Monday, 27 May 2013

Taking it all in

For the first time since the 11th January, something strange happened today. I had a rare moment of calm, sitting in our garden, and I think all that has happened over the past 4 months finally began to process fully. I was looking from the Little Tikes toddler cube (which she couldn't even stand in, let alone climb on, four months ago) to the climbing frame fort complete with rock wall which she can now climb on her own, and then an aeroplane flew overhead and I felt like I was in some sort of a film montage summing up her progress over the last few months.  I welled up a bit....and then the moment was lost by cries of "Mummy...come in!" And so I got the iPad and thought...I'd better write this down, it seems significant!

So Squiblet is watching "I can cook" with Mama and here I am, blogging in the garden in the sunshine.

I feel like a real Mummy now and it's sort of empowering.  I feel less like a novice who needs to soak up advice, less like someone finding her way, and more confident.  I know my child.  I'm educated, I'm well read, I know my stuff.  I have the confidence (with Mama) to parent her the way I want to. I don't always feel like this!  I think the sunshine is helping.  And the fact that Squiblet and I have been running around the garden blowing bubbles which floated higher than the house...again, a bit like a film.  It's been quite a dreamy day!  

Squiblet is processing more about her past now.  I tell it to her like a story:
"So you came out of a lady called xx's tummy when you were a baby Squiblet and you lived with xx and xy and your brother and sister, but xx wasn't able to look after you.  She couldn't give you all the love, and cuddles, and safe place that you needed so you went to live with your foster family.  They gave you everything you needed but they couldn't look after you forever, so they had to look for Mummy and Mama.  Mummy and Mama can love you forever and ever, and give you the food you need and the cuddles you need and a nice comfy cot so that you can grow into the wonderful little girl you are now!" And that's how I tell it.  Over and over. And she talks about it now, and engages with it.  She's missing the foster carer's daughter.  She thinks any picture of a young woman is her, and any young woman is her, and says "miss...blah" and I say, "yes, and what do you remember about blah? Is it her cuddles and tickles!" And Squiblet solemnly says "yes, cuddle me, tickle me" and I think that's ok.  She's thinking about them more but she's happy and still her usual chipper self, so I can only assume that talking about it is a positive thing.

Hope everyone is enjoying the sunshine :)

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Treasured moments (for WASO)


I was going to write about how it's all perked up here again and then the WASO thingy came up and I thought "just the job!" I've been keeping a notebook of treasured moments since Squiblet arrived.  For once I'm going to keep things brief.

  • The smile that comes from your eyes and lights up your face when you see me in the morning
  • The time we flew a kite and you ran around chasing it when you had only just learned to walk on your own
  • Watching the easy way you giggle and laugh when you play with your Mama
  • The way you brighten up the world with your cheerful hellos and observations of passers by
  • The way you will offer to share your raisins to the spotty teenage boy at the bus stop
  • The look of delight when we brought out your birthday cake and you shouted "blow it out!"
  • The expression on your face when you tasted ice cream.  It went from shock and almost tears to sheer delight in an instant
  • The way you get excited about the world....about snails, airmlanes (aeroplanes), worms, feathers and pigeons
  • When you try on a new outfit or new shoes you say "new one, mirror!" 
  • The way you can't walk past a flower without saying "smell it"
  • The way when you have a chocolate treat you say "Mama some, Mummy some" because you don't want us to be left out
  • The wonderful way you embrace our friends as your own
  • The way you cuddle people when they are sad or poorly and "rubback" when they cough
  • The serious look on your face when you are sticking or painting or making play dough shapes
Well, not very brief! I got a bit carried away!

Happy times!

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Wibble wobble...


I'm having a wobbly sort of a day and thought writing about it might help!  I also need to give you the lowdown on the birthday party which might cheer me up!  So far I have not managed to work out how to put photos on but I'm working on it!  Says the lady who wants to try and make an app...hmmm....whoops!

So, yes, it came out of nowhere!  I've been on a happy cloud for the past ages, and today I just fell through and came crashing down.  Nothing to do with Squiblet, she's still happy as Larry, but me...well I've been faking it to make it all morning, resulting in louder than usual singing during her swimming lesson and just generally being all rather over the top.  And now it's nap time, so I can finally try and analyse the wobble and sort it out.  I'm quite big on self analysis.  I guess you have to be in order to write about your experiences, but I really don't like it when I'm floored by emotions I didn't really know were there, it seems like an insult to my emotional intelligence.

It could be because the doctor decided that the pill would be a good way to sort out my "lady troubles" (very coy but I don't want to be too graphic!)  Basically pre Squiblet I was a two periods a year type of person and they were pretty bad, but manageable twice a year.  Since Squiblet my body has obviously been like " you can do it after all, I guess I might as well ovulate then!" and has consequently been flooring me with month on month of horror movie style menses.  Is that too much?!  Sorry if you are a friend who didn't want to know, or just generally squeamish.  Anyway, my point is that I wonder if this might be making me more than usually emotional, and consequently I think I'm going to stop taking it and think about a plan b.  It could be because I'm pooped from a party filled weekend, and I think it probably is a bit.  But I think a big part of what I'm feeling is to do with all the lovely things people have been saying lately.  We have seen Squiblet's doctor and social worker and health visitor in the past week and they have all been so kind.  I put most of Squiblet's progress down to her just being awesome, and when people tell me and Mama that we are doing a good job, it makes me worry that I'm not.  How ridiculous of me, I know.  But it's that thing where people put you on a pedestal and then you worry that you will fall off.  If you're not on a pedestal in the first place, it's much less painful and dramatic when you fall over.  Does that make sense?  Am I just being ludicrous in my thoughts?  Well, yes, I think so, but then I think that's sort of the Mummy way, isn't it?  But for all the reading we have done and all the conversations we have about Squiblet's parenting and all we do, I still worry that we are not doing enough.  Her weight centile is now slightly higher than her height so I was worried about that.  But then the stupid thing says she has shrunk since 2 months ago, and now she is two she is weighed with a nappy and all her clothes on which I guess could account for a lot.  I do feed her a lot but she is literally scamping about all day, and what I feed her is healthy stuff, because I think healthy eating is important.  I do need to do something about the fact that she prefers juice to water because that's what she had with her foster carer, but I'm getting there with that.  I don't know.  I think that however nice these people are they make you feel paranoid that you are doing something wrong.

So enough of my public wobble.  I'll go away and privately wobble a bit more.  How about I try and cheer us all up with some birthday party tales?!  It was great.  So much fun!  Luckily the sun was shining so the little ones just scamped inside and out playing with all of Squiblet's toys.  She was so happy, excited about all her presents and her little face when she saw her birthday cake was pure magic.  We went to a big food festival the next day, and there were crowds and there was loud music and things and Squiblet took it all in her stride, happily dancing to the band and tasting bits of sausage.  She even went on a merry go round on her own!  It was all such massive progress from the shy little thing who joined us in January and it made me feel really proud of her and so happy to see her enjoying life and enjoying the life that we had planned for her, and the life that we enjoy too.

Take care everyone, I'm sure I'll steady up soon enough! x

Friday, 17 May 2013

Spots, stripes and comfy pyjamas.


I've just spent the evening blowing up balloons and getting ready for Squiblet's birthday party!  So exciting!  It's a spots and stripes theme with the key features being (sorry, I'm a science teacher...I love a bullet point!)

  • Spotty balloons
  • Spotty paper straws (retro cool)
  • A spotty cake with spots ON THE INSIDE...we have yet to cut it to find out if this actually worked but if it did I will post pictures!
  • Stripy bunting made from sweet bags
  • Giant spotty and stripy "art".  I've stuck a massive sheet of sticky back plastic, sticky side up on the window and am going to let the small folk go nuts with spotty feathers, pipe cleaners, fluffy dots, milk bottle lids etc. so they can make art.  Will post pictures of this too!
  • Spotty party hats
  • Spotty food
  • A stripy jelly...which I am going to attempt to turn out...onto a plate...Squiblet loves that song!
So, in summary...I'm quite excited.  Can you tell?  I'm typing fast and my sentences are short...I'm very excited!  Squiblet is exited too, she keeps saying "party!" and doing a little dance!  Wahoo.  The sad thing is that Mama is still poorly.  She has been ill on and off for weeks and weeks, so aside from meaning I had to blow up all the balloons to save them being biological warfare weapons, it also means she's just not quite as jolly as usual, which is sad.  She's just picking up bug after bug and I don't feel like I'm giving her all the attention and tlc I used to because I'm just too pooped myself!  It makes me feel bad, but I know that she knows I'm doing my best and Squiblet is happy as Larry at the moment...long may that continue.

Squiblet had her 6 month "child in care" medical on Monday and they confirmed that she is 6 months to a year ahead in her speech and comprehension and has caught up in all the other areas too.  More than that though, the doctor was so genuinely happy to see Squiblet doing so well.  She said that Squiblet is almost unrecognisable and just seems to be incredibly settled and happy, as well as progressing well.  She said she would let the people in our panel know as they would be really happy to hear about us.  So that was really nice!  She was so complementary to us...asked us if we would adopt more!  We're only 4 months in!   And I *love* being a three at the moment.  I love the fact that we have so much time and attention for her.  No way am I ready for another one...yet!  We'll see!

Squiblet now swims underwater and finds it fun.  We spent the whole of our swimming lesson giggling together this week.  It was hilarious!  I was actually really enjoying myself without any particular effort which was nice and either she picked up on my vibe or maybe it was her cheerful new swimming costume, but we had a really wonderful time.

All positives again!  Sorry!  Well, not really sorry!  The airport on the way home from Scotland was a hideous nightmare.  Because she turned two while we were away, she had to have a seat for the way home, where she was on Mama's lap on the way out.  Turns out that the lady at FlyBe who I called about this months ago had booked her a guide dog seat so her boarding card had a code meaning dog instead of her name, which meant they might not let her through!  So that took 20 minutes of waiting and then we queued for an hour at security.  I was so glad we had the buggy with us as she happily snacked for most of the time [dried banana chips are such a winner because they are so hard they take ages to eat] and the rest of the time was spent with me inanely saying things like "wow...a red suitcase...oooh...gosh, look at that man's green shoes...did you see, that girl has a rabbit on her jumper..." for an hour!  Phew...exhausting, and Mama was really poorly.  :(  

The wedding went well.  It's tricky when you have such a little cutie because everyone wants to take pictures and she can be quite camera shy, I think it's maybe something to do with the negative connotations of cameras and the massive amount of birth parent contact she had before she was placed. From what birth mum showed us, much of the contact sessions were spent being coerced into doing things for videos or smiling for the camera and I think sometimes she's had enough.  I could be reading too much into this though!  But it's just my observations as usual.  The ceremony was funny because she was sitting on my lap saying loudly and clearly "Squiblet...quiet...Mummy...quiet...Mama....quiet!" very cute!  Nobody seemed to mind though...she was very good!

Oh and before I go...the comfy pyjamas.  Squiblet has a really fun pair from Gap kids and I made it my mission to find an adult pair.  They are sort of skinny fit, jersey bottoms.  I bought some from Boden children's, age 13-14 and they are the comfiest thing I have ever worn.  I never want to take them off!  Sadly, they're not stripy or spotty so I won't be able to wear them tomorrow!  It's a slippery slope.  I must not wear them in the day...I must not wear them in the day!

Some of Squiblet's friends from playgroup are coming tomorrow for the first time.  It'll be really nice to have them there and Squiblet is excited.  I don't feel like I have excelled myself at Mummy networking.  The market town mummies are a tough nut to crack and I'm taking my time but in my usual roundabout way, I think I'm getting there.

Right.  Must go...busy day tomorrow!

Take care x

Friday, 10 May 2013

Early days

Well we're four months in and it still is early days although in many ways it feels like she's been here forever. But as I write we are in Scotland for my Brother's wedding so we've had our first taste of breaking away from her routine. We've had lots of eating out in restaurants, bed time at least half an hour later each night and sleeping in a travel cot. We approached all of the above with all of the apprehension you would expect from new (adoptive) parents but Squiblet has taken it all in her stride from telling anyone who will listen that she has been "up in the sky" on an "airmlane" to stuffing her face with meatballs and ice cream. She has embraced every new experience with smiles and excitement which is exactly what I would have hoped for her. I guess I don't feel so much like a new mum anymore. I know how to distract her and can consequently have a bag filled with appropriate tricks. Our aeroplane kit consisted of a spot the dog sticker book, water painting book with special pen, a frube in my liquid allowance and some chocolate biscotti (it sounds posh but I bought it in the pound shop). As a last resort I had some of her favourite programmes downloaded onto the iPad but we didn't really need them. It makes me really proud when people comment on her fantastic behaviour.

No one accused us of abducting her at the airport, no one asked to see her birth certificate or wanted to see the letter from the LA, which was quite a relief to us.

Reflecting on the 4 month mark - that means we've been her parents for one sixth of her life and when I think about that in terms of cake it seems like a fairly generous slice! And I can console myself with the fact that it's the one with the most icing and sprinkles! But it will be great when our "slice" is bigger than the ones before.

We've always felt that she's been quite settled but in the last month or so we've realised what settled really is. Settled is embracing newcomers with ease, but still wanting reassurance from Mummy and Mama. Settled is having the confidence to climb high on the climbing frame. Settled is Mummy going out for the evening and Mama doing bedtime without issue or incident. But most of all settled is a ridiculous amount of cuddling, smiling, giggling and playing and everyone enjoying the comfortable normality of our family life.
In some ways I think the end of the early days is the fact that I've stopped waiting for the bubble to burst and am now just enjoying every moment.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Eating philosophy and fun in the sunshine


I blogged about Squiblet testing boundaries at meal times a while ago and some wise owl suggested that in their house they offer toast or fruit as an alternative if their kids really don't like something.  We've been going with that, only I usually only offer a banana...that's it!  No kid is going to live off bananas if they have a choice so I figure if she totally refuses a meal, she's either proving some kind of massive point, or she really doesn't like it.  But Mama and I have both done a lot of reading and talking about eating issues, both before we adopted and now, and this is the plan we are following.

  • We never praise her for eating something.  We praise her for trying something new, or for eating nicely or using her fork but never for actually eating.  The idea behind this is that eating can never become a power struggle. If she doesn't eat, we say "fairy nuff" and then surreptitiously give her a bigger or more protein based snack than she would usually have.  She eats pretty much every two hours so she's never going to be starving hungry!
  • We all eat together so that we can show her good table manners (sort of!) and use dinner time as a time to talk about things as a family.
  • If she refuses to eat something and asks for something else, I give her the new something on the same plate and 9 times out of 10 she will go back to it later.  I've heard that kids like to mix sweet and savoury foods so I think "why shouldn't she?".
  • We feed her from a spoon when she's tired but we don't coerce or cajole her into eating, she's in charge of what she eats and how quickly she eats it.
  • We let her keep going (with healthy stuff) until she's not hungry any more. Sometimes this means (especially lately) that she eats a bowl of cereal, a yogurt, 2 satsumas and a banana for breakfast.
It really seems to be working, but is a little tricky if someone else has done the cooking.  My mother in law kindly made lunch for us yesterday and Squiblet flat out refused to eat anything.  It's quite rare that she won't try anything at all and I was trying to unpick why she had done it.  I asked her but that was too complex a question for her to understand at the age of not quite two!  I did ask her if she was just flexing her toddler muscles and showing us what a strong, independent woman she is and she said "yes" but I'm not sure that's hugely reliable.  I wondered if it was because she was unsettled by having more people in the house, or maybe that she just felt that there was too much pressure because she had been told to like it because Granny made it.  Earlier that morning she had refused to eat her rice crispies in favour of toast; usually I would give her toast and leave the crispies and she would come back to them but on this occasion Granny chipped in and was very vocal about Squiblet eating them for Granny and being a good girl for Granny and wasn't she a good girl for eating them up...and I wondered if that had put Squiblet off eating her lunch as eating to please others is quite an alien concept in our house.  Curious beasts, toddlers.  So we ended up with an offended mother in law (she even refused to eat it from Granny's fork) and Squiblet wolfing down two bananas.  It's tricky though.  Because short of giving everyone a massive lecture on the whys and wherefores of your parenting techniques, which would make us both boring, pedantic and neurotic; you just have to hope that people will let you get on with things, especially in this early stage where we are still showing Squiblet the boundaries and building attachments.  I understand 100% that people have different parenting styles, and that is absolutely fine with me!  Mama and I do like to chat about them (as all good hyper-analytical, well read, adoptive parents should) but there are millions of different ways to successfully parent well rounded, well adjusted children and I do try not to criticise other people's parenting styles but we have chosen to parent in the way that we do partly by our natural personalities, but partly by really talking and thinking about what we are doing.  Clearly this doesn't work all the time e.g. when we are absolutely knackered (I said nob today...oops...luckily the air conditioning was on full in the car so I don't think she heard me) but we have to try!  I understand that people want to be close to her and warm with her, but it's just hard...really, really hard!

Does that make sense?!  I'm not sure if it's a bit of a ramble.  I've spent the day in the sunshine at the country park.  I think that makes me sound so American!  Squiblet was charging about on the play equipment, feeling the fluffy moss and loving eating her lunch outside (we strapped her down in her booster seat again...does that make us bad mummies or just practical ones?!  It doesn't feel very earth mothery!).  A cute thing she was doing to day was shrieking "lucky Mama" and then running to give Mama a cuddle and then "lucky Mummy" and coming to cuddle me!  It's so wonderful being outdoors with her running around, balancing on logs and peeping round trees.  It makes me feel very happy indeed.

We are all heading off on an aeroplane on Wednesday.  Squiblet's first trip!  I will let you know how it goes.  She's very excited and shouts "airmlane" every time she sees one in the sky!

Hope you are all enjoying the sunshine.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Pride and falls!

Hello all,

I'm trying to be a bit less sporadic with my blogging as my stats tell me that more and more people are tuning in to check up on our adventures.  How exciting!  It's been lovely to have so many comments and positive feedback too.  Thank you everyone.  I love this blog.  It's a great way for our family to keep up to date with all our progress too.

So....pride and falls!  The pride comes from me.  Squiblet is managing to engage a bit more at things like noisy old rhyme time.  At home if I start humming a song she knows she will get up and start doing all the actions but when we are out at a large group session she sits on my lap and just watches everyone around her...but today she pulled the little sheep out of the bag (it's very cute, they get to choose the order of the nursery rhymes) and announced "black sheep!" I was proud!  And she danced and sang a bit today too.  Hurrah!  I wouldn't mind at all if I felt like she was naturally shy and retiring but she just so totally isn't!  She loves a (small) audience and she loves singing and dancing and things so it's really wonderful to see her confidence growing so she can be herself a little bit more when she's in a large group.  I was also incredibly proud of her yesterday because this little girl, who couldn't get her hair even splashed with water, did her first underwater swim yesterday!  Wowzeroo!  No tears, no fuss, just a small amount of shock and then plenty of smiles!  What a superstar.

Right...onto the falls.  Since her new found confidence at home she has been falling rather more than she was before.  Today she plunged head first into her bath.  Cue screaming, shock and a soggy little person with big brown eyes saying "Mummy....wet 'air!"  She also fell and bumped her nose the other day which led to a small nose bleed and she was very upset and said "red paint...everywhere!"  Poor little thing.

I am getting so excited about our first mini holiday and Squiblet's birthday.  All coming up soon.  The sunshine is also making me feel very jolly indeed.  Life is so much easier when we can both just potter about outside.  She will wander about amusing herself for ages playing with her sandpit, riding her Scuttlebug, pushing her baby around and climbing on her slide.  That would be a really good piece of advice actually.  If you are lucky enough to have a garden, baby proof it, grow some nice smelly plants, add some glittery ornaments, buy some garden toys on eBay and you will keep your little person amused for hours.  We spent ages today looking for snails and ants.  She learns so much from being outside and it's such a wonderfully low effort activity for both of us.  She is growing out of the Little Tikes toddler cube we bought on eBay before she arrived.  I remember back when we had a few sunny days early on, she didn't have any idea how to climb up it and was scared to go down the slide and now she will happily scamper up and down shrieking with delight.

The bubble might be about to burst though because Mama has a really nasty cold and I can feel my throat scritching tonight.  I haven't been a Mummy whilst being sick yet!  I've been tired, really tired, but not ill!  I wonder how I will do!  For now I'm hoping that it's just a tickle and I'll be right as rain in the morning.

So that's us.  For those of you thinking " sickly sweet" she has been testing boundaries and generally being quite a scamp lately!  It's quite funny because when she runs of she often screams "scamp about!" because that's what we have said to her.  She's quite good if we just slowly count to three she usually stops doing whatever mischief she is making.  I wonder when we will have to progress to consequences which don't just involve removing whatever she is destroying at that moment!  Watch this space.

I'm terrible for abbreviating words.  I do it all the time to people's names and things.  What a commoner!  The other day Squiblet looked out of the window at a passing pigeon and said "'ello pidge!" Nightmare!  She's turning into a mini-me!  Her baby crocs and baby converse arrived this week and we have a little row of crocs by our back door now.  We convince ourselves that it's important to make her feel like "one of us" and "part of the family" but really we just want her to look cool!  Not that yellow crocs are cool, but you can't beat lego crocs for messing about in the garden!

Let's hope it stays nice and sunny although I wouldn't mind a little bit of rain so I can show Squiblet a proper rainbow.  There was a sort of one the other day but I couldn't tell if it was just my eyes being funny, and then, the most beautiful full arc just as Squiblet had gone to bed.  It was so glorious I was tempted to wake her up but I'm not that much of a "learning is more valuable than my own wellbeing" type of a Mum so I didn't.  But she's quite into rainbows at the moment.  She likes helping to peel her own satsumas (she loves saying "sat-soooooo-mA") and then she will pull the middle bit into two to make two rainbow shapes and say "two rainbows...clevagirl!"

She does make me laugh.

Sorry if this blog is a bit long and gushy.  It will be nice for me to read when we have an off day I suppose!

Much love and thanks for reading xx