07 October 2019

September, September

Why do I always find this month so difficult?

I wait for it with bated breath, watching for what it will bring and this year it feels as though all the pressure is there. I always used to love this time of year, but the past few years has slightly tainted it for me, with all that has happened around this time. I long for the Summer to be over, for the turn of the season but in reality I find it hard. I feel a little bit like that pressure is about to boil over and I'm doing my best to keep a lid on it all, but in reality I feel like I'm struggling.

This year the start of school has kind of knocked it out of me. All those little four year olds starting school being a huge big reminder that the baby we lost would have been one of them. It's still there in the back of my mind every time I saw a first day of school post, those fresh uniforms, those hands holding tightly in the playground, emotional parents trying to hold it together...a constant reminder of what could have been. As the years have gone on things around the miscarriage has become a little easier, but as this time of year rolls around I am always reminded of what we lost that September and this year it's even more poignant. Even more of a blow to the chest. I've tried to move on from it and have at least a little made some peace with it, but it at these times when you half don't expect it but half know it's coming around the corner that get me the most. It's like a little test to see if those wounds are still there. They are.

Add that to not a particularly smooth or straight forward start for Theo and a whole lot of admin for Rohan. I'm very aware that we've only got one year left before Rohan himself starts school, but that's a whole other point I'll get to in a bit. Theo has always not had the easiest time in school and perhaps it's just an environment that is difficult for him, we've always tried our hardest to help him and get support if he needs it, but recently it's becoming more and more apparent that he needs more. I don't think the school are particularly helpful in this aspect but I also feel like there's more going on underneath the surface with Theo that we need to figure out what and how we best deal with it. Which is a hard pill to swallow. I feel like this may be just the start of our journey with him and how we deal best with whatever is going on but it's all sometimes one thing too many. Especially at this time of year.

It just feels like things are non stop, full steam ahead with no let up. I can't quite seem to get the balance right at the moment either. I feel like I'm being stretched thin and can't quite do one thing well enough. We're in the process of starting to look for preschools for Rohan for January, as well as start looking for schools for him for next September too. For that I need to do his Education health care plan (EHCP) and have just had so much mental load with all of that, plus normal back to school/nursery admin and routine change. I've been trying to manage it all, to use exercise to give me some mental relief and space, but my body decided it was too much and I just feel a little overwhelmed if I'm honest.

We're having to look at preschools at the same time as thinking of what school we will send Rohan to, which is a massive decision. It's also so hard because we have no idea where he'll be in a years time and what support he'll need. I don't know whether him going to a mainstream school is the best idea (I think we've ruled out Theo's current school as an option for a variety of reasons) but I also don't know if being full time in a supported school is the best either. I basically need someone to tell me what to do because I'm pretty out of my depth here. I know we need to make the best decision for Rohan, where he'll be happiest, where he'll thrive and develop and where he'll be supported. I know picking a school is a hard task for everyone but from experience with Theo I know this will be a lot harder than just going to the open evenings of the schools in our catchment area and picking the one that ticks most boxes and feels right. We've got no experience of this sort of thing, we have no view into how Rohan's future will look and how he'll react in the new environment that we'll pick for him. I know that any decision that we make isn't permanent, that it will be a constant thing that can be reassessed as Rohan's needs change but for now it feels like a very weighted decision.

It's hard also to have these conversations with other parents, especially the ones living in my village or with kids the same age as him as I know that when they say "oh they'll be in the same class" that it's unlikely that it will happen, but it's a whole conversation and a lot to feel like I have to go into and explain. I know that once again I'm probably building it up to more than it is, and actually all I could say is that we're looking into all the options for Rohan and we're not sure the local school is the best fit for him and everyone would be very understanding I'm sure, but it's just that reminder again that things aren't as straight forward for us and there's just so many more things to think about.

I'm also so aware that actually we do only have a year left with Rohan at home, before he becomes a big school boy and that fact to me just feels a little crazy. He definitely doesn't seem old enough to be going to school soon, and in fact is one of those things that I just can't picture him when thinking about him joining in with other children in his class. They'll be learning how to read and write and he can't even speak or walk at this point and we have no idea where he'll be in a year. I know that if we do choose to send him to a mainstream school he'll have a one to one and his own curriculum and goals but it would be pretty hard to not compare him to the other kids. I also have no idea how he'd deal socially with other kids and navigate things like play time and lunch time. The thing is though, is that he does thrive being around other 'typical' children. He likes to watch a lot of the time but I think he takes so much in and we really want him to be motivated and challenged to join in and develop. So that's one argument. I also think it's a great opportunity for a mainstream school to have an example of diversity and for children to be exposed to and learn about differences (and similarities!) of all children and their needs, but I guess it's hard to realise that you are that example. So there's a lot of big decisions to be made and we have no idea what will be best for Rohan. I think by looking for a mainstream preschool for him to start in January will give us a good idea of how he copes in that sort of setting. We also have a few options with school, such as he could do a split placement at a specialist school and a mainstream, or we could start him in one place for the year or so and see how he copes and then integrate him in one way or another. Basically so many unknowns so many decisions based on assumptions and just a lot to take in.

I also am just a bit sad that those baby and toddler years are coming to an end. We'll have two children in school full time in a year. I don't know whether we'll have any more children and our experience this time around has certainly been very different to the first and how we imagined it would be, so it's sort of sad that all of a sudden we're here having to make these decisions so suddenly. It honestly feels like Rohan is a two year old and the thought of him being school age just scares me, like where have the past nearly four years gone? How is he this old already? A funny thing happens when you go into survival mode, time warps and disappears and I find it so difficult to recall those first couple of years of Rohan. Everything was a little fuzzy, a little stressed and also when blocking out difficult memories you also lose some of the good, just like a giant eraser of all that happened in that time.

I know that we'll hopefully make the right decision for Rohan and that thankfully things are a little more flexible and changeable for his schooling (hopefully!) and we can try and tailor his school to his needs as time goes on, but it just has felt so full on and non stop since the start of the month and I found it really hard to cope.

Now of course everything has come to a complete stop and our lives have been flipped upside down for a while as I broke my ankle last week. It felt almost like our lives were on a runaway train, with so many things building up and time moving faster and faster and more and more being added to the pile and not being in control of any of it, things were moving at lightening speed and the brakes were not really responding until of course something had to give, something that was carrying the weight of this ever moving train had to give and it did. It was me, well my ankle, pretty savagely too. I was playing netball, for my new league team something which I was so excited for. It was my first ever game for them and right at the end I just landed badly and that was it. It means I can't walk without crutches for at least 6 weeks, I can't drive, I can't do much at all. I've been in bed for pretty much a week and Rob has had to take over. Last week was a write off as I was still in hospital for three days recovering from surgery and then at home on strong pain killers making anything other that sleeping pretty difficult. It's been a massive hit for me and all of us really. Things are disrupted and all over the place, but I know it's perhaps the universes way of making things stop and slow down, saying I need to take care of myself and I can't carry all this weight on my own. I'm gutted though, it means I can't exercise, playing netball especially for months and months which is my time for me. I've had to put work on hold as I can't manage shoots meaning loosing money and momentum just when my business was doing pretty well and this is such a busy time of year for my business. It's all been pretty bitter pills to swallow (literally) and I'm finding it frustrating being forced to take a back seat. I don't do well not being in control and this is literally the most physical way you can make me not be in control.

This time of year is cursed. Always around our wedding anniversary, or like this year actually on it. I know it maybe all happens for a reason, I felt overwhelmed and like I was struggling before this happened, but I do feel like there is something up with September. I use to like you a lot, now I just wish it didn't exist and we could skip straight to October, because I like you a little more.

15 September 2019

#AD Camp Bestival 2019

As the end of the school year finally rolled around and we braced ourselves for the beginning of the long summer holidays I knew I had something up my sleeve to start it off with a chance to be free for a weekend, spend time as a family and have the boys imaginations filled. That's right, it was time for Camp Bestival once again! 

After our first visit to the festival last year we were really eager to return as we just loved how easy going and fun it was. It really is a festival made for kids and the parents can go and have a pretty good time too, so a win for everyone! 

We started off the festival by setting up our tent in the sweltering near 30Âșc heat, in the accessible camping field, (which was same as last year was under the super supervision of Drew who is always so helpful!) We decided that in order to cool off we needed to go take a dip in the sea which is thankfully only about a ten minute car journey away. We visited Durdle door, which was pretty packed with tourists but by this point we were all too hot to care! It was such a great way to start the festival in a way! The evening saw us heading back to the camp, bellies full of fish and chips, seasalt on our skin and remarkably less hot. Theo and I then took the opportunity to go into the festival site for a wander round and take in all that was going on. It just felt so exciting to be back, walking around amongst so many other excited festival goers and just really getting eager for the weekend to kick off properly. 

After a pretty good nights sleep and a bit of a lazy first morning in camp we all got up ready to explore. We headed for the lower kids field to see what we could find this year and stumbled upon a cardboard castle that everyone could have a go at painting and adding their own stamp to, which Rohan got very into! 

We spent the rest of the morning pottering about the kids field, Theo had a go on the helter skelter, we played in the sandpit and wandered over to the science tent and caught one of their shows. We took a little picnic out with us for lunch and ate that whilst watching the bug circus show, which we remembered from last year and didn't disappoint again!

In the afternoon we decided to take a walk around the site again, visiting one of our favourite areas, The Dingly Dell in the woods and just generally soaking up the atmosphere as much as possible. We don't tend to spend a lot of time around the main stage as we prefer the quieter spaces with less people and freedom to move around a little more, but it is always fun walking through and catching bits of sets and have a little dance on the way through.

We decided to have a fairly early night on the Friday, as the boys both needed rest after a busy day!

On Saturday morning I made sure I got up and was out to attend a yoga session in the wellness area, and I'm always so pleased when I do. It's such a great way to take an hour of calm in the midst of a festival and have a bit of time to yourself. After I met up with the boys who had gone to explore the new area of the festival, Wild Tribe, and I think is a major contender for our favourite area! It was just far enough away, hidden down the hill away from the main site but packed full of fun things to do. First of all you can walk through the craft area and sign up for workshops, or head down to the bottom to the zip wire, skate ramp and the chance to have a go at adding to the giant boat structure.

Theo decided he'd like to have a go at the firelighting workshop and had so much fun! We caught a storytelling performance before being lured into the drumming tent much to Rohan's delight.

 We then realised it was  nearly time for Mr.Tumble on the main stage but unfortunately Rohan fell asleep on the way over and slept for the whole performance! We really were hoping he'd wake up especially as they sung lots of his favourite songs! I guess it was all just a bit too much!

After all the fun here we took a break back at the camp, Theo played with kids in the campsite and made a friend to hang out with. We decided to take a late afternoon stroll around a few of the areas we'd not yet visited this year catching some acts on the main stage, a samba band, performances and went to check out the food on offer in the Feast collective tent. There is honestly just so much to do and take in that just walking around it all feels like a full day out! Rohan had a late nap, lulled to sleep by the excellent rhythms and beats of the samba band.

Rohan doesn't always sleep too well at festivals as he really does better staying at home and having a proper sleep in the cot, but we had to take the naps where we could really. We did have his cpap machine to take around with us, but unfortunately forgot a vital tiny piece meaning we couldn't use it with the battery which would have made sleeping out and about a lot easier. It also meant it resulted in quite a few sick situations, as he is generally sick if he sleeps without his mask. In a way we're so used to it by now, but it does just add another element to going to festivals with kids, it's definitely easy to take for granted that your child can just sleep anywhere and will be fine to push the limits a little. With us we learn pretty quickly where those limits are and have to be really careful not to go too far. But saying that Rohan just did brilliantly, he just loved watching everything and taking it all in and not once did it all seem too much for him, which I'm thankful for. I want to carry on being able to show him as many experiences as possible. (As a side note we did take a little visit to the hospital tent onsite as Rohan had a nasty rash on his face around his mouth. We were a little worried as it didn't seem to go away after a day or so, but everything seemed fine and we concluded that perhaps it was just a heat rash and irritation from his C-pap mask. The doctors and staff were all great and really helpful though, which is good to know!)

We did attempt to go out and stay up a bit later on the Saturday night, and fortunately we managed to meet up with Theo's new friends (after a boogy to East 17!) and had some company for the evening, which is always lovely, especially when you just go as a small family and not really know anyone else or have a group to meet up with. We found a space at the main stage and watched a few acts, before calling it a night.

Sunday saw us back in the dingly dell for a play in the mud kitchens and the play park there, which is just the perfect antidote to late nights, busy areas and great for little explorers to get stuck in. 

We really love this area as it always seems so magical and fun! I love it when Rohan can get involved with activities too as there's nothing he enjoys more than being able to potter around, watching and playing around other children. 

Rob then took Rohan back to the tent for a nap, and began packing everything up as we planned to leave in the evening. A few hours later and we were all done, and made our way back to the Wild tribe area for a little more playing and drumming. 

 After this we headed to the upper kids field which was full of circus equipment, a theatre tent where we watched a great storytelling interactive show that was really funny. Theo had a go one all the crazy bikes, got the love for the diablo, had a go on the tightrope and had a pretty spectacular fall that I wish I'd captured on camera on the bouncy balls...let's just say it involved a run up, a jump and roll over the ball and ended in being head first in a bush!

Then suddenly the afternoon wore on and it was nearing the time that we had to leave to we decided to take one more stroll around the lower kids field, catching a bed time story with Rob Da Bank, a ride on the carousel, churros and a look in the camera obscura. We felt so sad to be leaving early, but knew it would be so good to be back in our own beds! But it was a shame to leave, and especially to miss the fireworks!

We had such a good time once again at the festival and I just can't believe how quickly it all went. We were so lucky with the weather as it stayed dry the whole time, but wasn't thankfully too hot. Just the perfect weather for exploring, chilling out on the grass, playing, watching performances and just generally having a great time. It really is such a wonderland for kids, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone hoping to ease themselves into taking kids of a festival. I can also see the appeal of taking kids that are older and able to stay up a little later in the evenings allowing the adults time to have fun too, but we just had a great time as it is. The music isn't also exactly to our taste so we didn't really feel like we were missing out on much for ourselves, other than tasting more food and experiencing more of the drinks on offer! Our experience will probably differ from quite a few, as we tend to seek out the quieter areas where you can be around nature a little more as opposed to seeing bands and performances. We are also able to experience the accessible side of the festival which is actually so brilliant, no wonder it seems to be the festival where families feel comfortable taking their children with additional needs over others as it's just so well catered for.

I'd just like to say that we were invited to the festival and gifted a ticket for me and discounted tickets for the rest of the family as a Camp Bestival blogger in return for coverage. All images, words and thoughts are my own.

Here's a little video of our time!

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