Thursday, 28 March 2013

Easter in School

Both kids attend a lovely local church school and yesterday was a day of Easter activities, including a drama activities surrounding the Easter story. Being a little dramatic in nature the school asked me if I was able to help out and assist the school curate's wife - who was running the creative side of things.

It was great that so many people from outside the school were involved and the place was buzzing with activity.

Anyway, I was charged with leading the groups of children through four of the stations of the cross, the Garden of Gethsemane, Calvary, the tomb and finally to the steps outside the infants toilet to sing 'Lord of The Dance' in honour of the Resurrection. It was all very sweet - if a little dark and really really cold. The little ones were all given a paper cross to carry and then take home, of course as soon as they were given them all the little boys started 'sword fighting' - which made me smile. Then as my group moved on we were followed by another group led by other volunteers - which included Lea. We went to Calvary and three children were picked to be Jesus and the thieves - TJ was very upset that he wasn't chosen. He told me later that he had expected to be picked as I was helping and he would have made a very good thief. I pointed out that I don't encourage nepotism, I think he took that on board.... well, he scowled at me anyway.

Then we moved on and I heard Lea's group making a noise behind us and turned round to see the teacher leading that group telling Lea that it wasn't appropriate for him to be the 'one who nails Jesus up" in the play. And sure enough there was Lea pretending to hammer the nails into the boy playing Jesus's palms... I hurried on and we finished with our rounding rendition of Lord of the Dance and of course no-one noticed TJ and his friends shouting out 'Settee' instead of 'said he'....

After all the excitement we rushed off to pick up TJ's keyboard. He has started piano lessons, although he is a little miffed that after his first lesson he is still not able to play a discernible tune!!!! But he seems pretty keen. We bought him an electronic keyboard with a microphone... which was a big mistake as whilst TJ hammers out his middle c (the only note he knows) Lea uses the microphone to practise 'beatboxing'.

This morning both boys were really sweet - it's the last day of term before the Easter break and chocolate is at risk if they are naughty - Lea looked at me and said 'Daddy, you have definitely lost weight. I can put my arms all the way round you now and I couldn't before.' - she beamed as she gave me this weird compliment. As I turned away though I heard TJ whisper to his sister, 'I think you have probably grown and your arms have just got longer.' I pretended not to hear that....

Off to Granny's tonight for the Easter weekend... let's see how that goes!

Monday, 25 March 2013

Wine and Beer

Today it is freezing cold - for all those of you living in warmer climates do please spare a thought for us Brits who are experiencing minus 5 degree weather at the end of March - its crazy! As I type the wind is whistling around the house.

Needless to say the kids are not too impressed, particularly as we have had no significant snow and they still have to go to school. TJ is constantly whinging about how cold it is... TJ doesn't 'do' the cold. But in Singapore he spent most of the time asking why it was so hot... He is very British, talks incessantly about the weather and hates foreign food! (unless its German sausages of course!)

Last night we were able to celebrate a small victory in out fight for adoption support. Yes, the council agreed to backdate our adoption allowances and pay the legal fees, although as the Ombudsman pointed out, this is what we are entitled too - they still have to agree compensation etc. But, it was a small victory. Until Papa took all the money out of my account and used it to pay off some of the massive debt I managed to incur since I stopped working... apparently I will 'spend it if its in my account!'... to be fair, I probably would!

Anyhow, we opened a lovely bottle of wine to celebrate - which I drank most of. I'm on a diet at the moment and wine is off limits - so I indulged... well, over indulged really. This morning getting up was pretty tough. We rushed out the door and TJ had forgotten his football kit - naturally. 'Let's go back and get it!", I snapped at the little lad on the way to school. Then I heard Lea turn to her brother and say, 'I think Daddy had too much beer last night, he is over hung." I then had to point out to Lea that I don't drink beer, except when its hot and sunny - which it certainly is not at the moment! But it does show how much Lea recalls - her birth family were all alcoholics and I would imagine that wine wasn't their preferred tipple.

Then I returned home to find the man had come to repair all the french windows - which have been leaking since we moved in... 6 months ago!!!!!!  Of course, this involve having all the doors in the entire house pen - so now it is minus 5 inside as well as out!!!!!! He laughed as he said, 'When we booked this in we thought it would be sunny - good job I've got my thermals on!" - I haven't got any thermals as I don't usually leave the house when its freezing!!!!!

Friday, 22 March 2013

Holding out for a Hero!

This week was parents evening at school. And, as expected, I ended up being there for over an hour. I always book in the last few slots and ensure that I am at the end. It's not that I am overly concerned but I am fully aware that my kids will take up quite a bit of 'discussion' time and I would hate have to follow me. I know this from experience, in our first parents evening I took quite an early slot and ended up with a group of 'politely' angry parents sitting behind me, waiting their turn and discussing (quite loudly) how long I had been there. I now get there the day the signing up sheets go on the board and check that I am at the very end!

There was a lot of discussion this week about Special Needs programmes, for both kids now though. We always knew that TJ has a learning difficulty through his special needs and that Lea was a bit delayed, due to her experiences in early life. However, recently, Lea has been slipping further and further behind and we have had a series of assessments - which have resulted in a diagnosis of a severe form of dyslexia which effects her memory, number and word recognition. But the school were great in showing me where to get help and in putting in one to one tuition for her from next term. Lea was so pleased when we sat her down and explained what it all meant. She simply looked at me and Papa and said, 'Well, at least I know why I am stupid now." My heart went out to her and we sat with her to explain that she wasn't stupid but that she had a problem that we could now help her with. In many ways I am so relieved to know that it is a 'condition', to be honest, we were beginning to worry. After all, no matter what he has been through in her short life, we still have to help her get on with the future and she has to learn how to cope. I'm sure all parents feel the same...

On a lighter note, whilst I was looking through TJ's work I came cross a page in his literacy work which  had focussed on the heroes and heroines in our lives. Last year Lea had completed the same work and had noted that her hero was Michael Jackson, to which the teacher added the comment, 'an interesting choice.' I don't know where his love of MJ comes from but I am introducing her to the incredible "Off the Wall' album before she gets caught up in the Thriller video (which I think has a lot to do with her love of the star.) However, I digress, TJ had this year chosen his hero - and it was me! He had written, 'My Daddy is my hero because he stops me from falling down and hurting myself." Then he had added, 'And Papa is too." (I chose not to see that last bit - obviously it was all about me!).

But it shows that TJ does have deep feelings for us - he is a very withdrawn child who is not open to expression, he hates cuddles and kissing - such a boy! But it also stems from his special needs. However, for him to publicly recognise us is a huge step - and following on from his Mother's Day drawing of us it does give us hope that we are doing the right things....

Monday, 18 March 2013

Farewell Cousin...

So the children said farewell to their Singaporean cousin this weekend. They were pretty upset but were soon diverted by a trip to London's large toy store, Hamleys. In fact we managed to do our farewells just outside the shop and the kids were practically pulling our arms off to get inside.

Although, afterwards he first person they wanted to show their presents too was their uber cool cousin. (who by now was probably being severely reprimanded by his Dad for being suspended from school. But that's another story.)

The upshot is that, due to the fact we live in the middle of nowhere, cousin M has decided that he would like to come back for his study break. Obviously, he managed to get quite a bit of studying done whilst he was with us - well, whilst the children were at school anyway. So we look forward to seeing him then, providing his mother doesn't barbecue him over the Easter break.

The remainder of the weekend has been spent in domestic bliss... well, we like to think of it as bliss, in reality I cleaned out all the animal cages - the kids have practically a zoo as you know - oddly enough they don't seem to show the same enthusiasm for their pets when it comes to cleaning out time, leaving me with up to my elbows in guinea pig/rabbit droppings and smelly sawdust. Does Papa help? well usually I would say no, its usually about this time that he finds something really important that needs doing immediately. However, yesterday he decided to help TJ clean out his guinea pig... however, rather than taking the cage into the garage, as we would normally do, he decided that he would clean it out in TJ's bedroom... Needless to say, the bedroom ended up covered in sawdust and stank to high heaven.

I brought the hoover up to clean the mess left behind by TJ and Papa... and Benjy the guinea pig of course. TJ took one look at the vacuum cleaner and suddenly asked me if he could use it. I looked at him, "Are you sure you want to clean the floor?" I asked. "Please, please, can I do it?" He was practically begging me. I put on my best 'I'm not sure' look. "I don't know if you'll be able to clean the whole room," I said. "I can," he implored, 'I can do the whole upstairs if you want."I thought about it. "Ok", I told him, "If you can clean the whole floor upstairs properly, then I will let you use the vacuum cleaner."

He was so pleased and spent nearly half an hour cleaning, moving furniture to get to the dust, checking for dirt. By the end he asked me if he could stop as his arms were hurting. I checked his handiwork. "That's pretty good," I told him. He beamed, "Can I help you again?" he asked. "Of course you can!" I said - inside I was grinning from ear to ear. "Great,' he replied, "that was more fun than playing Skylanders!"

If only we had known yesterday we could have saved a fortune in Hamleys!

Friday, 15 March 2013

Cool Cousin...

This week we have had our nephew to stay for a few days. He is 18 and studying in the UK in a boarding school near Cambridge. He is Papa's nephew so is a good Singaporean student, well he was until he got suspended. It was a pretty trivial offence but one which could have had serious consequences. So a suspension for him and his friends (who were also involved) for the remainder of the week.

As his guardians we were contacted on Monday and on Tuesday morning, despite the snow, I went over to the station and picked him and his enormous luggage up.

He hasn't been any trouble at all - in fact I think he is more concerned over what his parents will say than over the huge amounts of studying that he has had to bring with him. His father flew over from Singapore on Wednesday and is staying in London, we felt it best to keep the nephew here until the weekend, to finish his work and let his father calm down. Luckily, his Dad is here for work so he has been pretty occupied himself. However, tomorrow is Saturday...

The upside is that the children have got to know their Singaporean cousin really well - in fact, I think its fair to say there is a fair amount of hero worship going on, particularly from TJ, who is currently sitting with his cousin watching Transformers - Lea is still at after school club so the boys can watch a grown up ' film together.

Like most teenagers, our nephew seems to exist on a diet of cheese and ham toasties, crisps and coca cola. This has rubbed off onto the kids, not the coca cola, I still don't allow them to have that - I've told them when they are 10 they may consume the caffeinated evil juice, but not before. However, despite TJ's supposed hatred of cheese, the toastie machine has never been off!

As well as this, our nephew has cool headphones and an ipod - well, Lea is in her element, especially when he downloaded Michael Jackson for her. Lea loves MJ, and now knows all the words to Thriller!

The nephew even took the children to school this morning, which meant I could go over to an all boys school and teach 15 years olds drama - 15year olds who desperately wanted to be somewhere else. It was weird going back to teach for my old company, but quite fun to just walk away afterwards... and I'll get paid. although I think Papa will take that money off me as soon as it comes in. He gave me a £10 note this morning to 'go and buy some cat litter with and treat myself to a coffee with the change"... I am blessed!

Well, our nephew goes back up to London tomorrow - we will take him and have lunch with his Dad and the kids, hopefully, that will ease the transition before we have to leave the poor teenager with his folks. Oh well, he has to face the music. If you do the crime and all that!!!!!!

He has said that he will come down on his next study leave - so he can spend more time with his cousins. Its nice to know the kids are so accepted by nearly all of the family....

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Snow Day in March

Today, the children are off school.

That's it end of post... I no longer have time to do anything.. yet, I need to finish an essay, work on my book, write the blog... oh well, one out of three isn't bad...

I got the kids up this morning and we took it quite leisurely, I thought school would be closed due to the half centimetre of snow outside. So I was quite surprised to get a text saying that school wold be open for those who could get in. We got dressed in record time, pulled on boots and winter warmers (hats, scarves, gloves) and trudged off to the school gates hauling an unwilling dog behind us.

We had just about reached the gates when I noticed the other brave parents (about 8 of them) were now trudging back from school still with their children. I was a little perturbed by this and was soon told that school was now going to close after all. No sooner had this poor mother told me, through her tears (obviously of joy at having her three children at home with her for the day) than my phone buzzed with a text telling me that due to the deteriorating weather school was now closed. Great!

Oh well, we trudged our way back hauling a very confused dog behind us. The children stopped for a quick snowball fight - although I don't know if the BT man who was working on a telephone line was particularly amused to be the target of their icy projectiles...  I smiled and waved at him as he waved back at me - he must have been working as he could only use one finger to wave. Lovely to see that the British spirit of fun is still alive and well...

We came home and started to build a snowman in the garden - that turned into another snowball fight - with me as the main target.Luckily they soon got cold and wanted to come in - when did kids get so soft... in my day we would have been out there for hours... well, we would have had to have been as my Mother would have locked the door...

They are now sitting behind me - I asked for five minutes just to have a cup of tea and write my blog. As soon as I sat down Lea pounded TJ with her spiderman toy and TJ threw the bat mobile at her.

Last night, TJ decide he would play superheroes in his bedroom - he decided to swing from the curtains and ended up in a heap on the floor with the curtain rail on his head Luckily, Papa was late home from work due to the snow upsetting the British transport system so TJ got off lightly... He has a lamp post outside his room which he now thinks is his own huge night light! Hopefully, today we can get the curtains fixed... if we can get out of the front door of course, the snow is now at least two centimetres high.... I hope my shopping arrives - I did an emergency online shop last night before the big freeze - it is March after all!!!!!!!

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Mothers Day Part 2.... The Main Event

After Friday's rather emotional blog post regarding Lea and her relationship with his birth mother, which had a huge impact, thank you, today's post focuses mainly on TJ and his attitude to the big day...

Today is Mother's Day in the UK and this morning as I was getting the children their breakfast and beginning to prepare for Sunday day lunch (food is a big deal in our home) the lady on the television remarked that this morning most Mums should be watching her from the comfort of their beds with a cup of tea brought in by their loving children.

TJ came over and gave me a huge hug (which is quite unusual for him) and said, "We should have brought you a cup of tea and made your breakfast, you are like my Mum because you do everything a Mum would do.' Whilst I could question his gender stereotyping... Instead I simply smiled, both inside and out. For TJ this was a huge admission, that he needs anyone. Since he arrived he has been completely independent, but not in a positive way. He doesn't think he 'needs' anyone.., except Lea of course. In his mind grown ups are not to be trusted, especially grown ups who tell you they love you, after all they either hurt you or 'give you away' (for want of abetter phrase). Why should he trust anyone except Lea, after all only she has been with him through everything. Oddly enough I heard from the childrens last foster carer after Friday's blog post, she pointed out that as of this month the kids have lived with us longer than they have been anywhere else. So it was funny that TJ should suddenly be so loving at this time, maybe subconsciously he is aware that this is now his forever home....

Then this morning another friend posted on Facebook a picture TJ had drawn for Mothers Day. It was a picture of me.. Titled 'Dad'. And it simply read.. 'I love my Daddy.' For many 'normal' families those would be words they hear all the time and take for granted. For us, this was a huge step. TJ occasionally tells us he 'loves' us, usually when he wants something, but he would never tell other people about his feelings for us, so this is a massive step!

Today, Lea has still been very quiet and is keeping herself to herself, we are letting her deal with it in her own way but se knows we are here for her if she wants us... A mixed bag of emotions... Oh well, I'll just get on with Sunday lunch..... Just like Mother used to make!!!

Friday, 8 March 2013

Mothers Day....

This has never really been an issue for us before - the children make things at school for their Granny, but this year things have seemed a little different. Maybe its part of the settling in process or a form of grieving for the past.

However, this morning on the radio there was a Mothers Day special, a phone in for children to tell their Mum's how much they loved them. My immediate reaction was to turn it off but at the same time I didn't want to be making a big deal out of it. So I left it on. The radio presenter was saying that the children could also call in to thank their foster mums, or Grannies or any lady that was special in their life so I thought it would be ok. Of course, once the children started phoning in they were all telling their Mum's how much they loved them - it was quite sweet but I could sense that Lea was listening just a little too hard.

TJ didn't seem to care. He just got on with life as normal. He asked if he could have his £2 pocket money early so he could buy Granny a Mother's Day present. The PTA run a stall each year to raise funds and the children buy little gifts and sweets with profits going back to the school. I thought this was very sweet of him and gave him his pocket money. I asked Lea if she wanted to buy anything for Granny, she simply shook her head. I decided not to push it.

I know that Lea has some fond memories of her Mum - she was four when he went into care, so had built a relationship, no matter how chaotic. I recall reading the Primary Wound (its not my favourite book about adoption) but one thing that always stuck with me was when the author noted the example of the child sitting in the hospital bed with third degree burns crying for his Mum, even though it was his Mum that poured he petrol over him and lit the match. Its a horrifying analogy but one which helps me to understand how Lea must be feeling.

Lea then asked if she could go and see her rabbit. I followed her into the garage after a couple of minutes to find her hugging her rabbit in floods of tears. I asked her what the matter was, but of course she couldn't tell me. She doesn't want to upset me. I'm sure she thinks that if she tells me she is missing her Mum (or what she remembers her Mum to be like) then it will mean she loves me less, or that she is in some way betraying Papa and I. My therapist told me that gay Dad's often make better adopters for older children as they don't have the 'issues' of being a second Mum. I'm not sure how true that is. I still get jealous knowing that this woman allowed my child to come to so much harm. But I am going to be able to sit with Lea later and talk about hierbirth Mum and know she is completely separate to us.

TJ has after school club today so at least I will have a couple of hours to sit and chat with our older child.

I guess Lea is grieving for a life he has lost. No matter what I think of that woman, she was still her Mum and for the first couple of years I think she really tried to be a good parent - she just didn't know how and when she met TJ's Dad it all fell apart. It was unfortunate that it was Lea that took the brunt of her and her partner's abuse but we will help her get through it.

Mother's Day maybe the one day each year that we sit and talk about Lea's memories of her - both good and bad. I think it is important that we emphasise the good (no matter how hard it is for me to hear) as that is where the children came from and if we only look at the bad the message they will eventually receive is that they must be bad too... If that makes sense.

I read the later life letter the other day - and it is truly horrific... this is a letter designed to give to the children when they are older which gives them the truth about their past.... I only hope that when they read it they are secure enough to be able to deal with it....

On a happier note Granny will have some lovely chocolates. TJ adores Granny, I only wish we lived nearer so he could see her more often. So does he, then she might share the Moshi Monster chocolates with him!!!!!!

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Fairy Tales... and Progress

I overheard the children telling each other fairy stories this morning - I think there is something going on at school as part of World Book Day (or something similar).

Anyway, they were taking it in turns to tell the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears and, I have to be honest they told it very well, Lea did all the voices and TJ was doing the sound effects - he is particularly good at slurping porridge....

After they had finished I came in and said I had been listening and (in true parent style) said, 'So what do you think happened after Goldilocks ran away? Why do you think the bears didn't chase her and eat her up?" Knowing my two I thought this would provoke a great reaction with them sharing the gory details of their imagined bear feast... Of course, I should have known that with children, and especially my two, what ever way in which you imagine they will behave, they do the exact opposite.

'The bears will just call the police." said TJ.
I was a little shocked, 'The police?," I asked, 'Whatever for?'

TJ went on, "Well, she was a robber who burgled the bear's house... and she broke a chair!"
Lea joined in, "And she ate baby bear's porridge and probably left her spit in Mummy and Daddy bear's bowls." (This is currently a huge misdemeanour amongst the children - the sharing of spit.)
TJ then added (and I know this is my fault), "She also wore her shoes in the house and probably walked dog poo from the forest on the carpet" - as you can guess this is based on reality...
Lea then completed the line of thought by adding, "You know what? I don't think she took her shoes off before she got into bed - otherwise how could she run away so fast - she would have had to put her shoes on. She wouldn't run very far in bare feet."

This made me go back to my Roald Dahl collection - there is a similar argument against Goldilocks there - but I have not read it to the boys yet, I'm going to find out if they have studied it in school... but either way - the fact they remembered it and worked out the argument against Goldilocks is pretty amazing when you consider they both have learning difficulties. If they have never come across that version then I am truly impressed - sometimes I do think that children who find 'normal academic' learning tough find other ways in which to use their imagination and get their ideas out. School told me that Lea now has a 'scribe' - a teaching assistant to help her write her ideas down, otherwise she simply writes in squiggles that only she can read and that isn't particularly easy to mark - but her ideas are amazing, say the school, which I think is testament to the time we have spent trying to find things that fire her imagination. I don't want to make out that we are amazing parents, I'm sure most people do the same with their kids, but we have only had them two years now and the progress they have made is awe inspiring - they have made that progress, we have just supported it. And its so nice to have positive things to write. Adoption can be a hard slog, particularly when dealing with such huge issues but every now and again there is a glimmer of sunshine and you know you are on the right track.

Its often in the little things that we see the progress... thank you Goldilocks... I hope you get off with a warning!

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

New Edition to the Family.....

I have just heard my mother faint as she read the title of today's entry... no it's ok Mum, we haven't suddenly sprung a new grandchild on you (a girl of Asian descent)... yet!!!!!!

What we have done is purchased TJ a new pet - a guinea pig, that he has already named as Chipmonk Ironman (Chip for short - but you are not allowed to eat him!) This came about as the two rabbits we bought for them on their adoption day turned out to be completely incompatible. Lea chose a ginger bunny (named Ginger) and TJ chose a small black bunny (named Shadow). We were reliably informed that the bunnies were from the same litter and would live together happily once neutered. As we soon found out, they were definitely not brothers. Ginger is the size of a small cat and Shadow is tiny - a dwarf. Not unlike the kids themselves really. Anyway, Ginger had taken it upon himself to seek out and attack Shadow at every opportunity and woud escape from his hutch, hop over to Shadow's hutch and urinate all over him... again not unlike the children!

Ginger is also viscious to everyone who comes near him - apart from Lea and the dog. He loves the Dog and they sit for hours with their noses pressed against each other. He loves Lea and will sit on her feet while she strokes him. I, on the other hand, am seen to be some kind of scratching post designed to help Ginger keep his claws in trim. Whilst we were away Ginger was looked after by friends who came daily to feed him etc... only he kept running away and they would spend much of the day trying to get a snarling bunny from out of the corner behind the boxes in the garage.... We have paid them in wine and chocolates so hopefully they will still speak to us.

Shadow went to stay with the boys Godparents - who have an entire menagerie on their East Sussex estate, well, it seems like it anyway. When we came to collect Shadow we could see he was totally at home with the Godparents, he was stretched out on the sofa soaking up the sun. He had also made very good friends with their Guinea Pig and apparently the two of them were inseparable. So the decision was made to leave Shadow in his country pile and to let TJ know that he could go and visit him whenever he liked, which is lovely and very kind. However, it left us with the dilemma that TJ has no pet of his own. Discussions were duly had and a guinea pig was agreed upon.

So today we went to the seediest part of town (seriously - even the guinea pig lady apologised for making us go there. Apparently she has lived their for 20years but knows it's a s*** hole - well she cant afford to move out - she breeds guinea pigs for a living - her words!) Anyway, the lady, who was lovely, gave TJ a lecture on how to care for his guinea pig - I could see his face glaze over and knew that in his head he was currently playing Skylanders or Spiderman - so I listened intently as the obviously guinea pig crazy lady went on and on and on... she was actually very sweet, if a little bit fanatical.

So the guinea pig was bought and is now hiding in his cage in TJ's bedroom - I saw the cat's eyes light up when the cage was brought in - I think we will have to keep an eye on that....

Friday, 1 March 2013

Everyone prefers blondes....

This morning we had a long chat about hair colour... Over breakfast!

The catalyst for this conversation came whilst we were looking at some photos of our recent trip to Singapore. In one of the photos the two kids are pictured with Oscar the Grouch on the newly recreated Sesame Street at Universal Studios Singapore. TJ remembered that when they saw Oscar they immediately wanted their pics taken but had to wait for a little while as a couple of other children also wanted to have their photos with the character. No problem, they are both very patient... When it's something they want to do of course!

However, in the period that we were waiting a coach load of tourists from China came along and as the boys went up to have their photo opportunity Papa and I were pushed out of the way in order for the tourists to take photos of our children, in particular TJ. Where Lea took it in her stride and started posing for the camera ( not unlike the time we found her in the window of Giordano, an Asian clothing store, pretending to be one of the child sized mannequins and entertaining a group of passers by... Who were no longer passing, just watching our eldest and her antics in the window, she eventually finished with a rendition of Gangnam Style and got a round of applause... We didn't buy anything....)

Anyway, TJ was obviously not too happy about the crowd that was now gathering and taking his picture so Papa tried to step in. Obviously thinking Papa was trying to muscle in on the photo frenzy the tourists pushed him out of the way still frantically snapping away with Papa shouting, "That's my son! Can I please take a photo of my own child!" It really was pandemonium, we now know how the parents of One Direction must feel!

Eventually the Grouch's 'minders' stepped in and took Oscar and the children out of the way and held back the crowd in order that we could take photos. Immediately after we had finished the tourists were back, this time they all wanted to pat TJ on the head. He took it graciously for a while and then shouted, 'stop stroking me, I'm not a rabbit!"

We had found that a lot of people, especially older people in Singapore wanted to pat TJ on the head, apparently his blonde hair is considered lucky as it is golden coloured and people want to touch it for prosperity for the New Year ahead....

We explained this to TJ and he took it on board and now seemed quite proud of his blondeness. 'Why did no-one want to touch my hair?' Said Lea.... Papa and I looked at her wirelike ginger mop... "Erm, because you're too tall.' We told her.....