more his thing now he's older too so I think I might take him there if he's bored.

So preparations have begun in earnest. I've already told Hubbie that now there's a Waitrose in Truro we are definitely getting our Christmas food from there. He always prepares the meal and I keep the boys occupied while he cooks. It's easy to keep busy on the farm so we can go and see the animals or go for a bounce on the trampolines. Or as John Lewis would have it we could watch the animals having a bounce instead !

I'm not great at Christmas - I like the planning ahead and then it all gets on top of me. My lovely in-laws don't open presents until late afternoon and my family open them first thing. When we are with family there is a constant flow of food and we all eat too much and aren't hungry by the time dinner is ready. Being away means I don't have to worry about any of that. We can do things to our own timetable and eat when we like. If the boys are getting rowdy - who am I kidding, if ? more like when ! - there is space for them to let off steam and also a change of scene.

In the last few years I've been making Christmas Eve boxes for the boys filled with things like new pyjamas, a story book, a Christmas DVD and some things to play with. I often include a soft toy and a snow globe too. I know this is becoming a pretty popular thing so I might even do them for me and Hubbie. New snuggly pyjamas, mint thins, a bottle of something festive and a Christmas movie - what's not to like ?

Christmas morning is a pretty laid back event for us - once the madness of present opening is done that is. We love to go for a family walk after our meal and being at Coombe Mill means we get to explore the farm and see the animals or go to the play areas. Last time we visited the llamas - maybe this year we can venture a bit further maybe to see the deer or donkeys ?

Now that we have a plan for Christmas I can get excited about it. We don't have to carry a bajillion gifts but we will take some decorations for the tree that Farmer Nick will kindly put in the lodge for us. I can book some lovely activities for us to do as a family and hopefully even get some down time while we're there. I can't wait.

Thursday, 10 November 2016

It's ok I think I have a plan

I think it's been pretty much universally agreed that this has been a difficult and sad year already. 

David Bowie died and the world remembered that his music and influence have been immense. Prince died alone and under circumstances that weren't entirely clear and long before his time. Mohammed Ali passed away and right there a legend was gone. So many people have that iconic image on their wall of him as a young boxer and that is how many will choose to remember him. I will think of the man who emereged from years out of the public eye to light the Olympic flame at Atlanta. Seeing him diminished by Parkinson's disease reduced an entire world audience to tears. Victoria Wood died quietly and privately as did Caroline Aherne and we were treated to some of the best written comedy of many generations in tribute. This makes it even more shameful that 'women in comedy' are still considered outliers. Alan Rickman with his melifluous tones and Terry Wogan with his instantly recognisable voice were also lost to us. Then only recently Pete Burns and a few months before Alexis Arquette died at a young age. It's been a long list of losses this year. 

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but to name everyone would take so long and my tears would drench the keyboard. To honour their lives I play the music of Bowie and Prince to my children. It's my way of giving them a taste of what it meant to me. We watch comedies and talk to each other in soundbites that made us laugh or impersonate Wogan or Rickman in homage. It's so sad to lose them, but also wonderful to have great memories to share. The warmth that comes from having a positive to think about helps move grief along. 

Then we had the EU referendum and it was painful to hear my five year old ask, "Do we have to move away now ?" I don't know how you explain to a child the climate of fear that was all around them at that time. We did our best and moved on from it. Now I find myself filled with a new dread. 

My son came home from school yesterday talking about the US election and quoted how many seats Trump had won versus how many Hillary had won. We talked about it and he was baffled at why adults aren't so happy about the man who won. He thinks about these things a lot so I don't want to lie to him, but the truth is just too harsh. 

You see the president-elect is a man who mocked a journalist with a disability and lied about it. My son has a respectful attitude towards disabled people and understands that it is better to ask than presume when you do not understand something. 

The man who will occupy the White House has incited hatred towards millions of people and entire nations based on ignorance and fear. I am raising my boys to understand that race, ethnicity and accident of birth are no justifications for fear or bullying. 

This wealthy man has openly boasted about sexually assaulting women and getting away with it because he can do what he likes. I talk to my son's about consent even at their young age. It's important that they show respect, but also that they do not allow others to disrespect them or their bodies. 

How do I tell my sons, my beautiful non-white children who I am raising to be kind and considerate men that this president talks about people like us in ways that are not nice ? That maybe going to New York to see your best friend who now lives there isn't such a great idea until this president understands that not all brown people are dangerous. 

These boys who will not tolerate homophobia because they know that it's just not right. My older son knows that marriage can be between two men, two women or a man and a woman. They recognise that families are varied and vibrant and not all the same. That some children don't have as much as they do so they have donated toys and we have taken clothes and food to a refugee centre and local charities. 

I am raising men - not boys. Men who are kind, considerate, respectful, strong and will speak out for those who cannot do it themselves. They will be the positive change to counteract this hateful, narcissistic, misogynistic, homophobic, xenophobic leader whose only qualification seems to be that his extreme wealth makes him untouchable. 

How do I know that my sons are going to do this ? On a day when 7 people died in a tragic accident a few miles from our home and so many people were thrown into turmoil for a day I went to an interview in the lashing rain, arriving windswept, exhausted, damp and as I took out my notes for the interview I saw this in my folder. 

That's how I know. 

Saturday, 5 November 2016

See that gap in the crowd there ? That's me that is.

I am short. I've not grown since the age of 12 - seriously. When my six year old points out how tall he is growing and shows me where he reaches on me (awkwardly he's at boob height now) I say he's going to be as tall as me by the time he is ten years old. I know this and I accept this. There are times when being vertically challenged can be especially trying and the main one is when it comes to gigs.

Being a fan of theatre I am well versed in the head tilt. You know when the person in front is tall, or has big hair or in the case of Rocky Horror is wearing headgear so you have to keep tilting your head to see the stage. I have watched entire shows in two parts. It's not the best. On one memorable occasion I went to watch a film during the day and sat in a seat on the left side in an entirely empty cinema. Two people came in and sat in the seats right in front of me. In a completely empty cinema !! Actually they did me a favour as the movie was terrible, but that's hardly the point here.

I've been a keen gig goer for decades now and I've yet to find a venue that considers the needs of short audience members. Not one. Brixton academy is my personal hell (for so many reasons) and I only go there if absolutely necessary. Hubbie is a normal height person so for him it's not an issue. He is happy to stand where I can see and we have been to most venues at least once so now I know where to aim for so I can a) see the stage and b) not get crushed.

The latter is a genuine issue as on two occasions I'm convinced I've been pretty close to being trampled. The first was at a Metallica gig at the NEC Birmingham (on my 20th birthday) where we arrived early enough to get in front of the barrier (which unbeknownst to me was the mosh pit) before they stopped letting people in there. I twisted bits of toilet paper into makeshift earplugs as advised and suddenly there was a surge of people who had broken through and were making for the stage. I ran to the side and a little while later Neil found me.  Simon had taken an 'every man for himself' stance and was nowhere to be seen - typical ! The second time was at Aston Villa Leisure Centre where I went to see the Pixies with Neil - a pattern is forming here ! We made our way to the front and I could feel the crowd starting to mosh which was ok - to a point. Bear in mind I was the smallest person there and as I had insanely long hair back then I was getting a bit claustraphobic as it was getting pulled and I was being crushed. I put my arms up - the international signal for "small person in need of rescuing down here please security" and got taken out of the crowd. I found a safe spot high up enough to see the stage and stood there until the end of the night. Neil emerged from the sweaty mosh drenched and as he found me I held up the new t-shirt he'd bought at the start of the gig. All was well.

So why does it matter ? Well, here is my usual view at a gig. I've chosen my spot because I can see the stage and Hubbie is also happy there and then the tallest man in the venue just stands right in front of me. What a gent !

I can see the band 
thanks mate

In case you're thinking it's just because it's dark and he just didn't see the small woman standing right there in that spot that he aimed for in the crowd that looked like a gap, it also happens in daylight: 

Ahem *coughs*
Oh there is a band there after all 

I've also been at outdoor events where - unless it's the Milton Keynes Bowl, with it's terribly convenient curvature enabling the most height disadvantaged of us to see the stage - my view is pretty much this:

Can you see who it is yet ? 

So I am hereby sharing the idea I've been considering for many, many years now. If it gets traction I'm going to take it to Dragon's Den - or not. Whatever.

Height ordered venues. I know you've got many questions, but I'll deal with the main ones to start with. If you are under a certain height you get to sit or stand (depending on the gig / venue) in the front portion of the venue. The taller you are the further back your ticket is. That way I don't have big tall man standing right in front of me and he also gets to see the stage perfectly well.

But what if you are short and your partner is not ? I hear you ask. Well, I'm glad you've asked me that actually. You have a choice. If you are here to listen to the music or watch the show you can stand/sit where you can see or you can choose to join your taller partner in their area. Personally so long as I see him in the interval I am fine with not standing next to Hubbie while the band are on. Don't tell him though.

So that's my solution. It's imperfect I'll grant you, but until someone comes up with something better it's the best I've got. Unless I carry around the step my almost 3 year old uses to stand on when he brushes his teeth. He won't need it soon anyway as he's going to be taller than me before long. 

Oh well, at least the next gig I'm going to isn't at Brixton.

Monday, 31 October 2016

It was acceptable in the eighties (but the hair is still a disaster)

I mentioned on social media the other day that after ten years of marriage I had run out of original ideas for anniversary gifts. Quite frankly Hubbie has all the mugs with images of the kids on that he's ever going to not use and if I keep getting him pants and socks we may as well just rename ourselves Stan and Hilda - ask your mum, no go on I'll wait. This year I gave him the gift of a new TV show to fall in love with. In the past I have tried - and failed - to get him into The Wire (too much investment) Breaking Bad (just not really into it) the West Wing (too much time has passed) and Empire (storylines so ridiculous that even I'm struggling now). My past successes include; Curb Your Enthusiasm - a joint favourite that still raises chuckles, Bake Off - which he pretended not to watch until it became blindingly obvious he is such a superfan, Modern Family - well if you don't watch it then we just can't be friends can we ?

The new favourite is ... drum roll please.... The Goldbergs. It was while we were on our child-free mini-break that I stumbled across it and said, "watch this, you'll enjoy it." Only I had no idea why I love it so much until I had watched quite a few episodes. Beverly Goldberg is my parenting idol. I've started to take pride in my stereotypical 'Indian mum' approach to parenting. I shout at my kids, I tell them they are embarassing me, I stand nose to nose with them and hiss at them to "stop it or else," I even ask them repeatedly if they are hungry. I had it all sorted. Then I saw Bev and I realised that there's a higher level I can only aspire to.

Now I've heard about the whole Jewish mother scenario, dammit, I even know some, so it's not like I am unfamiliar with the concept. It's not until I saw Beverly in action, however, that I realised she is clearly the end goal I am aiming for. I mean it's just so obvious.

I demand my kids hug me and make it clear that it's their duty to me as their loving mother.

I take great offence if they don't thank me - profusely - for everything I do for them. Witness Bev at Thanksgiving dinner waiting for her - well deserved - thanks and not getting them until Murray does the decent thing. Hubbie does prod the boys into thanking me, but to be honest if I've said, "Thank you Mummy" in a patronising/sarcastic tone once I've said it fifty times. Today.

I have serious 'Mom goggles" - my kids can do no wrong (despite what I said above) I am inordinately proud of the smallest achievements. "You took your own socks off ? Well done baby, Mummy is so proud." In front of other people I'm all humble brags and modesty, but behind closed doors it's medals and trophies for everything in this house.

I am protective like a crazy person - that's pretty much the definition of a mum for me right there. Mess with my kids and I'll mess you up. Seriously.

I don't want anything bad to happen to my kids so I am there. In their faces, whether they want me to be or not. Bev doesn't care if it's embarassing and neither do I.

On Sunday Brown Bear took part in his first Junior Park Run and he was convinced he was going to ace it. I suggested I might run alongside him and he said, "No Mummy, I can do it by myself." "Ok, I'll just run by myself behind you then" I said. A few minutes into the run his pre-run lunacy in the park caught up with him and he was exhausted. He got upset and told me he couldn't do it so I took his hand and ran with him. Then I walked with him. He wanted to give up and stop and I said, "Let's just do a bit more then we can finish if you like." He carried on. Then I suggested he might want to try and run the downhill bits. He ran a bit then he said, "I want to hold your hand Mummy." So we completed the park run part walking, part running. Holding hands. As he approached the finish he let go of my hand and I could see he was as proud as anything for completing it. In the retelling he was as fast as Mo Farah and I wasn't even there. He did it.

I'll take that. 

No, you're crying. So what if I am ? Oh just shuttup !! 

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Taking a break from being Mum & Dad

So we celebrated ten years of marriage this weekend. Our first child-free break in.. like ever.

We started off with dinner at The Mariners Public House in Rock. They kindly gave us prosecco to celebrate and we had a wonderful meal:

The view from our apartment in the morning was just wonderful. Swans, ducks and geese outside and a lovely sunny vista.

Then a visit to the Eden Project - I love it here and it's my idea of a great day out.

Hubbie got to be in Game of Thrones:

I got to pretend to be a cabbage patch kid:

Then on a visit to Mevagissy we decided to take a break from the pouring rain and be a bit soppy:

On our actual anniversary we had a lovely dinner in Padstow at Stein's seafood restaurant:

It's great to be Mr and Mrs for a few days, but going back to being Mummy and Daddy was pretty great too. When it was all done I decided that I need to remember this:

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Not so much new romantic as old spice

Today I was thinking about that early bit of courtship where you do things your partner loves. You know the whole, "Oh we have so much in common, isn't that wonderful. We are so made for each other." That period of time when me and Hubbie were getting to know each other.

I watched non league football - I even travelled to watch games. Not many, but enough to show that I care about what he cares about. In return he went ice skating with me - he's not a fan. He went to a Green Day concert with me - again not his thing at all, but he made a good attempt at looking like he didn't completely hate it.

You see we don't do soppy. He calls me cloth ears when I don't hear him. I complain that he mumbles. He rolls his eyes at the ceiling, I mutter about the half done DIY. We joke that the only time we talk to each other is when we present a radio show together. We live with each other's quirks. He with my aversion to custard and I with his pathological hatred of cauliflower, eggs and picking up his own socks. A habit he has passed onto both our sons - much to my chagrin.

In reality though, we are a team. We have been since we met 12 years ago. Back then we kind of knew we wanted to be together. So got married ten years ago - in a simple ceremony with friends and a few family members present. Then we got on with our lives.

We adopted a cat together - well Neo chose us actually. That's how it works with cats isn't it ? They decide who they will live with and he deigned to assign this role to us.

Neo undertaking a rigorous interview
When it became clear that having a baby wasn't going to be straightforward he went along with all of my crazy schemes from shamanic drumming (no we didn't do this, but he said he'd do it) to hypnosis. He went along with my plan to adopt despite having never considered it before we met so we had a year of being asked about everything and having absolutely no privacy. It was horrible.

Then we had a baby and it was amazing and tiring. After night feeds he would sit downstairs watching baseball with the baby on his knees rocking him to sleep. Every night that we have been parents - with very few exceptions - he's been home for their bedtime. He is every bit the wonderful father I knew he'd be.
When we became three
Then we had the whole adoption process all over again to become parents to our second beautiful boy. * So, now Hubbie has a 'mini-me' and I'm outnumbered by male hormones and smelly socks !! He takes two boys to football with him and I decipher baskets of laundry filled with various sized jeans, t-shirts and pants. The older of our two boys raids Daddy's toiletries for hair gel and the younger copies what his older brother does. He doesn't have enough hair to style yet, but he does like to brush it. 

Is that how you brush your hair baby ? 
This weekend we're away together on a short break for the first time since December 2009. We are spending time without our boys and while I miss them - of course I do - it's reminded me that we have so much fun together and make each other laugh.

Happy Anniversary to us.
Oh and we went ice skating today - because I love it. I think the socks are a small price to pay.

*I've written posts about adoption all this week so you can read those for more about this.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Adoption Week: So, was it worth it ?

It's my final post about adoption this week and I've decided that having written about the trials and tribulations, the challenges and the worries today would be about the rewards. I have talked to many people who've said, "we thought about adoption..." and it kind of drifts off. I'm not judging how anyone had their family. How you had your kids is your business. It's not a competition and I'm not about to win any awards for parenting. I'm doing my best, just like you. We happen to have come to adoption as a result of intention and circumstances.

So, once we've got past all the other stuff the question is always something along the lines of, 'was it worth it ?' I think this is about the perceived effort, the assessment, the waiting, the settling in, the not knowing. It's a lot to answer.

The biggest part of adoption is being an advocate for my child, in a legal sense, but also on a day to day basis I'm the one standing up for him. As well as being his parent I'm his protector - that is what adoption gives a child. It's not about a home or toys, or nice clothes. It's having someone who will talk to the parent of another child when they aren't being nice. Knowing that you are not on your own if you're feeling sad, scared, excited. Someone who will care that you don't like the dark. Who will pop in after you've gone to sleep and turn down the dimmer, just enough to help you sleep, but not so much you are scared if you wake up in the night.

For my son it's knowing that someone cares about him and wants the best for him. I'll be at the end of the phone when he's an adult and he rings to ask how to set his heating system or where to get a new tyre - just like my Mum has been for me. I'll tell him how to cook his favourite meal, "are you cooking for someone special ?" I'll enquire, "no, nobody, nothing, never mind," he'll say. He knows he can ring Dad and ask for a loan (yeah good luck with that son) or tell my sister when he's done something he is too worried to tell us about.

Adoption gives a child a family, security, someone to shout at and to be angry with. He has a safe space to have all the feelings with people whose love is all consuming and who won't walk away when it's too difficult or painful. When he has his heart broken he knows we are here to dispense hugs, cups of tea and his favourite biscuits. When the hurt is so much that it feels unbearable I will hold him (emotionally and physically) for as long as it takes.

Now that he is in this family my son has grandparents who spoil him and have pictures of him everywhere because they love him. He has a cousin and aunties and uncles who adore him. He also has a cat. Neo quite likes him too.

My boy and my cat.

We are here to celebrate his successes, to champion his ambitions, to laugh at his jokes (even the really lame ones) and to tease him when he's being daft. To notice when he is doing something new and bragging about it. Only yesterday I asked a rhetorical question and he said, clear as a bell, "I don't know." You could have thrown tennis balls into my mouth it was so wide in shock. He spoke in a full sentence.

We're the ones with mobile phone memories creaking with photos of him from every single day since he's been with us. The ones who notice the milestones, we see and record and remember. When he does something amazing I'm the one beaming, "that's my son there."

So, was it worth it ?

A million times yes. I can't believe you even have to ask.

It's Adoption Week so I've been writing about adoption every day.

To find out more about adoption week take a look here:

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Adoption Week: What is a 'real' family anyway ?

I've written about the different types of families before . It's not like as a society we're unfamiliar with the concept of single parents, step-parenting, family carers (eg. grandparents raising children), multiracial families and same sex parents. I realise that not everyone has an enlightened view on any or all of these types of families. It's a shame that for some there is an idea of the 'real' family that exists in their mind - and pretty much nowhere else. Oh and in the christian allegory / family soap from my childhood, Little House on the Prairie. I mean even Michael Landon was pushing custard uphill trying to convince the audience that this was typical family life wasn't he ?

Even thought adoption is no longer kept secret there are still so many misunderstandings about it. I often get asked where my son has come from as there is an expectation that he must be from another country. It's also common to be asked why he was adopted as if there must be some fluffy reason like they had run out of room in the mansion he was born in. There is also the misconception that babies sit around in children's homes waiting until their adopters come to find them. Like Annie, but without the singing and dancing. Or the dog.

When talking about adoption even the most understanding of people struggle with what is appropriate to say or ask. So here's my handy guide to help you stay on safe ground - and some tips on what to avoid:

  • He is my youngest son thank you, not my adopted son. I don't refer to your youngest as 'the accident' or your oldest as 'the result of too much prosecco in Kos' do I ? 
  • Yes he does call me Mummy. That's because I am his Mummy. He also calls Hubbie "Daddy" and his brother "Baba." I'm pretty sure he's going to call him a lot of other names before too long. 
  • We are his family, yes his 'real' family. He also has a birth family and a birth mother - sometimes referred to as a 'tummy mummy' when explaining to very young children. 
  • He has grandparents, aunties and uncles just like anyone else. They are his just as much as they are Brown Bear's. I am pretty sure they do not make any distinction between the boys based on how they came to the family.
  • Our child was not 'taken away' from his family and 'given' to us. He's not a parcel or an unwanted toy. The decisions that have been taken about his life and the choices that have been made are complicated. They are also private. 
  • It is ok to talk about adoption to us, but please show some consideration when talking about him. He has ears and so does his brother. They hear the things you say about them. If it is something you feel the need to say under your breath maybe don't say it at all. 
Blue Bear has been a wonderful addition to our family. He is fun, hilarious and cheeky. He's also stubborn as an ox and gives as good as he gets from his big brother. Anyone who meets them would have no idea that they don't have the same parents. I have been greeted with shock at this news. He looks like Hubbie, he plays tricks like Brown Bear, he dances in the car like me. 

Blue Bear is with his real family. We are his and he is ours. 

Tomorrow: Was it worth it ? 

It's Adoption Week so I'm writing about adoption every day this week.

I'll be answering questions about adoption that you may have. Feel free to comment on here or ask me on Twitter with the hashtag #askaboutadoption.

So go ahead and ask those burning questions. If I can't answer I know enough professionals who I can direct your questions to.

To find out more about adoption week take a look here:

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Adoption Week: Talking to your child about adoption

When we knew that we were going to adopt a sibling for Brown Bear we had to find a way to talk to him about it. All his friends were having siblings, so he saw mummies with growing tummies then babies. We had to find a way to tell him that his sibling wasn't going to arrive like that. Telling him enough so that he was prepared, but not actually having anything to tell. We had no idea if it was going to be a boy or a girl, how old they would be, what s/he would look like or even what they would like to play with.

Talking about adoption before it happens is a like a glitter covered unicorn fantasy compared with talking about it afterwards. The anticipation of a baby brother or sister and the fun it will be is much simpler than the reality of a child who won't let his family love him. A boy who isn't a baby arriving in the house and taking your toys and shouting and competing for Mummy is no fun at all. I made a lot of mistakes. I didn't know how to make it ok for them both. I stopped being Mummy to Brown Bear while I protected Blue Bear. So Brown Bear acted out to get the attention he so desperately craved. Instead of thinking about his feelings I would ask him to be more considerate. What I should have been doing was talking to him about how he felt. Reassured him that he was still and would always be my baby. That this new boy who was angry and upset and pushy was just frightened and needed a lot of love and care to feel ok. As well as nurturing Blue Bear I should have been lovebombing Brown Bear, but it took a long time to realise this.

The conversations we've had can be random at times, but I don't ever shut down any line of questioning from Brown Bear. He has to have a safe space to talk about how he feels and I want that to be within the family. This is when the chat goes from shiny unicorns to making about as much sense as the Cheshire cat from Alice in Wonderland :

'Froster carers'

When we first met Blue Bear it was at the foster carers' home so Brown Bear met the foster family. They were so kind and lovely to him. It was important that he saw where Blue Bear came to us from. That he knew who they were and that they are a part of Blue Bear's history. He also was able to talk to them about Blue Bear and ask what he liked to eat and play with. Brown Bear asked me a lot about why Blue Bear was in 'froster care.' He wasn't clear if they were his parents or not and it took a lot of chats in the car to make sense of this.

We keep in touch with the foster carers and they are very much part of Blue Bear's history. Brown Bear loves to tell them about his brother and what's been going on too. I have explained that they are not his mummy and daddy, but they cared for him and that they are very special and they helped prepare him to be in our family.

"Why didn't his mummy love him ?"

This is a very hard conversation to have. So far I have said," Blue Bear's family loved him very much. It wasn't easy for his mummy to take care of him though." We will never bad-mouth Blue Bear's birth family. Whatever they did or said he does not deserve a bad impression of them. I am not about to sugar-coat it either though. When Brown Bear asks about Blue Bear's family life before he came to us I tell him we don't know much about it and I keep it age appropriate. I say that he never had a brother before and that we love him so much that I'm sure his birth family would be glad to know that.

"When he was in your tummy."

This one is the most difficult. "He was in a different mummy's tummy. Like you were in mine. She loved him very much, as much as I love you I'm sure." We haven't talked about how hard it was for her to say goodbye to him. Not yet. When we look at baby photos of Brown Bear we do talk about how sad it is that we don't have baby photos of Blue Bear. Our family memories begin from when he came to live with us.

You might be wondering why all the conversations have been with Brown Bear. Well, so far Blue Bear has not had much in the way of conversational skills. It's also important that Brown Bear has an honest picture of how our family came into being. He will be the one who talks to Blue Bear first about where he came from. It's up to us to make sure that Brown Bear is equipped with the truth so that Blue Bear isn't hearing half truths from somewhere else. It is also really useful practice for me so that when Blue Bear is older and asking me questions I have a way of talking to him about adoption that makes sense for him.

It isn't all serious though. There are times that raise a smile too. On the day we went to pick up Blue Bear to come and live with us - at last - Brown Bear was in the car and said,
"Mummy, Daddy, can I have a sister please ?
"erm... well it's a bit late now, we're going to get your brother just now,"
"No, I mean after this one."

We both looked at each other and laughed.

Tomorrow: What is a 'real' family anyway. 

It's Adoption Week so I'm writing about adoption every day this week.

I'll be answering questions about adoption that you may have. Feel free to comment on here or ask me on Twitter with the hashtag #askaboutadoption.

So go ahead and ask those burning questions. If I can't answer I know enough professionals who I can direct your questions to.

To find out more about adoption week take a look here:

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Adoption Week: Is it difficult to adopt ?

So there are many questions that I get asked about adoption. Some are intensely personal and therefore unwelcome, others are general. Pretty much all are introduced with, "I hope you don't mind me asking..." then it begins:

  • Where did you adopt from ?
  • Why did you adopt ?
  • Did you meet his family ?
  • Why was he adopted ?
  • How long did it take ?
  • Did you see him before you adopted him ?
  • Is there anything wrong with him ?
  • Will he see his family ?

Often all of these will be asked within a very short space of time. It feels like I've been fired at with a machine gun much like the protagonists in Some Like it Hot during the Valentine's Day massacre. I'm still smiling, but I can feel the pool of blood forming around my feet.

You see each of the questions is a minefield of issues including privacy, safeguarding and other fun stuff. Once you unpack them a decision has to be made about how far to take the questioner into the reality vs the polite response to a polite question.

I made this mistake early on. During a night out with mums from school we sat in the garden drinking between karaoke sessions. Blue Bear had been with us for only a short time a this point and I was being asked about him. I started out politely batting off the personal stuf. "It's his private business, I'm not comfortable sharing that." to losing it and suggesting if they really wanted to know the gory details maybe they should strap in for the ride. It wasn't going to be pretty. I was so fortunate that night as one of the mums had my back. She stood right by me, looked me in the eyes as she said, "you don't have to do this." I took a breath and decided that she was right.

I don't share anything about Blue Bear's family life. Part of that is because we don't know a lot about it. We are supposed to get his 'life story' to help talk to him about his adoption. We are still waiting.

So this is where it gets difficult. It's not the practicalities of the process - you expect that. It is the agencies being in and out of your life, having to report anything to a lot of professionals. I was in a car accident with Blue Bear in the car and my first panic stricken thought was "I hope he's ok, I must take him to the doctor for a check-up. I don't want them to think I'm not taking care of him."

It wasn't simple - even though we'd been assessed before - and this time the process included our birth son so we had another person to consider at every turn. Our social worker spent a lot of time with us and our son got to know him pretty well too. Once we had been approved not one professional came to see Brown Bear at all. He went from being an integral part of the process to being completely invisible. I was not impressed. My only concern was he should not be affected negatively by our decision to adopt. He was the son we already had and we were unwilling to compromise his quality of life for a possibility that might never happen. He was excited about being a brother and then he was just left alone.

Waiting. That was difficult. Not knowing. No one can tell you how long it will take. You just have to take each day as it comes and when we had no children this was almost impossible. No it isn't possible to get on with life and not think about it. It's all you can think about. At least this time we had Brown Bear and his welfare was the most important thing.

Then everything happening really fast. Going from nothing to, 'hey here's a child for you to consider' to him coming to live with us in less than 4 months. That was difficult. Wonderful, hard work, unexpected, terrifying and difficult.

The first year of having two boys was so difficult I still can't believe how much it took to keep it together every day. I still find myself reacting as I did when they were constantly fighting for my attention. Now they tease me by chanting,"my Mummy, no my Mummy" at each other. I look at how far they've come and how much they adore each other and breathe with relief.

Yes it was and is difficult. For so many reasons. Everyone's journey is different and I can't talk on behalf of anyone else. What I can do is tell you about our journey.

Tomorrow: How do you talk to your child about adoption ?

It's Adoption Week so I'm writing about adoption every day this week.

I'll be answering questions about adoption that you may have. Feel free to comment on here or ask me on Twitter with the hashtag #askaboutadoption.

So go ahead and ask those burning questions. If I can't answer I know enough professionals who I can direct your questions to.

To find out more about adoption week take a look here: