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

Friday, February 29, 2008

Awards- banana award

"Veronica" from "Some Day we will Sleep" was kind enough to send me this banana award for blogging yumminess! Whatever next? I am so far behind with awards business that I discovered that I have several from last year in my drafts folder, such a soggy blogger that I am.

Still, not to worry, it's never to late to tidy up, re-date and start afresh.

So then, bananas, who would like some? I think perhaps I shall point you in the direction of a new blogger who de-lurked. Who is this person? Well this sneaky little devil has been reading here for a while but only yesterday plucked up the courage to comment! Whoo hoo and positive feedback for de-lurking must indeed to encouraged and reinforced. So first of all to "The excavator" at "Dark Matter Energy" Now don't worry, she's not blogging about science as that would be far too difficult for me to digest, nor does she blog about bananas. A good place to start would be over here on her post called "Dog training" for all you puppy lovers.

Also to "The Canvas Grey" and her optimism. There are so many great posts on this blog that it's difficult to choose just one, but a good all rounder would be her post called "Choices, Perceptions and the pursuit of Happiness." Also if you are new to blogging then this is a very "useful page" that I could have done with back in the day, called "How this blogging stuff works."

Then to "Miss Nelson" at "Meaningful Outcomes" as educators have a special place in my heart. There are loads of practical tips and insights here but a good place to start if you have any children is her post here called "Play dough Recipe."

Also to "Her Bad Mother" and this post called "How to lose your confidence as a parent," because it doesn't matter who we are or what we're dealing with, there are always times when hic-cups occur.

Then I'd like to [im]plant this on "Jessica" from "Oh the Joys" as she may be feeling a little neglected as she hasn't had any awards for ages! I think everyone already knows "Jessica" but if she's new for you then this post called "Beaver's Mom Saves the World " would make a introduction.

Now here's another interesting blog called "Emergiblog" where "Kim" slaves away as a professional nurse. I know we all things that our own lives are far more stressful than anyone else's but I can hardly imagine the stress of such responsibility. However, more than that, in this particular post called "Torched and Scorched - recognizing burn out," she gives us all a heads up about how to notice when things are going awry.

Also to "Beck" at "Frog and Toad are Still Friends." Funny how we bloggers always end up in the same spots? Anyway, in case this happens to be unfamiliar territory for you, then you might like to start here at her posting called "Shriven" because you just can't be too careful sometimes.

Cheers dearies

Thursday, February 28, 2008


I chat to Rosie from "Trusera."

Just in time I remember that she is an American and therefore I am chatting ‘with’ her rather than ‘to’ her.

“Maybe you’d like to join us at "Trusera?”
“That’s very kind of you but no thanks.”
“Why not?”
“All that registering and logging in and passwords.”
“It’s easy.”
“Maybe but I’ve banned myself from joining anything else as I don’t have enough room.”
“Don’t you mean ‘time’?”
“No, I mean room.”
“Room for what?”
“Room for the passwords.”
“Yes, I write the passwords to different sites on my left arm in permanent ink so I can’t lose them.”
“Oh….how…..unusual. So you’ve no more room on your arm?”
“That’s right, we’re just about to move from Winter to Spring.”
“What’s that go to do with anything?”
“No long sleeves, I’m about to lose 12 inches.”
“Anyway, I don’t think I’m qualified.”
“I’m not particularly truthful.”
“I tell lots of lies.”
“It’s got nothing to do with the truthfulness."
"Oh that's handy, I'll be in good company then."
"No, no, no! I mean it’s all about health.”
“Oh dear me no, I don’t know anything about health either, I’m British.”
“Then come on over and "join," you might just learn something.”
“Good point.”
“Maybe you’d like to write for us too?”
“Who me?”
“Oh dear me no, not on your nelly.”
“Um…… I wouldn’t be able to write anything about health either.”
“You can write about autism.”
“What’s autism got to do with health?”
“It’s in the DSM IV, so it’s a health issue.”
“Good gracious, I was forgetting that for a moment, what a nit wit. It's just that my children aren't sick, they're perfectly healthy, bar the odd wart.”
"Plural actually, but the dermatologist is taking care of them."
“Well I don’t know very much about autism, I only know a little bit about two individual versions of autism.”
“That’s more than I know already.”
“So what do you say? One of your "pals" is already here, but that’s probably because she’s a lot braver than you.”
“So true, so true. Actually, I've seen quite a few familiar faces there.”
“How about it then?”
“Well, I’m not sure if we’re on the same page. Have you read anything I’ve written?”
“Oh yeah, we checked you out.”
“Golly. I don’t suppose you were the one that read my whole blog the other day?”
“Nope. Sorry.”
“I wonder who that was? Lurkers can be so…. what’s the word…….unknown, scary, disconcerting, unsettling…......it’s like someone spying on you through the cracks in the stall or peeking through the key hole of the loo door.”
“Maybe you should nip along and check out the site, starting at the mental health section.”
“So, do you think you could be a good sharer?”
“I’ll try.”

So now I eagerly await service of Rosie's lawsuit against me to include charges of defamation of character and libel, together with a claim for punitive damages for pain, suffering and extreme emotional distress.

Anyone know a [cheap] lawyer?

Come along now, you be brave too "Trusera"

Autism and Transitions

“Ooo there you are!” I hussle my pal into the car. We are carpooling to save the planet. She’s not a nervous type but if our roles were reversed, I might be nervous too, because foreigners drive on the other side of the road. I reverse out of the drive as she sits in the passenger seat. I glance across at her, ram rod backed and ears pricked. I check, “are you o.k.?”
“We’re in the middle of the road Maddy!”

To "read more....."

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

wed -Honesty is the best put off

She plagues me with questions first thing in the morning as I wipe noses and squirt inhalers with the boys.

“But when will you phone?”
“Phone, phone, phone.”
“Oh I know! You’ll phone after nine? Will you phone at nine? Mommm!”
“Er no. Her mum said she’d phone us at mid-day.”
“Oh no that’s gonna take forever.”
“Indeed, but we’ll find something to do in the meantime.”
“Mean…...time….mean….time……mean…….time.” I make a quick dash to the garage for a couple of boxes of tissues to assuage the sea of snot. My pre-teen in is mid pout, as she has experienced a sharp learning curve this week. Adult conversations have been the order of the day, but we need to tread carefully. If you ban a friendship you guarantee eternal adoration. “She probably won’t phone until even later………like yesterday…….” I see the cogs turning. She’s getting there all by herself. “You know dear, it’s probably not fair for her to come for a sleepover tonight anyway.”
“Why? That is sooo not fair!”
“Look at them! They’re coughing and sniffing…….”
“That’s o.k. we’ll be in my room. She won’t catch it.”
“Um……tell you what…….I will have to tell her mum that the boys are ill and then she can decide.”

I am disconcerted that she agrees immediately, no hesitation, ever the optimist.

We spend the day quietly but in a very noisy manner until the telephone rings in the mid afternoon.

“Hi Natalie! Just a quick call as she's still asleep, up all night on the innernet with her sister.”
“Oh hello," I glance at the clock, "I just thought I’d better let you know that the boys are ill with colds, maybe flu.”
“Oh sorry. Poor little guys. I’ll bring her round when she wakes up.”
“Well I just thought that you should know that they’re ill in case she catches it.”
“She’ll be o.k.”
“She’s got a great immune system.”
“Hmm that’s good to know. Pity the boys haven’t fared so well. No school for them on Monday!”
“They’re that sick?”
“Ooo yes. I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re off school for a few days.” I hear silence on the other end of the line. I dither whether to fill the air with mindless chatter or keep quiet whilst calculations are made. I am ready for the ‘she can come here’ option. I have spent an inordinate amount of time working out how to extract myself and my family from this escalating debacle. I need to stick to my guns but I have a strong need to ensure that I do not slight an innocent child.
“You know Natalie howabout we do it next weekend?”
“Thank you for that, but I’m afraid we have the boys’ sleepovers then.”
“Great! One more would make it a party.”
“It probably would, but I’m a bit tired these days so we’re trying to limit the number of play dates everyone has. I hope you can understand.”
“Sure. I’ll leave it a week then.”
“Thank you.” She’s already clicked off the line. I am left with the notion that I have only bought myself some time. A second wave is on the way, building momentum, ready to bowl me over.

Better dust off my surf board.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Wordy Wednesday – hand strength

Ms. Wordy Wednesday pops in for a chat.

“Hi Maddy! Are you getting set up for a condiments party or something?”
“Oh dear me no. These are just examples of the kind of muck that is banned in my house.”
“Well excuse me! I’ll come back another time when you’re less grumpy.”
“Ooo sorry about that, it didn’t come out quite right.”
“Are you telling me that you deprive your children of ketchup and American mustard? That’s gotta be in the Un-American Activities ban!”
“Hmm you’re probably right, but they’re not banned any more.”
“Oh. So what made you change your mind?”
“Hand strength, or rather the lack of it.”
“Is something wrong with their hands?”
“No, it’s just that they’re a bit……"feeble.”
“Feeble? What's the magic ingredient in ketchup that strengthens hands!”
"Well it's not Riboflavin dearie."
"Why are their hands weak?"
“Well if you never use your hands for anything, then they don’t develop any muscles.”
“Surely not. Hands are just…......well, I’m not sure what they are?”
“Do you remember when you were little and your hand would cramp up when you were writing, ache a bit?”
“Yes now you come to mention it, I do remember that. Still get it now as it happens, probably well on the way to carpel tunnel, but that’s because of the repetitive nature rather than lack of muscle strength.”
“But you remember the pain? So if your hands hurt doing little tasks, it’s simpler not to use them at all, which makes it worse.”
“What do you mean? How can you not use your hands?”
“Actually is much easier than you might imagine.”
“I can’t imagine it at all!”
“Well say your plate is sticking off the edge of the table, instead of pushing it back with your hand, you can push it back with your tummy.”
“Oh. Well I suppose your tummy is probably nearer.”
“Or you want to move something else on the table so you just nudge it with your elbow.”
“Hmm that’s a bit more awkward. Why wouldn’t you use your hand in that situation?”
“Part of it might be that the thing has an unpleasant texture.”
“The tactile defensiveness thingummy!”
“You know that sounds like a pretty lethal combination, don’t want to touch things in the first place and weak hands.”
“Hang on a minute. That’s why you have the squeezy ketchup! A dual goal of making their hands stronger and helping independence.”
“Yes indeedy.”
“What if they didn’t like ketchup! Then you’d be in a pickle.”
“Actually you can get squeezy pickle too!”
“Really! Now that does sound disgusting.”
“It is.”

“There are lots of "developmental toys" these days to help with hand strength though. Why don’t you get them some of those?”
“I did.”
“No luck?”
“Oh yes I was forgetting the motivation thingummy for a moment there.”
“Never forget the motivation thingummy.”
“Is that an order?”
“No, no, no, more of a gentle request.”
“Horse and water to you missy!”
"Pass me the nose bag, but don't fill it with ketchup."

Monday, February 25, 2008

Out of the loop

[From Friday - details have been changed to protect anonymity]

Spouse and I experience 8 hours of sleep, collectively.

I am uncertain whether I had 5 and he had 3 hours, or the other way around?

A holiday is an upset to the routine. An upset to the routine often results in disruptive sleep patterns. My daughter continues to badger me with the same interminable question. By seven in the morning I explain again, hopefully with greater clarity.

“I’ll telephone at nine and sort out the play date.”
“Can’t you phone now?”
“I’m afraid not. It’s rude to telephone before 9 and in any case you know that none of them are up before mid-day.” I wish to avoid the previous occasion’s angst, hours of tears when no-one picked up the phone.
“Well that’s not true any more. She told me she’s up at seven!”
“Well that’s lovely but I still can’t phone before 9. Just think of it as the polite rule.” She pouts. It’s a rule of my own making. I need my brain to be fully functioning and I also need quiet, neither of which is generally available.

I check the diary. Who is going where? Who is coming here? Times? Rats! The first delivery is at nine, pick up at 11. I herd and coach to ensure that everyone is ready on time.

In the car I am bombarded by yet more questions from my daughter to the backdrop of ‘supercalafragalistic’ sung by my youngest.

“You said you were gonna phone my friend at 9!”
“Yes I know but I made a mistake. I’ll phone as soon as we get back from delivering your brother to his play date.”
“But I still don’t get it!”
“Which bit dear?”
“Why we have to wear shoes if we’re not allowed to go in?”
“Well if you’re invited in, then you can go in, but it’s not your play date.”
“You can’t just barge into someone’s house uninvited dear.”
“So why do we have to wear shoes then?” I ignore the snarky tone of the pre-teen.
“Because if you are invited in, you can’t go in if you don’t have shoes on your feet.”
“Do you think they’ll invite us in?”
“I don’t know dear.”
“I don’t get it. Gene barges into our house all the time and you don’t mind.”
“Gene is our neighbour. We’ve known him for 9 years now and he’s our friend.”
“Ken’s family are our friends too, or he wouldn’t be having a play date there!”
“Do you know his mum’s name?”
“Do you know his Dad’s name?”
“Well if you don’t know their names……..tell you what?”
“If they don’t ask you in you could always, politely ask if you could pet the dog?”
“Do you think they’ll let us in then?”
“I don’t know but there’s no harm in asking, politely.”

Mollified briefly, we pull into the driveway and open the automatic doors. They escape in seconds and start pogoing on the doorstep fingers competing to ring the bell. I dither. There is the threat of rain but Shepherdess pie has had a dire effect on someone’s digestive system. I leave the doors open, to air out the car for a couple of minutes, it’s California afterall.

As their front door opens the dog shoots out like a bullet to frolic, turn cartwheels and race. She scoops him up, armfuls of fluff and lick. Her ready smile is her passport to house entry. Once inside the boys hug and pogo with squeaks of delight. I exchange pleasantries with the dad, a charming man indeed who wrestles with suitcases ready for their weekend away. Their teenage daughter folds blankets and tidies, a study of responsibility. We confirm pick up time and depart.

On the driveway my youngest son squeals and bolts to the far edge of the garden. I gallop after him as he curls into a ball at the edge of the hedge. He points in horror, wordless, as I hear my daughter laugh, “hey look mom! Those crazy sprinklers!” I walk back to the car, shut the far side door and begin to mop up several gallons of water from the interior of my car. Thank goodness for emergency towels!

It takes a goodly long time to persuade him to return to the car, the dry side, the side that never had a drop of water on it in the first place. Mercifully we pull out of the driveway. Out of the corner of my eye, I see their front door open but we’re already on our way.

I debate. Buy milk on the way home or buy milk when we venture out again to collect him?
“Anyone thirsty?”
“Howabout we make that Papaya, Pineapple, Banana smoothie you wanted?”
“Oh yeah, that would be great!”
“So we’ll just nip into Wholefoods on the way back then.”

The trigger word ‘Wholefoods’ sends him off the deep end. Although all supermarkets smell, Wholefoods appears to smell more strongly than other shops. It’s somewhere I only visit occasionally because it is full of tempting expense. I dither. Is today the day to start another round of desensitization? Only two children? I decide to be brave, help him be brave and pull into a parking space, next to the curb, next to the shop, so as to avoid the hurdle of ‘road crossing.’ He clings to his seat belt, a life belt in protest, a rigid L shape, immobile. “Green is bad!” he shrieks at the sign. My daughter waits by the shop front window, peering in, absorbed and patient.

I dither. Am I really ready?

“The sooner we’re in, the sooner we’ll be out and home again,” I beam weakly.
“Can you do ten minutes dear?”
“10?” Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea afterall?
“Yes, just ten, only ten.”

He whips off his seat belt and charges up to his sister to jump on the spot for a while, revving up the energy reserves for his first sortie. I concentrate on keeping him within safe boundaries. I rely on my daughter to select her preferences and taste the samples on display. He walks around on tippy toes, thumbs stopper his ears, pinkies pinch his nose. We're finished in swift moments and dash to the check out. They fill my bags with groceries as I riffle through my handbag for my cards. I can see my cards. My cards are in my purse, next to the phone and the calendar at home on the kitchen counter. Luckily I find my cheque book buried in the depths. I sign off with a quick flourish.

“Can I see yur I.D. please? Yur driver’s license?”
“I’m afraid I’ve left it at home.”
“Do you know the number?”
“I’m afraid I haven’t managed to learn it off by heart yet.” Grounds for deportation.
“No, I’m afraid I haven’t managed to learn my social security number off by heart either.” Guilty of Un-American inactivity.
“You’ve got anything?” I continue to riffle. Good grief!
“Actually, I seem to have both my passports for some reason.” Two months after my last UK visit!
“Well I guess I’ll have to ask the supervisor, it sure is ID!”

I debate. Which is more stupid, to drive around California without my license or to walk around with my passport in my handbag? The former is illegal, the latter merely insane. My son sucks three fingers and spins as he waits, patiently.

We are released from custody, together with our groceries. It is 9:20 in the morning and I feel strangely tired. We drive home gingerly, one mile per hour lower than the posted speed limit, sure and certain evidence of malfeasance. I endure 20 minutes of the same song repeated in a never ending round, “la, la la, lee, lee, lee, I’m a silly pink bun nee, I am cute, yes it’s true, I will shake my tail for you!”

Once home I make smoothies for two and tepid water for one. The smoothie is so sweet it makes me shiver. My metal fillings have been replaced but the same sensation lingers on. I plant the telephone head set on and dial in between sips, washing up and watching my son skate in the kitchen in his socks and very little else. I leave four messages on the answering machine of four different mothers.

I fizz. The sugar rush gives me a burst of unexpected energy, just enough to persuade him to power jump on the trampolene. He bounces as I count to a hundred with ‘ands.’ The buzzer on the tumble drier lets me know it’s time to re-make the bed now that the duvet is dry. It is not safe to leave two children unsupervised downstairs. It will be too difficult and painful to persuade him to go upstairs during daylight hours. I plonk a pile of playdough on the table for entertainment and step into the kitchen to make lunch in advance, to save time and simultaneous snacks.

I wait until they’re both in full munch before making a quick dash to the letter box in the garden. I unpack the box of herbal, save the world, kill the lice, shampoo and set it aside for the next emergency, just in case we have one, an emergency that is to say.

I calculate. The wool shop is one block from the play date. The new rule is that use of car shall be combined with as many errands as mentally feasible. If seamless sock production is to remain seamless, then I need more wool, today. I need it today because there will be several minutes during the evening when my hands will be in need of occupation. I have discovered that hand occupation cancels out restless leg syndrome, or what we more commonly refer to as fidgeting. My new personal ‘om’ campaign includes sitting in the evening, although simultaneous breathing is still optional.

I dust buster my way through half a packet of scattered cereal and toast crumbs from breakfast, because my efficiency quotient is at an all time low. We return to the car in advance of the allotted pick up time. My son sings Christmas carols, or rather just one nauseating holiday song, in February, over and over again.

“You cant sing that fur another 10 months yah know,” she advises sagely as we approach their driveway.

The dad stands next to his car and waves at our arrival. We walk into the house together where he puts his briefcase down in the hall. The boys hug farewell as we return once more to the car.

I reverse out into the road to the tune of ‘We are the Champions of the World’ and ‘If I knew you were coming I’d have baked a cake,’ both in rounds, separate ones.
“Mom! Get em to shut up!” I’m tempted to hand her some ear plugs but instead I turn on the story tape, the new “Dr. Seuss” one, which I may later have cause to regret. I am very fond of my son’s pal but I always find it disconcerting that after a couple of hours together, his speech patterns, tone and expression leaves it’s imprint. Instead of my sotto voce son’s voice, I have the giggly, fast talking mimic, a child exchange.
"Be quiet or I'll smear pooh all over your beds!" My startle reflex is keen, but I don't crash the car.
"What did you say?"
"Where did you hear that?"
"My friend. Her sister squished pooh all over her new bedroom."
"Really! I didn't know she had a little sister as well?"
"She doesn't."
"You mean it was her big sister! But she must be....15 at least!"
"We'll talk about this when we get home."
"Why?" Everything appears to be upside down. I am familiar with autism, smearing and motivation, but if you remove the autism and change the motivation then I am entirely out of my depth. If this is what passes for 'normal,' then I don't like it. Over protective indeed! I concentrate on driving but the huge lump in my throat has made my brain seize.

I feel a small sharp prick in my temple which prompts me to talk over the story, “who was looking after you dear?” His mum was out at work. Could his dad have been out too? Was big sister in charge? How old is big sister? Didn’t they say that they were visiting Universities recently? Surely she must be 17, mustn’t she? She’s certainly reliable and responsible by all accounts. Why does this bother me? What business is it of mine anyway, but I still feel uneasy? I remind myself that this is a family that I trust, that they are busy, it is probably merely an oversight. Their daughter is a delightful tribute to their formidable parenting skills. I have the distinct impression that I am worrying about the wrong family. I decide to tackle the matter later when there are fewer distractions.

“When’ll we be home mom, I need to phone my friend?”
“About twenty minutes depending upon the traffic lights dear.” I need to sort friends quickly.
“Traffic lights, traffic lights, traffic lights,” he cooes.

Once home there is no answering blink on the phone, nobody loves us. I am unable to count the number of additional children we have had in the house during the week, but I know that it is more than 7. I decide not to be down hearted, as at least the children are happy.

We eat lunch together. I need to engineer one on one time with my daughter for a private discussion about a particular friend, if not interrogation. She dashes to answer the telephone and chats to her other friend as my ears flap. I wade through bills and junk mail at the table, ferry across additional food and gulp a pint of carrot juice myself with a liquid Centrum chaser. I must remain healthy and energetic at all costs. She returns to the table, “that was her mom. They’ll be here in five minutes.”

Thank heavens for some friends.

“Oh good. Better find your shoes then dear.”
“Well you can’t leave the house without your shoes.”
“But I’m not goin anywhere.”
“Aren’t you? I thought you were going round for a play date?”
“No, something’s come up so she’s coming here instead!”
“Oh really!”
“Yes and don’t forget, she hates Calamari and Pizza.”
“What has Pizza got to do with anything?”
“Yeah she’s staying for supper too. Her mom’s goin out and her dad can’t cook.”
“But they own a Pizzeria!”
She slips into ‘woman of the world mode,’ casual, conciliatory and amiable.
“Well you know how it is Mom. She’s all on her own, no brothers and sisters to play with, home all week long, her Mom sure needs a break,” she beams as she hugs me. I look towards the window as a car screeches to a halt by the gate. I watch as she scampers towards our front door and the car spins away. Is she scratching her head? What time will she be collected? Am I supposed to deliver her home? Do we have to get in the car again and endure another transition? Do I have enough veggie burgers made up? Can I stretch the carrot and sesame seed salad?

I have a sudden urge to run into the garage, leap in the car and escape, my own personal delivery service, destination, sanity island.

I give up!

The front door slams shut after the girls as they gallop up the stairs. I take a deep breathe and start to stack the plates. I remember that I forgot to buy the milk. I need to knit myself a cocoon where I can hide. I remember that I forgot to go to the wool shop too. In the pile of mail, between the leaves of ‘Fry’s Blowout Sale’ flyer, I find four assorted sized envelopes, ‘thank you notes’ for a memorable dinner, from 8 lovely grown up American people.

The dinner party is already a complete blur, wiped clean, memory card crash. My mother always emphasized the importance of thank you letters. I knew she was right. Now I know she was right. I pop them on the mantle piece to remind me of the many, many things that I have to be thankful for.

We live with so much falsehood, often self generated. I wonder which bits my dinner guests remember?

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Idaho or bust! Or possibly somewhere else?

“Aha! There you are. The very man I’ve been looking for.”
“Really? Are there any other men around here?”
“?.......of for goodness sakes.”
“So what did you want me for anyway?”
“I’ve hit a brick wall.”
“Oh dear! Much damage to the car?”
“?.......not literally you humbug.”
“It’s no good! I’ve been trying all day but no luck. I’ve shopped everywhere. They can’t be had for love nor money.”
“Oh. Shopping? Everywhere?”
“Yes. Landsend, Target and Amazon. You name it, I’ve looked!”
“No. You have to use Paypal and haven’t quite mastered that yet.”
“Well……I don’t know what to suggest?”
“They go up to size 5T but you can’t find any for a seven year old.”
“I thought you said this morning that you’d make some if you couldn’t buy any?”
“I did, but then I thought about it a bit.”
“If I send a seven year old to school in home made blue dungarees, with egg yellow buttons the size of an egg cup, he’ll be beaten to a pulp.”
“Well it would help if you searched on coveralls or overalls.”
“I did! I couldn’t remember the right word first but eventually…Although I’ve not been able to find a dictionary that translates “English to American” yet.”
“Still no joy?”
“What about those pictures you see of children out in the fields with potatoes and sheep and things?”
“Cattle or Longhorns, not sheep.”
“Not sheep?”
“No of course not. You know Americans! If you so much as mention ‘lamb chop’ they all have a fit of the vapours.”
“True. But out in the countryside they’re all gamboling about in dungarees.”
“Boon dogs! Or is that urban? Maybe Hicksville?”
“Don’t ask me?”
“Well what are we going to do?”
“Fair enough, if that’s the sum total of your assistance I shall expect you to get him dressed tomorrow.”
“No! It took you ages this morning. I thought I was going to have to take him in the nuddy.”
“Exactly. Hence we need a pair of overalls by tomorrow morning if we’re not going to have to repeat that particularly painful exercise.”
“Hmm. Why do you think he’s so obsessed with looking like Mario all of a sudden?”
“It’s just another one of little burrs just waiting to jump out of the bushes and latch on.”

“So what are we going to do?”
“I’ll tell him I’m still looking.”
“Yes, it helps to be truthful.”
“But after he saw that costume on-line, I think we’re more or less done for.”
“It’s a racket. Fancy charging $70 for an adult costume and $100 for a child’s. It’s day light robbery.”
“So our solution is?”
“That’s what I was hoping you could help me with?”
“Do you still have his old pair?”
“Couldn’t you tack something on to the end of the legs, make them longer?”
“Ooo dear me no. I don’t want to sink back to the 70’s nightmare. That really would be a curse for the child.”

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Excellent Awards

"Shellie" over at "Little but Loud" has very kindly given me this 'excellent' awards. Clearly poor "Little but Loud" is slightly delusional because everyone knows that at best, I only ever score F for failure or a tad bit futile. There again since we are both donating our brains for scientific research maybe I should cut her a little slack.

So first up we have "Melody" at "Slurping Life." "Melody" is so hopeless optimistic that it makes my toes curl. She's already had one of these [I was a bit late in the starting block] but there's no harm in confirming her superiority. Now there's a woman that could do with a huge dollop of scepticism, but she's unstoppable. Nip over there and stop her at this post called "These are the times when you know."

Another super dooper blogger is "Angela" over at "Memoirs of a Chaotic Mommy." Things are definitely chaotic over there as her blog template is on the blink, true agony indeed. I'm seriously in debt to her, indeed I may very well be partly to blame for her chaos as she has been fiddling about making custom awards for me to hand out to other people. That's real super star skills as far as I'm concerned. In the meantime, if you are new to her blog then her post called "You're all it" because it makes for a great visual introduction.

Then to "The Other Lion." Many life times ago, I was a divorced single mum. I had the support and comfort of my family but I remember how 'going it alone' really was. Whilst my circumstances are completely different now, I find it helpful to hang on to some of those memories so that I don't get too high handed. If this is a new place for you, then you might like to start off here with her post called "Picture Meme" because we visual learners love them and they also make for great introductions.

Another good place to visit is "Sarah" at "The Nefariouspoo of Sarah," I mean who could resist such a title? Such has such a full plate, but handles it with charm, strength and patience. Whilst I have been known to moan in my time "Sarah" advocates in an entirely different manner. Would that we were all so "gracious."

Then to "Catherine" at "Kitchen Table Math, the sequel." Yes I know it's very strange for me to even mention the word maths, but this is a real stonker of a blog. The only problem is, that you have to have a really huge brain to benefit from this site which disqualifies me instantaneously. I rarely comment there because I really don't need to advertise my 'thicky, thikcy, dumb, dumb' status quite so publicly. If you have a gifted child then there are lots of ideas here. If you have a quirky child then again, there are lots of ideas here. If however, you are a lesser being such as myself, you can always do what I do, hide underneath the kitchen table and earwig, you never know, we might just learn something over "here."

Also for "Mum keeping sane" over at "It's all okay." as both of those phrases run through my brain all too frequently. So you know that phrase 'if you can't say anything nice, then don't say anything at all'? well nip along here to her post called "When the juggler drops the ball," for a quick reminder, and yes she is a wonderful mum.

Then to "r.b." [I think I should keep that anonymous but let me know if I've made a mistake] over at "Hard Won Wisdom." Many of us are educators in a way, but some people just do it so much better. If this is a new blog for you, then get your toes tapping and whiz along to her post called "nerd fighters happy dance project," how can you resist!

Also to "Kristina Chew" over at "Autism Vox." Yes I know it's another autism blog for goodness sake and yes she does have the biggest brain on the blogosphere [and possibly off the blogosphere too] I think her blog was the first one I was ever brave enough to comment upon, so you might be able to be brave too. Her writing style keeps us all up to date and you can enjoy a little "geekdom" if you're more comfortable with that option, called "I think therefore I google."

Cheers dearies

Excellent Award I

"Mid-Lifer" over at "Navigating a midlife crisis" has very kindly given me this natty little award. I was a little worried at first, as I suspected that it was an 'E' for 'exercise,' as nominated 'to go out and run about a bit' award. Perish the thought!

So first of all I'd like to pass it on to "Chelle" at "Crazy Thoughts" a misnomer if ever I heard one!
I don't think I could pay enough for that kind of crazy. If you're new to her blog then I would [respectfully] suggest that you poke about here on her post entitled "I am beautiful." I would have to admit that I haven't actually bought this book but I think it behoves all of us, who are parents of girl children, to give this important matter some serious thought. Ban the Barbies that's what I say! But Chelle says it so much better[er!].

Moving on, has anyone managed to avoid "Casdok" over at "Mother of Shrek" yet? You have! Then shame on you! No matter, it's not too late to make amends, you can whizz on over there now, but if you're a bit of a cowardy custard, wary of 'British Humour,' then you can very safely start off at this post of hers called "Hungry," but doooo be careful. Make sure that you've had a snack first!

A newbie one for me, but none the less excellent for that, is "Mary the Teach" over at "Work of the Poet." Now to be fair, I'm not entirely happy to hand out an award to a teacher than comes in the form of an 'E' as it seems far too close to an 'F' for fail, but that's the Alphabet for you. If this is a new one for you too, then you could do a lot worse than start over here at her post called "Things I've giving up for Lent." [that's a lie of course as it's a Thursday 13 thingy, but it's a great introduction, especially for us visual learners.]

Then to "Heidi" at "Viking Conquest" and "Family Adventure." The woman is a tower of strength but all too human, in the nicest possible way of course! If you've not had the energy to visit her yet, then a good spot to start would be this post called "And the weather Forecast calls for..." partly because it makes me feel homesick and partly because it's someone else's take on life in Britland.

It's hard to work out who has the biggest brain when it comes to blogging about the topic of autism, but "Autism Diva" would be right up there. I expect that if your life hasn't been touched by autism then you may not have come across this blog before. It that's the case then a gentle introduction would be this video where lots of "our kiddie winkies frolic."

Another relatively new place for me is "Mrs. Wibbs" over at "Wibzways." She and her busy family sizzle through their days in just the kind of laid back way that I aspire to, but can't manage very often. If it's new for you too, then a good place to start would be here in her post called "Wise Fun," where she's more than captured a few corkers.

So how many is that? Six? O.k. one more there for the perfect 7.

So it's over to "Three and Holding" where "Janet" does a mighty find job of steering her fine family in the right direction. I of course am a little biased but I'm fairly confident that other myopic persons such as myself, could benefit greatly from this post of hers called "I can see clearly now," where you too can try out a zillion different frames, or failing that, vote for which pair she should really have bought.

Cheers dearies.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Awards - less than three

"Kelley" over at "Magnetoboldtoo" has every so kindly given me this absolutely spiffing little award which she made herself!!!

This is how she describes it:-

"Now the explanation. When the girls and I want to express our mutual admiration in public we say ‘Less than Three’. If you look at it sideways:


It looks like a heart. So I heart you.

And I do. Every one of you. Even the lurkers."

So it's my turn to share. I'm glad she pointed out that I don't have to award to to 28 people as that's way beyond my capabilities but maybe if I keep it brief? Maybe people touched by autism that aren't on the Hub would be a good place to start.

First to "Grace Under Autism."
2. "Judith"
3. "Kristenspina"
4. "Kyra"
5. "Gretchen"
6. "Cristine"

7. "Kal"
8. "Lisa Jo Rudy"
9. "Julie"
10. "Bonnie"
11. "Jen P"
12. "One March Day"
13. "Autism's Edges"
14."Another Autism Mom"
15. "Redhead Momma"
16. "Autista"
17. "Mom to JBG"
18. "Cottontales."
19 "Mom to Mr. Hansom"
20. "Karianna"
21. "Mum without a Manual"
22. "Lora"
23. "Tulip Mom"
24. "Kirsten"
25. "Queen of Shake Shake"
26. "Autism Schmatism"
27. "Christina"
28. "Drama Mama"

Hmm, maybe this wasn't such a good idea afterall. It's been a tough week here with everyone on holiday. There are so many autism blogs which really ought to be on my blogroll apart from the fact that I can't figure out how to do that. I thought I'd wait until the new blog was up and running and do it then, but it's even more difficult on the new blog.

I am of course the 'cut and paste' Queen, but printing out other people's blogrolls and sticking them on the computer with glue isn't working for me.

So I think I'll stop now and spend some time trying to work out the blogroll nightmare instead. So if you're not included yet please don't take offense. Instead you could leave your URL behind or the URL of autism blogs that you like [and possibly some blogroll hints to point me in the right direction for Wordpress!]

Cheers dearies

Awards with Bling!

I'll tell you one thing for free, I'm beginning to understand the purpose of these awards as they certainly boost my morale.

I really don't know what's happening around my home at the moment and these awards make me happy to escape reality.

Reality at the moment seems to be turning me into an all day random day care facility. Only a couple of weeks ago another mum and I agreed that it would be lovely for the girls to get together for a playdate. We had a playdate here. Then we had another play date here. Now we are having another play date her. A pal is coming for a pre-arranged play date this afternoon.

Less than five minutes ago, a Dad pulled into the roadside, opened the car door and tossed his daughter out. We watched from the window. He didn't even pause to see whether she went safely from the gate to the door, or whether the door opened, or whether she went inside, or whether she was greeted by a Grizzly bear! Don't even get me started on the reciprocal side of things, not that I'm counting of course. Perish the thought! Come one, come all seems to be the motto of the moment.

Now where was I?

Ah yes, Awards with Bling!

It sounds like an menu item with something on the side! But there you go, that's just me. My pal over at "Around the Island" has been kind enough to sent me this very neat [that means tidy] award. What does 'neat' really mean out here anyway? I hear it so often although fortunately it's not affected my household yet. You can check out her blog and her family's antics at "Around the Island." I'm very impressed with these people who can combine a post with an awards ceremony!

So now it's my turn to send a little sanity out there through the ether. First to "Delilah" over at "Floating in Space." If you've not visited before, then you might like to start here on her post called "A goal." Don't worry it has nothing to do with English football.

Then to "Joey Mom" over at "My Life with Joey." She's down with the flu like everyone else at the moment, but this post called "addicted" applies to just about all of us. There again, if you're more of a shopping type, then you might prefer "here."

Also to "Kassiane" over at "Rhettdevil," now that I've found her blog again rather than whizzing off to that strange blue page that never changes. [what a twit I am!] If you're a newbie I would suggest you start here on her post called "Thank you," just you were in any doubt about the power of blogging.

Next to "Joker" at "The Musings of a Lurcher" not to be confused with a 'lurker.' This is for all you doggy fans who wish your pup could talk. A good place to start would be over here in her posting called "In the doghouse," as we've all been there once in a while.

I think I'll pause there as I forgot to save this half way through and therefore mislaid the other three! I refuse to get hung up on the number seven.

I am back again [6 hours later, post play date]

So over to "FXS Mom" at "Fragilex." She's one of the troopers that still visits my old Black and White blog. You never know, maybe I can lure her over to the new one! If this is a new site for you then you might like to start here at her post "What kind of Cartoon Animal Are You?" coz those are always fun unless you end up being the Tasmanian Devil!

Then to "Corky" from "Corky's log." If you need a baby fix [go on, we all need one every now and again!] then nip along to "boy small," but if you're really a hard hearted cynic like myself, then start of here as this makes a great introduction to "Corky Shares from the heart."

Do you know how I know that the play date is over? Well, I know because 45 minutes after pick up time passed, a car pulled up outside the gate, honked the horn, the play date pal fled from the house and they zoomed away in a pile of dust and a scattering of gravel. I assume they are late but my milk of human kindness begins to curdle!

Don't you just love 'normal' behaviour?

Maybe I should rename my blog = "Grumpy 24/7"

At least it's saved me the bother of making an appointment at the tattoo parlour so that I can permanently plant 'twit' on my forehead.

Ooo a quick international question from the ever so slightly confused [take pity on me!]

When you send your child to someone else's house for a sleepover do you expect:-

a] a bed with linen to be provided

b] a mattress and sleeping bag to be provided

c] send your child with their own sleeping equipment

d] none of the above

Cheers dearies


"Joey's Mom" over at "Joey and Mom" gave me this delightful award! Which is a shame really as she's clearly completely missed 99% of my moaning. Obviously I need to address this oversight and moan more often and more loudly, so that no-one is able to miss the misery that I exist in.

Just the other day, Valentine's Day ironically enough, I had a list of moans so long that they're enough to fill any heart shaped vessel you can find.

That day was blustery and sunny but those buffeting gusts were enough to get the little one all aerated when he was still inside, protected from the weather. I avoided the candy overload and found spongy mail box kits that I thought might bring a smile. Did they smile? Well eventually, but only after we'd recovered from the glue meltdown, the wrong flavoured chocolate meltdown and the cookies don't match meltdown.

In my next life I shall return as someone who can manufacture sameness without thinking! Not only that, I will ensure that this super power will be available to me first thing in the morning, every morning, as that was only during the first two hours of the day, before sunrise.

On the plus side we had the 'I can wear this two foot stoker hat' to school today breakthrough, [ popular with the teacher, I'm sure] also the 'I can wear the disgusting shoes today because I can't find my usual shoes today' hurdle, and the 'I can sit next to the vase of roses with pokey thorns' triumph!

I am so glad that roses have no perfume these days. [to say nothing of the ability to 'sit.']

Now I'm happy to pass this on to "Crystal" at "Crystal Jigsaw" I expect most people are familiar with her sight, but if not, a good spot to start to give you a bouillon cube of Crystal, would be here in her post called "Getting up to alsorts." I chose this one because I've never liked treacle, I much prefer sweet and sour.

Also to "Aliki" at "Tag teaming it or a world of one thousand different things." [put me right here dearie, I never know what to do with blogs that seem to use two names!] I was pleased to learn that she actually been blogging for 2 years. 2 years is amazing to me. I was also pleased to read her post called "Do good work," as I think it has useful advice for all of us bloggers.

Next to "Blogantagonist" at "Blogs are Stupid." In particular, her post called "On Strike." I like it because I share a similar ambivalence to food production. I love cooking, but I have a hard time with the response around here and I also want my children to be self sufficient, which they won't be if I keep doing everything for them!http://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gif

Then to "The Domestic Goddess." If this one is a new one for you and you happen to be male, then this would be the ideal spot to start, "12 things I've learned."

Also to "Jessica" at "Mom 2 Boys." All parents share a delight in hearing their children talk for the first time when they're babies. Sometimes other parents have to wait a bit longer. Other parents have stopped waiting. Non-verbal, is such a catch all term. Sometimes it can be hours or days between a word or words. A few parents enjoy the gobsmack late in the day as you can see "here." I can still remember how their first spontaneous speech affected me too.

Then to "frogpondsrock" and her lovely photographs. Actually on second thoughts, lets skip the photos and go green instead with this post of hers here called "Clean up and Green up." Maybe mother nature will take pity on me!

I leave this one until last for a reason. "Suzy" over at "Identity Crisis" has another post up. I cannot describe what she has written and I could barely comment either. I don't know how many of us are parents, fearful parents. "Suzy's" subject matter is staggeringly sobering for me. I certainly don't wish to add to anyone's current level of paranoia but "awareness" is what it's all about for me, much as I would prefer to stick my head in the sand. I read, I learn, I try not to "weep."

Lastly on a lighter note, I should like to take this opportunity to publicly apologise to anyone I have inadvertently referred to as 'a little gem.' As my son pointed out to me this morning, many people may object to being called a 'lettuce.'

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Thurs - Corruption - Daydream believer

I make pancakes in the kitchen on a Sunday morning. Every few seconds I hear another word bellowed from far away ‘bulbous’……..’bouffant’………’gazebo’……….’shindig’……..’whale’… 'macadamnia' ....….’wubber’……’beluga’……….’’galloshes’……’Wario’………There are several more of them, but those are the only ones I can remember, the only bits of the puzzle available to my tiny brain. I’m not able to make any sense of them, but each word is followed by a shriek that definitely falls into the humourously amused category.

I think of all the toys that we left out the night before. Instead of ‘tidying time’ they were allowed a stay of execution, or rather the toys were. The elaborate conglomerate was permitted to cover the floor and most of the furniture for an additional 24 hours, negotiable.

Today, the game continues. To have a game, any game, pretend or otherwise, extend beyond the statutory 10 nano seconds, is to be encouraged, nurtured and permitted to be ‘messy’ for longer that I am comfortable. Not so much deck the halls but booby trap the floors.

I continue my conveyor belt production of pancake for the masses. I am tied to the hot plate and cannot leave it unattended. Even at the age they are now, there is always the possibility of the unexpected, the unpredictable.

He yells at his brother and sister who skip off to see what has him entranced. I amazed that they respond. I am amazed that he called them, a request for joint attention is always applauded, so fresh, so new, so amazing. With all of them now in one location, far away from the hot plate I can follow the guffaws of laughter to the hall.

In the hall they all crowd around the computer. I need to become computer savvy and "internet savvy" if I am to be able to protect them. Suddenly I am grossly aware of their development and the trend ahead. If anyone doubles back, I’ll be able to intervene, stop them from getting access to the hot plate. The lure of U-tube is inescapable for this generation.

My youngest son is doubled up, almost on, or maybe off the chair. The other two observe the screen, the internet, a Mario clip. I watch. I can hardly hear a word as both the boys screech together, joint attention if ever I saw it. My daughter turns to me and raises an eyebrow, just like my brother, her uncle, a sceptic, a non believer. I wait a few moments more, just to be on the safe side, that the clip isn’t going to sink into p.orn or violence or some other horror. It doesn’t. He hits replay. She raises her arms to let them flop down to her sides, a gesture of disbelief.

I slip an arm around her shoulder to guide her back to the family room. We leave the boys locked in.

I pour more batter on the hot plate. I suspect it’s a boy thing. The clip is not in the category of humour for me, nor her. For my boys the clip definitely rates a 10, "hilarious." The days of innocence are withering, I can't hide in a different era. I need to protect my own little "monkeys."

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


I remove the last of the safety devices on the last drawer in the kitchen. I can’t recall how much that particular mistake cost, but I know that it was extravagant. The things I wanted to be secure such as the fridge and the oven, could not be secured.

Back then chaos ruled and nothing was secure, least of all my own brain. I knew that something was amiss but I was unable to pin down what it was, exactly or even partially. I suspected that I had made a serious error of judgment, that I was simply too old to have three young children. Their dad worked for a start up, which roughly translates to involuntary servitude. Guilt made him indulgent. “Of course, get someone in to install child locks on everything and damn the cost.” Ultimately, it was of no help, but at the time it seemed like a solid investment.

I can recall the man who came to the house quite vividly. We had lived in America for about 6 years. Although my memory is unreliable, I don’t remember meeting anyone during that time who was unfriendly. My knowledge of Americans was limited, but if he was Californian, then I was a chicken. He wandered around my house slowly with a casual air of disdain.

Usually, when someone came to fix something, the fixer would remain in one place fixing something whilst I charged around herding. This was different. I had to accompany him and give detailed instructions as to what was to be secured and what did not. He ran his finger over every surface and looked in every door and drawer with distaste and impatience. I had never met an unfriendly American, nor had I ever invited such a person into my home. I tried to hold an intelligent conversation with him, over the din of my very loud and wild children. I carried one or other of them alternately. If I was the sun, then my planets were in close orbit at all times. His disapproval was palpable.

As I hauled the children upstairs they wailed all the more loudly. My explanation "we don't tend to go upstairs during the day time," sounded ludicrous even to my own ears. "Whadaya want a gate for then?" he sneered.
"So that they can't escape at night time," seemed equally bizarre.

As he left, his passing shot was, “I’ll send the estimate in the mail, but nothing will secure your kids more than good parenting.”

I was mortified and chastised in one icy breath.

But that was then, and this is now. I put all the locks in a bag together with their screws and fitments, enough to secure Fort Knox, nearly all of them broken as my son approaches.

"What you are do?"
"Just taking off the old baby locks dear."
"We dun be needen em no more?"
"Nope, I think we're safe enough, just as we are."

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Wordy Wednesday – feeling blue

Ms. Wordy Wednesday pops along to say hi de ho to me.

“Cute! He draws quite well. Glad he’s conquering his dislike of pencils. The paint must have been quite a challenge too.”
“Ooo you have such a good memory.”
“So that’s it then?”
“Of course not.”
“You’re very curt today!”
“Ski week.”
“Ski week?”
“They’re all off school for a week.”
“In my dreams!”
“So um title……..expressing feelings and emotions perhaps?”
“Very good indeed.”
“He’s happy, hence the rainbow?”
“Actually that was a bit deceptive of me. I wanted to talk about depression.”
“Oh. Not exactly my field of expertise.”
“Me neither.”
“So are you feeling a bit down?”
“Not me, him.”
“Which one?”
“The little one.”
“How old is he again?”
“7! Can you be "depressed" at 7?”
“Actually he’s had periods of depression since he was about 3.”
“3? Are you sure, I mean, ….how do you know? Has he been diagnosed by a doctor?”
“No, it’s just my best guess really.”
“Hmm it’s not that I doubt you exactly, ……it’s just that…..I’ve never heard of that before and………if a doctor hasn’t diagnosed him then…….well…..it just seems a little unlikely………doesn’t it?”
“I tend to agree with you.”
“So what makes you think he’s depressed?”
“Well he went to an early intervention class when he was little for a couple of mornings a week. Sometimes, every few weeks, he became unresponsive. He sat in his chair, a rarity in itself, and just wept silent tears.”
“Ooo dear.”
“The staff would ask him what was wrong and he either wouldn’t answer or just say that he was sad.”
“That is sad.”
“He’d just be all floppy.”
“Not ill perhaps?”
“Nope, nothing like that, just inert.”
"He'd stop eating too, couldn't even be tempted by Goldfish Crackers."
"Really serious then!"
"And of course he became nocturnal."
"Actually, not nocturnal, just awake all the time. No sleeping at any time."
"That must have been exhausting."
"It was a terrible worry because he'd wander around all night and I was concerned that I wouldn't be able to help him if I simply keeled over myself."
“What did you do about it?”
“Well at first……to be honest, nothing really. I had no experience of depression and we were still trying to learn all about autism.”
“I did remember that the physician who first diagnosed him said to consider medications because many autistic people suffer from depression, especially in their teenage years and had very high suicide rates.”
“He told you that then!”
“Yes, it felt like another slap in the face at the time but thinking back it helped me join the dots.”
“So how often does this happen?”
“Less frequently actually. It used to be every two or three months and last for 3 to 5 days.”
“And nowadays?”
“A few times a year few days.”
“So now he can talk more, do you get any more clues?”
“Broadly speaking, it all boils down to self esteem.”
“Self esteem! In a 7 year old!”
“I know it sounds daft, but so much of it is feelings of worthlessness.”
“Geez Maddy I don’t know what to say.”
“That’s o.k. I don’t really know either. We just do the same for all of them, help them achieve small things that are really huge for them and make sure that they know that we understand and appreciate just how difficult some things are for them.”
“I think we should be doing that for all kids anyway.”
“How right you are.”

On a practical note, there are a few 'techniques' [how I hate that word!] that have proved helpful for my children. The first would be "Carol Gray's" social stories. Mine are of a much more simple, home grown variety, but when they see cartoons of them selves in a 'book' where their continued failed attempts eventually end in success, this has proved a great way of giving them positive feedback and reinforcement.

Why does it work? Difficult to say, but probably a combination the following:-

1. Being a visual learner
2. We're all ego maniacs at heart
3. We know that personalized products are a popular buy line
4. There's nothing like tangible evidence for the doubting Thomas
5. Many people respond to one on one time
6. ......it's fun!

Tues - Two and a half baths

Which half would you like?

It’s one of those little American oddities, a few words that are completely incomprehensible.

You can read it on a page, you can say it out loud, the net effect is the same. What on earth are they on about now? But that was in the good old days when I was a fresh faced immigrant. Years have now passed and I am far wiser. Non-Americans will be pleased to learn that Americans do not have diddy little baths. This is America, the land of big, bigger and the bestest.

Many moons ago in England, I lived with my family in a tall Victorian terraced house. Tacked on the back of the house as an after thought no doubt, was the bathroom. The bathroom had a bathtub, a toilet and a hand basin, but not very much else. It did have a deadbolt and a lock with a rusty old key the size of my small hand, but you needed the strength of a rugby player to shut the door, let alone lock it. All five of us were good sharers and privacy was non existent.

If we were really desperate, there was always the option of the old lean to toilet in the back yard next to the air raid shelter.

This original toilet was there before the bathroom was tacked on.

It was a place only for the brave.

I am, and always have been, a cowardy custard.

Hence I have little sympathy with the current generation of children in my care when it comes to foibles.

When it comes to foibles, which it usually does, their father has one, a foible that is to say. Every morning he shaves in the bathroom next to the kitchen. The bathroom has no bath and is the same size as a crampt cupboard. Standing room only. As he froths and shaves, rivulets of water run down his hands and forearms to collect on his elbows and then drip onto the linoleum floor. Two little puddles of dribbles, every day. This is no great hardship. What is great hardship, for me at least, are the blood curdling screams from my son, every day, when he decides to use the bathroom and finds his path blocked by his dribbling father.

The bulk that blocks his way isn’t the hardship. The hardships are the two puddles. It would be easy to step over the two puddles located closest to the sink, especially if you only have child sized 13 feet and are on your tippy toes, or easy for some people. Other people pogo on the spot and scream, loudly, every day.

Many people, would learn that if you encounter the same problem every day, it might be a good idea to find an alternative solution, preferably a quieter one. Other people need help finding solutions. It is hard to find a solution when you can’t hear. Generally speaking, it is hard to hear if you are screaming your lungs out.

All too often, I find myself just looking at him. I have to remind myself that he has an ‘on’ switch and an ‘off’ switch but no dimmer function, a period when he could think and work out an alternative. It’s an all or nothing approach to life. The absurd can sometimes seem ironic. It is quite sobering for me to realize that this is not a child having a hissy fit or a meltdown, but someone struggling with a gargantuan obstacle, a puddle that might just as well be Niagara Falls. It’s tempting to giggle, a nasty habit that I seem to have acquired over the years.

Instead, I wait a moment to see if the frenzy is spiraling up or down. If it’s on the up and time is precious, I have no option but to scoop him up and cart him off to the loathed toilet down the hall. If it’s on the down, then we have the opportunity to repeat the sequence, to find an acceptable alternative, every day.

Maybe one day, he’ll step over this hurdle all by himself. Just as with so many of the other foibles. It won’t disappear but he will find other ways of coping all by himself. Maybe soon.

Monday, February 18, 2008


No, not AAPR but APP which stands for the "American Academy of Pediatrics."

As you may know, I am a member of the "Autism Hub," that's the pink logo on the sidebar.

Today members of the Hub are blogging about Autism, no big surprise there, but more especially about finding spokespersons. I'm not of a particularly scientific frame of mind and I don't know what causes autism. I do know that you don't have to look much further than the gene pool around this neck of the woods.

Here is the letter from AAP:-

Subject: parent spokespersons


As part of our ongoing response to media stories regarding autism and
vaccines, the AAP communications department is compiling a list of
parents who support the AAP and are available for interviews. We are
looking for two types of parents who could serve as spokespersons:

Parents of children with autism spectrum disorders who support
immunization and who do not believe there is any link between their
child's vaccines and his or her autism.

Parents of children who suffered a vaccine-preventable illness. This
could be a parent who declined immunization, whose child became ill
before a vaccine was available, or whose child was ineligible for

We are asking for your help identifying parents who would be good
spokespersons. They do not need to be expert public speakers. They
just need to be open with their story and interested in speaking out
on the issue. We will contact candidates in advance to conduct
pre-interviews, to offer guidance on talking to reporters and to
obtain a signed waiver giving us permission to release their name.

If a parent were placed on our list, we would offer their name and
contact information to select media. We hope to build a list of
parents from a wide range of geographical areas.

As the Jenny McCarthy and "Eli Stone" stories illustrate, this issue
is likely to recur in the national and local media. The AAP is
committed to doing all we can to counter such erroneous reports with
factual information supported by scientific evidence and AAP

The anti-vaccine groups often have emotional family stories on their
side. The ability to offer a reporter an interview with a similarly
compelling parent who is sympathetic to the AAP's goals is a powerful
tool for our media relations program.

Please contact me if you have any questions or to suggest a parent to interview.

Thank you,

Susan Stevens Martin
Director, Division of Media Relations
American Academy of Pediatrics

Or to email

ssmartin@aap.org (Susan Stevens Martin) direct.

You can contact them yourself here:- SPOKESPERSONS@LISTSERV.AAP.ORG

Or email me directly at m.mcewen-asker@att.net

If you could spread the word we'd be very much obliged.

[Preferably to some nice young photogenic persons who don't have funny accents]

Piccies artistically created by a smallish autistic person.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

sat - Awards - Royal Banana

Dear little "Slouching Mom" [note the careful use of a 'c' rather than a 'g'!] who sloughs around "Slouching Past 40" has kindly given me this award, just to add to my weight of shame. Yes my fine friends, I now have to admit publicly, that although I have lived in the United States of America for 12 years now, there are still things that I need to learn.

I have learned that Swedes are called Rutabagas.

I have learned that Pavement is not a Sidewalk.

I have learned that Plums are really Prunes.

I could continue to list the great advances that I make daily, but sadly I appear to have completely missed something that is all to obvious. I learn today [probably last week by the time I get to post this] that in America bananas are called 'blings.'

Clearly I am a blithering idiot.

To be fair, the word 'bling' has cropped up in a wide variety of different circumstances in my life, but never for one moment did it ever occur to me that it was in fact a reference to the humble banana, the ultimate in convenience foods.

Ah well. Now I begin the oh so onerous task of matching the award to other blogs. Who should I wish to send a banana to, may I ask? Maybe a little randomness should be the order of the day? Same and fair.

So this delightful little monkey shall go to the next seven commentors.

Who shall it be?

Aha! My pal "Linda" over at "Are we there yet!" Now there's a woman who is a real trooper [now that I think I understand what a trooper is supposed to be - it always sounded like an insult!] There are so many different aspects to Linda's blog but if you've not visited before then her posting here called "Count five things" is a great introduction. [and I'm sorry I called you a sausage, I know that should have been 'hot dog'!]

Next to "Elissa" over at "Managing Autism," which indeed she does, admirably. If you have not visited before then I would suggest that you nip along and read "Coping with Life." We all wear many different hats in our everyday lives. When I read that post originally, I was wearing my 'I am under the weather at the moment' hat. When I read it today, I am wearing my chef's hat as I flip pancakes. Her message makes sense for everyone. If I ever read it again, I wonder what hat I'll be wearing?

Then to "Mel" over at "Random Thoughts [International Blog}" is a man of faith from the Phillipines, a regular visitor and a prolific blogger. Whilst this award may seem frivolous, I already know that Mel's big heart will find some terrific friends to share it with.

Then to "Casdok" at "Mother of Shrek." This is probably the ultimate in 'think differently' sites. The variety of her posts is amazing. There is always something fresh, new and mind bending! I defy any to visit and not be hooked. If you have not visited before then this post entitled "Big Pants."

To me this is evidence that despite being British, Casdok has international appeal without the need for translators. Knickers!

Next we have poor old "Veronica" over at "Some Day We will Sleep" who is 19 years young, last time I checked. "Veronica" and I need to have a serious chat some time soon about her sloppy definitions so that we can remain on the same page. What exactly does she mean by 'sleepless'?

Take your average night of perhaps 8 hours, at night time. If I sleep for 40 minutes each hour, every hour, then I am sleeping for the majority of the night, aren't I? Maybe instead I sleep for five of those hours uninterrupted but spend three hours of the eight changing bed linen. Does that fall into the sleepless category? What if my bed time is delayed by three hours for the same exercise in laundry, or curtailed prematurely, early in the morning? Do either of those count as sleepless?

I don't know how it is for Veronica, but in my case, I think the best solution is to improve my laundry skills, as 180 minutes would be in the category of severely inefficient!

I'd point you to a specific page but I can't figure out how to do that for her template.

Then to "Mr. Bloggerific Himself" over at "Your Packaging Sucks!" As an English person myself, I feel that this title should have a health warning = ' do not suck your packaging as this a dangerous pastime and you may choke or poison yourself.' As an American person, I appreciate that the word 'sucks' really means 'of inferior quality.' Fortunately neither term is appropriate in this case, otherwise I wouldn't be reading!

Where to start if you're a newbie? How about trying "why I don't like soup or coca cola." A long post [for some] but it just goes to show that as we grow up, sometimes we can figure it out for ourselves and we all love those light bulb moments, or at least I certainly do. As an aside, I am led to believe that if you don't like coca cola, this constitutes grounds for deportation!

Now "Furiousball"is in the wrong order but I couldn't access his blog at "Furious Blog - in my diatribe" yesterday. However, this morning I'm through. Frankly I disinclined to give that chap anything at all, as people are always sending him real, tangible gifts through the Royal Mail.....er......can't think what that is in America for a moment. Where is my word retrieval? Senility can be a blessing sometimes. Er.......UPS! There's so much to be jealous about; his little furious ball icon, his blog design, his strings, his presents.....did I already mention his gifts? Anyway, in case you haven't visited this thoroughly gifted individual before, I would recommend that you start here at his post entitled "staying on the line," because everybody has a complicated life.

So there you go. Isn't that encouragement enough to post a comment?

Cheers dearies

Friday, February 15, 2008

Awards - you make my day

"Tara" over at "tlcillustration" [tender loving care illustration] is a talented little creature and recently [if I get my act together] passed on this winkum dinkum award. Thank you so much for thinking of me. "At Silver Apples of the Moon" you too can have a glimpse of someone's life, with all it's many facets.

It's hard to pick a spot to start, but if pushed [hey, be gentle!] then I'd suggest this posting called " painting by lantern light ." Why this one? Good question. Tough answer. I think because you can see her work in progress, which is always fascinating to me and also because the idea of continuing to 'work' in such circumstances [dark!] makes my head hurt. I know, I'm just a wimp, but I'd simply throw my hands up in horror and run away to the nearest electric light I could find.

Then to "Meno" over at "Meno's Blog." If this is a new one for you then you might like to start with the quickie call "Up in Flames." It tickled my funny bone for a number of different reasons:- my 'hug a tree' daughter who has hissy fits about 'standby' buttons on household appliances, my pal in England who made me wait 45 minutes whilst she unplugged every item in her on bedroom flat again, and again, and again....... and my mum because she has just been brave enough to install a telephone answering machine - new fangled gadget guaranteed to set the house ablaze when you leave.......so she'll unplug it!

Next to "Flutter" in her delightful new spot at "Dark and Divine." Hmm? The Dark and Divine bit is gone. The 'craft' bit of 'fluttercrafts' is gone. So what are you calling yourself these days dearie? Louder please! Oh well, I expect she's busy with something else. Not to worry, I'm sure she'll put me straight in due course. If you haven't visited before then pop along to her post called "The kindness of Strangers" because we never know how many lives we touch.

Also to "Joey Mom" over at "Life with Joey." Her wee ones are more wee than mine currently are, but we share many of the same issues, joys and giggles. If this is a new place for you, I'd recommend this post here called "New Design."

Then to lovely sweet "Lime" at the "House of Lime," no bitter lemons around there. The house of lime is always full of entertainment for me, but if it's new to you, then a good spot to start might be here in her post called "Trinidad to Pennsylvania" where you can test your knowledge of chocolate = irresistible.

There's more sweet stuff to be had over with "Mer" at "Playing with my Food." I'm thinking of sending my youngest son over there to be desensitized to food as she's bound to have more luck than I am. Afterall, who could resist this step by step instruction posting on how to make a superb "Lemon Meringue Pie" with piccies, that had to be guaranteed success for everyone. Probably worth a book mark for those moments when the brain freezes over, or is that just me?

Also for my golly good pal "Linda" at "Are we there yet?" Linda is a real gem. How she manages to juggle career, family, blogging and the pressures of work I can hardly imagine. If you've not visited before then I would recommend this post of hers called "There's no crying in Dispatch."

A lovely new spot for me is "Lisa" over at "Lisa's chaos," a misnomer if ever I read one! Here you can bask in wildlife and fabulous photographs, none my blurry snaps around here. A good place to start would be here in her post called "Round Robin." This is great for a number of different reasons:-

1. I didn't know that Americans knew what the term Round Robin meant.
2. Lisa's potatoes assure that I'm not the only person who leaves things lying around for much too long.
3. I love black and white template sites.
4. It's a good way to find lots of other photography sites.

Lastly to the "anti wife". For anyone who has aspirations to improve their writing style then nip on over for a free tutorial! The "anti wife" has started to attend a writing course, and penny pinchers such as myself can learn a great deal from her financial investment. Now that's my kind of long distance learning experience. If you've not visited before then I would suggest that you start of here at her post called "Lesson 1 - the setting."

New post up on "Alien." It's 'Dinner Party II' so it may be better to read I first.

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