Archive | March 2014

“On Monday I Lost My Rabbit”

Please forgive me.  I thought this week I would do something different for my #WASO post and ask a friend of ours from Bumble’s musical theatre/amateur dramatics group to write something for me about a book she has written and that has been welcomed into our therapeutic reading toolbox.

Why?  Well, quite simply, I didn’t feel I could do justice to explaining the inspiration behind the book.

So I guess this week I have a guest writer.  (Disclaimer: I am not being paid for promoting this book.  I just ‘paying it forward’ and doing someone a good turn).

Although it is aimed at much younger children, it is written with some of our children’s needs in mind.

Social stories are used almost on a daily basis in our home and In Buzzbee’s words “I am like the boy in the book, except his bedroom is tidier”. Buzzbee absolutely loves the book and it has promoted several detailed conversations around loss and emotions (which as many of you know is a big thing in ‘The Hive’ at the moment with the loss of GrannyBee and Great NannyBee).

 

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    “On Monday I Lost My Rabbit”

Having had a fun filled career in teaching for more years than I care to remember, I decided to write the book that had been popping in and out of my head for almost as many years.

Whilst teaching in a variety of schools with pupils with profound and multiple learning impairments, pupils with severe learning impairments, pupils on the autism spectrum as well as pupils with physical, visual and hearing impairments and pupils who had behaviour modification programmes, I often wished there were more reading resources for some of these pupils.

A number of pupils found reading individual words difficult and they often took time to understand a small number of key words. Many stories were made with paper and pen using the words they knew and it was always great fun and a way of building confidence. However, I couldn’t help but long for some published stories not for my sake but for the pupils. At the end of the day they knew we were making books and some of them knew that other children were reading “proper” books.

So here it is……..

“On Monday I Lost My Rabbit” is the story of loss and the joy of finding what was lost, in this case, four well-loved toys. It can be read as simply as this. It can also be a gentle way to open up talks about feelings around loss. This can be loss of anything. The toy is just the representative of what you wish it to be. Depending on your child and your circumstances you could use the story to chat about finding joy even if you don’t find what was lost.

The story has a strong educational basis and can be linked to many areas of the Early Years Foundation Stages. The book has been created to include primary colours, four toy box toys and simple repetitive language. The illustrations encourage visual development as you try to find the lost toys.

Literacy – Reading – The book contains 16 of the first 100 high frequency words children learn to read 4 of the second 100 high frequency and 4 from the third. There are 8 additional words plus the 7 days of the week.

Mathematics – Time is used in the story in the form of the days of the week which makes a great starting point for understanding the past, present and future. The calendar has the numbers 1-7 on with the corresponding day which can open up conversations on numbers and counting.

It can also be used as a starting point for many expressive arts and design, hide and seek like the toys and of course many songs with rabbits, bears, dragons and ducks.

I have tried where possible to make the story accessible to all and I hope it can be used to encourage the use of signing and symbol systems ie Makaton/British Sign Language. The high frequency words in the story lend themselves to being signed.

The beautiful illustrations take the child along for the wonderful adventure and I hope that as well as the educational basis, readers will also enjoy the book as a lovely story of hope.

The young child loses four of his toys on separate days of the week. I wonder where he eventually finds them? I won’t tell you as you might want to discover for yourself……….

You can purchase the book from some bookshops, the internet and my website www.victoriastory.com

So here it is…..” On Monday I lost my rabbit”……..I wonder what happened on Tuesday?

rabbit book

 

The Weekly Adoption Shout Out

Sweet Tooth

This weeks’ #WASO theme is ‘Recipes – and why they are important to our family’.

I don’t have any special recipe that I turn to when the need arises – quite honestly with the range of food anxieties that go on in our house, I barely manage to find a day when we all are eating the same meal, let alone trying to cook something special.

Having said this, I have been thinking about this theme for a few days and one thing occurred to me – although our family haven’t shared any family secret recipes, there are a few members of my family who have ‘signature’ desserts or treats that they often make for special occasions or when then need takes their fancy, which on their own don’t seem significant but for the boys has embedded a sense of expectation and family tradition.

So who makes what?

Let me start with my late mother-in-law! For as long as I have been part of Bumble’s family, Granny Bee has always made her homemade Pavlova for family lunches or special visits. So it is no surprise that Bumble loves a nice Pavlova and ever since the boys moved in they have come to expect that when they visited she will have made one for after lunch.  Although sadly Bumble and the boys no longer have the chance to enjoy delicious treat made by her own hands, she did teach Bumble’s eldest nephew to make it, so I am sure he will keep that tradition alive for some time to come.

If I stick with Bumble’s family for a minute, Grandpa Bee often makes homemade fudge for his sons and grandsons. It doesn’t have to be a special occasion for my father-in-law to decide to make the fudge, but I can almost guarantee that if Bumble has gone up to visit his family, he will return with an ice-cream tub filled with fudge.  Bumble cannot get enough of his dad’s fudge just like the rest of the males in his family.

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Then there is my sister, who makes possibly the most heavenly cupcakes, along with novelty cakes for most family occasions.  The boys are certainly not alone in their adoration of their auntie’s cakes and know just exactly how to obtain a new batch of cakes from her – flattery gets them everywhere when it comes to my sister and her cakes.

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And, that just leaves me!  I suppose I fit into two different boxes for this.

I love making truffles and family, friends and even social workers are only too happy to devour the entire contents in record time.  It is incredibly messy but the boys absolutely love helping me making them (although I have had to be very strict with them about “sampling the mix” when it comes to making the alcoholic truffles).  If we forget about how divine they taste, the aroma of these small, rich chocolate balls is pure heaven and has the power to lift even the lowest spirit.

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On a more motherly, domesticated level (Ok only joking, I am no Mary Berry), I do have my own little traditions or secret weapons that have an almost 100% success rate at times of need – and yes they are again sweet/sugar related (crikey, I will have you all believing that my boys diet consists purely of sugar and sweets).  Mum’s special pancakes are always a hit, especially if mummy puts in her secret ingredient. In the unlikely event that this doesn’t hit the spot, I can guarantee that the hot chocolate with lots of whipped cream will hit the spot.

Just reading this back myself is giving me a virtual toothache – I promise I do feed my boys real and healthy food.

So, although I do not have any amazing to share with you all. It has made me sit up and realise that there are special recipes used within our family that have created lasting traditions and memories.

As for the truffle recipes. Well here they are:

Kiddy-Friendly Truffles

Truffles need to be eaten within 5 days – if you have kids like mine, you will be lucky if they last the day.

To make about 10 truffles:

100g (4oz) chocolate (broken into small, even-size pieces)

25g (1oz) butter

50g (2oz) plain cake, crumbled into fine crumbs

4 tablespoons chocolate sugar strands (alternatively and our preferred option crated chocolate)

Small paper cases (optional)

1.       Put the chocolate pieces into a heatproof glass bowl and place over a pan of hot but not simmering water. When it starts to melt, stir gently until completely melted. Do not overheat.

2.       Remove from the heat and gently stir in the butter.

3.       Carefully lift the bowl out of the water.

4.       Sift the icing sugar through a sieve into the chocolate. Add the cake crumbs and stir until everything is mixed well.

5.       Leave the chocolate mixture to cool in the bowl. Then, put the chocolate sugar strands onto a plate.

6.       When the mixture is firm and thick, scoop up some with a teaspoon and put it into the chocolate strands.

7.       Using your fingers, roll the spoonful around until it is covered. Then, put it in a paper case if you wish.

8.       Put the truffles onto a plate. Put them in a fridge for 30 minutes. Keep them in an airtight container in the fridge.

Adult Only Truffles

Truffles need to be eaten within 12 days (again never managed to survive the day, even less if it is social workers eating them).

120g (4oz) chocolate (white, milk or plain) broken into small, even-size pieces (I used deluxe Belgium choc)

4 tablespoons butter, softened to room temperature

2 tablespoons double cream

½ teaspoon brandy, rum or liqueur of your choice

Grated chocolate to decorate (I always put the chocolate in the freezer before grating – it makes it so much easier to use)

1.       Put the chocolate pieces into a heatproof glass bowl and place over a pan of hot but not simmering water. When it starts to melt, stir gently until completely melted. Do not overheat.

2.       Remove from the heat and gently stir in the butter, then the cream and liqueur.

3.       Leave to cool, then cover with cling film and refrigerate for 2-2½ hours until set.

4.       Remove the mixture from the refrigerator. Using a teaspoon, scoop out small pieces of the mixture, then use your hands to roll them into balls.

5.       To decorate, roll the balls in grated chocolate. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate.

 

NB: I do not claim to own these recipes. They recipes I have found over the years that I have found have the best results for making truffles.

The Weekly Adoption Shout Out

The things we do: Transition to a successful birthday

OK so anyone who may have read my previous #WASO post ‘Doing what has to be done’, last week I said I would tell you more about Beeswax’s VERY successful 13th birthday treat once I had sorted out a few of my favourite photos from that day.

Well here goes! Actually this post fits quite nicely with ‘The Adoption Social’s’ ‘The Things we do’ linky.

Ok, so other than my sheer determination to prove to Beeswax that his birthday is not jinxed by concealing the death of my mother-in-law for a few extra days. Although my instincts were right and once he had been told, he did try to suggest that ‘the birthday jinx’ had struck but this time I was ready for him with over 700 photographs (713 to be exact!) which suggested (and he could not argue with) his 13th birthday was more than a success and for maybe the first time in several years he enjoyed his birthday.

Between you, me and the tinternet, I will confess that I was terrified that I wouldn’t pull it off and we would have been hundreds of miles away with two very distressed boys.

So how did I manage it?

As the boys are very different in the reactions and needs when it comes to change and transitions.

Birthday boy is some ways is the easiest.

  • GIVE HIM AS LITTLE WARNING AS POSSIBLE – otherwise he will end up sabotaging it because it doesn’t fit with his view of himself and what he deserves.
  • Get him to help you organise the snacks and entertainment for the journey.
  • Constantly reassure him throughout the journey and day that we will have lunch, snacks, etc.
  • Give him something to fiddle with so that ‘mum & dad’ are not pulling their hair out trying to stop him ‘toddler touching’ everything within reaching distance.
  • And, finally do our best to make sure Buzzbee doesn’t “WIG OUT” and “SHOW HIM UP”

If I follow these few guidelines usually, we can keep Beeswax calm and on track for a great day.

In order to achieve the last bullet point – keeping Buzzbee calm, a lot more preparation is needed and in all honesty we nearly came unstuck 10 minutes before arriving at the Snowdome but after a frantic mad dash for my phone and the wonder of google images – full scale panic meltdown averted.

Buzzbee finds change very difficult and will become very anxious when visiting unfamiliar places. He also finds public places and surrounding noises disorientating. So he needs lots of preparation – military style planning sometimes (I won’t put them all because I will be here all night).

  • Prepare a book for him, showing images of the Snowdome and information about what is there, how we will get there, what the private instructor was called (actually the snowdome were wonderful and provided us with a picture in advance) – go through the book with him as many times as he needed to.
  • Bumble allowed Buzz to familiarise himself with skis by taking his old set out of the loft and leaving them in his room.
  • Make sure that Buzzbee’s favourite cuddly toy and film were in the car along with his chocolate milkshake.
  • Buy his a cheap sweatshirt to wear – we know he is going to chew it so this way his won’t fret and neither will we (Ideally he would have had his SensaChew dog tags but that wouldn’t have been safe).
  • As Beedog was going to a dog sitter, letting Buzz create a going away bag with transitional objects, helped him feel that she would be looked after how he wanted her too.  I also came with me to settle her in.
  • Once we arrived at the Snow Dome, the most important thing to do was walk around and allow him to familiarise himself with his surroundings and the noise (which actually was not too bad).

Yes, most of these things for both boys could make or break a daytrip (and trust me 4/5 times we have not been so successful in managing their anxiety in public).  For the day Bumble and I had 2 big goals – Make sure Beeswax had the best birthday ever and support the boys in their need to be perfect at everything, if they don’t quite get the hang of it or fall over.

Tick and Tick (although we needn’t have worried about the second because they are both very coordinated and were naturals – only 2 falls happened. One was more of a Buzzbee sensory seeking dive and the other Beeswax got his skis tangled when using the rope lift and caused a domino effect that left all unable to get back to their feet because they were too busy laughing).

I could go ahead and pat myself and Bumble on the back for a job well done! But, I don’t need to because looking back at the pictures I took that day, there is no question that Beeswax had a fantastic birthday and really enjoyed himself – he is smiling and looks relaxed (generally he either looks like he is about to tear your head off or his eyes look like he is somewhere else).

Many of our friends (not adoptive ones of course) believe we go over the top with preparing the boys but like the title of this post it is ‘the things we do’ to help our son’s experience new experiences to the best of their abilities.

snowdome collage

The Things We Do

Doing what has to be done

I am frantically trying to put a post together for The Adoption Social’s #WASO in a week that can only be described as an ‘emotional’ and ‘hectic’ week shrouded in secrecy in order to allow Beeswax to enjoy celebrating a milestone birthday without it being overshadowed by grief and resulting in yet another birthday for him being sabotaged by circumstances which were beyond anyone’s control.

I started to write a post last week but never managed to finish it but I think before I write about what it is we have been hiding from the boys, I thought that I would add the original opening sentence of the unfinished post

In the coming few weeks and months, I have a feeling I know emotions and tensions are going to reach an all-time high in ‘the hive’ (but for now I can’t go into why) but I know I am going to have to dig deep into my tool bag to support everyone.

I like to think that my tool bag has an inexhaustible amount of skills and tricks and is extremely flexible, but I suspect that to keep everyone on track I may have to use some of my ‘safe bet’ activities more than I would usually prefer to in order for one or all of us to have the breathing space they need without the boys misinterpreting responses from others – thank heavens for annual memberships.

When I say a ‘safe bet activity’! What I mean is a trip or visit somewhere that I can take the boys on my own without worrying about needing a second adult to help me manage them.  To be fair I have a couple of places where this is achievable because there is so much for the boys to do and interact with appropriately, or there is the opportunity for the boys to have their own space and do their own things while still being monitored by myself.

Ok! So at the time of writing this sentence, Bumble’s mum had just told him that her treatment was no longer working and she had made the decision to stop any more treatment. Obviously Bumble needed time to process this information himself, but we also agreed that we would wait until after Beeswax’s birthday to tell the boys and begin preparing them for her eventual passing – she was terminal but everyone believed we had time to plan for telling them.

Fast forward to the beginning of this week (only days before Waxy’s birthday) and Bumble received the phone call he never wanted to receive and my father-in-law definitely did not want to make.

My mother-in-law passed away suddenly that afternoon.

Wheels had been set in motion that we hadn’t prepared for, but very quickly (or in some people’s eyes, quite alarmingly considering how emotional people know I can be) I have switched into pilot mode, making arrangements for Bumble to be able to drive up and join his dad and brothers, contacting people who needed to be informed of the reason for Bumble’s absence (work and the director of the show Bumble has a role in) while at the same time making sure that, at home everything still ran as usual so that Buzzbee could not pick up on anything.  I will not lie – having Beeswax at school during the week made this a lot easier. I am not sure I would have been able to keep my composure for very long – he is in ultra-button pushing mode at the moment and he would almost definitely push either Bumble’s or mine and then….. Well that would be a whole different post.

Although I have hated lying to the boys this week, it has been the right thing to do I believe.  Beeswax has for as long as I have known him justifiably felt that his birthday is jinxed and that something always happens to ruin his birthday – I was determined that I was going to give him a birthday he could enjoy and remember with happiness before he found out and would once again confirm in his mind, his negative view that his birthday is ‘Jinxed’.

Tomorrow I will have to tell them. I won’t be able to put it off any longer (I should have been telling them today).  He has already made comments, wondering why Granny and Grandpa didn’t ring him on his special birthday.

We got around it by yet again lying and telling him that they probably thought he would be having too much fun on his day out for his birthday.

Will I be for the high jump tomorrow? I really don’t know but I have to hope that they will understand why we made the decisions we did.

I honestly do not know how they are going to take the news – hey, I don’t even know how Bumble is really doing. He has been morphed into Winston Churchill and putting up a ‘Dunkirk spirit’ persona – he hasn’t shut me out, but he is certainly not giving anything away either.  But as I said at the beginning! I will have to dig down deep into my bag of tricks and tools to help them all through the coming weeks. At the same time I have to also decide whether it is best to begin preparing the boys for my nan’s failing health (I don’t know about this yet).  As for my own grief – I am sure it is there somewhere. I was very fond of my MIL but for now I need to be in Mummy/Wife mode and I have become quite skilled at pushing my emotions to the background.

Oh I almost forgot!

The special birthday present for Beeswax’s birthday!

A private Skiing lesson at an Indoor Snowdome, and it was a HUGE success. But, more about that in the week (I have photos to edit first).

Rest In Peace GrannyBee

Rest In Peace GrannyBee

The Weekly Adoption Shout Out

My best friend – Beedog

OK this  post is kind of soppy and quite cute at the same time – Oh! and also written by Buzzbee with the help of mummy.

The title of this post is a big enough clue to this weeks’ #WASO theme ‘friendships’.

This week Beedog has had her 2nd birthday and is now older than me in dog years. My cute baby girl is now a big girl. She is my best friend (well at home) and makes me feel better when I am sad and cross.

I remember the day mummy met me from school with a tiny fluffy lump cuddled up in her coat. All the children thoughts she was adorable.  She was so tiny and the best surprise EVER

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Now she isn’t so tiny. She is a huge Cluminger spaniel (Clumber/Springer hybrid) but she is still the bestest dog in the world. Even when she is stealing my football, trying to eat my ice cream or being a cheeky girl.

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Here are some reasons why I love Beedog and she is by best friend.

  • she loves to have cuddles and play with me
  • she steals all our socks – right off our feet
  • she always walks nicely for me when she is one her lead and ‘mostly’ comes back when I call her (as long as there are no birds around she comes back)
  • she snores REALLY loud all the time when she is asleep and mostly sleeps on her back in a ‘unladylike’ way
  • she loves everyone and everything, especially if they are going to make lots of fuss of her
  • when she is excited she does a funny side wiggle – a bit like a sidewinder snake
  • AND LOTS AND LOTS MORE

mybestfriend

The Weekly Adoption Shout Out