Category Archives: Blogging

The Potato Group News

 

 

BAMBOO SCAFFOLDING 

In order to access many everyday activities, my son needs ‘bamboo scaffolding’, flexible and adaptable low key support – when I get this right it is largely invisible to others . . . .unless they have ever witnessed my son without this support.

Several years ago, I had to declare my teenage adopted son homeless due to repeated violence, threats and damage to our home and car over a long period. In the years that have passed since then, I remain his daily support for food, transport, emotional regulation and sorting benefits etc. as services do not appear to recognize he has any support needs at all. Now in his twenties, he lurches chaotically from near crisis to near crisis. Over several months he has been in a particularly low mental state. Over several months I have also been feeling depleted and was struggling to function on a day to day basis (after many years of providing high level support). How to try to nudge this situation in a better direction? Idea – a high risk holiday! Our son was excluded from education for more than half of his school life but each year I clutched at straws to find one activity in which he could participate and gain self esteem.

Currently he is doing Muay Thai (Thai boxing) regularly and together we planned a short trip to Thailand during which time he could do some training. My partner was unable to travel as he is awaiting an operation, so the first high risk was travelling alone with my son. A home-based education service working with him in his early teens insisted on 2:1 workers due to risk – but adoptive parents frequently carry risk 1:1 or 1:3 or more with siblings.

Bamboo Scaffolding: part one – getting there

I researched flights, resort, hotel etc. online, planning flight to be as short as possible, hotel as familiar as possible, and as close as possible to a Muay Thai gym. My partner paid for the holiday and from that point we accepted that we had ‘written off’ this money . . .even if we did not make it to the airport to set off. Previous holidays have had to be cut short e.g. a week booked in a caravan was abandoned after slightly more than 24 hours after credible threats to trash the caravan. Scaffolding means planning and anticipating situations my son will struggle with and adapting them to give him a better chance of managing. Schools in our experience never understood scaffolding, nor embraced inclusion.

Treating all pupils equally meets neither the needs of the child nor the sprit nor the letter of current equalities legislation – giving differentiated support and making ‘reasonable adjustments’ does. My deeply traumatised son still confuses the feelings of excitement and fear and is highly anxious in situations which he finds stressful – regularly dissociating into fear expressed as extreme anger.

Packing My son lives independently. I got his passport from him before we booked, as all forms of ID are often lost in his chaos. His washing machine is broken but he has not allowed us into his home over many months to arrange repair or replacement. I bought a few new clothes and partly packed a suitcase for him. I picked him up from his house to finish packing at ours, he promptly tipped everything out of the small case, announced he was only taking hand luggage as clothes were cheaper there, and took little more than one pair of pants and a toothbrush – I did manage to sneak one set of clothes into my case for emergencies. He was already ranting that there was no way he was going to wait at the airport for hours and we really didn’t need to check in until 30 minutes before the long haul flight.

I was deliberately vague about the flight time and hoped for the best. We had to set off the moment he was ready; my partner drove us; we drove slowly to try to reduce an excessive airport wait. The short stay departures car park was a nightmare finding a space and then walking a long way to the connecting bridge to departures. We joined the check-in queue and as we passed through passport control I breathed a sigh of relief – there was a chance we would actually set off. The next challenges were the slow and crowded zigzag queues for hand luggage and body scan and I could see him starting to fidget, clench his fists etc – at this point I have to stop myself ‘wittering’ empty reassuring phrases. I have learnt it is best to remain silent or nod empathetically that …it is a piss-take and FFS – absorb the emotion and ‘let them rant’.

We entered the departure lounge with still at least an hour before going to our gate. At last we were called to the gate and onto the plane, the very back seats, cosy for me, 5’ nothing, but decidedly cramped for my 6’ son, and as the hours went by increasingly hot and uncomfortable. Due to my son’s anxiety levels and neediness he can appear very self-centered. He took every bit of discomfort as if deliberately targeted at him and showed no empathy that we were all in the same boat (or the same crowded plane in this case). From time to time I offered distractions or sweets – scaffolding to aid his emotional regulation and I remained hypervigilant to absorb restlessness and ranting hoping we would not be responsible for a mid-air incident.

Seven hours, a two-hour transit, and a further seven hours was a huge challenge for a young man who finds the third hour of a three hour train journey difficult. Arriving bleary eyed I tried to spot the signs towards pre-booked transfers. Any hesitation led to rants from my son that I was dithering, and the likelihood of him storming off in the wrong direction. Luckily we found the tour operator quickly and once on the minibus taxi he fell deeply asleep, we were dropped at our hotel, checked in and given two rooms a few doors away from each other on the 5th floor. We had arrived in Patong, ‘party central’, not the typical destination for an exhausted 60 something!

To be continued: Look out for part 2 – What we did when we got there and the advantages and disadvantages of social media And Part 3 – How we avoided a Thai jail and . . .did we get home safely?

www.thepotatogroup.org.uk

What is a blog hop?

What is a blog hop?

Well, to answer that we need to look at linkys. A linky is basically a piece of code that you add to your blog post. It creates a form for users to add their name and URL into, and then collates them all into a list. Readers don’t see the code, just the form and the list.

For an example, see our very own Weekly Adoption Shout Out – a linky that invites readers to add adoption related blog posts which then all display in a form.

The benefit of this?

Well, it puts lots of related blogs/blog posts in the same place so readers don’t have to trawl the internet. It also means your blog is placed alongside other popular blogs thus gaining more exposure.

So the blog hop bit…

Well, a straight linky tends to sit on one website, much like the Weekly Adoption Shout Out sits on The Adoption Social.

A blog hop is where the list and form are shown as in a linky, but the code can be taken and added to your own website too. It improves the reach of the linky as it then appears on all related websites (if they choose to show it). Typically, once you’ve added your details to the linky, you take the code and place it at the bottom of the post you just linked up.

How do I create one?

Here at The Adoption Social, we use linkytools.com. We have an account where we can create different types of linky, including blog hops and the code is provided by the linkytools website. linkytoolsYou can try it too – from recollection there is a free trial period.

If you decide to set one up, be sure to let us know, and if you need any help just tweet us @adoptionsocial or email us at theadoptionsocial@gmail.com

5 Top Tips for Starting a Blog.

 Today we bring you 5 tips that can help you start your very own blog…….

Research- read other blogs and not just adoption blogs. Find blogs you like the look of, not to copy but to be inspired by. Think about what you want your blog to include, will it have images or even vlogs? Maybe you want it to have both, or neither, the writing may be the most important part for you.

ReviewLooking at blogs can help you decide which platform you wish to start your blog on, for example WordPress, Blogger or SquareSpace. When you look at a blog the platform the blog is built on may be obvious from either the name of the blog (eg- adoptionblog.wordpress.com) or by scrolling to the base of the home page where the platform and theme is often named.   If it is not obvious which format it is, then ask. Most bloggers will be flattered that you like the look of their blog and be happy to help.  Here we have a post on starting a blog in WordPress and in Blogger.

 Be original –whilst it’s good to be inspired by others; don’t try to copy anyone’s style. Write about what interests you and in the style you feel most comfortable with. I’m at my most happy blogging from an emotional angle, you might like to use humour or it may be that you want to be political and raise serious issues that you are passionate about.

Look Unique –Most blog themes can be customised, make your blog look original. Change the colour scheme and even design your own logo or header. Here’s a post about how to create your own header .

Share – Now you’ve gone to all this trouble make sure you share your posts, link up to #WASO share on twitter.  If you are on twitter use the same name as your blog as your twitter name or at least have your blog details on your profile. Here are some posts you might find useful.

How to link to #WASO

Starting a Twitter Account

Enjoy yourself – Don’t let your blog feel like a chore, make sure you are benefiting through writing, be it to gain support from other or in support of others. For some it is cathartic and others get delight in sharing their special and important moments of adoption. What is your motivation?

Britmums Live and the Adoption and Fostering Roundup.

Are you free Saturday 26th June 2016?

Every year Britmums put on a spectacular conference for bloggers and social media types. It is a great opportunity to:-

  1. Meet other bloggers/tweeters.
  2. To hear inspirational people speak.
  3. To learn more about how to make your blog GREAT.
  4. To meet product people you might be interested in working with or just sample their lovely wares.
  5. To receive an awesome goody bag to take away full of freebies.
  6. To get a little you time away from the family.
  7. To eat great food, their is a lunch included at it is usually very yummy.
  8. To socialise and have a glass or two with your new friends and old.
  9. To support those nominated in the BiBs awards.
  10. And finally a chance to hang out with Vicki and I.

Now I know number 10 is a little off putting but seriously we would love it if other bloggers or tweeters would join us, it would great to have a meet up in such inspirational surroundings. There is a special EARLYBIRD price on tickets until 30th November of £59.99. Which is quite a bargain for everything that is included. We usually travel down on the Friday and stay over on the Friday night.

So Click on here to find out more, the full agenda and how you can be there are all detailed and let us know if you book and we can make sure we meet up, Vicki and I have booked our tickets already.

I Write for Brit MumsAnd whilst we are on the subject of Britmums a little reminder that Vicki and I also do a monthly round up of Adoption and Fostering blogs for Britmums. We have just altered the date it is published, so it should now be posted the in the second week of each month. Why not check out this months post, you might be on there

3 New Ways to Share your Blog

Each week lots of you share your lives through your blog posts and and many of you also link those blogs to #WASO. Through #WASO we hope that your blog posts gain greater exposure and therefore more readers. For some I know the process of writing is cathartic and it helps to have others who understand, read your blogs and comment and are therefore happy sharing with our adoption community. However for those who would like to share a little further, here are three other ways to get your blog posts read.

1.OTHER LINKYS

Magic Moments – Over at The Oliver’s Madhouse there is a weekly link up on a Monday, where you can share all the really good moments in your life. So if you’ve shared something on #Memorybox then your post could also go on here, MAGIC MOMENTS

Share with me – a link up on a Wednesday, on lets call Mommy,  where you can share old and new posts from your blog find out more on SHARE WITH ME

Brilliant Blog Posts – We know how brilliant your blog posts are so why not pop over to  Honest Mum on a Thursday to link up with BRILLIANT BLOG POST

 2.LOVE ALL BLOGS

You can join Love all blogs for free. Here your blog posts are selected and shared on their website and through their other social media. This could be good for you if you also sometimes write recipes or show crafts on your blog. However their is a family section and I’m sure that writing about an adoptive family fits into that section. Find out more here at LOVE ALL BLOGS

3.BLOGLOVIN

You join this website and then all your posts automatically feed to the site. You have a profile page where all your posts are listed. Like other social media sites, you can chose to follow other blogs and they can also follow you. These blogs then appear in your news feed every time they do a new post. It’s a great way to find other blogs to read and to gain new readers. Find out more here at BLOGLOVIN

 

Free images for your blog

Photos – we’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again “Use them on your blog!”

Quite a while ago, we wrote a post about the importance of using images on your blog, and well, we stand by that. But we know not everyone has a camera phone, or photographic skills, so today I’m going to tell you a way of getting images on your site that have been taken by some photographers who have serious skillz. And, they are free AND the credit is already included, so you don’t need to gain permission (which you DO have to do if you take a photo from anywhere else, Google Images included!). sarah meets camila

We learnt this little tip after attending the Britmums Live! conference last year. By the way, if you’ve not given much thought to Britmums Live! then do, they have some really good workshops and speakers where you can pick up some great tips. And you might get to meet someone you really admire…

Anyway, we discovered that Getty Images – you know the amazing stock photographers who provide images for use in all sorts of places – have a royalty free section. This means you can use some of their images without having to pay a royalty charge to do so. It’s especially for bloggers and non-commercial use.

Not only that, but they’re high resolution (good quality) and easily searchable too, with an enormous amount of photos covering an enormous number of topics. 50 million images in fact. Yes for actual real.

Here’s the link: http://www.gettyimages.co.uk/CreativeImages/RoyaltyFree

And it gets better. I was going to write a post with instructions on how to embed the image into your post. That means transferring the code from Getty Images to your blog, so that you don’t have to faff with downloading the image, and then uploading to your own blog, you just paste the code into the ‘text’ or ‘html’ option on your blog.
However, Getty Images has done that for me here, so I’m not going to repeat it. Just click on that link and the instructions are there for all to see:
Screenshot 2015-03-10 20.19.51Need a family image, no problem:

Want something school based?

Or maybe you want something to depict the tough days?

Whatever the scenario or theme of your post, you’re sure to find something to accompany your words.

Two ways to share a post

Every week on #WASO, we talk about sharing your favourite posts on Twitter, Facebook and amongst your networks, but do you actually know how to do this?

Well worry not, because this week we’re going to talk about a couple of ways of sharing posts.

Copy and paste the URL

So the URL is basically the address of a blog post or web page. It begins with http:// or sometimes just www.
When you want to share a blog or website, you share the whole www. address i.e www.theadoptionsocial.com.

However, if there is a specific page or post then you need to use the whole address i.e http://theadoptionsocial.com/weekly-adoption-shout-out/weekly-adoption-shout-out-waso-week-106/

To copy the link, you need to highlight/select it in the address bar of your browser, and then press ctrl+c. This stores it to your computer’s clipboard.

To paste it, create your facebook post/tweet/email etc, then press ctrl+v. This will paste the link in from your clipboard.

We appreciate that if you’re sharing on Twitter then sometimes these long URLs aren’t easy to share, so we wrote a post about shortening links so they better fit in tweets.

**Incidentally, this is what you should do for linkys too, as it helps direct people to the exact post you are linking rather than your blog, when people then have to scroll through to find the relevant post**

Use the social media buttons

On the bottom of many posts, articles, web pages and images, you’ll see some icons for different social media platforms. If you want to share that particular post, it’s really easy for you to select which platform you want to share to by simply clicking on the button. Below is the bottom of one of our #WASO posts, along with all the sharing buttons…sharing buttonsSometimes the icons can look a little daunting, especially if unfamiliar to you. The ones we use here on The Adoption Social are, in the order shown above:

Facebook
Twitter
StumbleUpon
LinkedIn
Google+
Pinterest
Sharexy (if you hover over this, you’ll get a host of other sharing options too)

Whichever you click on will take you to that platform and you can log in and hit share.

It’s really quite simple, and once you’ve managed it a couple of times, you’ll be sharing all your favourite posts!

What is a ‘sticky’ post?

Have you ever been on a blog or forum, where the same post sits at the top for some time? Even though other posts are being or have been published since?

Well, that post is ‘sticky’ – it’s stuck to the top of the page. Another term is ‘pinned’ i.e it’s pinned to the top of the page (although that seems to be used less now we always use the same term within Pinterest).
There are many reasons why you might want to do this – to draw attention to a particular post, to advertise a post with a deadline in, or like we did here on The Adoption Social over Christmas – to keep our linky #WASO as the first piece that people would see when they visited our site.

So how do you do this in WordPress? Well, it’s actually very simple. Create and schedule/publish your post as usual, or find an old post that you want to make sticky. Then click ‘Quick Edit’ beneath it.

Near the right, as shown below, is a tick box called Make this post sticky. Simply, click on that box, and your post will remain stuck at the top of your page until you quick edit it again and remove that tick.  sticky postSo, that is a sticky post.
If you have any other terms that you would like explaining, then don’t be shy, please let us know and we’ll write or research a post. Chances are, if you don’t understand something, then there are others out there in the same position who would appreciate a reference point.

Pixelating a Photo in Picmonkey

pixel pic

We are Re-sharing this post as it is our most popular post on Blogging, so just incase you missed it, here it is….

PicMonkey is a great photo editing website that is easy to use and free. There are lots of great effects that you can use when you are editing pictures and it is well worth having a play with, there are hours of fun to be had. In this post I’m going to show you how to pixelate a section of a photo. What this means is you can distort a portion of the picture, like the face or maybe a landmark, making a person or area unidentifiable. This can be useful if you want to post images on your blog that include your children.

  • So first things first go to the site www.picmonkey.com
  • On the home page click on Edit a Photo
  • This will open your files on your computer and you can scroll to find the picture you would like to edit.
  • Select the photo you wish to work on and click open, this will move the image into PicMonkey and your screen should look like the image below.

picmonkey2

  • Select the second icon down on the left hand side of the screen, the little chemistry bottle representing EFFECTS (highlighted in the red circle above)
  • Scroll down through the side bar of EFFECTS until you reach AREA and click on FOCAL PIXELATE 
  • Your screen will now look like the image below

Pic monkey

  • The normal settings for this effect is to pixelate the whole image and provide one clear area, what you want to do is pixelate a small area and keep the rest clear, so first click REVERSE EFFECT.
  • Hover the mouse over your photo and a circle will appear, move the circle to cover the area you want to pixelate.
  • Slide bars on the left hand side will allow you to change the size of the circle and the size of the pixels. The large the pixels the more distorted the image will be.
  • Once you are happy with the image click APPLY
  • Now Save the image onto your computer, selection the SAVE option above the image.
  • You will need to select where you save the image on your computer and it likes you to add .jpg after the name of the image.
  • Once stored in a file you can now upload the image onto your blog.

 

 

How to add your Blog Post to #WASO

Ever wondered how you could put your blog  on #WASO…here’s how. 

It’s really encouraging to see lost of new people joining the adoption twitter community and some have even taken the plunge and started to a blog as well. We love this wealth of shared experiences that makes us all feel less alone, helps us to make more sense of our own lives and offer empathy to those who require support. It is the main reason we started #WASO, to encourage the community to grow.

So today I’m going to run through just how simple it is to join your blog post to the weekly #WASO link up.

1. On the Friday #WASO post ,scroll down the page until you see the blue writing stating Click Here to Enter  (as indicated by the red arrow below), click on it. linky1

 

2. The screen in the image below will then appear.

linky2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are four sections which you are required to fill in. The important thing to remember is that the only information which will be visible on the link is the title you use in the first box. So either use the title of your post or the title of your blog in this box or only information you are happy for others to read.

The second information that is required is the link to your post. The easiest way to do this is to cut and paste the link from your blog. That is the address that appears at the top of the page when you are on the post, as indicated in the image below.

linky3

 

Then you add your email and a name and click enter your link. 

You then follow the link back to the linky4post and your entry should appear as shown below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

You see, really simple BUT if you ever have any problems please contacts us, we are happy to help.