Concentration Cut out

I have now finished work for two weeks. Towards the end of the afternoon I let my concentration slip and sleepwalked into what could have been a big mistake – sending an email to the wrong person. Thankfully it wasn’t the really wrong person, but it could have been.

It reminds me of the council that was fined thousands of pounds after a social worker used the paperwork for a former adoption case as the template for the next one. Essentially applying the same case to another child. It brought home to me how one slip of concentration could be disastrous in social work.

As I get nearer to finding out the results of my assessment, I find myself questioning whether I am really cut out for it…

This blog is for UNICEF.

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I seem to be in a constant state of menstruation. Something go do with the coil. Last week my emotions rode a rollercoaster, this week I am on more of an even keel, helped by a couple of days off work and a sudden urge to eat chocolate. I have been as spotty as a teenager too.

The joys of being a woman.

I feel as if I am standing at precipice, next week I find out if I have been accepted on the social work course – It is like my fate is decided next week and all future decisions hang on which way I am going at the crossroads. At least I have options or at least the opportunity.

Whatever happens, I am determined that my next job genuinely helps people. I can’t be a doctor so helping in a different but still valuable way is all I would want to achieve between now and retirement.

This blig is for UNICEF.

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Nature/nurture warfare?

I discovered my daughter has a hidden talent today while on a fab day trip down to Historic Dockyard in Portsmouth. She is adept at flying a Merlin Helicopter in a simulator. A chap before us crashed twice before mastering the controls, I crashed 3 times and never got it. My daughter just took the controls and flew it like a pro until the end of her session. A lady made a comment in how well she did as we walked out. My children then proceeded to blow up various things in gun and sea combat simulators much to their glee and leaving me a little concerned as to the promotion of peace in the younger generation. My son was particularly drawn to the gun simulators. My daughter enjoyed scanning things to be fired at on radar. I even found myself cheering my son on as he blew up yet another Helicopter.

My daughter now wants to join the Royal Navy reserves. My son just enjoys looking round the ‘pirate ships’.

All the warfare aside, its a good day out.

This blog is for UNICEF. Thanks for reading.

Baby A. is Officially Ours

What an amazing story – what a lucky girl and what proud parents! You are an inspiration to us all.

Andrew & Sarabeth

11053691_451150641760475_8000524778489925718_nIt finally happened. It’s a done deal. If I had pixie dust and only needed to think up a happy thought to fly, today would by my happy thought.

Today, Sarabeth and I took our foster daughter to the courthouse one last time to solemnly swear to be Baby A.’s legal and official parents forever.

At 10:05 this morning, “Baby A.” officially became Katherine Anne Toy.

In the year and a half we’ve had her, I’ve never felt like she wasn’t our daughter, but now, it’s 100% official.

All I can say is, Katherine, as your dad, I will do my best to give you the life you’ve always deserved, full of happiness, love, and lots and lots of dancing!

Mom and I love you very much. We always will.

Get more updates on Kat and her foster brother on my Facebook Author Page


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Just me and the children – time is precious

Enjoyed a fabulous day just me and the children on a day trip to Madame Tussaud’s. We did well on our 2 for 1 deal through SW trains and baby boy was free so made it possible for us to go otherwise too expensive. 

Although we had to queue for an hour to get in, the time flew by with my children having fun with some Japanese students who were particularly taken with baby boy’s cheeky behaviour. They took a fabulous Polaroid pic of us all for us to keep as a memento and my daughter now wants a Polaroid for Christmas so she can create a gallery on her bedroom wall like the one with the Japanese girl showed her on her phone. 

Baby boy was completely unphased by the experience of posing next to wax models and having his picture taken. He particularly liked Angelina Jolie although wasn’t sure about Iron Man. I was a bit worried when he climbed on top of Spider Man but the model held out under his weight!

The whole day was an experience – going in the train, riding on the underground. As long as I kept their blood sugar level up they weren’t bothered by lots of people and the odd queue.

I was just glad I had resisted requests to join friends and kept it as me and the children – gave me a chance to literally drink them up and the whole experience of being a parent – very precious times that I know will not last long as they are growing up fast!

This blog is for UNICEF.

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Fighting tides and tears

Sorry for the lack of blog post last night but I had no internet access as we were staying overnight on the boat – just because we could.

We fell asleep at a slight angle (because we got caught out trying to beat a retreating tide alongside the jetty) along with the nightly calls of the local wildfowl and the slight hint if petrol fumes as the quarter berths were near the engine. But one glance out the porthole to see a sun setting behind a scene of boat Nast silhouettes made it worth it. Baby boy said ‘look at all the colours’ when he saw the sun set and I realised he hasn’t been up late enough to enjoy a sunset before.

Today as the weather was grotty we went to the cinema and popped to the shops to upgrade our daughter’s school lunch bag and school bag, busy zips and too many stains that won’t disappear after a year of being slung on the ground in bus stop queues and the playground.

We say the Disney Pixar film Inside Out. It is amazing – I don’t care how old you are, what sex you are or whether you have children or not – this is a Must see film. I gave to confess I was mildly annoyed that I was crying three quarters of the way through – Disney know how to ‘get me’ every time. 

This blog is for UNICEF.

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where we are now and what needs to change

Secondary school numbers set to rise

Government figures reveal that the number of pupils attending England’s secondary schools is set to rise by 20% over the course of the next decade. By 2024, nearly 3.3m pupils are expected to be attending state-funded secondaries, compared with just over 2.7m in 2015, a rise of 547,000. The increase is mainly due to the upturn in the birth rate since 2002, and follows years of falling rolls due to low birth rates in the 1990s. State primary schools in England will also see a rise in pupil numbers, although not as great as in secondary schools due to lower birth rates in 2013. The primary population is projected to be 4,712,000 in 2024 – 336,000 higher than in 2015.

BBC News Daily Telegraph, Page: 8 Daily Mirror, Page: 2 The Guardian, Page: 12 Daily Mail, Page: 12 The Sun, Page: 6 Evening Standard, Page: 1, 6, 16 Daily Express, Page: 7

A report backed by organisations such as the National Trust, the Campaign to Protect Rural England, and the Woodland Trust argues that impoverished Britons should have a legal right to an aesthetically pleasing neighbourhood. It says attractive public spaces are important factors in both physical and mental health, and experiencing natural beauty reduces stress and promotes well-being.

Independent I, Page: 23 The Times, Page: 14
Ofsted published its first annual stand alone report on the early years sector 2012/13 in April 2014. (SeeRelated Briefings). This second annual report reveals that, ‘Early education has never been stronger with 85% of early years settings now judged good or outstanding’. This represents an 18 percentage point increase in five years. However, the HMCI speech at the report launch reflected the finding that this improvement is still not reaching the most disadvantaged children:

‘At the age of five, there is already a yawning gap in school readiness between the most advantaged and the poorest children … I am sorry to say that the gap is still around 20 percentage points’.
Sir Michael Wilshaw therefore made the case for ‘more schools to take 2 year-olds and we need more 2 year-olds in schools to be from the poorest families‘
This blog is for UNICEF thanks for reading.


What a roller coaster ride this week has been. Began today on a high after having a good meeting with the social worker last night, then welcoming Mum in the morning who I knew would have a fab day looking after the children. There is nothing like the feeling of knowing your children are 100% happy spending time with their granny. Baby boy didn’t hesitate to say goodbye to me this morning.

The working day went well as dull jobs go. Then the in-laws came round. They are lovely people but I detect their slight disapproval at me giving up a job to go into social work. They are the type of people who hold earning buckets of money in high regard, as their eldest daughter has proven. So social work they just don’t really get. 

My happiness escaped like the air from a balloon to the point where once again, I felt close to tears. I haven’t been like this for a long time and I don’t understand it. Does wanting to be in social work matter so much to me? I am scared of the consequences if I can’t do it either and that is where my sadness stems from. 

For many people who hit their mid thirties you look into the time between now and retirement and think……does something need to change? Life is too short to put up when you can get out.

This blog is for UNICEF.

Thanks for reading. 

letting it out …

Sometimes all you need is a damn good cry. I finished a rubbish day of work, a day when I had feelings as down as if they weighed with concrete. At times I just felt like breaking down in tears which is very unlike me. If it’s time of the month then I don’t like how hormones have the ability to alter your mood by that much. It was beyond control.

So when I went into the changing rooms to get my biker gear on, before I put my helmet on I had a good cry. It worked. Then when I got on the bike I twisted the throttle, lifted the visor and let the rush of wind blast my tears away. Then the tune ‘wings’ from Brokeback Mountain started to play on my phone I was set off again.

This emotional state was not good considering I was about to meet up with the social worker for my independent visitor assessment and I knew she would ask me questions about my childhood. When I talked about the issues I had with my Dad, although I love him to bits, I had to swallow down the temptation to cry. But as I talked to the SW I got happier because I was offloading to her for a positive reason – to help kids in care experience happiness and a break from their situation.

Hopefully I will get approved by panel and look forward to helping.

This blog is for UNICEF.

Thanks for reading. 

cut, cut, cut, another one bites the dust..

This blog is for UNICEF.

Today’s headlines are cuts, cuts and more cuts. I would love to tell Osborne to cut his family budget by 40% and see how he copes. Then when he starts to struggle, cut his budget further. 

But they don’t give a s***, as shown by this national headline….

The government’s own impact assessment shows more than 330,000 children from low-income families in England will be hit by plans to reduce the benefit cap. It estimates that single mothers will be hit hardest as a group by the cap – constituting 59% of those affected by the change, and that more than three-quarters of the households affected will be aged between 25 and 44. The DWP estimates that the cap will save £300m incash terms in 2017/18, rising to £480m in 2021. But it admits that it has not yet modelled the costs of supporting those families affected.

Not only are they widening the poverty gap, they are widening the North South divide too….yippee! Go Tories!!!…..

Analysis by the Chartered Institute for Public Finance and Accountancy (Cipfa) reveals the value of council spending in England has fallen by 32% as a result of government cuts since David Cameron became Prime Minister. Data for the current financial year shows local authority budgets falling in every part of the country except the South East, with the largest declines compared with 2014/15 seen in the North East (down 4.9%), Yorkshire and the Humber ( down 4.7%) and the West Midlands (down 3.8%).

But don’t worry, the FT and the LGA believe councils are finally getting their act together and becoming more like an enterprise not an organisation providing services to the community…

The FT examines how a new wave of innovation is sweeping local authorities, as austerity spurs a wave of entrepreneurial thinking among councils. It notes that more councils are setting themselves up as trading companies, redefining themselves as commissioners, rather than providers, of services. Research conducted by Localis has found that almost all now share some services with another council, and more than half own a trading company. Gary Porter, head of the Local Government Association, suggests tough times have the potential to bring out the best in councils. “The hard times are when the really good people start to shine,” he states.

Thanks to North Ayrshire, they won’t let budget cuts affect children needing meals through the school holidays (the blues won’t like that at all – very indulgent… I wonder if they will get pudding too?)

A council is serving thousands of free dinners to children over the summer holidays. North Ayrshire Council hopes the scheme will help youngsters who are entitled to free school meals during term time.