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Internet Safety Day & Online Games for Children

It was Internet safety day yesterday, and while I didn’t get to writing a post about it, I came across something that is aimed at children which worried me.

I am pretty vigilant with my boys lives online, which is probably a bit hypocritical considering how large my own online footprint is these days, but that probably makes me more aware of the possibilities.

My two had joined the growing army of young children who were playing Roblox.   I would ask that all parents whose young children use it to exercise caution.  Please research the reviews well and use the forums before you decide to allow your children to use it.  I would recommend that this site be used for over 16’s and possibly over 18’s.

Obviously it is up to each parent to decide what their children have access to online, but I would stress to do your homework around the online world style games offered to children.

When I first read the access request, I felt reassured that it was similar to the Penguin Club style interaction which keeps it safe for children, but it is very different indeed.

Moving on to the positive, there is a yearly campaign that helps promote safer use of the Internet among children and young adults.

This year they ran with the tagline:

“Connecting generations and educating each other, with the slogan: “Discover the digital world together… safely!”

This videos I have attached to this post are quite powerful.

Our children and young adults can be easily led.  We wouldn’t open our front doors to children and let strangers in, yet we don’t monitor our children enough online to ensure that they don’t open a portal to their safety bubble through the online world.

Be aware – check what your children are accessing, and who they are talking to.   Try it out for yourself when they ask for access to a new Internet game or craze as that is the only way you are going to know if it is age appropriate or not.



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Direct Payments for Care of a Disabled Person – Worth it or not?

Some of you may not actually be aware of what direct payments are.

Social services come out and assess a person with a disability or child to see what their care needs are.  From that, a parent (or the person with a disability) can be offered a set amount of hours per week that they are entitled to “buy” the services of someone else to care for them.

We were assessed and approved to receive 8 hours worth of Direct Payments a week for middler.

I can use them for

  • short breaks (take this to mean a few hours a week with a carer who takes them out)
  • nursery place / after school clubs with specialist support  (read £37.50 per day for special needs after school club).
  • club fees (not many clubs going around that will take special needs children)
  • personal care (hahahahahaha)
Finding someone to help

Direct payments means that we need to find our own staff to carry out the jobs above.    Aside from the fact that most of the people who could benefit from direct payments don’t have the ability to interview staff and deal with their employment, the pool of staff who are any good is very very low.

The council may advise and carry out police checks on staff, but the responsibility for the staff shifts from social services / the council – TO YOURSELF.

This means that if anything goes wrong, it’s your own fault.

Employing someone

When you do find someone who you “trust”, you then have to sort out the employers insurance and their tax and national insurance contributions – oh and pay the PAYE to the inland revenue.  Yes, you can use a payroll company, but you still have to sort out hours, payslips and HMRC.

The biggest problems with it are:

  • Finding good staff that don’t make a fool of the service users (middler to me).
  • Finding good staff who have enough time to do it.
  • Arranging the staff time with your child and having to pay for that as well.
  • Risking losing the care package as there are not enough people to do it.

What happens is, that if someone doesn’t manage to use up their direct payments because they can’t get staff, then when they reach the next review, they may well have some of the money taken back, and their hours cut as they will be seen to be not needed as they were not used.

Biggest Bug Bears
  1. My package is for my child.   As well as the huge mountain in finding someone to take responsibility for our children at times we need to find the time to do the regular stuff that other people can do with their kids as part of their daily lives (like homework).
  2. My biggest bugbear (not including not being able to find employees) is that I really could be done with someone doing my housework or making the supper sometimes so that I can spend quality time one to one with my middler.
  3. The person who I PAY to take him out gets to spend the quality one to one time with my boy on  my sterling, and I still have to stay up late to do chores as they have to be done as I have to spend the time he does go away doing the homework etc for the other two.  (yes, direct payments covers the cost of their time, but I have to pay for the carers share of where they go and what they do).
The potential is there for it to be a good way to go in buying the care that we need, but if the social services don’t also start a way help find staff, then it is always going to be difficult to work.
Leave me a comment to say what you think about it.
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Adoption at Heart – The Beginning Part 2

Image: Kookkai_nak /

There we were, waiting to hear about some children that we were interested to hear about, when a phone call came for us to have the three little boys that social services wanted us to do them a favour for (the boys I talk about in Adoption at Heart, The Beginning).   The phone call says that they are bringing them round the next day.

I panic and nearly shout into the phone that they can’t arrive the next day as we’ve got nothing  for them, no cots, bedding, utensils, clothes, bath stuff, bottles, food, nothing, nothing, nothing.

That afternoon, cars start arriving in my driveway by the multiples – laden down with buggies, cots, bedding, some clothes, bottles and nappies, highchairs, the works.  Boxes and boxes of stuff on the driveway.  I could see the neighbours window curtains twitching, as I hadn’t told ANY of them what we were doing, or why I had stopped working.

Emptying the big spare room at speeds that Max Wall would be envious of, we decided to put the three of them into the same room to start off with so that they would have each other for company.  You live and learn, but we didn’t know any better back then.

Something or other happened and the boys couldn’t come for a few days.  I breathed a sigh of relief, and we had the weekend to ourselves to organise everything before the boys arrived, which is just as well, as I now know that there is no way I would have managed to get everything set up and organised and cope with three little boys as well.

On the Tuesday morning, a loud knock at the door in the morning was the signal that they were with the social workers.  Three boys under 3 years old.   I said goodbye to looking for my forever children hunting on the internet for the time being and had to buckle down to looking after the boys.

The first day didn’t go too badly, but bedtime was horrendous.  They didn’t sleep.  Children don’t sleep in our world.  Everyone knows that you bathe children, get their jammies on, read them a nice story, put them into their cots, sing them a lullabye, say goodnight and they go to sleep – that’s right, isn’t it?   The boys weren’t interested in what grown ups want, oh no, no, no.

That night, middler cried, and cried and screamed.  I slept by the side of his cot and he screamed and cried some more.   Littlest did eventually fall asleep giggling about midnight, and eldest dropped off about 1am.    I needed sleep, I wanted sleep, I didn’t know these children, and I was already exhausted.

After eldest fell asleep singing nursery rhymes with me, I lifted middler and put him in a buggy.  I walked the floor for two hours and he eventually fell asleep about 3- 4 am.  I put my head down to get some sleep, and at 6am it all started again.  He wanted up, and no-one was going to persuade him that it wasn’t morning.  I’m sure lots of you can identify with that one, it’s what most toddlers seem to do.

For the first time in my adult life, I didn’t have a shower, I didn’t wash my hair.  Actually, I didn’t even brush my hair.  Multiple toddlers at once certainly keep you on your toes.

I found myself up at the field behind my house at the end of the first week, walking the dog in the evening to give myself a break from the chaos that had taken over my home.  I had called a friend who met me in the field, with a pack of cigarettes.  I had stopped smoking, but that night I had 10, one after the other.  So much so that I vomited on the way back with the dog.  I had sat on the wet grass in that dark and dirty field for a few hours, and the tears streamed down my face.

I was doing all this work for children I didn’t know.  When these children walk into your house, they are strangers.   I convinced myself I could cope with that.

Somehow I did.

Somehow we also had fun.

There is something just so delicious about being able to jump about, and wave your arms and hands like a jellyfish wobble in time to a never ending nursery rhyme.  And the faces, well, there is no excuse for making silly faces quite like having kids around.

Social services asked us to keep them longer, and we put off looking for our own children for a while longer, as I just didn’t have the time to look.   I kept trying to keep the kids memories and meetings with birth parents alive to prepare them for the eventual handback if things all sorted themselves out.

Time passes very quickly when there are multiple children, and middler was enough work to count for 20 children on his own as a toddler.  I kept my feelings for them at arms length as they were not my children, and would be moving on.  They called us by our first names, and not mum and dad, as that is what I felt their birth parents would be more comfortable with.

Contact was difficult for them and their birth parents.  Sometimes they would turn up, and sometimes they wouldn’t.  When they didn’t show, the disappointment was hard to watch on eldest.

After about 9/10 months I began looking on the internet for children, and approached a few places about adopting children from oversea.  It’s a slow process, but because we were approved in the UK already, it wouldn’t be too bad.    We were looking at finances, and how much it would cost to go through procedures in three different countries, and I had started searching through the BAAF magazines again to see if there were any children on there that might fit in with us long term.

I did tell you adoption is a very clinical process once you get going.   Many potential parents have to look long and hard to find their children.

The day came, well over a year after they had arrived, when we were notified that the social services had decided that the children would be put up for adoption, and would not be returning to their birth parents.

We had to make a choice.   Did we start preparing the boys for a new move to another home with another set of adults to get used to, or did we want to take them on?   It wasn’t as easy a choice as people might think.  Going from fostering children to being responsible for them forever is a very big step to make.

We talked it over, and decided that they were in our home, and if they weren’t going back to birth parents, that they should stay with us if we were allowed to have them.   The social workers applied to Court for the freeing order and we put in our request to go to matching panel.    Both were approved.  After the freeing order was granted, the boys birth parents appealed it, and it was overturned on a technicality, so the process began again through the childrens panel system.

At the point the freeing order had been granted, and the matching approved, we began to plan for the future, organising the boys staying with us, school moves to suit us, replacing social services equipment with our own and returning theirs etc.  When the order was overturned, the potential of having the boys living with us permanently, which I had allowed to creep into my feelings after it had been legally decided, took a huge blow.

We were suddenly faced with the position of  having let the kids in further than I would have feelings wise, and had begun planning a future with us.  We suddenly faced the possibility that we might not have a future.  It was an awful time for everyone involved.

It was over 2 years that the boys had been with us before we became a legal family.

That day, when the papers were stamped, my boys began to call me mum after a lovely judge told them to look after their new mum.

I am mum.

Adoption at Heart – The Beginning Part 1






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Adoption at Heart – The Beginning

Saying goodbye to the fertility merry-go-round after three rounds of IVF and one donor cycle felt strangely liberating.   A long 12 months months later, we  climbed aboard the slow train to adoption.

Approaching social services after my second round of fertility treatment proved fruitless.  They refused to allow us to embark until we were finished with fertility treatment, AND waited for about a year from the last treatment.   Being of the opinion that I just wanted to be a mum, I really didn’t care where my children came from, and I would happily have adopted a child as well as having some of my own if I could.

“They” said no.   Well hello, some of us could cope with both you know.  Why they always try to slot us into boxes is beyond me.    There should be more room for manoeuvre than there is at the moment.  There are lots of children out there who need homes, and putting barriers in the way of them finding a forever family is not the best way forward in my opinion.

Yes, I totally understand the need to make sure a family can cope with everything that might be thrown at them, and I also acknowledge that I have met potential adopters who I know would never make it past the first year if they are matched with children with high needs.  BUT, if the powers that be are happy to throw three toddlers at a couple when the going gets tough, then why aren’t that same couple considered good enough to potentially have an IVF child and an adopted one?  I will never understand that logic.

In the endless year between finishing IVF and being allowed to get on the train for adoption, I started researching adoption, child behaviour and potential problems with children we might be responsible for.  It’s what a lot of us do.  It’s all really quite clinical when you start down this path.   You want children, you can’t give birth, so you go searching out other ways to be a mum.  I considered surrogacy, overseas adoption and spent many many hours looking for children, researching and getting together all the information I could on it, both good and bad.

I had spent nearly 2 years looking on the internet in total.  I had read all the child development books that I could lay my hands on to make sure that I knew what I was likely to be faced with.  In the end, none of them made any difference.

Juggling a career that was going places, I struggled with the fact that I would be expected to give it up to adopt children.   All the literature that I read pointed to having to give up work.   Remember, this was nearly 10 years ago.  Perhaps the rules, and guidelines have changed now.

Did the social workers appreciate that I had done so much research?  Did they hell as like.

We were told afterwards that they had almost written us off as potential adopters because I had put on the feedback form that I already knew what they had covered on the initial information day, and that I felt like I had wasted 6 months waiting for the information day to get on the adoption trail, as I could have begun the assessment process much sooner.   I had  also said that I thoroughly enjoyed meeting the adopters at the talks, but I hadn’t learned anything new at the session because of how much research I had done.

I was also frustrated at how many people were at the information day who just wanted to “do good” by taking a child into their family.  Well blow me, we all want to do good, but it doesn’t involve a lifetime commitment to be “seen” to be doing the socially acceptable thing.   I really do wonder how many of the “do gooders” end up as adoption disrupters, ie they give in when the going gets tough, and send the kids back, because they expected a timid little yes child who would be at their beck and call.

Reality check.  Adopters have to want to be parents, and nothing more in my opinion.  How on earth is it possible to commit to x years of 24 hour days, all your finances, and increased risk of high needs children otherwise?

Coming back off  my hobby soap box and back down to earth !!!!!

At the very last minute, we put in for approval for foster caring as well as adoption, as we were told that to get a young child, it would be better to foster one, and that would mean giving up work.   It also meant that we could do the odd emergency weekends to get some practice in for our own children (whenever they arrived).

A couple of brief weeks after being approved to adopt, we had a phone call asking us if we wanted to know about some children, so we said yes.  Three days later, we received a phone call asking us to do them a favour with three little boys who were coming into care and they had nowhere to put them.  We had approval for up to  3 children so it was a little blackmail there.   We said ok……  for a week or two until the social workers got themselves sorted out…………. and the fun began………….and no, it wasn’t as straightforward as it seems.

That’s all for another days blog.

If you want to read more about adoption, IVF, IVF Donor Cycles etc, leave a comment and let me know what you’d like to know.

Adoption At Heart – Part 2




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Competition / Giveaway – Do you get travel sick? Sea Bands might help.


When the lovely people at Sea Bands got in touch and asked me to review and giveaway some sets of their products, I jumped at the chance as my eldest suffers quite badly from nausea and queasiness when he is in the car.

They arrived in a nice white padded envelope and my eldest quickly scanned through the pack to find a pair that he liked.   He found the camouflage green ones, and they were never to be let go as you can see.

They are actually quite cool as far as children are concerned, because they look like wrist sweat bands, so they gain kudos for being in fashion.  There is also the added bonus of not having to give him tablets which can make him feel sleepy.

My boy has been using them now for several weeks, and I am happy to say that he seems to be managing to go on car journeys without suffering.   The potential for journeys away has now left the realms of nervous worry for him, and that has to be a good thing.

The lovely Sea Band people have also given me 4 pairs of bands to give away.   I have two pairs of adult gray bands, one pair of childs pink camouflage, and one pair of blue camouflage.

Before I go into the competition, I’ll let you know a little about Sea Bands from their literature.

Travel sickness is the nausea, dizziness and vomiting that is triggered by the messages in the brain.  We may be sitting motionless in our seats, but our senses tell us that we are moving.  That means we may end us as nauseous.

To help with travel sickness – we can:

  • Sit at the front in cars and buses, and face the direction we are travelling in on trains
  • Breathe fresh air when possible and open windows
  • Don’t eat heavy meals before travelling
  • Keep children occupied with games and looking out the window

The Sea-Band is an elastic wrist band that can help.   Accupressure has been used in Chinese medicine for over 4000 years, and the Sea-Band applies pressure to an accupressure point on your wrist, by a small plastic stud on the inside of your wrist  at a point between the two central tendons which is known to prevent or relieve feelings of nausea.

It is a natural, effective and drug free way to help take away the worst feelings of nausea, and can be worn from a young age.

They have been trialled with children aged 2-15 and gained excellent results in a large number of cases.

They are suitable for

  • Adults
  • Children 3 years and above
  • Pregnant women
  • Hospital patients
They are
  • Drug free with no side effects
  • Clinically tested
  • Used by doctors and hospitals
  • Fast acting
  • Simple to use
  • Reusable and washable
  • Sold in 50+ countries
  • Packed with a small plastic case which makes them easy to keep.
Where to find Seabands

Sea-band Website and Shop
Sea-Band on Facebook
Sea-Band on Twitter

You don’t have to wait for long, as the competition for 4 pairs is starting  now, and will close on the 11th September.  I will announce the winner on the 12th.


To Enter – do the following, if you are not already.

  • Leave a comment below to confirm your entry with a way for me to contact you, ie twitter id.
  • Like my blog on facebook at the right side of this post.
  • Pop on over to the Sea- Band Facebook Page (using the link above) and like them.
  • Follow me on twitter and tweet the following:
    I entered a competition to win 4 pairs of Sea-Bands at with @scottish_mum
Make sure you check back on the 12th to see if you have won.  Good luck everyone.  They are lovely wristbands.
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Children and Animals can Die in Vans and Cars

It’s got to the time of year again when I find myself struggling with a small proportion of my fellow humans as I go out and about. It stresses me to the point of irrationality, and really gets my back up.

When it starts to get warmer outside and out pops Mr Sunlight, the animals that have spent the winter hibernating at their pathetically selfish and lazy owners request begin to appear again.

That aside, some of these fair weather dog walkers seem to think it’s ok to take their beloved to the supermarket, or the library, or the local MacDonalds, or the pub, or their work, and leave them there. They think that it’s ok to leave a window open an inch or two and that their faithful canine friends will be ok. On some occasions, they may be.

Is it worth the risk?

It only takes 20 minutes for a child or a dog to die a horrendous death in a hot car. And it doesn’t have to be blistering hot outside for the inside of a car to literally boil them to death from the inside out. Is that the kind of death you want for your child or your best friend.

Every year I come across self-centred, egotistical it won’t happen to me types, who think it is ok in hot weather to leave their dogs. Each time I feel compelled to stay and make sure the dog is ok. If you are one of the several I have called the authorities over, then that is just tough. I’d rather you hated me for reporting you, than risk the life of a dog that I could have saved from an awful death.

A woman at one of the local shops last week left her baby in a car with the engine running, and her handbag on the front seat and was happily queuing inside the shop for more than ten minutes. She got angry when she was challenged about how dangerous that was for the heat, and for the possibility of theft.

My children have had the SSPCA at school. They have been made aware of the dangers of animals and children in hot cars. Seeing a dog left while their owners totter off upsets them. It upsets me.

Don’t risk it.

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Fill In The Blanks !!!!! Meme

I have been tagged by @jontybabe AND @helloitsgemma on twitter.    They are getting me back for tagging them last week (only kidding).

Fill in the blanks is as it sounds.  A list of words that I have to fill in the blanks of.

I am… 
Trying to be the best mum that I can be.  I know I am not perfect.  I know my kids actually wish me out of the way at times, and I know that sometimes I get things wrong.   It doesn’t stop me trying though, and maybe, one day, my kids will understand that there are rules for their own good.

The bravest thing I’ve ever done…
I’m not very brave.  I will challenge things that I don’t think are right, but I am not a gung ho type of person, not any more.  The kids took care of that.    In fact, bringing 3 children into my life was probably my bravest feat.

I feel prettiest…
Now this is predictable and corny for me.  Easy – I feel prettiest when  I am thin, and on the day I get my hair coloured.   At the moment, the first is out of the equation, but the second was done last week, so I’m still feeling slightly confident.

Something that keeps me awake at night…
Education struggles for one of my children and my childrens special needs sometimes does keep me awake for hours at a time.

My favourite meal is…
I don’t particularly have a favourite meal.  I have a love/hate relationship with food, but if pushed, it would swing from (proper) stovies with baked beans, milk and oatcakes, to chicken risotto.

The way to my heart is…
Through my children.  Treat them well, and my heart goes out to you.

I would like to be…
A fly on the wall in the education and council departments as they make swathing cuts to childrens services.

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Cuts to Services for and of the Disabled

With one special needs child, and two others who need some assistance at school, but who cope with a little extra support, it fills me with horror to read the stories of what is going on around Scotland this year.  The support staff from different authorities seem to be targetted.  The cuts are savage, and directed at the welfare of the disadvantaged population. 

When other cuts, such as music have been mentioned, people have been up in arms and complaining about it in huge numbers.  It is sad that ASN children are not seen as an attractive enough issue to warrant the public rising up to protect them.

I am ashamed of my country, my government, and my local council.

There, I’ve said it.

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Overweight Children – Whose Fault ??

I switched on the TV tonight, and the programme that I stopped at was the Half Ton Teen on Living Channel.  The mum states her child is her reason for living, but she is the one going to the supermaket and buying all the hugely fatty foods that her son is eating.    The doctor thinks that the teen is eating 30,000 calories a day to keep him like that.

The biggest problems he has are his mother and father.  The programme calls his mother the “enabler”.  I find it distressing to watch his parents asking him if he was going to “do it” this time (lose the weight and have surgery).    She is the one buying all the junk he is eating, and I felt like flinging the skin of the tangerine I was peeling through the TV at her.

I see this on a much smaller scale at home as well.  There are children locally who are struggling with their weight.  I feel so sorry for them on a day to day basis, as most children (and adults) want to be part of the group, and accepted, and weight can be a factor that excludes children from the “in” groups.  

Most overweight children are at the mercy of their parents food and lifestyle choices, and I do feel sorry for them.   I have been lucky in that I have three children, of who two are very thin, and one is average for his age.  All my children are able to eat a lot of food without becoming obese, and for that I am thankful. 

I also have my children do a lot of exercise as I don’t want them to spend their lives as I have, constantly fighting to either get to, or keep my weight at a normal level.    With the computer society, and parents keeping children inside when they can’t be there to watch them, it is difficult to find the right balance.  

I do also think tendancy to put weight on has a bit to do with our genes, and our state of mind at any one time, and that it is difficult to put the blame decisively on any one person or place unless we know the circumstances.  I am not exactly stick thin myself, but when I see an overweight parent of an obese child filling up a grocery trolley with chocolate and stodge, I feel so sad for the children.

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Saving Education Services in Aberdeen – Cuts for ASN affect ALL Children

I’ve become aware of a campaign running to save services for ASN in Aberdeen.  What I have read so far is almost unbelievable.    Being a parent of ASN, this is something that affects me daily, and is an issue that affects all children in every class when PSA’s are taken away.

I am not yet sure of the full extent of the cuts, but I will be planning to find out by tomorrow.  In the meantime, I am aware that even such a small thing as putting a link up to the petition being run, might in some small way, help with this campaign.

Here it is:

Save ASN Services Petition