I have moved over to WhittereronAutism.com. Please follow the link to find me there. Hope to see you after the jump! :)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Quotes – speech delays and diction

“Can we watch dah ceptions?”
“Deceptions? What’s that about? I don’t’ think I’ve ever heard of that before?”
“Yes you know.”
“I don’t, honest. Do you mean Deceptocons, from the Transformer thingummy do dah?”
“He’s right mom. You let us watch it yesterday.”
“I did? I don’t remember.”
“Sure you do. You remember.”
“I don’t, honest.”
“It’s dah cartoon with dah yellow people.”
“Yellow people?”
“Yeah. We watched it with Dad.”
“Really? Hey Mike?”
“What did you watch yesterday with the children?”
“Yes, I know, but which programme?”
“It had yellow people in it. Something from Animal Planet or National Geographic?”
“Something medical maybe…..jaundice?”
“You didn’t let them watch House did you?”
“No! Never. Ooo! I know!”
“The Simpsons.”

Greater than the sum - Bird Brain

It’s the usual rigmarole, or rather it isn’t - a variation on a theme. I’ve not visited the Bird shop for a couple of years, so I am quite delighted on Christmas Day. The boys went there, with their Dad. It was as much an exercise in perspective taking as gift buying, more or less one and the same, although Dad footed the bill - the value of money is still a work in progress.

It’s a whole 24 hours later and there they all are, the most extraordinary collection of peculiar shaped items - gift wrapped. I’d understand if each one was the same as it’s fellows, uniform in shape, or size, but they’re not. If I had chosen something three foot long, the shape of a lollipop, I’d remember what was inside. Nor could I forget something heavy, like an upside down umbrella. There aren’t many things that are shaped like a triangle, metallic – but that’s just me. Me? I’m an expert at recognizing objects, just by the feel, renowned for my x-ray vision. It’s a big event, a huge step forward, so I make the most of it. The genuine surprise and delight is easy – the joy of giving and receiving – but the first niggles of distress are present. My ‘what could it possibly be?’ as I squeeze the package, provokes anguish. I’ve not had the practice. A rhetorical question translates to the third degree – the stress of forgetfulness. I back off but it’s already too late - set the ball in motion. Body squirms and hair wrenching are only the beginning.

I was taught the social norms until they became effortless, the gracious words of thanks, the smile that didn’t travel to the eyes. The drill - easy. Since then I’ve learned compassion – the crow’s feet don’t lie.

Its like a blip that doesn’t fit. If you show me the toe nail of Pachyderm, I can visualize the whole elephant. If I show my boys a minute fraction of an obscure Pokemon, a barely visible fragment of the Lego logo, their response is immediate and 100% accurate – visual acuity at it’s finest, but other things are quite baffling. If its excruciating for the outsider, how much worse for the insider? But I remember how much I’ve always hated game shows and quiz nights – finger on the buzzer – hide under the table. It’s the pressure, the need to perform, but within a given time frame.

It’s a complex tangle, as with many children, where different issues compete but it’s difficult to determine which one[s] dominate. I could mention specifics but they’d be different for every child. Here, there’s the fingers that don’t function as he would wish, an irritation that escalates frustration, difficult to ignore. He knows that he should remember, but it’s just out of reach. Everyone is looking, waiting, expectant. The position of power should help – he’s above me – but that only helps with conventional people.

He’s also acquired some notions, nebulous little hazy things, on the periphery, slightly out of focus. Social conventions that have been off radar until recently, things that most of us take for granted as - so ingrained. Deconstruction and translation of the conventions - explain and demonstrate in a meaningful manner - impossible in these few minutes.

It’s what my chum calls the ‘disproportionality’ of the incident. Her ledger would illustrate the imbalance – on one side there would be ‘the subject gives a gift to his mother for the first time, voluntarily’ – on the other side of the ledger would be a very long list of ‘issues’ that might interfere or affect the experiment. She would weight or rank each issue, but no matter their number or severity, none, singularly or collectively should result in an outburst. An outburst would be deemed disproportional. It makes me a little sad that she can sum it up so dispassionately, so dismissive.

So we compromise – a little paper rip so that he can peek inside while my eyes are averted, so he can capture recall, but it’s not enough; only when he can see the whole thing does the penny drop – failure stares him in the face.

We are both exhausted by the emotional explosion. Only a few minutes, but super charged. If we were ‘out,’ the situation would be exacerbated – socially inappropriate always requires public comment – but what do they know? But we’re not ‘out,’ we’re ‘in,’ and what do I know? Probably even less. All I do know is that this simple common place event should bring pleasure. Instead he’s robbed of the moment, the joy stolen, replaced with a slew of stress. Hobbled by the miniscule hic-cups of the every day.

We should expect them, we should be able to deal with them but so often we fall short - always expect the unexpected - which is why we’re off guard on down time. It’s home, it’s safe, or it should be.

I take him and the bird feeder out into the garden – change of scene, change of pace, chance to breathe – on a chilly bright day with a clear blue sky. Barely have I shut the door when he’s off, “look mom!” He bounds across the asphalt, over 50 yards away on a quest as he hurls himself down on the concrete, bare chested. I gallop after him, “what is it dear?”
“S’on it’s back. See dah legs? Its a lady bug.”

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Fools Seldom Differ

I’m not a great fan of ‘teachable moments,’ or rather I am in theory, it’s just the practice that’s time consuming and such hard work.

I learned my lesson a very long time ago. I think it’s basically a male thing, but I could be wrong. One wrong thing you can do, especially if you happen to be female, is to bounce into the room and sing “Ta dah! What do you think?” This is a universal invitation to disappointment. The response could be any one of the following: ‘I didn’t know you could sing / are you going to finish the rest of the song now / you really shouldn’t bounce like that wearing high heels.’


To flounce out in a huff is childish. Far better to give a hint, or a clue, or better still, a plain explanation. “Hi! Do you like my new frock, the one that I’m wearing right now?” Care should also be taken in other more vague areas. Instead of asking ‘do you like my hair this way’ it’s better to ask ‘do you like my new hair cut / dye job / hair style.’ In effect, there should be as little wriggle room as possible. In fact, in some cases, it’s better to feed the line, “I’m sure you like my new shoes as much as I do.”

Some may feel that this kind of extracted and contrived compliment isn’t worth the spittle of production, and I would be inclined to agree with you. Part of the problem is that in ordinary every day life, this kind of thing crops up all the time. Far better to equip our children with a rudimentary arsenal, for protection.

That of course, takes practice.[*]

One of the many funny things about autism, if you don’t happen to be autistic yourself, is that some fundamentals remain the same. I’m not saying that they don’t grow and change, more that some major underpinnings are always present. You would think that most people with half a wit, parents such as myself, would know this. And yet over and over again, I forget. While my children have a good vocabulary, [now] there are little holes in the lexicon, bits and bobs that just aren’t important enough to file away for future reference.

“Hey guys! What do you think of my new ear-rings? See here….my ears?”
“Yes, look at my ears. See these things hanging from the little hole?”
“Dey are not rings. Dey are being fish….fish……hooks with dangly bits.”
“Do you like the dangly bits?”
“Is is an ellipse.”
“Yes I suppose they, are sort of.”
“It is browny beetle colored.”
“I thought they were honey colored?”
“No honey is being golden. Dat is not being golden.”
“Right. So do you like them then?”
“I fink it is sight pleasing but are brain hurting.”
“I fink it is bad to put sharp things in your body parts.”
“Hmm. Right. Fair enough.”
“But it’s o.k. mum!”
“Is it? Why?”
“Coz peoples are likin and dislikin different things.”
“!” There’s nothing like having your inadequate ditties quoted back at you.
“Any ways……”
“Dey are not be rings.”
“Yes you already said that…..you explained that they’re really hooks.”
“No but…..?”
“But what dear?”
“Um…….not plural.”
“It is only being singular.”
“Dang! Where’s the other one gone then!”

[*] for future reference, for anyone that doesn’t already know, when you’re presented with the new thing for comment, the response ‘how much did it cost?’ it's always wrong.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Compliments are Anathema – Misery loves company

Children come in all shapes and sizes, as do parenting guides. One of the cardinal rules of parenting is to praise a child for a job well done. Fortunately this is a natural instinctive rule that matches the facial expression of delight and possibly a hand flourish or a hug. It all fits together perfectly, or rather it does for many parents.

Other parents need to learn to suppress the facial flicker, so that no hint of pleasure registers. Dead pan is hard to achieve and takes a great deal of practice. Sitting on hands is highly recommended to stop them from leaping out and behaving in a completely predictable yet thoroughly inappropriate manner.

Perhaps you have experienced this too with your child?

Perhaps you haven’t?

For this particular kind of a child, acknowledgement of a job well done is a trigger to destruction. Before the first word has left my lips the picture is trashed, the Lego is hurled, the Magnetix are squished.

Initially it’s counter intuitive.

There can be many reasons for such behavior and sometimes knowing why can help. For some children it’s a question of realizing that they are growing in competence, which also means less reliance on a parent. This realization is scary. Often it is more complex or more simple. If you are unable to fathom the true reasons for their abhorrence of praise then it is wise to keep our own counsel. Here, we admitted defeat a long, long time ago but to praise two children and effectively ignore another, is extremely difficult.

I appreciate that this is a bit of a niche issue.

Somehow it just doesn’t seem right to force a child, or anyone for that matter, to accept unwelcome praise but looking ahead I knew that a time would come when someone would praise him. He’d be at work, in one of those little cubbies when the boss would walk in: “great job on that report Mac!” And what would follow? A tirade? I didn’t like to imagine any further; rightly or not I decided to plow ahead anyway.

I picked my attack time with care.

The best time to attack children is when their defenses are low. Mine are usually most malleable just before sleep, at bed time. My first attempts were miserable failures and effectively destroyed the peaceful night time routine I’d been engineering since their birth. Gradually, almost imperceptibly, he allowed me to sow a few seeds of praise. Three small descriptive words about his character which were not false but not self acknowledged. That shaky start was over seven years ago. Gradually the list of words has grown, as has he. It’s quite a lengthy list now. I take care to keep it in the right order as the wrong order also provokes meltdowns. Every once in a while I make a proposal for a new candidate to be added to the list but it has to be appropriate.

Like many autistic people, their receptive language, [what they understand,] is so much greater than their expressive language, [what they’re able to spit out.] Over the summer months we had so many visitors, guests and bodies around the place that my son began to shine. The ‘meet and greet’ was less prompted and stilted. He delighted in sharing his toys, showing off and generally engaging everyone with his antics.

So I wait until darkness because eye contact is often the kiss of death to anything new.
“I was thinking…..”
“I was thinking…….”
“I was thinking maybe we could add a new word to our special time?”
“It begins with E.”
“Ah well yes you are getting big but I wouldn’t describe you as enormous just yet.”
“Hmm also true. I didn’t think of that one either but have another go.”
“How about we steer away from the physical and move into personal qualities, like kindness?”
“Kindness don’t begin wiv an E.”
“So true, so true, but I can’t think of anything beginning with E that isn’t the word I’ve already thought of without giving the game away.”
“Aquatic starts with an A, but close.”
“How about……ENTERTAINING! What do you think? You’ve been so great with all of the playdates and so friendly and helpful……all the people who have been coming and going……”
“Yeah………I love havin company over.”
“Hey mom?”
“Yes dear?”
“How about a C word?”
“Which C word would you like?”

And that’s the first time he’s come up with his own label – self taught, self initialized and possibly selfless.

Works for me.

Should you have a free mo, you could always nip along and say 'hi de ho' to a new blogger called "Rachel" at "Strange and Beautiful." I shall be a bit busy myself as "Nonna" is back.

Cheers dears

"I before E, except after C"

"I before E, except after C" and a few other exceptions. There's quite a few exceptions actually and unless you're good at remembering lists then maybe a visual might help better......

The 'e' will only hang from the branch of the 'W' as the 'i' would fall off because seeing is believing around here.

........well for some people at least.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Autism – back to basics

I think it’s time for a good old moan; a grumble on the topic of impairment to joint attention, one of the hallmarks of autism, a pivotal skill that’s adrift, so the experts tell me. The trouble is, when it comes to parenting an autistic child we are often advised to ‘trust our instincts.’ It is my experience that this is basically wrong, or perhaps more accurately, that my instincts are wrong. Lets just look at three of the basics. They’re universal, so I’m told. The power of speech is helpful but not essential.

First up:-

I am the parent. You are the child and we gave you a name. You have learned your name, so I call you, either because you’re hiding or you’re busy doing something, “Freddy, where are you?” You, Freddy, do not reply. It may be that you’re replying in your head but no words are coming out of your mouth. If you, Freddy, have no words, you could always just pop your head out of your room and wave, acknowledge that you heard me, aware that I’m searching for you – but of course you don’t. I don’t know what you do about this, but I take on both roles, my own as parent, and yours, as Freddy. I have an entire conversation with myself, speaking both roles:-
“Freddy, where are you?” “I’m here mum!” I wander round the house calling out these two lines until eventually, if I’m lucky, I’ll trip over Freddy and hopefully not hurt him in the process. It’s been like that for years.


Pointing. Yes, I know it’s rude, but everyone does it when they’re little. Parents do it too, we actually teach our little ones to point, to be rude, because we’re a bit short sighted. Teach them how to point and then scrap that, it’s rude, un-teach pointing. What a pointless exercise, unless of course they don’t point in the first place. An expert will draw a parents attention to this deficit:- “he doesn’t point, had you noticed?”
“Of course I’ve noticed, it’s just that he’s an exceptionally polite child, must come from having British parents.”

But of course it wasn’t.

Why is pointing important anyway? Because it smacks of joint attention, a shared experience; it’s absence is a red flag.

Third and last, my personal favorite:-

Hand leading. Again we don’t need words. I am not a big scary bear, I’m just a big lumpy parent, hand extended, soft and warm and inviting. It translates to ‘come with me.’ When a child makes this gesture to someone else, it has the same meaning. The underlying message is the key, again, it’s that element of joint attention, a skill that we are all supposed to have, innately, and yet it’s not there. It has to be taught. Each one of them has to be taught each skill, discretely, practiced and then generalized into all given or possible situations.

It is the absence of these three, amongst other things, that still catches me out even after all this time. I forget that they’re not there. I forget to remind them and to practice because if they’re not practiced, they’re lost. It’s not just like riding a bicycle, but much more difficult.

Too much of a tirade?


Why mention it then?

I suppose because it’s IEP time, triennial in fact. Suddenly we’re presented with another whole host of deficits, negatives, holes, and shortcomings, all in black and white, with graphs and statistics as back up.

We’re reminded because we need to stay on track, not become complacent – yes we’re parents but we’re supposed to be dragoons, always forging ahead. I become swept up with the urgency as the grains in the timer escape and drift away. Wipe out those negatives, re-train, re-teach, reinforce, so much so that I’m apt to forget the bonuses, those freebies that are of no great import, except to us. It reminds me of "John Elder Robinson," how he learned to conform and yet lost so many of the superb abilities he had as a child, an alternative view that he’s been unable to recapture.

Yet it happened again today.

It happens most days one way or another, something that pulls me up short because I forget that they think so differently from me. Today as I reached over the sofa towards him, hand extended, called his name, beckoned with the other arm, he responded. He leapt onto the sofa and hung upside down over the back to examine my hand from underneath; an upside down aerial view. Silent. He moved each digit, an engineer checking the joints, fully functional, no creaks. He traced the lines on my palms and whorls on my fingertips, “mom?”
“Yes dear?”
“I cun see yur DNA.”

Sunday, November 29, 2009

How to stop autistic children from scripting

Scripting in autism can be defined variously but generally refers to the ability to repeat phrases or single words many times over. The words and phrases are often copied but can also be self generated. Scripting is generally considered to be an impairment that requires intervention and is usually paired with the word ‘fading.’ Scripting and echolalia often come hand in hand which is why so many of the phrases are easily recognizable as they’re delivered with accurate mimicry. A three year old who scripts Boris Karloff may be the source of amusement, but with an older child, public opinion is less forgiving.

Scripting serves many different functions for a child; it can be calming and self-organizing, a bit like white noise. Frequently the child is not aware that he or she is scripting, which makes it far more difficult to stop or reduce the behavior.

Scripting is generally deemed to be socially unacceptable, which is why it receives so much attention, disproportionately so in my opinion. If someone hums a tune, or whistles quietly in public, no-one is likely to turn a hair, but most of us will notice someone who appears to talk to themselves - a big red flag. If that person repeats the same word or phrase, you can more or less guarantee that everyone’s attention is arrested. I would hope that it is this aspect that concerns most people, how to let the autistic person continue with their daily doings, without being gawped at? I suspect that in another decade, given the arrival of the blue tooth, such behavior will become less and less noticeable.

The negative elements of scripting are well documented elsewhere, as are the many techniques to help fade this behavior, so would prefer to posit an alternative perspective. Although scripting can be irritating for the audience, or parent in my particular case, it does have a number of positive elements that don’t receive much attention.

If a child is non-verbal or has a significant speech delay, repeating the same word of phrase is basically practice. It may sound like a scratch on a record, but all those repeats add up. It may not be that practice makes perfect, but it certainly helps articulation. They also function as a prompt; if you can recall the starting phrase like: ‘once upon a time,’ ‘this guy walked into the room,’ ‘there was an Irishman, an Englishman and a Welshman,’ - then the rest of the story can flow.

The scripts around here are many and various, they change over time and often become longer and more complicated.

[please note that ‘bing, bing, bing,’ refers to BBC America where swear words and other rude references are bleaped]


Following the triennial I.E.P. certain pertinent facts grab my attention. Forget the academics, it’s those all elusive social skills that need nailing. Mastery is the difference between potential budding relationships and isolation – if not mastery, at least a move in the right direction. We collude and conspire for some considerable period thereafter, before the latest campaign evolves. Although he often thinks kindly thoughts, he rarely if ever voices them, aloud. He’s a taciturn kind of a guy. At other times, he volunteers information that some people would prefer not to hear, because he’s a truthful kind of a guy. Generally he’s on the periphery rather than in the center of the fray.

We adopt a two-pronged approach after lengthy discussions on tactics – rewards for speaking up in a positive manner and even greater rewards for refraining from saying negative things out loud. We practice modeling at home, all those everyday situations, examples, clues about what is expected and when.

On day one we experience three incidents where thought is put into action. He avoids telling another child how feeble and inferior her artistic creation turned out. He catches a boy as he trips to prevent the fall. He offers voluntary praise to a youngster for his sterling academic efforts.

It’s a veritable triumph. This kind of thing usually takes weeks, months, forever, a lifetime before we ever see anything. Three deeds equate to 3 M&M’s, as positive bribery is reinforcing initially.

The following day we repeat the exercise, this time at the dinner table where we are all gathered to hear of his exploits. He makes a start, after a little coaxing.

“Well I can fink of one thing that I am doing.”

“Wonderful! Tell us more!”

“There was this guy.”

“What was his name?” interjects his father.

“Dunno but he was a medium sized kind of a kid.”

He never knows anyone’s name, grade or class, “he had this rock.”

“A rock! Oh no. What did he do?”

“He was, he was, he was gonna hit this small sized kid on the bing!”

“On the bing? It’s o.k., you can say the rude word.”

“On the butt!”

“And what did you do?”

“I told him, ‘listen up buddy, don’t you hit him on the bing, bing, bing or I’ll go and tell the yard duty lady.’” He uses his most jocular tone, a good tactic when dealing with unknown rock thugs. So much of it is scripts, but it gives him flow and rhythm and confidence.

“And what did he say?”

“He jus said ‘duh’ and he hit hisself on the forehead.” He demonstrates the gesture, just in case any of us were in any doubt.

To everyone’s surprise, he recounts ten additional incidents of his intervening heroism, tales of daring do, most involving rocks, with one exception, one involving ropes.

“So this medium sized guy in a grey sweater, he has these lil kids tied up to a pole at recess.”

His credibility begins to wane,

“What did he tie them up with?”


“Rope? Where would you get rope at school?” He sister leaps to his defense, “jump ropes mom, he’s telling the truth, you can tie people to trees with the jump ropes.” I do not find this fact particularly helpful, but the detail of the ‘grey sweater’ gives weight to the guise of truth.

“And what did you do?”

“I said to this guy…. ‘hey buddy, listen up……untie those kids or I’m gonna have to report yah to the Principal.’”

“You seem to have turned into a superhero overnight dear.”


“And did you tell the Principal?”

“No, I ain’t no tattle tail.”


“And there’s another one.”

“Another one?”

“Yeah, this big guy was peeking at the girls’ restroom.”


He demonstrates the act of peeking, such that we can be in no doubt as to his meaning.

“Really. And what did you do?”

“I said to him I said, ‘listen up buddy, don’t you go being all bing, bing, bing.’”

“Did you use a rude word?”

“No I jus wanted him to know about the rudeness.”


“And there’s another one.”

“Another one?”

“Yeah, this guy called me a ‘bing, bing, bing.’”

“What word did he use?”




“And what did you do?”

“I said ‘yeah, that’s right, I’m a bing, bing, bing.’”

“You used the rude word?”

“No, I used the ‘bing, bing, bing.’”


I begin to feel dizzy with the speed of his delivery - conversations of this type are more rare than hen’s teeth. So animated, so jovial, centre stage and frolicking in the limelight – cheeky little monkey. This is positively unprecedented.

“And dis is the last one.”

“Last one?”

“Yeah, it was recess and this medium sized kid had a rock and he was gonna throw it at the Principal.”

“The Principal?” The skeptics amongst us exchanges glances – either he’s forgotten the boy that cried wolf or he’s had a personality transplant without our knowledge – which is more unlikely?


“And what did you do?”

“I stood in front of him with my body and went ‘hey dude, get a load of this!’ and then I made my funny face.”

“And what did he do?”

“He walked away.”

“Did anybody else see this?”

“Sure there was loads of kids – it was recess.”

“Savior of the Principal! Did the Principal see you do this?”


“Did she say anything to you……for saving her?”

“Yes. She gave me two gold cards to go into the raffle for the ‘Student in the Spotlight’ this month.”

“Do you have the gold cards?”

“No she put em in the raffle.”



“What a truly spectacular day you’ve had. That’s earned you 12 M & M’s.”

“Tomorrow I’m gonna get a whole packet I fink.”

“We shall all enjoy watching you earn them, since you’ll be home, because it will be Saturday.”

“It’s Saturday tomorrow? No School?”

“That’s right, you’ll have to be a superhero at home. Won’t that be fun.”

“You ….you…..you…. got any spare rocks around this joint?”

This may come across as a fairly standard family conversation, nothing out of the ordinary, how would I know, I have no point of comparison? But around here, it’s heart stomping.

Why would I share this, now that they’re so much older? Isn’t it too private? Perhaps, maybe it is. All I know is the numbers of google searches that bring people to my site. The search is a variation on a theme – ‘how to stop autistic kids from scripting’ – it might be an idea to re-think that one – it’s not all negative, it can be a springboard.

So….was it true or was it false? I don’t know and I actually don’t care. Six years ago I would never have dreamed of such a conversation. What if he is prone to a little exaggeration? It’s all in the mind afterall. What really is the difference between a rock, a pebble and a wee nubby chip of gravel anyway! It’s all about scale or do I mean perspective?

p.s. I came across this site called “love to know” – autism. They have an empathy quiz. It's about half way down on the "left margin." I’m not suggesting you take it yourself because as a seasoned Cosmopolitan quiz taker myself [several life times ago,] I think we all know how to fudge the answers to get the right result. That said, it may just be that there’s someone new in your life who is really trying to make an effort to get to know your children and family, so this would be a gentle introduction in 10 quick questions without the intimidation. For me, as a parent of autistic children, I feel I have a duty to tread gently when it comes to the mainstream. It’s easy to forget how different our world is from other people’s. We’re unlikely to win over public opinion with a battering ram – our greatest asset is our children themselves, who they are, as individuals.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Some mother’s do ave em

It was one of those ‘time stood still moments.’ Perhaps fifty adults and maybe 30 children, all assembled on the day of my daughter’s wedding. Everything had been prepared in advance and I’d practiced my brief speech, in my formal role as ‘mother of the bride.’ Because I am an anal retentive type, I had already taken account of every possible eventuality, everything except that one.

After a few words to the adults, it was time to include the children, as speeches are especially boring for youngsters. So I called them, all the children. Invited them to join their parents for a few seconds, and of course they all did so, little obedient lambs, except one, the black sheep of the family. I had him in my sites, clearly. I could see him as he froze in response to my call, caught in the act, deer in the headlights, an immobile statue of exaggeration. No one else on the planet could hold that pose, a caricature of startled innocence. It wasn’t disobedience; but bewilderment, pure and complicated. “Parent!” I repeated as he blinked wide-eyed. His arm bent stiffly at the elbow to point to his own chest, in the universal gesture of ‘are you talking to me?’

“Yes! Where are your parents?” I yelled as my arms beckoned, huge flappy waves as everyone waited in the blistering 90 degree heat. I stood next to his father on the single step, waiting. I watched him percolate as he searched around to retrieve the lost word – what was that word again? ‘Parent’?

I saw when it stuck him, a little sharp dart of recall, a small convulsion of conviction that sparked him into movement as he skittered over to my side, a cheesy grin of recognition because progenitor elastic had snapped him back.

Next time I’ll prepare more carefully, save myself a lot of bother – one little rustle of the packet from 50 miles away will set him running - the power of Goldfish crackers still reigns supreme.

Meanwhile.......tis the season for.....? Something or other. We're pretty much buried in Thanksgiving for now, shortly to be followed by a whole slew of birthdays, "Nonna's" arrival before we bump into the Holiday season. That said, despite all the busyness it maybe worthwhile to pause amid the fray and spare a thought for those "abroad" Maybe you're in need of some "festive cards" especially if your own children eschew such materials as glitter, glue and paper. I'll make no bones about it, I plan to pass them off as our own - or maybe not. Even if you're fully supplied with cards, it might be that you can spare a little something as a donation, a freebie, with no pay-off? I hear that there are some people like that, who give freely without any desire for a quid quo pro, although I we wouldn't know anything about that around here. If you think that might be something that tweaks your funny bone, then nip along and say "hi de ho" to "Cordelia," and her chums.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Hole in one

I watch him hit Bukugan balls across the kitchen floor with a plastic light saber with quite an alarming degree of accuracy.
“How many balls are there in bill birds?”
“I have no idea. Is this one of your new jokes luvvy?”
“No. I’m askin. How many balls are there in bill birds?”
“I don’t think I know what a bill bird is?”
“Bill birds is dah English game which is being called Pool properly.”
“Ah! You mean billiards!”
“Super. Glad we sorted that one out then.”
“So what?”
“How many balls is there?”
“Oh, I wouldn’t know, I’m not really very sporty.”
“Yes, Billiards is an Olympic sport…..isn’t it? I was never any good at Trivial Pursuits.”
“S’not trivial, its importint!”
“Itsa game not a sport.”
“Oh, well you’re the American so you would probably know best.”
“So how many?”
“Like I said, I don’t know……I can look it up if you like?”
“No, jus look in your head.”
“Can’t you see it?”
“In yur head. I can see it in my head.”
“Oh, like in my mind’s eye………no I still can’t see it. Can you?”
“Of course.”
“How many then?”
“I can be seeing 15 in dah triangle thingy.”
“Can you really?”
“Yes. Wot do you see?”
“A headache.”

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Proceed with caution

One of my many duties as Head Cook and Chief bottle washer of this joint is to tackle the accumulation of miscellaneous stains that have recently appeared around the premises. Although we are in the midst of a heavily armed, hand-washing campaign, nevertheless I find I have been remiss in my vigilance.

Whilst I can think of many other things that I should prefer to do, there comes a time when the graffiti can no longer be ignored. Armed with my trusty scrubber, soap and several gallons of elbow grease, I make a start.

The first one is an ominous brown smear but it passes the sniff test, so I know that is benign, Belgium Chocolate pudding I’ll be bound. As I scrub I hear the sweetly melodic strains of my youngest son’s latest ditty, “threedy boogie college,” to a familiar tune, with his usual robotic dance steps. I move swiftly on to the next one, marker that is neither magic nor washable. “Threedy boogie college,” wafts down the stairs, a chorus of cherubic artistic expression. Bless his little cotton socks.

As the walls become ever more patchy because this is an ongoing process, I notice that the paintwork is wearing thin. I pause to consider whether it might be more expedient to re-paint the entire interior of the house but decide against it on the grounds that a few more years will probably pass before any such transformation is possible. “Threedy boogie college.” How much better to wait a wee while so that I may bask in the delights of innocent childhood. I can almost look forward to my dotage, armed with a paint brush, ladder and a walking frame for support. It is whilst I daydream of the future that my daughter saunters across, “whatya doing Mom?”
“Ya missed a bit.”
“Did I? Where?”
“Jus there.”
I peer and sniff, “what do you suppose that is?”
“He says it’s art.”
“Yeah, didncha hear him singin it? It’s a 3-D booger collage.”
“Ask him yourself. You should ask him about his gallery.”
“Yeah, I said he should call it a gallery and charge admission.”
“Yeah, gallery’s opening tonight, right around bed time.”
“Yeah! Top bunk bed, pillow end.”

Who was the Great Master who cut off his own ear? I’ll bet his mum did it.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Hands free hair washing

The hygiene of my children is very much a hands on affair.

Having overcome the seasonal changes from baths in the winter, to showers in the summer and then back again, I can honestly say that the painful transition period has shortened considerably over the last decade, from months to a mere few weeks, testimonial to the fact that they continue to grow.

I’m uncertain if I’m there in the bathroom to prevent escape, provide entertainment or minimize carnage, but in any event I consider that I could probably be using my time in a more constructive manner, elsewhere.

That said it comes to my attention late in the day, that the all elusive ‘independence’ factor is adrift. It would appear that originally I was present at bath-time to prevent babies from drowning, ten years later I’m still there, with much physically larger off spring, with considerably greater surface area of skin. I notice that my boy children are no longer babies, because I can be a little slow on the uptake sometimes, despite the all too visible evidence to the contrary, backed up by the dated growth marks on the grimy kitchen door frame.

In a sudden flash of genius I realize that pretty soon, one way or another, I may be well out of my depth, and deep in the mire of puberty. I’m told that it happens to us all, but I’m no scientist. I use my exceptionally large memory bank to recall ‘what is the correct age?’ When should they be able to bathe themselves? Just in the nick of time I remember that I threw out all the useless books about averages, developmental milestones and what to expects, at about the same time as I realized that my particular family had deviated from the norm.

I e-mail trusted pals and chums who universally confirm the magic age of 7. Whilst I am tempted to sulk, instead I return to the base line, other parents with similarly off-beat children. We collude and conclude that with all other things being equal, a parent should, in an ideal world, aim for independence immediately prior to the arrival of the first spot of acne, just to be on the safe side. Armed with this nugget of information but without a crystal ball, I calculate that I should have begun this process approximately eighteen months, 3 days and 45 minutes ago.

I decide, unilaterally, without consultation to the parties herein concerned, that they will learn to wash their own hair, if not by themselves, at least with less maternal physical input, eventually.

As usual, I find I fail to think through the plan of action thoroughly, merely launch myself feet first into another campaign.

The first thing I forget about is the need for ear-plugs. My son is quite reasonably outraged at my unreasonableness, withdrawal of services without warning or preamble. His facial expression is a study in contempt; what is the point of having a parent if the parent fails to perform as a parent should? It’s a tempting argument, one I have been susceptible to for longer than would be strictly necessary for anyone else with one wit of common sense.

But we persevere.

As we all know, hair washing is a multi step sequence, each one of which is every bit as vile as any of the other bits.

It’s a challenge.

I remember that the tools that we most commonly refer to as hands, are located at the ends of their arms. I also remember that when hands are expected to function in a new and uncertain manner, as often as not, the arms turn to spaghetti. I have no choice but to opt for the 'hand over hand' model of progress. It feels like back to square one and I wonder, not for the first time, what exactly have I being doing with my time all these years?

With my hand over his I swiftly slap a dollop of shampoo on the apex of his skull, with a little too much vigour, more of a smack than a plop and it’s pretty much down hill after that.

His brother looks on, or rather scowls with contempt as he plots and observes. It’s written all over his face, how to avoid the same fate as his little brother?

“Yes dear?”
“Do you wash dad?”
“Er……well……..I…..um….not usually but I did wash him when he broke his leg a few years back.”
“People learn to wash themselves, with practice, in time.”
“I’m finkin………. about time.”
“Ah. What about time?”
“What is betterer I’m thinkin?”
“What is better than what?”
“Gettin a wife or breakin yur leg?”

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Do we not Bleed?

The great thing about growing up is that life becomes so much more calm, relatively speaking. The bad thing about growing up is that the cues become more subtle, or at least they are for complacent, half witted parents, such as myself. Both the boys have gradually acquired a wide variety of coping mechanisms which they’re able to access more frequently these days. Since their outward behaviour is more conformist, I’m apt to forget that it’s still all there, just a scratch beneath the surface. Luckily for me, a little reminder here and there helps keep me grounded.

The reminder arrives in the morning, early, never my best time of the day, during the heavily sequenced morning routine. Amid copious prompts, we wend our way towards readiness for the school bus.

The boys are draped over their cereal bowls at the table, munching, wordless. Everyone has demands and needs whether they’re able to voice them or not and I have a tendency to focus on the squeaky wheel. Whilst the squeaky wheel is entirely capable of making her own breakfast, this morning, she’s more squeaky than usual:-

“Where’s the bacon you said you’d save for me?”
“In the fridge dear.”
“Can I have it for breakfast?”
“I thought you wanted to save it for a sandwich?”
“Please, please, please can I have it now?”
I hear a mutter of dissent from other quarters, “oh come on! You’re needs, you’re needs, you’re needs.” Part of the conversation and yet not, at the same time.
“Sure. Help yourself.”
“I can’t find it.”
“I labeled it for you. Have another look. It has a yellow post-it attached.”
“Right there. In the door.”
“There on the stair! Where on the stair? Right there! A little mouse with clogs on….
“It’s not here. I’m gonna starve to death.”
Dem bones, dem bones, dem …..dry bones.”
“Here…………there you go.”
“It will be tastier if you zap it for a couple of seconds.”
“How long?”
“Start with 10 seconds…..nope, leave it in the bag or it will explode all over the microwave.”
"T.N.T. it's dynamite!"
“Ooo look at it crackle, yum!”
“Hurry up dear, look at the clock!” I urge as he hear my son muttering, “time is money, time is money, time is money,” to his nearly empty cereal bowl.

Miss Squeaky moves to the table with relish as one brother leaves. One down, two to go. The remainder, the smallest brother, turns his back on us and the table with a breathy gasp in one smooth movement, not easy when you’re hunkered down on a carver chair. His head sinks low down into his shoulders until he has no neck, elbows closed in tight like a bird settling it’s wings, compact and silent. I step nearer because he’s either stopped breathing entirely or holding his breath. I slip round to his front side to see his fluttering eye lids as he appears to be about to pass out, woozy with little electric shudders. “Breathe love! Are you alright?”
“Agh!” is all he can manage as he springs over the arm of the chair, hits the floor and rolls into a corner where he pants in recovery mode. Rarely, if ever, has there been a more finely executed example of escapism as he lies on the floorboards gasping like a recently landed fish.
“Are you feeling better lovie?”
“Better…..but I’ll be betterer when I am …….awayer.”
“Away where?”
“Awayer from dah dead meat stink.”

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Blood Hounds

I dry my hands carefully so I can put a fresh plaster on my finger, post washing up and then nip upstairs to bed down the smalls. I whip up the ladder to start with the smallest one on the top bunk.
“Night, night luvvy.”
“What’s the matter dear?”
“Dat is dah worstest.”
“What is?”
“Dat smell?”
“Hmm sorry about that. I was a bit heavy handed with the garlic tonight.”
“Not food smell.”
“Which smell?”
“Yur finger stinks.”
“My finger?”
“Dah one wiv dah band aid.”
“Can’t, I’ve only just washed them. Is it the soap? Doesn’t smell much too me.”
“No dah blood.”
“You can smell the blood?”
“Yes it is being still wet.”
“So if it was dry you wouldn’t be able to smell it?”
“Scabs smell differenter.”
“Do they indeed?”
“But wet blood smells strongest and yours is badest?”
“Other people’s blood smells ……er…….nice?”
“My blood smells nice.”
“What does my blood smell of that’s not nice?”
“Too much…….. metal.”
“What does your blood smell of?”
“And…..more of…… salt.”
“Does everyone’s blood smell differently?”
“I think you’ve missed your calling as a tracker dog.”
“Tracker cat!”

Sunday, October 11, 2009

All Systems Go – Cruise control

We’ve always had problems with green, for as long as I can remember. Such a simple word that can be described in so many or few; a secondary colour, mix blue and yellow, use different proportions of each primary colour to produce different shades. But still those five letters elude him.

It’s a little bit like when I try to remember something myself, some every day kind of a thing, like a film star’s name. I can see the boyish face, now morphed into middle age, it’s an easy name, I can see the roles he’s played but the name, that ever so average name is buried under pile of mis-filed ‘to do’ lists and a heap of other detritus. An irritating nebulous nameIt’s on the tip of my tongue but hides behind a stack of unread book spines. It is not until later, at night when the chains fall off my brain and suddenly up it pops as I sit bolt upright, Tom Cruise! But there’s no-one to listen, no-one to pat me on the back, tap me on the cranium and say, ‘there you go, back to sleep now.’

Now that he’s older he can sometimes retrieve it, green, on command, but more often than not, he can’t, so we use alternatives. Emerald is always first on the list, a starter, a favourite, and from that point on the colour wheel we can go left or right, up or down, carefully narrowing down the choices because we must be accurate because accuracy is very important and those subtle shades are calibrated with precision, hues enhanced, narrowly tailored.
“That’s too dark.”
“What about that one?”
“What about this one?”
“I think that it. How you say it?”
“Um…I’m not sure of the pronunciation….er…. Chrysoberyl……I think?”
“Got it!” he hares off, shouting to the other players, “hey guys! It’s called Chrysoberyl.”

Well that slips off the tongue like extract of malt but it’s nice to know that he’s not red/green blind, like my dad.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Where oh where?

Sometimes these things creep up on you when you least expect them. This one runs at me, bowls me over and catches me out on a day when we’re running behind schedule, loudly drowning in the minutiae of the early morning schedule, the one designed to have everyone ready for school on time, although we are rarely truly successful. It’s always an approximation of harried, as no-one around here will be hurried. The minutes tick by as we fall further and further behind, flustered and frustrated, just for a change. By the time he comes downstairs for the umpteenth time in a state of bewilderment, I know that we need to take a few steps back as I’m expecting too much too soon, as there are too many distractions to ever achieve task completion unaided. “Come on, up we go, let’s go and get you dressed.”
He looks at his own body, still clad in pyjamas, surprised that they are still there, that the visit upstairs didn’t transform him Clark Kent style into his school clothes without effort, and some days everything is an effort.

In the bedroom he stares at the contents of the wardrobe as he begins his debate. I’m so tempted to choose for him but that will only stall progress. I mentally hop from one foot to the other rather than physically, as that would also be a distraction. Eventually he reaches for a pair of trousers, plops to the floor and starts to insert one foot, “just a minute dear.”
“Haven’t you forgotten something…..look.” He looks but brightly coloured pyjamas are not that dissimilar from brightly coloured underwear, “you need to take your pyjamas off first.”
“Oh yeah,” he wrenches them off and holds them bunched in his hands uncertain what to do next. It occurs to me that it is uncommon for pyjamas to remain on his body for very long, either because they are surplus to requirements for the majority of the time or because they are no longer wearable for a wide variety of reasons, They never make to a second night. “Wot I do wiv dem?” he asks as he shoves them towards the center of my body as my hands are by my sides, but I can still feel them through my shirt, “they’re still warm,” I comment to myself, as much as to him, “and they’re ……..dry!”
“So? Wot I do?”
“I think perhaps……” what do you do with cleanish dry, nightwear? I have no idea. What does one do with pyjamas after one night, lightly used with only the odd dead skin cell on board? What is the norm? Clean pyjamas every night is the norm around here, sometimes several times a night but what do other people do? Is it permissible to wear them more than once? Is there some chance that this late in the day I might redeem myself before Mother Nature and resist this small addition to the ever burgeoning laundry pile? Is this the shape of the future? Is there any possibility, no matter how slight, that some time soon we might just reduce the deluge to two or three loads a day?

There must be some easy solution but it’s been several years, many years. I have some vague recollection back through the mists of time, what did they used to call that thing……a pyjama case! But of course we don’t have one, what would be have one for? Pyjamas are on the body, in the wash or very briefly in the cupboard, clean. There are no other options but we need to mark the occasion, this novel outcome, this once in a life time step forward. “I know………how about you put them under your pillow and then you can use them again tonight!”
“The pillow?” His tone is one of amazement.
“Under?” Mystified.
“Because…….isn’t that what you do with them?” He gives me the look, the one we reserve for people with very small brains when trying to be kind, no matter how daft the suggestion, “o.k. Mom. There yah go. They’ll be all safe for yah now.” I watch him pat the pillow affectionately with a very strange, amused and vaguely patronizing expression on his face, before he whispers, “it’s o.k. Mom…… ……I’ll keep yur lil secret.”

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

One makes a difference

I prompt them from the calendar, the speech calendar from school that provides a daily prompt, as much for me as for them:- “so…...…what do you know about your grandparents dear?”
“Dey are nice and dead.”
“Nonna next door, she’s only napping dear.”
“Oh……I meaned…......….deaf.”

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The true price of love – in the nick of time*

Weddings are such a complicated business. But that’s one of the great things about growing old, you have the chance to step into the shoes of the previous generation. Now I will be a mother in law, mother of the bride. I have the chance to experience the very same angst that my own mother must have experienced a long time ago, or close enough. I distinctly remember being close to collapse by the time my own wedding arrived, a true challenge to my organizational skills, as the only way to command a cheap wedding is to do it all yourself. Hence, at short notice, a mere two weeks, I attempt to do likewise for own my daughter as she marries Mr. B, but I have other far more complicated hurdles to jump this time. Those hurdles consist mainly of explaining the concept of marriage to my children with their many and various perspectives upon life. My son takes the news the hardest, close to tears because weddings are a very emotional time.
“But I don want Mr. B to marry her.”
“Oh dear. Why not luvvy?”
“Coz he is my friend.”
“Yes he is, but he’s her friend too. You can have more than one friend. Just because they’re getting married doesn’t mean that he won’t be your friend any more.”
“It won’t be dah same.”
“Is he gonna leave?”
“No, they’ll both say here with us, a big family of 8, so you’ll still see him every day.”
“But then they’ll be the babies.”
“What babies?”
“They’ll have babies and then he won’t love me no more.”
“Oh there won’t be any babies for a very long time, you don’t have to worry about that, babies come later, much later.”
I hope.
“Besides, you love babies, so that won’t be too bad.”
“Yeah but you can’t love babies and your friends.”
“Believe me, there’s enough love for everyone, you definitely don’t have to worry about that one.”
“It stinks.”
“What does? Babies? Babies nappies?”
“No! Getting married stinks.”
“Actually, you know I’ve been thinking.”
“When they’re married, Mr. B will still be your friend, but do you know what else he’ll be?”
“He’ll be your brother in law.”
“Brother in law.”
His skull hits my sternum like a medicine ball as his finger tips dig into my flesh, overcome, wordless and ecstatic.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Doggy droppings - bonus

Life in a foreign country is both an adventure and a learning experience. I find that even though I have lived in California for 14 years there is no end to list of things that I do not know, just on that one topic, California, or even on an even smaller topic like San Jose, or even on an even teenier topic such as what occurs between my own four walls.

With only a few days to go before the wedding I nip out to the garage to restock with a six pack of paper towels and dump the recycling but as I hear yelling from within, drop them all and dash back inside. Inside I find my sons squabbling, loudly. I listen carefully on a fact finding mission prior to dispensing justice, assuming that they are unable to resolve their differences alone, “but I have being injured my toe, I am need of my sock for protectiveness dumbass!”
“Dat was years ago, it’s o.k. now, take off dah sock I wanna make another puppet.” I am about to open my mouth to speak when both boys coo, “oooooo!” as their gaze follows something moving in the garden. The thing that is moving in the garden is Thatcher, the dog, leaping and bounding through the air with abandon as he kills toilet rolls, merciless. As paper falls like confetti through the air the sprinklers start up. A papier mache garden was not on my ‘to do’ list. As I watch, my daughter approaches to add her oooos to the chorus.

“Geez mom, the whole garden looks like it’s been teepeed!” I turn to look at her face of glee. My face is not in the least bit gleeful as I have discovered something else that I don’t know how to do. “In what language are you speaking?”
“Teepeed, dontcha knowit?”
“Indeed, I most certainly do, but my knowledge is limited, and in this instance it is limited to Native Americans, a structure of poles covered with animal hides for protection and shelter.” A take a deep breath of rarified air with a hint of damp dog.
“No mom, dontcha know nothin?”
“So it would appear.”
“How come you don’t know this stuff when you’re so old….er…. I mean mature….um…..”
“Adultish!” offers her brother.
“Verily.” I am without functional brain cells. I wait for my daughter to put me wise.
“Teepeed is like, you know….‘toilet papered.’”

So I have two more unanswered questions:-
Why is the smell of soggy dog so all pervasive and how do you remove six shredded toilet rolls from a lawn after it has baked to perfection in the Californian sun?

I may have no choice but to return to the convent from whence I came.


Slurping Life

Get the code:-
Cut and paste
from this little
boxy thing below

When we first took Rascal to the vet as a kitten we were told that he had
‘bonding issues and behavioural problems,’ Nonna was most amused at the time. Here you can witness his issues as he guards the boys at night, from 8 o’clock sharp he starts to yeowl for them to come up to bed and then he stays there, up and down the ladder, checking, in-between nips next door to check on my daughter. He’s usually pretty tired by the morning, it’s a nocturnal thing of course, perfectly natural in a cat.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Age of Reason

The great thing about having older children is that you can begin to reason with them. Parents can drop the bribery tactics and move swiftly on to persuasion, trading and tit for tat.

“Tell you what?”
“What is it now mom?”
“You make your packed lunch and I’ll make you supper?”
“Great I get to pick out my own food!”

“Tell you what?”
“You make your packed lunch and I’ll make you supper?”
“Why? Because you need to learn to become independent and do things on your own.”
“Because then when you grow up and leave home you’ll be able to look after yourself properly.”
“O.k. I get dat.”
“Where are you going?”
“What about your packed lunch? What about supper?”
“Das o.k. mom I ain’t gonna be leavin home.”

“Tell you what?”
“You make your packed lunch and I’ll make you supper?”
“No? Hang on a sec, where are you going? What about your packed lunch? What about supper?”
“I’m gonna die of malnutrition.”

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Share and Share Alike

We explain important human relationships to the boys, kith and kin, blood ties, legal ties and the thing that is about to happen to change their lives.
“So of course you understand that once they’re married things are going to be very different.”
“Yes. You’ll have one more person to share with in the family.”
“More sharing?”
“Indubitably. And what is the most important thing that you have to share?”
“Computer time?”
“Dats o.k. den. We can be sharing everything else.”
“Good. I’m glad to hear that you’ll be able to share your chocolate pudding with Mr.B.”
“Never!” he howls making a fine impression of wolf.
“Well you have to start somewhere. Look around the table.”
“Tell me which person you could start to share with?” Each person watches him as his eyes travel from one to the next, steadily, silently, round and round and round. It appears that we are all of us inadequate for such an honour. Then we witness the decision maker spark as a very bright idea occurs, as they so often do, given time. “I know! I am choose mum.”
“Ahh thank you dear. You are so kind and generous.”
“Yes but also I am knowing.”
“What do you know?”
“You are not liking chocolate pudding.”
Well that would make the decision easier of course.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Well spotted

5 Minutes for Special Needs

He saw it first!

If you enjoy caption competitions and photographs, you may wish to nip along to"DJ Kirkby" over at "Chez Aspie" and test your brain power.

"Nonna" always welcomes visitors.

MckLinky Blog Hop

Monday, September 14, 2009

Sock Puppets

Tackle It Tuesday Meme
Try This Tuesday

Only teeny tiny this week as I have a wedding to arrange for Sunday the 20th and so all my energies are otherwise tied up.

It's a kit for children aged 3 and above which I've had for an awfully long time.

Although it's 'glue free' ours needed a little bit of help.

With great results though. What's more they have played with the end results, way out of our comfort zone.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Tongue twister

Hosted by "Tracy" at "Mother May I," but the photo-picture below will whizz you right there with one click.

Just call me snap happy.

red BSM Button


What is it?

I'm so glad you asked:-

A fossilized, flat, four footed, platypus skeleton. Don't try saying that in a hurry. It would appear that the tactile defensive amongst us have mastered tape.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Notable quotes

I watch his performance, robotic dancing and in time until he collapses in a sweaty heap, “sighhhhhh!
“You are such a fun guy.”
“Wot did you be callin me?”
“Fun guy?”
“Ooo…..I thought you be said fungi, nevermind, I am liking fungi betterer.”

Friday, September 11, 2009

Three little monkeys

Slurping Life

Get the code:-
Cut and paste
from this little
boxy thing below

Say "hi" to "Nonna" for me.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Caring and sharing

On Labour Day afternoon after another nocturnal phase with my older son, we are determined to wear them all out in the pool. It is immediately apparent that the water is one degree cooler than on the previous day. My youngest son, in his wet suit, shrieks as his toe touches. Only 18 lengths to go. I do not know how many breaths the average person takes per minute. I do know that every breath equates to one 50 decibel shriek of agony interspersed with cries of “I gonna freeze into an iceberg.” Despite the protests he persists and doesn’t escape from his watery end, but continues to persevere and decrease his average length time. I’m sure that all of our neighbours also enjoyed the experience of his progress as they certainly couldn’t fail to hear the running commentary.

Afterwards he is calmer, spent and in a much more malleable frame of mind, which is just as well as we thrash our way through the evening meal:-

“All I’m saying is that perhaps, just this once, you could share your chocolate pudding with your brother and sister?”
“I would raver die!”
“Come along now, it’s not really fair that you get two desserts every night is it?”
“It is justice for the poison one.”
“Well if it Queen’s Pudding scored a 3 then it’s not really in the same category as poison, is it? Could you give it a try, just this once? I just didn’t have time to make dessert tonight.”
“O.k. but only a very teeny tiny one, not dah whole darned puddin.”
“Ah thank you dear, that’s so sweet of you…..so mature.”
“Dis is dee manifestation of adultishness.”
“For you…..that is most probably quite right.”

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Health and safety at play

“I have an incredibly brilliant solution to the problem,” he announces as he dives into the stationery drawer to rummage around. “I have invented safety improvements.” His toe still bleeds. The supply of band aides is running low. He reaches for the tape dispenser and reels off strip longer than his own arm to wrap around the band aid on his toe. “Dere you go! If life gives you lemons make bloody beef stew.”

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Halloween practice well in advance

5 Minutes for Special Needs

The artist sets to work with her little brother as model, caught by the throat, one handed life drawing. Miss Incredible, who can extort the required behaviour without apparent force.
“Ugh you have dog breath,” he squirms.
“Grrrrr sit still you little mongrel or I’ll eat yah fer breakfast. A dogs’ breakfast!”
His older brother watches, cautious in his Vampire suit, “can’t eat Vampires anyways.”
“Shut up Mister, your turn's next so take those teeth out…..I said now!

If you enjoy caption competitions and photographs, you may wish to nip along to"DJ Kirkby" over at "Chez Aspie" and test your brain power.

"Nonna" always welcomes visitors.

MckLinky Blog Hop

Monday, September 07, 2009

Two for one

Tackle It Tuesday Meme

Try This Tuesday

Only tiny ones for us after our four day weekend.


Read and weed some, so that the pile goes down.

And two:-

Each child to reproduce a picture of 'cat' to inspire "Nonna" to get on with her commissioned portrait of next door's moggy

= done.

That's about all I can manage for "today."

Powered by MckLinky

Click here to enter your link and view the entire list of entered links...

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Je m'appelle Funny Bear - Full French Version

Hosted by "Tracy" at "Mother May I," but the photo-picture below will whizz you right there with one click.

Just call me snap happy.

red BSM Button


I have made a Bakewell Tart and a couple of loaves of fresh bread but I am completely incapable of filling in the rest of the menu for the night as my brain has been numbed by twenty minutes of the sing songy exchange:-
“Come to the dark side.”
“The health inspectors are here!”

I don’t know from whence it has come, but I sincerely I hope that it doesn’t stay too long as the Boris Karloff maniacal laugh that accompanies it, is far too realistic for peace of mind. Frankly I do not consider this an improvement on Axel F sung at 50 decibels in chorus, even though once upon a time I did find the theme song to Beverly Hills Cops quite jolly. I remind myself that it is just a phase, a phase during which we are quite likely to starve to death as the noise level interferes with what little brain activity I have left. For those unfamiliar with the updated version of this song, which depicts as ever so slightly "demented frog" with a foreign accent who continually punctuates bars with the ditty "bing, bing, bing," in a thoroughly electronic tone of voice. So I’m just saying, a word to the wise, do not allow your children access to U-tube, no matter how virally popular something might be at school when that video is linked to the "Gummy Bear” contagion with the same electronic voices, you may soon find yourself as a parent with a serious brain infection. I do not know exactly how many languages this has been translated into thus far, but I do know that this is not the ideal way to learn French or Japanese. You have been warned. The only up side to the current nightmare is that my son has decided that robot dancing is the way ahead. He exerts enough energy to make a small dent in his energy reserves after his 30 minute limit. That said, now I come to think of it, I think I have the perfect recipe for dinner………frogs legs.

Spare a thought for "Nonna."

Powered by MckLinky

Click here to enter your link and view the entire list of entered links...

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Notable Quotes

Speech delays are curious things. If you combine them with a smattering of echolalia, sprinkle with scripts and stir in a penchant for colloquialisms, you can end up with a very special recipe. So if you also find that you can't remember the name of an actor, or that the name of the movie is on the tip of your tongue or you can't remember the right word, try these strategies instead. Don't say 'er, um, actually....'


“We’ll be right back……after these messages.”


“I have short term memory loss.”

Be imaginative and try alternative strategies to solve unusual problems:-

“If your dog doesn't have a leash use the dog’s tongue instead coz they’re better by design, inbuilt.”

Appreciate expanding social awareness:-

"Elders" are takin over dah world!"

Always try and keep your sense of humour well oiled:-

“It’s called butt kissing.”

Friday, September 04, 2009

Family Time

Slurping Life

Get the code:-
Cut and paste
from this little
boxy thing below

Full of activities so my productivity is more or less zilch.

Powered by MckLinky

Click here to enter your link and view the entire list of entered links...

Thursday, September 03, 2009


Child abductions are rare but currently in the news, as are a rash of sex offenders. These things are on my mind when my son unlocks all the locks on the front door and bounds out into the garden at 7:40 in the morning. He dashes down the path all legs and limbs like Bambi. He stops at the gate and hangs on it before he glances back at me to give me a thumbs up sign. He gives me another thumbs up sign because he knows that I am old and may not understand the hand gesture of the young and hopefully hip because he’s considerate like that. He argues with himself for a few moments, debating. I watch him debate as he weighs the matter up, both sides before his better side sighs and stomps back to the house, to me, his mother, who is waiting. He takes the 'yell through the open window' option, “iz o.k. mom……I’m waiting for dah bus.” I beam, “I guessed that!” He flaps a hand in my direction a dismissal and a whatever before his feet turn to propel him back to his waiting position, his body follows a nano second later.

Too many ‘firsts’ to count.

He does press ups on the gate post to pass the time of day. His body is precarious as it wobbles to and fro over the top of the gate but he doesn’t topple over into the street. His cat waits with him winding in and out of the picket fence posts. I watch from behind the window as a humming bird darts in and out of the flowers in the forefront with the back drop of my son, my much larger son. He gasps as the cat departs and flits across the road. I watch him resist but impulse control is always a trial. I know he’d fall for that one:- ‘here’s a picture of my kitten, can you help me find him?’ We’ve talked about it with all of them but there will always be a new line of temptation for the unwary. Children by their very nature are unwary. Parents see them grow and learn, we are wary, worried and watchful because we need to nurture their independence without paying a higher price. He vaults into a victory dance, opened mouthed silent yelling as the bus pulls in.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Hide and seek

I enjoy another pointless conversation with my children now that we have conversations, pointless and otherwise. “Come on you two, let’s play hide and seek with Fred.” My older son looks pleased at the prospect, his younger brother thinks I am a fool, “why we play hide and go seek wiv a tortoise? Are you nuts mom?”
“Not at all. Come on it’ll be fun.”
“Not fun.”
“Yes it is. Anyway it’s not fair as Fred’s already hidden himself and unless you go and find him he’ll be hiding for ever.”
“Dat’s not good…..if no-one comes lookin for ya.”
“Right! So come into the garden and see if you can find him.”
“He is losted?”
“No he’s hiding.”
“Oh…dats o.k. I already seened him when I came home from school.”
“Yes but now he’s in the pen outside but you won’t be able to find him as he’s hiding.” They’re less enthusiastic than I would wish but still compliant. I wax lyrical, “it’s quite amazing how he’s camouflaged himself, in the grass, he’s invisible. We peer into the pen to see four square feet of grass and no tortoise, or at least, I can’t see him. “May be he sneaked up the down pipe like the incy wincy spider?”

“He ain’t no spider mom. Anyways up down……he’s dere. We found him. Wot now?”
“You can see him, already? Point to him. Show me where?”
“Can you see him too?” I check with his brother.
“Sure! He right dere.”
“Point to him dear.” He steps over the fence, reaches in and pulls out Fred, just like that! “Iz o.k. mom wiv your old and mold eyes.”

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Diamonds are some girls' best friends

5 Minutes for Special Needs

Other girls make other choices

If you enjoy caption competitions and photographs, you may wish to nip along to"DJ Kirkby" over at "Chez Aspie" and test your brain power.

Monday, August 31, 2009

This Lovely Life by Vicki Forman

Tackle It Tuesday Meme
Try This Tuesday

Remember the book "giveaway?"

Well I'd just like to let you know who won. However, first of all I must come clean and admit that I think that the drawing was grossly unfair. When I tell you who it is, read the name quickly and see if you make the same association that I do? Of course I can't be certain that he really cheated and the other two are no better as they share the same bias.

Do you know this little guy?

Isn't it awfully close to this "chapess":-

"Kirkby" So "congratulations" I'll let Vicki know but I'm doubtful whether her carrier pigeon is up to transatlantic. [Should have thought of that first]

AddThis Social Bookmark Button