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

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Thoughty Thirteen

Thirteen Things about free advice

Here are a few words of wisdom that you may or may not wish to share with a child of your choice that I have received over the decades.

1. You my child, shall have a miserable and unfortunate life.

2. You really should try and smile more.

3. What's the rush? Is there a fire?

4. Stop being such a misery guts and go out and do something nice for someone else.

5. If you can't say anything nice don't say anything at all.

6. Never trust a mumbler.

7. People will never remember you, but they will always remember your manners.

8. What is the delay? Do I need to put a bomb under you?

9. Just do you best, that's good enough.

10. But you can't go out without a clean hanky!

11. Blow your nose! Oh, it's a freckle.

12. If I've told you once I've told you a thousand times, you'll never get rid of them with a Brillo pad.

13. You're a long time dead.

A long, long time ago, I would sit in the OBGYN's office, waiting. On the wall was a framed "poem" which read:-

A Child Lives What He Learns

If a child lives with criticism, he learns to condemn.
If a child lives with ridicule, he learns to be shy.
If a child lives with hostility, he learns to fight.
If a child lives with shame, he learns to feel guilty.
If a child lives with tolerance, he learns to be patient.
If a child lives with encouragement, he learns confidence.
If a child lives with praise, he learns appreciation.
If a child lives with fairness, he learns justice.
If a child lives with security, he learns to have faith.
If a child lives with approval, he learns to like himself.
If a child lives with acceptance and friendship, he learns to find love in the world.

~Original Author Unknown

I thought it was a bit mushy at the time, but now I'm not so sure, maybe I like Anon afterall.

As for number one, in case you wonder if it's true or who might have said such a thing or is this pay back time, I should explain? Someone did say this to me when I was very little, little enough to have to look up 'unfortunate' in the dictionary. Why do I mention it now? Because we all say and do things in the heat of the moment that we later regret. They're impossible to take back. We worry about the damage we've caused and perseverate about it, often years after the event. What we don't know, is that sometimes our words can spark quite a different reaction that we anticipated. For me at least, those words ensured that the opposite would be true, but I'm just obstinate all round, cussed rather than cursed. Perhaps you have a little funny gem of your own to share?

Ooo somebody "loves me!" "Yah/Boo"

For more useful advice you could nip along and visit "Miss Nelson" at "Meaningful Outcomes" especially this post here called "Raising a Sensory Smart Child." She certainly makes more sense than I do and she's a far better speller too.

Cheers dears

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others' comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Welcome Home

5 Minutes for Special Needs

She's been sleeping in her sister's old room for ten years. A blue room with white clouds.

During her absence the moths invade her space.

We decorate whilst she's away...

Red paint is safest in the garage.

The boys add their own decorative touches.

To welcome her home.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Whoops a daisy

Tackle It Tuesday Meme

Just like every other parent on the planet, I also have a 'to do' list longer than I count but that's what 'bullets' are really for.

I make a start. I take a marker and draw through the first line which reads, 'wake up.' I cross off six more lines in a similar fashion. Already I'm am stunningly efficient although still in my dressing gown at dawn.

I whizz through my day in a never ending "circus" of productivity.

The first time it happens I’m caught off guard and grab the kitchen counter for support. I look down at my son who has wrapped himself around my knees for some unaccountable reason. “What are you doing dear?” He grins but scampers away, wordless. If I wasn’t half way through chopping an onion I’d be inclined to investigate further.

The second time it happens I see it coming. “What on earth are you doing?” He cackles and flees. By mid-day, they’re both at it, one presumably copying the other.

I am under siege.

Inbetween whiles, I make pertinent enquiries, the whys and wherefores of this developmental trend, to no avail.

I am deeply suspicious.

Surely it's a conspiracy of some vile nature to foil my efficiency quotient for the day.

I notice, quite by chance, that whilst I sit on the carpet with them, I quell any further attacks. As soon as I stand, I am almost immediately struck down.

My 'to do' list calls to me from the kitchen, neglected if not ignored.

When their father walks through the door both the boys pounce on me at the same time, “well done guys!” he beams, “but she’s supposed to fall down, you’ve got to try harder.”

My mouth drops open as he grins as me, “aren’t they doing well?”

This is not a rhetorical question.

“What do you mean? They’ve been attacking me like this all day!
“Not attacking,....... tackling! I taught them last night!”


I think this should have a warning attached = don't try this at home!

If you have a spare 8 minutes, nip along to the "Autism Acceptance Project" to watch a 10 minute video, because life is two short to read two minutes of credits. Then you can nip along to "Estee's" blog and tell her that you too can only count to 7, maybe 8 on a good day, or maybe that's just me?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Manners maketh man, Manic Monday

Whilst Michael Savage storms into the spotlight to write off our children, the rest of us bimble along in the twilight shadows, busy and better than any microdot in his imagination.

I begin to type:-

‘In principle, all children should be seen but not heard during dinner so that the other participants are to enjoy their meal. It’s a very simple rule, one that I adhered to vigourously when I was but a wee young thing. It is essential that parents maintain scrupulously high expectations and standards, nay, tis their moral obligation to the rest of civilized society.’ I pause in my piece for ‘Ban Brats Daily’ and gather the family for lunch.

In the 80 degree heat in the shade, we collect Al Fresco, as part of the ongoing 'de-sensitization to outside' campaign. These days, the underlying principle remains the same, behave in a kindly manner and hopefully you won’t offend other people. For me, the unpublicized secret of good manners, is the skill to put other people at their ease.

We model ‘sitting.’ They approximate in return. We eat with knives and forks, their fingers work just as hard. Although there is a great deal of detritus over a three foot scatter radius, no-one purposefully throws food. During the meal we discuss a narrow range of subjects in depth, such as ‘whether Chaotic cards are more desirable than Pokemon cards?’

During a pause my youngest shoots off like Billy the Whizz for no apparent reason, “hey! Where are you going Sunny Jim?” He stops, mid-fly, frozen, “er…..I’m done.”
“No you are not done! There’s something you haven’t done yet.” His whole body sags as he takes heavy steps back to his chair to take up the flop position, the nearest he’s been to actually sitting in the last seven and a half minutes. “Please……..may I leaf dah table?”
“Beautifully said. Yes you may dear.” He scoots off on rewind back into the safety of the house.

My other son staggers off in his brother’s wake, “hey! Where are you going Sunny Jim?” It takes a few more staggers before the message is processed. He turns, “wot?” he splutters, spewing crumbs. “Sit back down, you have a face full of food.” His hands fly to his face, whole hands on whole face, as they flutter for evidence.

“I mean….......your mouth is still full of food dear!” He stands rigid, stretches his neck, head back and gulps. A little shiver engulfs him before he opens his maw wider than a lion to demonstrate emptiness. “Very good dear, now come and sit down, you’ve still forgotten something.”

He returns to the table to perch on the very rim of the chair. He opens his mouth to speak, notices a discarded Ritz cracker and stuffs it in without thought, “pls…..ma…lif..table?” he sprays. He droops back into the chair, resigned to full munching, without a further word.

“Ooo, where’s your Dad gone?” I say to no-one in particular. This is just as well since half my potential audience is hard of hearing and the other half finds it hard to hear. I scan the garden. Not a trace.

“Pleaz……may I lif dah table now?”
“Yes dear, well done indeed.”

Nonna’s chair scrapes back as she heads off to dead head a rose or two. I sit at the table for six with the debris, in silence, apart from the sickly globuling sound of the fountain.

I swivel to see my son as he hovers around the strawberry pot and the algae covered fountain in the blistering heat. I watch his fingers travel to the one semi ripe bauble. He makes a valiant attempt at a pincher grip but it’s more like a strawberry daiquiri. Little pick pocket!

I say nothing, as he hates strawberries.

“Hey mom!”
“Yes dear?”
“Look………what I...... found.”
“Yes……first this year.”

Same every year, same spot, same fruit, same familiarity although he never seemed to notice them before.

“Dya wannit?”
“Who me?”
“Yup!” he reaches over and uncurls his fingers from his palm. I take the red splat and pop it in my mouth.


To Vicki Forman

"Kristina" helps spread the word.

To see for yourself go to "Flickr."

Thank you to "Jennifer" at "Pinwheels" for guiding me through, and to "Shannon" for the "foresight."

We are all "connected" in ways we never thought possible, even if the "words" are sometimes difficult.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Connectivity - building community

I conduct an animated conversation with "Kev" whilst he is fast asleep in England and I’m wide awake in San Jose.

“So what seems to be the problem now then Madeline?”
“Well I just thought it would be nice if we could "connect" all the "nice bloggers" together.”
“Nice! I thought you banned that word?”
“Oops, true but you know what I mean.”
“Actually I don’t?”
“Ah, well as I skip around the blogosphere I come across "like minded" bloggers and it would be good if we could all stay connected.”
“That’s what the "hub" is for, we’re already connected, you’re a "member" remember?”
“Indeed, but there are other blogs, "friendly," "positive" "autism" blogs.”
“That’s what you have a side bar for.”
“I know but the Blogger one is all messed up and I just can’t manage it on the Wordpress thingy.”
“Nevermind! So what do you want to do?”
“I need a button.”
“Yes, a little button perhaps with a plus sign on it that I can just click on it and the new blog just gets added.”
“Why don’t you just use a "reader?”
“I do, but they don’t show up on my blog do they, so we don’t get really connected.”
"True, they "cement" us together."
"Yes but I'd prefer it if we could all be elmered."
"You need to go on a course."
"Which way?"
"Er.....Blogging for Dummies."
"Is that a "plug?"
“Never! I''m far to PC."
"Whatever Mac...... er....... Kev!"
"Peace, love and understanding! Are you really that naive?"
"Yes please! Anyway, I'm only a hop, skip and a jump from Santa Cruz, real granola head land."

"Granola head?"
"Sorry, it's just a little American term that we Americans use."
"Muesli to you! So what happened to your "blogrolling" widget?”
“I mislaid it.”
“I’m not entirely sure. I think I clicked on the wrong bit whilst I was cleaning the keyboard.”
“You didn’t stick it in the dish washer did you?”
“Ooo I never thought of that.”

“Well just re-install it.”
“Good idea. In the meantime a nice big one click button, would do the trick. You know, for people who need font size 24.”
"Clean your bifocals."
"I would, if I could find them."
“It would affect your loading.”
“Really? I did put on a few pounds in England, but that’s actually good for me.”
“No I…......nevermind. Anyway, there are already forums for that kind of thing like "wrong plant.”
“Too old.”
“There’s "Vox" too, "Facebook" and other social networks.”
“Not the same thing at all, and all those logins and passwords are such a pain.”
"Not a lot of working memory then?"
“Sad but true. Then if we all had one we could all add nice blogs that we find.”
“All of us?”
“Yes, one click fits all!”
“I’ll give you click missy.”
“If it quacks like a duck….”
"Anyway, I thought you were giving up blogging from your "Twitter" comments."
"I'm exercising my "wimmins" right to "change" my mind."
“I don’t think you’ve thought this through properly, there could be all sorts of unintended consequences.”
“No such thing, there’s always an underlying thread of "connectivity.”
“Er…..? Run that by me again?”
“You know "band together," make ourselves "heard,” "everyone!" All over the "place."
“I thought you were all for peace and "quiet?”
“I think I’ve fallen off my fence.”
“That can happen if you’re not careful with your pedestals.”
“Oh good, so you’ll do it?”
“It’s not quite as simple as that you know, that’s a lot of work you’re asking for?”
“I’d have to (&#$% *(#)* the platform, regenerate the %^&*, add some #$%^ and probably &^)#@ just to be on the safe side, to say nothing of the graphics and the interface.”
“Is that all?”
“Are you listening?”
“Verily, in troth I doth listen to every syllable thy uttereth.”
“So you get my point?”
“Indeed! Sharp as a tack me.”
“Anyway I’m much to busy seeing to "Estee" at the moment.”
“Really! Now that is interesting.”
“Go to sleep woman!

Very well, I shall go and pester "Joe" instead, then I shan't feel so "useless!"

Ooo look! "Genevieve Hinson's" already done it!

Always be wary of any helpful item that weighs less than its operating manual.
- Terry Pratchett


Brevity Blog Carnival

A 'green' message with no trash talk - he's no wastrel.

"Single Sentence Movie Review" give it a go!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Cart me off to the funny farm

I take my BRAT’s [*] to celebrate Nonna’s unBirthday at Chilli’s, a delightfully noisy and sticky establishment.

Both boys lack any muscle function and lie splayed on the empty benches. I park one on my lap and clamp the other to my side.

As they are now quite large children, I have the distinct impression that I resemble a Ventriloquist, but that’s paranoia for you. A group of young persons giggle and whisper behind their hands, wrapped in the public eye of exposure and embarrassment in equal proportions. “Dey are be rude?” he enquires.
“Make a U-turn if possible!” bellows his brother, fortunately muffled by the bundle of fleece jackets tucked under my other arm.
“Not really, they’re just at that stage.”
“Wot stage?”
“Make a U-turn if possible!”
“Try and use your indoor voice dear! Er the stage when…….you are the centre of the universe.”
“Nevermind……they’re not being rude, just……private.”
“You are say it rude to be whisper.”
“Make a U-turn if possible!”
“Quiet inside voice lovie. Er…..there’s different kinds of whispering……ooo look the thingummy is buzzing, our table must be ready.” Perhaps we should all try and whisper?

Our party of five lumbers in the general direction of the table with only a few false starts and stumbles. Nonna fumbles for her glasses so I offer to read it aloud.

“Pardon! What you say?” she asks in her thick Italian accent. I detect that her hearing aides are also adrift.

The server appears for our drinks order. My eldest son makes a valiant attempt. I wait until she’s left, “well done dear, very polite indeed. Next time shall we speak a bit louder so that she can hear you better in this noisy place?” He grins hugely, so grown up.

“What is dis?” asks Nonna pointing at a menu description. I guide her hand to the picture, “ah! I see.”

By the time the server returns, we have our choices ready, so does my youngest son who bellows “I want chocolate milk and fries please!” An extreme event for a neophobic! The server leans back from the blast but manages a smile.

Orders placed, server departed, I reach over to him, “great job young man! Maybe you can try and use your indoor voice next time?”
“You said louder..er….er……louder!”
“Yes I know I did. Louder for him, quieter for you.”
“You say no whisper!”
“I know but….” I am interrupted by the arrival of a group of servers at the next booth, who break into an even louder “happy birthday chorus.” Both the boys clamp their hands over their ears. My sons look at me, accusingly. They slip under the table to engage in their brand new interest, lumps of chewing gum. Ideally I should like them to sit on their hands. Alternatively, I would just like them to sit, preferably on the chairs.

The food arrives in a timely fashion. “What is dis?” asks Nonna tapping her country fried steak with her knife.
“What you say?”
“It’s steak,” I add, slightly louder with precise diction and enunciation.
“Country fried steak.”
“Again please, I can’t hear you properly.”
“ S…t…e…a…k,” I spell.
“Pardon me, again?”
STEAK!” I yell, turning ever so slightly puce in the face. The boys look at me, eyes like saucers, frozen. I hear him whisper “she is mad?”

Maybe I am, or very soon will be.

[*] Beautifully Rambunctious Autistic Tribe
Rats to you Mr. Savage.

Here is another blog that's newish to me that you might enjoy, "The Funny Farm." Need somewhere to start? How about here on her post called "
Love me some Bean,"
coz you know I'm a little biased. Don't forget to say hello to her!

In addition, here's another new favourite that's really an old favourite before I lost all my bookmarks called "Send Chocolate." If this IS new to you then you might like to start here on her insightful post called "What I learned." If that's not community spirited then I don't know what is!

There again, I think I could do a lot worse that sign myself up for "Julie's" "camp." I wonder if they have a height limit?

What was that?

Age limit?

Ooo you big rudey!

Cheers dears

Comment of the week award

[Inspired by "Scribbit."]

Goes to............

"Shelia" from "The Crooked made Straight."

Her comment was on the "Impartial" post.

She commented as follows:-

"He is AWESOME and the way you describe him is LOVELY. We see him and you and Dad! We are there with you in the moment. We get the humor, feel the frustration, and yet experience all of the beauty encapsulated in your lives together."

I was already grumpy. I had also recently received an email from someone who claimed affinity with my perspective on autism. Someone who agreed with the title "Cold hearted empty shell." Someone who is unfamiliar with sarcasm.

It played on my mind. I wondered whether I should drop the sarcasm? Maybe I should pretend that we live a charmed perfect life? Maybe I should moan about the miserable bits? Maybe I should stop blogging altogether?

Not everyone likes to comment publicly, some people email me privately instead, but it's feedback that lets me know whether the message is coming through.

I don't like crossed lines.

Very, very cross.

I came stomping into the house after fighting with a truculent tropical tree, when the fork broke. Shelia's message came zinging through, loud and clear.

Maybe I should rename it as 'Sanity Citation' or a 'Certificate of Sanity'? Either way, grateful thanks.

So if you are new to her blog, I would recommend that you could grasp the 'flavour' from this posting called "Turn the Other cheek."

Certainly made me think.

Cheers dears

Newbie here!

Whilst it's not really my place to say, I'd also like the opportunity to introduce you to a new blogger of my acquaintance, although we're well on the way to getting to know one another. Here we have "Joy Mama" who blogs over at "Elvis Sightings".

Ideally I'd like to do the linky blog roll thingummy but I haven't quite fathomed how to do that on Wordpress - my bad!

So if you have a few moments, pop along and say hi! or 'have a frightfully gorgeous day' as you will.

If this is a new one for you, then you might like to start here at her posting called "Good fences, good neighbours," as it makes a super introduction.

Cheers dears

Thursday, July 24, 2008


I watch him watch as we sit outside for dinner on a balmy evening. His spoon is poised in a limp hand, mouth slightly ajar, concentrating.

“What are you looking at dear?”

I count to fifteen with ‘ands’ as he processes.

“Um …….my new friend.”

I double check, it’s just us, Dad, Nonna, little brother and me, no friend, imaginary or otherwise.

I hope?

Would an imaginary friend be a good thing?

“What’s he called dear?”

I pause and wait.

“Um…….I dunno?”
“What does he look like?”
“Um……..jus ordinary.”
“Can you describe him to me with your ‘good describing words’?”
“Um………..no………..but yah can look for yurself,” he adds as the wobbly spoon points at his Dad’s back.

We all look.

His Dad shoots from his chair flailing.

“Good grief! That "Praying Mantis" must be three inches long!”

So much to share, so little time.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


He appears self dressed in his favourite T-shirt. Horray!

I notice that favourite T-shirt is a tad snug. He has been fond of Curious George for many a long year and chortles gloriously at the mischievous tales. Since this was a welcome departure from Dinosaurs, and Thomas, my oldest daughter painted this specially designed creation with her own fair hands.

Delightfully, it was a hit. I grab my camera as for some reason I don’t appear to have any record of it’s existence and some time soon it will be relegated to the rag bag, threadbare and washed out.

As she walks into the kitchen I prompt, “show Nonna what you’re wearing dear!”

He looks at Nonna.

He looks at me, with a certain degree of uncertainty.[*]

He pulls down the waist band of his trousers.

[*] A hint of social awareness maybe?

So much to share, so little time.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Pincer Grip

This is a drawing kindly provided by "Andrea" from "Andrea's Buzzing Around:." If only I could draw like "that."

Pincer or Pincher grip definition:-
A skill that "generally" develops in infants between the age of 12 and 15 months.

Can you do it? Not "draw like Andrea" but put your hand in that position?

Many people can't or have great difficulty making the two tips touch. Sometimes even if we can manage to get them to touch, we lack the finger strength to maintain a good hold.

It can be very frustrating for everyone concerned.

How about "this?"

Of course if truth be told we don't hold spoons in a pincher grip anyway but it's a great tool to avoid getting pinched until you master it.

Better late than never. So glad we got around to it "eventually."

Monday, July 21, 2008

Impartial and partially biased [England is evil 11]

I grow weary of the three little monkeys, and short of bananas after a few days, but it’s only to be expected after experiencing the monkeys at "Longleat Safari park." “Peanut butter mun keys! Peanut butter mun keys! Peanut butter mun keys!” he chants, oblivious and very, very busy.
"So how long do you think he's going to keep going with this "ditty" then?" asks his Dad.
"No idea, as long as it takes I suppose."
"Still it makes a refreshing change from....." he covers his mouth to whisper "England is Evil."

We both look at him as he jumps from chair to floor to fireplace in an endless un-tiring circuit, to see if he heard. It's the third consecutive rainy day for a child that does not 'do' weather.

We pause. No fall out. He was probably to busy to hear. We glance at each other, happy not to have tripped his switch.

“So are you going to try some then?” I ask the moving target. Come along now my nifty little neophobic, you need some calories for all that cavorting!
“Wot?” he bellows.
“Some peanut butter?”
“I am hate peanut butter. Peanuts is poison!”
“I know, but since you’ve been saying peanut butter for days I thought you might be willing to give it another try?”
“So………what’s with the peanut butter monkeys then? Where did that come from?”
“Reeses? Reeses peanut butter cups? The candy?”
“No! The monkey.”
“I don’t remember any……oh……Rhesus!”
“Yes, Reeses monkeys!”
“But you read the sign at Longleat. R-h-e-s-u-s. You said it out loud. We talked about them. Remember?”
“England Rhesus. America Reeses. England is evil!”


Grateful thanks to "Angela" from "Memoirs of a Chaotic Mommy" for pointing out that I cannot count, I probably deserve the name 'chaotic' far more than she obviously and not obliviously, does!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

A den of vipers [England is Evil 13]

He stops dead in front of the gate before taking up a horizontal position on the ground.
“What’s up love?”
“Don’t you want to come down to the beach?”
He sounds calm but you never can tell.
“You can’t stay there love, people will trip over you.”
“I am wait.”
“What are you waiting for?”
“For everyone to be coming.”

I lean against the fence to watch the rest of our party descend the windy path. I look over at the busful of school children who have also come to admire fossils. We were careful not to make promises, as Ammonites are few and far between. They are content to know that they are ‘rare types.’ Once again I am grateful that ‘Pokemon speak’ helps us translate so accurately.

“BEE Wah EE is mean danger?”
“Er…..yes! It’s pronounced ‘beware.’ So……?” He gives me 'the look,' the look that says ‘idiot, isn’t it obvious!’ He sighs but does not belittle my tiny brain, “dah sign it say ‘beware.’”

I look around for the sign, a sign, any sign. “Ooo! Right! It’s says ‘beware adders,’ well spotted, but there’s nothing to worry about dear really.”
“I no worry, I safe.”
“Ah......well…..adders are very shy creatures, you don’t have to be scared.”
“I not creature. Not scared neever.”

His nonchalance changes to outrage. I suffer another dose of ‘the look.’

“I be a boy not a creature, I be a adder not a scaredy cat!”
“Oh….. er………?”
Dey are not adder peoples,” he explains as he points at the rest of his family down on the beach. How I love the new "rude" pointy fingers on limp arms, a skill expressed in youthful "toddlers," that comes later for some other people. “I am an adder people,” he points at his chest with a serious expression, “so I am wait here….by dah sign……safe……”

Can’t argue with the logic. Thank goodness I can still do long division.

I should like to take this opportunity to thank "Miss Nelson" from "Meaningful Outcomes" for pointing me in this direction over the weekend, bound to come in useful assuming I can find my "bookmark" again!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Summer days - the cold hearted empty shell of autism

Whilst the girls are away at Summer camp.............

the boys keep vigil

and camp out in her empty room.

So good to be "home."

Friday, July 18, 2008


Definition:- Perseveration is the uncontrollable repetition of a particular response, such as a word, phrase, or gesture, despite the absence or cessation of a stimulus, usually caused by brain injury or other organic disorder.

This is another variation on "Perseveration" and how it can pan out in "adults," maybe you might recognise a little bit of yourself, perhaps? A longish piece, but very worthwhile for a little personal insight.

To those who have grown weary of seeing the same title “England is evil,’ every day, I have a suggestion? Take the first letter that matches the name of your own country, such as M for Mexico and couple it with another word such as Malevolent. There after, chant in threes ‘Mexico is malevolent.’ It would help if your accent differed significantly, and identifiably from your country of choice. Ideally this should be repeated during every idle moment as well as any number of minutes when you are concentrating on something, or frustrated, or distracted. The phase can also be used both publicly and privately. Continue in this fashion for the next 22 days. Ensure that you are in Mexico when you say it. Ensure that you find a good translator so that everyone is sure to understand you. Ensure that the pitch, timbre and volume of the words is loud enough, even if their hearing aid is turned off. For variety, it can also be sung to any number of different tunes on random shuffle. You do not have to be on holiday or in unfamiliar territory to complete this experiment, but it helps. Once you have completed each and every one of these steps, then you shall be better placed to point a finger.

I would be willing to lay a wager, that even if you changed Malevolent to Marvelous, nevertheless it would still numb your brain cells.

Would that all the world’s woes were so tiny.

Non-verbal no longer, I am the luckiest mummy around.

Any takers?

Go on, indulge me, especially if you're on one of those dratted 'readers!'

Or maybe you might have an opinion about my future career prospects if we return to England? I'm thinking.........exclusive importer and distributer of Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Crackers, or is that too self serving?

It's nice to go away, but it's lovely to be "home."

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Another crabby old day [England is Evil 12}

The trouble with holidays is that they are just so exhausting.

Without the bribery of ‘electronics’ time, we fail miserably in the ‘discipline’ and ‘routine’ departments. Even when we ignore the issue of jet lag, they’re still up and buzzing about until gone 11 every night.

“Go to sleep and tomorrow we shall have a treat!” just doesn’t cut the mustard.

“Go to sleep and then tomorrow you can rot your teeth on candy,” is no sweetner.

“Go to sleep and we’ll go to the beach tomorrow / have a day trip / insert any other enticement you can think of!” fails to meet the mark.

Sadly they need no electronic assistance to ping them out of bed just before six every morning.

I drag them to the beach for an educational extravaganza. I’ve given up saying ‘it will be FUN,’ as I appear to be in the minority. My daughter was quite keen initially until the weather took a turn for the worse. The boys are both aghast and horrified.

We pass the Life Guards setting up their site on the edge of the beach as we pick our way over the rocks.
“Whatawe gonna do if we catch one?” she asks with a hint of caution.
“We’ll look at it for a while and then we’ll pop them back in the rockpool.”
“Can we take em home?” she pleads.
“Well…..maybe for a few hours but then we’ll have to bring them back to the beach.”
“It’s just I heard you talkin to Dad about crab sandwiches. You’re not really gonna eat em are you?”
“Eat crabs! Dat is insanity!” he bellows. “England is evil!”
“Put a sock innit why dontcha!” she announces in her best American accent.

It appears that everyone is picking up the vernacular. It sets him off in a vortex,
“Sock? Wot sock? I am not be have dah sock. Wot sock!”
“Oh dear. Nevermind socks dear. Lets concentrate on crabs for the moment.”
“Crabs not socks?”
“You are eat dah socks?’
“No, not socks nor crabs, anyway these, will be too small.”
“Good!” sighs my daughter, grateful for the pause. “Come on guys it’ll be fun,” she calls encouragingly. She looks at me. I look at her. She grins, “well maybe for us huh!” she adds conspiratorially.

So wise yet so young.

They boys generally lack enthusiasm for "new" experiences and this time is no different. “We used to do this when we were little too, but we used hooks,” I offer forgetting the trigger of anything that could remotely be described as a deadly weapon.
“Hooks!” he shrieks in anguish, “England is evil!”
“But not these ones. These ones don’t have hooks. They won’t hurt the crabs.”

I stuff luncheon meat into one of the tiny net bags and demonstrate my dangling skills amongst the crashing waves. “That’s never gonna work mom, you shoulda got the ones with the hooks.”
“Of course it will work, we just need a little patience.” My sons hold a bucket in one hand and a reel of cord in the other with expressions of those condemned on death row.

I pull up the string gingerly. I am flabbergasted to see a crab on the other end. “Quick pass me the bucket!” To my utter amazement two buckets are hurled at my personage. A lightening speed reaction. Horray! My daughter passes her across too.

We all peer in the bucket. Joint attention! Horray!
“Ooo he is a little gorgeous one,” squeaks my youngest.
“He ain’t little,” commands the middle one.
“He’s a girl,” demands my daughter. “Mom, how dya know if they’re girls or boys?”
“He no crab! Wot is it wiv five legs?”
“I am luv my new friend. We can take him America?”
“Probably not.”
“England is evil!”

I demonstrate, rather ineptly, how to pick up a crab without being pinched. I exist in a vortex of squeals of delight as the crab demonstrates waggling.
“He is dah cutest guy!”
“He is more gorgeouser dan my rock. I think.”
“What do you think dear?”
“Maybe I am liking England a lil bit.”
“Oh good! At last! About time Sunny Jim!”
“I am like free pet crabs and free rocks.”
His big brother looks across at him. Do I detect mischief? A tease or a prompt or both, I'll never know as he mutters, “America! Land of dah Free!” But it works, “ENGLAND IS EVIL!” he bellows to the surprise of Life Guards, up wind 50 yards away.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Saviour of the world [England is evil 10]

In England I find that the establishments we frequent do no provide napkins without some positive request on behalf of the patron. I feel exceptionally grumpy as my brain has been turned to mush by the latest mantras:- “Roger! Over and out!” with accompanying hand gestures and microphone voice, interspersed with “intruder alert! Intruder alert! Intruder alert!” in perfect Dalek, every time someone comes too close.

I know I shall be a complete basket case by the end of the day or deaf.

We sit in the cafĂ© by the beach in the rain, a picture of misery, although that’s probably just me.

The first time my exceptionally clean son helps himself to a wad of paper, I lecture him on recycling, deforestation and scarce resources. “Intruder alert! Intruder alert! Intruder alert!”

As usual, no-one is listening. “Roger! Over and out!”

I stomp back to the counter in a huff to return them to the dispenser.

Back at our table I find my older son, the filthy one, wiping his mouth on his T-shirt with a fully exposed tummy. I immediately spout on the subject of unnecessary laundry, water and detergent usage with thinly disguised grumpiness. I plod back to the counter for one more leaf of napkin.

When I return the little one grins at me, “intruder alert! Intruder alert! Intruder alert!” I expect a sense of humour failure very shortly, but I cannot see his brother, with his face hidden by a bowl as he licks the platter clean to the wrathful glances of other guests. I show him my best pouty expression with hands on hips for extra emphasis when he volunteers, “save trees use tongue!”

I shall resolve to try harder to avoid typecasting my children.

“Roger! Over and out!”

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

You're a what?

I assumed that the joys of "Longleat" had passed him by completely, but after a few days I find out otherwise.

Every time the bell strikes and I have a moment to draw breath, I find him teetering around on one leg, ballerina style.

"What are you doing dear? You'll do yourself a mischief if you're not very careful!"
"I am be do my exercises."
"Really! Maybe you could try a safer position?"
"No. I am need."
"So I can be do dis!"
"What is that.............exactly?"
"It is being .............. exactly....... er........
.... up-side-down double horned Rhino."

I'm hiring him out as a sideshow at Longleat next year to undermine the "ungulates."

Monday, July 14, 2008

Indigo child! [England is evil 9]

“I am liking the English wimmins.”
“Yes indeed. I remember that you told me that.”
“Why did I remember?”
“Why you are not one?”
“Why am I not one what? A woman? I am a woman.”
“No? Lets start again.”
“Why you are not being an English punk?”
“Er……I’m probably too old to be a punk.” Has he never seen an American punk?
“Ah thank you dear.”

Sweet child of mine.
I think?

“No what?”
“You are maybe not er.....um.....nevermind!
“Nevermind! Really. Thank you luvvie.”

Ahh. Bless his little cotton socks. Tolerance personified.

“I am liking the English wimmins punks.”
“Oh good. I don’t remember seeing any actually.”
“Look where?”

He points! Ooo a lovely pointing finger in the direction of…..the horizon…..the path…..some people……..lots of people.....which people....little groups……..some old ladies……one with a blue rinse!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Long leap [England is Evil 8]

I was going to say that our day trip to Longleat Safari Park was a bit of a flop, but that’s just the grumpiness poking out. A few years ago such an adventure would have been inconceivable or at least impossible once the double buggy went out of service. How I mourned the loss of the double buggy and it’s impossible to open safety straps, but heaving a five year old and a three year old around in the contraption became untenable. Freedom was the only way forward.

Freedom was a mixed blessing. I suspect that I stunted their ability to walk and navigate, but as one took flight and the other dropped in a heap I was at the bottom of another steep learning curve.

Thus we trundle around the park using our reluctant feet. It’s a classic scene from Dali as my children drape themselves over various fences and garbage cans. “Why dere are no fire hydrants for lying? England is evil,” he sighs. I yank the shoulder of my bra strap in the humidity. I wonder if I’ll find the time to buy additional garments in England as AAA is not available in the States. Mail order is silly when we’re already here, not so much battery powered and certainly not supercharged. British ones are so much more comfortable, free of wires and pads and other foul means of torture. I prefer a more natural line in any case, something that moves and breathes with you.

My youngest son is absorbed with pimples and pays no heed to the wide variety of exotic wildlife available for his entertainment. My older son is far more interested in the curiously abundant spiders’ webs. As such, our progress is slow.

Our slow progress is matched by an older couple, perhaps a husband and wife? Our paths cross frequently as we wind our way through the site. On each occasion I hear the same mutter, “acne uneven, acne uneven, acne uneven,” which is not a Dalek script that I’m familiar with.

My own elderly eyesight is poor, but apart from the male pattern baling they appear to be otherwise free from any blemish. Uneven? I have no clue. Why must everything match anyway? Indeed her crisp, Broderie Anglaise blouse makes me envious in the sticky heat. I pull at the pokey hook in the middle of my back. Who on earth designed this garment? A trip to Marks and Spencer’s lingerie department seems indispensable. Why do people wear luminous white bras under white fabrics? Why did I allow the volume control campaign to slide?

The park has one saving grace in the form of copious signs with interesting facts, figures and curiosities to read. We read each and every one of them. The boys repeat some detail that catches their fancy until we move to the next sign. As such, our progress slows still further until we are practically static. I’m discreet as I adjust an elastic strap that digs into my collar bone, maybe we’ll go to town tomorrow? Interspersed with these details, they insert their own interesting gems, extracted from the ether, “the lizard and the hobo, the lizard and the hobo, the lizard and the hobo.” I look around for visual cues. Where is it all coming from?

I notice that every other woman in the park is at peace with her lingerie choices. I also notice that there is a significant percentage of the population are without a foundation garment, and not only the men. I realize that I have never seen a braless woman in the States, not even in Santa Cruz. There again, until recently I’ve probably been too distracted to notice.

The strong American accent and growling, rumbling tone doesn’t help. I field a barrage of questions:-

“What is a ‘wanker’?”
“Why is this rock so gorgeous?”
“How you are spell ‘blue’?”
“Beep! Can I self censorship?”
“’Bleedin el,’ what is that meaning?”
“Can birds fly in the rain?”
“Is the night garden for babies?”
“Can you play cards wiv a cheetah? Never, never, never cheater.”
“An Afgan is a hound species?”
“Are seagulls have barbequed tail feathers?”
“Are there chips in English jacket potatoes?”
“Am I an endangered species?”

Non-verbal, my eye!

The lions yawn lazily in the long grass and so do the children in the car. Tigers drift through the shadows of trees and the children sink into their seats. The Rhinos nose in their feed bags and everyone decides that malnutrition is imminent.

We wander into the restaurant for sustenance and park ourselves next to the same elderly couple, now sporting a very fine wicker picnic hamper. “Acne uneven, acne uneven, acne uneven,” he glowers at them with his arms folded tightly over his chest.

“What’s the matter dear, you look ever so cross?”
“What deez fings are called?” he bellows at fifty decibels.
“Ow, don’t do that dear, people are looking!”
“Stop it! Don’t touch your mother’s……er…..don’t touch her……there.”
“Dey are not acne?”

Bailing Award

So lastly this weekend, this award [which was originally animated and now refuses to co-operate!] the 'I.O.U.1' award or the 'Bailing Out Award' which ever you prefer [?] goes to three magnificent bloggers simultaneously.


For bailing me out in the 'is it possible to barbeque croutons when it's 100 degrees outside?' burning question.

"The Anti-Wife"

"Bi-polar lawyer cook"

"Your Vegan Mom"

Please feel free to steal. Are there any rules? Um....

Give it to someone who has helped you out or
made a comment that picked up your spirits when you were feeling low or
when some brilliant flash of inspiration came from a commenter or
some posting that dragged you out of, or into reality, unexpectedly.

Cheers dears

Pause for thought

"Mike Stanton" of "action for autism" a member of the "autism hub" drew our attention to a "new case" which needs our thought. You can read the article here in the "Mail online" and I'll update with a link to the Channel 4 programme soon.

Very best wishes to Henry and his family.

If this seems an unlikely turn of events watch "here" it's about 1 minute into the piece after the headlines and it's about the first 9 minutes long. Click on the right side where it shows Ben Haslam [part three] and hit play. [Mon 14th July] I needed the volume up full to hear it. Bear in mind that the current US dollar to sterling is 2:1.

I'll let you know when I figure out how to access part 1 and 2.

Thanks to Sarah Spiller for this series.

To read an educated opinion on this trend go "here" on "Left Brain Right Brain."

For me, tonight's nightmare will consist of a private and personal discussion:- 'would we be willing to relinquish custody of our children to have their needs met by the State?'

But we're lucky, as it's only a theoretical debate.

Best Comment of the week award

[Inspired by "Scribbit."]

Goes to............

"Joe" at "Club 166" for his comment:-

"Just finished catching up on all the "England is Evil" posts.

I believe the British Bureau of Tourism would happily hire you as an ombudsman, if they read these.


My kingdom for a job!

My republic for employment!


Hear, hear.

Please feel free to do likewise with the award and make up some rules to go with it perhaps?

Cheers dears

Saturday, July 12, 2008


"Autism Insights" has kindly nominated me for an award, the Arte Y Pico Award.

Upon winning this award you are tasked with the following rules…

1. You have to pick 5 blogs that you consider deserve this award for their creativity, design, interesting material, and also for contributing to the blogging community, no matter what language
2. Each award has to have the name of the author and also a link to his or her blog to be visited by everyone.
3. Each award winner has to show the award and put the name and link to the blog that has given her or him the award itself.
4. Award-winner and the one who has given the prize have to show the link of “Arte y Pico” blog, so everyone will know the origin of this award. "arteypico.blogspot.com"

Since my language skills are poor, I find I'm obsessing on the 'art' bit, therefore first up would be "Karen" over at "Art in the Garage." If I were English, I would say that she is a real arty farty type, but as that is unlikely to translate that accurately over here in the States, I should probably say that her creative talents are inspirational! That would be the first lesson of the day = if someone says you're arty farty, it's a compliment.

Then there's "Tara" over at ""TLCIllustration"
She's more of an airy fairy type, but she can certainly be a "little devil" sometimes.

Then we can move on to "Louceel" for a jolly good yarn or two, or alternatively we can take a peek at his palatte and take in a "piccie."

That's all for now.

Cheers dears

Wall E movie review

Yes I know that everyone else on the planet has reviewed it and seen it already, but some of us have to wait until the dust has settled and the Theatre house is empty before we venture forth.

How I love empty theatres!

How I love Pixar.

There are lots of great things about this film for smallish people. For my smallish people the best thing was how there were very few words. The first half [?] was word free. The exaggerated noises, expressions and 'body language' made it easy to 'read' and understand.

When the people come along, words are used and conversations take place but I think it would be possible to turn off the sound and still understand the story as it's caked in visual cues.

Although Pixar is now Disney, or rather Disney's gobbled up Pixar, fortunately the movie isn't drowned in Disney mush.

I am probably biased by the environmental theme.

Warning:- some children may find that subsequently, robot noises and gesture are preferable to word production.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Pet Rocks [England is evil 8]

Sometimes I think we can be more direct as bloggers at the weekend, when traffic is lower, maybe more rambling, perhaps less slick and maybe more frank?

After several aborted attempts he is eventually lured onto the beach, despite the sand. I cannot fathom the derivation, but the new game, of his own making, works a treat. After nearly an hour of this play, it would be easy to think that his retrieval skills are unmatched.

His phrase is, “I went digging and guess what I found?” whereupon he presents me with a rock with an exceptionally surprised expression on his face and a little gasp. Then it’s my turn to say, “Wow, just as well I brought the bucket!” If I fail to look sufficiently surprised he gives it another go. He is patience personified. I have rarely seen him so content at play with something other than ‘electronics.’

For many this would be dull, especially the constant repetition. It’s probably the sort of thing you do with a toddler, but I really don’t care. I’m sure most parents love to play with their children, but for me, everything is always a group activity. If my other children were present my attention would be divided, and the ‘play’ would be a stresser. Who is doing what? Always on edge waiting for the next meltdown, the next disaster, the next unforeseen and unanticipated danger. May I’ve just forgotten how to relax?

I know we all have them, those sweet moments of perfect intimacy. It’s these tiny huge moments that slip through my fingers. Just for now, for me, one on one, is such a precious treat.

I’m so happy I could cry.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Ding, ding, ding, [England is evil 7]

It’s not that I’m ignoring him, more like not paying attention. He’s happy, playing, why break the spell?

“Ooo you had a good idea! Ding!” What a sweet adorable child. I wonder how long this one will last? I continue to make supper as the light fades. The minutes tick by as he continues with his new mantra, “ooo you had a good idea! Ding!” I can see him flit from one soft toy to another to repeat the same phrase out of the corner of my eye. Little gem. He darts between his brother and sister. She swats him like a fly but he's back to the soft toys in a ceaseless circuit of energy.

Where has this sudden good humour come from I wonder? Where has ‘England is evil’ gone? Ah the innocence of youth.

When I snap on the light in the kitchen I notice the gloom in the sitting room. I step in and reach for the table light but the darned thing is fused. “Ooo you had a good idea! Ding!” I look across to see him with the light bulb in his hand.

Light fingered Leviathan!

Still, it's an improvement on "last year."

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