Looking back it would appear that this is the 10-year anniversary of my blog!
Many of the original posts were group emails I used to send to all my friends and family, updates of what I was up to while living abroad, often embellished somewhat to amuse my target audience. Then slowly it morphed into a blog – mainly for travel and then later covering the blow-by-blow minutiae of my daily life, work, adoption process and various crafty projects. I’m still not convinced anyone really reads it apart from a few kind friends or family members but I enjoy writing it. It’s very cathartic – like writing a diary or keeping a journal but out in public.
It’s a really good way to sort through my feelings or difficult issues as they come up and to share funny anecdotes, and capture my life as it rumbles along.
Looking back I have decided to list a few of my favourite posts, for those of you who feel like perusing the last 18 or so years of my life at your leisure.
Even though I barely read much of anything last year I still enjoy setting myself a target for reading, so my dad and I are once again embarking on the Popsugar Reading Challenge.
At the moment I am starting with my lovely haul of Christmas books and finding categories to slot them into, but once I’ve read those, will need to have a proper look at the list and try to select some interesting books!
I am determined to read more this year than I managed last year, though I expect I will as I’ll be on adoption leave at some point so will hopefully have a few moments of “me” time to read here and there…
I have started out strong in January, but suspect this will tail off at some point….
This year I have decided to undertake the Ration Challenge to try and raise money to support refugees.
I have felt frustrated and saddened by the plight of refugees – not just from Ukraine, but from so many countries around the world fleeing conflict and persecution. I wanted to take action and try to do something positive to help.
The Ration Challenge is a fantastic initiative by Concern Worldwide in which you ask people to sponsor you to eat the same rations as a refugee for a week. The more money I raise to support refugees the more “extras” I can earn to supplement my rations like teabags or milk or vegetables. You can find out more about the challenge and sponsor me here.
This week my ration box arrived so it seemed like a good time to go through it and share what I am doing in a bit more detail.
I don’t know if there is a word for school-related admin so I’m going with Schoolmin.
At this moment, I have one child at Primary school across town, who will be starting a new Secondary school in September, and another child about to start at a different Primary school nearer to my house in September.
I don’t think I could adequately explain the volume of admin involved – there are THREE separate apps I have to download for parent communications because for some reason each school uses a different app; and there are also THREE different school-based payment platforms for meals and trips etc that I need to sign up to and get passwords and logins for; and then there are the 49 different forms to sign regarding the child’s medical history, Dr’s contact info, allergy info, school meal info, registration forms, pupil premium forms, etc; and the 57,000 letters and emails and messages flying about informing me about transition plans, and end of term activities, and SATs and homework and revision, and tours of the schools, and meet the teachers, and settling-in days for both kids at different schools, and requests to volunteer on the PTA, and requests to bake things for the bake sale, and to help out at the school disco, and reminders to be present and correct at any school engagements like parent assemblies and football matches, and pacts to sign swearing I will bring my child to school on time, in uniform and won’t take them out for holidays during term time on pain of death.
It’s pretty full on.
I have to remind myself that I’m a single mum with two kids and I’m not an evil monster if I don’t have the time or energy to be on the PTA or bake shit for the bake sales that apparently happen EVERY WEEK. Usually I love to join in and be involved but this is a CRAZY amount of admin and emails and communications. Obviously I’m terrified I’ll miss something important as I’ve never done this before, but JESUS CHRIST it’s a lot to take in!
It doesn’t help that A’s new primary school has a terrible website with no useful information (the “Parent Information” page is literally blank), and their transition page talks about a lovely slow transition with lots of visits and half-days for them to adjust to Reception and build up to doing full days etc, but the letter they have sent out to parents just basically says “We will visit you at home on XXX day and then they start full time on xx September” and that’s it. So I am wading through it all to try and figure out what is actually happening and hoping it will become clear
I was reaching a point of extreme tiredness that was getting ridiculous, I was struggling to do almost anything beyond get the kids up and dressed and fed and out the door to school, then laying prone and exhausted on the couch until pick up time, and thinking this can’t be how it’s going to be all the time as a single mum of two.
My cold dragged on for 2 weeks without relenting, and in week 3 it suddenly got a lot worse, and I realised the reason I was so exhausted was because I was actually REALLY unwell.
I woke up one morning barely able to breathe in and my lungs were physically painful, hurting when I breathed and wheezing and coughing like a 60-a-day smoker. I realised not only that I needed to see a doctor but also I needed back up, as I was no longer able to be responsible for keeping other people alive.
I called in my mum who came down on the next train like a hero and I saw the doctor who confirmed that my lungs were clogged with gunk and my cold had converted itself into a chest infection. I’ve never had a chest infection before and it was bloody awful. I felt really truly unwell, haven’t felt that sick since I had Covid (and part of me does wonder if Covid has weakened my lungs and made me more prone to things like chest infections in the future, though it might just be a coincidence).
Thankfully my week of being horribly ill happened to be the week S was away on her residential school trip so there was only one kid to deal with. She was still rather disconcerted by everything, what with S being away and mama being ill and Grandma showing up unexpectedly, so she continued to scream into my face quite a bit, but we got through it.
The antibiotics worked well (penicillin is a miracle drug – astonishing how quickly I felt better!) and Grandma was a godsend helping out for a few days until I recovered. Poor thing went to London immediately afterwards and caught Covid about 24 hours later, though thankfully she was fine.
I recovered enough for the easter holiday festivities – more on that in my next post!
Well I am 3 weeks into my adoption leave, and am starting to realise how little from my to-do list I am likely to achieve.
I had a plan that once I stopped work I’d be doing all sorts of things like going swimming and painting the doors and skirting boards, and meeting friends for coffee in a relaxed, chilled out sort of way.
Instead I am finding myself waking up profoundly tired and dragging myself through the day, mostly doing laundry and food shopping and meal prep and running the girls around to playdates and activities. S finds it astonishing that I am getting myself ready for bed at 9pm while she is still sneakily trying to read her book in bed instead of going to sleep!
So after S moved in, I had to set up parental controls on her tablet, which the foster carer previously had set up. She has an android device and the foster carer used Google Family Link so I set it up and it was all fairly straightforward and made sense to me.
The kid was mildly annoyed that I still wanted to approve any games or apps she downloaded and set limits on screen time, but otherwise it was fine and easy to sort out.
Then I tried to set up A’s tablet and it was a total disaster!
Well, after a lot of wrangling I finally got my adoption allowance granted – and in the end they actually gave me more than I had asked for!
I had initially asked for quite a large sum over 4 months to cover my adoption leave, but in addition to that they have also added a mean-tested sum to continue until S is 18 which I wasn’t expecting! It will get reviewed annually but should provide an extra little buffer which is extremely welcome just now as all our bills start to go up and up and up!