29 Jan 2006

Falling in is MORE fun!

I took the children shopping on Friday morning and we bought Pingu and the Sims (or whatever it’s called) CD Roms for £5 each in Asda. I had already told Lady that I would be giving her £2 pocket money each week and that I still had money she had been given as gifts. So she decided to start spending and choose a Scooby Doo DVD. Yippee…

The spending continued with a trip to the charity shop which left us with about 10 new children’s books, including an Usborne jigsaw atlas which looked brand new and a volume of Cat in the Hat stories which Lady has enjoyed reading to me. Actually Dr Seuss stuff used to freak me out a bit when I was her age, but I now realise it has to be read aloud to someone so you can laugh at the silliness together. Lady also picked a very dainty statue of a little girl, the kind of thing I loved when I was 7 too.

When Duncan got home he spotted the Pingu disc so I put it on and he got stuck in. Man, that boy can handle a computer! He has great mouse control, though he uses his thumb to click. He started playing a puzzle game, dragging blocks to make a variety of shapes in a certain time and he flew though it. After a while Thomas wanted to play so they played a game where the object was to get Pingu across the river by jumping on the icebergs and they kept making the character jump into the water. It was on the tip of my tongue to instruct then that NO, you’re supposed to make him jump on the ice but thankfully I stopped myself and realised they were laughing their heads off together at the funny noise Pingu was making when he fell in the water :-)!!

Gordon came home on Saturday evening, having been away all week so we were all so happy to see him. On Sunday we had a ‘movie night’; we all gathered on our new fancy sofa to watch the Scooby Doo movie, on our VERY big fancy TV. It was good fun, though not as good as hearing Duncan later sing ‘Pass the Dutchie’ (from the film), well he had the words ‘pass the’ and the tune was spot on, but the rest of the lyrics were his own! Gordon said he must tell his Dad in Jamaica about that one!

26 Jan 2006

Who knows?

Lots of ‘socialisation’ today! First, a friend called over with her 5 boys. The children had a good time playing together and we mums managed to find some things to talk about ;-).
My Thomas and her 3 yo are so cute together; they look very alike, same size, hair, eyes and skin tone.

We also visited one of our old neighbours and Lady enjoyed running around on the street with her (young) old friends while Thomas played with the little 1yo girl and Duncan played with their train set and combed the kitchen for chocolate. My friend thought she’d put it all away, but the eagle-eyed one found a tiny chocolate Santa in amongst her spice jars. Oh and Lady went to her Rainbow group.

Don't you feel sorry for my poor isolated home-educated children!

Also today, I was asked what I imagined Duncan’s future would be like, bearing in mind that we cannot predict the future for any child whether special issue or not. I said I thought he would be fine, he will continue to develop skills and knowledge, his communication skills will keep improving with help from us and I hope he will be happy with himself and find work that he is good at and enjoys. I thought that he could do anything, for example, something in computing or engineering or a designer. Well I’m sure I waffled a bit more than that but you get the idea! I think he will be able to live independently but need help with some mundane aspects of life. I know that this is nonsense because he could end up as a concert pianist or a monk or an astronaut (I did used to call him my little space-boy when he was 1; ‘Duncan go home’!!).


What the heck do I know?! But I’m not too worried. Well, I am a bit and we save what money we can and it is in the back of our minds (Gordon and I) well, Duncan might need it when he’s older. (Compound interest will do more for him than chelation or ABA!) All I know is that too many people end up feeling depressed as they get older and I want him to be happy in his skin and feel loved, supported and competent at what matters to him.

What’s funny is another remark my friend made later; if the person she was 10 years ago could meet the person she is now, she’d be shocked (earth-mother wise-woman that she is! ;-) ). I think the same; I have changed and grown so much in the past 10 years. If we can’t know what we ourselves will be like, how can we hope to know what our children will be like?

And finally...

Today’s little note from Duncan’s teacher included the following;

“He enjoyed PE this morning although finds the hall a huge temptation to run about in !!”. :-0
Look, she’s a really nice woman and is short on time when she writes these little notes, and it’s nice to get them since Duncan goes to school via bus and I don’t see the teachers often, but; PE, a big hall and a very active little boy; well DUH!!! COURSE he’s going to want to run about!

25 Jan 2006

Great Day

Today was one of those days when you just feel blessed. Thomas and I went to our playgroup. When I told him we would be going he asked if I was going to stay all the time, I said I would and did he want me to stay. He said yes because, ‘then I am safe and I love you’, which is a nice reason to want your Mum around. Lady visited her Grandma as usual while we were at playgroup, since it only caters for pre-school age children. It’s a nice group with great coffee and cakes and since Thomas goes off and does his own thing the whole time, I get to chat with the mums and admire the babies. A woman asked me what I miss about London since moving here and it’s just my sister, a few good friends and the wonderful toy library sessions run from the Project for Children with Special Needs.

It was run by volunteers who gave me much needed support when Duncan was even younger and I had spent all my time at other playgroups running around after him feeling stressed, apologising constantly, picking things up that Duncan had scattered in his usual way after investigating them. My first time there, when I said sorry because he’d knocked something over or was climbing on something or poking about in someone’s handbag, I was told not to bother apologising, he was fine and so was everyone else. I learned to relax and let the 3 children enjoy themselves (another benefit; they allowed school-aged children to attend too). I meet some lovely families with just the best children. We got to know each other and celebrate the children’s successes.

I remember one day a woman came to sing with us bringing some beautiful hand puppets and she sang a little song called ‘3 little birds sitting in a tree’. Duncan went right up to her, and sang right through all 3 verses in his sweet high voice, trying SO hard to pronounce the words and every adult in the room had tears in their eyes when he finished. Another man used to bring a didgeridoo and one child, who was deaf and delayed in all his development, smiled when the didgeridoo was played beside him and reached out to touch it. We’d never seen him reach before then.

Well I didn’t bore the poor woman silly telling her all that! She also asked me about autism so I tried to give a short summary of the autistic condition! (You tend to have about 2 minutes when talking to most mums at playgroups before one of you has to see to the kids!)

After Duncan came home, he wanted me to read his little Pinocchio book over and over. He was saying all the names until he got them right, and Jiminy and Gepetto aren’t that easy to say! He sat behind me and looked over my shoulder as I read, hiding behind the curtain every so often when the tension was just too much to bear! I told him Gepetto is Pinocchio’s father or Daddy and then talked about how his Daddy went on the aeroplane and will be back in 1 day. He said ‘Daddy get noisy Lady’ (a train he wants) and I said, ‘no, Daddy will get sweets’, to which he said, ‘Daddy get sweets, Daddy get noisy Lady’!

Before they all went to bed we were watching the Madagascar DVD, the bit with a dance video for the song ‘I want to move it, move it’ (sung by that Baron Cohen bloke, you know, the funny one ;-) ). We all danced round the room as they played it 4 or 5 times! So, a good day.

23 Jan 2006

Bella Roma

It'll be our 10th wedding anniversary this March. We decided this weekend to do something special and go to Rome. Amazingly you can fly there direct from Belfast. I've never been to Italy and Rome is somewhere I long to visit. Daddy has agreed to look after the children (he's great!) and hopefully we can go for 2 nights. I want to learn about the city and how to speak some Italian now. Oh man I hope this really happens!

Catching up

So here I am sneaking some time on the desk top while the children play upstairs. I couldn't post for the past few days since there was too much competition for this computer.

So catching up; on Thursday Lady started her new Rainbows group which meets in a church hall in the village. It's easier to get to and she enjoyed meeting some local girls and making new friends.

On Friday we all slept in and Duncan missed the school bus. So he stayed at home and we had a great day together. We went to the library and it was actually OK. I mean the boys were quite loud and Duncan kept going behind the lady's desk to look for a (what else) Thomas video and I appeared (or was) scatty and disorganised but hey! we achieved what we set out to do!

My Book People delivery arrived too. The Learn-to-read-with-Thomas books came as well as my bargain collection of 5 books for a tenner. I love a bargain! The Thomas books are a big hit with the boys and I prefer them to the usual Thomas books, nice clear illustartions with simple text. Much better for Duncan, who will know the stories by heart soon I bet. I think that is how he will learn to read, not via phonics, which they are following at school, but by looking at favourite well-known books alone, and figuring out the text himself.

The weekend was nice and easy. We did a bit of shopping, cooking, cleaning and lots of playing and reading. I'm reading Phillip Pulamn's 'The scarecrow and his servant' to Lady.

No book has ever made her laugh so much. It really is very funny. The boys likes the Usborne books Farmyard Tales and the new Thomas books. There's always lots of acting out of chugging and pulling and cross Fat Controllers. It engages Duncan much more than the dry 'I can sit' book he brought home from school.


Well I don't know how you are supposed to spell the sound your laptop makes when it suddenly and for no apparant reason stops working while you're sitting there using it.


Anyway, we've had a few good days. On Tuesday it was my Dad's birthday so I took Lady and Thomas to visit him and deliver his cards. Lady had drawn a pretty sea scene on her card, with cavorting dolphins und rainbows and butterflies.

He joined us for a visit to the Ulster Museum.
There is a lot to see and we didn't have enough time before we had to rush back to meet Duncan from school. The Early Ireland gallery was interesting since we've been reading about Stone Age life. Lady liked all the pretty crystals in the Geology section. She is always collecting stones and shells when we're out; looks like a natural interest there! Thomas however was HARD WORK! This is a new and unwelcome development in my previously pretty angelic boy but he has started to argue, shout, and screech a bit. All he wanted to do was to go to the cafe when he'd spotted it and he WAS NOT going to compromise. Hmmm.

17 Jan 2006

Scooting along

I went with Lady and Thomas to the beach today. We haven't been for weeks, ridiculous considering it's so close. I walked and the children took their scooters. It was Thomas' first time taking his Christmas Barney scooter out. We had a lovely time. They drew picures in the sand and decorated them with seaweed and threw stones in the sea and waved to all the people out walking by. :-)

After Duncan came home the boys played with trains upstairs while Lady played on the computer. Lady had her drama class later, and as usual, Duncan acquired a new train; 'noisy' Edward.

16 Jan 2006

Building towns

I worked with Lady on some maths (adding problems and she made an addition square). Thomas was playing with a bag of wooden bricks upstairs and we went up to see the great tower he'd made. So Lady starts playing with him at the bricks and they call me up later to show me their beautiful town. It had a little row of houses, a church, a school a playground and a memorial! I love how they collaborate so well on little things like that and can visualise fairly plain shapes as representing different things.

Duncan came back from school with another note about how he wouldn't settle and just wanted to run around. At least this time they have decided to help him in a more useful way than rewarding him with Cheerios for 'sitting nicely'. They're going to let him play in the covered outdoor area 1st thing to burn off some energy and they will take him to the sensory room for 5 mins.

The first thing Duncan wanted to do with me was to Google images of Care Bears DVDs; I wonder where that idea came from?

Why 'The Voyage'?

Because when Gordon and I first became friends back in '91, I leant him a Christy Moore tape called 'Voyage' which he listened to while travelling to Jamaica to see his Dad. It's something we shared right back at the beginning of 'us'. I really like the song 'The Voyage'. It's simple and true and as time goes by and we have made a family, it means more.

Life is a journey, and love is its boat,

On troubled waters, it keeps us afloat,

When we started this voyage, there was just me and you,

Now gathered round us we have our own crew.

What do we do?

Duncan goes to an autism unit at a special school. It's OK but not great. I hope to home-educate him as soon as feel able to manage all of them full-time. Duncan is a great, gorgeous and very demanding child. I don't think he gains much benefit from going to school, except perhaps having a Mummy who isn't completely frazzled all the time because she had a bit of a break. It isn't how I want things to be but I hope to take more control as this year goes by.
Lady went to school in England for almost 2 years before I de-registered her. She was such a sparky child usually but she withdrew while at school. Some of my friends, who knew her well and who helped out in the classroom, were surprised at the change in her affect during school. Her teacher described her as quiet and as not participating much in whole class activities. But I know that in small groups or in places where she feels comfortable, Lady acts in the oposite way to this. SO, after talking it over with Gordon for a LONG time, I finally persuaded him to agree to try out home-education.

Thomas has never been to school or nursery; he's far too busy learning with his family every minute of the day!

It has been wonderful. I have discovered a whole new lifestyle with new and great friends. Also, by jumping into the autism world, I have learnt more and changed my opinion on many things over the past 2-3 years. It has been a voyage of discovery for me.