Today has been a good day. On the whole they mostly are. There have been a few fraught ones recently.  I think more down to me than The Boy.

I KNOW more down to me than The Boy. Why has this been? I’ve asked myself this lots.

Answers range from: it’s because I’m tired; or, it’s because I’ve got too much to do; or, it’s because it’s so hard being a parent of a kid with ASD; or, something else.

All of these are true, but they’re excuses. I’ve been making excuses for being irritable, and grumpy, and not very self aware and not getting myself into bed early enough. Not planning, not communicating with the boy calmly and in plenty of time.

The good days are good because The Boy isn’t anxious, because I recognise when he’s overstimulated and help him to calm down, because he feels able to tell me about things that happened at school, because I don’t shout, because I remember to plan and communicate what’s going to happen next when we need to do something. Because I recognise when I’m getting it wrong.

Mostly it’s about being calm and trying not to overreact, but there has to be some bigger picture stuff too.  For me, this has been looking at why I’m tired and feel like I never have enough time. The net result is a drop in hours at work and a few less crazy shifts a month. We’re already seeing the benefits – even though there’s less money coming in. Some things are way more important.

So, here’s to more sleep, more time, less meltdowns (from me), more baking together and many more good days.

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It’s sort of getting in the way this thing, but not really. It was given to me last week and I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it. The bearer of this gift reassured me that it would be easy to look after and wouldn’t cause a problem.  In fact, it came with a list of clear instructions. It’s sort of taken over. It’s still in the corner, but it’s presence can be felt all over the house. I wasn’t planning on being here tomorrow, but I’m going to have to make a point of coming home and feeding it. It’s growing too.

It’s called Herman, and it’s alive I tell you! Well, the instructions that came with it have reassured me that I’ve not killed it – yet.

Don’t worry. I’ve not been entrusted with the care of some exotic pet, or another child. Herman is a sourdough friendship cake starter.  I’m a bit slow on the uptake and had never heard of Herman. I’m apparently one of the few people on the planet who hasn’t. He’s done the rounds of our East Coast office I found out the other day. After I feed him tomorrow I’ve to split hom into 4 portions, keep one for making a cake with on Friday and give the other 3, along with the written instructions, to my unsuspecting victims. I mean friends.

The cake was delicious. I hope mine can live up to the high standards of the very talented baker who passed Herman on to me. full of lovely spices and apples and brown sugar, almost bread like in consistency and still slightly warm from the oven when I had a piece (or two).

I’m looking forward to it, except that I’m on nightshift and I’m barely capable of rustling up a bowl of porridge in my usual sleep deprived state. I’ll need to give it a go though.  The instructions state that I must make a cake with it on Friday or I’ll turn into a frog or something similar.

It’s like chain letters, except the house is full of a lovely yeasty, almost beery smell and I’ve got at least one (more) delicious cake to look forward to. Potentially another 3. I’ve been advised that it’s better to use Pink Lady apples in the recipe in place of the cooking apples suggested. Apart from that there’s been no variance.

The other plus is that I’ve been thinking of trying my hand at making sourdough bread and I’ve now got a lovely, well established starter.

You can find instructions here if you fancy giving it a go yourself.

 

I’ll post some pictures when I’m done

Wow …

Just Stimming...

TW: Ableism, abuse

Explaining my reaction to this:

means I need to explain my history with this:

quiet hands

quiet hands

1.

When I was a little girl, they held my hands down in tacky glue while I cried.

2.

I’m a lot bigger than them now. Walking down a hall to a meeting, my hand flies out to feel the texture on the wall as I pass by.

“Quiet hands,” I whisper.

My hand falls to my side.

3.

When I was six years old, people who were much bigger than me with loud echoing voices held my hands down in textures that hurt worse than my broken wrist while I cried and begged and pleaded and screamed.

4.

In a classroom of language-impaired kids, the most common phrase is a metaphor.

“Quiet hands!”

A student pushes at a piece of paper, flaps their hands, stacks their fingers against their palm, pokes at…

View original post 798 more words

Confused? Don’t be.

School’s back and we’re already suffering from boredom with the packed lunches. The Boy simply refuses to go for school meals. Partly down to Stirling Council’s menu, but more particularly, down to the fact that his school kitchen/dining hall isn’t big enough to cater for all the children at once, meaning they have to have two sittings.  The net result of this is that the food is frequently cold, dried up and worst of all for The Boy, they run out of his choice. This is just too much and after he came home from school hungry and stressed too many times we all decided packed lunches were the way to go.

The format of the lunch is more or less a constant – too much deviation and it simply doesn’t get eaten.

  • 2 slices of wholemeal bread, filled with either ham, tuna or cheese, with some salad leaves (green & flat only). Chutney is allowed on the cheese sandwich and not too much mayo in the tuna.
  • a piece of fruit or veg – mostly an apple, pear, cucumber or carrots.
  • fruit juice
  • an ‘unhealthy’ snack – baked crisps or a biscuit

The boy’s tastes are becoming more adventurous as he gets older. He’s always been a good eater but there have been some no go areas. “I don’t like spicy food” being one of the stumbling blocks. Over the last few months I’ve managed to get around this by telling him what’s in the dish when he asks if it’s spicy, rather than just giving a yes or no answer. This seems to be working well.  With the greatest addition to his list of likes being Japanese Gyoza and Katsu curry.  You can’t get much spicier than that .

On the back of this I thought I’d try a little taste test in preparation for tomorrow’s lunch – with some cooked ham in reserve just in case. New stuff needs lots of positive reinforcement. So a brief conversation about how today’s lunch fared, followed by what my favourite  sandwich filler was with lots of nice and delicious, sweet, tasty, nutritious things in it, we were ready to sample some Coronation Chicken.

I’ll be waiting with baited breath to see how lunch went.

You can find the recipe here.

Where did the year go? Its almost the end of July already and I’ve not written or posted anything since March.

Lots has happened. I turned 40, had a lovely time in Barcelona to celebrate with my partner and some much needed time off the treadmill. The boy had his diagnosis of Autistic Spectrum Disorder confirmed, school’s out for 8 weeks and I’ve been working lots. (Too much).

There’s not been much baking, which has made us all a wee bit sad. A quick batch of scones last week, for lunch before an afternoon out to The Falkirk Wheel with friends sorted that out.

I’ve been looking at The Weekly Bake Off most weeks and never quite got round to making anything. A fair bit of extra shifts, being Dad and generally trying to keep on top of everything seems to have got in the way. Thankfully there’s no need to do so many extra shifts for a while and we can get back to normal service.

The Boy’s diagnosis wasn’t a surprise to us, as I’ve written before. His mum and I have suspected for as long as we can remember. It was a significant step though. Significant in terms of accessing additional resources at school and for us to prepare for the future. Although we suspected, we never really planned. Not now though. Next step for us is a week long parenting class for parents of children with Autism. I’m sure this will leave us with more questions than answers – not because I’m thinking it’ll be a waste of time, but because we’ll have to look at ourselves and how we are with The Boy.

I can’t deny the school holidays have been pretty hard going this year. The terrible weather has meant lots of time spent indoors. There have been days where The Boy has been particularly ‘high’ and anxious at times. The extra shifts have made me tired which doesn’t help matters. We’re all looking forward to our summer holiday – which I’ve still to book – The camping trip I had planned in my head for months is looking less and less likely, thanks to the atrocious weather.

Turning 40 was great. I was spoiled rotten, caught up with the family and had a fantastic time in Barcelona. The Boy has started using phrases like “In the olden days” when he’s asking me questions about my childhood. I think I’m officially middle aged.

It’s been a while.  I’ve not posted since I came down with the filthy cold during the mid-term holiday. Thankfully it’s now gone, eventually.

This weekend has seen us back into full swing with the boy and I making pizza from scratch, buttermilk scones and 2 lemon yoghurt cakes for the @weeklybakeoff.

Sunday was Mother’s Day and also the Boy’s Mum’s birthday, so one of the cakes, decorated by the Boy, was for his mum. I’m particularly chuffed as The Boy’s cake got top billing on @weeklybakeoff!

This was well received and also got lots of lovely comments on Facebook and my Twitter page – @jboylie. We went out for dinner to friends on Sunday night and took the other cake along with us. Again this went down a treat.

Great weekend had by all. I’m glad the weather’s brightening up and looking forward to the Easter break which will be here before we know it.

Well, the half term break came and went. It went very well.  The Boy, my Partner and I had a great time visiting Nickelodeon Land at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, accompanied by my Partner’s Mum.

The Boy was thrilled to meet his current heroes of the small screen, Spongebob Squarepants and Patrick Star.  The park was great, very good value for money and we were very lucky with the weather. Cold, but thankfully dry. I lost count of how many times we were on the various rides.

I got into trouble on The Nickelodeon Streak for filming!  This could have been disastrous, as The Boy doesn’t like breaking the rules.  I tried a quick chat about how, sometimes, it’s ok to break the rules, and how it would be nice to look back at a video of how much fun we had, hoping it would do the trick.  It was clear he was having none of this, but thankfully, there was plenty to distract him.  I may get him to watch it one day, but at the minute it’s a flagrant breach of the regulations and he still wants me to delete it.

I love that The Boy is as much a thrill-seeker as I am.  I was dragged on to all the rides, height permitting, without any hesitation.  Happy to go back time and time again.

We also squeezed in a visit to the Sealife Centre, the highlight of which was a closely run race between the turtles and the very precocious rays. I was dizzier here, following The Boy around, than I had been the day before at the theme park. This may have been due to the filthy cold that was brewing, and has been ever present since we got home.

We got home to a formal report from the Speech and Language Therapist.  A large part of this was based on a Children’s Communication Checklist, or CCC-2.  A rather lengthy questionnaire The Boy’s Mum and I completed a few weeks ago as part on the ongoing assessment to diagnose (or rule out) ASD.  There were no real surprises in this, just another piece in the jigsaw puzzle confirming what we already know.  More scores ‘indicative of an Autistic Spectrum Disorder.’

We finished off the week with a visit to friends’ with lots of Japanese food and my entry for the Weekly Bake off.

We’re off to the seaside for our mid-term break! I know, it’s February, but we’re killing half a dozen birds with one stone. Three busy days and two nights of theme parks, visiting family and friends, trams, donkeys and kiss-me-quick hats!

Bags packed, camera charged, car cleaned (sort of), oil checked, screen wash topped up, snacks bought for the journey. I’ve been awake for ages. I think I may be even more excited and looking forward to this than the boy.

I’ve been a bit frazzled since my last post. As a treat I bought Mary Berry’s 100 cakes and bakes. I needed some time in the kitchen to de-stress.

This fantastic little book is being used by The Weekly Bake Off and it arrived through the post, just in the nick of time for me to have my first attempt at one of the cakes.

I liked the sound of the Farmhouse Orange Victoria Sandwich and decided to set to work right away. Amy states on the site that she follows the recipes to the letter. This was an ‘all in one’ method. I’ve never really had much luck making sponge this way, so being a creature of habit I decided to cream the butter and sugar the way my auld ma’ taught me to.

I also weighed the eggs to 150g exactly, as I’ve consistantly had much better results after listening to a podcast last year where the advice given for a perfect sponge was to be absolutely exact, weighing all the ingredients out to equal quantities.

The recipe states to mix the marmalade into the buttercream. Rather than do this, I spread the cake with marmalade and the buttercream.

It was slightly rushed between work and the school run, but I was really pleased with the results. It tasted even better on the second day, after all the orange flavour had a chance to infuse.

20120207-034503.jpg

It’s been a strange old week.  We took a little step closer to a probable diagnosis of The Boy having an Autistic Spectrum Disorder. These words will strike fear and dread into the hearts of any parent, and I must admit, I’d rather we weren’t on this path. However, this is something his mum and I have suspected for many years.

I know at nearly 40, that it’s ok to be different. Different is good. It took me a long time to realise this though, and to truly believe it. How do you convince an intelligent 8 year old, who sees the world in do’s and don’t’s, yes’s and no’s, rights and wrongs, and who understands that he’s a bit different, that it’s ok? That it’s good?

Trying to be objective though, what’s in a diagnosis? Well, mostly, access to resources to make The Boy’s journey through the education system a little easier.  And, maybe access to some resources for us as parents too. I’m trying to remain positive about this, despite the frustrations we’ve already faced. We’ve got a bright, loving, happy son, who is very musical and has a real enthusiasm for life. I’ll probably never understand fully, his tendency to judge his own performance in new skills and tasks unrealistically harshly, the anxiety this causes him, or his linear thinking and lack of pragmatism.

As a parent, the main feeling I have is frustration. Frustration that I can’t make it better. Frustration that I can’t make the various people involved in the diagnostic process do what they have to do, more quickly. Frustration that there are 25 other kids in the classroom needing the Teacher’s time and attention as much as The Boy. Frustration that some days the nth answer to the nth question, still hasn’t given him the answer he’s looking for. Worst of all though, is the frustration that sometimes I let my frustration show.

Fundamentally, nothing will change with a diagnosis. The boy will still be The Boy. I’ll still be Dad. He’ll still be full on. We’ll still be baking. I’ll still be getting thrashed by him on the Wii. He’ll still be disappointed when I can’t remember his latest Skylander/Moshi-monster/Club-penguin character’s name. We’ll still have good days and bad days. So, there’s nothing else for it but to carry on, and focus on the positive and remember that  it’s ok to have a bad day from time to time.