December 2020 - Engagement, Christmas and fostering
As I sit writing this the children have lived for us for 8 months now. And what a ride it has been.
It has taken some time for all of us to settle into things and get used to each other, but we have a good routine now and we all share a lot of love, laughs, and sometimes tears.
When I say it is the best thing, we have ever done I genuinely mean it. Do not get me wrong it has been tough at times and it's not all plain sailing. There have been issues as there are in any family. Declan and I were brand new to this and it takes some getting used to!
As a human being, you make mistakes, but it is important that you learn from them. Sometimes you learn the hard way and sometimes it is a little easier. The children have had to adjust to living with us and have struggled initially but seem to have settled very well. They really are the most amazing children that we could have wished for. Sometimes, when I am driving them to school, I look at them both through the rear-view mirror and I get such a feeling of unconditional love it overwhelms me at times. And then there are the times they make me want to scream in frustration or the times I want to curl up in a ball and go to sleep for a week. Thankfully the good far outweighs the bad!
I am grateful that the support we get from Rochdale Council is amazing. Both our social worker and the children's social worker are great and over the last 8 months through groups and training, we have met some lovely people. We are also now part of the Mockingbird Hub which is a constellation of foster families all coming together (I am sure there will be plenty of material for me for future blogs to talk about this). We also have a great support network and are really amazed and blessed at their love and support.
All in all, it has been a great start to our fostering career, and we feel blessed to be doing what we are doing.
I wanted now to kind of go over a couple of the highlights for us over the last 8 months so here goes…
Oh my days, our first Christmas together. What can I say? After moving in in October there were plenty of teething problems. Getting used to each other, getting into a routine that suited us all, learning to do life together. There had been some joy, some sadness and then suddenly we were facing our first Christmas together. Growing up for me Christmas had always been a bit of an anti-climax! So much to look forward to and so much planning and organising and then the day was a bit of a let-down, to be honest.
We were super excited to be spending our first Christmas together as a family. We had invited a couple of family members as well. Ron and Hermione had written their Christmas lists. Hermione talked enthusiastically about Father Christmas and was excited for the day. We decorated the house and tree, got us all stockings and wrapped all the presents. We bought stupid amounts of food, as you do, and were all ready. Christmas Eve was cosy, and we spent the evening watching movies and pigging out. Hermione was too excited to sleep and did not want to go to bed. Ron the typical teenager who never wanted to go to bed early tried every which way to be allowed to stay up but eventually, they both went up. We snuck all the presents down and put them on both couches ready.
And then we went to bed.
We set our alarm as I cannot imagine anything worse than us oversleeping and Ron and Hermione racing downstairs and ripping all the presents open. I think we were both more excited than they were to see their faces when they opened their gifts. The morning came and we were all up by 7am. The children opened all their gifts and Hermione especially was squealing as she opened each one. She wanted to play immediately with each present she opened, bless her. It was a great day, and we ate a proper good dinner, as you do, and ate far too much. We played silly games in the evening, and it just felt so natural now to sit as a family and just have fun. In such a short space of time, they really had settled with us, and we felt they accepted us as their carers.
Ron even told us both separately over Christmas that he really liked living with us and loved us to bits. For us, this was just so amazing that he felt comfortable telling us this. Our first Christmas together had been a success. Roll on the new year!
We got engaged back in March 2019. We had been together for a year on the 6 March and for me, the time felt right to take that next step. We were both getting on a bit after all, and I knew that he was the man for me so why wait? I decided that I wanted to propose to Declan, and I wanted it to be a surprise. I planned a surprise mini-break to Poland and set about getting an engagement ring. I got my friend to discreetly get his ring size. Well, when I say discreetly, she was about a subtle as a brick, really! But she got me the ring size and I bought the engagement ring. I even asked his parents' permission. I invented a story about taking my friend up to Scotland to see her family and got her in on it too. She nearly dropped me in it several times, I think it was more than her nerves could take to be honest. Anyway, I booked the trip and even booked a day trip to Auschwitz. It was not until someone pointed it out to me, I realised I had booked the day trip the same day as our anniversary. The day I planned to propose. Not exactly romantic, eh! Oh well, it would be something to tell the grandkids I thought, whose grandkids I was not exactly sure, but we will find some. Anyway, so far so good.
Now, for anyone that knows me I cannot keep things to myself. Something in me just makes me get too excited and I cannot resist blurting things out. To be fair, I managed until a few days before we went. But it had not been the best of months and I wanted to cheer him up. He was also not that enthralled about going to Scotland to a town where they did not even have a cinema. So, I told him we were going to Poland. He was super excited. So off we trot to freezing cold Poland. Lovely apartment right in the centre of the Krakow and I was now super nervous. Day trip to Auschwitz and it was a truly harrowing but a humbling experience. And then the proposal, I will not bore you with all the details, but he said yes!! Result!! Oh, and just to clarify, I did not propose at Auschwitz.
I did contemplate a horse and carriage but super cheesy, so I did it privately, just the 2 of us.
Anyway, off we trot back home. Luckily, 2 days before lockdown otherwise, we might have been stranded! And then we start planning this big wedding. When I say big, I mean epic!! For us, at the time it had been a rubbish year. My friend had died, and we were in the middle of a pandemic, so we just thought why not. Let's go big. We did not really look at the bigger picture at the time, we thought, ah it is not till 2022, we will be right! Anyway, things changed quite a lot what with being approved to foster and getting 2 kids, and a dog, and 2 rabbits.
Earlier this year it was getting me stressed out thinking of the cost of it all and I started to think about who the wedding was about. It was about Declan and I, no one else. We ended up chatting about it and made the decision to cancel it and downscale things. Our priorities had changed and for us, the kids came first now. Yes, it was important that we were happy as well but once we cancelled, I felt like a weight had been lifted.
Anyhow, I will now get to the point of why it is a highlight of the last 8 months. (I do tend to ramble, sorry, but I do get there in the end!!) We decided we were going to get married at a registry office and we booked a reception meal. Date set is 9 August. Proper excited and we asked the kids if they would walk us into the registry office and they said yes. Hermione is super excited to wear a dress and be a groom's maid. Ron said he is not wearing a suit, but he will do. He just likes winding us up a bit!! And for us, the highlight is that not only are we getting married a year earlier than planned but that we have our foster children there and they are walking us into the wedding. We are just feeling so blessed. So not long to go now and I will write all about it in a future blog, I am sure.
So, there you go a couple of big highlights of the last 8 months. I am sure there will be more to come, and I look forward to writing about them but for now, it's been emotional, people. See you all soon!!