First 100 hugs

When our daughter came to us she was a bundle of nervous energy and tension. Hugging her was awkward as she was like a coiled spring.  Love didn’t come quickly either.  I felt huge amounts of responsibility, empathy and commitment, but it wasn’t easy, relaxed, every day love.  We are huggers in our family – my husband is Italian and greets everyone with a big hug, even social workers!  We kept hugging her when it felt right even if her body felt tense and spiky and gradually, over time, we noticed her muscles relax.  It probably took more than 100 hugs before finally she let go and allowed herself to sink into the hug, her body floppy and comfortable.  Now she loves nothing more than a great big squeeze.  She will sit on me – and she’s getting heavy at nearly 9 years old – and press her cheek into mine.  Her body like a sack of potatoes, heavy and relaxed. And as the tension melted away she became 100 times more lovable. It feels so good to know that she is now comfortable enough in her own skin, and in our world, to let go and be herself.


Celebrate the Small Stuff

This week B (5yo) came home with a certificate and we went crazy!!  It’s a fairly rare occurrence in our house and so we make a point of going completely bonkers whooping and shrieking with joy.  “A certificate! Brilliant! Woohoo!”.  The certificate was for ‘doing some independent writing’ – it didn’t specify what exactly was meant by ‘some’ but we didn’t care.  It was enough for them to bother filling in a brightly coloured certificate and popping it in his bag and that’s what matters.  Like most parents we stick certificates on the fridge in amongst garish fridge magnets, scribbled timetables and, even rarer, birthday party invitations.  Pride of place.IMG_20150115_114441615[1]

We are hoping that our ridiculously over the top responses will make B want to get more certificates – perhaps it will put him off, but I don’t think so.  He has loved going to fetch it to show every visitor who crosses our threshold.  Ok, so he was fairly monosyllabic when I called my Mum and Dad and tried to get him to explain to them why he got his ‘certikifat’, but hopefully all this positivity will be soaked up like a big self esteem raising sponge.

I am posting this pic as part of #takingcare100 – I don’t know if I’ll make it to 100 pics as quite new to all this mullarkey and not sure if I’m doing it right.  But you asked for a picture of something that makes us happy and B’s certificate stuck to the fridge certainly does that!

Happy Hair

Hair has been a big issue for my family – well for me and D (8yo) to be precise.  She has rather lovely strawberry blonde fine hair – in stark contrast to my thick brown wavy mop.  Her hair has a tendency to tangle and in an effort to keep it neat we have bought tangle teasers, tangle spray and had it cut into a cute bob.  Now though she is pretty insistent that she wants it long, and the most recent deal is that if she doesn’t make a fuss about it being brushed then she can keep it longer.  In the holidays I’m not so fussed about it being a bit untidy but for school I like her to be well presented.  I don’t want to set her up for any kind of ridicule as she has enough to deal with as it is.

School mornings have frequently been a bit of a battle.  Even if I snagged the tiniest amount of hair we have had melodramatic screaming and histrionics.  The tangle teaser brush only seems to smooth out the top layer of hair and makes no impact at all on the hair underneath.

So this Christmas a possible solution was unwrapped by D – a super Dorling Kindersley book called ‘Fabulous Hair’.  D describes herself as a ‘sporty’ girl rather than a ‘girly’ girl – she does not wear dresses and absolutely detests pink!  She loves this book though.  It has loads of ideas for styles for all kinds of girls.  The girls in the book look like normal healthy happy girls with a range of skin tones and hair types, and they use a range of accessories of different colours – not just pink! How refreshing!

We have had fun experimenting with different looks and buying special grips and clips.  She has learnt to be more tolerant of me pulling and fiddling with her hair as she is so keen to try the styles out.  We have had low plaited bunches that look cool with hats, little plaited buns that make you look like a ballerina, lots of tiny plaits at the front that go all crinkly after a while and super neat pony tails,  We have actually enjoyed brushing and styling hair and D has enjoyed all the compliments.  Happy hair has taught D how to care for herself and given her self esteem a boost.

This morning we tried plaited buns but her hair is super fine and floppy and I just couldn’t get them to stay in, so we opted for low pigtails – that just about squeezed under her bike helmet!  And wonder of wonders – we didn’t have any tears or tantrums about hair this morning.  Have we discovered happy hair at last?

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New year, new blog

2015 has just begun and so it is with trepidation that I embark on this blog.  The intention is to share the positives of bringing up our adopted children.  Any adoptive parent will know that adoption is a challenging old process and the challenges begin in earnest once the children are placed.  We adoptive parents can tend to focus on these challenges, and fair enough, as frankly they do our heads in!  However, I am hoping to be able to share some of the many positives of adoption.  Some may think me naive, hopelessly optimistic and over sentimental and this is probably a bit true.  There will be difficult days ahead of course and I won’t be pretending that these don’t happen and perhaps the focus will change when reality sets in! One of the most amazing things about adoption is watching the resilience of our children in action.  After all they have had to deal with, they still manage to grab life by the balls and go for it.

My husband (T) and I (M) have 2 children.  Our daughter D is nearly 9 and our son B is nearly 6.  They have been with us since August 2011 and so this has been our 4th Christmas together.  We live in London. It’s tricky this writing about adoption business as I feel that it is probably not a great idea to share my exact location or the names of my children.  Suffice it to say that we live in a modest house in a diverse and not-posh-at-all, but getting a bit posher, area – for example, a sourdough pizza place that we can’t afford to go to has just opened up, Boden catalogues get delivered and promptly recycled, and house prices are going mental .

Our lives have been pretty chaotic, but 3 years in, we are beginning to find some balance .  Our children have settled and more things are becoming possible. We’ll just keep giving it a good old go and hoping for the best.  Let’s see what 2015 brings…