My kitchen as you will never see it - a #Gallery post

Many of you will know that I do not have a healthy relationship with housework.  Too many years of not wearing my glasses meant that I just couldn't see mess or even dirt very clearly, and it passes me by without registering.  Once I had children I realised that dirt could be dangerous, and I had to clean up my act...and my house.  But I always believed that spending time with the kids was more important than cleaning, because that would get done eventually.  So I chat or play with them and leave the dishes and the the recycling to pile up by the sink.  Angel is baffled by the latter.  "Nobody does that", she says looking bemused, but I'm sure I remember a wash and squash campaign?  Anyway it's the only way that I can fit everything in the green bin and keep it smelling sweet...

Even now the main reason that my house looks reasonable to visitors is because of them.  Word of a visit by the MIL always led to a mad dash round with the hoover and the wipes while the kids were plonked in front of a video.  Now I have two kids with special needs there seem to be visitors almost every day, and it's probably just as well, otherwise my kitchen might look like this more often:

This was a particularly bad day involving four different dinners and a baking session.  This morning it looks like this:

More kitchen posts over at Sticky FIngers.

A day in the life of a frequent ferry traveller - with a little help from sea-bands

Note: this post was written nearly three weeks ago and held over..

Brrrrnnng!  Brrrrnnngg!  It's 4 am and the dream fades to grey....the ferry!  Packing! The sea-bands!  Mustn't forget the sea-bands of which more later.  It probably sounds insane, but the middle of the night is the one time I can pack - really fast -  with a list and no interruptions from the kids.  This is our fourth trip across the Irish Sea in as many months to see my family, and I'm on autopilot.  Between 6 and 6.30 the children get up.  No time for breakfast, just a quick drink and then the car is packed, the house is checked and we're off.  Traffic slow, we arrive at the port just 30 minutes before departure.  Aspie boy doesn't want to get on the boat.  There have been tears for days which culminate in a full meltdown on the car deck.  This *may* have delayed the sailing as we were the last car on and it took ages to get Smiley and her buggy out of the back and repack the car.

Aspie boy is anxious, especially about the possibility of getting sea -sick.  (He conveniently forgets that his Mammy is the one who suffers the most). 

But I have a distraction.  Instead of the usual pink pills, I have a packet of sea-bands to try.  They're accupressure bracelets you wear to avoid travel sickness.  Aspie boy is suspicious at first, suspecting a James Bond-style secret weapon that will shoot deadly poison into our wrists on the high seas.  He puts them on anyway.  Dutifully Angel does too, even though "I don't get sick now, Mum".  Smiley also tolerates them and doesn't try to take them off or chew them, so that's a successful start...

It was an uneventful voyage and everyone was happy with the sea-bands.  Aspie boy was especially happy...

"These are awesome, I like them!  I don't even feel wonky when I'm walking!"

And I was able to drink two cups of badly needed coffee without a trace of nausea :) 

The road trip through North Wales was made more interesting by the sighting of a couple standing by the side of the road with their thumbs in the air.  I asked aspie boy what he thought they were doing.  Hailing a taxi, he replied.  So that started an interesting discussion about the decline of hitchhiking, and no sign of any car sickness either.

On arrival we first went to the hospice to spend time with Grandad who seemed a little better.  Next shop : food shopping.  What does it say about my kids that they get excited about the low prices in UK supermarkets ?

Of course we spent too much as there were so many 'bargains' - just look at these boots I got for £ 19 !

Four ready meals later, we were full and tired and glad to be back in Wales. 

Disclosure: The Seabands were provided free for us to try out and review.

Postscript: As most of you will know, my Dad became very ill as we travelled back to Ireland and passed away the following week, so I did not publish this after writing.  The sea bands were also used on the trip back and two more crossings since, all on the slow boat due to gales on the Irish Sea.  Only aspie boy got sick, and only once, and that was yesterday during one of the roughest crossings I have ever experienced.  And my thoughts today are with the family and loved ones of the crew of the merchant ship which sunk off Holyhead last night. 

Moving On

Most of you will know the stages of grief.  I am feeling numb, and right now I'm in denial.  I expect to wake up some time soon and discover that it was all a bad dream, even as I draft my Dad's obituary.  The tears fall when I meet friends, or find unexpected things: a rubber band borrowed to tie up a cereal packet.  He will never need it back now.

But I have to keep going.  I have three children who keep me very busy, even Angel at 19 still needs her Mammy at times.  And I need to blog.

If I don't write about my Dad, it's not that I am not thinking about him.  It's just that I'm trying to think about something else.  He was always positive about life and living, always looking forward, and I think he would want me to do the same.
So I'm moving on.  Slowly.

And blogging will start again properly soon.

I am heartbroken

My Dad.  1930 - 2011.  RIP.

Time with Grandad

Another trip to Wales and another stage in my Dad's illness.  Each time we visit, there are changes.

I've put my feelings in a box marked deal with later.  Right now it's the only way that I can do all the things that need to be done each day.  

But there are positives.  He's back in the hospice, and he loves it there.  The wonderful staff and the care they provide mean that he now copes much better with his illness.  Cancer may be cruel but it is no longer in control of him.  Thanks to the hospice, he is now living his life again, day by day.

He is not the only person who is in a better place.  There are big changes in aspie boy too.  He is not feeling so angry and we are all happier as a result : including him.  This latest trip could have been such a nightmare.  I could not prepare his daily schedules as I never knew what was going to happen.  Yet he helped me to remain calm.  Complaints were few, even though hospices are not the most exciting of places for ten year old boys.   Instead he made the most of the time with his Grandad....

NB: I have his permission to publish this.

What I want for Christmas is.... a #specialsaturday post

I get very angsty about buying presents, for everyone, not just the kids.  I love it when I get it right and find something that I know will surprise and delight, but that happens only rarely.

Buying presents of any kind for Smiley is now a huge problem.  At 15, she is too old for most children's toys - and she knows it - but intellectually she is stuck at about the 2 year old level, and there are no companies that cater for that unusual combination!  So I give her time, treats and special outings as I did for her recent birthday, as well as DVDs, new clothes and pretty bags.  Last year Santa got her an an iPad, which we both share.  It has been fairly successful, but again I have the problem that most of the APPS for her intellectual level are too babyish*.

I have this need for things to be age appropriate for her.  So no bibs, no soothers and no rattles - and I've seen them used with her peers.  Ok so I know I have her in an adult buggy instead of a wheelchair, but that's because we live in Ireland.  It rains here.  A lot.  It gets cold.  The pavements and paths are bumpy.  And Smiley likes to go out, at least once a day.  Our lives would be much poorer if we only had the use of a wheelchair.

So back to the presents.  When she was younger, the best presents had some sort of cause and effect:

...Pull out jigsaws

...A telephone

...A box of small musical instruments

...A tea set including pots and containers in which to hide real food for her to find

...Picture/story books - she can listen and turn the pages

...A dolls house

Smiley chose this herself

 ...Pop-up toys

...Something to hold - every child is different, mine likes brushes, combs, tennis rackets and the upright bit from the Connect Four Game - don't ask...

...And for when she is bored with everything else: her portable DVD player.

My best advice?  Take your child on a tour of a toy shop and ask them to 'show' you what they would like from Santa.

As for aspie boy, his anxiety now means that he cannot make a decision.  He will nag and nag and nag until he gets me to order the latest game from Amazon and then five minutes later he will start to backtrack and say he doesn't really want it after all.  With the number of cancelled orders on my account I'm surprised they haven't blocked me yet!  

I need to make Christmas special for him too, but at the moment I don't know how...

*I'm drafting a post about her favourite iPad APPS

A very special birthday weekend

It all started on Thursday with the purchase of three chocolate cakes, a birthday card and a Halloween costume, which was a cheap rip-off, but was the only thing that worked.  No prizes for guessing whose birthday was celebrated this weekend.  

Yep Smiley made her unscheduled entrance into the world 15 years ago. 

And I had a problem this year.  What do you buy a non-verbal teenager with cerebral palsy for her birthday?  Like most teenagers she has everything she needs, but she can't tell me what she wants.  

So the only solution I could think of was to put some money into her account and organise a weekend to remember...

It began on Friday in school with a fancy dress Halloween party, the first birthday cake and face painting.  I'm not so sure about the face-painting, I think perhaps she is too old for it - and not particularly keen either.

On Saturday we took the second cake to the Rainbow Junior Arch Club - another Halloween party.  Again she is a bit old for the club, but enjoys all the attention and some of the activities.

I noticed that she wasn't as smiley as usual though, and on Sunday it was a struggle to keep her happy, even though we went shopping with her birthday money.
On Monday I found out why: she woke up with a nasty head cold.  But even by the evening she was feeling better and well able on Tuesday for coffee and chat with the girls - Jazzygal and Jen  - and a chance to finish off the third cake...