Great (No Fantastic) News!

Yes, I am still alive for those of you who are wondering. I have just been very very busy at school and been knackered most nights, so I apologize for the lack of posts.

Earlier today, Toby’s Social Worker went to see him at school with the news that they may have found him a family willing to adopt him. (without saying who) He wasn’t very happy about this, as he feels settled with us and said that he did not want to be adopted.  However, his Social Worker had also been and seen myself and Kyle about this and we have said we would be more than happy to adopt Toby.  (Btw, we have also been approved to adopt him, which makes things easier too)

So, Sam and I borrowed a meeting room and had a word with him at Break Time. I have never seen him speechless before and then he started to cry with happiness. Social Services have said his adoption will take some time to complete, but it worth it. Our whole family behind us and I know we can make a difference to Toby’s life, as he has been  so ill for most of his life, due to kidney failure, (which lead to a transplant being needed) and other bits and bobs.

So Kyle and I are pleased to introduce Toby, who will be the newest of the Smith’s, once the adoption is finalized. Once again, Kyle and I are parents once again!

Meet Toby, the 9yo boy we are adopting

Once I finish work at 5, I am going home, getting changed and then I am taking the whole clan, (Smith and non Smith family) out for a celebratory meal. I have booked a table at TGI Friday’s in Newcastle! (Mum and her husband Steve are driving us there, so it means Kyle and I can have a drink… I think I need one after such a busy day like today!) Thankfully Steve has a People Carrier, which we often borrow, as it is large enough to get the whole family, plus Toby’s wheelchair in.

Thankfully, Kyle was also able to swap shifts, so he can come and celebrate. It means he has to do a waking night shift tomorrow night though, but he doesn’t mind that and actually enjoys working nights, as they are usually quite quiet!

Finally, I nipped to Argos this afternoon and I have got Toby a chain with the Hogwarts logo on the pendant. I then nipped to the Jeweler down the road and had a engraved on it. I know he’s going to love it and I will be giving it to him when we are at dinner. I had engraved on it:

To Toby, this is a fresh start in life for you and we will be behind you 100%. We love you very much Toby Smith, from your new Parents, Kyle and Sam. x

Final Weekend in Blackpool

So it is our last weekend here in Blackpool and it has been a fun one so far! Last night, we went to the pub for a meal and we stayed on for Karaoke. Sam and I sang a few songs, including The Drifters – Saturday night At the movies and Westlife Ft. Diana Ross – When you tell me that you love me. While singing the latter, the other people in the pub, were waving their mobile phones and singing along. We got a massive applause for it too!

Sam and Linda have taken the kids to have a ride on a vintage tram, while I am still at the hotel, looking after Toby, as he’s feeling  not well just now. (He will be OK he often has days when he’s not too good) Meanwhile, Josh has gone down to the hotel pool, as they have “funsplash” this afternoon, with a inflatable island that he can run across, trying not to be knocked in to the pool!

This evening is the kids talent show and the boys are taking part. Hopefully Toby will feel better by then, as he going to do magic tricks. All the boys are entering, doing various acts, from circus stuff to rollerblade stunts.

Tomorrow, we are going to the Sandcastle Waterpark, which should be fun. I am, deffo going on all the flumes and ride the waves in the wave pool! Meanwhile, back to today, I am catching up on a few bits, while sat in the bar in the hotel. Don’t worry though, as I am nipping up every 45 mins to check on Toby and I have told him to use the phone if he needs me. (He just has to pick up the phone and press the button that says Bar and ask to speak to me. – ask for the large ginger haired guy on a acer laptop.) Talking of which, I need to nip up and check on him!

Blackpool (2nd Holiday Post)

Greetings from Blackpool. We’re about half way through our 2 weeks of fun by the sea and we have been having a great time!  Today, we have been back to the Tower, as Toby didn’t get a chance to go up, as he was not very well. So we did the circus and Toby got a special hello from Mookie the Clown, who he got to meet and have his picture taken with during the intermission and at the tower top, I got to take this breathtaking photo of Blackpool.

This evening, there’s a disco for the kids, so we are all going downstairs for that. No doubt, Sam and I will have a couple of pints too!  Tomorrow, the weather is going to be bad, so we have planned indoor activities. We’re taking the kids to Madam Tussauds in the morning and in the afternoon, we are taking the boys to a indoor soft play centre.

Before I go, I need to mention that the hotel food is fantastic. It is a buffet with several choices of hot and cold food and deserts. The kids are able to have as much or as little as they want! Tonight, I had roast pork with all the trimmings and Jam Rollie Poly for pud!

Greetings from Blackpool!

Greetings from Blackpool! The Smith Family are here in Blackpool for our annual Summer Holiday by the sea! Most of the family arrived here yesterday lunchtime, but I arrived later last night, due to dealing with a last minute hiccup at work.

Btw,  Sam’s Mum is looking after Sox and Mollie while we are away.

We are staying in one of the larger chained Hotels here in Blackpool and are not far from the beach. The Hotel is nice, as it has a pool for the kids, a kids club and a couple of bars for me and Sam. I book this holiday months and months in advance and make sure we are in a block of rooms, instead of all over the place. I also make sure that the phones are taken out the kids room as well. 🙂

So after a decent night’s kip, a shower and breakfast, Sam and I took the kids to the Tower, where we watched the circus, (with fountain finale) watched the dancing in the ball room and braved the “walk of faith” at the tower top. After lunch, we have been on the beach. The kids have enjoyed paddling, while Sam and I sat in deckchairs, enjoying the sun! (I have had a paddle too and helped the kids build sandcastles!)

Kyle enjoying the beach

This evening, Kyrlo and Josh want to check out the hotel pool, so I am taking them swimming, (even though they have been to the beach) while the other boys go to the kids club. (Sam is taking Zak and Will swimming tomorrow evening) Tomorrow we are hitting the Pleasure Beach and I will be taking Kyrlo, Toby and Zak on the slower rides. (I so want to go on the Wallace and Gromit Ride and on the driving ride!)

Let hope the weather stays good and our holiday is not like last year’s! (Toby had to be rushed to hospital during last year’s holiday, as he got Septicemia, due to his kidney transplant he had a couple of years back. Sam sat with him day and night in Intensive Care, while Toby was fighting for his life. It was very touch and go, but Toby fought off the infection and is OK now, thankfully.)

 

Toby’s Bathroom

 I have been working on getting a bathroom setup for Toby, who we foster. Toby has had a kidney transplant and needs help with his personal care. So I have been converting a box room, into a special bathroom, which also doubles as a extra bathroom for our kids.

First is the toilet. The toilet is a close coupled wc, which has been positioned so that either myself or Kyle can stand either side of the toilet. He also has a rail, so if he wants to stand and do the other end, he can hold the rail while one of us supports him to stand. We were going to put a folding rail in, but it would get in the way. (Especially Kyle is a larger lad) We decided not to install a loo roll holder, as the other boys don’t really use the loo and anyway, the roll holder would be too far from the wall.

At the side of the loo, is the draws with Toby’s supplies. (Catheter Bags, wipes, gloves, disposable aprons etc)

The sink has a mixer tap, which is the lever type. This makes it easier for Toby to wash his hands. There is now a shaver socket as well, which Toby can use when he is older, if he decides to dry shave. (The control switch for the shaver socket and the extractor fan are mounted above the outside of the door. The light switch is also outside the door. The walls are painted with white tiles that are half way up the wall. The top frieze has shell effects, which are cool.

The floor is cushioned Lino, which Toby chose. He chose Lino that looks like floor tiles and he chose the colour black, as it is his favorite.

The bathroom has spot lights, which are recessed in the ceiling and were a pain to install. (Our Electrician did that) So the bathroom is bright! The door opens outwards and also has a safety lock, which can be released with a 20 pence piece from outside.

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We’ve installed both a bath and a shower, as the kids like both. We can wheel in a hoist to get Toby in and out the bath and one of us can sit behind him in a little recess, behind the bath. There is a stabilizer underneath the bath, which controls the temperature of the water to the bath and the shower.

The shower is not a mixer shower connected to the taps on the bath. It has it’s own supply from under the bath and goes up a channel in the wall. The shower has a riser rail and is also thermostatic. The shower screen has toughened glass for safety. The bottom of the bath is also non slip for safety.

The bathroom is big enough, so we can wheel in the mobile hoist and using a sling, we can safely lift Toby in and out the bath, using a hoist. We were going to install a track hoist from his bedroom, across the hall and into the bathroom,  However, that would be major work and may of needed the joists strengthening. Not only is this costly, but Josh would have needed to move out his attic bedroom while we do the works. Plus we would of had to rip up his bedroom floor and made a massive mess.

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Over this weekend, our Electrician is installing an alarm cord by the bath and one by the toilet too. This project cost about £2,500 to do. I did most of the labour and out of that cost, it includes the labour and parts for the Electrician.

Now Toby has a adapted bathroom which meets his needs.  Kyle and I are proud of what we have built for Toby. He finally has a bathroom that was purpose built around his needs. We struggled to care for him in the current kids bathroom, as it is smaller and meant that it was harder to help him. For instance, we could not get either side of the toilet so we had to stand in front of him to lift him on and off the loo. The bath was not suitable for him, because we could not get the mobile hoist into the bathroom

Most of the time, he was getting strip washes in his bedroom, with a bath 2 – 3 times a week. During the day, he was having to use the downstairs toilet, (which he still uses) as it is adapted already.  At night, he was using a bottle or a commode. That was no quality of life for a 9 yo, so we decided the junk room needed to be converted to a bathroom. Now Toby can have baths safely, he no longer needs his bottle or the commode and has a bathroom that was designed with Toby in mind.

Yes, I know it has been ages!

Once again, sorry for the lack of posts, over the last few months. Sam and I have not had a chance to blog much, but we will try and keep you updated with what’s happening at our end, as much as we can.

So, here’s what’s been going on, condensed; as I am actually at work and posting this on my break.

Major Building Work on B Block

B Block at school is currently closed and has been, since November. The reason for this, is because of asbestos removal. B Block is riddled with it and it is cheaper to remove it, than spend millions knocking the block down and rebuilding. So we have hording all around B Block, access is currently blocked off and it means pupils need to go via D Block; to access A and C Block. We also have a temporary modular building, which currently holds the Kitchen and Canteen. (Once the asbestos is removed, we are having a new kitchen installed and a larger canteen area.

Work is going well and we hope that by April, all the building work will be done.

Poorly Toby

One of the kids we foster was taken very ill in the Summer Holidays, after getting Septis and was rushed into hospital while we were in Blackpool. Toby was well looked after at the Victoria Hospital, before being air lifted to Sheffield, for specialist ITU treatment. Sam stayed with him all the way and Toby made a full recovery.

The Septis was caused by a wound which got infected, after he had a kidney transplant. Toby came to us after his operation and a 3 week stay at the  Children’s Hospital in Sheffield. Our “Tobes” is getting better and stronger every day. He no longer uses a wheelchair or sticks, but gets tired very easily. Due to this, he uses the Day Teaching Unit on Sickbay, where if needed, he can rest.

Christmas and NYE

Christmas was very busy for us all. Sam was working on Christmas day, after the Care Staff accidentally activated the Fire Alarm, while cooking and the birds until lost all lighting, due to a fault with a light fitting.

I worked Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve on Waking Night (Christmas Eve) and Sleep In on NYE. We let the kids stay up on the Unit I am in charge of, to tire them out mainly, as they were so hyper about Christmas! (Can you blame them?)

On Christmas Morning, I drove home, opened presents with the kids and then went to bed. In the afternoon, the family arrived and we had Christmas Dinner, which got delayed, due to the fire alarm activation. (Sam had to respond to it) Later, I was back on night shift again.

I was off Boxing Day and worked days on the 27th – 30th. On New Year’s eve, we had a party over in the School Gym, which surprisingly, our Head and a few other teachers attended. (I wonder if she used the cattle prod to make them come.) Sam did his usual Karaoke and Disco, which was great fun. At midnight, we sang Auld Langs Ayne and rang in the new year together.

As I said, Sam and I will try to post as often as we can. We haven’t forgotton you, it’s a case of finding 5 mins to blog. Right break over, so back to work I go.

Finally… From myself, Sam, Toby, Kyrlo, Liam, Will, Linda, Derek, Tommy and Martha, (Tommy and Martha are my parents, Linda is Sam’s Mum and Derek is his Step Dad)  Sox the cat and and from all the staff here at school (boarders too) we would like to wish you a happy and safe new year and here’s to 2019!

Happy Father’s Day! :)

To all the Dads, Grandads, Foster Dads and anyone else who has parental responsibilities, Happy Father’s Day!

Our Father’s Day here started as always, with Breakfast in bed from the kids. Bless them, they got up at 5am to make breakfast and actually managed it without trashing the kitchen! I’d been at work, so it was nice to get into bed and have breakfast bought to me!

After Breakfast, I got some shut eye, while Sam took the kids swimming. Thankfully, our school has it’s indoor pool, so it meant that the swimming pool in town being closed for a Gala, would not cause us any losses!

I didn’t get the amount of sleep I would of liked to as I was woken up by the phone and was needed, as we had a rather poorly pupil; who needed to go to the Hospital. (He will be fine and is being kept an eye on in Hospital.) This meant that being one man down, I had to go back into work. However, that wasn’t a bad thing at all, as the kids had made a “Happy Fathers Day banner, with the words Kyle, the coolest alternative dad ever!” and hung it from the windows of the 2nd floor. That really touched me and meant alot to me as well. I also got a stack of cards from the kids, which was really sweet.

Meanwhile, I missed the picnic with the family, but Father’s day was great this year! Apart from all the cards from the kids at work, I got some aftershave from our kids and Sam got shower gels and body sprays. The kids at work all put money together to buy me a rode for the garden, which I am going to plant in the garden next to J Block, when I get a chance to!

Sorry For The Lack Of Posts…

Sam and I are sorry for the lack of posts recently. We have both been really really busy at work and with the family, so we have not had a chance to show our faces! Christmas was very busy as ever and we had my Parents down to spend it with Sam, myself and the kids. On top of this, very late on Christmas Eve, we had a extra arrival. (No Not Santa, he came much later in the night!)

We had an emergency come in, in the form of a 13 year old lad called Abu. Abu is originally from Crimea, which is the same place Kyrlo is from originally. (For those of you who do not know, Kyrlo is our youngest son, we adopted a while back) Anyway, there are legal reasons I cannot go into, why Abu cannot be deported like his parents are going to be. (They are currently in detention in a Immigration Centre) However, Social Services have managed to twist HM Immigration’s arm on health grounds, to give Abu leave in the UK. It means he will be separated from his family, but as I said before, there are reasons I cannot go into for this.

Sam and I got some wonderful gifts this year. I got a new Kilt from Linda and smellies from the kids. Sam got me new car seat covers for the car and a really nice ring, which he had engraved for me. I got Sam a dustpan and brush as a joke, as well as smellies, new steel toecapped boots, a new tablet, plus new bike leathers. He got tons of chocolate off the kids as well. The kids has all sorts of gizmos, from drones, to new Ninteno Switch consoles, DVDs and wonzies! Course, for Linda and my parents,gift vouchers were the way to go, as they can spend them on what they want! Oh and not forgetting Sox…. He got a huge memory foam cushion, which he loves and enjoys stretching out on it in front of the open fire.

On New Year’s eve, we joined the Boarders for a massive NYE bash, which Sam organized, with fireworks being let off at midnight, from the field. We’re both back at work again now and the new term starts next week. Shame Sam and I both have the awful cod going about. It’s not nice!

Anyway, from myself, Sam and our family, we wish you and your family a very Happy New Year and all the best for 2018! (We’ll try not to leave it as long before posting, just in case you wanted to make sure we are still alive!)

Blast From The Past

Our Super NES came today, which we got on Ebay, so we could do a bit of Retro Gaming. So for this week’s Family night, we have been playing Mario 3 on the NES and completing it without warping, with each of the kids playing a act on each world, before passing to the next person. Kyle and I however, played the Doom Ships, as they are really tricky to navigate.

2 and a half hours later and we have finally managed to reach King Koopa and the epic final Boss Battle with King Koopa on the battlements of his castle in Dark Land. (A sinister land, where it is cold; creepy and very dangerous, with all sorts of  traps and several Doom Ship convoys.

Super Mario Bros. 3 Final Battle, on the Battlements of King Koopa’s Castle (World 8)

The final battle was played by each of us, (Even though we all ended up dying and having to pass the controller round again!) but it was Kyrylo who skillfully defeated King Koopa and rescued the Princess Toadstool.

The final battle is very tricky. You need to avoid Koopa’s “butt stomp attacks” and his fireballs, (Caused by his hideous bad breath! You need to get him to butt stomp the battlements, so that the layers of brick are reduced. In between his attacks, you need to make him break the 3 layers of bricks, so he falls to his death. (Yes, it sounds grim, I know!) Once you have done that, a door will open and you will be able to rescue the Princess Toadstool! (Were Nintendo high on drugs when they created the Super Mario Bros???!!)

Anyway, below is a video of the final battle, so you can see for yourselves. (We didn’t make the video btw, we grabbed it off Youtube.)

Anyway, it was a fun night for all and in a way was a good team building exercise, as we all had to work together to complete the game!

Gossip & Wild Rumours

The kids have decided to be deceitful and betraying confidence, after they noticed that Will has one to one sessions with Sam and I. Helping Will make that step back into society, after being locked up. So is important to us; so we can help him get used to life on the outside and I know Will is frightened of peer pressure and that he will be tempted to offend again. This is why these sessions are important, so we can talk about things and we can help to steer clear of the temptations.

Of course, the boys have been trying to get it out of Sam and I about the reasons he is on tag. Of course we will not betray him and tell them, as this is something Will needs to do when he he ready. (Which he is not) So the kids decided to find out once and for all, by planting a distophone in the study.  A little later Jenny caught the kids listening to the tape in the Playroom and told me about it. Of course I dealt with it and the kids got a very bad telling off about betraying confidence and starting wild rumours and nasty gossip. Thankfully Will did not have to hear this, as it would of really upset him.

The boys have learnt a lesson about confidentiality, betrayal, starting rumours and also that they are not allowed in the study without permission. (It is a shame that Sam and I now need to keep the door locked, as we cannot trust the boys not to go in there without permission, which is disappointing.

On more positive news, Sam had a really busy night, doing a disco and Karaoke.  He had had over 80 singers in one night and the atmosphere was buzzing. He was exhausted when he came home after 1am last night and is currently out doing another disco at the moment and is working again tonight. (Poor Sam! Good thing I have the weekend off!)