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

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Foot falls and other mis-steps

Let me say first, that that table is nearly as old as I am. The chairs are more rickety so we bought half a dozen sturdier versions to supplement. American chairs that mingle quite happily with their South African cousins. They're a mis-match like just about everything else around here. We have enjoyed living in this house for nearly 10 years now, so we know all of it's pitfalls.

It was baby proofed for a while but our efforts were never foolproof with our particular set of children. There were no substitutes for constant supervision. Nonetheless our children have survived and indeed flourish, but it never pays to be too complacent.

Just as we come to believe that we have seen everything and know all things that are knowable, a plaintive voice will squeal, "mom! Can you get me outta here?"

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The tale of two pots

[or why I hate glaze]

Once upon a time there was a potter who threw two pots on the wheel, one straight after the other, with the same type of clay, in the same manner. Many moons later after they were both high fired, the potter glazed them with Sun Valley Rutile and Woo Blue.

One came out like the poo pot that it really was, rough dark brown and hideously vile:-

The other came out as a stunning gem:-

A camera just can't do it justice,

but with a 50% failure rate there better be a jolly big market for poo pots.

Cheers dears

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

What exactly is that anyway?

5 Minutes for Special Needs

What's your best guess?

I'll give you a hint=
woo blue and sun valley rutile.

Answers tomorrow!

"Trish" the supremely well "organised one" pointed out that my sidebar had gone all screwy, although she used proper words to describe my most unfortunate mistake with Wordpress so I whizzed of to "Van" to throw myself at his technical feet, the maker of the favicon "favicon" who has saved my bacon again "Furiousball" so he may be able to help you out too with your web needs for his reasonable prices, fully "qualified" and tech savvy approach is sure to leave all "customers" thoroughly satisfied, again. You can find his "resume" and "contact" details on this post "here."

And you still have just enough time to sneak into the Mother's Day Giveaways of at "5 Minutes for Mum."

Mothers Day 2009

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

Monday, April 27, 2009

Listen very carefully........

Tackle It Tuesday Meme
Try This Tuesday

Because I shall say this only once! Well, that at least was the plan. I don’t know about you and your campaigns but around here consistency and persistence are our watch words, together with big dollops of follow through. I think it’s the follow through where I am apt to trip up and fall down.

A case in point would be a recent campaign that I instigated in an attempt to return some order to the chaotic state that we currently live in. It was quite a small campaign in the great scheme of things, very simple. The new campaign for the children was to pick up their Webkinz and Pokemons and put them in a laundry hamper, a large one, rather than leave them strewn all over their beds and carpet. It is so much easier to make beds and vacuum every day if you avoid having to wade your way through a morass of wildlife.

Hence just before our night time routine I told them about the new campaign. I made sure that I had everyone’s attention first before making my proclamation:-

‘Listen very carefully because I shall say this only once. Are you listening? Can you hear me? Right. So before you come downstairs tomorrow at 5 o’clock in the morning, first you must put every Webkinz, Pokemon and other fluffies in this large laundry hamper. Do you understand? Can you do this?’

Once a positive response was extracted, I moved onto the next child and repeated myself because although I was sure to ‘only say it once,’ I did in fact say it three times. I said it loud enough so that each of the three times that I said it, the other two could also hear it, because that’s what we call positive re-inforcement around here. I made it plain that consequences for non-compliance would follow. What consequence? A time out for all malingering fluffies, although I failed to specify how long that 'time out' would last.

Thusly the following morning I was confident that henceforward my domestic duties would have halved over-night.

Sadly, as it turned out, yet another campaign failed at the first blip.

The back story for anyone with special needs children.

It was pretty much doomed without a prompt in the morning, a prompt that I did intend to give but failed to give, due to the reality of two wet beds and copious amounts of dog vomit. Very unwelcome gifts at 5.04 precisely.

I think that this is an all too familiar reminder that in an idea world, I like to set up my children to experience success. Although the prompt was in the ether, in reality I failed to perform.

To be fair, I think any child would have a hard time remembering something new from the night before, especially if the new thing was a chore. I did follow up and remove the toys to a spot out of reach but I know that they won’t be there as long on a ‘time out’ as if I had other children.

Other children might accept this as a commensurate consequence but not my children. If I had done this a few years ago, screaming meltdowns would be more or less guaranteed but these days we have words with which to express our disdain more logically. Logically, they believe that the toys are being punished for their oversight, which therefore is patently unfair and the cause of great angst.

I share this because parents of special needs children frequently feel like failures. It can be very de-moralizing and debilitating to stare at the faces of defeat, especially when they are of our own making.

Even after all these years I still get it wrong and I still make mistakes.

Meanwhile I have to design "three original cakes" for the fundraiser at school, which is great because I'm much better at cakes than kids. The theme is 'fiesta' although I personally wish it was 'siesta,' any ideas gratefully received. All I can come up with with a cactus with great big pokey spines.

You can't have your cake and eat it too......if you give it away.

Last three days of the bowl "giveaway/freebie."

Cheers dears

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Playing catch up

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

Just call me snap happy.

red BSM Button


I like to think that this tribute to Garfield is directly related to my son's increased diet. Well......Garfield does have very winning ways.

If you're looking for something different for Mother's Day, then how about a "goat?" I just love "Oxfam."

My daughter is safely back from Science Camp together with the "cartoons."

If you're in need of other freebies and giveaways then you could do a lot worse than to nip along to a new site that I recently discovered called "We are THAT family" where you can find a pleasant introduction to the "clan here."

Please add your name to my two giveaways if you haven't already as the end of April approaches:-

"here" or "here."

Meanwhile the "Pi" dishes are still languishing in the kiln up at the studio but any day soon now......so if you don't want to miss them you may wish to subscribe to my RSS feed at "Etsy" or "twitter," as I do not blog in real time.

Mom Blogs

Yesterday I was over at 5 Minutes for Special needs Moms "here" at "Five Minutes for Special Needs Mums," so if you're willing to subject your blog to a withering "review," just let us know?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Warts and all

“Argh! Don’t touch me!”
“Why? What’s the matter dear?”
“Do not be touching me wiv your poison finger.”
“It’s alright I washed them after I made the peanut butter sandwiches.
“No what? My hands are clean. My fingers are clean.”
“No you are be having dah wart.”
“Oh that. It’s tiny. I’m surprised you even noticed?”
“I am notice poison and I am notice wart.”
“That’s not a wart.”
“Yes it is. I am not wanting dah warts.”
“It’s not a wart, honest, look?”
“Do you remember last night when I screamed……when I burned my finger…..?
“Not scream………lil ole squeak.”
“Ah……so when I squeaked I squeaked because I burned my finger……now it’s turned into a blister……not a wart.”
“Blister! Blister? What is a blister is being?”
“It’s a little bubble of skin where the cells have di……burned. It’s very painful like a paper cut.”
“Blister is pain?”
“Very. You know how it is, anything on your finger tips seems ten times bigger than it really is.”
“Ten times paining?”
“Indeed.” He takes my hand in his, gently, like a fragile piece of porcelain and licks the blip, mother cat style, subjecting himself to cross contamination and any number of other evil vilenesses. He looks up, into my eyes, “all better now,” and flits away at the speed of light.

Today I am also over "here" at "Five Minutes for Special Needs Mums," so if you're willing to subject your blog to a withering review, just let us know?

The two giveaways are still open ready for your name either "here" or "here."

Cheers dears

Fresh Air and Planning ahead

Please scroll down for SOOC
and Smiley Saturday

I'm not that good at thinking ahead, "working" and planning as "Trish." I also lack her "good humour" and "positive approach" especially in the 94 degree heat this week I must say I'm not so much 'looking forward to summer' but already frying. However, I know that most families do try to plan ahead and so I just wanted to mention this thoroughly splendiferous organization called "Fresh Air" which aims to show the 'country life' to those cooped up in the cities and burbs.

When I first nipped over "there" to check it out, I must admit that I mis-read the header as 'donate a child,' which for obvious reasons seriously grabbed my attention!

Maybe you'd like to volunteer to "host," maybe you'd like to "volunteer" or "spread the word" about this non-profit. Many life times ago in England we opened our home to foreign exchange students so I can tell you first hand that it can be a lot of fun but anything that gets children out and about certainly gets my vote as around here we have been more or less house bound for many a long year.

Cheers dears

Friday, April 24, 2009

Interlopers and the Extras

Slurping Life

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

Whilst she is away, roughing it at Science Camp......

meanwhile the boys........

camp out in the lap of luxury.

And in an "Extra" today "Barbara" is hosting an event, a "Spring Blog Carnival" which asks the question:-

'how you have arranged your home to enhance your child’s development?'

I believe this is a button / link free event but I'll post a box at the bottom just in case you would like to contribute your thoughts and opinions.

This is a difficult question to answer thoroughly mainly because it is constantly changing.

For instance the six foot, blue wedge which entirely covered the family room floor now currently resides in the spare room, along with the trampolene and the L-shaped sectional. This is because my children are much bigger than they once were and need a lot more romp room.

In truth it is less used than it once was because now my children can romp outside as well as inside, something I couldn't even imagine this time last year, as outside was also out of bounds for my little hot house plants.

In fact the more I think of it the greater the list becomes. I cannot think of an area of our lives that has not been significantly altered from my own personal sleep patterns to the food that we eat. There is not a single spot in our lives that has not changed and keeps changing.

To grasp the depth of these fundamental changes more easily, all we need to do is think of any activity and run it through the lens of the sensory, what we see, hear, touch, smell and taste.

Until last summer we only ever went upstairs to sleep, not at any other time. The children could not be left unsupervised for more than a minute, maybe two.

Our house is still full of schedule boards, PECs, wipe boards and timers, as they provide scaffolding support even though their speech has improved dramatically.

We have tick down charts for every major event even if the major event is something as minor as a puppy training class.

We have labels and other charts in the most surprising places that cover the most trivial of matters. Everything is place at the right height, theirs. I sometimes suspect that our entire house is held together with Velcro.

But the only truly mysterious thing ..... is that they keep growing.

p.s. As if I didn't already have enough to smile about, this afternoon a box arrived amid the triple playdate!

I just love receiving parcels, and I had no idea who it was from except:-

Chelsea and Scott Ltd.


"Able Toys"
and "One Step Ahead."

And everyone was excited about it.

Don't say that they're too old, novelty has a big impact on all children and if they play with anything other than electronics or Pokemon then that's a jolly good reason to celebrate. Thank you "Tammy" you've certainly got you "work" cut out for you.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

A Weight of my mind - sweet dreams

Do I really need to buy a weighted blanket?
Do they work? Is this part of a sensory diet? Why do they work? This was [more or less ] the most interesting google search question this week. Or two weighted blankets in our case? I might add that this item is just about the most hidesouly expensive thing anyone would ever care to buy. I don’t know what you consider to be affordable or within budget but if you require two, as we may do, that is a pretty hefty investment. If you add the postage costs, remember, they’re weighted which means by very definition they are heavy, then more dollars are floating away than I am able to count. However, I digress.

Do they work? This should be where we really start. The benefits of weighted blanket are well documented elsewhere, primarily in the ‘calming the fizzy sensory system.’ As with most therapy items, a weighted blanket is unlikely to cause miracles but used in combination with other treatments, together, they may help provide a more balanced yet full sensory diet.

Children, autistic or otherwise, often benefit greatly in the sleep department from any number of different calming techniques together with a sensitive, carefully tailored night time routine. Some of us may remember the benefits of swaddling babies, either swaddling our own babies, or being the swaddlee ourselves when we were babies. The swaddling technique used to be quite commonplace.

Although many manufacturers claim that their blankets are fully washable, if a child is a frequent bed wetter then be sure to read the fine print large!

However, to answer the question more directly, I only need to recall when I was a youngster in the ghastly days of sheets and blankets, long before leisurely duvets were invented, or rather imported from our European cousins into England. Those were the days when there was no other option but to make the bed daily to restore order to the messy higgledy piggledy pile. However, it did have the added benefit then when a parent came upstairs at the end of a long and weary day, they did indeed ‘tuck us in.’ My Mum, in particular, would snap those sheets so tightly across my bod it was like being laced into a corset, and almost as breathless. The net result, apart from a concave chest, was a blissful night of sleep, secure if not padlocked. So if you want to save yourself a whole tonne of money, toss the comforter and invest in the old fashioned. You may even be able to borrow the old stuff from a close and crumbly relative.

p.s. really skilled sleepers who have been cocooned in this elastic fashion, soon learn to remain static during sleep and if they’re really, really clever, they can squiggle out of the bed in the morning, to allow the sheets to ping back into place with barely a visible wrinkle, which neatly takes care of the bed making problem.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

When first we practice to deceive

A thorough desensitization plan is an essential tool for many parents of autistic children. The key to success is both consistency and persistence with a healthy dollop of patience and encouragement. It’s a recipe for success around here and after many long years of practice we are now the very proud, temporary custodians of an ex-neophobe. This is not to say that my youngest son actually enjoys very much of the food in his new diet but he does eat it.

For many months now we have been fading the reward, the chocolate pudding, until it finally fizzled out about a month ago. However, chocolate pudding is a very good way of getting high calories of fat and protein, which when you’re very skinny may not be such a bad thing. As a consequence, I decide that the reintroduction of chocolate pudding might be one way of packing on the pounds, after he has eaten dinner and after he has already eaten some vile fruity dessert of my own concoction. My difficulty is a practical one, remembering to make it in advance. Chocolate custard is not a recipe that can be rushed. I reach the obvious conclusion, I ask the chap with the very big memory to remind me himself. What better motivation could there be to increase communication between me and my youngest?

I share my cunning plan with him, or at least the pertinent parts.
“So……when we get home, could you remind me to make your pudding? I always lose the post it notes?”
“Sure……you have gotten dah right guy for dah rememberings.”

As we drive home from school we chat in the car, or rather I ask questions, and everyone ignores me as the word bank is officially empty after a whole day of school. We run through our usual routine. First the 20 yard dash through the back door with a finely pinched nose to avoid being gassed by the perfume from the Jasmine, practice our favourite words of the week, namely ‘suffocate / double helix / partial / social worker. Then after a snack and some downtime it’s onto the nightmare of homework. Hours pass in this one hideous activity until we are all thoroughly drained. We pack up, prepare pack lunches and then on successful completion they are all free to indulge in thirty minutes electronics time. This in turn gives me 30 minutes to get supper on the table unhampered by demands as they tune out. As I prepare nutrititious cold salads in the 95 degree heat I contemplate how I can possibly bribe him to eat any of it? Chocolate pudding! I forgot again. I dart after my son engrossed in his game.
“Hey weren’t you going to remind me?”
“I asked you to remind me to make something for you.”
“Do you remember what it was?”
“What was it?”
“Make chocolate pudding.”
“Yes but you didn’t remind me!”
“I did.”
“You did! When did you?”
“I don’t know.”
“I don’t remember you reminding me?”
“I did.”
“Er……look it.”
“Look at what?”
“Dah post it note.”
“What post it note?”
“Dah one dat I am writing dah chocolate pudding.”
I dash back into the kitchen……..sure enough, there is a post it note stuck to the saucepan together with his own unique time stamp. Now that’s a heck of a lot of reciprocal exchange!

By the by, it may be that you noticed my new thoroughly delightful "favicon" [although that is probably the wrong word.] If so you may wish to consult "Furiousball" about your web needs for his reasonable prices, fully "qualified" and tech savvy approach is sure to leave all "customers" thoroughly satisfied.........why does that sound vaguely rude? You can find his "resume" and "contact" details on this post "here."

Cheers dears

Please add your name to the second "giveaway."

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Wordy Wednesday

5 Minutes for Special Needs

My life may not be a bed of roses:-

but you won't hear me moaning about autism, or if you do, I'll just be mumbling into my socks, because I am a natural grumbler, but please don't compare autism to cancer.

"Boufmom" who blogs over at "Who says 8 is Enough" is hosting a fundraiser for her "chum," from May 5th to May 12th.

As she says:-

'We are holding this blog party in honor of Tuesday Whitt, my friend Jess' beautiful twin daughter who bravely fought and sadly lost her 8 month battle with stage 4 neuroblastoma in January of this year.
We are doing this fundraiser to hopefully raise awareness about this awful disease and to raise money for the Tuesday Fiona Whitt Foundation, where all proceeds go towards pediatric cancer research.'

As "Jess" says:-

'bereave |biˈrēv|

verb ( be bereaved)

be deprived of a loved one through a profound absence, esp. due to the loved one's death : the year after they had been bereaved | [as adj. ] ( bereaved) bereaved families | [as plural n. ] ( the bereaved) those who counsel the bereaved.

It's ok to reach out to us. You are not bothering us. It's ok if you can't. If you don't know what to say, "I'm so sorry you lost Tuesday" , with, or with out a hug, is all we need. It's ok if you say something and I start to cry. You didn't cause it. Death caused it. You didn't "remind" me of her death, because not a second goes by that I am not thinking of her. Aching for her. It's ok if you see us out and we are smiling and appear to be doing well. At that moment, we probably are doing well. Other moments we are doing so, absolutely, not well. It's ok if you said the wrong thing or didn't say the right thing because there is no wrong or right thing to say. There is no wrong or right way to BE when your child dies. There is no right way to do this. We'll figure it out together.

Thank you for loving us.'

Personally, I cannot even imagine what that would be like.

Whilst it may seem a little daft to start another giveaway even before I've finished the first "one," timing has never been one of my strong suits. There is a family I know who have returned to Ireland who have battled with cancer and won a reprieve so this is a topic quite close to home, yet far away.

So without further ado:-

so here it is.......

........maybe this one has your name on it, so please consider whether this is something that has touched your life.

Yes, I will bite the bullet and ship worldwide if we don't go bankrupt first.

We are approaching Mother's Day in the United States, the second Sunday in May, it may be that you might be able to spare a thought for this "family," I hope. This giveaway will end on the 12th of May.

Whilst you're at it, again with Mother's Day in mind, maybe we can extend a green hand to help families worldwide with "Oxfam America Unwrapped," as that would be fairly high on my list.

If you need some light relief, then head on over to:-

"DJ Kirkby" over at "Chez Aspie" and test your brain power.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Tackle It Tuesday Meme
Try This Tuesday

Spring has Sprung around here and so it's time to tackle the garden, or more specifically, how to train a plant to be a standard? Standard? What kind of Standard? The standard kind which has one stalk. There are many reasons why this is a useful exercise, most commonly for people with either small garden or narrow flower beds. If you can train the plant to do all it's flowering at eye level then this frees up the bottom of the bed for other plants and effectively doubles the amount of blooms you can squeeze into a small space.

This is Jasmine which has many stalks as well as many runners. First find the thickest or most vigorous stalk and cut back all the others at ground level. Nick off any little sprouts that emerge from your main stalk.

Within a year you can move from a wild out of control plant to this stately one stemmed version. This of course is a honeysuckle not a Jasmin.

There will always be more sprouts at the bottom but they're easy to remove on a weekly basis.

Be careful what time of year you attempt this tackle as you may wipe out a whole years flowers. Ideally this should be tackled at the end of the flowering season ready for the next year or just after the first flowering as here it is not uncommon to have three or four blooming periods.

Now if only everything else in my life were as easy as this! There again, 'standard' is probably a little over-rated except by certain control freaks like me.


So don't forget to add your name to the "original post list" and help spread the word for the giveaway, wouldn't like to miss anyone out.

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