Monthly Archives: October 2016

The Kitchen\Diner

Wow. Just looking at these photos makes me realise how much had changed in 6 months! And it’s not quite finished yet [insert crying emoji here].

Both rooms were pretty much just fine as they were, you could easily just have given them a big scrub and used them. However, as we knew that we had a deadline, we decided to go for it, so out came the kitchen and off came the floors.

The kitchen was a super awkward space. There was a(nother) chimney breast in there (seriously, there is a chimney breast in nearly every room!), which just made fitting things in not great. We sort of planned the kitchen with it still there, but getting rid of it would have been ideal.

As my hubby and a few others suggested, we planned to knock down the wall between the kitchen and dining room to make it one room, as well as switching round the dining room window and the back door. After we’d had the damp proof course done (in hindsight, we should have co-ordinated this with the builders to avoid some of the damp proof stuff being pulled out to make way for a door), the builders arrived sometime in June to knock some stuff down.

…and out came that chimney breast! We suddenly had a much bigger space to work with. It was well exciting to come home from work each day and see what they’d managed to get done. I literally never met the builders, and despite horrendous communication from the main guy, they did a great job with everything. It took a little under 2 weeks, and they were gone as quickly as they arrived, everything plastered and ready to go. Just look at the lovely new window and door!

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Despite the building work being finished, we hadn’t ordered our kitchen (and good thing too since it ended up looking different to what we’d imagined!), so that didn’t arrive until early August. Before we could fit it, we needed sort the mess that was the rest of the kitchen. It was just…ergh, gross. Wallpaper, tatty plastering, just all round disgusting. It took me a good few days and quite a lot of tears to pull it all back, but it was finally ready for plastering. That was an extremely exciting time seeing the walls get nice and smooth. Lots of excited jumping from me and I nearly cried happy tears!

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This is after I had attacked it with a steamer and a scraper for days. What was demoralising was that it looked far worse now all the wallpaper was off…! But it had to get worse before it got better..

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Ahhhhh! This before and after is a happy moment. And this isn’t even the finished plastering! Our wonderful plasterer (a guy called Abdul from Afghanistan) did the ceiling for us as well before smoothing all the walls with bonding then skimming them (which is what happened after this photo). Ohh man, just looking back makes me all the more grateful for how far it’s come!

As you can see though, we were still without an actual kitchen. This was…mid-August? We moved in at the end of May. Praise God for our wonderful family (both biological and church family!) who kept us fed and clean (we did have a shower by this point, but only just!) during that time.

And suddenly, it feels like it’s all happened rather fast. August bank holiday, my hubby and his Dad fitted the kitchen units and worktop…

…and in went the appliances a few weeks later…

…followed by the drawers and all the door handles. These were tricky, no Ikea job – but we made it in the end! And they don’t look too shabby if I may say so myself πŸ™‚

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Not long after, in was down with the floor (easy peasy lino), put the plinths in and suddenly…we had a nearly finished kitchen!

…ta-da! Tiling has happened and today will be the final coat of paint…I can hardly believe that it’s actually nearly finished for actual real. There will be bits and bobs to sort, gaps to cover and things, but we can use it – cooking, washing, a real, working kitchen..how awesome is that?!

As for dining room…that’s still a work in progress. We stripped off all the wallpaper, filled in a million holes (should just have got it skimmed but hey ho), and painted it with about 20 coats of paint. I exaggerate, but there are at least 5 coats, I’d say. Another hindsight moment  – if you don’t want the faff of plastering and drying (and haven’t got the budget for about Β£300 per room to plaster…!) cover the walls with lining paper and then paint it – this protects the plaster and creates a smooth finish. We totally should have done this just about everywhere. Ah well, you live and learn πŸ˜‰

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Day 2

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This evening it’s all about the Mary Poppins soundtrack (though I’ve moved onto Paddington now) and making a presentation to give to our church family about fostering. Wild Friday night.

Another day, another load of stuff to process. I spent about 45 minutes on the phone to the foster carer who has the kids last night. She is incredible in terms of what she’s done – used to be a dental nurse, now a teacher, has fostered over 300 kids and often takes trips to Afghanistan to return children to their parents. You know, as you do.

She was able to tell me more about the kids’ case, but also what they’re like. What they’re interested in, how they’ve reacted to certain things in the house, like fruit and toothbrushes. She gave me confidence that as a carer I can advocate for these kids – if they need to move to a local school, I can push for that. As their foster carer, I am their advocate. I’m not sure I’ll ever have her boldness, but I hope that a steely determination and persistence will grow over time!

Today also involved a chat with the kids’ social worker (poor woman having to do that job, I don’t envy her). They’d just been to court and got the order they needed for the kids not to go home for now. Obviously in fostering, working towards reunification has to be the goal, so that’s where we are for now whilst things are worked out with regards to the long term options. She lives nearby as well, so if she stays on the case, she’ll be able to pop by easily enough.

I think the reality ofΒ actuallyΒ fostering is starting to set in. As well as doing the day-to-day care in terms of feeding them, getting them ready for school, doing homework, reading stories and playing games, there’s just this whole other level of things that I feel totally unprepared for. They’ll need a high level of nurture and very structured parenting that focuses on filling in all the gaps from their early childhood with regards to emotional needs. Most kids in care are well below their chronological age when it comes to emotional development. I’m suddenly realising that I am feeling thoroughly unequipped to do this task.

I guess it’s like starting a new job, which is what I’m doing I suppose. You know as the start date draws closer and you begin to wonder what you’llΒ actuallyΒ need to be doing at work. What will an average day look like? How long will it take me to settle into it? What if I literally have no idea what to do and they realise they hired the wrong person? PANIC.

Ok, so I’m not panicking (somehow!). Maybe because it still feels a long way off. I know that with fostering, until you start there is no way you can be prepared for it. There will be an element of learning on the job. However, that’s not to say there’s nothing I can be doing right now. I have books I can read, there’s a wealth of resources online, and plenty of foster carers to connect with. Our most important resource though needs to be prayer. Even if we may feel that it doesn’t bear much fruit (probably cos we just don’t do it!), the power of prayer cannot be underestimated. As we go into this, weΒ mustΒ be relying on God and remembering this verse (which I want to get printed beautifully to hang up somewhere!):

But he said to me, β€œMy grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12v9

Boom. May God’s grace be what sustains us; not our own efforts, knowledge or experience (not that these aren’t good, important things, but they’ll only go so far). His grace alone is sufficient.

Day 1

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This is where I am right now (literally, as I type). Waiting for paint to dry and attempting to process where my head is at currently…

Day 1 of….the Rest of Our Lives? Haha not that dramatic. But I feel like we’ve been thrown into the world of fostering a little earlier than anticipated, and suddenly it all feels real and much closer.

We talked and talked last night (also ate food, and zoned out a bit…) as well as informing the people around us about the decision we were making. Responses were positive, who knows what people really think…probs that we’re mad, but this is a decision that we need to make by ourselves. It is so good to know there are so many people supporting us though, even they think we’re mental πŸ˜‰

So today. I texted our social worker at 730 wondering if I could call her yet, then proceeded to email her our long list of questions, followed by calling her twice and finally getting through to explain where we were. Which was…well, kind of mental to say. We are actively pursuing considering the placement, which looks like getting as much info as we can from case notes (via a social worker, obvs not getting free access), talking to the foster carer who the kids are with now and talking to the kids’ social worker tomorrow morning.

However, in our hearts and minds, we’ve said yes. Yes to three kids that are at the top end of our (read: my) age limit. Years 1, 2 and 3 at school, so whilst they’re currently 5, 6 and 7, in a few short months we’d have a 6 year old, a 7 year old and an 8 year old. Not what I had in mind AT all. But you know what? I’m not sad about that. I’m not disappointed that we won’t be looking after babies and toddlers. I’d still love for us to take a younger sibling group at some point, but right now,Β right now,Β these kids need some level of permanence. We have the space and the capacity to provide that, and on top of that, weΒ wantΒ to.

So how does it feel to be mentally preparing for them? Terrifying, exciting, overwhelming, nerve-wracking, intense, crazy, mental, surreal…WHAT IS THIS MADNESS. As if we’re going to beΒ parents in less than a month! As I’d been anticipating littlies, I’d been gearing my prep towards that. Time to zoom out a bit and refocus. Despite an older age, both physically and academically, their emotional age is likely to be much younger; how do we help them navigate what’s happening to them and how they feel about it? How will we create good, strong, secure attachments with each one? Looks like we have some reading to do…as well as an Ikea trip to make πŸ˜‰