Up and about

Well, despite low levels of energy, Nanny and Grandad have been up with Max (my brother, whose been mentioned before – he’s 10 months older than Logan). They have stayed for the week, which has both helped and hindered the recovery (mental health is up some, but physical exhaustion is down low, the heat is not helping).

But we have had quite some time out of the house. The weekend should afford me enough down time to update, post reviews and generally get back on top of things.

But I thought I should come on and say how pleasing it is to be off the sofa! 😀

Getting better: it’s hard.

When you are ill or suffering from post illness chronic fatigue, it is vital that you rest. But it’s really hard because somethings in life don’t just stop when you are ill. You still have to get on with things, and when you are primary carer to 2 complex children the days are very much arduous like a full time, demanding job. So “rest” isn’t really rest. You have to be continuously on your toes.

However, I am slowly getting up and about a bit more. Trying to push myself to get out of the house for an hour or two here and there. But I get tired very, very quickly. And because the children are seeing my health waver up and down, it’s been made all the more difficult; when they see me not being strong their anxiety and therefore hyper-vigilance rises. In turn, out comes the emotional behaviour.

Anyhow. When we haven’t been out and when I have been sofa bound, I have been trying to distract the children by getting them doing bits and bobs. They have been taking massive pride in being able to help with chores. They have been asking to do academic worksheets. They have done crafts, cooking and letter writing. A particular favourite was making slime (as per these instructions). And most of it has been achieved at a distance.

 

Therapy Camp

Well, we have had the most amazing time at camp. Exhausting but amazing.

We had gone because the children needed to have SAI (Sensory Attachment Intervention) assessments done. These are assessments which will go beyond a standard Occupational Therapist assessment and tap into specialist attachment knowledge to try and identify which areas flagged are likely to need sensory intervention and which may need physical support etc. We don’t have a report as of yet, but it is obvious from what they are saying that there are several areas which will require attention.

We met several other adoption families, the and due to the group nature of much of the day, I hope you will forgive my reluctance to share much in the way of information from the camp, but I am not sure how much is safe to share.

I will say, besides our individual family sessions we had group Music Therapy, Art Therapy, family and adult group yoga, adult sessions, children’s farm walks and bug hunting. The children had loads of time and opportunity to interact with other adopted children and all the adults had the chance to not care what other people would be saying – adoption and attachment related behavioural issues are just “the norm”: regression, aggression, lack of concentration, fleeing… no matter what, just children, being themselves, and parents doing their best job to parent the trauma they have.

 

A little update

So I know it’s been obvious I have been trying to get on top of things both at home and on the blog, and I kind of feel like I have been achieving that. But I thought a little overview of what is going on would be great.

Well, after months of having way too much on my plate, life has started to slow up a little. Unfortunately as I slow down, the months of doing too much has started to catch up with me, and if I thought I was exhausted before, BOY was I wrong?!?!

But it means I am getting onto more “normal” stuff. Like the fact that I am noticing we haven’t been drinking enough water. Stickers are always a good incentive for my children, and so we have made some weekly sticker charts – each day we have to put up a sticker per bottle of water we drink. It’s just to make us more aware that we need to drink… but so far it’s working. We have been advised about 2 litres a day/adult, 1.5litres for Logan and 1 litre for Caitlin, so we are working off these guidelines.

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We are also prepping “normal” stuff like factoring in international competitions – like the World Cup, realising this starts today we have setup our wall display, done a draw to see which team in each group is “ours” and are ready with our wall chart to keep a track of the scores. It’s not so much about the football, it becomes a talking point for cultural differences, a flag identification game and a responsibility to keep track of something. But it also becomes a way of learning healthy competition, these two don’t deal with losing very well and some of their reactions make me wonder what the encountered in their birth family. But this takes the competition out of our control, so we can’t be held accountable for the win or loss, and yet we have fighting talk and fun.

On the normality front, we have also been able to get to the opticians. Caitlin has never had vision problems but Logan and I wear glasses. On the way in she’d made a comment about hoping she needs some, which I didn’t think about… but when it was confirmed that Logan needed new glasses and we’d sorted his, she had a bit of a wobble about wanting some herself. In short, she refused to leave the shop until she had found some. I explained that she didn’t have bad eyesight so didn’t need some, just like Logan doesn’t need a wheelchair and she does – that wasn’t good enough. She was very adamant. So I had a little chat explaining money and how £65 just because she wants something isn’t really within our capabilities, let alone something I would teach her. However, if she’s feeling that left out I would see if I could find some without prescription online. That settled her, and here they are. They arrived yesterday, she has only taken them off to shower and sleep.

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On Monday we are going to be heading to a therapy retreat to do some intensive work as a family. We have no expectations of what we’ll get out of it, but hoping for some positives.

Adoption Support Fund and Therapy

Well. 2 years of fighting. Lots of energy wasted on professionals sending us around in loops. Lots of damage added by not having the correct support in place and we finally got funding approved. Intervention offered: Intensive family therapy.

It was approved at the end of February, we had the whole course of therapy approved (8 sessions,  year’s worth of sessions). Fantastic! But there was a catch. The funding is only applicable for that financial year so… as close to a year’s worth of therapy as we can fit into one month as possible please…

It was an intense month. A very intense month. Very exhausting, even just the sessions themselves. Take away from it that it had emotional repercussions, that I was trying to sort out a mortgage, a complaint through the Property Ombudsman and home educate to highly needy children.

But it’s over, we’re moved and we’ve been informed that this year’s funding is approved and we have funding approved for further assessment with regards to their sensory needs too. It’s looking like life is finally moving in the correct direction for us (not always in a straightline, sometimes zig zagging) but going forwards and not mostly staying still or moving backwards.

St Patricks Day

We try to mark each occasion that comes along, talk about what it is meant to represent and then do some fun activity to celebrate it in some way.

So for St Patricks day after our talk, we made some rainbowed cakes… this was a very messy, long and fun(ny) activity. With a very tasty end point. And no one came to visit so we ate lots of cakes… I think they call that “winning”.

 

Bruce was very pleased when he came home to find all the cakes… and of course, we had to wash it down with something – so Guinness for the adults, and hot chocolate topped with cream to look like “Guinness” for the children.

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Just updating…

So, another busy week in the Chaos household.

Still getting sorted from the house purchase, been cleaning the old house and getting that emptied. And somehow trying to keep the children occupied, and mostly succeeding.

Next week, if all goes to plan, we will be giving the keys to our old house back and saying “goodbye” to having to communicate to the complete waste of space agency. HOORAY!!! Then life can really begin to pick up, there’ll be nothing anchoring me down any longer (well, financials always play some kind of part in anchoring, but meh, there are ways and means…).

We successfully managed a late night family party too. I cheated, I let them take their Kindle Fire, they don’t get much screen time, so when they do get it, it is amazing, and they don’t waste it – they are wholly consumed. Around 10 they started to get restless, and grumpy (they are normally in bed at 7) so we started to get ready to leave, but then nanny gave them a helium balloon each to take home… so naturally, we stayed for another hour as they ran around the room being complete loons.

Just to add to the madness though, I decided it would be fun to sprain my ankle and create some kind of knee impact injury, you know, just because why the hell not? I like a challenge.

Anyhow, old house almost handed back, Uni work almost complete for the academic year (final assignments over the next 2 weeks), new house almost in order inside (don’t even talk to me about the garden – 2 words “bindweed” and “brambles”), some semblance of normal chaos should resume shortly! WOOOOOOO

Real empathy… where did it come from???

So today, I was floored.

A close family member’s leopard gecko died. The children love it – they go straight to the room where the gecko lives every visit and are very excited to handle her. So I knew they’d probably feel sad about it.

Logan is someone who feels his own sadness, usually more centred around what he won’t get to have/do any longer, rather than the actual grieving of it (I’m sure he feels loss but doesn’t understand it as sadness).

However, when I told him today, he broke his heart and said how sad it felt, then just went silent. A look of realisation came over his face, followed by a deeper wave of sadness. Then words came out of his mouth that I was not expecting. “I can’t imagine how Peter must be feeling, he must be very very upset” or words to that affect.

I am so glad I was sat down. I was definitely overcome. The boy who cannot regulate, doesn’t understand physical feelings, let alone emotional ones, and even when it’s pointed out will often chose the self-focused thought over empathy… did he just empathise with someone in the middle of expressing his own sadness? Did he feel and understand sadness enough to realise someone else may be feeling worse than him? I think he did.

So utterly motivated. He still can’t regulate, he still has moments where he’s wetting himself, making himself sweat unecessarily, still not letting himself express illness, respond to thirst. BUT – He just showed real empathy. This is massive. There is hope that we can help him understand emotion, consequences and selflessness. We have seen the first signs. It may not be a regular occurance for a while, but the door is open; we previously didn’t know if the door had been locked, and the key destroyed.

This is massive.

So…. um… yeah, I made it happen!!!

I said we had problems with our agency. And that if they didn’t want to resolve the issues I’d be leaving. Well… a little update on that covered in a few points below:

  • I reported them to the Property Ombudsman, not sure how much I can disclose about it, but they have my records, and see that there is a case to work with. Now the agency have been given time to provide their evidence so that the Ombudsman can go through and decide what has been correctly followed and what has not.
  • I worked my butt off and found us a house to move into, secured the mortgage and got completion through (viewing to completion took 9 weeks… I was pushing it and I made it happen fast).
  • I have managed to get the bulk of our furniture in place/built/setup and a lot of our stuff is now in.
  • The old house is not clear yet, but I still have about a month to get it sorted
  • in the midst of this I have kept up with my learning (on track with my degree), the bills are all being paid (and all addresses are slowly starting to be transferred across)
  • got internet setup in the new house (gone from a rural 3mb/s top speed to up to 100mb/s… it’s phenomenal). AND I bought a new laptop… so I can actually write now.
  • after figuring I need to have a storage bed (despite the large room size of the master bedroom, it’s an attic room so oddly shaped, and the walls aren’t all “wardrobe friendly”). I decided to plan an Ikea hack (I can link the details here at once it’s 100% finished) to make a superking sized, tall storage bed – by no means a high sleeper, but tall enough for me to have to actually climb into bed). Thinking if I go superking sized, when Caitlin refuses to sleep in her own bed, and Logan gets jealous and wants to sleep in there too… I may have some hope of at least an extra 3cm (don’t ruin my thunder, I do realistically understand that I will have one in my back, the other in my face, cramp and no sleep).

But, the cherry on top absolutely has to be… for a whole week now we’ve been sleeping at the new house. And they have slept (maybe not most people’s definition of slept, but remained in their own beds until “get up” time none the less) in their own rooms and not wanted to sleep in my bed. I actually have a bed with lot of space (unfortunately I also have a head with lots of thoughts that keeps waking me up in panics, but once we have everything here and the old house is mostly cleared down… I’m sure that’ll pass.

For the first time in a while, I am seeing a slither of hope that we might be able to gather some semblance of NORMAL… Still have two highy wired and anxious children but spring-summer marks them being ripped out of their family/family home every year for the last few years so why wouldn’t they be??? But with that slither of hope comes a burst of energy that’s keeping me focused on plodding forward.

 

night

A quick update Jan 18

NB. This one was written but seemingly never posted…

It’s been a little while since I posted – major reasons for that:

  • Agency causing friction between us and the landlord, landlord turns up confrontational, tell children to go upstairs (to the safe comfort of their rooms) – too late, damage done, complete and outright refusal… and as such a consequential period of heightened anxiety – 1 child not sleeping, 1 child back on self harm watch.
  • Said agency causing more grief by sending gult trip ridden emails to try and prevent us going to the Property Ombudsman. Having to deal with/respond to that
  • Festivities added to child anxiety putting me behind on my degree – yes, that’s right… I am trying to do a languages degree, part time, whilst living as a full time carer-home educator-therapist-therapeutic parent person thingy majig. Why? Cause I thrive with pressure clearly… LOL
  • Appointments: Occupational Therapy, Physio, General Surgery, SEN team… it’s been rather complicated
  • House viewings, mortgage appointments, arranging to sell stuff… when I said I am determined to get out of the rental market I wasn’t kidding.
  • Home education… and all the challenges that presents
  • Family events – birthdays and even a Christening in the mix
  • A complete failure of a holiday (gave up and came home early)

Add to that getting the house back in order, getting over colds, actually working hard to eat properly (and waste less) and some kind of self care and you could potentially see I don’t have much time for sleep let alone much else right now.

But we have had some wonderful achievments in the last couple of weeks. Not least being a clear push forward on the academic front. Both children have seemingly, though anxious in other ways, they have started to understand that learning isn’t necessarily something to be feared, that it can actually aid in them answering their curiosity. And I signed them up for a curriculum website, where they get virtual prizes and printable certificates as they go along. They can use it on their Kindle Fire’s and so for them it’s like “yay we get time on our tablets” and for me it’s like “yay, they are actually engaging with stuff independently… mostly).