The Monster Meme Omnibus

I have a confession to make.  Lots of lovely bloggers have been tagging me for awards and memes since Christmas.  And I've just let them pile up.  It's not that I don't really appreciate them.  I do!  Its just that other stories keep popping into my head and I can't help it.  I have to get them out there.  But guilt has finally caught up with me, so today I am going to fly through all seven in one go....

One of most authoritative and intelligent writers on special needs is Deb over at Aspie in the Family and she tagged me for the On My Birthday meme from Kate over at The Five Fs blog 
On my birthday
Very appropriate as I'm turning 50 this year, so birthdays are on my mind!  

When is your birthday? June 20th.
Pick three people who share your birthday and share what you know about them.  Not many exciting people were born on 20th June.  There was  Jacques Offenbach, German-born French composer (d. 1880), who I studied in school.  1916 – Johnny Morris, British children's TV presenter (d. 1999) and I remember him with affection from when we finally got TV in the house. 1960 – John Taylor, from Duran Duran. One of the bands that reminds me of when I was young!
Is anyone listed as being born on the same day as you (ie the same year).  If so, what do you know about them?  Evan Wynn (June 20, 1962) is a Wisconsin politician and legislator, do you really want to know any more?
List three people who died on your birthday and tell us what you know about them?  'Jackass' Star Ryan Dunn, died in an awful Car Crash in 2011 at the age of 34.  I hated his stupid stunt programme, but was horrified by his death.  He seems to be the only well-known person to have died on my birthday.
List three notable events that took place on your birthday.  Alexander Graham Bell installed the world's first commercial telephone service in Canada in 1877.  A story I didn't know - in 1942 Kazimierz Piechowski and three others, dressed as members of the SS, stole an SS staff car and escape from the Auschwitz concentration camp. In 1990  Asteroid Eureka is discovered.  This is something that may interest my son.

Tell us about a holiday that falls on your birthday.  World Refugee Day
Even the madly busy Jazzygal, who has just finished her work on an amazing-looking production of the musical Footloose, found time to tag me for the Liebster Award.  Thanks so much Jazzy!

As usual I have to answer a few questions...

Favourite Colour? Blue of course :)

Favourite Animal? I have no idea, I don't think about animals very much.

Favourite Number? Oh I'd think I'd have to say 50, as things can only get better right?

Favourite Drink? As Jazzygal said: 'You mean there are people out there who don't know my favourite drink?'  Coffee of course, followed closely by wine ...

Facebook or Twitter? No way could I choose, they are completely different.   

My Passion? Something I have to rediscover after years of firefighting, just trying to get through each day.  Maybe this will be the year when I finally get time to look at my life and what I want to do - just in time for my second half century!

Giving or Getting Presents?  I like giving presents if I really believe that I have found something special, but that can be difficult.  For me the best presents are the unexpected ones, they always brighten up your day.

Favourite Day?  The last day of term, when I get to switch off the alarm clock.  Of course the children often wake me up at 6am or earlier anyway, but at least there's the chance of a lie-in.

Favourite Flower? Red roses.  I love everything about them: the drama, the romance, the danger, the film...

I was also tagged by Bottle-in-front-of-me over at Random Pearls of Wisdom for the February Sunshine Award.  But since I'm a month late and the questions are almost identical to the Liebster Award, I hope he'll forgive me if I pass on this one...

Next up: 11 questions, well 22 actually as I was tagged for this meme by both Heather at SAHMlovingit, whose new baby boy is absolutely gorgeous, and Lucy at Being of Sound Mind.  I always enjoy her quirky take on life, charity shops and music.

Heather  first...
  1. What's the worst present you've ever been given? A set of three towels for my 21st.  And they had flowers on them, really not me at all.
  2. If you could go on holiday anywhere in the world where would it be and why?  Paris, because I've never been there.
  3. What's your most embarrassing moment?  Too many to mention.
  4. If you won £45m on the Euro Lottery (like that young couple did the other week), what would you do with the money?  Not so long ago I would have said a round the world trip, or making a film or even rescuing a factory.  Now I'd have to do something a little closer to home.  I don't know what is going to happen to Smiley when she turns 18.  She won't ever work, and she can't entertain herself, so I think she needs a school for life and that's what I'd like to set up for her and children like her.  And a special secondary school for kids with Asperger's syndrome as too many of them drop out of school because they can't cope.
  5. If you weren't with your partner/boyfriend/husband/significant other (or, if you aren't with anyone right now - bonus!) and you could have one date night with someone else, who would it be and what would you do?  Very hard to choose just one.  For first dates I prefer day time? There's less pressure.  Actually I'd like someone who would just accompany me on a typical weekend day.  Someone who would really help with the children, fix stuff that breaks (this seems to happen every day) be interesting and entertaining and be able to cook.  Does this mythical person exist?  I'm not sure...
  6. Football or rugby? Rugby.  I'm from Wales, remember!
  7. If there was a film made about your life, which actor/actress would play you?  Oh having just seen The Hunger Games, I'd have to say Jennifer Lawrence, who I loved in Winter's Bone too. 
  8. Do you prefer a wild night out or a quiet night in?  This is very embarrassing as I am definitely old enough to know better but as I'm now a stay at home mum and carer, I yearn for wild nights out.... and very occasionally get to enjoy one.
  9. Is there one television programme that you couldn't live without in your life?  No.  Well so long as you don't get rid of my internet connection too.  In fact if my ex-husband hadn't been so into his telly I would have thrown it out as soon as I saw Angel getting interested.   
  10. If you could turn back time, what would you do differently?  Go to my best friend's wedding (I was sick), learn to ski, change the way I handled the most difficult situation of my life in 2006...
  11. What's your guilty pleasure?  A firelog burning away merrily in the grate, my laptop, my rocking chair, the telly on low, and a glass of wine.  Something to look forward to all day once the little ones are in bed.
And here's another 11 questions from the lovely Lucy...

1) If there was such a thing as reincarnation, what would you come back as?  A man.

2) What is your favourite sandwich filling?  Real prawns and mayo.

3) What's the most pain you've ever felt?  The day my baby nearly died.

4) What advice would you give your teenage self?  Cream cakes and cigarettes will not improve your life.

5)  How many friends have you got?  Lots. I couldn't count them as I'm not sure how you decide who is a friend and who is someone you like, but perhaps they don't consider you to be a friend.

6) What is the last lie you told?  I don't really tell lies.  When I was about 14 I lied outright to my parents when they asked had I been smoking in my bedroom.  That's the only real one I remember.

7) What is the worst film you ever watched (so I know to avoid).  Closer.  Horrible people being horrible to each other.

8) Do you think George Clooney is overrated?  Not so far..

9) What trait do you most deplore in yourself?  My inability to grit my teeth and just get on with the housework.

10) Do you get the giggles? If so, what type of thing induces them?  Smiley giggling :)

11) What in your life has been the biggest waste of money?  The car I bought for work three months before I was let go.

Christina who blogs over at Beadzoid is a passionate campaigner for premature babies and she tagged me in the Thankful Thursdameme.  I'm a big fan of remembering all the good stuff when things are difficult so I just had to do this one!  I promise to keep it short..
  1. My health: Yes I keep having worrying symptoms, but so far everything has been good.  
  2. My kids: They give meaning to my life.
  3. My family: Always there for me.
  4. My friends: Ditto.  And my real friends 'get' special needs.
  5. Spring: Once I see the first snowdrop, I just know that life is going to get better.  And warmer.
  6. My home: It's perfect, even though stuff is always breaking!
  7. Blogger: I've always been paid for writing, it was part of my job.  Thanks to my blog I now know that I am compelled to write. It's part of who I am.
  8. Coffee, chocolate and all the other treats that make my life worthwhile!
  9. The Irish weather:  No really!  It suits me as I no longer likes the heat and can't cope with very cold weather either (Raynaud's)
  10. Being born in the 1960s:  I've benefited from all the social and scientific advances of the 20th century but missed out on the worst effects of the current recession. 
Finally, Marsupial Mama asked me to join in with the worldwide IEP Meme that was established so that parents of kids with special needs could share information about this process.  What process? While I am generally happy with the special education provided by the schools attended by my two kids with special needs, the IEP is not given much importance or time.   They were only introduced in most schools in Ireland following legislation in 2004, and are not mandatory.  I find them useful, but as a structured parent-teacher meeting, rather than the comprehensive goal-setting and evaluation process that the IEP seems to be elsewhere.

Rather than follow the rules of each meme, I'm going to tag some of my favourite bloggers and ask them to pick a meme of their choice to do...

Congratulations!  You've finally reached the end of this post....

My property tax protest

NOT my house
I am planning to pay the property tax.

In protest.

It's a protest against all the people who did not support the campaign to stop cuts to child benefit.

All the people who shrug their shoulders when they hear about carers who face the propspect of losing their domiciliary care allowance and carer's allowance.  Not €100 a year, more like €10,000.  

Who sympathise when they hear about cuts to services for kids with special needs, but do nothing.

Who blame lone parents for all society's problems and so turn a blind eye to policies that will condemn many of them to low paid paid part time employment and their children to poverty.

I'm protesting against all those people who voted Fianna Fail.  Who supported the bankers and the developers.  Whose actions led to the loss of my job and my security as well as that of my children.

Even though my property tax will probably just be used to plant yet more trees and is just displacing money that is poured down the black hole of bank debt.  

Just planted?

Even so, I am planning to pay it.

Unless you can persuade me otherwise.

And once again I'm left wondering why property always seems to matter so much more than children?

#Listography: My Top 5 Beauty Products

It's a beautiful day in Dublin today.  The sun is streaming through the windows, showing up every line and flaw on my face, so I've put the housework on hold to take part in Kate's latest Listography, as it's about beauty products that really work.  I see a shopping trip in my near future....


Here are my Top 5:

1. Vaseline
Prevents cracked lips and solves a multitude of other problems too.

2. E45
From wiping bottoms to cleaning, to gardening, to cooking, I seem to wash my hands every few minutes, and get through industrial quantities of hand cream.  Otherwise I literally wash the skin away and they start to bleed.  This stuff works well on my face too.

3. Braun Silk-epil
As I get older, nature and culture have conspired to make hair removal an ever bigger job.  As regular salon visits are not really an option, I was absolutely delighted to find that this thing really works.

4. John Frieda hair conditioner
Without this three heads of hair in this house would be completely unbrushable.  Actually they would mostly look like brushes...

5. Colour Calming primer
Why are there so many photographs of celebrities with red noses? Have they never heard of this stuff?

Then of course there's my GHD, which I really shouldn't mention yet again on this blog.  Ooops I just have....

Head over to Kate Takes 5 if you want some more ideas.

Never EVER give up: Smiley walks again

Six months ago I feared her walking days were over.  In the past five years Smiley has doubled in size and weight, her legs are now permanently bent - due to contractures - despite botox injections and daily stretching.  Last summer I had to accept that she could no longer use the small walker that she used to love.  She didn't seem to like its replacement either.  I sent it back to the school for her physiotherapist to adjust and try her in it again.  But the reports were not encouraging.  She was miserable apparently, and seemed unable to make any forward movement.

I don't know of any other wheelchair-bound 15 year olds who use walkers, so I was starting to wonder if she would ever walk again.  And I might have given up, if it wasn't for the encouragement of Barbara Boucher, whose blog posts are always a huge source of inspiration and information.  

Finally this morning I took action and went up to Smiley's school to see her physiotherapist.  Further adjustments were made to the new walker, and we hoisted Smiley into place.  At first she did not look too impressed, but with huge amounts of encouragement and praise she began to move her legs correctly.  Most of the forward motion happened because I was gently pulling the walker, but her legs followed, one at a time. We went up and down the gym and then, very daringly, out into the school corridor.  People came out of the classrooms to cheer her on.  She made it all the way down to her own classroom, absolutely delighted with herself.

Wobbly photo courtesy of happiness-induced camera shake!
Smiley is walking again :)

The Gallery: A very colourful kitchen

This is not my kitchen: it is the kitchen of a very good friend of mine, and I still have to stop and look every time I visit her house.  Straight from a fairy tale, it is the kitchen Alice in Wonderland would have had when she grew up.  You can just imagine the White Rabbit lurking behind the far door.  I love it!

I couldn't resist sharing this photo for the colour theme of this week’s Gallery.  Head over to Sticky Fingers  for more colourful entries.

Screen-free time with aspie boy: birdwatching

If you look under my son's bed you will find neatly stacked piles of toys and games, many barely touched. Since his eighth birthday I've been fighting a losing battle against the siren call of the Xbox, Wii, PS, DS and YouTube.

He's tried taekwondo, judo and basketball, considered athletics and hiphop, and rejected football and hurling.  During the autumn most activities were on hold as we trekked over to Wales and back to see my Dad.  Apart from chess of course.

After Christmas he wanted to do more things, aware that activities and interests could reduce his anxiety levels.  Art, Tennis and Japanese have been introduced into his weekly schedule, as well as the chess.  And this weekend we tried another activity that he'd mentioned: bird-watching.  Smiley was with us so we chose a path along the sea-wall, but there was plenty of bird activity on the sweep of sands in Dublin Bay...and a few other things, including two men in waders.  I'd love to know what they were at?

It was great to be doing something different, and it all came back to me: I spotted the oystercatchers and the different waders and gulls, and excitedly called aspie boy every time a flock of Canada Geese flew over.  You see this used to be my hobby too.  As a child of the 60s, living in the country with no TV, my parents encouraged interests like bird-watching.  And these are my binoculars.  Bought for £10 by saving my pocket money of half a crown a week.

There was the RSPB and the Young Ornithologist's Club with its badges and magazines.  How quaint it all seems now!   I don't know anyone who boasts about being a 'birdwatcher' these days.  Yet it appeals to my son even when up against the likes of Spore and Minecraft.

I'm delighted: birdwatching combines education, fresh air, getting out of the house and a teeny bit of exercise.  I'm also wondering if bird-watching would be a typical interest for a child with Asperger's syndrome?  I'd love to know your thoughts.

Housekeeping note: Just adding the code here for technorati here too (please ignore) FHR4T4VWDR6Z 

Technorati Claim post - please ignore


The joys of parenting a child with Asperger's Syndrome

As well a fair smattering of heartache, parenting a child with Asperger's Syndrome is also entertaining, interesting and laugh out loud funny.   And don't worry, the 'm' word will not even get a mention...

On Anxiety

"Are you really my Mum?"

After he loses sight of me for a few seconds when we're out.

"Mum, where are you?"

Almost every time I leave the room, unless he is particularly engrossed in some game.

On Hygiene

"I think my socks smell just fine.  It's other people's that smell horrible."

On Body Temperature

Him: "What are those pointy things sticking up on my arm?"  

Me: "They're goose bumps.  They mean you're cold."

Him: "Oh, am I?"

On Experimenting

Testing the range of his wireless mouse.  And yes it does work from the garden, but only if I sit at the computer for him and check what is happening on screen *sigh*.

On Questions that only Google can answer

"If you have a lazy eye, what do you see?"

"What shape is your field of vision, oval or rectangle?"

"How do you get a square film from a circular webcam?"

Why is laughter good for you?"

On Questions that only Twitter can answer

"Why are circular pizzas delivered in square boxes?"

A selection of the answers from twitter (just in case you're interested)

...A square box is made from one piece of cardboard with folds so it's not got the same weaknesses as a circular box.

...There would be no way to make a circular box from one piece of cardboard.

...It would cost more to make a circular box and it wouldn't be as strong.

...And they are not square because to make a proper pizza they spin the dough and you can't spin a square.

Well, who knew?

On Planning Ahead

It seems my son has a list of names for his cat. 

The cat he plans to get when he leaves home!

And finally

It looks as though he loves me too :)