As my regular readers know, I am adopted. I know that although adoption does not define me, it does have a huge impact on my life and my ways of seeing things. Today, I am delighted to share a guest post from Cat who is taking a musical approach to adoption.

Adopting

“Hello! I’m Cat – a mum of two children with Special Needs, who is fast approaching the big 4-0, though I’m trying to put off actually becoming a grown up for as long as possible.

I’ve always had trouble deciding whether I wanted to be a musician or a psychologist, and seeing as I’m running out of time to decide, over the last few years I’ve pretty much hopped between the two. My husband and I adopted our son nearly three years ago, and true to form, I became really interested in how I could use music to support his development, help him manage everyday situations, and to build our relationship.

Tickle (that’s what I call him on the internet) is a very anxious little boy, and music can really help to calm and regulate him. At home we use songs to help him navigate difficult points in the day, such as changing activities, tidying up, getting dressed, and travelling in the car. To help strengthen my bond with Tickle I use a lot of play songs that involve us being close together or touching – like Jelly on a Plate, Horsey Horsey, and Jack in the Box. We also play a game where Tickle makes noises and I copy him, trying to match the pitch, rhythm, and vocal tone as closely as I can. Tickle absolutely loves this game; my vocalisations are a strong signal to him that I am totally focussed on him in that moment and that I have heard and acknowledged him. It’s a silly, fun game, but it’s building important connections in his brain.

Recently I’ve been reading about how we communicate with babies, and how there are musical elements to our early interactions that are consistent across different people, and across different cultures. It seems crazy, but there are specific melodic, rhythmic, and tonal patterns that humans instinctively seem to use with young babies, no matter where in the world they live, and what sort of music they listen to. These musical experiences are really important in building the pathways for social interaction, communication, and relating to others as the child grows, and it saddens me to think that Tickle, and children like him, will likely have missed out.

As adopters we are taught to fill in the developmental gaps, to give our children experiences that they have missed out on – but Tickle is nearly nine, so I don’t really want to do endless baby talk with him. Sure, he enjoys a bit of regression as much as anyone else(!) but I wondered whether there was another way that I could help him experience some of these early communication building blocks. Then I started to think; if psychologists have precisely identified some of these musical features of early communication, what if I were able to take them and incorporate them in to a series of new songs?

In my project, ‘Adopting a Musical Approach’ I am hoping to do exactly that. I want to write an album of songs that incorporate the musical features of early communication, as well as being fun and engaging. I want this to be relevant to other families as well, so I’d like to hear from you – how do you use music at home? Do you listen to CDs, sing around the house, or do you play interactive musical games? What sort of topics would you like me to address? Maybe talking about emotions, transitions, belonging and being loved, school, or self-esteem? (It’s worth noting that although my project is aimed at adoptive families, all children will be able to enjoy and benefit from the songs.)

I am hoping to fund the majority of this project via arts grants (and am grateful to have received some early funding from the Folk Camps Society) but I have also set up a Kickstarter project where people can get involved right from the off – from pre-ordering your copy of the CD, to opportunities to sing on it or appear in a music video!

Adopting

I really need to spread the word to as many people as possible, so if you are interested please share this blog or the Kickstarter project page with your friends and family, and get in touch to let me know what you think! You can email me on cat@catmcgill.uk or find me on social media @folkycat

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/folkycat/adopting-a-musical-approach

 

Twin Mummy and Daddy

When someone decides to set up a business there is so much to think about. Firstly you need some self-belief and an idea. You then need to come up with a great product or service. You may need funding to help get your business of the ground. You may have to deal with family and friends who think your idea is crazy. One thing you do need to do quickly it to get yourself a web presence. In a digital age, you cannot afford to be invisible on the Internet.

Credibility

It’s great that we have so much awareness around scams these days. One knock-on result for business owners is that potential customers will be checking you out via the Internet. Just having a website gives you some credibility especially if it lists your contact details clearly. When we buy as consumers we like to think the brands we are dealing with are modern and know what they are doing. This is another reason why getting a web presence should be at the top of your things to do list on setting up a business.

Shop front

The old way of showing your wares was to open a shop or office. These days we are busy so when we are looking for a specific product or service, we are likely to do a Google search. You cannot come up on Google search results without a web presence so you are drawing your blinds down on that shop front. People need to be able to find you on the Internet and see what it is that you offer.

Taking things further

So you have created your first website and are getting enquiries, Now you need to forge a relationship with your customers and potential customers. You can do this by incorporating a blog on your website. If your blog is authentic it helps build up trust with your audience. We buy from people we trust, know and like. A blog can be such a powerful tool in this regard. It goes without saying I hope that you need to be active on social media channels including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Share stories, share images and perhaps show who you are as an individual too depending on the product or service you offer.

Affordability

A web presence tends to be a much more affordable type of advertising than printed materials. Your website is available 24 hours per day 7 days a week which again makes it very flexible to the needs of busy consumers. Updates can be done quickly which makes a website very different to a leaflet or a poster.

Sales tool

A business needs to make sales in order to succeed. Although it is understood that small businesses may initially make a loss, it is best to get into profit as soon as possible. A web presence informs the public. Done well, a website engages consumers bringing them back time and again for more. As trust becomes established, those consumers are converted into customers for your business. Ideally you can sell online cutting the need for expensive salespeople and increasing profits as a result.

My belief is that a web presence is essential in today’s marketplace. I would love to know if you agree so please do leave a comment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We take a lot of things for granted when we are younger. When I was in my twenties I had no idea that one day my pelvic floor would let me down. Three children later and I am more aware these days and really regret not taking those pelvic floor exercises seriously after giving birth. I genuinely thought it was completely unnecessary despite what the midwives had to say on the matter. Suffice to say that when vSculpt, a revolutionary home-use pelvic floor toning and vaginal rejuvenation device was offered to me for a trial, I jumped at the chance.

VSculpt

vSculpt aims help the 1 in 3 women who suffer from urinary incontinence and yes sadly I am included in those statistics. I knew it all when I gave birth except I didn’t and have lived with the horror of incontinence for years. It is not nice. It can be embarrassing and it is one thing I would love not to have to worry about.

Let’s talk about these things!

Stress incontinence is something we don’t talk about enough. If we were taught about such  matters in school, perhaps less of us would suffer from this embarrassing condition. I salute the recent moves by some celebrities to raise awareness. Let’s get real about the issues us women face.

Vsculpt product information

vSculpt is a revolutionary new device which is designed to address the life-changing pelvic floor concerns experienced by millions of women in the UK. This world first is a home-use medical device which uses a unique combination of light energy from red and infrared light-emitting diodes (LEDs), thermal heat, and therapeutic vibration which helps rebuild collagen to improve vaginal tissue laxity, strengthen pelvic floor muscles, and restore the overall health of the pelvic floor.

The vSculpt device was designed in partnership with Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and included input from over 2,300 women who shared insights into their own intimate health problems.  After more than three years of development, extensive testing and clinical studies vSculpt was launched in spring 2017 in the UK.

The device is used intravaginally and women gain control and confidence as they improve the health of their pelvic floor using vSculpt for just 10 minutes every other day over the course of six to eight weeks, in the comfort of their own home.

Sadly due to an  infection, my trial had to be put on hold but I am starting now and looking forward to reporting back on my results in due course.

 

 

Sometimes it is often when our children are happy. After all, they let us know about it! However, there can be cases when children hide their feelings and so it is up to us to do a bit of detective work so we can determine whether they are happy or not. Indeed, it could be that your child doesn’t even fully understand the way they are feeling or they do not know how to put it into words. With that being said, read on to discover more about the signs your child may be unhappy, as well as what you can do about it.

 

Child

 

https://images.pexels.com/photos/568024/pexels-photo-568024.jpeg?auto=compress&cs=tinysrgb&h=350

There are a number of different signs that indicate your child is not feeling happy right now. If you have noticed that your child feels worthless and hopeless and that they have a negative attitude to any task, even the fun ones, this could be a big indication that they are feeling sad overall. Other signs you should look out for include a change in appetite, feeling irritable and restless, as well as a lack of energy. Children who are unhappy often feel tired more than they should. Plus, they will have low self-esteem.

Have your child’s grades started slipping at school? This is something else to look out for. Other signs of a child who is sad include reduced interest in activities they used to enjoy, a low mood, i.e. not laughing as much or expressing as much joy as they typically do, as well as having difficulty falling asleep or sleeping more. You may have also noticed that they have withdrawn from friends and they feel lonely.

Helping your child to overcome these feelings

Recognising that your child is unhappy is one thing, but you then need to help them overcome these feelings of sadness, which can be very difficult. After all, we process things differently as adults, and it can be hard for us to sometimes understand why an issue so small seems like such a big deal for our children. Plus, when you are so emotionally involved and hate seeing your child upset, it only makes matters worse. If you look into an online masters in school counselling, you can learn about the different approaches that professional counsellors take in order to help children. This can help you to form a good basis in terms of assisting your child with whatever they are going through at the moment.

If you have noticed any of the signs that have been mentioned above, it is likely that your child is feeling unhappy at the moment. It is important for you to get to the bottom of this so that you can help your little one to deal with any problems that he or she may be facing. Hopefully, the advice that has been provided can assist you with this. It is important to realise that problems that may seem insignificant to us can feel drastic to children, so you need to respect whatever it is that is plaguing their thoughts and making them feel depressed.

Cuddle Fairy

Let’s talk about breasts urged Sarah as she asked for my help in promoting her efforts to help other women. She has a strong story speaking to women, of all ages about what a mastectomy is and the unseen challenges faced by those who have this surgery. Mastect Expect is bold, different and a breath of fresh air to those on the google mission to find more information about breast cancer surgery. Sarah was a woman I wanted to know more about and I hope you enjoy hearing about her journey.
Breasts

Please tell us a little about your childhood and teenage years?

Change is not something new to me as moving house almost became a bit of a hobby in my teenage years! I was born in the Midlands and lived in Sapcote, Leicestershire for the first few years of my life. We then moved up to Cheshire where I attended primary school and the first two years of secondary school. At Lymm High School we had swimming lessons and were asked who would be interested in joining a synchronized swimming team, about 8 girls put their hands up, including me. At this stage of my swimming life I could have passed as a synchronized swimmer with the amount of splashing and time spent underwater, however this was when I was attempting to swim a simple length of front crawl. My enthusiasm to join a synchronized swimming team was probably one of shock to my coach and in my first few sessions I would receive the sympathetic, ‘bless, at least she is trying’ look. However, with resilience and a lot of time spent in a swimming pool it became a huge part of my life. As a teenager when peers went shopping or to sleepovers I would be training. I had fantastic opportunities and have a collection of medals ranging from bronze to golds that I will treasure forever.

At 13 we then moved up to Dumfries, Scotland where apart from the first day when I cried and refused to speak to the deputy head because I was petrified of moving school, all went well. We then (we have moved a lot) moved to Amersham in Buckinghamshire when I was 15 and ready to sit my GCSE’s. With a quick, ‘oh my goodness your entire History coursework is on the highland clearances, that is not quite what we study in England’ panic, I started my academic studies at the Amersham school. I went on to get good GCSE’s and strong A-Level grades which enabled me to study at the University of Portsmouth.  

 Please tell us about your first job?

 My first job out of university was at Chesham Park Community College as a cover supervisor. Nothing quite like being fresh out of university and dealing with hormonal teenagers on a day to day basis! This sparked my passion for working with young people and helping then reach their potential. I gained qualified teacher status through the GTP programme and have not looked back since. 8 years on and I have seen the school change in to an academy, worked with a whole host of fantastic teachers and also seen many young people achieve great things. As expected I have also witnessed teenager behaviour at its best and at its worst, I have learnt the meanings of words which I am sure are not featured in the oxford dictionary and the craze of ‘flossing’ is something I cannot get away from.

 What  health issues have you faced?

 Regarding health issues, I am starting to believe that walking over three drains or a mirror smashing may bring bad fortune as it does seem to follow me around. These have ranged from being accident prone to unforeseeable issues. Asides the usual childhood knocks I have had a sneaky cyst on my ankle which was discovered on an xray after my trampoline skills were much to be desired. This turned out to be benign but did result in a plaster cast for what felt like years. As I have got older I have faced a few issues but I am not a dweller. The obvious and recent one is my genetic predisposition to breast cancer. Breast cancer has always been a feature in my life, with women from both my mother and father’s side of the family being diagnosed. After the death of my auntie I explored genetic testing as I did not want to continue to feel like a sitting duck. At the time (2007) genetic testing was not as advanced as it is today so I was instructed to come back in a few years where there may have been more options. Following this advice I returned a few years later to find out that I was ‘NICE high risk category’ of developing the disease. The advice given to me was to have risk reducing surgery in the form a double mastectomy as soon as possible and then have my ovaries removed after I turned 35. A lot to take in! Following this I had my double mastectomy and reconstruction in August 2016 at the age of 27. I refer to it as a hurdle in life. I knew it was going to be difficult to get over it but if I worked hard and stayed focused, then it was achievable.

Breasts

 Who has supported you during your challenging times?

 During these more challenging times I have had amazing support from both friends and family. I am not one for grand gestures of affection or what I would describe as ‘mushy’ comments but throughout the mastectomy process my husband was incredible. He helped me with the practical bits like changing, washing and brushing hair but he also helped me laugh and feel chirpy when the odds were against it. My family and friends cooked, helped me get through significant amounts of chocolate, helped me chuckle and get through lots of movies! Horror films whilst you still have drains in is not advisable, jumping with fright isn’t ideal when you’ve got sore boobs and alien like tubes coming out of you. My Mum moved in for a week post surgery to help however in a bizaare (but funny looking back at it now all is ok) twist of fate, I was admitted back into hospital for that entire week due to an infection!

What led to you setting  up Mastect Expect?

 Before my surgery I was a keyboard warrior trying to find out what to expect from the surgery. I was looking for practical advice to help manage my expectations but also help me prepare. After my operation, I decided to start documenting my experiences and from there, Mastect Expect was born. I started to build a website, which was a challenge as I wouldn’t put myself under the heading of tech savvy. However, the more people I spoke to, the more it became obvious that a central go to resource focused on mastectomy surgery and recovery was needed. The practical advice rather than medical jargon was freshing for women because it gave them a place to ask questions that were not necessarily suitable for their surgeon or on the radar for their surgeon. Following the launch of the Mastect Expect website I started to get emails from women across the globe. This spurred me on to continue to blog my experiences, update the website but also build a presence on social media so I could reach others that could benefit from Mastect Expect.

Breasts

Why do you feel it is important to talk about serious health issues with humour sometimes?

 You only live once, and there are always going to be obstacles in life, you can either face them with doom and gloom or you can make the best out of a bad situation. I use humour for lots of reasons, my first is that it is a natural position for me, I am very much half glass full. The other is that I believe it can help encourage people to engage and talk about things that they might find difficult. Talking about mastectomies can be difficult, whether it is about yourself or a loved one, people can find it awkward to talk about boobs, giving a bit of humour can help put people at ease and make them feel more comfortable with asking questions. I very much believe it is better for someone to feel like they could ask a question rather than the anxiety build up inside of them. In addition, people worry, which is natural, giving a bit of laughter can help make them feel better about a difficult situation.

 What do you want to change via Mastect Expect?

I want Mastect Expect to be able to support women on the mastectomy journey. I want people to feel comfortable talking about mastectomies and be able to find down to earth practical advice. It is very easy to come across horror surgery stories or medical jargon that makes no sense to the everyday person, but why isn’t it easy to locate friendly useful advice that will help put anxieties at ease? Mastectomy surgery is daunting, it can be frightening and it is the unknown. If someone breaks their leg or has a cold, you know what to do, but what about a mastectomy? I want to give people confidence in their mastectomy journey, whether it is their journey or the journey of a loved one. It does not need to be the area of the unknown, it can be known using Mastect Expect and knowledge can help people, families and friends in feeling supported and ready to embark on their next hurdle in life.

If you could recommend one book to a woman, what would it be and why?

 Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. As you read about Eleanor’s life, you see that she doesn’t fit with what would be considered the ‘norm’. As a reader you become invested in her life and as she goes through her routines and her thoughts, you start to relate. Everyone has part of them that can relate to Eleanor Oliphant and she makes you feel good. She makes you realise that everyone is different and that is ok, you almost become her cheerleader as you want everything to turn out well for her.

If you could recommend one website other than your own to a woman, what would it be and why?

A topical website would be tickingoffbreastcancer.com as it’s a fantastic hub of links and knowledge about all aspects of breast cancer.

 

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Cuddle Fairy