Monday, 28 February 2011

Do not worry.

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6: 34
I don't know about you but for a natural born worrier like me, this is a very comforting verse.

When I was in senior school I had a very scary maths teacher. The scariest of scary kids were a little nervous of her, so it is unsurprising that an overgrown mouse like me would be nervous. Although my mathematics ability was negligible (and still is), I was placed in the top maths group in Year 11 which Mrs Scary, from Scary-land taught.

Each night before a maths lesson, after I had spent the evening struggling with the homework, I would toss and turn in my bed worrying about facing Mrs Scary the following day. I finally realised one night that tomorrow would come whatever I did and thought up a mantra. "In my bed, under my duvet, she can't get me here." Which I would repeat until I feel asleep.

The lesson, would nearly always go better than I thought. Normally because I could 'borrow' the homework in morning break from some sympathetic (and mathematically gifted) friends. However the proof of all this 'borrowing' came in GCSE results. I got a D. Then to add insult to injury, Mrs Scary was my teacher up until I retook the exam the following summer and achieved my longed for C grade.

There is very little point worrying about things that are beyond our control. It doesn't mean it is easy to stop worrying about them, that is the frailty of our human nature but as long as we retain some perspective. Mrs Scary, bashed my confidence, made me too afraid to seek help when I was struggling but ultimately she helped me achieve my Maths C grade, not least because I was damn sure I would not spend any more time in her classes!

Friday, 25 February 2011

When kids have cameras...

A dear friend of mine came here with her 4 lovely children on Tuesday. They were all playing with my son's Kidizoom camera. I have just sorted through the photos and come across some corkers but because I love the woman in question I shall share some favourites here rather than on facebook:
A rare and deeply attractive picture of me to start!

My friend tried to hide...
 ...and then this happened when they caught her!

 And finally her youngest son (who will be officially my God-son tomorrow if I get away with this) didn't seem impressed:

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Mementos, Memories, and Memorials,

In between playing with lego, playdough and dinosaurs, I have been sorting through drawers and cupboards. As you are already no doubt aware, tidiness is not my strong point. So therefore in this house there are lots of drawers and cupboards filled with all manner of unclassified paperwork, bit of broken toy for fixing, odd crayons, and buttons etc.

The tidying all goes well until I come across something which for happy or sad reasons makes me stop in my tracks, sit down, and peruse it. By the time I am back on track, I have usually forgotten where I have got to, and the whole cycle starts again.

This has happened twice so far this week. The first occasion was Sunday night, when i was searching through my bedside cabinet for a vital piece of paperwork (not the most logical place to keep it and it has now been moved!). I found all my Dad's licences from the churches to which he served during his ministry. I knew I had them somewhere, certain things came into my possession after Dad died because we as a family couldn't bear to throw them away. I sat down and read through them one after the other, reminiscing about the moves, the licensing service, who had been staying with us at the time, how young I was etc etc. There were a couple of service booklets in the pile including the service to celebrate Dad's 25th Anniversary of Ordination, in later service books as in this one, one hymn was always a part of each service. The great Wesley number "And can it be". It was always deeply moving for us all as a family, the verse which concludes "My chains fell off my heart was free, I rose went forth and followed thee" spoke clearly to Dad. They were an opportunity to leave behind the old, and move into new and exciting ministerial experiences, following God's call and were therefore a rousing end to a final service in a parish or a declaration of Dad's commitment to following Christ into his new parish at the licensing service.

When Dad died there was no question of the hymns for his Requiem. Thine be the Glory, Sweet Sacrament Divine, and And Can it Be. This time the verse to note was the last one:

No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in him, is mine;
alive in him, my living Head,
and clothed in righteousness divine,
bold I approach th' eternal throne,
and claim the crown, through Christ my own.
Bold I approach th' eternal throne,
and claim the crown, through Christ my own.

The wonderful Eulogy given by a dear friend of my parents, included a piece from the book Dad had been writing at the time of his death.
When my father died in 1973, I selected the memorial cards and chose the verse beginning 'I am the Resurrection and the life...' I did not pick this verse in a sentimental comforting way: I knew my father was with the Lord. I selected it as a statement of belief for both of us. Each of us shares in Jesus' resurrection in two ways - firstly in a sacramental way through Baptism and the Eucharist and secondly through the free action of ours which welcomes God's graciousness. We are spurred on and energised by God's Spirit towards the final fulfilment. However broken and hurt we may be God's healing is available for us, first in this world and ultimately in the next. 
On this occasion the find was a happy one, and I am grateful for my lack of order because it gives me the chance to stumble upon these memories in a natural and organic kind of way. This last week a dear friend died suddenly and left his wife of 50 years bereft, shocked and overwhelmed with grief. So this exercise, as well as drawing my mind back to my dear Dad has also given me the opportunity to stop and pray, for the soul of this departed friend and for God's comfort for his wife and family in their grief. Also to pray for all who grieve for those they love but see no longer in this life.

Faithful God,
Lord of all creation,
You desire that nothing redeemed by your Son
Will ever be lost,
Comfort those who grieve,
Grant eternal rest to the faithful departed,
May they rest in peace.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Friends Forever?

We had some playground politics on Friday. Little Bear was the only child in his class not to receive an invitation to a birthday party.

There are lots of reasons why this was a fairly reasonable thing to do. This is a child Little Bear has hurt in the past, Little Bear has a reputation for being "difficult", and last and by no means least the child concerned obviously does not like Little Bear. However if the parent only knew how much not being invited would upset Little Bear then maybe she would have had a word with me so that I could work out a way to tell him he couldn't go rather than just being ostracised as she made her way down the line in the playground giving out invites. (Note: Little Bear wouldn't cope with a kid's party, I would hate it as I have only one playground buddy, and we would make our excuses anyway - but being asked would mean a lot.)

Later that day Little Bear lost it with the same boy. (Teachers were not aware of the party issue) He very nearly bit him but resisted at the last minute, apologised, said he knew he shouldn't do it and burst into tears. This is major progress for Little Bear who has a fairly basic grasp of his own emotions and very limited impulse control (amongst other problems) and his teacher's recognised this with a special achievement sticker.

At home LB started discussing birthday parties all of a sudden (he would like a dinosaur party and we would be guests), so I casually brought up the subject of birthdays in his class. He told me about this little boy's birthday but said "He said I'm not his friend". Ah I thought to myself, that's why you tried to bite him.

Can I just point out at this point that there is NO excuse for biting or indeed hurting another in any way, and LB is fully aware of this, however for him it is a sign of extreme emotional stress. "I don't know how to handle this, I can't cope!" and then an inappropriate response follows. He doesn't intend to hurt but it doesn't change the fact that it does still bloody well hurt (I am not sure that I would be able to manage with a friend who bit me"!

So it got me thinking, how does one explain friendship to a 4yr old who has emotional delay and suspected ASD? How does one explain friendship to a 4yr old at all? How does one explain friendship to an adult?

I am a fairly straightforward person. I therefore only have two types of friend. I have lots of people with whom I am friendly, I care for them, and they are remembered in my prayers and there are lots of these people. Then there is one other group to whom I shall dedicate this post,  the ones who fit the following criteria:
  • We may have known each other for many years, it may just be months but we are confidants for each other.
  • We may speak daily, weekly, monthly, or annually but when we do meet our relationship is just the same as it was the last time we were together.
  • We know each other so well that we can tell how the other is feeling without being explicitly told, and then we can allow momentary irritation to wash over us, safe in the knowledge that there was no hurt meant.
  • We appreciate every inch of each others personalities and embrace them - even the annoying bits.
  • No matter where we are, near or far, we are in each other's thoughts and prayers.
That's explained it for me but it's taken 30 years on this earth to work it out - my 4 year old has got a while to go yet.

Why I love my Dog

Darling Monty dog is gorgeous and soft, cuddly and cute, and a real joy to have as a part of our lives. There is nothing more endearing than watching Little Bear kiss us goodbye as we go off to walk Monty, and then bending down to give Monty a cuddle and kissing the top of his head. Monty likes lie across the Curate on the sofa in the evenings and loves nothing more than a vigourous tummy rub, and the welcome we receive when we come back home, whether we have been out for the day or 10 minutes is a sight to behold.

Life with a doodle is never a dull one and occasionally a touch frustrating. He is attracted to mud and soaks it up like a sponge, then once dry he deposits it all over the house. Sometimes when he comes in from a walk and lies down on his bed for an hour or so, when he gets up there is a Monty shaped shadow on the bed/floor like a chalk drawing at a murder scene!

He is an accomplished thief. Today he has been caught (just in the nick of time) with the pods from the egg poacher in his jaws. Any little loose toys lying around get collected in his mouth, they are normally chewed and spat out again, although we have had a marble pass all the way through, yuck! (Just in case you were wondering, we did NOT keep the marble)

He is convinced he is part feline and chases birds in the garden. He went through a phase of chasing ducks near the pond - and nearly caught one recently. Yikes!

We love him anyway, unconditionally, as he is. After all it is only our lack of prowess at training that has created his little behaviour quirks, and as dogs go he is a fairly tame example! That's life with a dog though, the absolution devotion, to you, to food and to muddy puddles - and we wouldn't have it any other way.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Pants in the Pond

There was a discussion on Twitter today centred around how one mum would sort out her children's accumulated clutter. The consensus was that the best way to sort it was to put it all in black bags (adult clutter included) and charge a 1p tithe to release it to its owner. A very good idea, and one that we could do with using in this house from time to time (I would owe a lot of money)!

This discussion amused me, particularly as from the ages of 5 - 21 I was possibly the least tidy person that God lovingly created! I have gradually improved but that is mainly thanks to the influence of a certain Curate of my acquaintance whose own tidiness borders on excessive (in my humble opinion). However during the years above I lived with my parents and then in various student digs where my untidiness knew no bounds!

One particular incident from adolescence is worth sharing (although those of you with teenagers should look away now in case you are moved to follow my Mum's example).

I had gone for tea at a friend's house a couple of streets away, and I received a phone call. It went like this:

Me: "Hello Mum, what's up?"
Mum: "Oh nothing, I am fine now, but you need to come home immediately!" Said in an calm and slightly scary voice.
Me: "What have I done?"
Mum: "Come home now!"

I raced all the way home, my heart beating ninety to the dozen to discover my fate. I had no idea what i could possibly have done to be in trouble but I still felt guilty. When I arrived home, Mum was still calm and she said "I was appalled by the state of your room today and so in a fit of anger I have thrown all the things that shouldn't be on the floor out of your bedroom window and you need to go into the garden and collect them. Now!"

I scuttled off into the garden to retrieve random items of makeup, magazines, soft toys, and most embarrassingly discarded items of dirty laundry. Most of the laundry (mainly pants to my shame and disgust) had already had a pre-wash cycle as my window was directly above the garden pond!

When I came back in and apologised for my room and the mess and assured Mum I would try harder in future, she accepted my apology and we continued our evening in peace. However when I went to bed that night I discovered that she hadn't finished my 'unusual' punishment. As I got into bed I squealed at a strange noise - Mum had filled my duvet cover with my discarded sweet wrappers! Needless to say they went in the bin (where they should have been in the first place) immediately.

So teenagers, if you are being berated for the state of your room, or not taking your washing to the laundry bin, just remember it could be far far worse

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Dog Walking Part 2

"I love bounding!"

"Can I jump in? Oh pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease!?"

Doodles are made for mud!
Monty was 'ere!

"Come on, Keep up!"

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

The Lure of Technology

At this precise moment, my family are lined up like the three wise monkeys on the sofa. I am "Hear no evil" attached to the laptop and concentrating on my blog. Little Bear is "See no evil" as he is currently wearing his patch from the orthoptist and concentrating on his newly discovered love of Mario Kart for Nintendo DS (a cast-off 6 year old version which was once mine by the way in case you thought we had one mad an bought one for our 4yr old), and "Speak no evil" the Curate in the corner, is currently having some 'down-time' playing his Nintendo DSi XL which he got from Father Christmas!

This brought me round to thinking about a problem that wasn't relevant when I was a child, limiting screen time. There were a limited number of accessible screens when I was a child, more than the generation that preceded me, but far far less than the generations that have followed.

I love technology, I am attached to my smartphone as if it is an extra limb. I love having the answers to so many questions at my finger tips and occasionally finding the accurate ones! I tweet and text, I play my own Nintendo DSi XL (Father Christmas lacked imagination this year!), I facebook, and of course I blog.

However, as half term approaches I will be putting down the DSs, the laptops and the phone (for a little while) and playing with my son, I will lead by example and resist the lure of the computer screen and just play. Craft materials will be purchased, lego will be brought out and face to face contact will be established.

I think that the best way to lure the next generation away from their technology is if their adult set the example themselves - and on that note I will step away from the laptop (oh and the noise of two different DS games being played simultaneously which is DOING MY HEAD IN!) and go and cook the tea, it's my turn.

Lunch Club

Today was my weekly stint as a cook/dish-washer at our Luncheon Club. It happens twice weekly although I am only on the Tuesday team, and attracts around 30 to each session.

The diners arrive at 12 noon, pay their £3.00 entry and are provided with a Main Course, Pudding and Coffee/Tea all inclusive. One of their number organising a small weekly raffle.We provide a hot meal for some very vulnerable people, who thanks to the ring and ride service, are able to sit and chat and share a meal with friends for a nominal fee.

The team is staffed solely by volunteers, some are old enough to qualify for a lunch with the diners themselves but are able in mind and body and keen to continue to serve. This is probably thanks to the camaraderie in the kitchen. We are a happy team and help one another out, we are all able to 'just get on with it' and ensure everything happens to plan. Occasionally there is a little slip up, last week we had no gas supply for 20 mins due to human error,  this week we had one cut finger (not me) one pan of gravy boiled over (was my fault) and a minor error involving corn flour and sheepskin boots (me again) but the diners always get their meal and it all sorts itself out eventually.

The Luncheon Club is not specifically a church initiative although it takes place on church property and some of its volunteers (and some diners) are church members, but it strikes me as being one of the wonderful things that a church can offer as a service to the community. We are blessed with a large centre, a new gleaming catering kitchen (or at least it is gleaming again now), and it is only right the we should use these facilities to meet this need.

The Club is both a family for its diners and a family for its volunteers, and although I sometimes whinge when it's time to go, I am always glad that I have been. I feel blessed to be able to, due to my current circumstances, contribute in this way. Although I wish I wasn't so inept sometimes, and my expensive boots do to.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

On duty?

On Saturdays, once the Curate has been up to church to say Morning Prayer he is unofficially ours. I say unofficially because it is not his day off, and occasionally there are duties to attend to on a Saturday which need to be prioritised but most of the time he is around.

Time to spend with our little family. Lego, mammoth train sets and dog walks are the order of the day. What is generally referred to as "chilling".

As it is unofficial time, should a trip to the supermarket be required, the collar goes back on and the Curate is seen out in his community in his "work clothes". The outward sign that should he be required he is available for the parish.

For this reason (and many others that I wont ramble on about now) I agree with David Cloake. My Curate is at home most of the time on a Saturday but he is still a priest, he is still 'on duty' and when he is out the collar publicly declares this - and rightly so.

Friday, 11 February 2011

The Sound of Monty

Muddy paws bounding and ball chasing freedom
Sprawled on the sofa surveying my kingdom
Liver treats, biscuits and big chicken wings
These are a few of my favourite things

Laid on my blankets in one Curate's study
Lady comes in and it's walkies time -goody!
Comes home from shopping lets see what she brings,
These are a few of my favourite things

When the rat nips,
When the bone's chewed,
When I'm feeling sad
I simply remember my favourite things
And then I don't feel so bad. Woof.

STOP - Children Crossing

When I was in primary school my Mum walked us to school, at a mere 0.9 miles it was a tiny fraction of what she had been expected to walk when she was going to school in rural Ireland. It is also only fair to say that she was a stay at home parent and so was available to walk both ways twice a day to get us to and from school.

According to the Office for National Statistics, in 2008, 48 per cent of 5 to 10-year olds walked to school, 5 percentage points lower than those walking to school in 1995–1997.

In Ghana, a tricycle project has been set up for children to be transported to school. They had been understandably struggling with the 9 mile round trip walk to school daily and this scheme has helped some children keep up their school attendance. It certainly puts my 1.8 mile childhood round trip into perspective!

In this country we are blessed with many choices. We have not one school but a choice of possible schools for our children to attend, we have the opportunity to choose our lifestyle, we have access to cars, public transport, bikes and scooters not just the ability to walk to school.

Is it this level of choice which has made some of us selfish?

Today we received a communication from school to all parents. It informed us that their had been an incident outside school in which a child had been hit by a car. Mercifully the child escaped injury. This is horrendous.

I know from friends of mine that the problem of inconsiderate parking and driving is not just restricted to my son's school gates. Many schools up and down the country, in little country villages with little parking opportunities at all, in town centres, and on main roads in leafy suburbs such as ours are plagued with parking/picking up/dropping off disasters.

I refuse to allow my son to let go of my hand on the pavement outside school. This is because there have been at least three near misses where people have mounted the pavement at speed as we walked along, he has also hit his head on a car wing mirror the car which it was attached to was taking up so much of the pavement that my son could not miss it! The parking situation has calmed down a bit in recent months, the issue here really is parents mounting the kerb at speed and dropping off their children and rejoining the traffic in an equally reckless manner. This is before we even consider the impact on wheelchair users or parents with pushchairs.

This behaviour is pure selfishness. The person concerned is not thinking for one minute about the impact on pedestrians, or other road users for that matter. All that concerns them is that their child gets to school on time, and their day goes as planned.

I realise for some parents it is a case of dropping children to school on the way to work. If so, park further away as many do and allow 5 mins extra in the morning, use wrap around childcare as required, walk to school and walk back for the car if close enough. But please don't screech to a halt on the pavement outside the school gate, allow your child to open the front passenger door without checking for pedestrians coming up behind (I have been hit by a car door), and barge back into the traffic again. There is NO excuse.

There you go then rant over! I feel better, I hope the child who was hit by a car feels better too.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Planning to plan...

Anyone who knows me well will testify that I am not known for my organisation. I don't plan in advance, I rarely use a diary and I fly by the seat of my pants most of the time.

At school I was always the one who arrived without the ingredients for Home Economics, or without the homework because I had genuinely forgotten it. In fact I was so disorganised, on one occasion I admitted to having completely forgotten the homework, received a detention, and then during the detention the teacher who set the homework came in and told me that I had not been in school on the day it was set! A typical example really.

I haven't got any better since school, I worked in a job which followed a particular pattern each week and so I could manage that with no major difficulties, a preschooler at home doesn't require an organised Mummy luckily, just one who feeds him, cares for him and plays with him.

When my son started school I unravelled a little, as now I am required to provide all the necessary deitrus a child is required to take to school. It also helps if I read the endless mailouts from school and respond immediately otherwise they are long forgotten.

In contrast, this morning I attended the second meeting to plan a service with our Churches Together. This service will take place in one month's time. The service is all ready prepared and booklets containing all the information one could possibly need to create a service of distinction is included. Now after two meetings we have covered every possible eventuality and just have a meeting after the service where we will debrief, to look forward to!

My husband's only comment on this feat of organisation was "You can tell this service isn't clergy led, we would turn up and say who's doing what then?"

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Just cohabiting?

I wonder have you been watching Big Fat Gypsy Weddings? If you have will you admit to it?

For me it is a guilty pleasure, I feel I ought not to watch it, and find myself recoiling at some aspects and values of a culture which is so different to my own. However, it is a culture in which marriage is held in high regard, and Christian marriage at that. The fake tan make be as heavy as the ginormous dress, the guests may be wearing next to nothing, the groom may retire to the pub before the ceremony when his bride is delayed but there is a ceremony and it is in church.

In this week's Church Times there is a feature which bears the same title as this blog post in which it examines the fact that an increasing number of Christians are choosing to live together before they marry (something which the traveller and gypsy communities would not condone).

As a child I would never have imagined that i would live with a man before he became my husband, nor that my parents would ever condone such an idea. However I did do just that.

My husband and I had been in a relationship for about two months when we discussed living together. The conversation went as follows:
Me "It seems crazy to be paying two lots of rent when we spend all our time together"
Him "Then why don't we get a place together?"
Me "Oh, my Dad would never accept that...unless we were planning on getting married."
Him (with a cheeky grin) "That could be arranged"

That sounded like a proposal to me! I let it slide and decided to wait and see what happened. I then spent a month perusing HSamuel's window not very discreetly admiring the little diamond solitaire in the window display. I had a major panic one day walking past when I realised it had gone from the window. At the end of June we were engaged, the proposal was going to happen inside our (then) local cathedral but as it is a tourist hotspot in June it ended up taking place in the close. I sat on the bench, he had one knee on the gravel. I wore the ring on a chain around my neck until he came home with me to ask my Dad's permission.

We moved in together a couple of months after that, we were engaged, we had decided on a date for our wedding and we had a year of living together before we were married. Although some people were disapproving in our church friends, most were unperturbed and we had two congregations packed into church with our families and friends to attend our Nuptial Mass. This glorious July day was a whole 16 months after our relationship began, this year we celebrate our 9th wedding anniversary.

My Dad particularly would never have agreed to our moving in together were it not for our decision to make the binding commitment of Christian marriage by becoming engaged and by setting a date for our wedding. In many ways he was a traditional man and a deeply moral man, but he was also of the opinion that it was the long lasting commitment to one another (finalised before God in marriage vows) which was the important bit not the wedding day.

For me then, marriage is the ideal, but it does not lessen the binding commitment that a couple make when they choose to share a home and a life together, it is the glue that helps to strengthen their bond together, and with God. It takes a strong couple to look into each others eyes and sincerely and with love tell them "All that I am I give to you, and all that I have I share with you, within the love of God, Father Son and Holy Spirit".

Amen to that!

Monday, 7 February 2011

A walk and a swim...

Just a few photos from today's walk, Monty the doodle just loves the chance to combine chasing the ball with a swim in the lake.
He now goes in quite deep. He has always been keen on the water, but gradually got braver and braver. Today a German Shepherd chased him in but stopped when he got out of his depth. Monty carried on regardless.
His fur is rather like velcro, and he picks up half the park on these walks and then sheds it around the car and the house!

Lots of panting after a long run chasing the ball means lots of gratuititous shots of his ginormous tongue! After a run around the park he starts to tire and then has a swim and he is raring to go again.

We all had a lovely walk today, I hope you enjoyed the photos.
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Sunday, 6 February 2011

Charity Collection Bags

A bogus charity leaflet, used in the Midlands

We live in an area which is inundated with these collection bags, some genuine charities, others acting illegally and others who fit just inside the law but a teeny tiny percentage of the rag value on each bag goes on to the charity advertised.

They drive me crazy, arriving through the post, making us believe we are popular enough to be receiving post, littering my doorway with their multi coloured proclamations promising an end to agoraphobia in gerbils, or a cure for world nits.

When they do arrive from well known and well thought of national charities, some of which have funded excellent research into the causes of cancer, or heart disease, or are regulars in supporting countries in need of aid around the world, then my attitude is different. Instead I think of the people for whom they are raising the money, and the lives it will touch. I also think of the staff working in our local charity shops and have a little reminisce.

I used to manage one of these small local branches of a large national chain of shops for a well respected charity. As much as I was absolutely overcome with people's generosity when the van driver arrived at the shops with one of his twice weekly collections, it was also overwhelming in a physical sense sometimes.

This particular charity used to have a policy which meant that only the management could sort through the stuff donated. In practice this meant that we went through around 250-300 bags a week from the van and another 100 bags donated through the door. Then our tireless army of volunteers tagged, and pressed it before it was put out into the shop. 

As well as being a pretty physical job a person needed a good sense of humour. In my 5 years we had across our area of shops, some very bizarre donations in these bags, the following still gives me nightmares:
  • A kind gentleman donated a bag full of 'interesting' underwear and even more 'interesting' accessories by accident. He then rang to get them back at which point we had to explain that they really weren't our usual kind of stock and had been disposed of...he was NOT a happy man!
So when you receive a bag through the door please check out the charity's credentials online. If you are in when they are in the area you could even ask for ID (a reputable charity would supply their drivers with this), if you are still not sure take it into your local shop.

Oh and spare a thought for the 'sorters'. Is it really going to be saleable? No? Freecycle or chuck it out. Sadly some things are beyond repair.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Do You Wear Your Heart on Your Sleeve?

I have been accused of this many times in the past and the accusation has always been founded an is one which I would never deny. To deny it for me would be to go against my personal integrity. I value openness and see the ability to be open about their emotions and so make themselves vulnerable as an incredible strength.

A little trivial example of the need for openness:
When I was soon to be married I went with my Mum to our hairdresser to decide how I would wear my shoulder length (then) hair on the big day. I was absolutely convinced that cascading curls would be just perfect, and although my dead straight and exceptionally thick hair had never been keen to curl I was sure the hairdresser could manage it.

She tried. With a lot of products, and curlers, and tongs she created curls of a sort. I looked in the mirror and I felt as if my hair had been removed and replaced with someone elses. The style was HUGE, it was impossible to explain quite how big. However not wanting to let the hairdresser down after all her hard work I said it was "Fine". Sandy the hairdresser also expressed her opinion then that it was "Fine", and indeed that was also my Mum's choice of word to describe it. It certainly wasn't fine!

When I got back to my lovely fiance that afternoon, he very kindly remarked that we "...would have trouble fitting it in the car, and through the front door" between laughs! (Hmm that's openness for you...) So I eventually plucked up the courage and told Mum who told Sandy and then announced that they were both relieved because it was "too big, and just didn't suit you". Arghhhhhh! If we had all been honest like my fiance we would have saved ourselves the worry!

There is of course a negative side to this, in that the method in which one choses to display this openness may cause offence in others. It is something that needs to be dealt with with great sensitivity. Mum and Sandy didn't want to upset me as I had my heart set on curls so they left me to work it out for myself.

I now literally wear my heart on my sleeve in the form of two of my tattoos which mean the most to me. Alpha and Omega to remind me constantly of the Lord my God the beginning and the end of all things, and a memorial for my Dad.

I also use a basic principle of not saying anything at all rather than telling a lie, but always speaking out on issues which I feel matter, not just to me but have a wider goal.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Our Father in Heaven...

My Dad died when our small son was only 2 years old. In order to talk about this man whom Little Bear knew very little about, but the people he is closest to in the world loved deeply, we started to refer to Dad as Grandad-in-Heaven. This serves two purposes, it reminds him gently what had happened to Grandad and also distinguishes him from Grandad-in-Salisbury. This title for my Dad has stuck.

I was nattering to Mum on the phone the other day, and as Dad was a huge football fan (despite his lifelong Leeds support) the conversation came around to Andy Grey. It was at this point Mum saith unto me "Your Father-in-Heaven would have been really pleased with his sacking, he thought he was an arrogant s***e"

I had a split second pause whilst I worked this one out, I can tell you!

You see this is my father in Heaven, I couldn't comment on our Father in Heaven's
feelings about Andy Grey!

Dog Walking

 We are very lucky to live near a huge park/nature reserve - great for days filled with winter sun and doodle dashing! I thought I would post some photos of this afternoon's walk.

Monty entertains himself and me by running backwards and forwards for his ball!
There are some wild ponies who call the park their home, and now that Monty is unlikely to cause a stampede we can pass them safely and even stop for photo opportunities. They are very beautiful and extremely brave (although they had been driven into our path today by some tree felling further into the park).


Yesterday was our screening visit. The first visit to prospective adopters, to establish lots of things really. It checks whether they are who they say they are, whether their home is appropriate, whether they have considered all the aspects of adopting a child and are sure that they wish to proceed, and it covers many bases.

As we are already adopters we were less daunted by the prospect of this visit than we had been the first time around and felt ready for all it might throw at us, or so we thought.

I was looking at this through rose tinted specs I feel. Imagining already what life would be like with this other child and avoiding the uncomfortable feelings it stirred when I thought about what could go wrong.

The meeting started well, and I was confidently describing Little Bear's early experiences with us and how he is now. I was dwelling not on the issues he faces but rather on the support which he is receiving and we continue to access for him. I talked about his knowledge of adoption and his birth family and that is was the understanding on his birth siblings which led him on to thinking about a sibling who might live with us.

Then we his crunch time. The social worker put down her pad and pen and said "How do you think Little Bear will cope with such a big change in circumstances, when he has had such difficulty settling in school, and is so anxious away from you?" We tried to think of responses to that which were positive and realistic but sadly there were none. The genuine answer is "He wont cope."  We were then advised to wait until after September when Little Bear has experienced some changes and there is a sort of proof of his ability to accept change. Time and time again she said "You are doing a good job with LB and I am sure you would be able to parent another adopted child just as well, but in my opinion this is not the right time for LB".

She is correct.

Although with all that in mind I am not sure that there will ever be a 'right time' for LB to share us full-time with another child. He just will not cope. It all comes down to doing the best for LB. He is 100% our responsibility and the most wonderful gift to us as a family. He makes our lives richer and gives them more meaning. There is no way that either of us would do anything to jeopardise LB or our relationship as a family unit. Although it seemed right at one point through my rose tinted specs, it would not be right for any of us, least of all LB. If I am honest I can't imagine another child here with us.

Little Bear has been and continues to be a joy to parent (despite his struggles with peer relationships). He is gentle and loving, demonstrative, so obviously grateful for time spent just being with him. He is clever and very very funny and he is ours.

A few months ago Little Bear had been talking about his two families and how he has two Mummies and two Daddies. After a long pause he turned to me and said "You're my best Mummy". That is all I want to be and all I will ever need.