Abba, sun and horses #litteloves

I’m so behind this week in writing this post, but the bonus is that I can add my Friday night to the mix!

The summer finally arrived this week, so it was  week of outdoors fun and end of term treats.  I have had two very hot, tired and grumpy children most evenings this week, the heat was too much and bedtimes became a battle.  We’ve ended up going out for late walks to cool off which have helped and I think we’ve acclimatised now!

READ

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 I’ve started Anna McPartlin’s Somewhere Inside of Happy and am enjoying the strong female characters in the novel, I’m willing for a happy ending but I don’t think it can happen, I might need some tissues ready.

Little Miss and I have been reading Bad Girls by Jacqueline Wilson. We’re new to Wilson although I’m aware of her themes and content.  I can either shy away from such themes or read and answer Little Miss’ questions as they arise.  In practical terms we’re going for the latter as I cannot possibly read all Little Miss’ choices in advance to vet them but I also believe that honesty and talking will help us with those difficult topics.

WATCHED

On Saturday night Mr S was watching the film Everest whilst I flitted in and out doing a few jobs, the more I saw the more interested I got and ended watching it more carefully. Although a sad and true story the filmography was stunning and I imagine it would have been quite spectacular on the big cinema screen.

I also watched Little Man have his first horse ride. We had gone to the stables so Little Miss could have a lesson, however as its in the grounds of a lovely holiday park they offer little 10 minute rides, groom ponies etc.. to the guests.  Whilst Little Miss was riding I asked him if he wanted to have a go and he was quite adamant that he didn’t, however he cautiously approached the horses and started petting them and started to relax, when I asked him again he agreed to a ride if I walked with him.  Needless to say he loved the ride and was disappointed his horse don’t go faster. I have one of my favourite ever photos of him on the horse, his smile is beaming.

MADE

We started to make our bucket list for the summer holidays when we broke up, there’s still a little work to do on it it its looking good.  We even managed to tick one event off last night!

HEARD

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Last night we went to a local Young Farmers event to hear an Abba tribute band.  I’m not ashamed to say that I love Abba and the band were brilliant, it was such a warm, friendly atmosphere and so much fun I had a bit of a hoarse voice from singing and loved dancing.  It was an outdoor event and the night was perfect, bright sunshine and warm. There was also a fantastic local support band who played a great mix, Coldplay, George Ezra, Divine Comedy, Bruno Mars, Muse, James so the whole night was full of excellent music. One of the advantages of a YF event is that the caterers are local farmers so the food was delicious and locally sourced.

WORE

Shorts, t-shirts, swimsuits, sun cream, sun hats, beach dresses, sunglasses, flip flops.  Yep summer is here and I’m going to rock my wardrobe.

AND LASTLY

So next week it’s the first full week of the holidays, we only had two days this week.  It’s swimming week next week, we have to be in the neighbouring town for 9am each morning for a lesson, so no holiday lie ins quite yet.  It’s also a big week in town, the pirates are invading and a major film is being filmed here so there may be a little celeb spotting to be done, keep an eye on my Twitter account for updates!

I’m now off to read and comment on last week’s #littleloves, apologies for the delay but my evenings were taken up with long bedtimes.  I’m linking up with Morgana at http://coffeeworksleeprepeat.com and her lovely contributors for this week’s #litteloves.

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YA books, Wimbledon and Back Pain #littleloves

Well the countdown to the end of term is definitely dragging now, lots of schools seem to have broken up today, but we’re still at school until next Wednesday.  It’s been a quieter week as some clubs have already stopped and the most excruciating back pain stopped my normal frenetic pace for a few days.  A ‘quieter’ week still has included a Brownie adventure day on Saturday, two trips to the beach, a class assembly and school music concert (that’s 3 in the last month) gymnastics class, a training day in the county town for work, shopping trip to ‘big’ town for all the little things I need for the summer (shopping with my two is too stressful) and a busy time at work, if this was quiet can you imagine what my normal week looks like?

READ

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At the weekend, I picked up the latest half price paperback in WHSmith.  This week’s book was We were Liars by E.Lockheart and although I didn’t realise it at the time it’s a Young Adult read.  Don’t let this put you off, it was brilliant and one of the best books I’ve read in a while. It’s the story of four teenagers on their annual summer holiday, there’s a great twist in it and although I had my suspicions I was so keen to know how it had happened it didn’t distract.

As a parent and teacher, I have also read loads of school reports this week.  I have to check the department’s reports at work for content, spelling and grammar and then I have read my own children’s reports brought home this week. I was impressed by my children’s reports, they were really personal and thoughtful and I was delighted how well the children have done at school this year.  My department have also written some stunning reports, I felt quite emotional reading them, I’m so proud of our students.

WATCHED

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I’ve not been able to watch lots of the tennis but ensured I was in front of the television for the final.  I was so relaxed watching Murray win Wimbledon, the nerves and butterflies I often have disappeared as he seemed so in control of the match from the start.  It made it so much more enjoyable!

I also watched Little Man’s class assembly on dinosaurs, it was brilliant and the children were amazing, they had so many words of rhymes, prose and songs to memorise but performed faultlessly.  Little Miss was also really impressive in her music concert playing the ukulele, she has the confidence and poise to entertain and certainly makes sure all notice her enthusiasm!

MADE

I made a mushroom risotto this week which was delicious, it was  an adaption (OK perhaps a mash up) of various recipes I’ve used in the past to use up some of the ingredients in the fridge and a little bit of jiggling with ingredients I didn’t have although Phildelphia was a great alternative to Parmesan. Amazingly it all worked really well and was one of the tastiest risottos I’ve made.

WORE

A bit of a tenuous link here as its about wearing those sticky disposable heat pads.  I have no idea what I did to my back but I woke up in the early hours of Sat morning in excruciating pain from the upper / mid back.  It was so awful, by 8am I went to our local hospital as I couldn’t cope with the pain, every few minutes I was doubled over in agony, crying and screaming it was the worst pain I have ever experienced.  I got pain relief at the hospital and the diagnosis was that I had probably torn or twisted a back muscle some time before.  As a consequence I have worn lots of the heated muscle pads to try and relieve the pain, alongside prescribed pain relief medication and alternative remedies. I’m not sure how effective the disposable heat pads were but I have now bought a hot water bottle infused with some essential oils to do the same job as the heat pads, should be cheaper in the long run. I hardly slept at the weekend and Monday was really tough at work but as the week has progressed the pain has dramatically reduced.

HEARD

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What a week in politics, it’s unbelievable what has happened since the referendum.  I listened to Cameron’s leaving speech live on the radio and was surprised by the things achieved under his premiership.  Interestingly he mentioned the rise in children moving from care to adoption and it is true that when he became PM both our children were in care, Little Miss had been so for more than two years and both children were adopted by us during his tenure.  I think work had already begun before his government but it has continued to develop a lot of adoption friendly policies, PPG, ASF, first choice guarantees for school places so I do have something positive to take from his premiership.  I also listened to Theresa May’s first speech, I think she could make a very interesting PM.

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My quote of the week was from Little Miss, I had written my  Light box to reflect the changing of the guard and we were talking about Theresa May being a woman, she innocently asked so do boys and girls take it in turns to be PM? If only.  She was genuinely puzzled that May was only the second female PM.

AND LASTLY

I am so looking forward to Wednesday, oh the pleasure of not doing the school run and no more busy mornings, from Thursday its just planning our day on mood and weather.  Last year we made a bucket list for the summer holidays which was brilliant and it’s my intention to do this as our first holiday job.

I’m linking up with Morgana and her lovely contributors for this week’s Litle Loves http://coffeeworksleeprepeat.com

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Shop Girl, Girl Power and Ghostbusters #littleloves

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The countdown to the end of the term seems real this week, we’ve had viewing classes and final sessions of some of our clubs and the week has been full of special events and trips.  Shame the weather didn’t play ball, the Beavers beach party wasn’t quite the same on a cold, grey evening whilst the girls at Brownies thought the heavy fog just made the geo -caching they were doing in the local country park more atmospheric!  At home, its been a noisy and dusty week, the bathroom renovation is going well and now the floor has been renewed it all should be finished in the next few days. I’ve needed to spend quite a lot of my time at home this week to accommodate the builders, so I feel I have had a little more time to myself which has been nice and some of how I’ve spent my time has made it into Little Loves.

READ

I have read and finished Mary Portas’ autobiography Shop Girl.  Its an easy read with  very short chapters but is really addictive.  The book perfectly evokes the period she was growing up in with lots of detail on the 70s music and fashions, but the book is so much more than a social commentary.  The effect of her mother’s death is devastating on the family and in some ways the narrative is more of a tribute and love letter to her Mum and the quiet ways in which she held the family together than the author’s life, its a heart-breaking theme.  On a  similar theme, Caitlin Moran produced another cracking column about love this week and the excerpt above (Times magazine, 2.7.16)reflects how I say I love you to my children too, minus the cat texts!

WATCHED

This video is doing the rounds on social media and is a brilliant reworking of the Spice girls Wannabe from the UN project The Global Goals.  #whatireallyreallywant

Girl power is alive and strong!

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On Saturday I sat down with the children to watch the Ghostbusters film.  They have seen the new trailer and as there are a few similarities I thought we’d watch the original.  I remember watching this film at the cinema when I was a little girl and getting so scared in places, so I sat with the children reassuring them etc.. I recall jumping out of my seat at the cinema at the start with the old lady in the library, but there was nothing from them and I did wonder how I had been so scared, I’m blaming the darkness and big screen.  I’m not sure it’s a film which has survived the passing of time, it’s funny in places but didn’t have the wow factor for the children.

MADE

There’s very little in this category this week, no crafting with the children as we had parties at the weekend and with the builders in and out of the kitchen, meals have been simple and quick.  I have made a few packed lunches for trips and treats and do try to make these a bit special to add to the occasion.

WORE

Again nothing of note here, at the moment it’s finding an outfit which can serve all four seasons in the one day.

LISTENED

So I’m late to the party but I discovered Spotify this week and love it.  I’m on a free premium trial but think I’ll sign up for it at the end of the month. I can’t believe the tunes I’ve found.  I’ve started creating a few playlists and was delighted that it was so easy to find a rare French song which reminds me of my year abroad.  This of course made me even more curious on what I could find and I have not defeated Spotify yet with my music choices.  My music has gone in so many directions this week.

AND FINALLY

Next week is the final full week for the children and it’s nice that things are slowing down.  We have been doing some amazing things recently but it’s time to relax, play on the beach and simply enjoy each day without a schedule to follow.

I’m linking up with Morgana and her lovely contributors for this week’s Litle Loves http://coffeeworksleeprepeat.com

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An adoption story

This morning I’ve been doing some tidying up and came across my diary from 2010, the year in which the children came to live with us.  Unlike most of my full diaries this stops suddenly on the day we started introductions, which whilst a shame does illustrate how crazy life became with two little children.  I thought I would share the story of how we went from prospective adopters to parents in less than a year.

In mid 2009, we attended a 4 day intensive course for prospective adopters, this was to prepare us for adoption and the issues we might face.  It was factual and prepared participants for the realities of adoption but made us even more determined that we could offer a safe and loving home to children.  This course was followed by a home study where every aspect of your life, relationship, family, work, hobbies etc.. was discussed.  The home study is hard, as every aspect of your life is analysed and checked.  Whilst we were expecting safe guarding checks it also included proving income, home and life insurances, risk assessments and safety recommendations for your home, life plans and child care, as well as exploring in depth your health, emotional wellbeing, relationship as a couple and with family and friends.  Thankfully we completed it within 8 months and were approved by a panel from the LA as prospective adopters for siblings up to 6 years old.  At this point, our life really went on hold as we were finally waiting for our children.  Whilst there is a national register, as our local authority had taken us through assessment and approval, the practice is that you are on their books exclusively for six months. I think of all the years in which we had tried to start a family this was one of the worst periods, we were waiting with no idea of what would happen and when.  We were as proactive as we could be, clearing our spare rooms ready for children’s bedrooms and I tentatively began to look at local toddler clubs, schools, equipment etc.. But the reality was that there was nothing we could do. It was getting so frustrating that we phoned our social worker and asked if we could at least book a last minute holiday to give us a focus, we were given permission to do this as we were told it was highly unlikely that there would be any placements in the coming months.  Needless to say these were famous last words, on what should have been the first day of our cruise to the Norweigen Fjords we met our children for the first time.

Our wait finally ended on an ordinary Wednesday afternoon when after leaving a few messages our social worker finally reached us on the phone. We were expecting a catch up call so had no idea of the surprise she was going to spring on us.  There had been developments in a case the department were working on and a brother and sister were able to be placed for adoption and she would like to talk to us about the children.  The week which followed until her visit was the longest of my life and my emotions really were all over the place as we waited for her visit in which she honestly presented all she knew about the children and their history.  Events quickly snowballed from here with lots and lots of meetings with social workers, a paediatrician, psychologist, foster careers and we completed all the detailed paperwork to allow us to go to panel the next month to be matched as the children’s parents.  Where as I had been quite shy and reserved in the approval panel, I was so different in this forum, I felt so passionately that these were our children and argued so strongly and determined.  We were officially matched and then the madness started, we had 7 days in which to serve notice at work, decorate the children’s bedrooms, buy all we needed and get ready for introductions.  In the most intense period of my life I will always remember the kindness and generosity of people who helped us in so many ways, the rooms got painted and decorated, furniture was ordered and delivered, curtains, black out blinds and bedding arrived, our pond disappeared, carpets were fitted, everybody wanted to help in whatever way they could and by the day of introductions we were ready to welcome our little ones.

Introductions are an incredibly stressful time, you are under scrutiny at all times. The first time we met the children, there were foster carers and social workers watching everyone’s reaction. It was a short visit and I remember little about our first visit, we went clutching a doll for Little Miss and a puppy toy for Little Man which had featured in the introduction resources that had been read to them, a scrap book all about us and a talking book with our photos.  Mr S was more confident and enthusiastic, I was really conscious of not forcing ourselves onto the children and letting them come to us more gently, we played and sang rhymes and read books and after a short while left, it was all so strange it felt quite unreal.  Over the next nine days our visits continued, at first the visits were at the at the carer’s home accompanied by the foster carer, they progressed to us taking the children out alone to the foster carer bringing the children to our house and then leaving them at our house for a day.

There were progress meetings and in introductions we also met the children’s birth mother.  This meeting was organised very carefully by social services at a neutral venue, we were briefed before hand on what we were allowed to say and how the meeting may develop.  It was an incredibly emotional meeting, social services directed a polite conversation and we had a photo taken together so that in the future the children can see us together to know that we all agreed on the adoption.  The smiles in that photo do not reflect the raw emotion in that meeting.  At the end me and the children’s birth mum both hugged each other tightly and I promised her that I would always love and care for the children, we were both sobbing our hearts out and it was one of the most intense and emotional moments of my life.  I know some adopters choose not to meet the birth family, it was very painful but I am pleased I did, I have a lot of respect for the birth mum’s decision to allow the children to be adopted and I hope that she saw how much we would love and care for the children.  She was also always very supportive of the adoption process and did things that helped speed up the legal process, she did not make any objections.  She even signed her permission to allow the children to use our name immediately on all legal documents, eg NHS, child benefit etc.. which made things easier.

Nine days after the initial introduction the children finally came to live with us.  However even then it was not the end of the process as social workers’ visits and reviews continued to the final adoption order six months later.  It had taken eight long years but we finally had our perfect little Sparkles family.

Below are the original diary pages of this time in our life, sadly my fancy coloured pens have faded over the years but it is still legible evidence of our grand adventure.

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Word in a Month June : Referendum

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Photo from http://www.jmbullion.com

There was no hesitation in choosing a word for June, it is the word which has dominated most conversations, referendum.  I hoped that the referendum would allow fair, balanced debate of our position in Europe and with a remain vote secured, resolve the issue which has overshadowed party politics for years. I can’t believe how wrong I was on all counts.  Brexit created the fear and anxiety among voters to encourage a ‘victory’. The result has left the continent in shock and led to a seismic shock in our political culture. It is the most significant event in British politics in my lifetime and I feel so sad and hollow about the result.  Perhaps in the future we’ll look back on this period as the changing point of British politics and it will be seen slightly differently as it is now.  It’s just hard to imagine a positive outcome from such a shocking result.

June 2016

There are some months which are beyond crazy, I present June 2016 and the reasons I would love to snuggle up in bed for the weekend (needless to say it’s not possible). This month I have spent

1. The first three days of the month at Butlins on a fabulous family break

2. Two days at Longleat, one of my favourite places for a family day out and one night in a lovely hotel.

3. A school trip to Paultons Park, I am queen of days out this month!

4. Fourteen days without our main bathroom and counting … Gutting the bathroom led to the discovery of a dangerously rotten floor and joists which led to the project being paused for essential emergency building works completed yesterday.

5. Five parties this month, including one for Queenie.

6. Two primary school music concerts.

7. One sports day amazingly completed on a rare dry afternoon (but little sunshine)

8. One interview and subsequent promotion at work, I now have an impressive title and have negotiated to remain part time.

9. One referendum and one sleepless night to discover the result (not a good idea on a school night!)

Among all this we have been to school and work and done our normal ballet, brownies, beavers, football and cricket clubs too.  It’s been fun but exhausting and I’m looking forward to the summer holidays and being able to have a more relaxed schedule.

 

 

 

Vogue, Sports day and Mummy style #littleloves

I think for the first time ever, I didn’t write a Little Loves / Sparkles post last week.  I normally write it on a Friday but was so shocked, sad and angry by the EU referendum result that I simply didn’t have the spirit to write a light and positive post.  The EU referendum has dominated my week again this week, it’s unbelievable how events have and are developing, however there have been other things in my life this week to share.

READ

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It’s fair to say that much of my reading has been commentary and analysis of the EU referendum.  However even I needed light relief this week and bought Vogue magazine to distract me.  It’s not a magazine I usually buy but I just liked the front cover, Renee Zwellegger’s relaxed pose and pretty dress, sold it to me.  I’ve dipped in and out of the magazine this week and am enjoying it although I don’t think it’ll become a monthly purchase.

WATCHED

On Monday I watched England crash out of Europe for the second time in a week.  England were so poor that I wasn’t as disappointed as I could have been with the football result.  The best thing this season has been the success of small, unfancied teams who develop team work, train hard and have a desire to succeed.

There’s a sporty theme to my watches as I have also watched the children participate in Sports day. Fortunately school sports day fell on one of my non working days so Mr S and I went together to cheer the children on.  It was really useful to be a duo as the children are in different key stages and were doing events at opposite ends of the field, by splitting up we got to see everything the children did.  My very special moment was seeing Little Man win the obstacle race. This is simply not a boast but a story of how much progress he has made over the years.  When we were approached to adopt Little Man, we had to speak to a paediatrician first to understand the challenges he might face.  At the time his physical development was delayed and at one year’s old he could barely sit up and was unable to crawl.  Through hard work and his determination, Little Man now has all the physical skills appropriate to his age .  His first place in the race today was a little bit special knowing the challenges he has overcome and simply remembering the little baby who came to us so fragile and weak and who has now developed into a strong, healthy boy.

MADE

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The end of term is approaching so I made some Etsy orders for teacher gifts.  It has been very easy, I found some lovely shops, the gifts have already arrived and I’m really pleased with them.

WORE

Its been a very busy week and I have been doing a lot of Mummy duties.  As some of these have been special activities, I’ve made more of an effort with my outfits and have tried to dress stylishly, with nice clothes, accessories and make up.  It has felt good to make the effort.

HEARD

No new music to report on this week, as I have been listening to the radio to catch up with the news as so much seems to happen daily.  I heard the resignation speeches from Cameron and Hodgson on the radio,  both were dignified and honest and I respect both for their decisions. Next week, I do need to find some new music, something completely  different to my normal tastes to awaken my creativity and shake me from this Euro gloom.

AND FINALLY

I’ve found this week tough in the light of the referendum result, I am a naturally positive and calm person but the result has shaken my beliefs and values.  This week it seems that I’m mourning a future and opportunities that I hoped my children would inherit and feeling at a loss at a Britain where fear and hatred appear prevalent. It has been good to read from fellow bloggers and tweeters to know that I’m not alone in my thoughts, it’s up to us to teach respect and share our values with our future generations.

I’m linking up again with the lovely Morgana at http//:coffeeworksleeprepeat.com for #littleloves and all her lovely contributors.

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