We are blended family or “step-family”, which in itself is nothing unusual. Dan has a 14-year-old daughter called Ruby from his previous relationship, and he’s got two daughters with me – 6-year-old Elisa and 3-year-old Melody.
Ruby lives with her Mum and comes to ours every other weekend and sometimes between. Melody has started to question it recently, asking every day when Ruby will be with us and that where she is. She does know where Ruby lives – she calls it “Ruby’s house” – and like all of us, she misses her when she is not with us.
To make matters more confusing for a 3-year-old
Elisa has been going to Lily’s Place for respite care once a week, staying there overnight. During school holidays Elisa has gone there for two nights a week.
Therefore Melody is quite used to seeing her big sister off to Lily’s place that she promptly calls “Elisa’s house”.
How does Melody view this?
Melody is the only one who doesn’t do “sleepovers” just yet. As stated earlier, she calls Ruby’s mum’s place as “Rubys house”. Lily’s place is “Elisa’s house”.
The house where we all live in she calls as”Melody’s new house”. “Melody’s house” is the old place where we moved out of in October 2019.
Aren’t we lucky as all of our children already have their “own houses”?
In Melody’s new house, there is “Elisa’s room”. The biggest bedroom upstairs is “Melody’s room”, where she shares a bunk bed with Ruby. She claims the bottom bunk is hers and the top one is Ruby’s.
Order is crucial.
It get’s weirder though. As ever since Dan quit working and took on a carers role for Elisa, Melody has learned that Daddy looks after Elisa and Mummy looks after her. Now she has started to tell that Daddy is “Elisa’s Daddy” and Mummy is “Melody’s Mummy” – and she laughs and yells “Nooo!” if you correct her saying that Melody, Elisa and Ruby has got a same Daddy and Mummy is also Elisa’s Mummy.
So just that you know
– all of the girls have a same father, and Elisa and Melody are biologically my daughters. Do not believe the youngest of the family…
I can’t wait when her mind is blown with the fact that Grandma is Daddy’s Mum, and “Mummi” is Mummy’s Mummy and “Ukki” is Mummy’s Daddy…
Did your kids ever have similar type of peculiar ways of thinking?
The stomping foot, arms crossed, protesting lower lip. The crying and screaming, the trembling body. The lovely classic signs of a temper tantrum.
There are times when I find it extremely hilarious.
When we are not in a rush and we are not having a temper tantrum over wellies or sandals on a rainy day. On those situations the problem might be solved with a conspicuous
“I understand you, I hear you, I know you want the sandals but it’s raining outside and you don’t want your feet to get wet now, do you? No? I thought so, so let’s save the sandals for another day and we go and find your lovely Peppa Pig wellies now.”
If it only worked…
But then there are the most entertaining temper tantrums when the child herself forgets why they are stomping their foot. The very mood when anything you offer is thrown back at you with a solemn “no”.
Like the other night at bedtime.
We had just finished our routine of brush your teeth – bath – pyjamas – hair – and it was time to pick a book for bedtime story. All of a sudden I see my child protesting and trashing around on the bed.
“Do you want your teddy?” “No!” “Do you want your drink?” “No!” “Do you want the monkey book for bedtime story?” “No!” “The Gruffalo book?” “No!” “Do you want mummy hug?” “No!” “Daddy hug?” “No!” “Do you want a kiss?” “No!” “What would you like?” “No!” “What, you would like a ‘no’?” “No!” “Okay,” I inhale and shout as loud as I can master, knowing that Elisa’s night carer is just next door, “NO!!!!!” That startles her. She turns to stare at me. “Is that what you wanted?” I asked. “No…” She says and sniffs. “What would you like then?” “No.” “Another one? Really?” “No.” “Okay then… NO!!!” I shout and slam my hands on the bed too, for the effect. Melody can’t hide her smile. “Right, would you like to pick a book now?” “No.” “What, no book?” “No…” “What would you like?” Melody cracks another smile. “No..?” “Okay, last one…. You ready?” “No..” “NO!!!” I shout. She dissolves in laughter.
I gather my giggling child up in my arms and once she’s stopped laughing, I tell her we are going to lie down on the bed now. I knew that if she wanted a book at that point, she would tell me so – but I suspected the whole tantrum was caused by her being so tired. Without another protest, she settles down next to me.
“Mum?” Melody asks. “Yes, Melody?” “Cuddle me.” I wrap my arms tighter around her. “Melody?” “Yes, Mummy?” “Hug me.” “Okay okay…” and she wraps her slender arms around my neck. “Night night, Melody.” “Night night, Mummy.”
Couple more minutes, and she was fast asleep. I disentangle myself free and just watch her sleep, before I tiptoe back downstairs.
There is another Tantrum Tamer that I’ve used
Instead of explaining it, I just show you the video where I got the idea from.
On a video, Dad is holding a little girl in his arms. The girl is crying. Dad tells her that it’s his turn now and starts to wail himself. The girl stops sobbing and stares at his father (through the screen). Father stops crying and tells the girl it’s her turn to cry now. The girls answers with “no”. Dad takes couple more turns on crying, but the girl is done and doesn’t want to cry anymore.
Melody responds with “NO!” first, then runs to cover my mouth when I “cry”. She’s by then stopped crying herself, so we can have a conversation about what went wrong, why we were upset. Occasionally the conversations go horribly wrong and I find myself witnessing another tantrum… but after a couple of turns with “crying”, we usually do end up fixing the situation for real.
How do I solve the wellies versus sandals issue?
I am not so proud of this one.
Too many times we disagree about the clothing and instead of getting ready to go, we squabble over summer hats or woolly hats, lost socks and sun lotions or if she can bring whatever unpractical toy with her.
There was a time when she didn’t believe I would leave to go to nursery without her.
We had been trying to get ready, but disagreed on I-cant-even-remember-on-what, and I had used all the reasoning power I had and the situation was not resolving. So like a mature adult that I am, I said
“Well, if you are not doing what I ask you to do, I’m going without you.” I paused to see if that made a difference. It didn’t. “Okay then, bye bye, I’ll see you later!” I got up to my feet, walked to the door, opened it, stepped outside and closed the door. I heard the wailing scream immediately. I counted to three and opened the door. “Would you like to come with me?” “Yes please,” she sobbed and ran to my arms.
I had no problems getting her dressed the way I needed her, and she was the laughing usual self already on our way to the car.
If I struggle with the same issues now,
all I need to say “Okay, I can go without you then, bye bye” when she then hastily says “No noooo!” and runs to do what I need her to do and off we go.
(Needless to say, this is the very last resort – it would loose it’s magic if I overdid it. Also, I do not want my child to live in a constant fear that I would actually leave her behind [never]).
To warn anyone who sees me and Melody at a supermarket..
I am definitely one of those parents who will throw a “temper tantrum” on a floor just to shut their kid up. If she can do it, so can I.
So far, she’s been too good while shopping. Such a little angel helping me carry my shopping basket, getting my products for me and doing every little bit to help me where she can. But one day.. One day I will find myself on a floor pretending to have a temper tantrum.
Freya arrived to our family in March 2019. It was made possible with rigorous saving up – we committed putting aside tiny amounts of money weekly in to a savings account for a very long time – and research.
In my teens I had had a dog, but ever since I moved to UK I haven’t had a furry friend of my own. It was almost a dull ache in my existence, not having the sound of four paws pounding next to me at all times.
As with Elisa’s complex needs,
I realised I could train the dog to help her. I looked into many breeds, trying to narrow the choice down to what we wanted and needed and what needs the breeds have.
My favourite breed is a shetland sheepdog – my previous dog was a sheltie. Even though I knew that breed very well, I crossed it out from the list. I wanted to teach the dog to help Elisa with her dystonic episodes by laying next to her and maybe even on top of her spasming arms, so the dog needed to be strong and heavy. Lightweight sheltie would have flown off Elisa once her forceful dystonia kicked in..
Taking everything into account,
we decided on a working type Labrador (read from Labradorsite.com about the two types of labradors). It would be agile enough to jump on Elisa when she’s on her wheelchair and strong enough to hold her down if needed – also the eagerness to please and learn were definite positives. I was aware of the negatives, the mouthing (the “need” to grab everything and anything and the constant chewing) and the endless energy, but I was ready to crack on and work with those in mind too.
When I went to see Freya,
I liked her curiosity and calmness. She didn’t yap like her brothers. She wasn’t shy and she was keen on examining me and Melody when we sat there on the floor getting to know the pups. She did mouth, but I had expected that anyway. She let me roll her around, didn’t protest or get anxious, and there I was sold. Freya seemed like the confident little addition that I wanted to have in our family.
After couple of more weeks, she came home and fell in love with Elisa almost instantly.
Freya has proved herself to be a sassy little lady, who only barks at neighbours cats and is endlessly interested in everyone. She loves cuddles and wants to be with her humans at all times.
Freya keeps testing my patience in daily basis,
and we have walked a long way together already – from learning out of the habit of mouthing to walking nicely on a lead. We are not perfect yet, but we are so getting there.
Above all, the kids love Freya.
Elisa is calmer around her – when Freya is close to Elisa, her dystonia seems to ease up. Melody has an “always-ready-to-play” playmate out of Freya – they’ve got the games of their own from the start.
Ruby is eager to teach Freya tricks.
Freya is my therapy dog. She calms me down when I feel anxious, and she is my pass to get outside for a long walk daily.
She is a dream come true. Not perfect, but we are all learning together.
So what does Dan think about the dog?
“Oh it’s alright. Whatever makes you happy, it makes me happy. No big deal.”
I do feel inferior talking about our holidays even though it was the best yet for us. We did not travel within UK or abroad , nor did we visit any museums or amusement parks. We didn’t go camping or glamping and we didn’t go to any festivals.
Such things are expected of the “best ever holiday”, right?
Even though we did not proceed on doing mentioned activities, we still did have the best summer we have had yet as a family.
So what did we do?
Monkey World with the DCF
The Dorset Children’s Foundation “DCF” funded a fun day at the ape rescue centre called Monkey World at the very start of the holidays. We were ecstatic – well, I was at least as I’ve never been and Melody was all keen to see chimpanzees!
We had a lovely day, never mind that Elisa slept through the whole thing. Maybe she dreamt of monkeys though?
Played Football with the DCF
These football sessions are such a safe place; there are footy related games for those who can and want to join in, but no-one is looked on badly if you decide to run around the hall playing chase with your Mum instead or have your very own game going on with a wheelchair football.
Neither are you judged if you happen to fall a victim to your emotions and have a temper tantrum.
There are only few opportunities where all parties of the family can join in the activity fully when one is physically disabled – it happens so easily that the disabled is on the sidelines or then the siblings.
These football sessions are for all; all of our three children love to join in the fun. Well, after all, this is “Accessible for All” Football arranged by the Dorset Children’s Foundation.
The DCF Fun Day
We only came for the afternoon part of the fun day – so we managed to get some lovely cake, then burned off those calories with playing indoor football and dancing to the beats of the amazing DJ Nose It !
Launch party of the DCFFC
As we already had been enjoying the football sessions arranged by the DCF, we were excited to attend the Family Fun Day that celebrated the launch of the new football team.
Can you spot Elisa and Ruby in one of the photos from the Dorset Echo’s news article? You can check it out here.
We went swimming at BH Live Leisure Centres
We do like the pool in Littledown. It is all wheelchair accessible and we go for a swim there every so often.
Our favourite Leisure Centre has to be the closest one to us though, but not because of it’s proximity. We love how the changing area for swimmers is an open area and so we can get changed as a family. The disabled changing facilities include an essential hoist, and there is a hoist to the warm pool too.
Mummy – Daughter – quality time with Elisa
It’s rare that I get to spend one on one time with Elisa. So on a day when Melody was in nursery, I took Elisa out. Just me and her.
Attended Julias House event called “Housemates”
Julia’s house arranges these events called “Housemates” during holidays and half-terms that are designed for the whole family. The events are relaxed, offering parents a chance to enjoy a cuppa and a chat with other parents when their children take part in supervised play.
Picnic at Moors Valley
Dan arranged to see a friend of ours at Moors Valley. We walked around the pond and then settled for a picnic.
Moments at home
How come was this the best summer holiday yet?
This is something any family with a child with complex medical needs will agree on.
This was best holiday yet, as we all stayed home. Elisa didn’t end up being admitted to hospital once. She was poorly with a tummy bug for couple of days, but that is so minor that is not even worth properly mentioning. Honestly – even as we lacked the confidence to book anything and make certain plans because of last years experiences, we ended up having the most active and loveliest time we’ve had during holidays. Happy, content time, as we were all healthy enough.
Isn’t that amazing?
Did you pay attention?
Most of the activities we enjoyed as a family were arranged and funded by charities like Julia’s house and the Dorset Children’s Foundation. Both of these charities are really close to my heart and our lives would be so much poorer in so many ways without them.
Which is why we are raising money for the Dorset Children’s Foundation.
Did you read about that here yet? Most importantly, if you could spare a quid or more, have you donated here?
Our new Facebook page is booming with new likes already – thank you so much for that! If you haven’t liked us yet, please do so here. If you are more of a Instagrammer, we do have an account there too here.
I have kept a public blog for more than 7 years and my children have always been known by nicknames in it.
Not anymore. My blog’s long term fans would have noticed a huge change in my blog since yesterday.
I am very proud of my children’s names.
Still, I wanted to hide them from the world. While I’m revealing so much of myself here I could not help but try to wrap my kids in with a fluffy anonymity blanket.
As I start blogging again,
I feel more connected to the local people, businesses and charities than I did before, and more than previously I do want to work with them and for them. I want to promote amazing charities and help to bring recognition for them, for all the hard work they do for families like mine. We already have let some of them use our kids real names in their leaflets and websites, and to prevent confusion, I’ve revised my nickname policy here in my blog.
My blog’s fans have known my eldest as “Elsa”.
Her real name is Elisa, pronounced like the name “Eliza”.
I had known for more than a year before Elisa was born, that my first child with Dan would be called Elisa. I didn’t want to have any “foreign” letters in her name to honour her Finnish background, as in Finnish letter z is hardly ever used. But Dan didn’t want the pronunciation that comes easiest with this spelling, so we went with “Eliza” with s.
My youngest has been known as “Anna” in the blog.
Her real name is Melody.
Melody loves her name, she promptly and proudly introduces herself to everyone whenever needed or not. Her name comes from a twin who sadly didn’t live very long – I didn’t even ever have the honour to meet her. I met her mum when I had been told the worst news possible; that my child, Elisa, might die. It was then that I bombed into Melodee’s mum, who knew exactly what I was going through. We have been friends ever since.
When I was expecting my youngest, we made name lists, and name Melody just kept popping up. It was the one that just felt right.
has always been known in the blog with her real name as according to her own wishes.
I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. It appears protecting the names of my children had been a sort of a battle that I had been soldiering through… and I don’t have to do that anymore. Strange.
On the 5th of October 2019 I will be chasing after Melody, 3, while Dan will be pushing Elisa, 6, in her wheelchair. We have entered them to Bournemouth Marathon Festival’s “Kids Kilometre” -event and we’ve never done anything like it before.
We are raising money for a charity that has helped our whole family so much and keeps doing so every single week.
Why the Dorset Children’s Foundation?
As charities go, I have yet to find another charity that is as approachable and friendly as the Dorset Children’s Foundation. The charity supports local sick and disabled children by funding medical expenses, mobility equipment and therapies not covered by the NHS. They get to know the family as a whole and their approach is really hands on. Their mission is simple – “to provide what is needed for a better quality of life”.
They’ve helped us already in numerous ways.
Not only did they fund Elisa’s p-pod that is comfortable seating for home..
More than that, they’ve made us all active.
We didn’t even realise how isolated we were before we took part in the DCF events. We didn’t know any different, as Elisa has always been disabled and we’ve struggled with its knock-on effects from the day 1.
Thanks to our friend Emily and DCF’s co-founder Patsy, there are now weekly events for families like us to do different activities. As an example, we now go and play football weekly with the other DCF families.
Here is a video of us spending quality time with our children in different DCF events :
Not only Elisa is included in the activity with the rest of the family, but the siblings too. I cannot press enough how important this is; that the whole family is involved and feels safe and supported to take part in a way they can.
I’m sure you agree,
the Dorset Children’s Foundation is one small but mighty charity that changes lives within our community. It definitely has improved ours greatly.
You can learn more about the charity on their website here.