Going It Alone….

I’ve always said that single parents do an amazing job, but this month I am not overly enjoying the joys of being on my own and bow down to those who do it on a daily basis.

My husband hasn’t left me, but for various reasons he isn’t around much this month.

  • Last week he was playing in a pit band for a local show so myself and the girls saw him for approximately an hour (if that) every day for 7 days
  • This week he has man flu and this stops him from doing EVERYTHING – walking the dog, cooking meals, helping with homework, ferrying the kids round etc etc etc.  Doesn’t matter that I’m not getting any sleep either thanks to his constant coughing – not helped by the typical male avoidance of taking any medication that might actually help!
  • In a couple of weeks he then plays in 2 shows back to back so for the 1st week we will maybe say hello at breakfast every day for 7 days and that will be it as he will go straight to the theatre from work and get home when I’m in bed. The 2nd week is half term, so again they might see him for a couple of hours in between him going to work and going to the show (fortunately this one is only round the corner) and i will have them 24/7.

I’m not moaning about having to look after the girls – otherwise I’d never have adopted them, but 8 really struggles when one of us is away for any period of time. I’ve been away overnight 3 or 4 times in the last 3 years and always know that on my return I will pay the price. She can be rude and obnoxious and press all the right buttons to make me angry, so I can feel the same way that she does.

The problem is that when their dad isn’t around much it is still me that pays the price. Last weekend when he left the house at 12:30 and wasn’t returning until after 23:00 they really put me through the wringer! I could actually feel my sanity disappearing…

So why is it only me they turn on? Is it because they feel it was their first mother figure that let them down? This may well be the case as they mention their birth mum a bit, but rarely, if ever, their dad. Whatever the reason it is a good job I have a thick skin and know it won’t last for ever.

I’m telling you now……come the end of these 2 shows he had better spend some of his fee on me. A lot of self care will be needed as I’ve even got to do the dreaded parents’ evening on my own!Screen Shot 2017-09-20 at 20.28.03

 

 

Advertisements

Surviving Summer

I did it!

I go back to work tomorrow after 6 weeks with the girls – and I don’t think I’ve really lost the plot or cried once!

This is a major achievement, especially as I’m coming off my anti-depressants too!

How have I managed it? I’m not sure really….

One thing I did try to do this year was to break up the summer, so the girls weren’t at home being ‘bored’ for too long. So summer went something like this:

Week 1 – Girls were in dance summer school Monday to Friday. This worked really well as 8 didn’t go straight from structured school to unstructured holidays, they were entertained all day and then it gave me time to get on top of all the ‘teachery’ stuff I needed to do. On the Sunday of that week we also went to visit with the foster carers, which went really well too.

Weeks 2 and 3 – These were spent at home. I’m not one for spending a lot of money treating them all of the time in that way, but I do like to get out of the house every day, even if just for a couple of hours. So we visited friends and family, fed the ducks, walked the dog, did the reading challenge at the library, went to Hobbycraft for craft sessions, took trips to the park etc… The final weekend was spent having an early birthday for 6 as we were going away on her actual birthday, so presents were given and cake was eaten.

Week 4 – We went to London from Monday to Wednesday, taking the girls to the Tower of London and watching The Wind In The Willows and Going On A Bear Hunt amongst a myriad of other things. This was our family time as the main holiday was spent with our stepson and his family. This was our 2nd trip to London this year and again the girls were brilliantly behaved and a good time was had by all. The end of this week saw us holding a traditional birthday party for 6 (seeing as though she was in London on the actual day). I never realised 8 girls could scream so much and so loudly when they were playing….

Week 5 – Similar to weeks 2 and 3, but included packing for our holiday in Yorkshire as we left on the Friday. The morning we left I had to go and pick up a letter from Birth Mum from the Post Office. I was really worried, but actually it was ok. The social worker had clearly helped her to write it, but it was just full of references to our letters. She referred to activities that the girls had done that she also enjoyed doing and I was relieved to hear from her to tell you the truth. Let’s see if we receive another one as this is the 1st we have received from either parent in 3 years.

Week 6 – Our holiday! Had a great time round Whitby, Scarborough and Bridlington. As I’ve said we went with my stepson’s family, so it was a little different than our previous 2 holidays, but a good time was had by all, despite my granddaughter having chickenpox. We got sunburned on the beach on bank holiday Monday and went on pirate and speedboats. Visited a couple of farms and had fun on old fairground rides, before stopping of at York on the way home and visiting the museum there. 4 children in 2 bedrooms does not make for a good night’s sleep however.

So, I’m now back at work tomorrow and the girls have a day at home with dad. I’ve had a good summer and have enjoyed every minute of it, but have also realised that breaking the weeks up worked really well for the girls. Next year won’t be so easy to do as we aren’t going away as my step-daughter is getting married, but we will have to try and slip in a few days away in London or somewhere else I think.

Best summer so far. If my husband retires as planned in June he will be at home for it next year too….IMG_3250

A Different World….

My stepdaughter is 5 months pregnant at the moment, due to give birth to my grandson in January. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not jealous in any way shape or form. That feeling left me a while ago. But it just got me to thinking about how different life is when you are pregnant as opposed to going through the adoption process.

These are the obvious ones for when you are pregnantimages-2:

  1. You get to surprise your husband

Ultimately when you are pregnant you are the first to know and you get that magical moment of telling your partner that you are going to have a child together (or surprise them if it un-planned). When you adopt you have to agree on when/if this is right for you both and therefore it can never be unplanned! There is no surprise for the spouse….

2. You have to stop drinking

Obviously, when you adopt this is a positive, but I’m sure none of us would have complained about it if we were naturally pregnant. For us, having been trained in the side effects of drugs, alcohol in particular, in our adoption training, we are much more aware of it now than if we would have been if we had been pregnant, when ‘just a small glass wouldn’t hurt’. I have lost count of the times in recent years when I have been disgusted to see a pregnant woman with a wine glass in her hand…..

3. You put on weight

I know this goes without saying, but the number of pregnant women who moan about this! I wouldn’t have minded having an excuse to eat more cake and chocolate and be praised on the size of my waistline. No one complimented me on my figure when I simply ate cake and chocolate to deal with the pressures of the adoption process…..

4. You can find out the sex at 20 weeks or have a surprise

We have all had to choose! No surprises for us. No big black balloon like my stepdaughter had filled with coloured paper when you pop it to tell you what you are having…..

5. Scans

None of us got to see pictures of our children developing in womb, or hear it’s heartbeat to know it is alive. I got to see 3 different photos which were in the Be My Parent Magazine before we met them in the flesh…..

6. Familiarity with voices

We weren’t able to talk or sing to our child to allow it to become familiar with our voices while it was growing in the womb. The first word I said to my children was ‘Hello’ when they were 2 and 5 years old

7. Shopping months in advance

My step-daughter seems to be already fully equipped for the arrival of my grandson in January. We had 2 weeks from knowing we were having the girls to meeting them – not a lot of time to decorate 2 rooms and ensure they are full of toys etc….

8. Praying it’s healthy/True Bonding

Most of us expected to have problems with our children for numerous reasons. We either knew they had health issues to deal with or we knew bonding would take some considerable time. For many of us our children were able to express their feelings straight away and could make it very clear if they were worried, concerned, unhappy. Most birth mothers have no idea what health issues they may face (or don’t expect to face any) and assume that they will bond instantly. We often have to deal with issues that arise from the lack of bonding, or the illness/health issues that arise from drinking while pregnant, taking drugs etc….

9. Too easy

Having a baby is quite an easy process. For us, we had to have a panel of strangers give us permission to be parents and then we had to have another panel make the decision about whether the children we had ‘chosen’ were the right ones for us. Natural parents don’t have to discuss there childhood, have a medical, have previous partners interviewed, have current children interviewed etc before they are given permission to become parents……

10. It will be a blank canvass

Our children all came with baggage…..

11. Automatic acceptance by family and friends

If only this was the case. We have to prove we have a support network before we approved, but so many of our friends and family fall upon the wayside when a little well behaved baby that coos and behaves doesn’t appear. Also you aren’t guaranteed any form of baby shower, gender party etc if you adopt. Presents for us were very few and far between, whereas they are flowing in for my stepdaughter….

12. Will it look like Mummy or Daddy?

Oddly my 2 daughter’s, especially the younger one, do look similar to my step-children in many ways, but they are more like me and my husband in mannerisms than in looks. they are definitely mini me’s in that respect…..

13. Money is important, but isn’t a factor in determining being a parent

Whereas we had to prove we were financially stable and had enough room in the house…..

There are another 100 differences, so watch out for a sequel. For now my wine is calling me!

 

Kids Week

For those who have never heard of Kids Week it is actually Kids Month and you can get free children’s West End Theatre tickets when you buy adult ones throughout August. For us it was an excuse to take another trip to London – coinciding with 5 turning 6.

We had a great few days with the kids. We caught the train using our friends and family railcard, so the kids traveled return for less than £5 and arrived at the Travelodge in Covent Garden by lunchtime (after having a picnic on the train). Just a word of warning – the Travelodge here has 2 sites and the family rooms are in the one without air conditioning. They did provide fans and to be fair we weren’t in there for long, so it wasn’t a big issue, but get to breakfast before 9am otherwise it is carnage with the number of children present. The other thing I have found with these hotels is that the baths are only made for midgets – you can either wash your legs, or hang them out of the bath while you wash your torso!!!

Then we nipped to the Tower of London. The Beefeater tour was great and the kids really enjoyed seeing the Crown Jewels. We could have spent all day there, but we have to be conscious of 8’s concentration levels. 3 and a half hours was enough for her. Any longer and I think we would have run into trouble.

The next day was 6’s birthday so we took her to Harrods where she spent her birthday money and bought a little cake to eat for her birthday. I love the toy department here and to be honest the prices are comparable to any other toyshop. You just have to be careful you don’t get knocked over by the staff on roller-skates demonstrating some of their products.

Then we went to see Wind in the Willows the Musical. I was a little sceptical about this show, but it really was fab. We go to Am Dram shows a lot as we are a ‘Performing Arts’ family, but this was the first show that 8 has images-2sat through without having to be spoken to about becoming distracted. There were no slow moments or soppy songs and the fast pace was ideal for children. I can’t recommend it highly enough!

The next morning we went to see Going On A Bear Hunt on stage. This was also brilliant and very interactive (just a shame the theatre was half empty). Again, because it is aimed at younger children the audience participation meant that they didn’t have to sit quiet for long – it only lasted an hour anyway.

Eating in London can also be quite cheap as the Kids Week tickets allowed children to eat free in a number of places, along with provide free workshops etc if you choose to participate in those. We used our Kid’s Pass instead on 6’s birthday and they ate for £1 in Frankie and Benny’s. They also put a candle in her fudge sundae and the whole restaurant sang happy birthday to her.

We had an amazing time doing the usual sightseeing too and I barely had to speak to them about their behaviour as we were so busy. This was our 2nd trip to London this year, and again they were brilliant using the underground and managing all of the escalators.

There are still tickets available I believe and it is worth checking out the website, or thinking about getting involved next August. The shows involved cater for all ages and include the really big names like Wicked, Lion King, Aladdin and Matilda, alongside Gangsta Granny and Horrible Histories.

A really good way to break up the long summer holiday……

Letterbox

So, the annual letterbox update needed writing. I find this really hard to do. Not because I don’t want any contact with the birth parents, but because I feel really guilty sharing my life with the children that should, by rights, have still been with them. How do you tell them about all of the progress the girls have made without sounding smug, without intimating that they are better off with us than they would have been staying with them?

I really struggle. I know a number of my friends think that we should leave the past in the past, but this is not an option. We want the girls to remember their roots (although if we could take away all of the bad bits we most certainly would!). As much as others think we should, we don’t want to pretend that they are our children and deny them the chance to talk about their early years. As a teacher I have seen the damage this has done to a number of my pupils, when they find out in their teenage years that they are adopted and have no way of processing this information.

So, the letter/email consisted of an update of what they have achieved; how they are doing at school, what extra-curricular they have been doing. We also let them know about their health, their personalities and traits and about landmark events that have taken place (being bridesmaids, going on holiday etc). If I was writing to anyone else I would be bigging them up, telling everyone about how wonderful they are (most of the time) and how they are a credit to their parents (both sets), but this seems a little cruel. I know that birth mum wanted them to have a better life than she could give them, but it seems harsh to rub what they have, and are doing now, in her face. So, as usual I tone it down a little and try and stick to facts wherever possible.

This was my 3rd letter and as yet we have not received one back. The first year we allegedly had one from dad (but I think it was written by his parents, not him) which didn’t follow the guidelines and so, although it was read to me down the phone, it wasn’t sent to us. I did ask for it to remain in the girls’ files though so they can see it if/when they choose to.

When I emailed this year’s update I finally asked the question – have the birth parents taken receipt of my letters? Apparently mum had the first one and dad had the second, but neither responded. The LEA concerned obviously understood my desire for the birth parents to keep their end of the bargain and so they have made contact via telephone and are sending them the letters they have not collected. They are also going to offer them help with writing letters back to us, but at the moment I am unsure if they will welcome this support and whether we will receive anything in return.

For the girls’ sake I really hope so. I would hate them to think that they have been abandoned and ignored by those they started life calling mum and dadUnknown. I also think it’s important that we know what is going on their lives so that we can answer any questions that the girls might have, especially as they get older.

All I can do is cross my fingers and wait….

How things have changed…

Monday will see the 3rd anniversary of meeting our children for the first time. For me it is a time of reflection.

As a parent the difficult times stick in your mind and it is easy to get bogged down in the negative and not see the truly positive things around you. At the moment I am sat here listening to my children bicker and try and get each other into trouble. It would be easy to rise to that, but I’m also sat here mesmerised that they are actually playing together (of their own accord) with big smiles on their faces. So from now on I’ve decided that I will look at the positive rather than the negative – easier said than done, but I’ll try nonetheless.

I remember the first time we met them. I was full of doubts in the car about whether they would like me; whether I could actually do it etc, but when we met them all I could focus on was how beautiful they both were and how easily they took to us.

The honeymoon period was great, but then I remember the months (it felt like years) of pushing the boundaries and really testing how much they could trust us. I’ve lost count of the times I hid in the bedroom in tears wondering what I had done; thinking I couldn’t do this anymore and worrying every time I was left on my own with them. I don’t think I had ever doubted myself more than during that period.

images-2It seemed to go on for years. 8 (as she is now) even had similar issues at school and I lived in fear of yellow and red cards on a daily basis.

When you feel so overwhelmed it is difficult to see the small changes and sometimes you have to step back to really appreciate the progress they have made.

This summer I am really looking forward to having some me time with the girls. We have had a whole school year without any cards for behaviour. They have both started reading for enjoyment. I am not afraid to take them out on my own as I know they will listen when I tell them to stop rather than going straight into meltdown. I can actually compare them to other children and be proud of how polite they are and how they actually behave much better than a lot of others.

Yesterday I went to watch them in a dance show after a week of summer school. My auntie and cousin came with me and quietly remarked how much progress they had made and commented on the opportunities they had, which they may not have had otherwise. I didn’t reply, but it did bring a tear to my eye to watch them smile, interact with others and really look like they were enjoying themselves.

So next time I moan about their behaviour, or how much they are winding me up, will you please point me in the direction of this blog. If they’ve made this amount of progress in 3 years then they really can achieve anything…..

High Emotions

I think it has been fair to say that this has been one of those weeks.  I knew it was going to be busy as we had dance exams, the school show at my school (which took place over 3 evenings) and a trip out this weekend with the foster carers planned, but there are some things that you can never plan for….

The stuff I knew was coming played out as expected for the most part. The girls did their dance exams with the minimum of fuss, although 8 forgot to tell us that the information we had been given (costume will be provided on arrival) had been altered and she was to bring an outfit from a previous dance show. I only realised as I sat there with all of the dance mums who had grass skirts and flower garlands on their laps, while mine was empty – except for my phone as I was engrossed in a game or two of candy crush.. After an emergency phone call home the husband was able to bring it just in time – thank goodness he knew where it all was, I wouldn’t have had a clue.

The school show, ‘Boogie Nights’ went reasonably smoothly, with my sister babysitting for us on opening night. The girls attended the other 2 nights, with 5 using it as an excuse to sit on people’s knees for a cuddle, while 8 danced her way through the performances.

As for meeting the previous carers, we have just got back! We are all shattered after walking over 12000 steps, but a great time was had by all. It was nice to be able to enjoy a day out without having to keep an eye on the girls all of the time as we had 3 willing volunteers to do that for us. That’s not so say we got off without having to do anything. Every time they fell over, or got scared (especially in the ‘bat cave’) we were the ones they ran to.

This is the 2nd time we have met up with them and initially I was really concerned that they would want to go back with them and reject us, but that hasn’t happened on either occasion. They know where their home is and just really enjoy the company of the people who were very special to them for over 15 months. They are excited to see them and obviously cling to them when they are together, but at the end of the day they say goodbye without any fuss and are happy to return home – looking forward to the next time we see them!

The bits we couldn’t have foreseen sort of rolled into one and caused some severe angst for 8. Just as I was setting up for the show after school on Weds I received a telephone call from 8’s teacher. Expecting the worse I held my breath, but he had called me because she had been very upset that day. Her cousin (who is in the same year as her) had mentioned to one of her friends that she was adopted. This has never happened before. As a family we are very open about the adoption and the girls have always been happy to discuss it when they need to, but this event really affected 8. Fortunately the school were great, but she didn’t want to talk about it to any of the staff. She said it was her secret and she didn’t want anyone to know. The problem was exacerbated as her cousin didn’t realise she had done anything wrong and she was also distraught over the fact she had upset 8 and that 8 was angry with her.

So, the next hour or so was spent having numerous conversations to ensure that both girls understood the point of view of the other and checking that they were both ok and ready to face each other the next day at school. As it’s not a secret within our family my niece really didn’t understand that it wasn’t something that she should not discuss with others, but I think she might do now!

I’m not sure she would have been so upset if this at happened at any other point of the year, but this week has seen the girls spend a half a day with their new teachers. If you’ve read any of my other blogs you will know how important 8’s teacher has been to her this year and so I think her emotions were already running high with the knowledge he wouldn’t be her teacher next year. This seemed to be confirmed when she wrote him a thank you card, writing ‘I don’t want to leave you!’ inside. I don’t know what her new teacher will be like, but I have heard good things. 5 seems to be following in her sister’s footsteps so all the teachers she has already know her story.

So, now to the 6 week break. But I’m looking forward to this week as they are in a dance summer school. Will give me time to catch up on the school work that needs doing so I can enjoy the rest of the holiday with them, without having to think about work once.  Or at least that’s my plan……Screen Shot 2017-07-23 at 19.38.20

School Report

As a teacher I’d love to write what I really think about some of the kids that I teach, but I have learned to camouflage my real meaning, hiding it between the lines of what I write. Therefore, when I receive the reports for my children I know exactly what is meant, but not said.

Today was report day and to be fair I was pleasantly surprised with the results from both of my girls. They are both average and seem to be meeting most of their targets and this is particularly pleasing for 8 seeing as though education is not really for her and she has to work hard to achieve anything.

We have been lucky this year and both girls have had teachers who have understood their needs and have worked with us. So, I thought I’d share a few sentences from their reports, along with what I think they actually mean.

5’s report

  • She is a quieter member of the class – Thank goodness she isn’t like her big sisters 
  • At times she adopts a passive role when working within a group – She can be very lazy and let others do the work
  • She has valuable contributions to make – She can be very bossy
  • Is very easily distracted on the carpet – Can’t sit still as she’d rather be lying down
  • When she has an enthusiasm for her work it can be infectious – when she’s excited she can’t shut up

 

8’s report

  • Is a well meaning girl – Gets involved in everything
  • Always keen to have a conversation about her interests – Will avoid work by ‘everything being about me’
  • Is usually remorseful when her energy leads her to do something other than what she should be doing – When her brain goes into overload she often just stares and switches off rather than simply saying sorry
  • When working on her own she needs a more concerted effort to ensure she is fully focused – Will pretend she can’t do something in order to get my attention
  • Must make sure that she doesn’t distract others from their work – Sometimes I wish she would just sit down and stop wandering around the classroom

 

The nicest comments that need no translating:

5’s report

  • She is extremely polite and well-mannered; her behaviour is great
  • She has been a pleasure to have in the class
  • Can work independently which is reflection of her positive attitude to all aspects of her learning

8’s report

  • She received the Achiever of the Week award for the effort she has made to improve her maths work
  • It has been a pleasure to have her in the class
  • She should be proud of the progress she has made in every subject and realise she is capable of even greater achievements

So onwards and upwards into Yr2 and Yr4 respectively. Will the progress continue or will we be back to square one????images-1

Children need to be Children!

I hate it – I shouldn’t say that as a teacher, but I really do. Especially in this weather….

I do try to do it, but there are occasions when I just don’t see the point and let it slide. My recent bug bears have been:

  • Fit the story of your favourite book into a shoe box

– after we did it we found out it wasn’t compulsory. It also turns out it was a competition (that we also didn’t know) and therefore they were never going to win. Why? Because we ensure that out children do their homework themselves and how can they compete against the work of parents who spend hours completing their kids project homework for them. Ours always look rough and ready….but at least it is their own work. You tell me what 5 year old can make a working mechanical sweet shop…..

  • Grammar

– I have an A in English A-Level, but I have no idea what frontal adverbials are! I can use them, but have never needed to know what they are called.  I doubt my A level students could complete Yr3 homework without an explanation of what they are expected to do.

  • Spellings

– I wouldn’t mind if they were words they were going to use, but when is my 5 year old going to use the words ‘gent’ and ‘chorus’ in everyday writing tasks. Unless she is doing a critical review of Mary Poppins of course….

  • Reading

– Don’t get me wrong, i think this is very important and we do this regularly, just not of their reading books they bring home from school. Why? They read them at school and 5 simply memorises them and doesn’t bother ‘reading’ and the ones 8 gets are beyond dull. Also, in between doing homework, cooking dinner, dealing with traumas, preparing lunches etc I often forget to write in their reading diaries. We then get snotty notes written in about how they must read the specific book before she can change it. We read it weeks ago…..sometimes you will just have to take her word for it, because I don’t always have a pen handy or I often need to rescue something over-boiling on the oven!!

  • Maths

– Why do I get the hard job of teaching 8 everything she doesn’t understand at school. And why are they taught such ridiculous ways of adding up and multiplying? I need to attend lessons to understand this new tangles way of doing Maths, which to me seems far too longwinded and a damn sight more complicated.

  • Reading Journal

– We did this with 8 religiously, but just can’t be bothered with 5. Basically every week they are supposed to do a piece of work based on a book they have read – your own choice. You get more team points for more detailed work and less for designing a front cover. I think we started the year with good intentions, but we haven’t bothered for months and no one has questioned it, so we just don’t bother!

Children need to be children!! I understand homework if there is a point to it, but I think I end up teaching 8 more than she understands in class. But doing all of this every week they miss out on playing and it causes us unknown meltdowns over the course of a year.

8 still doesn’t know how to play and without doing this she will never increase her imagination and therefore will be no good at writing stories in English. At the minute her idea of play is simply acting out things she has done at school or at home. She needs to be able to come home and relax as otherwise I can’t get anything out of her. She is often so overexcited or wound up and the end of the day that I end up fighting with her to calm down and do more writing or sums.

Our children, possibly more than others, need to be allowed to be children. Mine still don’t always know what is right or wrong and 8 really needs to learn how to play. 5 is the baby of Yr1 and is only just reaching the age that many of her peers were at at the start of the year – she is still a baby!

But, if you are going to send our children home with loads of homework that is taught differently to how we were taught to do the same processes – can you please send home instructions??images-1

 

Being a flower girl

Yesterday saw the wedding of my cousin and his now wife. The girls were asked to be flower girls and I was worried about how they’d be. Would they walk sensibly down the aisle? Would they cope with all the photographs? Would they cope with the number of strangers? How would they keep a white dress and shoes clean? What time would we have to leave? How many times would we have to pull 8 in particular to the side to calm down?

So the answers:

They got dressed sensibly and managed to get to the church with their dress, shoes and ‘wand’ intact. We then warily left them with the minister and the groomsmen while we took our seats. The beams on their faces as they walked down the aisle made my heart melt. 5 was at the front holding hands with the other younger bridesmaids, while 8 was on the row behind, followed by the adult bridesmaids and then the bride herself.

During the church service 8 was amazingly well behaved, with 5 just having to be spoken to a few times quietly as she was standing when she should have been sitting and vice versa.

Fortunately there were not too many photos at the church, as I think they would have got a little restless. So straight to the venue it was. The poor girls started to get a little ‘hangry’ as we waited to be seated for our lunch at 3:30, but they tucked into the picnic hampers and it wasn’t long before they could also attack the evening food – pizzas straight out the back of a landrover.

They sat reasonably well through the speeches (better than some of the other children) and then had a great time running around for the remainder of the night as we were in a marquee in a large field.

2 of my older stepchildren came to the evening reception, along with 2 of my grandchildren and they were all able to play together outside. It was lovely to have so many members of my family all around.

We didn’t see 8 for much of the evening as she found the ‘big girls’ (all in their 20s) and attached herself to them, giving it some moves on the dance floor. I don’t know where she got her signature moves from, but it was a cross between Mick Jagger and Miley Cyrus. She should have been a child of the 60s I think!

5 hit the wall at about 10 o’clock and just collapsed in her dad’s arms, while my 2 year old granddaughter was wide awake still. However, when we got home she got a second wind and it was well after 12 by the time we all got to bed – but bear in mind there were 10 of us staying in our house that night!

I can’t thank my family enough for letting them be part of their celebration and again you can see that my family treat them as if they were my own biological children. They had a beautiful dress and the gift of a necklace, but the most precious thing that they have are memories that can never be taken away from them.

I’m not saying they were perfectly behaved all day (and I’m sure they ate their body weight in sweets and cake), but their behaviour was no worse than any other child there, and yet again I am proud to call them my daughters.images