The photograph conundrum.

We needed to bring our much neglected treadmill back into the house recently due to my exercise opportunities being basically nill and my back getting sore due to lack of any muscles!

Yes we do walk to the park and back almost every day, but with a two year old toddling along it’s a slow process. And when he’s tired, it means I walk back carrying him, his trike and holding the dog’s lead! That is a workout let me tell you, but not terribly consistent or good for me!

To fit the torture contraption into our weenie house, we had to move the computer desk to be facing my armchair in the lounge room. This now means that when I’m sitting on my chair in the evenings (yes, right about when I’m supposed to be on the treadmill), I get the pleasure of watching the screensaver scroll through all the pictures on our computer. It’s so lovely actually. The thing I don’t like is when it comes up to a scanned document and displays that and I can’t skip past it!

I remembered that quite a lot of years ago, we bought a digital photo frame for my mother in law, and that got me wondering what they were like these days. Back then they were a little clunky and difficult to load and only held about 10 photos that it scrolled through!

A bit of a search led me to discover that these days, your Digital frames can group and store your pics for you and they even know how to recognise the people you take pics of most!  You can gesture at it to skip pictures, and most awesome of all? You can take photos on your phone and send them straight to the Frame!

How cool is that?!  I reckon I know what I’m getting both sets of grandparents for Christmas this year!

This one frame also has a new option that finds all the pics of your pets and displays them. That immediately got me thinking about a Facebook group I’m part of where everyone is a mad crazy Groodle lover and they constantly post pics of their beautiful pups. I’d be willing to bet a frame that finds their pet photos and ground and displays those would go down a treat!

I actually spend a lot of time thinking about my photos because I have many in frames around the house, but they are all quite out dated as of course most of the photos we’ve taken in the last 10 years have been digital on our phones, and we never get around to printing them or making a photo book.

So hopefully I can save up a bit of money between now and Christmas, and get three of these frames so we can all enjoy the funny and beautiful pics I take every day!

Here are some of the pics that will definitely be going in my digital frame!

Advertisements
Posted in Family, Life in general | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

And suddenly I’m a singer!

It’s known by many of you who have followed my blog that a few years ago I started doing a school of rock programme. This programme led me to start my own band (Bits ‘N Pieces) and on Tuesday night we had our first ‘real’ gig! That means a gig where we didn’t pay for the venue or invite our friends or family to come and watch us. 

It was a corporate event (our drummer’s day job wanted to hold a pre-launch party, and he told them we would do it!), and it was in a cool little jazz bar in the city, where people from the street could walk in if they wanted to. 

The gig was a great success! So much fun, and even though some of our songs were a bit of a mess, the crowd danced and cheered and thanked us after for being there and giving them such a good time!

Although I was excited, I wasn’t debilitatingly nervous at this gig, which was so refreshing, and afterwards made me believe that actually, now I am a singer in a band! Woo hoo!

My fave genre to sing at the moment is rock and we certainly gave the crowd a good demo of songs with “All Fired Up” by Pat Benetar, “Kryptonite” by 3 Doors Down and “Honkey Tonk Woman” by The Rolling Stones just to name a few!

Getting time to practice is tricky with Mr 11 always complaining of boredom and needing to be taken to places, and Mr 2 always up to no good and saying, “stop that singing Mummy!” Little monkey. It’s like he knows that it’s something I want to do for me and therefore needs to ensure I don’t get to do it!

Here are a couple of pics from the set up of the gig. I couldn’t get any while we were performing as I was busy, and didn’t have anyone watching that I knew!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What is wrong with people?!

I’ve lately been asked to help out a few different parents with homeschooling registrations and others with just general support as someone to talk to because they are feeling isolated with their kids’ special needs. It’s very rewarding helping out with knowledge I have gained over the last 8 years, but I have a stand out lesson that I’ve learnt. Something is wrong with our society. Well lot’s of things, but I only have time to write about one!

There is this pervasive understanding that kids build resilience and toughness by being pushed past their comfort zone relentlessly. Now I’m not talking about the times when parents lovingly and encouragingly tell their kids to “keep going, it will be OK” when their kids are a little scared. I’m talking about making kids experience traumatic experiences over and over in the belief that eventually they will ‘get over it’ and be just fine.

Today (and every week) was what finally made me feel I need to write about this. We have swimming lessons on Friday mornings. My older son has a private lesson because the time of day means that there are only group lessons for toddlers. My toddler is still in the pool with me for his lessons.

Mr 2 is not a big fan of this teacher and clings to me the whole time, unless the teacher is busy with another child and then he’ll do what we are supposed to be doing. The guy is nice enough, but he’s young and believes his training makes him the boss of my child.

He’s wrong.

I will not hand my child over to him if my child isn’t comfortable with it. Yet the guy does still try to take him off me at times. I have firmly told him that he’s not going to win that one. I can tell that the guy believes me to be some kind of hippy dippy coddling kind of Mum. So what?

I’m right.

He’s done some kind of child education course in teaching kids to swim. I’ve done years of research on child development and mental health.

I win.

But… and here is the problem…not all mums have my confidence and experience. Many of the mums of kids in the next level up (where the parents no long enter the pool with their kids) find that their kids cry and scream when left at the pool side to fend for themselves.

I have noticed that when this occurs, the teacher tells the mums it would be better if they left the area so the child can’t see them. What?! OH MY GOD! I have such a huge issue with this! We have this belief that if we leave our kid somewhere screaming and crying and walk away; the kid will be fine. You know what? Yeah they will eventually stop crying and get on with it. Do you know why? In a lot of cases it’s because their little brain comes the conclusion that there is no point crying for help because no help is coming. Yeah, it’s a form of resilience I guess. It’s called trauma survival. It’s not real, confident resilience.

Today when I saw this happening to a little girl, I couldn’t help it. I went over to the visibly upset Mum and said to her,

“You need to do what you feel is right for your child. You don’t have to listen to the teachers.”

She looked up and said, “she’s never cried at the lessons before, she just doesn’t like the male teachers, and she’s scared of his beard. I don’t know whether I should ask for a change of class. If I go to reception again they are going to think ‘oh no here’s that woman again!'”

I asked her what was more important, what people thought of her, or the feelings of her little girl. She decided I was right and walked over to the teacher and her crying child again. She spoke to the teacher, he said something to her and she sat back down again, her child still screaming and reaching for her.

Bam! There you have it. Like many mums she trusted that what the teacher knew or was telling her was the truth, and right rather than trusting her own instincts! It’s so very sad. And so very wrong!

This has been the same theme over and over with myself previously and all the parents I’ve supported recently. They believed that the Drs and professional mental health specialists they were talking to honestly understood what was best for their child. So they ended up sending their children to school each day until the trauma became so bad that now they are in crisis and their kids have anxiety disorders that need medicating and the kids brains are actually changed… forever. Or at least for a really long time and not changeable without some really full on hard work and love and support, but it’s basically ruined their childhood.

The frustrating thing is that as soon as these parents realised that the professionals are giving them the wrong advice (and there is plenty of research behind this by the way, not just me making crap up!), they are so broken down they don’t know what else to do.

Then the parents begin researching for themselves and finding all the evidence and studies that these professionals should have been using in their advice! Despite all this, in this country we still believe that kids have to be educated in one way and they must be compliant and keep at it in order to toughen up and build resilience.

Now I gotta go and stop my two from killing each other over there in the lounge room and get the big one to OT as he’s on his road to recovery from all the trauma he had as a young kid listening to teachers and professionals!

Note: We have found many wonderful and very knowledgeable and helpful professionals and teachers on our journey, it’s just that they are definitely in the minority!

Posted in Family, Life in general | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2017 Bucket List!

For a number of years now, I’ve been horrified at the reaction our kids have at Christmas and Birthdays when they are presented with present after present. Without even looking properly at each one they simply look up and look around for the next one to unwrap! When all the unwrapping is done, there is a sense of emptiness and finality about it, like the fun is now over even though there is a pile of toys waiting to be played with.

Naturally our 11yr old has particular difficulties having ADHD and ASD that mean he does find it harder to understand the value of things and that he can’t have everything he wants right now. This is an ongoing struggle. We’ve tried to cut down on buying him things over the years, not just because our financial situation changed dramatically, but also because we could see just how bad it was for him to have all this ‘stuff’. With the 2 year old, I like to try and spread the presents given (from family and friends) out over a few days so that he engages with one or two toys right in the moment. He’s actually a little better than the 11yr old when it comes to this stuff anyway as he’s neurotypical.

These days toys and games are so easy to come by, whether brand new or recycled through a second hand website that there is almost no fun whatsoever in having a birthday or Christmas because the kids already have too much of everything! Not to mention the world impact problems with packaging and wastage in landfill and don’t even get me started on plastic and batteries!

Personally I love to try and get gifts that offer experiences to people rather than items. Yes I give gift cards for clothes and things, but I have also been known to offer various experience gifts as I feel that these really offer so much more enrichment to the recipient. A memory to treasure and an experience to learn by rather than another ‘thing’ to stuff in a cupboard and forget! For my cousin’s 18th birthday present I bought him a lap in a V8 Race car. For my Mother in Law’s 40th birthday we got her a ride in a hot air balloon. For our son’s 11th birthday we took him to the theme parks on the Gold Coast (and bought him a giant Lego set, but you actually can’t get away with no Lego for a birthday when you have a kid on the spectrum who loves Lego!). One year for Christmas I bought my husband a package for learning Trapeze skills.

I recently check out this site called Eventbrite that I hadn’t seen before and found myself lost in a scrolling heaven of things to do around my local area! There are a few websites around that let you search for different experiences and they are all pretty good. What I really liked about this one is that it really got down to the nitty gritty of local events both big and small that you can get involved in. At a glance you can also see how much it will cost you. But not only that, you can actually use the site to set up your own event and invite people to and have them pay through the site as well! How easy is that! I really liked that idea as I now have my own covers band and might like to host an event some day soon.

This got me thinking about stuff I’d like to do in 2017, which led me to make a ‘mini bucket list’.  I’ve chosen experiences that would be affordable and accessible so that I have a chance of getting it done, but I have now been inspired to make a bucket list on a larger scale that I would need a bit of time and money to complete!

Why don’t you go and check out some of the experiences around your local area for your own bucket list, or perhaps for a unique gift for that next special occasion?

My 2017 Bucket List – Compiled using the Eventbrite website:

  1. Lyrics and Songwriting Workshop – I currently sing in a covers band, so how cool would it be to learn how to write our own songs?!
  2. Love My Dog Learn to Paint Workshop – I’ve never painted before, but I do love my dog, and I have always fancied that I might be OK at painting if I just have a go and some instruction!
  3. Adult Bollywood Dance Classes – Who doesn’t want to learn how to dance Bollywood style?!
  4. Nature Play for Outdoor Educators – As a homeschooling Mum, I’m always on the lookout for new and interesting ways to teach my kids!
  5. Nocturnal Nature Walk – I love outdoor stuff and I love ‘creatures’ and I love night time! I also think Mr 11 would get a kick out of something like this!
  6. Balmain Historic Pub Tour – This would be really interesting, and a great thing for hubby and I to do as we both enjoy a bit of history (me perhaps more than him :))
  7. Blue Mountains Glow Worm Tours – This is something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. What a fantastic family outing and you we could make a weekend of it as the travel time to the blue mountains isn’t too far, but also not that close.
  8. Abseiling Course – This something I’ve always wanted to try and the husband and son already to indoor rock climbing so it would be a fun day together.
  9. Waste Site Tour – This would be a great homeschooling outing to learn about waste and the environment and remind us what happens to all that ‘stuff’ and all those toys when we are tired of them!
  10. Robot Future – Mr 11 loves robots and this is really close to where we live and could be quite interesting!

There were so many more things I could do, but I decided to stick to 10 and challenge myself to get them done! I’ll try and post about the things I do if I get to do them and let you know what they were like!

 

Posted in Entertainment, Family, Life in general | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

International Pet Day!

In light of International Pet Day today, I guess it’s as good a day as any to write about my pets! I recently joined a Facebook group that celebrates Groodles, and it’s been really lovely to see all the photos and posts from people who have these beautiful dogs. In Australia the cross breed of a Golden Retriever and a Poodle is called a Groodle. I believe in The USA this cross breed is called a Golden Doodle.

Here is what our big guy looks like

IMG_1823

We also have a little grey cat, but she’s a little more difficult to pin down for a photo opportunity!

Here she is enjoying some time with her dog brother

16196002_10158200067440201_1987789708052917218_n.jpg

Although my husband and I had always been cat people, it was very obvious that our first son is a dog person. When he was about 5 years old we made the decision to get him a puppy. We did a lot of research to work out which dog breed would best suit our family and more particularly our special needs son.

We wanted a dog that would be robust and big to take his ADHD extra energy. We also needed a dog who would be easy to train, calm and with a very gentle nature to be a friend and a companion to our son’s autism characteristics. Research led us to our beautiful Moppett and we’ve never regretted it for a second.

img_20160820_150202

Moppett has ended up being a treasure to all of us. He’s always there when we need a friend or a cuddle. He’s patient and has a beautiful nature. His big eyes and happy face encourage us to get out of the house and take him for walks and play with him. He’s just the most awesome pet and he should definitely be celebrated!

Moppet (13 of 28)Moppet (8 of 28)

Would I recommend people who are capable of caring for a dog get one? Yes I definitely would! I would suggest that they research the breed and size that would suite them the best, and I can’t stress strongly enough the importance of choosing a dog from a reputable breeder and ensuring they don’t use a puppy mill or even a shopping center pet shop (unless they are able to prove where their pups have been sourced).

Check out this info about dogs and the benefits they have on humans.

“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.” ― Josh Billings

puppyspot_dogs_health_x2_v02.jpg

Thanks to the guys at PuppySpot for the above information put into an easy to read graphic, and for anyone reading this blog in the USA you can check out their Puppies for sale! By using places like this you can really ensure that you get the right help and info to match you up with the right dog for you and your family! Happy puppy finding!

Posted in Family | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What’s with that?

I don’t post much these days, too busy doing other stuff I guess! Like stopping my 22 month old from falling down every five seconds and smacking his face on stuff! Seriously, this kid just lurches around the joint and keeps banging his face and head on things. Even when I think I’m supervising sufficiently he can manage to damage himself. The other day we were both crouching down looking at a beetle he had found. I was right next to him. He was crouching…he suddenly tipped forwards too far and didn’t put out his hands and smooshed his poor little cheek into the concrete step we were near! Sheesh!

This year is going well so far for Mr 11 though. He’s taken up sailing on sundays with his Grandad, he’s still going to Scouts and enjoying it (even though he doesn’t really get all that involved with the others at least he’s staying there and hanging around watching!) He’s also much less argumentative about doing his schoolwork and we are making great progress so far. I guess the general happiness and cooperative behaviour of our boy is why I feel I don’t have much to blog about anymore…which is great.

One thing I did want to say, which has brought me to the computer today is my frustration with people and kids and the whole ‘socialising’ thing that people go on about.

Every time we go to the park (which is pretty much every day), inevitably people will ask my older son why he’s not at school today. He tells them he’s homeschooled. They then talk to him for a little while and then will usually seek me out to talk to me because it’s a curious and different thing. When they find me, they then have to approach with their little ones. My little one (22mths) is very talkative and open and will walk right up to any child and say ‘hi!’ the most common response he gets without doubt is for the approached child to stare at him briefly before walking away looking confused. This used to happen to Mr 11 a lot too. The only thing I can think of is that the other kids his age just don’t have the same level of communication skill and they get freaked out. That’s fine, I get it. I usually just take over the talking and tell my little one that it’s OK and he can try to talk to someone else. Usually older kids will respond well to him. But most kids under 5 aren’t very willing. I’m used to it having seen this with my older son trying to connect when he was little. So back to the parents who have come to ask me about homeschooling and why etc. We chat for a bit, and within probably the first few sentences they will ALWAYS ask me, “But what about socialisation?”

Really?

Did they not just have a conversation with my son? Did they not come to tell me he’s so interesting and clever? Did they not just witness my younger son try to socialise with their child and their child ignore him, or run away or stare blankly?

Yes they did, but it doesn’t compute, because in their minds (in lots of people’s minds) socialising is something done at school, in same age peer groups. I have read so much research about how this just isn’t true. Children learn their social skills from older people and especially from adults and most especially from their parents! This is why my children are actually very good socialisers. They can communicate with people of all ages. Yes, my older son has autism so he has trouble with social situations where things get tricky, but actually he’s quite good at ‘socialising’ in general. It just annoys me. And obviously there is no time at the park while chasing my little one to explain all this to the stranger who has approached me. And so I simply smile and say, “yes everyone asks that! Homeschooling has a large community of great people and socialising is done by meeting up and doing different activities. It’s not a problem”.

Secretly I want to ask them what they are doing about socialisation in terms of teaching their kids not to ignore someone who says hello to them (note, I’m not talking about shy kids who are hiding and don’t want to say hi, that’s fine!), or to speak up and not mumble when they do answer (for the older kids) or to share (in the true sense, ie, not just giving up something you currently have because you were told to, but in waiting and taking your turn when the other person is ready to give it up.). I wonder what they would say?

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Something feels strange…

Mr 10 has lately taken to saying to me very often during the day that he is bored. Strangely when I offer him a whole list of stuff to do, he declines with great pre-teen gusto and disappears into his room (not to clean it as I had suggested!). Great chunks of his day are spent on his tablet doing who knows what (don’t fret, I actually do know what and it’s not that exciting!)  and building and designing Lego. So when it gets to bed time, he often heaves a great sigh and says “mummy, something feels strange”. 

“What sort of strange?” I ask, knowing full well that this kid has so many emotions in him all the time and that he feels them at 600 times the strength of regular people. He will answer that he doesn’t know, so I prompt him.

“In your head? In your tummy? In your heart?” He often points sadly to his heart. He has a big one. A sensitive one. He finds it hard to hold it all in there. I guess that would feel strange. He thinks too much for a kid, always has. Big thoughts in a little body. That’s why he used to be so intense all the time. We usually can isolate what in particular is getting him that day and I can talk him through it. When he says he wants to play with kids, I can remind him that he now has a couple of friends he sees and talks to. He is making friends at scouts. He finally has a peer at OT to interact with and he even has a ‘girlfriend’ that he talks to on the phone and plays Minecraft with! So that part of his life is really coming along. Just slower than he’d like, but I also remind him that whenever I suggest attending social groups or excursions during the day with other homeschoolers, he refuses to go. He needs to be patient with the process I guess.

He did rather amusingly come to the conclusion on two recent bed time occasions of “big feelings” that what was wrong was actually that he was hungry! That made me laugh. That one was easily fixed!

We are trying to get more exercise and cut out sugars and fats a bit as he is gaining weight on his meds and I was told by my doctor recently that my blood pressure was too high and I need to lose some weight. So no more wine after the babies have gone to bed. Sigh. One glass of wine and one bowl of chips every night seems to make a difference to my sanity, but also negatively to my weight. Well it is working cutting it out, so I guess I’m happy about that. At least I have a new thing to distract me. I am the lead singer of a newly formed (as of Monday) rock band called “The Klaymores” yes, like the Celtic sword, but with a K coz I am K not a C girl. 🙂 we will have our debut performance on Dec 2nd 2016! Exciting!

Mr 10 is off on Thursday to play laser skirmish with his scouts group so let’s hope he enjoys that. He really is getting better at dealing with those kinds of situations, although he does still just want to leave when it gets too full on with noise and competition and stuff. The good news though is that at least he goes and tries… Oh and that he no longer tries to kill all the people in the room with whatever he can find lying about…or words. 

He learnt a very valuable lesson the other day. He was playing Minecraft with his girlfriend online and she wrote the word ‘Fak’ I the chat. He got quite upset and came to tell me that she was swearing and so he was shutting everything down and wouldn’t play with her anymore. I suggested to him that it might be better to just ask her to lease not swear on his server if he didn’t like it. He did ask her and she argued that she hadn’t swore, she had just written Fak. He was mad at her and shut down the server. I suggested that rather than getting mad like that, it might be better to have a proper conversation with her about it and talk it through. To my utmost surprise he picked up the phone straight away and called her! 

Mr 10 “Hi, it’s me (Mr 10)…yeah I just wanted to tell you that I understand that you only wrote Fak, but to me thTs the same as swearing and I’d really like it if you didn’t do that on my server please.”

She responded, but I couldn’t hear what she said.

Mr 10: “oh. Thanks, that’s great. Yep I’ll go and turn the server back on so we can play”

Yay! He learned that communication is the biggest key to any relationship! He took charge of the situation, let her know he understood her position then told her what he expected from her when on his server. I was so proud! Now we just gotta work on him not telling his baby brother that if he continues to scream in the car he will put his hand over his mouth until he shuts up!! 

Posted in Family, Life in general | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment