Wednesday, 18 January 2017

A year of love, laughter and memories

A year ago today was a very special day for my family. I took the phone call that told me the judge had formalised the adoption and Blue Bear was officially part of the family. I called Hubbie to tell him the news. Brown Bear was at school and Blue Bear was at nursery so I pretty much got on with my day. Then we waited to be invited for the celebration day.

The sun came out that morning and it was beautiful. We all got dressed in nice clothes and travelled to meet Nanny, Granny and my sister at the court. The boys played in the sunshine and when they spotted the social workers they ran over for big hugs. Once we were all there we went in and were led to the court room to wait for the judge, who came in and congratulated me and Hubbie. She gave Blue Bear a teddy and us a certificate. We all posed for photos and it was done. We thanked the social workers for joining us, cut a cake and everyone hugged the newest family member.

Since Blue Bear came to live with us we've known he was meant to be in this family. He loves his brother. He adores his aunties and uncles and he's best friends with Neo. He's experienced so many new things with us too:

His first snow day. Making footsteps in the deep snow and building a snowman with Daddy. When he looked out of the window and saw it had melted he burst into tears.

Having watched Brown Bear on his scooter Blue Bear has been desperate to learn how to ride one too. We took him to a local park recently and he finally worked up the courage to give it a go and he loved it.

Like a lot of 3 year olds Blue Bear loves anything to do with pirates so it was heartwarming to see him having a swashbuckling adventure with Neo. Every pirate captain should have a cat first mate on board.

Blue Bear has really enjoyed the changing seasons and really loved taking autumnal walks in the crunchy leaves. I've spent months with pockets full of leaves, conkers and pinecones. 

Both boys love dressing up to play and Blue Bear especially enjoyed being a dinosaur / dragon. He's pretty ferocious isn't he ?

Taking a leaf out of his older brother's book he decided to relax with the tablet. I'm not sure why he's watching a tractor though.

We drive past the fire station every day on the way to nursery and he always counts them to see if any have gone out. We were out walking one day and just happened to spot this engine and he was delighted. Nothing beats a surprise fire engine !

We love Cornwall and it is so wonderful to take him to the beach and see him running around enjoying the sand, the sea and the ice cream.

I remember the first time he stood at the door when Hubbie was leaving for work and he said, "Bye Daddy. Later. Love oo." I laughed and my heart melted. 

Not all firsts have been successful. He tried broccoli, but decided that it's not for him really. We attempted to get him to put his face in the water at swimming and he was adamant that it just wasn't going to happen. He's taken to stamping his foot down and saying, "NO !" which is new and not entirely welcome. 

When the boys have gone to bed I go to check on them and silently watch them sleeping. Brown Bear surrounded by bears so I almost can't see him. Blue Bear lying on his back with his mouth open. I kiss them both and whisper, "I love you." Brown Bear smiles in his sleep, and sometimes Blue Bear sleepily replies, "love oo Mummy." 

We might not have been his first family, but we are his forever family. He belongs with us and we belong to him. 

Monday, 16 January 2017

Happiness is making time for some hygge

One of my Christmas presents from Hubbie was a book about Hygge - you know the nordic concept of cosiness and relaxation that involves candles and is credited with the reported high levels of happiness in the danish populationf. Well I liked the sound of it and in conjunction with my KonMari tidying project I've been thinking about how make 'cosy time'.

So the other evening I lit some candles and put them either side of a lovely plant. We don't have a fireplace so I wanted to create a soothing atmosphere with what we do have. When Brown Bear saw the candles he asked if we could we sit together in candlelight while Blue Bear was being put to bed. I was a bit surprised, but he really enjoyed the closeness and we have made it a regular thing. It's our bit of special time before he goes to bed and it helps calm him down after a tiring school day.

I'm no expert, but I'm finding ways to bring Hygge into our lives. I thought I'd share some of the ways we experience hygge in our home.

Hygge with candles. We have so many candles and tealights it's lovely to get to use them. They don't have to be scented - in fact the danes prefer unscented candles.

My hygge buddies, Brown Bear and Neo. They love to sit together in contemplation and stillness (well the cat does). It's their own form of hygge. 

My personal hygge with Neo and a brew to keep me and my fluffy dressing gown company. This doesn't happen often, but when it does it's just wonderful.

The best hygge we've had recently - looking outside at the snow falling while being all cosy inside. The boys were just delighted and watched for ages.

I'm really enjoying this special time we make for each other - it's nice and comforting and stops me from sitting looking at my phone all evening. I'm not saying we can practise Hygge every day, but I hope we can make time for each other and be close. I've already noticed Brown Bear is calmer and happier. I'm working on Hubbie too - he's not really a candles and fireplace sort of bloke, but you never know he might succumb to the cuddles.

Give it a go - you never know you might find it fun.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Easter eggs already ?

January is usually a pretty low-mood month. It's cold, it's dark, there's the post Christmas downer and it feels like a long month before you get paid. Then there's the deprivation, dry January, new year diets, the new regime of fitness and realising that there are already easter eggs in the shops, but because sugar is the enemy you can't actually buy any.

Except this year I haven't had the blues. I've felt energetic, I've been spending time with my boys and I've been going through the house like a buzzsaw tidying and sorting. I put this down to a few things. The last few years I've given up chocolate and puddings in the new year, so this year I had a head start as I was unwell at Christmas so it made sense to just cut out the 'baddies' early on. I didn't indulge on New Year's Eve so I woke up with a clear head and a resolve to get out and do something active. I started off the year not having bread or alcohol or sugar and will be slowly reintroducing them in minimal amounts. The exception is my lovely friend's birthday next Friday when I will have all of the above.

I'm taking part in the Moonwalk in May this year so I've been increasing my everyday fitness. Walking, swimming, clubbercise and this week I started bootcamp too. All of this is my way of ensuring that I am as fit as I can be to take part and I'm determined to do it in a personal best time.

Making myself go to bed earlier has enabled me to do things like read a book and to settle into bed before I fall asleep. Blue Bear isn't a great sleeper so we often get woken in the night and more than once so the more sleep the better really. I haven't quite mastered the art of waking up early yet, but I'm working on that next.

I've set myself the goal of cooking more meals from scratch and encouraging the boys to try new foods as much as possible. Brown Bear came home from school yesterday having eaten a chicken burger for lunch and I asked what he had with it. "It had tomato and salad on it, but I took all that off and ate it." Small victories I guess. Blue Bear tried some broccoli at the weekend. He's always pushed it away before, but he tried tiny pieces and declared it wasn't so bad after all.

Finally I want to earn again. It doesn't have to be a lot, but I do want to have some money coming in. The difficult bit is I want to enjoy what I'm doing and it has to fit round my family. The holy grail basically. So to that end I'm keeping myself busy and saying "yes" to opportunities that arise. Who knows, it might just work out.

Well, I'll keep you posted on my progress as the year goes on. Wish me luck.

Monday, 9 January 2017

The best things in life are these

I treated myself to this cuff from lovely Pippa at Story of Mum. I don't wear much jewellery and I don't have tattoos so sometimes it's good to double up. It goes under my sleeve and when I'm feeling like I'm not doing so well it reminds me that I am enough.

My gift for me - because I'm worth it

It wasn't until we got home from Cornwall that we were able to build this table for the boys. When it was done they couldn't wait to get started - I've just realised that Blue Bear is just the right height to get poked in the face by the rods. Not my best plan !

Table football for my boys 

Hubbie bought me some lovely things - including a gorgeous handbag. He also bought me this book and I wasn't sure at first if it was a comment on my housekeeping skills or intended to assist with my ongoing declutter. Either way I have just finished reading it so it's the first book I've finished reading in years and I'm already noticing the change in my attitude to tidying. I'm not sure about sparking joy, but I can definitely see the changes in our home.

Yep I've actually finished a book !  

This was a gift from my lovely friend and beauty therapist Yasmin. I hung it on the handle of the cupboard where we store Neo's food and I didn't really appreciate until today how accurate a depiction it is of him.

They know Neo so well 

I felt terribly guilty at Christmas when despite all my planning and packing and preordering of shopping I managed to forget to take anything for Hubbie to open on the day itself. He was very good about it, but I really wish I had got him something to unwrap. I bought him tickets for some great gigs that are coming up this year so hopefully the thought counts. 

I couldn't wrap Gedge 

Thursday, 5 January 2017

It's not about you

When anyone asks me about adoption it's usually about why we chose to do it, how hard was it for us, is it what we had expected. I understand why these are the questions that get asked, but what I want to say to anyone who is thinking about adoption is pretty simple. "It's not about you." I'm sorry to be blunt, but that is the honest truth. When it comes to a child being placed with a family it's entirely about what is best for the child. Whether your home is the most suited to them, your family equipped to manage whatever challenges they may bring. The process is to ensure that the child's needs will be met by you. It's not about you choosing a child who 'fits' with you.

As friends of ours are in the process of meeting their new child and getting to know her I thought I'd share some of the things that we've learned in getting to know Blue Bear.

Even though we have a son already we don't compare the two boys and at what age they do things.

We are taking it at his pace and listen when he tells us he's not ready. Then we work with him on what he can do.

Allowing him to tell us when he feels he wants to try means he doesn't feel frustrated or like a failure. 

We encourage him to help feed Neo. In return Neo lies with him and keeps him company sometimes. They are learning to care for each other and have become great friends

Nurturing his love of animals both at home and when we are away. He has learned to be kind, caring and gentle with animals.  

Trust - in everything. It's a lot to ask of a small child to trust you when he doesn't know you, but with time it does come.                                                 

Trying new foods and finding out which ones he doesn't like has been a learning experience. His firsts aren't always successful, but that's ok.

Repeating things he likes. From parks he likes, to programmes he loves and foods he enjoys. 

The basics are pretty universal though. The stuff you know about parenting, but that can seem so loaded and difficult with a child who is new and not entirely sure about you. Before you really feel like his family to him.

Being there when he cries at night. Every time, even when it seems it won't ever stop. He still needs to know that someone is there. 

Hugging him. At first he didn't want to be hugged and didn't hug back either. Again, it takes time and it's something he loves to do now. 

Putting on a plaster. Maybe there is nothing there, but the simple act of doing this shows we notice he's hurt and that we care.  

Holding his hand. His tiny little hand - and knowing when to let it go.  

Letting him try things - mostly because his big brother is doing them - all the while keeping him safe. 

Letting him be angry. Even when it's hard to witness and even harder to be on the receiving end. 

Not taking things personally. This is big. It isn't easy and as he gets older I suspect this is one I'll have to engrave somewhere so I don't forget it.

Showing him how to love (and be loved). By us, by his brother, by Neo by our parents.

After all that's what it comes down to isn't it ? 

Monday, 2 January 2017

Happy New Year

Here's to more adventures in 2017 !!

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: