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Back to school with a crash, bang and a great big wallop!

Published May 10, 2015 by thefamilyof5

The Easter smiles we all enjoyed didn’t last very long. The girls all came down with a serious case of backtoschoolitis pretty much straight away. It wasn’t a huge shock, Id been expecting it, but I wont deny finding the 0-60 transition from happy smiley kids to grumpy angry kids difficult to manage. I felt overcome with sadness, not sadness for me, but sadness for them. It shouldn’t have to be this hard for them.

Baby girls biggest struggle has been that her teacher is poorly, she didn’t return to school after Easter and hasn’t returned yet. Baby girl misses her terribly. The relationship that her teacher had been working so hard on building was the only thing helping her to feel safe in school. Without it, she feels lost again. Some of Baby girls anxiety related behaviors that her teacher had been working really hard to combat by building that trusting relationship with her, have returned. She seems to be developing separation anxiety from me as well, perhaps due to feeling so alone in school at the moment. I will add, she isn’t alone, she’s very well taken care of in school, but that special trusting relationship that she’d started to develop with her teacher has been temporarily severed, and she feels abandoned once again.

Then there is Middle girl, there have been some changes in her teaching arrangement’s due to Baby girls teacher being away. The TA classroom support that she heavily relied on has had to cover other areas, so the amount of support she’s been able to offer Middle girl in the mornings has been reduced quite a lot. There has also had to be some changes to her timetable. Middle girl has found this very difficult and the impact of struggling with her work so much has dented the self esteem boost she gained over Easter. She’s back to thinking she’s rubbish again. She’s also continuing to have difficulties with her peers on top of all this change to her daily routine. Little girls of this age fall out/make up constantly but with her difficulties in socialising and communicating this can all get a bit too much for her to manage leaving her feeling frustrated and angry, again.

Big girl, well, what can I say. She just seems to struggle with anything and everything. Just when I think we’ve addressed one issue, up pops another. She also seems to go out of her way to put herself in situations she cant manage and refuses to ask for help or even talk about whats worrying her. She’s a real mess at the moment with SAT’s looming. For weeks she’s been telling me she doesn’t want to do them, apparently she “may as well be dead if she has to do SAT’s“. She convinced she’ll fail even though she doesn’t really know what is required to either pass or fail, or even what constitutes and pass or a fail. Both her teacher and I have worked really hard to play down to importance of SAT’s, explaining that they’re just a way of being able to see how good teachers are teaching and have no relevance to children at all. None the less she’s insisted on putting herself under immense amounts of pressure to ‘succeed’. After a hellish week with her last week it was agreed Friday that we will tell Big girl that she isn’t doing SAT’s. Whilst all the other children are in the hall completing their SAT’s papers she will be in the staff room with a TA completing practice papers, that way she will still ‘fairly’ be able to take part in the end of SAT’s treat on Friday, (or at least this is what we’ve told her, in reality she will be doing real papers). So you’d think this would alleviate her stress wouldn’t you, no, apparently NOT doing SAT’s just means she’s worked hard (hard work that’s all in her imagination by the way) for nothing and now she needs to rage and tantrum about that. I’m starting to think that actually she just ‘needs’ something to fret about!? As you can probably tell, my patience and understanding with her is wearing somewhat thin right now.

So yes, back to school with a crash, bang and bloody great big wollap. On top of attending to these seriously draining cases of backtoschoolitis I have also had some other issues I’ve been trying to manage. In January I wrote to the placing authority and requested copies of all the files/information they have on the girls. Not only is this information important to the girls but It will also help our therapist. 2 weeks ago I received a huge package, piles and piles of reports that cost over £10 to post never mind the costs involved in sorting and copying. All of which we were given before placement. The placing authority apparently knew they were only going to waste money send me duplicated reports, but sent them anyway. So I now seem to have a new challenge on my hands to try and get information about MY children, for MY children. I cant tell you about the information we’ve asked for because its personal to the girls, but I can tell you that its very significant and important information that we’ve asked for.

Then there are the sleep issues. We met with the pediatrician in December and then with a Specialist Children’s Nurse in January and again in February. The nurse’s only suggestion was to ‘compress’ the girls sleep to improve the quality and then gradually stretch it a bit. Sounds great doesn’t it. Except to compress their sleep I would need to keep them up until 11-11.30pm every night and get them up around 5am every morning. FOR 4-8MONTHS!!!! Possibly more!! Not do-able. These 3 tired traumatised kids tantrum, self harm and re-traumatise themselves and each other, imagine what they’d be like after even less sleep! And how am I meant to co-regulate them if I’m not regulated myself due to being constantly sleep deprived and dealing with tantrums and rages every waking hour. No, just No! And that’s what I’ve told the Pediatrician. Besides, after seeing the dramatic improvements in their sleeping patterns over Easter I’m now more confident that anxiety is the issue effecting sleep and not vice versa. So anxiety is what I’ve requested further help with. Not heard a word from the pediatrician since.

Finally I also have a fight on my hands with the local authority. The high school we chose for Big girl is 4 miles away and in the opposite direction to primary school meaning a logistical impossibility for the school run. Big girl isn’t able to get herself to school safely and as this is the only school in the locality that Big girl will stand any chance at being able to manage, its the only viable option available. So we applied to the local authority for help with transport. Apparently because big girls recently awarded EHC plan names a mainstream school to be suitable, then these people that have never met her, and probably never set foot in any of the local schools, have decided that these huge local high schools are suitable for her. Therefore she doesn’t meet the requirements for help with transport. So something else I need to fight for, I mean really, what is the point in adopted children being given priority admissions and adoptive parents the freedom to choose the most suitable school for their child’s complex needs, if there’s no provision to get the child to the schools they need in the first place!

So, as you can see, its been a bit rocky here lately, we’ve a few mountains to climb, some swamps to trudge across and endless fires to fight but we’re managing, we have to!

I’ve linked this post up with #WASO over at The Adoption Social




Photographic Memories

Published May 19, 2014 by thefamilyof5

I take photo’s, lots of them, far too many in fact. I currently have 3500 that I need to move from my memory card and on to a separate hard drive, then I have to file them in to folders for each month, then I have to go through them and decide which ones should be printed, then I have to put all the prints in to the albums.

I have lacked the time to sort/organise/print and display the photo’s lately, but I’ve not stopped taking photo’s. I really need to get on top of things because my girls love photo’s and they enjoy looking back through our albums and remembering special times.

Big girl said to me today ‘we have lots of lovely memories in our heads now don’t we mommy’ and they do!

Below are some of our lovely moments from over Easter.

Feeding the ducks with cousins after a lovely sunny picnic in the park.

Feeding the ducks with cousins after a lovely sunny picnic in the park.

Testing out their skills on a climbing wall!

Testing out their skills on a climbing wall!

Hungry Hippos with Daddy!

Hungry Hippos with Daddy!

Exploring the woodlands and following maps!

Exploring the woodlands and following maps!

They love a trip to the hair salon!

They love a trip to the hair salon!

Watching films and eating Easter Eggs, Epic!

Watching films and eating Easter Eggs, Epic!

Baby girl and Auntie checking out their ability to see in the dark!!

Baby girl and Auntie checking out their ability to see in the dark!!

Admiring the stain glass windows of a beautiful church!

Admiring the stain glass windows of a beautiful church!

Their favorite pass time, posing for photo's!

Their favorite pass time, posing for photo’s!

I’ve linked this post up with Memory Box over at The Adoption Social

Memory Box

Valentines, how do you do yours?

Published February 14, 2014 by thefamilyof5

I wrote this piece especially for this weeks link up ‘The things we do’ over at The Adoption Social.

February 2011 was the girl first valentines day with us. None of them knew what valentines day was so I told them. Valentines day is a day for you to show the people you love just how much you love them I said. That evening I cooked them a lovely meal and decorated the table with hearts and candles. They loved it!

This is our 3rd Valentines day and I wont deny that I seem to have got it a little better each year.

Today I even impressed myself. First I decorated the table with hearts & candles.


I placed a card and a gift on each place setting.


Next I prepared all the heart shaped food!



As soon as they came home from school they very excitedly dressed in their newly purchased princess dresses and sat down for a banquet fit for a queen!



After their feast they drank (non alcoholic) grape wine, ate heart shaped cookies and settled down to watch a princess movie.




They all went to bed with smiles! (sadly the sound of the wind battering the house has kept them awake but hey, we cant win em all)

I fear I may be making it impossible for them to be impressed by valentines treats when they’re older, I imagine them saying to future partners ‘its lovely, but my mum did it so much better’! I’m secretly glad, I don’t want them to settle for second best, I want them to know that they’re worthy of so much more and that they deserve to be loved and cherished.

I Doubted Myself

Published August 25, 2013 by thefamilyof5

You know those moments when you doubt yourself, you wonder if actually it’s all just in your head. Are the issues the girls have just a figment of my imagination, a product of my overprotectiveness?? (yes, I made that word up).
Well today I had one of those moments. The weather had forced us to change our plans so we decided a trip to the cinema and lunch would be a better idea. Smurfs 2 was on, I remembered an adopter friend warning me about the storyline and how it may trigger some fears in ‘adopted children’ with a history of loss , but I also recalled another adopter telling me they’d been to see it and their child had loved it. ‘maybe it’s me just being over protective’ I thought, ‘it’ll promote resilliance, they’ll be fine, I can’t keep protecting them’ I told myself.

So we went.

I cried at several points in the film, well I fought back tears and lump in my throat I should say. It was a film with a strong storyline line about ‘loss’ ‘identity’ ‘belonging’ ‘being part of a family’.
It was also very funny, and we all laughed, a lot.

We left the cinema and seated ourselves in the neighbouring Mexican restaurant. I busied myself with menu’s and finding out what everyone was going to eat and drink and ordering our food. Whilst I was sorting out the food order I became aware that baby girl, who was sat beside me, was becoming increasingly hyper. Once I ordered the food I turned to baby girl and suggested she calmed down.
She wasn’t able to look at me, her muscles tense, her body flinching, she wasn’t really there.
I held her hand and asked her to look at me, I softly stroked her hand and asked her what was the matter, she was wriggly and fidgety and was still unable to look at me. I lifted her chin and looked in to her eyes, she looked sad and scared. I asked her again what was the matter. She cried. She cried a lot, she cuddled me and clung to me and cried some more.
Eventually I asked her again ‘what’s the matter?’
‘I don’t know’ she sobbed.
And she probably didnt.

I really could kick myself, I should have known better, I should have trusted my instincts. It was only a few weeks ago that I linked a downturn in the girls behaviour with a different TV channel. We’d change the channel on the TV in the playroom from Cbeebies, which is aimed at toddlers and pre school children, to the channel aimed at children a little older, Cbbc which amongst other things, does have its own ‘news’ feature, which is real life news presented in a easy to understand child friendly manor, but it’s still REAL news with war, death, accidents, fires etc. Their behaviour became increasingly worse, they were constantly bickering, impatient and irritated with each other. We reverted back to Cbeebies after a couple of weeks and the calm descended upon the playroom once more.

They don’t need to be reminded that the world around them is scary. For now they just need to feel safe.

I may sometimes protect my girls from the world around them, and I may sometimes make choices that seem odd, maybe even controlling, to others, but never again will I doubt myself.

My girls are not emotionally strong enough to cope with the real world and all its diversity. They don’t yet feel safe and secure, they’re not sure who they really are and where they came from, they don’t know why bad things happened to them in the past and I don’t think they always feel like they ‘belong’ anywhere.

They smile, they hide, they comply.
They rarely show their emotions because it’s just too much, they feel too vulnerable.
They still need me to protect them, to wrap them in cotton wool and tell them stories of fairies and princesses and happy ever afters. They don’t need to hear about death, destruction and loss. They’ve felt the real world before, and it was scary. They’ve felt emotions before, they were scary too.

When they feel safe and secure they’ll be ready to deal with their complex emotions, they’ll be ready face the world and all its diversitys, and I’ll be ready and waiting to help them.


This feels like a good time to tell you about some decisions we’re currently making/considering.
We received a letter from camhs, it was kind of a reveiw about their veiws on the last few meetings we’ve had with them. It became clear in this letter that they don’t really understand the girls and they don’t really understand us as a family and our needs. So we’ve had some discussions with the placing authority and have expressed our concerns about CAMHS and how we don’t really feel like the girls are benefitting from seeing them and how we feel that we’re no further along as a family than we were 18 months ago when we first started with CAMHS. So they’ve offered to fund some commissioned therapy and life story work for the girls with an alternative service/therapist. This is great news, this will be someone that will look deep in to the girls past and help them and us, make sense of it and help us to move forward as a family.

Perhaps then, they’ll be ready to watch Annie 🙂 or maybe I’m just being optimistic!

Watch this space………….

The ToucanBox

Published August 21, 2013 by thefamilyof5

A few months ago I saw an offer on Groupon for a ToucanBox Activity Set: 3 Months’ Subscription for £29.99.

I figured with the school holidays looming and the typical British weather, being typically wet, it seemed like a good idea.

So i ordered it, and then forgot about it.

A few weeks later the box arrived……………

Example of a ToucanBox

Example of a ToucanBox

A bright and colourful briefcase style box!

I placed it on our dining room table without comment. There was lots of looking, touching, poking and finally some asking. ‘Whats in the box mommy’, they said. ‘Your going to have to wait and see’ I replied. They actually loved not knowing, they tried guessing, they talked about it between themselves and asked me a lot.

Is it cake? asked baby girl

I think its not a new bike! Said Big girl

Maybe its a frog!? wondered middle girl

I simply replied with ‘one day in the holidays, we’ll open it, but until then, your just going to have to keep guessing’.

It wasn’t long before the rain arrived a couple of weeks later and the box was moved from the table. Excitement filled the air and I tortured them a little longer by slowly and dramatically opening the box before revealing its secrets.

Inside there was 4 more boxes and some other bits and bobs. I prompted them to choose a box each and open them.

Middle girls box contained everything needed to make 2 spiders and a web,

Baby girls box contained everything needed to make a glow worm, that actually glows.

Big girls box contained everything needed to make a bug observation jar complete with ventilated lid and magnifying glass.

The remaining box conveniently contained everything needed to make the 3 different stages of the butterfly transformation process.

The girls were eager to get on with their projects. True to its word, each activity had everything (except scissors and pencil) needed to complete it with really easy to understand instructions to follow.

They all thoroughly enjoyed their activities and were very proud of their final creations. They shared the final activity in the remaining box and each made a  butterfly to show its different stages of growth.

Big Girls Bug Jar If you look closely you can just about see Sofia the spider to the right :)

Big Girls Bug Jar
If you look closely you can just about see Sofia the spider to the right 🙂

They really enjoyed looking around the garden for a victim bug to torture observe in the bug jar. They set about with binoculars and magnifying glasses to find a beast for the jar. They quickly located and named, ‘Sofia’ the spider and promptly tried to get ‘her’ to sleep by singing Baa Baa Black Sheep to ‘her’.

The next box arrived today, Im going to make them wait a while again before we reveal the contents, although I wont deny that I’ve already had a quick peek and it looks super exciting. The next box has a ‘colour’ theme and if you hadn’t guessed the box I’ve blogged about was the ‘Bugs and Minibeasts’ themed box!

The boxes are ordinarily, in my opinion, quite expensive, but with this offer our 3 boxes  will have worked out to just £10 a box. Taking into consideration the whole experience of having a mysterious parcel arrive and then enjoying its contents, I’d say they are well worth the money and I will definitely be keeping my eyes open for more great offers from ToucanBox.

ToucanBox also have a great online blog with lots of free crafting idea’s, take a look here.

Disclaimer: no bugs were harmed, well aside from being held prisoner and wailed at for a few hours, Sofia was released with only the scars of her mental torture, back into our garden at the end of the day.

Friends & Friendship

Published June 23, 2013 by thefamilyof5

This weeks topic for #WASO (Weekly Adoption Shout Out) is friends.

Friends is always a cause for concern for any parent, for me, the worries that keep me awake in the small hours are different for each of my daughters.

Big girl has always found friendships difficult, partly due to her Autism and partly due to her past. Big girl lacks the skills to make and keep friends. Her need for control makes sharing difficult and her communication issues make even conversations difficult. Big girl and I recently started an Adaptive Skills course. The course is aimed at teaching her new/better ways to make friends. We’re 3 weeks in to a 6 week course and so far we’ve covered ‘Greetings’ ‘Conversations’ and ‘Friendships & Compliments’. One of the practical exercises in our last class was for each of the 8 children on the course to pair up with another child and share what they do that makes them a good friend, and what they could do better. Big girl paired up with a boy and after her initial shyness, giggling and noise making I prompted her to begin the conversation. ‘What makes you a good friend’ I asked. ‘Im good at sharing, I listen and I play the things my friends want to play’ she replied, ‘and what do you think you could do better?’ I prompted. ‘erm…………….nothing’. The little boys conversation went pretty much the same way. At the end of the session the little boys mother and I had a brief chat. ‘They already think they’re great at being friends so I cant see how this course is going to help them’ she remarked, ‘I agree’ I replied. Big girl doesn’t have any friends, she’s never been invited to a party, she’s never had a play date and often spends break times by herself. Yet if you ask her, she’ll tell you she has lots of friends, but she’ll lie awake at night knowing she hasn’t. So I share this mothers concerns, how will this course help them, if they ‘think’ they’re already doing all the things they’re being taught.

During reception class and the early part of Year 1 Middle girl used to be so popular, she was always greeted on the play ground each morning with a chorus of ‘good mornings’ from a huge array of children, mostly girls. She’s been on play dates and used to be inundated with party invites. Lately however things have changed, now nearing the end of year 2 she no longer appears to be so ‘noticed’ on the playground, the girls that used to call her name now walk on by, these days, she walks across the playground shouting the odd ‘good morning’ to a small handful of boys, who barely acknowledge her. So what changed!? Her peer group grew up. The girls she played princesses with on the playground now want to chat, and talk about the latest pop group or share some dance moves. Middle girl has a speech and language issue which can make conversations difficult, her conversation doesn’t flow like that of her peers, its fragmented and often doesn’t make sense. Her desperation to please and fit in is just an added pressure to make ‘finding the words’ more difficult. So these days she plays mostly with the boys, she cant tell you there names, or what they play just that she plays with them. She hasn’t had a party invite for over a year now and the play dates dried up in year 1.

Baby girl has great social skills, she can be kind, she can listen and she can hold a great conversation. However the chaos inside her, craves more chaos which draws her towards the more difficult children. She’s drawn to the children that lead her in the wrong direction, the children that fulfill her need for chaos yet terrify her at the same time. Baby girl isn’t yet ready for play dates I feel, which is good because she’s not been invited to any, and the party invitations have dwindled. Its no surprise though, and its perfectly understandable, I’m not sure I’d encourage my child to play with a girl that was so disruptive in class and ‘known’  to be in so much trouble all the time. I know the other side to her though, I know inside she is a kind and gentle, frightened little girl that so desperately wants to find her place in the world around her. She’s lost, torn and confused by the love that surrounds her and the chaos within her. She’s not ready to lead just yet, so for now she’s being led.

Friendship According to Wiki

In childhood, friendships are often based on the sharing of toys, and the enjoyment received from performing activities together. These friendships are maintained through affection, sharing, and creative playtime. While sharing is difficult for children at this age, they are more likely to share with someone they consider to be a friend (Newman & Newman, 2012). As children mature, they become less individualized and more aware of others. They begin to see their friends’ points of view, and enjoy playing in groups. They also experience peer rejection as they move through the middle childhood years. Establishing good friendships at a young age helps a child to be better acclimated in society later on in their life (Newman & Newman, 2012).

Its hardly surprising my girls struggle, they’re busy putting all their emotional and physical energy into keeping themselves safe in school, they don’t have anything left for ‘Friendship’.

Hot Off The Press – The Adoption Social

Published June 14, 2013 by thefamilyof5

There a brand new site in town, it went live today, its the new home for the Weekly Adoption Shout Out and so much more! Its THE place to be! Its called The Adoption Social, bookmark it, subscribe to it and read it, its for all you guys!

Go take a peek, maybe stay a while a have a wander around, maybe write something yourself or link up your own blog, maybe you’ll even make some new friends, like I have.


That’s their kettle finished boiling, they’re waiting for you! hurry!

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