Monday 31 December 2018

Siblings {December 2018}: the year gone by.

I've only just realised that I somehow omitted to post my regular monthly siblings photo for December 2018. I've just sat down to do a round-up of what has happened to us in 2018 and remembered that I'd promised last month to not hound the girls for photos again. I'm not very good at sticking to that promise; a Christmas shot is always top of my list! So here's my super siblings in December 2018:
stephs two girls in front of christmas tree
First New Year's Resolution: finally sort out curtains for our lounge.....
The rest of this blog post is my chance to record our own personal memories for the year, for me and for the girls (if they ever decide to read back over this at some point in the future). It can be all too easy to think that because Sasha struggles to leave the house, we haven't accomplished much at all. Writing it all down helps me to see how much has happened over the course of a year.
Before I even begin writing this, I can safely say that for us, 2018 was a vast improvement on 2017, for several reasons. Life is a roller coaster for everyone and I try not to fall into the trap of comparing our lives to anyone else's. I've lived long enough to know that we never know all of what is going on for other people and we should really appreciate what we have ourselves. I came across these wise words on Instagram today and wanted to include them because I do believe that we need to try to teach our children to be happy with what they have; to strive for more if they want but to always approach life with the right attitude.

Anyhow, enough of the rambling, here's my month-by-month account of what we got up to in 2018!


On New Year's Day, I woke up to an email telling me that I was a finalist in the UK Blog Awards. I was so super chuffed to hear this and so grateful to all those who voted for me. Awards in general are a funny phenomenon which can sadly at times create as much bad feeling as they do happiness; some like to say it's all about the numbers and to some extent that's true. I don't have a huge following though, so that means award recognition is even more special for me as I know those that read really do appreciate the honesty.

My first post of the year was all about loving what and who you have so I guess that's a common theme for me! The second post was sharing the fact that we had made it out of the house on New Year's Day - I wonder if I show Sasha this one later, whether she will agree to go again?! She's quite a fan of 'tradition' so it may just work... no doubt we'll hear a bit more resistance from our teen this year though.
stephs two girls on swings
Sasha started the year still without a school place; we were waiting for a decision. She had struggled at her mainstream school for most of year 5 and finally said 'no more' in the June of 2017. That meant that by the start of 2018 she had already been home with me for a whole term while I battled to get her a place at a different school where I hoped she would feel more able to learn. We joined in with a trampolining class for home educators, with some success, but Sasha didn't want to be home educated so we were mostly passing time doing very little. It was strangely exhausting.

My blog birthday came and went; I wasn't really sure what I wanted to be doing with my blog at this point, or if I would even carry it on any more, until I received some amazing comments which spurred me on. I shared a review of our holiday to Eurocamp in France the previous year; it was an amazing place but the holiday itself was not all plain sailing with a child like Sasha. It was the last time she was in a plane and as of now, we're not sure if she will get in another plane any time soon.

I wrote a post to highlight some of the fab people who I find inspirational; the trouble I always have is that once I start with naming people, I never want to stop as there are so many good ones out there. My short message to everyone is to believe in yourself and know that there's always someone out there who loves you.

Husband managed to go on his annual ski weekend in January and our teen was busy rehearsing for her Gang Show. At the end of the month, we finally got the news that Sasha had been allocated a place at the local special school and we began meetings to plan a transition.


The second week of February brought one of the main highlights of our year, as we got to watch our eldest daughter perform on stage as part of the amazing Gang Show. I know we're biased, but she did brilliantly! I'm very excited about the fact that she will be doing it all again this coming year.....

The following week Tamsin and her Dad went to see the Harry Potter Cursed Child Show in London; one of her Christmas presents (lucky girl!). She also enjoyed another driving lesson in Milton Keynes (a birthday present from the previous year) - we wrote about this back in 2016, I think it's a fab opportunity for young children.

We made it out to a park with Sasha (worth writing about; it happens so rarely) and I talked a bit about sensory issues on the blog (a recurring theme). Thanks to the fact she wasn't in school, we managed to do a quick shopping trip together - another extremely rare event! Sasha then finally got to visit her new school after hours and she was so happy, despite the fact that she'd have to wait a couple more weeks before she could actually start, thanks to an unexpected snowfall at the beginning of March.


March was an interesting month; plenty going on, as always. Sasha began attending her new school and the first couple of weeks actually went better than I could have hoped for... especially as I had a girls' trip away to Dubai booked around that time! I went off with one of my oldest friends to stay with another friend living out there, and the girls coped admirably with their Dad for five days (tongue in cheek). Dubai was amazing and a real chance for me to relax with friends; at this point in the year more than any other I totally appreciated how lucky I am.
Dubai beach
Sasha was keen to try a new drama class but that sadly didn't go quite to plan. Husband and I managed a lovely grown up meal out with our neighbours - must do it again this year! Towards the end of the month teen girl and I were invited to a showing of the film Wonder to tie in with the DVD release; if you haven't watched it yet, make 2019 the year you do. My review of it is one of my top ten read posts of all time.


During the Easter holidays it felt like we didn't do a lot, but we did actually manage to make a family outing to the Science Museum.
family group photo at train station
Our very good friends also came to visit for a night, bringing their gorgeous dog with them - which made our old timid cat go into hiding for a while! Sasha had one of her old school classmates here for a sleepover and went pottery painting with another old friend.

Our teen had her first ever skiing lesson at the local snow centre and then went off on a school trip to France (not skiing!) which she seemed to enjoy. I helped at the conference on Pathological Demand Avoidance run by the PDA Society, and then set off slightly nervously for a weekend away with the Tots 100 team on a retreat with fifty other bloggers.
Flea retreat collage
I wasn't sure what I was doing with my blog or if I should carry on, but I came home with renewed energy and focus. And on the way back, we picked up a new kitten.
black and white kitten
Teen finished the month with a camp away with her Gang Show friends.


This month was a bit wobbly for Sasha in terms of school; the heatwave certainly didn't help. We did manage lots of fun in the garden though, especially the huge water balloon fight when my parents came to visit. It was the month in which our teen actually became a teen for the first time and she enjoyed a shopping and sleeping party with her friends - perfect! I didn't blog much but did do a little piece about some of the ups and downs this month. This paragraph jumped out at me from that post just now and made me smile: 'We ended up with 9 cakes, and she decided to decorate eight of them - four for each friend as she doesn’t eat cake herself. She cracked me up by saying that the one left ‘could be the random sad cake which hangs around for days and doesn’t get decorated’. This does actually happen frequently in our house! So she posed with one to make her point.'
sasha posing with a cake

I also got to see Bryan Adams in concert again - one of my all-time favourites!
bryan adams in concert


On the first day of June I took our eldest to Thorpe Park as a half term treat. It's not the kind of place Sasha would want to go, but Tamsin and I had a great time.
Steph and Tamsin at Thorpe Park
The rest of the month was very busy as it is a certain someone's birthday month. (I meant Sasha, but actually it's mine too. And my Dad's. And my brother's. And both my best friends!). For Sasha's party we hired a hot tub (which I still need to write about, oops) and she invited her old school friends over to enjoy it, with mixed results.
hot tub hire
The weather in June was hot enough for lots of fun with the paddling pool, and we managed another family outing, back to the Harry Potter Studio Tour to check out their Goblet of Fire theme.
Harry Potter studios marauders map
Teen girl became brace-free after two years, which must have been an amazing feeling for her. Husband went walking in the hills of Scotland and managed a short cricket tour. For my birthday treat I went to see Gary Barlow at Blenheim Palace, one of the best kinds of treats there is!

I hardly blogged at all but I did 'pen' my post which has since been read more than any other on my blog - Ten Things You Need to Know About Pathological Demand Avoidance. I also talked about PDA at the Festival of Education, a brilliant opportunity.


In July, we had the joy of an annual review of Sasha's EHCP (Education, Health and Care Plan) and I wrote a little update about how school had been going. One of my best friends dragged me along to the Michael Buble concert in Hyde Park (don't tell anyone, but I LOVE him!) and the heavens opened, leaving me and another friend drenched and then cowering in a not very exciting toilet block with some other strangers for an hour and a half before we ventured back out cloaked in a bin liner. Oh what fun! Teen took part in a summer concert at school as part of the choir and there were all the usual end of term celebrations. The girls had haircuts and we had a quiet first week of the school holidays, with anticipation building for THE event of the year.


On the 1st August, my older brother got married to his partner of many years. They have three children, two girls, and my two girls were invited to be bridesmaids alongside their girls and the brides other nieces. We had a long but successful car journey up there the day before, which was an achievement in itself for Sasha who struggles so much with travelling. It was an amazing day, full of friends and family and lots of love. It was a huge challenge for Sasha but she amazingly managed to walk down the aisle next to her sister and stay in church for over half the service. Teen girl loved the whole day, especially dancing with her cousins that evening. Definitely THE highlight of my year, even above Adams, Barlow and Buble - and that's saying something!
family group in wedding outfits
Then we headed on for a week's holiday with my parents in my old hometown. I love it there, by the sea, and it's clear the girls love it too. We had some great days out, at the Pleasure Beach and the Sandcastle Waterpark, which is not always easy with PDA in tow. We definitely like to celebrate the successes!
stephs two girls with grandparents
We came back home to rest for a bit before heading out on our family holiday at the end of August.
We'd planned a two-stop holiday; Disneyland Paris to please Tamsin and Center Parcs in Paris after for Sasha's sake.
Tamsin in front of Big Thunder Mountain

Sasha in vacay costume at Villages Nature Paris

We drove there, because Sasha is adamant she won't fly again. Our holiday is documented in part in my post 'Are family holidays the only way to go?' - as with everything, there were ups and downs.
Family photo by the Disney Paris lake


This month started with warm weather and so we were able to invite our bestest local friends to ours for a BBQ party. Sasha enjoyed it to a point; she dipped in and out to suit herself. Luckily our friends are very understanding of that. Back to school happened fairly smoothly for both girls but there were also some blips over the following months.

I was honoured to hear that I was a finalist in the BritMums Readers Choice category of blogging awards; no fancy ceremony to attend this year sadly but it was still lovely to be recognised. I attended the fab BlogOn Toys conference up in Manchester one Sunday and ran a local workshop on PDA. Throughout September and October I concentrated on writing about Pathological Demand Avoidance on my blog, which included this post asking if it is real (it is). The end of month excitement saw me fixed at our computer, trying to get tickets for the new Take That tour. Thankfully, I was successful. Highlight of 2019 is already lined up!


For the first weekend in October I managed to escape on a lovely weekend break to Bath with two of my oldest school friends. The following week my parents came to visit before popping off to visit my younger brother and then returning to stay with us for a few days. I love having them here, I wish they lived nearer and could come more often! The end of October brought much excitement in the way of a trip out to meet with a boyband - sadly not Take That, who I've been waiting to meet all my life, but a group of five charming young men from America who teen has taken a shine to: Why Don't We. She achieved something I've never been able to do with my heroes, which was a meet and greet where she got to hug her favourite guys. There is video evidence of course, but for her eyes only... here's the link to the concert which followed over on YouTube: Why Don't We Europe Tour.
tamsin with why dont we boys

At the end of October I shamelessly begged everyone to vote for me in the BAPS Awards... I'll find out next year if that has come to anything!


The girls went to stay with their paternal grandparents for a few days while I gave our hallway a final coat of paint (only a year and a half after we moved in). Husband organised a team of work colleagues to help paint a corridor at Sasha's new school which has hopefully been much appreciated. Tamsin made me proud by taking a risk and auditioning for both acting and singing parts in her Gang Show, and I took a risk by attending a blog event with the girls, at the Coral Reef in Bracknell, to promote Zoggs products. Then I wrote about the happy walk I had with Sasha where we revisited our old stomping ground and she got a bit nostalgic. I was thrilled to be invited to support one of my oldest friends at a company event to celebrate her success there and husband and I were invited to some local friends for a meal with a small group on husband's birthday at the end of the month. Just before the end of the month we went on our annual weekend trip to Center Parcs to meet up with our friends who we do this every year with - Woburn rather than Sherwood for a change this year though.


This month has gone by in a whirl. Poor Tamsin has been poorly with a bad cough since the end of November and then much worse with fevers towards Christmas time. She just about managed to sing carols in the Abbey and then at an evening event at school, but collapsed on the last day of term. It's such a shame as she was looking forward to the excitement of Christmas so much. She bought us wonderful gifts but was then hardly well enough to wrap them! Thankfully she seems to be on the mend now, though the cough is proving hard to shake.

My parents came back to stay again and I met up with an old blogging friend on the Southbank in London where we had a great chat. Sasha's school play didn't go too well for her but my exciting time this month was getting out to see The Band Take That musical in London; I definitely recommend it if you can but you'd have to be quick!

Blog wise I was booked to talk on Radio 5 Live the weekend just before Christmas, about PDA and the challenges, but sadly they bumped me off at the last minutes (for talk about boxing instead, I believe!). So I wrote a post about those PDA challenges at Christmas instead and will see if I can make it back into the 5Live line up next year.

Yesterday we enjoyed one of those very rare whole family outings, to an ice skating rink. We've done this for the previous two years, with mixed results, but yesterday was a definite success, despite Sasha having a couple of heavy falls. I even managed to grab a whole family photo just before we went on the rink - see below:
monthly siblings photos for stephs two girls

Wow. That was a post and a half! Looking back through all the photos I haven't had time to include, there was so much more happened than I've been able to write about even. An amazing year. If you are still reading, very well done, you should have a medal. It's nearly the end of 2018 now so I wish everyone a happy and healthy New Year and hope that 2019 is a cracker!

To find out more about our experiences, please check out our 'About Us' page. If you are looking or more information on Pathological Demand Avoidance, why not try some of these, my most popular posts?

What is PDA (Pathological Demand Avoidance)?

Ten things you need to know about Pathological Demand Avoidance

Does my child have Pathological Demand Avoidance?

The difference between PDA and ODD

Strategies for PDA (Pathological Demand Avoidance)

Pathological Demand Avoidance: Strategies for Schools

Challenging Behaviour and PDA

Is Pathological Demand Avoidance real?

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  1. Love this post, it will be a great memoir for your girls as they get older... I remember most of the stuff you did too! Where has that year gone?!! Happy New Year lovely lady... keep on writing xx

    1. Thank you - and yes I know, it has flashed by! See you soon in 2019 xx

  2. Really enjoyed reading all this. It’s a pleasure to journey with you Steph. Keep blogging!

    1. Thank you. You are so hugely supportive and I really appreciate that. I aspire to be as good a writer as you! Happy 2019 x

  3. I love your work Mrs Curtis XX

    1. Apologies Becky Lines not unknown!

    2. Thanks you! Wishing you a very merry New Year, see you soon! x

  4. Phew! What a year! Plenty of ups and downs, but wouldn't life be boring without them?! Hope 2019 is good to you all xx

    1. Exactly. Pretty perfect overall I'd say! Happy 2019 to you all too x

  5. A mammoth amazing year and you continue to inspire me, keep on keeping on, here's to an equally awesome 2019 x

    1. Thank you, v kind of you! It's going to be good, I'm sure :) x

  6. Great retrospective post, so many lovely photos and memories! All the best wishes for 2019! xx

    1. Thank you, it was a labour of love for sure! Hope 2019 is good to you too x

  7. What a year you've had Steph. I love the photo of the girls in the hot tub! I really hope 2019 is a great year for you guys xxx

    1. So much fun! We are really lucky. The hot tub was a spur of the moment inspired idea :)


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