Tag Archive | birthday

Guilt free mummy time

*Stop the press*

I have managed to find myself in a position where I can write a complete post and upload it in time for this weeks’ #WASO link up – Okay maybe I should make a confession. The only reason I have a little time to myself is because I have had a toddler style tantrum over the fact the males in the hive seem to struggle lately with the basic concept of picking up after themselves, let alone helping out with minor household chores without spending double the length of time doing it because they are so busy attempting to annoy me so much that I take over the task myself (which I will admit is what usually happens in the end), however much to their dismay, their regular tactic backfired on them and mummy declared that she was going on strike and the 3 of them would have to fend for themselves.

Definitely not very therapeutic but miraculously the jobs were suddenly completed with little or no fuss and an hour later Bumble drew the shortest straw and carefully peeked around our bedroom door to waving the white flag.

I have been longing for just ‘5 minutes to myself’, so having a whole hour to myself was pure luxury (well it would if I hadn’t been so worked up about the males in the house).

The last few weeks in all honesty have been more than a little difficult and relationships with Waxy and school have been pushed to our absolute limit and Bumble and I are finding ourselves raising concerns and exploring painful questions about our family’s future if the current situation doesn’t change and support from Post Adoption and ASF is not forthcoming very soon, and as a result I have struggled to find opportunities to indulge in any form of self-care for myself and in the rare moments when I have found some space and time, something has managed to derail it.

Okay that is not entirely true. Last September as a birthday present, Bumble gave me a gift voucher for a whole day 1:1 photography lesson with a local photography studio in a picturesque National Trust village. Recently I have finally managed to make use of the voucher spent an entire day focusing on something that I enjoy and being able to switch off from being mum for a few hours safe in the knowledge that the boys were safe at school/forest school and Bumble has organised his work day around their timetable.

I had for the first time in I do not know how long, spent a complete day without any ties to ‘planet adoption’ and it felt wonderful. For one day I wasn’t someone’s mum or wife and the only person I needed to focus on was myself (oh and the wonderful lady who was providing my 1:1 lesson).

I surprised myself during the lesson by realising how much I already seemed to know about getting the best out of my DSLR camera and I lost count of how many times I sat listening to the tutor explain this, that and the other and my mind drifted off thinking about random photos I have taken with my camera over the time, while listening to a little voice in my head saying “oh so that is what happened, I didn’t even realise I could do that”.   Apparently each time I did this, the tiniest of a ‘shy’ smile kept catching the tutor’s eye.   At the time I passed it off as being amused at being “jammy so and so” and blindly blundering into lucky shots but in truth, the reason was so much deeper and more personal – I am not sure I can really explain it very well without coming across as wet or self-absorbed but I supposed after the rejection I experience day in and day out with my boys and the negativity that is projected at me from every direction over the years, my self-confidence and self-esteem has been all but destroyed and I now struggle to ‘sit with’ or believe positivity or praise that is directed my way (see I told you it would sound wet) but on the day for some reason my guard was down and my confidence was receiving a much needed boost (even if it was just for a few hours).

While the morning was focused on theory and a little bit of practical practise in the studio with my camera making exciting discoveries about the true extent of what it can really do and how some of the functions in it can do a WHOLE lot more than I could ever have dreamt it could.

buttonI don’t mind admitting I let out a little squealing of excitement to discover that a button which I had believe was only a zoom feature for viewing photos already taken, can in fact be used to take incredibly clever photos (I am still working on perfecting the skill of creating a decent photo using it for now).

The afternoon was spent strolling around the village and visiting the Abbey putting what I had learnt during the morning into practise and discovering that my amazing telephoto lens which only ever comes out when I am taking photos of the boys at the beach or when we are visiting the safari parks, can in fact produces absolutely stunning close up photos that even I would be mistaken for believing were taken with a macro lens.

blooming lovely

During the day I managed to get a few lucky shots, some that I didn’t quite achieve the composition that I had hoped for, and some…. Well let’s not talk about these ones and then we have the photographs that are still haunting me days after they were taken of a sweet elderly couple who I was mesmerised with as they walked through the cloisters together. I couldn’t help wondering about their story. Who were they? How had they met? How long had they been together? What had brought them to the abbey that day? – Okay I know I am a nosey devil but there was something about these two that was pulling at my heart strings and evoking bittersweet memories of my dear depart grandparents and the love and unconditional devotion they had for each other for nearly 60 years. In all fairness when they would come for a visit they did insist on taking an afternoon drive over to this village for a cream tea and a stroll around the abbey, so I supposed the place already holds special memories for me and the sight of this couple reignited them for me. (I really hope they won’t mind me including them in this post)

cloister

Listen to me jabbering on! What I have neglected to say is…… while the course was wonderful and I got so much out of it physically and emotionally. It wouldn’t have mattered if I didn’t manage to take one single usable photograph because the biggest realisation of the day was not the fact that I can actually take some nice photographs.

LC

lc2

Residents of the village including the most adorable puppy

 

It was the realisation that all this time, the answer to my self-care prayers has been under my nose all the time.   I have something that I can and already do uses as an excuse if I need 5 minutes to myself.

I can lose myself in my photograph and refill my tank before it reaches empty. We live in a beautifully areas, adorned with rolling hills, woods, rivers and meadows so while If I am lucky my four-legged and 2 legged muses will oblige and not run for the hills at the sight of the camera (okay maybe not Buzzbee, he only needs to spot the camera in my hand and he is posing away), I still have plenty of opportunities to find an excuse to escape the trauma and destruction that often fills my days living on ‘planet adoption’, for a few short guilt free minutes or hours.

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Let them eat cake

For this weeks’ #WASO, I will be guest posting for Honey because she is …… Well, maybe once you have read my post you will have an idea why I am writing a post instead of her this week.

Oh, where are my manners? I should introduce myself. I am the infamous and extremely geeky Bumble.

Honey has just celebrated her XXth birthday – it would be more than my life is worth to reveal her age and anyway she may take away my privileges (I know she has told you I love online role-play gaming).

Honey’s Birthday is a tricky event in our household. As is Mother’s Day. Unfairly, our boys are only too happy to celebrate my Birthday and Father’s Day, but the idea of a day dedicated to their mum seems to fill Beeswax in particular with pre-verbal memories of children’s needs being sacrificed for their mother’s desires.

As a result we try not to make too much of a fuss over what should be an opportunity to thank a very special woman for all she does for the three of us. This and having her birthday on the transition from Summer Holidays, which have been tricky for the last three or so years, to the new school year has meant that she can’t really celebrate her birthday the way our family and friends do, and it has been a while since I have got Honey a Birthday Cake – bad Bumble! If I manage to remember to wrap her birthday present and have the boys sign her card in time, then I am onto a winner.

So this year I volunteered to make a Birthday Cake for Honey. Somehow I managed to convince her that it would be healthier for all if she baked the cake, and I then iced it. Buzzbee helped me choose the design and insisted it had to be a chocolate cake with pink icing. I even did a practice run a couple of days before.

The final result didn’t quite look like the picture I was working from but nevertheless it brought a much needed smile to Honey’s face. I’d like to think it was a smile of happiness and not an attempt to stifle hysterical laughter at the pink iced mountain placed in front of her.

husbands love

Every year, I watch Honey go about the day on her birthday, doing what she does and trying her hardest to avoid drawing attention to the day and making the boys’ comfort and happiness, her priority, but it is all for show and self-preservation. Honey grew up in a family that celebrate special occasions with a big fuss and I know it kills her every year to know she can’t have that anymore – we have tried so many times and it is just to distressing for all, even when we have planned an activity which is centred around the boys’ interests.   I live in hope that there will come a time in the years ahead of us that the boys can finally learn to be comfortable with celebrating their mum’s birthday and not be afraid that she will forget about their needs.

But for now, Honey will just have to seek comfort in my culinary masterpiece.   Eat our heart out, Great British Bake Off!

cakeie

The best birthday present

At the weekend my mum celebrated her 60th birthday and, rather than arranging a great big party for her, which she would have hated, instead my dad chose to surprise her and booked them both into a luxury hotel in a picturesque village near Bumble and I for a few days and arranged for us to look after their 2 elderly fur-babies (Yes, my dad really does call his spaniels his fur-babies) during their stay. In order to surprise mum, my dad has had to endure her wrath over the last few weeks because he had led her to believe he had forgotten it was a milestone birthday as well as her first birthday since my nan passed away – he is a glutton for punishment! Earlier in the year he did something similar for their 40th wedding anniversary and arranged several surprises for her at great expense to his ears, but I think he loves seeing her gobsmacked expression every time and “reaping the rewards” (LaLaLaLaLa I don’t want to know what he means by that!)

It goes without saying that dad hit the jackpot with his choice of hotel and all the little flourishes he had arranged, and she was spoilt rotten, but the best birthday present that she received this year, in mum’s opinion came as a surprise to everyone and mum was not the only one to be left with tears in her eyes once the unexpected gift was given.

My sister lives within minute of my parents and is an exceptional cake maker and has always in the past made the family cakes, but this year the boys took advantage of my parents being nearby to make their own birthday cake for mum and have it delivered to her hotel as their own surprise, which she loved, even if it had so much chocolate in it my dad could only eat a slither of it before he started to feel a little woozy (he is diabetic), but it was lovely for her to receive a handmade cake from the boys. She is used to my niece and nephews doing this for her every year.

cake1

No! Her present was a gift from Buzzbee and something she has been waiting for since the first day she met both the boys. It is also a gift that Buzzbee does not even realise he has given her.

Yesterday, when my parents came over to collect their dogs, Buzzbee was playing in his bedroom after working hard all morning on ‘space’ worksheets he is using for part of his home education project. As with anytime they visit, mum called up the stairs to say ‘Hello’ but instead of the usual ‘Hi!’ response being called back, she was greeted with “Nanny!!!!!!!!” and what can only be describe as the sound of a herd of full sized elephants coming thundering down the stairs before LEAPING into her arms and giving her the biggest hug and kiss he has ever given her – I guess you can work out the reason now for the happy tears.

To some that may sound like a perfectly normal response from a grandchild excited to see his nanny but for Buzzbee this is HUGE. It has only been in the last year that Buzz has begun to agree to give her a hug if she asks for one when saying ‘goodbye’ – before then she has had to shake hands like Buzz does with my dad.

As for my mum! Well in her words “no amount of beautiful flowers or fancy presents could ever beat the present Buzzbee has just given me. He has allowed himself to show me how much he loves me!” (she has never been under any illusion that either of my boys are fond of her and dad, but being a ‘cuddly’ kind of nanny, it has killed her at times to have to respect the boys limits and resist the urge to just scoop up either of them and give them a ‘nanny squeeze’).

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

Life on the birthday rollercoaster

As with every post I write, the final post is a product of several drafts and rewrites. Bumble routinely reminds me that all I need to do is write from the heart and let the words flow but I am a Virgo and an incurable perfectionist at times (well, most of the time) and this weeks’ #WASO post has been no different.  I started out with one angle and soon it had taken a whole new direction and was in need of a new title.

Birthdays in the hive need managing very carefully. Buzzbee generally copes really well with his own and other people’s birthdays and quite often will be one of the better behaved children at a party (as long as there is a disco) but for Beeswax it is much more difficult. So many factors come into play for him when it comes to his own and other people’s birthdays (mainly Buzzbee’s and Mine). The boys have always revelled in conspiring with me to create surprises for Bumble or other family members and especially enjoy it if they know we are going to play a practical joke on one of them (usually my dad or Bumble playing one on my mum).

So, what about the boys? How do they handle their own birthdays? If I am honest I have always kind of considered them be pretty age appropriate in their responses to their birthdays.

Beeswax prefers his birthdays to be low-key or for the celebrations to be in-direct (we cannot sing ‘happy birthday’, school however don’t give him the choice) Like any child/young man he always supplies us with a birthday wish list that is a mile long and is always very meticulous in making sure that there are items on the list for everyone’s budget and if anything he one quirk is that he colour codes it for order of preference (I never said he stopped needing to be in control). Waxy has never wanted a party and actually this year was the first time he suggested doing anything. As for the actual day of his birthday. Well, in some ways his reactions can be a little bizarre and he is far more relaxed if he knows he has to go to school on his birthday(although I have recently been told by a Non-AP that their son began to act like this after his 9th Birthday and is now about to turn 17 ). Yes he loves receiving presents and he is like a Tasmanian \devil when it comes to unwrapping presents but once he has opened them, he puts them in his room as quickly as possible and then demands to know what time we are leaving. Originally we thought that the taking his gifts to his room were because of a fear that they would be taken from him but over the years we have learnt that this is not the case and it is now playfully called “cringe unwrapping”. Basically he wants the attention but in reality it is too much for him to cope with and the intimacy of sharing with a family his special day is almost unbearable for him (not enough to cancel it though. Apparently it is his constitutional right to have birthday presents and large chocolate cakes every year!!).  Beeswax does find Buzzbee’s birthday tough and over the years we have learnt how to best support him so that Buzz enjoys his day and Waxy doesn’t end up in a state of shame because he has lost control.  To his credit he has always been an absolute star at Buzz’s birthday parties and really throws himself into the big brother role entertaining Buzz’s friends (the girls REALLY love him!)

Now Buzzbee and birthdays is almost the polar opposite of Beeswax. Here is a little boy who started off not understanding about birthdays and having no idea about unwrapping presents or blowing out candles on a birthday cake (Just thinking about that day at his FC’s when we first got to share his birthday with him makes me was to cry). He has since them made up for lost time and is now the party king. Very much like Beeswax, Buzzbee has to feel he is in control of his birthday list but he also makes a pretty dynamic party planner (although his need to have every little detail just right probably comes a little from me. Hey I said earlier I am a Virgo!). Buzzbee loves celebrating his birthday and loves to have themes to his parties and because his birthday always falls in school holidays we have always thrown his party a couple of weeks earlier in our local village hall. Over the past few years we have had several invasions – dinosaurs (of course), aliens and time lord enemies and his birthday cakes have always fitted in with his theme. Despite Buzzbee struggling with his peer relationships he has remained popular with them and they have always attended (I am pretty sure most of the mum’s given half the chance would decline but know they would only be hurting their own kids). His last birthday was the first time he had not wanted to celebrate his birthday with a party but instead wanted to take his one of his very special friends and his parents bowling.  I didn’t get away with the birthday cake though, in fact this year I had to make two because the first was devoured by 32 small mouth in a matter of a few minutes at school and so there was nothing actually left to share with his friend on his actual birthday.

??????????               homemade          ??????????????????????

There is only one birthday in the house that every year ends up in tears and often I am not talking about the boys.

My birthday!!!!  Beeswax does not cope well with my birthday at all and although I know he isn’t consciously setting out to disrupt and ruin the day. That is exactly what happens and for a couple of years I quite honestly resented the fact that everyone else got to celebrate their birthdays the way they would like and were allowed to enjoy their day.  At one point it got to the stage where Bumble would bring me my card and presents to open in the bedroom just so that I could open the presents without some kind of drama happening.

Now some of our friends don’t understand why I find it so hard not being able to celebrate my birthday they way I would like and last year on my birthday Buzzbee in his attempt to cheer me up announced that he couldn’t understand why I would want to celebrate a day when I came into the world ‘Butt Naked’ when I don’t even like showing my legs in shorts. Once I had stopped nearly choking laughing at his comment (very true by the way) I explained to him that because I grew up in a big family and birthdays were always made a big fuss of. It was ‘your special day’ and it was hard for me to get used to not having that one day when I am a little pampered. He just shrugged his shoulders and said ‘fair enough’ and walked off.

Over the years we have gradually integrated my birthday with an activity that both boys really enjoy and will distract them and my birthday has been downgraded to a family daytrip with no mention of birthday until the boys are in bed. This year however will be different for me. The boys return to school on my birthday and I am actually feel really quite sad about that. I know that my birthday is stressful but while they are home with me I still have the best birthday present I will ever get. THEM! and spending the day without them will feel, well, strange.

Anyone reading this last part can be forgiven for thinking that I sound so spoilt, self-absorbed and selfish. I am a mother and should be concentrating on their happiness rather than needing just a sliver of one day a year to be about ME.  We discussed birthdays during our home-study and I really thought I was prepared for children not accepting my birthday and that it wouldn’t matter one bit because I would have the boys and I longed for nothing more than seeing the excitement on my children’s faces on their birthday and I thought that would be enough. But, reality has turned out to be so much harder.

So for now we will continue riding the ‘birthday rollercoaster’ and each getting from it a different level of excitement and enjoyment (and tears)

The Weekly Adoption Shout Out