Archive | April, 2013

Busy weekend!

28 Apr

Today was Day 4 of my life as a single parent. Luckily only temporarily as hubby was away at a family funeral and couldn’t fly home yesterday as the only flight was full.

Due to where we live and the necessary long hours involved in a full day’s work I often joke that I am more-or-less a single parent from Monday morning to Friday evening. Well I won’t be saying that again! Hubby might leave before I’m up in the morning and come home when the little ones are in their pyjamas (mostly) but he does come home. I am shattered! 

It wouldn’t be quite so bad if a) we weren’t in such a rural area and b) I didn’t have to get a week’s washing done and dried for son no 1 so he can take it back to school on Sunday evening. On top of all the usual school uniform. The weather has not been kind this weekend.

Friday night I needed to arrange a babysitter in order to collect the teens from Scouts.

Saturday I turfed the poor teens out of bed early, left them a list of chores and whisked M off to her dancing class. Came home loaded with shopping, made a super fast lunch and took the youngest 2 to a birthday party. Back again in time to ferry daughter no 1 to a birthday party in town, back home again in time for tea and Dr Who,

Sunday – collect daughter no 1. Drive home. Dispatch a teen to take wee ones to Sunday School (45 minutes free from nagging about tv, dvds. computer etc), make a roast dinner (M does like her roast dinner and who am I to break her routine? It’s more trouble than it is worth with a child on the autism spectrum to alter their routine without some warning) , check the washing is all dry, make sure son no 1 has packed his bag, washing up, take 2 teens to a Scout function, race home, etc etc etc.

I’m boring myself now, but you get the gist. As we like to have some home baking on a Sunday evening and son no 2 is intolerant to a whole range of foods I have to make 2 lots of treats – did I mention that M can’t tolerate soya and the fussy teens don’t like wheat-free cakes? So, by the time hubby came through the door I was just taking some scones out of the oven, which hopefully seemed like a delightfully domestic scene. Frankly it was pure luck.

So, I take my hat off to you single parents, I don’t know how you do it. Maybe it’s a lot easier if you have 2 children rather than 5, and live in the centre of a town, or on a regular bus route, but even so I am in awe. There is no-one to share with, all the trivial, and not so trivial things that pop into your head but aren’t what you want to discuss with your children, no matter how old they are.

I am very lucky to be married to my man. He’s not perfect but he’s perfect for me.

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A snap of M at the party quietly tasting her self-decorated cupcake (going to nick this idea for future parties myself)

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And one of B illustrating perfectly his “party animal” persona

 

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Silent Sunday

28 Apr

Silent Sunday

Cautiously Optimistic

26 Apr

Today M stayed for the whole school day. This is the first time since the 9th November last year. And she coped well.

There have been no tantrums, outbursts or meltdowns since she finished at 2.30 this afternoon. A few minor shouting episodes but we don’t need school to trigger those.

Her first week with the new teaching assistant has gone better than I dared to hope. Of course, M being a very bright 6 year old, has done her fair share of testing this new person, who has risen magnificently to the challenge and emerged unbeaten with a smile on her face – she told me yesterday she’d have been a lot more worried not to have been tested – and I am getting a good level of feedback every day, which reassures me. The new assistant is also quick to tell me that I must inform her of anything she does or doesn’t do that I feel she should be, so that has been comforting to know that we have another professional on board who recognises that parents are indeed the experts on their own children.

Next week we take the heady step of a whole week of full time. If you had asked me my thoughts last week I would have said I was really quite nervous about it all; today I think it could possibly all just work out well.

Just goes to show if a school takes the time to really listen to what a child with autism needs, and then acts on it, how that child can really start to shine.

Speaking of shining, here is a certificate that M received today. But she’s my little star every single day, just for managing to get through another confusing 24 hours on a planet not designed for her.

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It’ll be All Light on the Night

25 Apr

M has autism. Oh yeah, I might have mentioned that once or twice. We are fortunate that she is considered high functioning, which basically means she can speak and she doesn’t have any specific learning difficulties. However, this does not take into account the severity of her reaction to change.

Not all change mind you. If I offered her a chocolate bar instead of Weetabix for breakfast I have little doubt that she’d be pretty cheerful about the change to her weekday diet. But in general she does like things to stay the same. If she is having a particularly bad day even giving her a plate she doesn’t often use can flip her switch and off she goes into a screaming rant, or worse, a full-on meltdown.

So imagine my dismay yesterday when I noticed something happening to the lamp-posts along the seafront road. There was a van, and a pair of workmen involved, and I wondered what had happened to the power supply that all the lamps were on in broad daylight. M was instantly on high alert, demanding to know why the lamps were on, what the men were doing, and they weren’t going to be changing anything were they?

In the event it was late afternoon before I could ask anyone as the events of yesterday on the beach and a hospital appointment took up most of the day, but finally I asked one of the workmen why the lamps were being changed, as by this point it was obvious they were.

This is what the lamp outside our house looked like yesterday morning:

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And here is a slightly newer-looking version that is round in a road further from the shore:

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If you like lamps (and I must confess I do, I am often looking at and photographing unusual ones) then I think you’ll agree that they are quite stylish. However, the salt in the sea air doesn’t agree with the thin metal strips that hold the lamp to the base and most of them are fairly badly corroded. So, the council, not wanting anyone to sue for death or damages if a lamp corroded through and toppled onto someone’s head or car, decided to replace them. I applaud this wisdom in considering our safety, especially as we park our car outside the house and one of those falling would make a considerable dent in the roof, to say nothing of someone’s head.

But they have replaced it with this:

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M is not a happy camper. It’s the wrong shape. It’s the wrong style. It’s got a different shaped light inside (I had to check this but it would appear that she’s right although how the heck she can see when she’s only 6 is beyond me). You name it, she could find  a dozen reasons for this being a “bad thing”.

Luckily apart from some world-class whining about the subject she didn’t lose her temper. But it all came back again at bed time. The lamp shines into the room, and when the lights inside are off, in the dead of night, it’s comforting for her (and me to be honest here) to have some gentle light from outside. She was asleep soon after 8pm (that melatonin is a great invention) but when she woke in the night like she often does the first thing she noticed was that “the light is wrong Mumma”. You cannot put anything past this kid! It’s subtle but the light is now more white, less glowing and ever so slightly more harsh. It took ages to get her back to sleep and frankly I don’t think she slept deeply. Consequently neither did I but I’m used to it by now.

So, while it’s a good thing that I am now statistically less likely to be killed by street furniture (as I believe it’s termed) it has not been good for M’s anxieties. She was talking about the lights again this afternoon, and I was heartened that she has fully understood why they have been changed even if she isn’t enjoying the change. And maybe next time there is an unexpected change she might be able to again process it without losing her control.

 

A Whale of a Time

24 Apr

Today I have been saving the whale. Literally.

Well, not just me. At one point it felt like half our small village was on the beach. Usually this would mean one of two things; either there’s an unexpected heatwave (for heatwave read anything above 16 deg C) or someone has just turned 18 and the party has been turfed out of the village hall at closing time.

The beach normally looks roughly like this:

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As we live on the seafront it was obvious when we left the house this morning that “something” was happening. To be honest we were running close to being late so I glanced over and assumed it was an inshore rescue practice or something similar. After dropping the children at school it became apparent there were “whales” on the beach. I raced home, grabbed my wellington boots and ran down to see if I could help.

There were three pilot whales that had somehow got stranded. Sadly one was dead, but the other two were very much alive, although in danger from being on their sides. The tide had just started to turn and was coming back in which was good news. The coastguards were there, lots of locals and at that time at least one member of the SSPCA (Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). Some people were trying to move the sand so that the whales could be heaved upright but with every wave more would come. I asked where I was needed and waded in. Have you ever tried to get a grip on a whale? No? Me neither until today but I guess it stands to reason that they are extremely slippery. Combined with weighing, actually I couldn’t even begin to guess, but tons, it makes for an interesting combination when you know in order to save this poor creature you need to turn it. The utter relief when we righted the first one was amazing. I would have been happy to stay in the water and help to keep the poor thing straight until I realised my camera was in danger of getting ruined!

So I legged it to safety (just in time) and stood dripping on the beach to watch for a while. This is the pilot whale I helped to save.

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It took a while to get the second one up too, and then it was a case of keeping them damp (whilst avoiding the blow-hole – very important) and waiting for the tide to re-float them. Sadly I couldn’t wait for long as my wee daughter M had an important medical appointment so I needed to have a shower and get ready to collect her.

I had enough time to fill 2 large Thermos flasks with tea and coffee and race back down the beach so I was delighted to learn that one of the whales had been persuaded out to sea (gutted not to have captured it on film though). There were some of the village ladies already dispensing drinks but mine didn’t go to waste. I reluctantly left to collect M and the scene looked like this. As you can see the weather had turned on us.

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How I managed to concentrate at the appointment I shall never know, but it all went very well and after feeding M at the wee cafe near the hospital ( I had promised her and with a person on the autism spectrum it really is a bad idea to break a promise unless essential) we drove back.

Almost the first person I saw was one of our coastguards, near a trailer which had just been loaded with the dead whale. Luckily as I slowed down he was smiling, and he confirmed that they had finally managed to get the second whale back out into open water. I had a massive smile on my face then.

In between all this happening the primary school had suspended lessons and brought the children down for a soggy and quiet nature lesson, lots more SSPCA staff and some Marine Rescue people had arrived, and there was definitely one person with a long lens camera that may have been a journalist. It was certainly a village event.

There were a number of people who must have been extremely cold by the time the second whale was re-floated and everyone who was involved should be very proud of themselves as it was a real team effort and we managed to save the lives of two utterly magical animals – I have been fortunate to see dolphins at very close range but the privilege of actually handling one of these magnificent creatures will stay with me for a long time.

Bits and pieces

22 Apr

It’s been a few days but I don’t appear to have had a spare second to collect my thoughts, let along write them down in any meaningful form. Until now.

Last week saw the children back at school after the Easter break, M’s Learning Support Assistant leave, and her new one be introduced. I went to a concert with hubby, the truly inspirational and talented Edwyn Collins, Then I was singing with my friends in our wee choir at a choir member’s 40th birthday party that turned out to also be a renewal of her wedding vows (absolutely NO pressure there then!), the car has broken down to the point it can’t be fixed, and both my teen girls have been unwell.

That’s just the big events. Somehow we have fitted life around all this happening and all in all it’s not been going badly. I even managed to take 3 of the kids to help bottle feed some orphan lambs yesterday after a very dear friend lent me her “old banger” of a car until my new car is ready. M has been mostly calm; admittedly I have stepped up the use of visual charts to keep her informed of what will be happening, and she finds a lot of comfort in them. Even when shopping on Saturday she kept referring back to it as she knew after the shopping centre came the park. 

Here are some edited highlights of last week.

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The very wonderful Mr Edwyn Collins. Not a great photo but the best I could manage in subdued lighting.

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Me and my beautiful girls all dressed up for the wedding vow/birthday party

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M doing what she likes best i.e. bouncing. Neat idea for a trampoline eh?

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A “selfie” of M and me in the back of the breakdown truck (M loved this!)

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Last but not least, the unadulterated joy on B’s face as he gets to cuddle a lamb.

It’s been a funny old week!

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Silent Sunday

21 Apr

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