Friday, January 28, 2011

Hasta la vista California!

Today we are selling our car, it's Matthews last day at school, and we are packing up to go back to England tomorrow.
Well here is my list of the things I am going to miss and not miss about California. It feels like I've been on vacation for the last 4 and a half years sometimes the vacation was from hell but mostly our dear friends helped us through, but now it's time for us to go home, enjoy my list.

All the good friends we have made.
Saying awesome in every sentance, people in England will just think you are a wack job if you did.
Beautiful eucalyptus trees on the walk to Matthews school.
Great sunshine most of the year round.
Being able to wear flip flops 80% of the year. 
Swimming pools and spas at our disposal.
Beautiful snow capped mountains that are just 2 hours away from a sunny Beach
Trader Joes.
Target (I know sad!)
Starbucks on every corner
Drive through ATM's
Being close to great alternative therapies and doctors for Annabelle.
Cheaper gas.
Car pool lane
Great friends oh said that one I guess going to really miss them!

Won't MISS
The medical system
LA haze that you can't even see the mountains.
CCS (California children services)
Regional centre
Being so far away from family.
Having to be an advocate for my child having to fight for every thing you get from the state.
Santa Ana winds
Earthquakes (we experienced about 5 small ones, thank goodness no bigggies)
California wild fires
Not having a back yard.
Scary seven lane freeways
Medical system oh I said that already I guess I really won't miss it!
Not owning our own home, this our new home in England. I am going to be seeing it for the first time on Sunday I can't wait.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Wouldn't life be great if those darn expectations didn't get in the way?

Growing up we are all fed with what life should, will, could be like when we grow up, we will meet our prince charming get married have 2,5 kids and a dog and ride into the sun set and live happily ever after. As we grow up and start living life we all find out that lifes just is not like this!

Society is full of these expectations if you do good at school you will go to university and will get a well paid exciting job, not always!

If when you get pregnant and do everything right, don't eat soft cheese, etc you will have a happy healthy baby, not always! (please what ever you do if you are pregnant don't read those what to expect when your expecting books, it never turns out the way they say it will!)

If you are a great wife and do everything for your husband attend to his every need he won't leave you for his much younger secretary, not always! (I think I have been watching too much Mad Men)

If you eat right, exercise regurly and generally look after yourself you will be healthy, and not get be ailled by what other people who don't look after themselves get such as heart attacks, strokes, cancer, osteoporosis, not always!

If you raise your child well, feed them well, give them everything they want, need, support them they will turn out to be well rounded adults, not always!

What I am trying to get to here is the reason we get so disappointed in life is because it doesn't always turn out the way we expected it to, what if we threw those expectations out of the window and just lived life to the full and rolled with whatever came our way.

The other day we had our last appointment, because we are moving, with Dr Frymann who is an Osteopath, at the Osteopathic centre for children in San Diego, we have been seeing her for a year she does cranial manipulation on Annabelle and when Annabelle is sick she gives her homeopathic medicine. We had a last consultation with her and her advice to me was "Expect Performance" there that word came up again, expectations.

When you are a parent of a special needs child you tend to lower your expectations because your child has never lived up to the typical expectations of a child and that waiting for things to happen is just excruciatingly painful so you place your expectations for your child in the bottom drawer to save your feelings. But may be Dr Frymann has a point you should "expect performance". If I had just sat back and did nothing and just thought Annabelle is the way she is and there's nothing we can do for her, I shudder to think what or where would she be today! Certainly a lot worse off?

Monday, January 17, 2011

My Third Birthday

 Annabelle turned three on Saturday, this is how her day went.

She woke up to everybody including Daddy (who has been away for 2 weeks and came back Friday night) coming into her bedroom to sing her happy birthday, this seemed to be too much for her and she started to cry so we all stopped singing and decided to open up birthday cards and presents, now this she liked alot more, she loved ripping the cards open then ripping the wrapping paper off her presents.

After breakfast we rushed to the hairdressers for Annabelle's first haircut, they really did a great job. Annabelle sat on my lap why the hairdresser carefully cut her hair, another hairdresser had to come over to hold Annabelle's head aswell, because she moves alot because of her dyskensia, the hairdresser did not want to cut her or stab her with the scissors. Then they put pretty pink flowers in her hair too.

Then we got home and got ready for the party, all the friends that we have made here in California were coming round for Annabelles birthday and also to say goodbye before we left for the UK. To keep all the children amused we hired the most amazing entertainer her name is Annie Bananie Balloon Storyteller she does balloon twisting and keeps the children engaged, cleaverly asking each child what ballon they want her to make for them, and then making the most amazing creations for each one, with soo much detail. Annabelle of course being the birthday girl got a princess crown and a wand.

She made butterfly wings, flowers, peace signs, monkeys, dinosaurs, bow and arrow, baseball and bat, a special ball game, football posts, princess crown, pirate hat and sword, a pin wheel fan, all the kids were facinated and watched intently at what Annie was going to make next it was great. She went from shortest to tallest and  Matthew being the tallest got to go last she made him a jet pack, he loved it.

Then she taught them all how to make swords out of the balloon she gave them and then they went to the grass outside to have a sword fight.

Then it was time to have cake! And all princesses need a castle.........

I like to make my children their birthday cakes it has become a tradition in our house and Matthew now plans all year what cake he want me to make for his birthday he has had pirate ships, a dinosaur, under the sea cake, last year he had a milenium falcon from star wars cake. So I wanted to do the same for Annabelle, so the theme for the party was princess so I make a castle. She loved it! We all helped her blow out the candles.

But then when everybody started to sing happy birthday she did not like that again! I am not sure why she does not like that song.

 All princesses need a crown so we got this wonderful crown from better than normal a shop that is on Etsy 

We all had a good time eventually Annabelle crashed in bed after a great 3rd Birthday, all princesses need their sleep you know!

Sunday, January 16, 2011


On Wednesday my little girl graduated yes graduated you heard me right, from ICEC Intervention Centre for Early Childhood. Here in California when a child with special needs turns 3, the funding for therapy goes from the Regional centre to the School district because Annabelle turned 3 on Saturday funding ends and we would have started at a state funded school district preschool on Monday, but because we are moving to the UK we decided not to go through all the assessments and meetings to get an IEP (Individualised Education Plan) from the School district because we would have just have to go through it all again on the other side of the pond in the UK.

We started in their infant program in Laguna beach when Annabelle was 7,5 months old. We had met a wonderful Mom at Aqua Therapy, that gave me the details of the program and after enquiring we started the program a couple weeks later. The program was my life saver at the time because not only do the children get therapy but also after the program they have a parent discussion time, where the therapists look after the children and the parents get a chance to talk to other parents with special needs kids and a trained family counsellor that leads the discusssions and everything from potty training to spouses to behaviour problems to sleep problems to doctors to depression to our trip to holland (if you have a special needs child you know what this means) get discussed.

The program for the children works like this, the parent stays with the child through the program and it starts off with circle time, all the children sit in a circle in cube chairs and then one gets to go up to the teacher and pick a song from the board, Annabelle got to choose the Apple song, then a soft toy apple is retrieved from the box and then the song is sung with actions.

Then the children are divided into 5 groups and go to different stations, a few examples of the stations are -sensory intergration, communication, pre-academics, fine motor, gross motor, oral motor, music, outside play and arts and crafts. Here in the pictures below we are at the outside station playing in grated soap, each week the teachers and therapists have themes to work by and this week was winter and snowmen so the grated soap was supposed to be like playing in the snow. It was great Annabelle loved playing in the soap and the feel between her fingers.    

Then after we have gone through all the  5 stations and a snack break in between we then do closing circle with more songs and goodbye song but before we said goodbye they said goodbye to Annabelle and she graduated, they gave her a backpack to take with her to her new school in England with a tag on it with her name and on the other side "I am a proud graduate of ICEC". I had a tear in my eye saying goodbye to everybody we have met some wonderful people, other parents, therapists and have had some great teachers who have helped Annabelle progress. They all work so hard to help all the kids and parents.

All the teachers and therapists were all very interested in knowing what the services are going to be like in England for Annabelle and I will be posting about all our experiences over on the other side and seeing how they compare to California, so keep on reading, I will keep on posting.

I would like to say a big thank you to everybody at ICEC for all their hard work and support, you guys do such a great job.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Being Supermom

We started the new year with my husband leaving us in California to go to the UK to start his new job, before he left we moved into a furnished condo, at least we are in one place until we fly back to England on January 29.

So for the last week I know what it feels like to be a single mom, I take my hat off to all those single moms out there doing it alone, especially those with special needs children.

Usually it would be a short walk to get Matthew to school now we have to drive to get there, Annabelle caught a cold and has been acting like a cling-on if I put her down she cries until I pick her up and hold her. While holding her I have to cook, clean, take the trash out, grocery shop, change diapers, homework, reading, bedtime stories, doing puzzles, bathing,feeding, brushing teeth and somewhere between all that get therapy in too! 

look at the cool puzzle we did

And to top it all off I have the cold now too!

Friday Martin gets back from his trip, Saturday is Annabelle's third birthday and we have 18 kids and their parents coming over to celebrate. And I have a party to organize.

I do feel like Supermom at the moment, if I don't I won't get through this week!

Recently on one of the yahoo groups I read, somebody posed a question to everybody "what support do people get from their spouse" in regards to helping with therapy, around the house, support financially, decision making...... the list goes on. Well this has sparked much discussion, firstly one lady responded saying that the divorce rate if you have a special needs child is 94% (oh boy not very good odds) because of all the added stress that comes with having a special needs child, some said that their husbands could not accept that their child was injured and could not deal with it some had left, leaving their wives to look after the child on their own. Others were grateful that they had a supportive husband but were so focused on rehabilitating the child that they have forgotten how to have fun.

When my husband is away like he is now, it really hits home how much he does for us every day, reading every bodies posts I became so grateful that he accepts Annabelle for who she is, but also will do everything in his power to help her. That he is so supportive of all the therapies that I have suggested, that he financially supports us so that I can stay home and look after our two children. It doesn't mean we don't have our differences and we don't argue, we do, but we need to remember that we are both trying to be super parents to 2 very special kids.

Another thing I got out of the posts, is that we also need to look after ourselves, so that we can look after our children, like I haven't had a haircut for over six months, there just doesn't seem to be time and the money always seems to be spent on therapy, but anyway I decided because we are having a party on Saturday I am getting my hair done. We also need more date nights! and spend more time with each other as a couple, hopefully once this move is all over we will get more chances to do that.

Have you hugged your husband today? - Here's a virtual hug coming your way Martin ((((  )))) I love you and miss you.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

NEW and NOW resolutions

A year ago I only had enough strength to make one new years resolution, and it was to start a blog, this blog in fact. The purpose was to keep all the wonderful people who had donated money to the Annabelles angels fundraiser updated on how Annabelle was doing and what we were doing with the money they raised for us. Little did I know that a year later I would have fullfilled that resolution and that this blog has become much more to me that I could ever have imagined.

At school I was always good at maths, science, home economics, accounting. I was never good at subjects like English, creative writing, art, I would just scrape through with just a pass. So the thought of actually putting words into a blog, being creative and people actually reading it scared me a bit. But I thought I would give it a bash!

Talk about being cathartic, a release, a way of getting all those thoughts in my head floating around and driving me crazy out there, it has been fanomanal!

And then there's the idea that possibly our blog could help somebody who is going through something similar to what we have been though and it could make their journey easier or point them in the right direction, or even ease there heart by knowing that they are not alone, because society is not the way it used to be where you have a village around to help you and support you, the internet is the village of our future.

I am so glad I fulfilled my resolution.

Well our 2011 is going to be full of NEW! I am open to the new that is coming into our lives. Our move back home we will find new doctors, new therapists, new systems, new schools, new house, new furniture, a clean start.

In 2010 we discovered what we were up against who/what we were fighting, then it turned into how we would detox the toxins that were in our bodies from the mold. Then we got into action and cleaned out our lives, simplified things. Now in 2011, there will be more detoxing and we are going to be running more tests on Annabelle to see if what we are doing is reducing the toxins in her body. Then we will be ready for the renewal the healing to take place in Annabelle, which has already started.

This year I hope for more strength, hope, joy and happiness, I have the wish to appreciate the NOW the every moment, not worrying about the future as much, as you do a lot when you have a special needs child, that every day I can bring laughter to my childrens faces. To be more present in the joy of every moment.

Well those are my 2 resolutions NEW and NOW. Very different from last year, but things have changed so much just in one short year who would have believed it? May be this blog helped heal my soul? What resolutions have you made this year?