Survival of the fittest 

Ok the holidays are coming to end and I’m ready to scream hurrah, I honestly don’t know what happens to me over the summer. It truly feels like I’m at a survival camp just trying my hardest to get through each day.

Don’t get me wrong I love my children but keeping them occupied for seven weeks is insane. It’s just to long, way to expensive and certainly not good for my sanity. 

The issue I have as a special needs parent is that my children love and need routines the slightest change can bring down an avalanche of anxiety and behaviours. The thing is I don’t want to be doing the same things everyday.

Take my eldest son for example he would happily wake up every morning have a shower, brush his teeth, eat breakfast then sit and watch the chart show countdown. He would sit there from 20 to number 1 over and over again. Only getting annoyed when a song he doesn’t like comes on. Don’t get me wrong I love music but my goodness how many bieber songs are in the top 20, it’s crazy. Also how dare there be adverts I mean what.. 

Routines and more routines. 

I don’t actually mind some routines especially the one where the kids wake up and the school bus arrives and I wave bye bye.

No all joking aside summer has been hard, yes having a new little one has left me craving for sleep and dreaming of a hot cup of tea but in all honesty it’s been rather awesome. 

We have had some lovely time away, Mablethorpe and those beautiful seals. Special kids in the UK camp and getting to spend time with friends old and new. 

Memories made and laughter created but hands up right now this mom is so ready for the start of school. 


I am actually dreaming of my alarm clock wake up call and school uniforms. I think my boy feels the same as he keeps bringing me his school bag and his answer to my ” are you fed up of mommy ” question was met with a firm yes. I would be offended but I completely understand him. I mean I’m actually fed up of myself. “No more music” “but that down” “do not lick the dog” I’m so tired of my own voice. 

So hallelujah the end is in sight the days are in single numbers and the uniform is ready to be stamped. Life is looking brighter by the day. 

And for those who think I’ve disappeared this summer I do apologise. 

It has genuinely been a case of survival of the fittest and in my family the kids won hands down. 

Christmas shopping and kids who have the nerve to grow up.

Christmas shopping, its one of those things that you either love or hate.

It’s something you look forward to with either excited anticipation or pure horror.

Personally I switch between both feelings.

I actually love buying gifts but I hate the crowds of people that seem to appear from anywhere and  everywhere.

Last year I actually got bruises from one shopping trip.

My Christmas shopping experiences have really changed over the years.

Ten years ago I could pretty much guarantee the girls would love everything I chose for them.

Now as they have got older its seriously like walking a tightrope and I promise i have fallen off many times.

One of the things I used to really love to do was shopping for the christmas outfits.

Dressing the girls up in pretty sparkly outfits brought new for this special day.

I think if I tried to dress my girls this year there may be war.

Even though i try to email my girls photos of nice dresses or outfits I get a reply that normally says “REALLY” or the lest polite “DREAM ON”.

Seems where my older two are concerned I am best handing over the cash as they hit town with their friends or just pressing checkout on the baskets they send me via email links.

Seriously why do our children have to grow up, how inconsiderate of them.

Anyway thank goodness for my youngest who is still willing to humour me and sit beside me as we surf the web for an Christmas outfit.

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30 minutes and one Christmas outfit later I am a happy mommy again thank you Esprit

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ideas are my own

 

 

Fostering is a career.

I’m excited to share with you the news that I am now blogging over at the Fostering with Progress blog where for the next 6 months I will be writing a number of articles on a variety of foster care subjects.

As many of you know I have been fostering now for over five years and I am extremely passionate about what I do.

Here is my first post which I am also sharing here; as I think it is interesting for all not just foster care professionals.

 

One of the most common misconception’s regarding foster caring is that it’s just like raising your own children. A agonizing stereotype I know, yet this limited perspective of what is really involved, also leaves many believing that you need to have raised your own children to be a foster carer which actually is not the case. 

Quickly I shall dispel other common pigeonholed viewpoints, yes; you can be a parent already, no you don’t need to previously have had a child of your own. Your marital status, sexuality, religious or cultural background will also not prevent you from fostering.

Fostering is a profession, it involves a skill set that extends well beyond the typical parenting prowess, yet the only real qualification you need to have is the desire to support and guide children. There are various types of fostering; including Emergency, Short- term, Long-term, leaving care, short break, parent and baby, and specialist care, yet all share an identical factor, the placement of children, whom through no fault of there own have been separated from their birth family and are often vulnerable, damaged and hurt. 

In the best cases you are dealing with bereavement, while the worst circumstances can involve abuse and, or neglect, at first this seems a rather bizarre assertion, the cold reality however, is a child who has suffered neglect / abuse, or even both, often suffer with more psychological stresses and fears.   

Unlike most caring professions, fostering gives a new meaning to the term full-time, it’s far cry from shift based employment, and you don’t get to go home and leave it all behind. Fostering isn’t easy and to be truthful it shouldn’t be, it’s a profession, which holds the wellbeing of a child in its hands. Yet as a foster carer you can lead a fulfilled career whilst making a difference in the life of a child, plus you can achieve personal development and qualifications that are suited across the care sector. Though each company is different, my agency; Progress Care; certainly encourages us to extend our skill set and education.

While money should never be the reason you become a foster carer, an income is necessary for the majority to be able to foster, the provision of a living wage enables us carers to flourish in a role that can be exhausting and challenging and yet personally for me, has been so rewarding.

You get to make a difference in the life of a child, complete job satisfaction. 

 

 

Scotty’s Little Soldiers

After losing Livvy holidays were never the same, every experience was entwined with a little sadness.

Its hard and there is no two ways about it. It’s one of the ‘first’s’ that really hit hard.

So when I came across the charity Scotty’s Little Soldiers I so wanted to share what they did.

Scotty’s Little Soldiers is dedicated to supporting the children of men and women killed while serving in the British Armed Forces. The charity provides Christmas and birthday gifts, treats, trips and activities for the families of the fallen as well as enabling them to use the charity holiday lodges.

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 How incredible is this!

The men and woman who protect our freedom often do so by paying the ultimate price. But its not just the soldiers that pay this price the families that left behind suffer too.

The military charity for bereaved children was set up by army widow Nikki Scott after her husband Corporal Lee Scott was killed in Afghanistan in 2009 and came about as a result of Nikki seeing her children laugh for the first time following Lee’s death whilst on holiday in Turkey.

Nikki Scott, Founder of Scotty’s Little Soldiers, said:

“Whilst life following the death of a spouse or partner will always be painful, the first year and the first family holiday can be particularly difficult, especially when facing the long summer holidays as a single parent.

“That’s why we’ve released our advice to help and support parents facing this difficult time. Whilst it’s seldom spoken about, going on holiday whilst still grieving is a reality for many across the UK and so we want to offer our advice and support wherever necessary.”

Scotty’s help children to smile again after losing a mum or dad, and helps the parent left behind to cope with facing life as a single parent. 

As the charity’s children look ahead to six weeks of summer holidays this year, we wanted to share founder Nikki’s top ten tips for parents facing the school break alone.

1.     Long road journeys can be a nightmare!  I invested in some car DVD players and they worked a treat.   If we are going on a long special journey I normally surprise them with a new DVD when they get in the car.  J  I would also recommend breaking up long car journeys with roadside stops at services or cafes to give you and your kids a break.

2.     Special things from home.  At the Scotty lodges we try to provide everything families would need and fill them with toys and goodies so the families can pack as light as possible but I would also suggest taking that extra favourite toy or teddy from home.  Maybe even taking a photo of your loved one may help.  

3.     Take a family member or friend with you.  It is stressful with little ones on your own especially that first holiday.  When I went away after Lee had been killed I went with family and my mum and it was a massive help.   It just gives you some support and helps take some of the stress away, plus my little ones loved playing with their cousins.  At Scotty’s we allow the families to take other family members or close friends with them on the breaks we offer as a way of support.

4.     Be organised!  I found the airport really stressful! Going through check in especially.  Folding a buggy up whilst keeping my eye on Kai, whilst carrying bags and Brooke so they could scan the buggy etc was tough so my best tip would be to try to be as organised a possible.  

5.     Plan your activities.   Do your research before you go.  Check out what facilities there are around you so you can plan what to do and where to go. 

6.     Smile!  As painful as my first holiday was especially because you are constantly imaging “if Lee was here” and feeling guilty for having some time away, you have to remember to smile. I kept telling myself “Lee would want us to have some fun, it’s ok to have some fun.”   I soon found out if you relax the kids relax!

7.    Keep busy – I found keeping busy and just spending time playing with my little ones really helped.  If you sit by the pool to long, you start to think to much and start noticing all the families around you reminding you what you have lost.   I found it was good to keep busy and enjoy spending some quality time with the kids.

 8.   Write Lists – I am a big fan of lists!  Writing a list for packing and travelling times really helped me as when I first lost Lee my mind was all over the place and I found it hard to focus so lists defiantly helped me to feel in control.

 

9.    Check in Early – If you are off on a break aboard I’d recommend looking into checking in online to save queuing with the little ones and remember buggies can be taken all the way up to the gate where you board the plane.

 

10.  Looking into the Kids Clubs – My kids love the kids clubs on the Haven sites where our Scotty Lodges are.  It can give children the chance to mix with other children and forget about all the sadness they may have been experiencing at home for a short time.  Sometimes being away from mummy may help them to open up and relax so it may be an idea to quietly let the guys at the kids club know about your recent loss in case the little ones bring it up to someone else.

 

“I guess it’s important to remember that everyone is different and has different ways of coping but these are a few of my personal top tips on how I make the holidays for me and my kiddies that little bit easier,” said Nikki Scott.

Personally I think this charity is amazing.

When Olivia died we had to teach our girls that it was ok to be happy.

That laughing and feeling joy only honours the ones we have lost.

 Scotty’s Little Soldiers invites everyone who is passionate about their cause and wants to support their work to get in touch via their website at www.scottyslittlesoldiers.co.uk or by calling them on 01553 763 000.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Turning the page

I’m not quite sure I can find the words to describe my feelings from this last Saturday.

It’s quite ironic really as it was my words which brought me to such a magical moment.

You see a few months ago I came across an email asking for pieces to be submitted into a writing competition called Turning the Page.

The writing was to be a piece sharing your positive experiences of disability.

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Now I love to write as you already know and I’m a passionate advocate for disability awareness so this seemed a perfect opportunity to do both.

 

Yet entering my words into a competition was a little scary. Asking others to judge my heart.

Yet with Livvy as my subject matter the words came freely.

 

The competition was being run by Irwin Mitchell in conjunction and support of the charity KIDS a fantastic organisation which works with disabled children, young people and their families.

 

The idea was to raise awareness about disability from the ones who live with it.

 

Well I’m glad I found the courage to submit my piece as I was awarded joint winner in the 18+ category.

 

How amazing was that and on Saturday my family and I got to attend a special event at The Globe Theatre in London.

The whole event was truly wonderful. The welcome was warm, the food divine and the venue beautiful.

The Globe theatre is a an incredible place to visit. You feel such awe as you stand inside.

It fact awe was really the emotion of the day as I was truly spoiled. Besides my wonderful prize of a Kindle which I had already received. I was presented with a lovely framed copy of my writing and also an original drawing from the artist Louise Marshall.

TTP Presentation

 

This talented lady had taken the winners writings and created beautiful illustrations in interpretation of the words. I was shocked at how amazing the artwork was and I certainly loved mine.

Add to this a beautiful bouquet of flowers I was one happy lady.

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It was wonderful to listen to staff from Irwin Mitchell and KIDS and to hear their desire to raise awareness for disability. Their passion was evident.

I had a wonderful time and the highlight was definitely seeing my work published. Holding a copy of a book which had my heart inside was overwhelming. Knowing that I got to share my beautiful daughter with people meant more than words could describe.

TTP Brodie & I

The book is a compilation of the entries. It is being sold to raise funds for KIDS and can be purchased right now from the website.

I hope they sell many copies of Turning the Page not just because the funds are so needed. But because I believe that the writings in the book are truly insightful. A little visit into the world of disability.

I am still on cloud nine after such an amazing day. I am so grateful for all the staff that worked so hard to make the day so wonderful an would like to give a special shout out to Michelle from Irwin Mitchell who in the words of my youngest “is a lovely lady”.

Turning the Page is the title of the book and to be honest this whole experience has been a page turner for me. It has really given a much needed boost of confidence.

It also had given my heart a much needed lift.

I got to share my girlie with others.

Her memory lives on.

 

To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.

Thomas Campbell

 

Thank you Irwin Mitchell and KIDS for a fantastic day.

Thank you Livvy for being my inspiration.

 

Spreading their wings.

I’m throwing in the towel.

Where school holidays and the older two teenagers are concerned.

I seriously give up.

Nothing ever pleases them.

Nothing is right.

One doesn’t want to go out.

One doesn’t want to do childish things.

So I’m giving up trying to find things that make all happy.

The older teens can just bog off and that’s me being polite.

My younger two have the right to do things they enjoy and what the older two used to enjoy before they grew up into annoying pains.

So no more.

We are going to have fun without them.

Their choice not mine.

It’s not easy letting go but its time.

They need to spread their wings and I need to allow the younger two to be young.

I knew this time would come.

Just wish I was ready for it.

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My baby girl

I am not a burden

I sat watching the Kerry Katona documentary last night about her journey through life and her bipolar disorder.

I cannot put into words how much it affected me. It wasn’t the bipolar disorder that tore at my heart even though my heart aches for those that suffer with this condition.

No what got me was her feelings regarding her childhood.

Unwanted

Rejected

A burden.

These feelings have left her with a great desire to love and to feel loved.

That is simply my heart.

Thankfully I didn’t have a childhood like Kerry’s but due to divorce and miscommunication and a few other things I never felt wanted.

I never felt good enough.

Now as a 37 year old woman I am still coming to terms with this.

I have craved affection all my life and sometimes made grave mistakes when searching for it in the wrong places. I was erratic as a teenager swinging from the possessive girlfriend to the free spirited couldn’t give a damn wild child. I self medicated with alcohol and drugs just to feel the freedom of not worrying or caring.

It seemed as if i wanted to be wild when all i really wanted was to find home. Trying too hard to be what I believed others wanted me to be.

Still

I am one of the lucky ones,

I got to change my story.

I fell in love with a man who loved me right back crazy bits and all. Even when I pushed away he held on. But it has still taken many years and many late open hearted conversations to get to a place where I can but things in perspective.

I was loved,

Both my parents cared for me but the separation of them led to miscommunication that thankfully my adult years have repaired. The father I never felt good enough for is now my best friend. He is the best Grandad my kids could every ask for and I am so very grateful that I get to call him Dad,

But it is amazing how those emotions we feel as children can and do effect the rest of our life.

I drive my children mad, from the moment they were born they knew they were my everything and I simply hug them to death.

I want for them to never feel unloved or a burden.

I want them to go out confidently in this world knowing that I am behind them all the time.

I am in their corner

I am their fan base.

They are my heart.

 

Now I also want this for myself to.

I want to feel confident when making new friends.

To believe that I am worthy of love.

Childhood is one of the shortest periods in your life but it is one or maybe the most important when dealing with emotional growth.

I believe every child needs to know they are loved.

Maybe this is why I am a foster carer I don’t know.

What I do know is that everyday is an opportunity to let those dearest to you know how very special they are.

I want to break the stereotype of the stiff Brit and become an open and affectionate country.

So do me a favour guys,

If you are parent make sure you children know that they are loved. Praise them more than you scold them.

If you are in a relationship tell you partner how much you love them. Tell them what you find special about them.

Call your parents and remind them how awesome they are.

Ask your work colleague if there is anything you can do to help them.

Smile at a stranger.

Thank the waitress for your order.

Lets make this world one of love, it may sound crazy but I honestly believe a hug can save a life.

So lets get saving lives.

A hug revolution.

hugskisses

 

* I just want to add that I don’t for one second believe a hug could cure Bipolar this isn’t what I’m writing about. If you feel that you are suffering with this illness please seek help and don’t suffer in silence. The charity MIND is a fantastic organisation and are always willing to help.