The Week that was all about the Birthdays

birthdayIt’s always a bit of a full on week that we have at the end of July. Both boys’ birthdays arrive within 5 days of each other. On top of it all, it also always falls with the end of a school year and all the anxieties and excitement that come with that. So to be on the other side of it, remarkably unscathed, feels a bit of a relief.

Stig’s birthday came at the weekend, he was awake early and to keep upset and stress to a minimum, we brought him up to our room and he opened his few presents before his brother woke. I was concerned about how Tink was going to deal with the day as he had been moaning all week about Stig’s birthday being first and how “it’s not fair”. Not exactly sure what he would like me to do about it, well actually I have an idea, and I think it would go along the lines of “let’s cancel it”.

So one happy 10 year old received a Kindle Fire with a few apps already downloaded, charged and ready to go, his beaming face made it all worthwhile. Surprisingly Tink was very amiable, produced a lovely card he’d made for his brother and made little to no fuss. Daddy and Stig went off to do some necessary jobs (one broken pair of glasses had arrived home on the Friday) and I took Tink to do another necessary job, buy a cake.

Later we attended another little boys party, he was turning three. We had given Stig the choice of attending or not but he had wanted to see these good family friends. We spent a couple of hours relaxing whilst the kids played really well with the other older and younger children there, before we left for a family meal.

Our meal was at our most favourite Nepalese restaurant, where the food is loved by all of us. It was a very enjoyable evening and we returned home with full satisfied tummies and smiles on our faces. We did candles on cake and singing, and then Stig refused his slice of cake and unusually went to bed without a fight. He’d had a good day and his growing maturity told him he’d had enough. On top of all that Tink had been a delight all day and enjoyed his brother’s birthday. Results all round.

Fast forward five days and we’re doing it all again, only difference is we now have staying guest Grandpa and Aunty W (dad’s wife). Again it’s an early rise, but on this occasion Stig is invited to the present opening ceremony. This was the start of what would be a day of feeling annoyed. Stig instantly sulked as he was asked to move over, not sit in the centre of the bed. He went as far as saying “right I’ll just go then” to which we all had to go “no don’t go”. And so it continued lots of behaviour that was undeniable y  saying “I do not like it when I’m not the centre of attention”. It surprised me because I had expected it from his younger brother and had really thought the older ones developing maturity would have got him through. Not the case.

We had dragging feet, head on table at lunch and lots of provoking his brother and pushing of boundaries. Nothing really big but enough to make it all very irritating and I inwardly seethed at him. Needless to say it wasn’t a late night for that one and after an enjoyable BBQ at home it was his bedtime.

So, phew, the actual birthdays are done but a party remains. I had pencilled in a date for a small gathering of children and adults at our home, a BBQ with games for children, lots of food and maybe some drinks for the grownups. I had cautiously not sent out invitations months in advanced, instead whispered the possibility of a do to a few close friends and family. I then kick started myself into action about a week before, when I felt fairly certain that it was a good idea, not too much for anyone involved, including myself, and party preparations were made.

Each boy had a couple of friends from school to come for a couple of hours. They played a few games, ran around the garden, ate sausages in buns, bashed a piñata and sang happy birthday whilst we did cake and candles, again. One child, as he was leaving, said the party had been “mint” so I feel it was a success and both Stig and Tink seemed really happy with it all. We moved on to adult food and mummy letting her hair down a bit.

Later as a few of us sat under our covered seating area, Mr H mixed Hendricks gin and elderflower presse for us to drink, and the storm came down and surrounded us. There was a real sense of drama as we huddled and watched the night sky struck bright by lightening. Mr H, not only the bar tender but also the DJ, provided the soundtrack too, an eclectic mix of 80’s music and it all felt really perfect. I felt a warm and happy glow inside, could have been the gin but I’d like to put it down to the company.

It has been a long time since we have confidently had people over for a gathering/party, we used to do it all the time and I always really enjoyed entertaining.  Times have been so hard that I have not felt like it was something I currently wanted to do. Too ashamed of the children’s behaviour and too drained from the day to day battles to find the energy to make our home presentable. We did it though, we pulled it off and I think I might try and do it again soon. It was a wonderful way to finish a week that was all about the birthdays.

Burger Making

burgersWe made burgers, actually no we did a burger making experiment.

I bought two types of mince meat, beef and turkey. I got out a variety of ingredients, seasonings and some cheeses. Then I gave the kids a bowl each and we made burgers.

Ok we did discuss it all a little, like which flavours went well together. I found they understand best when we talked about food by countries. So Italian burgers had basil or oregano in them and maybe some Parmesan or mozzarella. The Spanish burgers were seasoned with paprika and a little cumin the Indian ones with Patak’s Tikka paste, bit of a staple in our house hold. This way I ensured we didn’t end up with inedible burgers, you know the ones with a bit of everything in.

We mixed a bit of mince with the flavours we selected then patted them into little discs using our hands. We made our patties small, a bite size so we could try lots of different ones. I cooked them on trays in the oven to start with, about 10 minutes, to ensure they kept their shape and then finished them under the grill to give colour.

Served with bread and salad, the kids loved them and we all got to choose our favourites from our wide selection.027

#MemoryBox 22/07/13

awardLast Week was a good week for the boy Stig. He brought home a glowing school report which detailed the incredibly journey of learning and also emotional growth he’s had through the year. We also went on Thursday to watch him receive a school prize at the Prize Giving Ceremony. You’re not told which subject your child is being commended in before the evening so, with anticipation, we thumbed the programme on arrival. Stig’s ability in one particular subject was not being celebrated, no, he was to receive the “Teachers Special Award”. My heart pounded with pride knowing that his teacher also recognised the amazing progress he’s made this year and wished to commend him for it.

To top it all off he’s also had a birthday this week and he’s managed that well too. All the excitement and anticipation has not boiled over into a melt down, he’s enjoyed it, taken guidance and made the most of it.

However, none of this is what most impressed me about my boy. Thursday at Prize Giving we sat packed into a very warm stuffy school hall. The children receiving prizes were asked to sit in a far corner, furthest away from any cool breeze, along school benches. Stig was asked to shuffle into the middle of a tightly packed bench right at the back. I gasped slightly at the thought of him, skin against skin with those other children, feeling their warm limbs against his and in his space. He was to be one of the last children to come up on stage and so in total sat for about forty five minutes cooped up. This would at one point in his life have caused him extreme agitation and unbearable anxiety and yet on that evening he did it. That to me is the true indication of just how far he’s come.

 

I’ve linked this post to Te Adoption Social #MemoryBox

Memory Box

Holiday Happiness

Sunscreen

I thought about writing a post bursting with tips on how to holiday with your adopted children, only problem was I couldn’t get past my first tip. Never go with too much expectation, and then anything else is a bonus. This then got me thinking, had we really had such awful holidays? Have they really been all that terrible that I can’t lead you to hope it will be at all fun? The answer is no, it really isn’t true.

Yes last year in the caravan was hell, with the swearing and kicking off in such a confined space and  close to other families, I’ve never felt more like going home before it was time. Yes our first holiday to Cornwall Tink did spend some time in hospital after suffering a Febrile Convulsion on arrival. His mouth went blue and he stopped breathing, I screamed as I thought he was dying there in my arms, it was the most awful experience of my whole life.  However, that aside, the rest of the week went on to be very good. The ones with grandparents have also always been well intended but all too often add to the stress, no one’s fault; it’s just the way it is.

On the whole being away from home and in the holiday mood has brought about some fond and wonderful memories of us spending time together and enjoying each other’s company. There is no doubt that the first days in a new location provide a more heightened atmosphere, particularly for Stig. At these moments I feel like I’m constantly on to him, “Stig stop that” “Don’t touch that” “Calm down” “Be Quiet”. He goes into over vigilant mode and it can be warring. However over the years our awareness of this now means we plan more and talk more about it. His added maturity means he is increasingly more self aware and able to regulate or address the situation himself. The fact that we often return to the same places on holiday, that are familiar and loved, means that anxieties of change are further lessened.

We’ve been talking holidays plenty as we have a two week break planned to our favourite sunny spot in Portugal, which we are all looking forward too. When questioned on what he likes about going there Stig replies “Ooohh that hot guff of air that hits you as you walk off the plane”. We fall about giggling at his use of the word “guff” instead of “gust”, but decide it’s quite befitting as both are describing warm wind!

Our family’s love of food is evident in another of his favourite things, eating clams in the restaurant in the cave. He fondly remembers the night we visited this magical spot and he discovered a love for these little delicacies, he was seven at the time. From that day on, every restaurant or beach bar we entered the question would be “are there clams on the menu?” We were the proud parents of a foodie until we realised, as we all tucked into our lunch time cheese toasties, that Stig was doubling the food bill with his expensive tastes.

Tink recalls shopping as a favourite thing, although he could be anywhere and enjoy that. However he does remember exactly what the first thing was that he bought in Portugal, a fan covered in flamenco dancers and frilly lace.  The water baby within also lists all things water related as his favourite things, the pool, the sea and most of all, the water park. He won’t divulge much more than this, but at the moment with his none co-operative ways I was lucky to get that much.

Mr H has some fond memories too of our trips to Portugal; he loves the family games we play. Whilst away I always have a pack of the card game “Old Maid” in my bag, something to do in any bar or restaurant to keep us all occupied.  No one seems to tire of this game, as soon as we place our bottoms on those hot metal sun kissed seats, and before we can order a cold refreshing long one, someone will always ask “can we play Old Maid?” For such a simple game it has given us hours of pleasure, the delight in giving her away and the excitement of trying to pass her on, that Old Maid has much to be thanked for. I will definitely pack her again this year.

Mr H reminded me too of our boat trip during our last holiday to Portugal, it was a treat for Stig’s birthday. We anchored in a crystal clear lagoon and the captain advised that although it appeared beautiful the water was extremely cold. Something to do with unusual cold currents for the time of year. He also advised that although my 6 and 7 year old were good swimmers that life floats should be worn if they wanted to go in; he was concerned the shock of the cold would affect their ability to keep afloat. I whole heartedly agreed and Stig keen for a dip put his on and in he jumped. He plunged in and his head bobbed up gasping and shrieking at the cold. Soon he was clinging to the boat side and asking to be pulled out.

Next to step up is Tink, we pass him the float and the firm reply is “no, I can swim”. For the next ten minutes we tried our hardest to persuade the little man that if he wanted to go in he did need to wear the item. His heals were firmly stuck into the wooden deck of the boat, in his eye it was ludicrous that a float would be required. The Captain of the boat stepped in at this point and said to save the argument he would get in the water with the boy. So in plunged Tink, his head bobs up and not a sound exhaled, just a stoic firm set face. Then in order to really prove his point the boy turned and swam away from the boat and paddled around for a good five minutes before he then agreed to come out. Shivering and shaking the determined, controlling, little boy had firmly planted a holiday memory not to be forgotten.

And so to my memories of sunning ourselves in Portugal. When I recall these times I know that I am not always as relaxed as I would like to be on holiday, there is always a need to be planning and thinking, a mindfulness to everyone’s needs. That said, without all the other day to day distractions that home life brings there is quality family time. Like my family’s favourite memories, mine revolve around the family fun, the family meals and the experiences we share together. I love the food we eat, the games we play and the funny situations we find ourselves in. Now I really can’t wait to do it all again, although I will be quiet about my hopes for the same great times, remember low expectations.