December at Adoption: The Bear Facts

December is quickly drawing to a close which can only mean one thing. It is round up time! Here all the best bits of the past month with the three Bears.

Events:

It’s a good job I keep notes over the month to help me write this post otherwise I would definitely forget about the things that happened right back at the start. It seems an age ago but the first events of the month were our craft fayres. My friend A and I accidentally agreed to run a stall at 2 craft fayres to sell our homemade Christmas tree decorations. I say “accidentally” because all I actually signed up for was a cup of tea and some grown up colouring in!

One of the events was an all-day thing at a high school and the other an evening event at the boy’s school. Despite being rubbish at the mental arithmetic part of things and being slightly stressed that at 37 weeks pregnant, A might give birth behind the stall, it was loads of fun. Between Facebook and our stalls we ended up making and selling about 600 decorations in the end. I was ready to have a break from making them but actually I’m starting to miss it a bit now and A and I did work very well together so you never know whether we might try to make our little business a bit more all year round in 2017… Plus, I did get a pyrography pen for Christmas…

Another positive aspect of the fayres was that Big Bear was really interested in helping me make the decorations. After panicking that he was going to use up our wood supply and that a 7 year old’s decoration is obviously not quite as polished as one made by a grown-up, I decided the best way forward was to let him set up a sister business. He made his own decorations in his own signature style (which I would describe as Avant-garde!) that he then sold from a corner of our table. He had his own float and managed his own sales. He spent most of the evening walking around selling from a tray and he was brilliant at it. He made about £22 which I think he should be extremely proud of. At one point I’m sure he was selling more than we were!

The following week, we ended up going out for tea after school with my parents. It is not something we would usually do as it’s quite challenging for Little Bear to behave himself at that time of day and in a place where you have to be relatively quiet and sit on a chair but he managed brilliantly. We have noticed a big improvement in his ability to engage with table-top activities and to spend a bit of time focusing on them. He is getting quite into drawing and trying to write which is the main way we keep him busy in restaurants etc. at the moment.

As term drew to a close there were quite a few school events to attend. Both Bears went on a whole school trip to the theatre which seemed to go without incident (?!), Little Bear performed in his Nativity and there was a Mince Pie Afternoon at which each class came in and sang a song, as well as there being performances from the different music groups.

The Nativity wasn’t a total success. At the performance that Grizzly and I and his Mum attended, Little Bear started off being quite entertaining with his dancing and off-beat singing but by the end my heart was in my mouth wondering what he was going to do. Half-way through the look came over his face which means “I am grumpy. I am looking for trouble. I could do literally anything now”. I saw him take a piece of paper from the TA’s hand. On the stage he squared up to a couple of children and I really thought he was going to hit them. He put his foot up on a bench to prevent the Angels from getting up on to it as they were supposed to. He started poking Mary in the head.

He didn’t do anything really naughty but he was just simmering on the cusp of it and it made for nerve-wracking viewing. When I reflected on it afterwards, I remembered that he hadn’t coped well before school either. Maybe it was a bad day? I also felt that the performance wasn’t very inclusive for him. All he had to do was stand there (for 45 minutes) which is pretty boring. The songs were far too wordy and fast for him, though he was trying to join in, and there weren’t even any actions for him to do. I decided that taking him back to school later on for the 5pm performance was probably one step too far. What if he actually followed through on the behaviour? I didn’t want him to go down in history as the child who knocked Joseph out.

However, the reason I include this tale here, in my post full of positives, is that when I suggested not bringing him back to his teacher, she said he had been really well-behaved the rest of the day and in the practises and she felt he could do it. In a very uncharacteristic moment I decided that as long as I couldn’t see what he got up to it was worth the risk (!) and kindly sent him along with my parents.

In the end, he did ok. I don’t think he was perfectly behaved but he survived it without major incident and it did mean that my parents got to see him performing. He was praised by everyone and he didn’t feel as though he had missed out by staying at home. Overall, I will take that as a win.

The Mince Pie afternoon was a far lovelier affair. Big Bear usually hates anything that involves singing what he describes as “boring songs” to an audience but he must have liked the one his class sang and looked very chipper throughout. Reception class came out last of all, with their noses painted red. They looked exceptionally cute and Little Bear proceeded to completely melt my heart by dancing from foot to foot throughout and singing very loudly a beat after everyone else (it’s not his fault, he can’t process the language any faster). At the end he shouted “that’s my mum” and blew me kisses. Just gorgeous.

On the 17th December, A’s baby arrived safely. I’m always happy to hear when a friend has had a baby but as this was a Rainbow Baby (A’s first baby, Lucas, came far too early and sadly left us far too soon) it was extremely good news. I don’t think I’ve ever known someone was in labour before but I did this time and it was incredibly nerve-wracking. The baby’s safe arrival has been a huge relief and one of the best things that have happened all year. We are both absolutely made up for them. We got to meet the gorgeous lady herself when she was 4 days old. Weighing in at 5lb 8oz she is absolutely teeny but completely perfect.

Over the last couple of years it has become traditional for our family to meet up with 2 other families and go on the Santa Train together. It’s a traditional steam train that is all decorated and the staff dress up as elves and are all extremely jolly. Santa goes down the train giving out presents; you eat mince pies and go on a little journey. A band comes on board and everybody sings Christmas carols. It marks the official start of the Christmas season. We had a lovely time as we usually do and Little Bear coped exceptionally well.

We also had a very successful trip to get our Christmas tree. I mention it because we have never had a successful trip previously. One year the process was very quick but the tree had a distinctive cow poo smell; another year the woman selling the tree was very rude to us; another year we queued to see Santa for nearly an hour and a half and Big Bear was furious to find out after the agonising wait that he wasn’t actually giving any presents!!! This year we ditched all attempts at going anywhere fancy and just went to our local garden centre. It was perfect. We chose a tree, looked at the decorations and had a hot chocolate. Big Bear chose a giant reindeer and Little Bear a dancing Santa which had them both in hysterics. The needles may have fallen off the tree prematurely but I honestly don’t really care. My friend tells me you need to water them with lemonade so hopefully that’ll be us sorted next year!

I loved the fact that the boys had made all the decorations and that was definitely the best thing about the tree for me.

 

Christmas:

Big Bear ended up staying at home on Christmas Eve and helped with preparing for Wigilia which was lovely.

I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging but we had a bloody brilliant time over Christmas. The whole family stayed, everybody mucked in, I didn’t bother getting stressed about any of it, the children loved their presents and it seemed to be over in a flash. Everybody spontaneously stayed a second night. ‘Twas all good in the ‘hood.

Since then the Bears have played well with their new toys. Grizzly re-lived his youth by sourcing a game he used to have called Super Cup Football for Big Bear. That seems to have gone down well and there have been some very competitive matches. Little Bear is very happy with his Transformers, a remote control monster truck he has randomly named “Fat Fella” (no idea how he came up with that) and his Playmobil boat for in the bath. I also got both Bears a box full of craft activities each. They have both chosen to do a few things from them already which has been nice to see. We got Little Bear some giant Hama beads which he coped really well with and managed to complete his dinosaur with a bit of encouragement to stay on task:

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Big Bear has coloured some sun catchers and been busy with his beads too:

 

Yesterday we had a trip to the zoo with some friends. It was cold but clear and sunny and some of the animals were very friendly. Both boys came to nose to nose with a tiger (through some glass) which doesn’t happen every day. We also enjoyed watching a mummy orang-utan and her baby climbing up to the top of their enclosure to feed. I could have watched them all day.

Grizzly is off work until next Wednesday so we are planning more family time and meeting with other friends over the next couple of days. Things are so much more settled than this time last year and I am feeling very lucky.

Operation Home Improvement

Our extension is currently half-built. It has walls, most of a roof and holes where the windows will be. Thankfully all the work so far has been outside and I’m still quite in denial that as soon as January rolls around it is probably going to start encroaching inwards.

I have been busy measuring and ordering various things. A fairly major item is our new front door. It is going to be custom sprayed mustard on the inside and outside much to the consternation of the man selling it to me. He keeps saying things like “but EVERYBODY has it white on the inside” or “I have never sold a yellow door in my career”. I know, I say, but trust me, it will look beautiful.

The builder also thinks I’m bananas as apparently he hasn’t fitted the glass we have ordered for beside the front door since 1978. Despite his protestations we are also going for an internal round window, which, again, he thinks is old fashioned. Retro, I say. Vintage. Trust me.

 

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December at Adoption: The Bear Facts

August at Adoption: The Bear Facts

Another crazy, busy and fun filled month has passed. Its round-up time!

Events:

The first week of August was a combination of us being at home and me returning to work after my Adoption Leave (see Goodbye Adoption Leave for my musings on how the year went). I eased myself in gently with only two days of work before disappearing again on annual leave for our holidays.

During that first week we had a couple of really good days out. One was to a family fun day at a local park where the boys had a donkey ride and tried archery and Grizzly had a go on a Segway. The second was to an adventure park that is actually very close to where we live but for some reason we have never tried it before. It has go-karts, more archery, hay bales to climb on, a huge inflatable pillow to bounce on, tractor trailer rides, massive zip wires and loads more. We spent a very enjoyable day there and two boisterous boys got plenty of sensory stimulation and burned a good quantity of energy.

Grizzly ended up being off work the day before we went on holiday which meant he could entertain the boys whilst I did the packing. I usually find that part of the process pretty stressful and am usually exhausted by the time we fall into the car the next day. However the fact that we were both around meant everything went a lot more smoothly. The holidays themselves were generally a success too. You can read about them here: The Bears go on holiday.

On the way back from our week at the seaside we stopped in to see our friends for a night. We have stayed there before so we knew Little Bear would be fine with it. The 5 children had a brilliant time together as they always do. I got a little carried away chatting with one of my friends (who going forwards I am going to refer to as Aunty Giraffe as she is a big part of the boy’s lives and it seems weird not to refer to her more specifically) and stayed up way past my bedtime, then ended up having a mini party in the bathroom at 2am as Little Bear had woken for the toilet and my mum-in-law was awake worrying that she had broken the blind cord!

As soon as we were back at home again, our attentions turned to our upcoming Adoption Celebrations which took place later that week. The weather caused us a bit of stress but both our court celebration and the party we held 2 days later went brilliantly. I have very happy memories of both events and will definitely be getting some photos printed soon. The Bears loved it and Little Bear coped surprisingly well with having a house full of people. We had the bouncy castle all weekend which made them very happy and in fact they were still bouncing on it when the guy came to pick it up again.

Four days later Aunty Giraffe came to visit. The boys were very excited about this as she hadn’t been able to make the party and they both love it when she stays. Always one to think of everything she had adopted an animal each for them as an adoption celebration present. Big Bear had a gorilla and Little Bear a Lion, their respective favourite animals. I’m not sure that Little Bear really understands the concept of it because it isn’t the same as his adoption: he won’t ever meet the lion. However, he has the cuddly toy lion which is tangible and which has come to live with him and of whom he is now very fond.

Aunty Giraffe stayed for 4 nights. On Thursday she had a day out with Grizzly and the boys while I went to work (groan) then on the Friday we did a bit of baking and took the boys for a walk and a picnic in the park.

On Saturday one of our University friends was getting married so we left the boys with my parents and had a grown up day at the wedding. Thankfully the Bears were on their best behaviour and my parents did not look exhausted or dishevelled when we returned (big bonus: they might babysit again!).

It was nice to see how well Little Bear got on with Aunty Giraffe as he hasn’t actually met her that many times. He was very friendly towards her and was desperate to go and find her each morning when he woke. It was also good to compare his behaviour this time with when she stayed last time back in January. Although that visit had gone ok, we had had quite a few issues with him wanting to play on her Tablet but then not give it back, which had led to several big meltdowns. He has certainly learned a lot about other people’s possessions and doing what you’re told since then.

That brings us to this week. My attentions have turned to making sure we have all the right uniform and are vaguely organised for the imminent return to school. I have tried to make the most of my days with the boys before they disappear off again. It’s a tricky balance between getting them a bit rested ready for the new term (they both seem tired) and not allowing boredom to creep in. Today turned into a fairly long and busy day but we’ve had a lovely time. I didn’t have a pre-decided plan and I’m thankful that we are now able to allow days to evolve and just see where the fancy takes us. We started off at a park (we have a few different ones that we circle between) then tried out a nearby bakers for a take-away lunch which we ate in the car. I kept the windows closed as the boys spent the whole time pointing out bald people!! Afterwards we drove to an ice-cream farm which turned out to have a maize maze at it. We had to find hidden words then if you got them all you won a free ice cream. They boys basically just ran round and round inside the maze for ages whilst I struggled after them in my flip flops trying not to lose them! At least I got some much needed exercise.

Later on our friends came to meet us and ended up coming back to our house for some tea. Their little girl is Big Bear’s age and I’m always a little bit amazed that the 3 children play so well together. The bigger 2 are very good at including the little dude. It did make for a very raucous tea time though!

Milestones:

Little Bear had his first proper play date. Regular readers might remember that when Little Bear finished Pre-school I left my phone number for the Mum of his friend. I didn’t know if that was weird behaviour or how she would feel about it and whether or not she would get in touch. I was very pleased when a couple of weeks later she sent me a text and we arranged a meet up. It wasn’t awkward and we chatted easily while the boys played (I was muchly relieved). The boys were very happy to see each other and called each other’s names and ran to one another as though they were on a film set. The only problem was that there was a constant exchange of rude words between them which was quite difficult to quell. Words were had afterwards. However, my overriding feeling was positive. I was pleased that Little Bear had been able to leave his Preschool without a complete severing of ties. Hopefully this would help him to see that attachments are worth making and you don’t have to go through life constantly leaving people you like and love behind, as he has had to so far.

This month we have celebrated the anniversaries of meeting Little Bear and of him moving in. You can read about my Reflections on Adoption One Year In here.

Last month I talked about Little Bear showing a budding interest in Lego. This has gone from strength to strength and he got a couple of sets as presents when we had the party. He now has a couple of different superhero figures and some vehicles. He absolutely loves them and I can’t believe how long he has managed to sit still and play with them. He seems to have discovered the joy of small world play and it is as though he cannot satiate his hunger for it. He pretty much wakes me up every morning with “Mum, can we go downstairs? You play with me?” and I seem to be getting bored before he does.

It is different playing with Little Bear than it was when Big Bear was the same age. Big Bear had very strict rules on his games. If we were playing Lego we couldn’t mix in a bit of Playmobil. There was no way he was up for that. He also went through a big phase of demanding “make the man talk” which used to give me performance anxiety! What should the man say? What if I didn’t want to make the man talk? The games were detailed and Big Bear had very clear ideas about should happen in them.

Little Bear is much more of a play maverick. He loves a mash up: a plastic anteater with Duplo men; Lego men in a Playmobil Police Station; dinosaurs with superheroes. It is brilliant to see him engaging with toys so positively and persevering and letting his imagination run wild. It is such a contrast to the boy who used to spend all his time flicking switches on and off and fiddling with taps.

Little Bear is also becoming more independent with his dressing and toileting which I’m pleased about with school just around the corner.

The fact that he has also started to recognise some letter shapes blows my mind.

Big Bear had a first this month too. He went to his first live football match. He went for his birthday instead of having a party. He absolutely loved it (apart from the noise: “Mum, they had noisy horns, people were horning everywhere”!) and cannot wait to go again.

This might seem like a strange thing to mention but this month the Bears had their first bath together in a year. Oddly, they did have a bath together on the first day they ever met as they had both got wet and both needed to get warm and put dry clothes on. In retrospect it was a huge error as the day ended up being a disaster and Big Bear was totally overwhelmed by Little Bear’s wild bath time antics. Since then I would have liked to bath them together for practical reasons but I haven’t insisted on it as Big Bear really didn’t want to. For quite a while he wouldn’t change in front of Little Bear and wanted the loo door firmly closed. As their relationship has developed things have changed drastically on this front – recently they were both in hysterics in the bathroom together while Big Bear was on the loo. I have no idea what was so funny (Grizzly was there too and couldn’t shed any light on the matter) but apparently privacy has gone out the window for now. I was still surprised though when Big Bear suggested they have a bath together the other day. I think it made Little Bear’s day and really shows how far they have come in their first year as brothers.

Snapshots:

  • Little Bear saying “I want to live with them forever” at the court celebration
  • The three bears playing a very lively and laughter-filled game of swing ball in the garden
  • Playing Uno Attack with both sets of grandparents

There are no Project Home Improvement updates this month. Hopefully there will be next time.

August at Adoption: The Bear Facts

The Bears go on holiday

Up until now we have only taken Little Bear away from home once since he moved in. I wrote about it in Our first post-placement holiday. That time, I figured out through my lack of preparation that Little Bear is anxious about holidays and has previously not had a positive experience of them. This time I started talking about the holiday earlier and because it involved the beach he was pretty keen on the idea. I had also told him that on the way back we would be visiting the friends we had stayed with last time. The previous trip to their house had been a very positive experience for him so I knew he would be keen to go back (not least because they have a Nerf cross bow they let him play with!). The difficulty this time was getting him to understand time scales. I tried saying how many sleeps there were until we went but as numbers remain arbitrary for him this didn’t help at all. In the end I went for a very simple timetable, showing how many more sleeps until we went, how many nights we would be there, when we’d be at our friends’ house and crucially that we would then come home.

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*I have to apologise for that being the wrong way round, I’m too tired to figure out how to rotate it!

Little Bear grasped it well and enjoyed crossing the days off each morning, though he did need some help to cross off the NEXT one and not just ANY one.

The day before we went, amidst the packing chaos, Little Bear got his hands on Grizzly’s battery shaver resulting in this situation (!!):

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Big Bear managed to trap his fingers in the car door. Was this setting the tone for the whole holiday we wondered?

The evening before we travelled, Little Bear really struggled to get to sleep. He said he didn’t want to go to the beach and every time I went into his room he wanted the world’s biggest cuddle. I kept reassuring him that we would all stay together, we would have fun and we would come home together. I hoped he would be ok once we were there.

Grizzly’s Mum stayed over as she was coming with us.

In the morning, having sorted out last minute cat sitters (we know, bad pet parents!), packed the car, got everyone into the car, gone back into the house to find Big Bear’s cuddly dog, then to find DVDs, then to find the dog again and double checked that Grizzly’s Mum’s car really was locked, we finally hit the road.

As it was our first proper holiday together since having Little Bear and we had no idea how it was going to go, we had chosen to keep things easy by going somewhere we had been to before and knew well. We passed the few hours to Tynemouth without major incident.

On arrival at our self-catering apartment, Grizzly’s Mum undertook the customary nosy sweep of the place AKA seeing what is in all of the cupboards. Within 30 seconds a cupboard door had come off in her hand! Not ten minutes later, she was waving a drawer handle that had mysteriously come loose. Later on we added a broken lampshade and a screw missing from shutters to the litany of mishaps. What with doesn’t-know-her-own-strength granny and miniature monk it was turning into comedy central.

Little Bear fell in love with his pint-sized but perfectly formed bedroom straight away, especially as there were toys in his wardrobe and in particular a cuddly dog that barks and wags its tail. I heaved a sigh of relief.

Once we had settled in we headed to the beach to make the most of the sunshine and there the strangest thing happened. The children busied themselves digging and trying to dam the natural spring and, wait for it, the grownups sat on a rug and did nothing. It was very hard to get used to. The sun was shining, I was lying on a beach and the children were entertaining themselves. That is not life as I know it. It was quite a strange sensation. I believe it’s called “relaxing”.

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We have been to the beach about 4 times now, a couple of times spending pretty much the whole day there. Big Bear has entertained himself almost the whole time and made some friends in the process. Little Bear has coped exceptionally well. On the first day he managed to join in with the other children as they worked collaboratively to build a dam from the sand. Previously he would not have coped in that situation and would have purposefully sabotaged the building. It was lovely to see him working side by side with Big Bear, having fun and really playing together. It was also lovely to see him interacting in a friendly way with other children he met and not immediately viewing them as a threat.

As the days have passed and Big Bear has continued to dig (the child has some stamina), Little Bear has grown a bit bored and needed more adult help to entertain himself. Apart from running up and down the beach a few times pretending to be a horse with him on my back wielding a stick (“speer”) and paddling with him, I still haven’t had to do much. It has been very surreal but very welcome.

One of my main roles has been wrapping him up in a towel and various other blankets and clothes and snuggling him back to warmth after his many ventures into the sea – a role which I have been more than happy to carry out.

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I am feeling pretty spoiled by this holiday in general. The fact that Grizzly’s Mum is here has meant that we have been able to go out (hold your breath) on our own. One evening we put Little Bear to bed then took a little trip to the Metro Centre for a spot of evening shopping. We have been out for an evening stroll. Now, please don’t think that I’m bragging when I say this, but we have also had some lie-ins. I know: it’s AMAZING.

On Tuesday, my parents came to join us for a few days and I became further spoiled when they took me out for tea and Granny and Grizzly fed the boys and put them to bed. My parents offered to babysit the next night but in the end it was raining and we thought it would be more fun to stay in and have a bit of a games night all together. We played Uno Attack and had a great time.

It is certainly a strange sensation for the week to be so easy and to have virtually no jobs to do. The grandmothers keep telling me it’s only right that I should have a break on holiday but it has felt pretty indulgent. I do feel very lucky that we have such a good support network.

So, what else have we been up to? We had a little drive out to Whitley Bay to find an ice cream parlour and ended up having a play in the amusements too. We took all the grandparents into Newcastle to go to The Discovery Museum. Little Bear had a great time playing in the water in the Play Tyne section and we had to change his clothes again (I actually don’t think a day has passed when we haven’t had to fully change him at least twice).

One day we found ourselves near the boating lake and I was somehow persuaded to get in a pedalo. As a non-swimming water hater I thought I was quite brave. It was good fun, though I would warn against trying to operate a pedalo in a skirt, especially if it’s windy. Grizzly said it didn’t matter if I flashed my knickers though as I’m on my holidays!

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Today the Three Bears and Granny have been to Wet’n’Wild. Needless to say I didn’t join them. I sneaked off for a while to have a mooch in a nearby outlet shopping place then joined them for lunch. On my return it was quite easy to spot them amongst the crowds – I just looked for the little bald patch bobbing around!

After lunch I sat in the café of Wet’n’Wild catching up on my writing. It was quite possibly the hottest place I’ve had to sit in and I bonded with a fellow Mum over how hot we were. She tore me a strip of her newspaper to use as a fan and in the end I resorted to pouring little bits of water onto myself (too much information there, sorry). The Bears had a fabulous time though and everyone was ready for a rest afterwards. Granny and I took our chance to explore some of the little shops in Tynemouth.

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The week is flying by. Just one more day left then we are off to see our friends and shortly afterwards, back to reality..

 

The Bears go on holiday

July at Adoption: The Bear Facts

I feel as though I start every monthly round-up by saying “it’s been a busy month” but, well, it has! Perpetual busyness or not, here are the best bits of July…

Events:

The first week or so of the month passed by in a blur of rollers and paintbrushes. The builders paused for a week so that we could decorate before they laid the wooden floor. When I say “we”, I mean I, as obviously Grizzly was at work. When he wasn’t at work, he entertained the boys so that I could paint more. My Dad helped me some days which was a God-send. It was an intense 5 days and 6 evenings and a bigger job than we really anticipated but needs must. However I did enjoy doing something practical and I had fun listening to the radio and jiggling my way around the living room.

If you’re nosy (like me) and like seeing what other people’s houses are like, you can see the finished room and fruits of my labour at the bottom of this blog post.

The subsequent weeks mainly revolved around school – transition visits, assemblies etc. You can read about how we got on in End of Term and Achievement.

Before I knew it, term had ended and suddenly there were 6 long weeks stretching out ahead of me and 2 boisterous boys to keep entertained. It is terrifying how quickly time passes once your children are school-aged! Usually I like to plan what I’m going to do with the boys in the holidays. It is as though the plans are a comfort blanket for me and just having them might make it all a bit easier. However, between the renovations, Big Bear’s imminent birthday and our Adoption Celebration to plan, I just haven’t had any brain space to plan holiday outings. Consequently we are making it up as we go along and surviving one day at a time. “Winging it” I think is the technical term.

I’m not going to claim it has all been rainbows and butterflies (far from it) but this post is meant to be about all the good bits so I will save the challenges for a different post (I can feel one called Managing Boisterous Boys in the Holidays coming on…).

The lack of plans has meant that we have spent more time at home than we usually would. I have tried to dig deep to think of/organise wholesome activities to busy them with. I love to see the boys sitting still and engaged in a task that doesn’t involve an I Pad, but it’s something we rarely manage to achieve.

We spent a fun (for them: intense and organised with military precision for me) afternoon making biscuits. We used the cookie cutters and then when the biscuits were cool we decorated them. It took about an hour to clear up again, Little Bear ate pretty much a whole tube of icing and there was bickering over who was having which cookie cutter but they loved it and were very pleased with their creations.

We have also discovered special bubbles that you can hold and bounce on your hand if you wear the special purple gloves that come in the set. I wish I could post some photos as it’s very cool but both bears are very identifiable in them.

Another day, one of Big Bear’s friends came round with her mum for a play. They were off on their holidays so brought Big Bear an early birthday present. As he cannot in any way contain his birthday excitement, I let him open it. It was a box of Lego which he promptly opened and sat at the table to build with his friend. Little Bear, not wanting to be left out, climbed up to sit with them. Knowing that he wouldn’t manage to sit there long before wanting to interfere with the building, I was hit by inspiration – I was sure there was a box of Junior Lego in the cupboard which had been given as a present some time ago. We had put it away because at the time Little Bear wasn’t ready for it. I wasn’t too sure if he was now but sometimes it’s best to give him the opportunity anyway.

Miraculously 3 children sat calmly at the table playing with Lego on their own trays for half an hour or more. The instructions are quite clear in Junior Lego so I sat with Little Bear and showed him the pictures of the bricks he needed and asked him to find them. I was a little panicked to start with as he didn’t seem to be able to match the items to the pictures, not even selecting the right colour of brick. We persevered though and soon he was scanning the tray and selecting the correct pieces consistently. I did most of the building but he did have a go and managed to put some pieces in place, which boosted his confidence. I was very impressed that he managed to sit there throughout the whole build and he was very proud of the truck and digger that had appeared. Both bears doing Lego side by side without incident! Wonders never cease.

We have had a lovely trip to a new park with our friends for a play and a picnic and Grizzly and Little Bear have been really busy with a new construction project. They have decided to build a fort in the garden. There is no room whatsoever so they have built it above the chicken coup! I’m very impressed with it, especially how quickly it has gone up. I think Grizzly likes it more than the boys do (don’t tell him!) and keeps adding bits, like secret windows and spy holes. Little Bear is a natural at DIY so helping out with real tools is ecstasy for him.

Big Bear seems to have really grown up all of a sudden and has much more of an attention span for calmer activities. We have decided to do a little project each night, just for 10 minutes to half an hour. So far it’s going really well and we’re both enjoying thinking of different things to do. @NowWeAreSix has challenged me to do a picture blog at the end of the summer to share all of #bigbearsminiprojects and I plan to do just that.

Snapshots:

  • Seeing my little non-fruit –or-vegetable-eating bear picking and eating strawberries fresh from the bush in my parents garden
  • Big & Little Bear discovering a forgotten about whoopee cushion. Little Bear had clearly never experienced one before from the hysterical laughter that ensued.
  • Little Bear’s excitement at choosing a birthday present for Big Bear. Equally his excitement at helping wrap and hide it. He has no concept of keeping it secret so has told Big Bear several times what the present is and where he can find it!

Project Home Improvement:

It’s finished!! Yeay! It’s beautiful and I love it and the upheaval and hard work was all completely worth it.

There are a couple of things I hadn’t anticipated about open plan living though: although there are definitely positives about being able to keep my eye on the boys all the time, it is a double-edged sword as I can no longer pretend to cook and hide from them in the kitchen!! The constant noise can be a little over-stimulating. Also, Little Bear tends to run around more as the space is bigger. However, I am getting used to these things and just seeing my bright green fridge can do wonders for my mood. The other down side is that the rest of the house looks really shabby in comparison. Time to start phase 2 then! The plans are with the council as we speak so fingers crossed and more about that next time. For now, happy nosing:

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July at Adoption: The Bear Facts