Saturday, 30 January 2016

Snapshots of my boys

On days when Hubbie works from home we try so hard to make sure he gets plenty of time to do actual work. Last week Baby Boy decided to join him in some letter and number work on his own laptop computer.

Baby Boy decided to carry his brother's schoolbag on the way home, I'm not sure if this was his own idea or if Big Boy planted the seed of the idea. 

My adorable little nephew has been hanging out with the grandparents - he's loving his tummy time mat.

After swimming we always get chips for the boys' tea and Big Boy likes to take responsibility for ordering and paying for them now he's a regular. 

After school one day last week the weather was warm and dry so we decided to go to the park. The boys loved having it all to themselves. 

Finally I can't forget Neo - he's really into blogging now and has been proof reading my posts. Ok, he's actually just trawling Youtube for funny cat videos really.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

I claim my trophy thanks

I was on a course today. It was an all day event about 'the adopted child in school' and required a fair amount of mental energy. There was a lot to take in and so much that was useful and helpful, I'm so glad I went. Of course before I could go I had to make sure things were organised at home.

Last night I'd made a packed lunch for Baby Boy - having already agreed a longer day at pre-school for him so that Hubbie could work from home. They were celebrating Australia Day at pre-school so I made sure that the bag by the front door had his packed lunch in it as well as a koala toy for show and tell. As I was in the bathroom this morning I called out to Hubbie, "red, white and blue." To make sure that he dressed Baby Boy in the colours of the Australian flag as requested by nursery.

Having ensured that I ate some breakfast I walked Big Boy to school this morning - well I ran behind his scooter as we were running late - then went to catch the train to London. I ran down he ramp at East Croydon to make sure I didn't miss my train to King's Cross and even managed to get a seat.

During the lunch break I had a wander round Waitrose and picked up some Easter eggs for the boys and some fruit for the journey home. When I got to St Pancras I found out that no southbound trains were running so had to make alternative travel plans. I rang Hubbie to let him know.

When I did get home he had already cleared the backroom for my yoga class and I was able to spend a bit of time with the boys before they went to bed. Then after class Hubbie said he had a confession.
Me: "Was it that you forgot Big Boy's scooter at school ?"
Hubbie: "Er, yes."
Me: "Yes he did tell me, that's ok. You went back for it didn't you ?"
Hubbie: "Well, I think I drove over it actually."
Me: (sniggering) "Sorry ? What ?"
Hubbie: "Well, I was getting Baby Boy into the car and it was raining and I forgot the scooter was there then I heard a bump and thought it was the kerb."
Me: (wiping tears) "When did you realise ?"
Hubbie: "When we got home. I got the boys back in the car and we went back for it."
Me: "I love when you look after the kids for the day. It makes me feel so competent."

Hubbie, making Mummy look like a champ since 2010.

Friday, 22 January 2016

Modern Love: What my 5 year old thinks of marriage.

The latest in an occasional series in which me and my son talk about life.

Big Boy: "Mummy, me and Georgia are getting married."
Me: "Really ?"
BB: "Yes."
Me: "You told me the other day that Attie is your girlfriend."
BB: "Yes she is"
Me: "So if she's your girlfriend how come you're going to marry Georgia ?"
BB: (sighing) "Ok then I'll marry both of them."
Me: "Sorry ?"
BB: "I can marry them both."
Me: (stifling a laugh) "Now, there are a few reasons why that's not going to work.
BB: "I will be their husband and they can be my wifes"
Me: "The thing is that they're both quite feisty and they won't go for it I'm afraid son."
BB: (thinks) ... "I'll marry Baby Boy then."
Me: "That's a lovely idea, but you can't really marry your brother Bubby."
BB: "Why not ?"
Me: "Well, he's your family and you don't marry someone who's already your family, like your Mummy or Daddy, or brother or sister."
BB: "Oh, ok."
Me: "If you meet someone who isn't in your family and you like them and they like you, you can get married."
BB: "Not now. When I'm a man."
Me: "Of course, you do have to be a grown up before you can get married really."
BB: "Well, when I'm a man I can get married."
Me: "If you meet someone you want to marry, then yes you can."
BB: "And men can marry men."
Me: "Yes. And women can marry women if they want to."
BB: "I already knew that."
Me: "Me and Daddy don't mind who you marry when you grow up. Or even if you don't want to get married."
BB: "I will get married. Like you and Daddy are married."
Me: "Yes we are."
BB: "I know that."
Me: "I would be really happy if you meet someone who loves you as much as I do. Who takes care of you and keeps you safe."
BB: (Thinks) "Have you got a snack for me to eat Mummy ?"
Me: "Yes, sweetie."

This is the kind of Mum I am. 

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Ch Ch Ch Ch Changes...

I haven't written about adoption for a while now and frankly it's been deliberate in order to stop myself from writing anything too bitter and stressed. I know some of you are interested in adoption and some things can only be talked about (written) with hindsight otherwise the emotion at the time it's happening is just too raw. Just before Christmas two big things happened.

We had a family assessment with a child psychologist to help us manage the boys and the various issues we have with their outbursts, aggression and overall emotions around the adoption and how they are managing to live with each other. It was after school so not the best timing really, but it was interesting to have a professional come in and observe how we are together. Some of her comments were a bit hard to hear, but the bottom line is that Big Boy is acting out because he is feeling that Baby Boy is taking over his territory. Baby Boy is asserting himself in his new home and making it clear that he will not be pushed around. It seems so obvious really, but managing this on a daily basis is not as simple as we had imagined. As a result of the assessment we will be getting some structured support to help us and some one to one sessions for Big Boy which will help address how he feels about it all.

It  has taken so long for me to find the balance and work out how to spend enough time with both boys. For the first few months there was almost constant screaming as they fought for my attention and my default was to attend to the younger one. The other day a friend mentioned that she had noticed this when she visited and I felt so ashamed that it was that obvious that I was favouring one child over another. We all make mistakes, but everyone else's aren't under the spotlight as they are when you adopt.

The other thing that happened before Christmas was that we were given a date for a court hearing to decide whether or not to place Baby Boy with us permanently. It was a surprise as we hadn't expected anything to happen before the new year. We tried so hard not to get our hopes up too much, but it seemed that everything was in order so it was possible that it would be complete before Christmas and he would be officially in our family just in time for his first Christmas with us. On the day itself I had already booked the boys to go and see Santa at a grotto in town so we were there when the social worker rang me. I saw three missed calls when we were in Marks and Spencer and called her back. She said she was going to call in so I left straight away to get home to meet her. I knew it was unlikely to have gone smoothly as she didn't sound too cheery, but told myself she might just want to tell me the good news in person.

She was polite and friendly and played with the boys while I hung up the coats and offered to make tea or coffee. She had to get back to her own children as she was on annual leave and had attended court on her day off. Then finally the small talk finished and she told me the judge had given directions and there was one missing bit of information that had to be presented at a new hearing date set for January. So that was it. Our hopes dashed. In a 5 minute court hearing. The social worker had to go. I wished her a Happy Christmas. I fed the boys lunch, then called Hubbie to tell him. It was beyond disappointing. We had promised ourselves not to get our hopes up, but hadn't imagined that something so simple would be an issue. The judge wanted proof that Birth Mum knew about the proceedings. Fair enough and entirely correct. No one had done that. We went through anger, sadness, trying to make sense of it all then finally acceptance. Christmas was difficult.

I was thinking about how hard it must be for someone to accept that their child is not going to be in their lives any more. To know that their only contact will be via a letter once a year. That they won't see the changes in their face or hair colour, or listen to their first words. Missing those first steps or being there for the tearful nursery drop offs. Not being there to go to the park or to feed the ducks. No visits to A and E or plasters for no reason other than the child is convinced it will make the imaginary hurt better. Never telling a bedtime story or staying up at night with a child who can't sleep. Seeing a toy that you know your child will love and trying to hide it so they don't find it before their birthday. I can't imagine a time when I would be able to accept that was going to happen. It's a tall order to ask that of his mother.

The social worker managed to talk to her and confirm that she knew it was happening. That was enough to take to the court hearing. So on the day of the final hearing I was at a fitness class and had left Baby Boy with the lovely neighbour as he was too poorly for nursery. I had two missed calls when I left the class and decided to wait until I was in the car to call the social worker back.
I held my breath as I waited for her to answer her phone.
"Sorry I was in a class when you called earlier."
"That's ok. Was it a good class ?"
"Yes. How did it go ?" holding my breath.
"I've got really good news..."
I didn't hear the rest, but I knew it was finally done. She said she'd be in touch later in the week and congratulated me. I thanked her and breathed. I had to tell Hubbie first, then Big Boy. Both were busy so I went straight home and as I opened the door he gave me a huge, beautiful smile.

My son.

It doesn't matter how we came to be here or what happened before. We all belong to each other now.

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Truly, Madly, Deeply...

I've decided that I need cheering up this week.

I think we can agree that it's been a pretty crappy week. First we found out that David Bowie had died. It was unexpected, sad and completely overwhelming. Then today it was announced that Alan Rickman has also died of cancer. They were both younger than my parents and Hubbie's parents. It's a shock.

Alan Rickman was in some of my favourite movies. Juliet Stevenson - his co-star from Truly Madly Deeply - was on the radio this evening talking about their friendship and her voice broke when she said she'd seen him yesterday. It was heartbreaking. I know there are a lot of people who knew him best as Severus Snape, but some of us grew up with a memory of him as Hans Gruber from Die Hard or the Sheriff of Nottingham. It was rumoured that his scene stealing performance was so good that Kevin Costner ordered many of Alan's scenes to be cut in order to him Kev look better. Frankly with that horror show of an accent it would have taken a lot more to save Kev's performance than some judicious editing. In Close My Eyes his role as the Proust reading cuckolded husband of a wife committing incest was masterful. I loved him in pretty much all the roles I watched him in - including Snape, of course. While Emma Thompson stole their storyline in Love Actually, he was a surprisingly sympathetic would-be cad. I was once meeting my lovely friend SJ in Sloane Square (many years ago now) and she said, "I've just seen Alan Rickman." I got a bit over excited and shouted, "ALAN RICKMAN ? WHERE ?" SJ shushed me as apparently he had heard me (hardly surprising) and turned round. So near and yet so far.

So, here's what is helping cheer me up:

The lovely flower that our neighbour gave us for Christmas has flowered and it is just beautiful.

Now that both boys are in education I am trying to get some of myself back. I'm taking better care of myself and am excitedly making plans to run a yoga retreat later this year.

If all else fails a kitten will always save the day.

Monday, 11 January 2016

I've put on my red shoes David.

This isn't the blog post I was planning to write today. I'm not entirely prepared if I'm honest. All day it's been on my mind and now I'm here sitting at the keyboard and looking for the words.

As I stood at the sink this morning trying to persuade Baby Boy to prise open his mouth so I could brush his teeny tiny teeth Hubbie popped his head round the door.
"Have you heard the news about David Bowie ?"
"He's died."
"Are you sure ? Show me where you saw that."
He showed me the tweet. I went back to my son's teeth and turned on the radio to hear Nick Robinson talking about it. Yes it was true.
Big Boy heard the news items on the radio and asked me,
"Mummy are you sad about the man who died ?"
"Yes baby. It's a very sad day."

When we heard Golden Years on the radio on the school run I told him it was that man who died singing. Big Boy nodded along and smiled. I knew I had to make a radio show just for my boys so they would know who he was and how diverse and fantastic his musical legacy really is. On Friday night me and Hubbie will be on the radio presenting our tribute show - I always play a Bowie track on my own show and this one will be bitter sweet as I get to play all Bowie, but for the saddest of reasons.

Beckenham, Bromley and Brixton are all taking credit for Bowie. Tonight there is a street party in Brixton and every radio station has played songs by him all day. I tuned into BBC London earlier and heard Robert Elms breaking down as he tried to compose himself to go on air. No one quite believes it.

Hubbie took this photo on his way to work in Brixton, it's become an unofficial shrine:

This evening when I got back from swimming I sat in the car on the drive listening to Lazarus. Before I had to open the door to whatever nonsense might be going on at bedtime. I just couldn't face taking part in real life and wanted to feel the emotion of music performed by a man who knew that most people would listen to it just after he had passed away.

If you look back at the titles of my blog posts you will spot that I often pilfer lyrics and titles from Bowie songs. On one of the rare occasions I baked a cake for the Clandestine Cake Club I called it Rebel Rebel and made it look a bit Ziggy Stardust. Any excuse really. Ok so I wasn't the only one who was in love with Bowie. It wasn't just about the make up and the incredibly attractive man wearing it. It's been a said a lot today that everyone felt like he knew them intimately and that the represented how we felt.

A lot of tributes have concentrated on how he was an innovator and reinvented himself so many times. He was also influential in LGBT politics as a figure who was open and honest about his own sexuality at a time when it just wasn't the done thing. He also challenged racism in the music industry and the preferential treatment given to white artists. The first time I found out about the ill treatment of the indigenous people in Australia was when Bowie made the video for Let's Dance featuring aboriginal actors/dancers. When he married Iman it made me joyous that he loved a beautiful black woman (ok her beauty is irrelevant to her skin colour) as it meant when he was bored of her he would be mine all mine.

London is clearly in mourning for this son of South London and the music he made is the best legacy anyone could hope for.

Personally I think this is pretty cool too:

Friday, 8 January 2016

The joys of catnapping and shopping alone

On Monday both boys were at home with me - I can't talk about it, it's still too raw in my mind. I will tell you when I can do it without either bursting into tears or gritting my teeth. Anyway, my point is that it's been a transition week with Baby Boy starting at pre-school and me getting some kid-free time.

Before that could happen though we had the midway point where I had Big Boy at home with me so we dropped Baby Boy off at pre-school then went to get a few things in town. I had intended to get the boys pyjamas in the sales then we spotted this gorgeous dressing gown for my delicious nephew. Ok I know a 3 month old doesn't strictly need one (even less so the adorable pockets) but look at those fluffy ears !!

Then came the magic day - the first day of freedom. Both boys were in school and I had the morning to myself. How did I spend it ? I went to Ikea of course - to get a replacement back board for a drawer that broke months ago and if I waited for Hubbie to fix it the boys will have left home, so I thought I'd better get it done myself. I was a bit early so I went to the shops first and - now word of a lie - spotted these: 

After pre-school Baby Boy is always ravenous so I picked up some hot food for him and he found some quavers he'd half eaten previously. It appears that quavers dipped in ketchup are a culinary delight - I know I know I'm no Annabel Karmel am I ? 

Then this afternoon I got a lie down on the sofa while Baby Boy slept and Neo joined me. It reminded me of when I was pregnant and the cat used to lie on my big belly - until the baby started to kick him that is. It came as such a shock and he would look really perturbed. Now he just has to contend with me getting up to refresh my cup of tea.

Big picture, we both get the house back for a few hours a day.

I might get the hang of this yet.

Monday, 4 January 2016

A lofty tale

So Big Boy was saying with my parents and Baby Boy was napping so we decided to do something crazy. Something I haven't been allowed to do since we moved into this house. Something that Hubbie likes to do alone and when we're not around to break the mood or to spoil his fun. He finally allowed me to go into the loft. The loft is his domain, his territory, he is the master of all he surveys up there. As part of the great declutter I got special dispensation to do an inventory of what we had up there so we can decide what to store, what to sell and what to throw. I was a bit nervous so he gave me some basic safety instructions and told me where it would be ok to step, oh and to wear shoes.

As he took the loft steps down and the clanking sound rung out we both froze in case it work up Baby Boy. After a few moments we decided to risk it and went upstairs. I looked around in horror at what I can only describe as carnage. For years I have trusted Hubbie when he assures me that it's all organised up there. That when I give him clothes that the kids have outgrown and put them in labelled boxes and bags he has carefully put them somewhere on a shelf he has built. I've been convinced that all those old toys, the unused electricals and the masses of exercise kit I've bought is safely stored away. What I saw when I finally went up there was just piles of stuff. Literally, piles of bags and partly assembled toys. Bags and boxes of shoes, mine the boys' and some that don't even appear to belong to any of us. As I stood there trying not to fall through the ceiling below I rolled up the sleeves of my onesie (shuttup it's still officially time off !) and got to work.

what could possibly be in this box ? 

I opened bags and boxes and relabelled them then put similar items together. I found baby toys, a moses basket, a bath seat and door bouncer as well as bags of clothes that I thought I'd given away years ago. Clearly I had asked for them to go up in the loft until I decided what to do with them. Now it was time to decide and I was armed with a marker pen, but wasn't allowed to bring the clipboard and sheet of paper to draw a map of the location of everything.

As we worked through the piles of stuff I noticed the edges of some of the bags appeared to be shredded and Hubbie laughed that there might be mice up there. I grimaced a bit and as we started to gather rubbish to put into a black bag he went a bit pale. My eyesight is pretty ropey anyway so I didn't quite know what he was asking me to steer clear of. "Is it a furball, a bundle of unmentionable or is it a dead mouse ?" I asked. Hubbie grimaced and said, "the latter." I stepped back and cursed our cat for not doing the one job he is most qualified for in this house. Ok, Neo isn't known for his love of heights, but still it wouldn't hurt to earn his cat treats would it ?

To be honest of all the things I expected to find up there - Shergar, Lord Lucan, a secret family of squirrels - it never occurred to me to look for corpses. I left it to Hubbie to dispose of the body in a suitably dignified manner once we'd established that I had lost the marker so I couldn't draw an outline round it like a mini crime scene. Give me a break it was harrowing.

At least now I know where the foot spa is, because we all know that every home must have a foot spa that is never used don't we ? I also have a corner for all the yoga kit I've hoarded over the years, many boxes of baby stuff for my sister (or for NCT sales) and clothes in every size from newborn upwards. I now understand why so many people were keen to give us things when we found out we were expecting. Your home gets overtaken once you have children. The garage, the loft, all the bedrooms, pretty much every surface and even our parents' homes are littered with kiddie things. Once the travel cot, baby car seat, bath toys and assorted walkers are done with and you accept that you won't need to keep them 'just in case' it's a waiting game to see who will have a baby next so they can have it all.

It's still a work in progress and this is just the first phase of the great declutter - still it would have been nice to find the luggage that we haven't seen since last year.

Friday, 1 January 2016

I can do this - I know I can

I've said before that I don't make resolutions, but I try to have goals or aims that are achievable. I'm keeping it simple this year so hopefully I'll have a good chance of making progress.

So, in no particular order:

1. I will finish an entire book (no, kids' books don't count)

2. I'm committed to building Baby Boy's vocabulary from Daddy, Mama, Bubba (brother), bubbles, bowl and more.

3. I'm going to use my time constructively when the boys are at school and pre-school. It's only 3 hours, but I'll make it count.

4. The great declutter will pick up pace and I'll stop keeping things 'just in case.'

5. I'll make time for myself whether that's to have a soak in the bath or taking time to do my hair.