31 May 2008

My Disney Life

Gordon left on Thursday to attend a massive conference in Chicago, and won't be back until Wednesday. Before he went, we all went out on a bike ride. He and I cleaned up our bikes and pumped the tyres, dusted the cobwebs off our cycle helmets, and joined the 3 children on their shiny new bikes. Lady's pal from next door came with us.

We headed off through the forest park and along the shore front. It was magical, beautiful and I got such a thrill that we were able to do such a thing together. OK, so I was more tense and there was a bit more calling out instructions that there might be for ordinary families (whatever they are!). "Pull the brakes a bit, slow down, keep pedaling, stay near me..." etc. We had an unscheduled stop as our middle child hopped off to run along the beach for a bit, then we were off again.

We dropped Gordon to the airport then when the children were getting ready for bed, Lady came to tell me that there was a mouse or something in the upstairs cupboard, a really loud one! I went to investigate and discovered a bird had somehow made its way inside. I closed all but one of the bedroom doors, opened the front and back doors and let it out. It flew into the bedroom and after about 20mins fluttering around in a distressed manner, it eventually flew out the wide open window. (The bits of fruit and crumbs I'd placed on the window sill made no difference!)

What is going on here?! The last time Gordon was away for a conference, there was a mouse in my wardrobe. I feel like Snow White (albeit older and uglier) with all the ickle creatures around me. Unfortunately, these ones were useless at housework.

Yesterday Duncan built a rocket in the under-stairs cupboard. (He was the only cute creature in that one.) He stuck their Doctor Who posters on the walls, and brought down a selection of toys, and their space-themed duvet. He arranged a key board and Gordon's synthesiser on the shelf to be the control panel, told us he was the pilot, and invited us all inside the rocket. He'd also made a clay model of a scary spider monster with 5 eyes. I didn't recognise it but Lady knew at once, it was a Racnoss, the big spider-alien from Doctor Who.

Later I cooked a M&S pie for our dinner. Duncan got to it before me after the timer went, and unfortunately he dropped it on the floor, much of the pie splattering out of the tin. I was not best pleased and he was very apologetic. Later, I discovered that he had made a real mess in his bedroom, and had written on the wall inside the cupboard and I told him off. He was upset and ran to Lady to be comforted. A few minutes later Lady brought me a card he had made. It said, "Momy soory Duncan Noddy" and was decorated with 5 hearts and a picture of me. I went to find him and he said, "Mummy not be angry with Duncan." Oh boy, did I feel bad. We cuddled and made up and I let him know how much I love him. As he now says, "Mummy loves Duncan the best."

30 May 2008

Maths for a 6 year old

Thomas recently turned 6 and is clearly ready for more conceptional learning. He has learned so much with very little formalised instruction. I have helped him learn all the letter sounds and he can read simple books with some help. Like Lady, he will most likely be able to read very well when he is 8 or perhaps earlier. He has a good understanding of arithmetic, although until a few weeks ago, he'd never answered a written maths question. He has, however, spent ages counting the coins (and a few notes) in his Tardis money bank, he has played loads of board games, some card games, many hours worth of computer games. He has played with Lego and wooden bricks, Geomag and measuring cups. We have baked and weighed and measured as part of real life. He has been able to double and half quantities in his head, he has been taught how to add 2 small numbers by putting the larger number "in his head" then counting on the next number on his fingers. So when I wrote out a page of addition and subtraction sums, I just had to tell him what the plus and minus symbols represent, and he easily completed the questions correctly. Right away I was able to present him with more difficult sums.

We often have discussions about numbers. He's asked about the biggest number and about how long it would take you to count to it, then was fascinated by the idea of infinity. He asks about astronomical distances so I have to look them up and explain concepts like light years to him. He asked his dad how long it would take to walk around the sun, so we looked up the numbers and showed him how to divide the distance by the speed to get the time taken, (approx. 1 million hours or approx 114 years, assuming you survive).

His dad has talked to them about Graham's number and the Planck length as examples of the largest and smallest numbers used in science. More usefully, we've mentioned how amazing it is that any number can be expressed using just 10 digits, (and why we use 10) but how they can also be written in other ways, like the Roman numeral system. Thomas has also been introduced to negative numbers and fractions.

He asks how old I was when he was born, or what age he'll be when Lady is 18, and although I used to just tell him and explain how I worked it, now I get him to figure it out. He understands money, so it's a great tool in explaining concepts like place value. (He says he wants to be rich when he grows up, perhaps he will!) Looking at a catalogue recently, he remarked on how expensive the hot-tubs are (he and Lady covet these items; dream on, my children!). He said, "it's ten thousand, four hundred and ninety-nine pounds, that's nearly fifteen thousand pounds!"

He asked me on Wednesday how long before we went to his gymnastics class, and I said 1 hour and 15 minutes. He responded, "OK, 75 minutes." He asked what time that would be so I told him, 3.15. He said, "when both hands are at the 3."
Yup, you've got it!

He was helping me put the shopping away yesterday and he saw the box of eggs, and said, "You bought 10 eggs." I asked him to count them, so he did, and acknowledged that there were actually 12 eggs. He started looking at them, grouping them with his hands, and told me that there were 2 groups of 6, then 4 groups of 3. I showed him the other multiples. It took about a minute, and he learned because he was noticing the patterns in the quantities for himself, and I was just there to help explain and confirm what he discovered.

It's good to reflect sometimes, on how they're doing and to see the methods of learning we've adopted, working so well.

23 May 2008

It's (a bit like) a Miracle!!

What follows, is a (poorly done) parody.

I have something I need to share with all you parents of children with autism. I have stumbled on a brand new treatment for autism!!! It's AMAZING!!!!!

Before I started this intervention, my son was having difficulties in all areas of development. He used to be unable to speak at all, couldn't use the toilet, was frequently having tantrums...you know the sort of terrible pressure us martyr parents have to cope with. If you have not walked in my shoes, then you can't comment. And high functioning, computer using people with autism are not like my son, so there!!

But since starting the new nutritional therapy , it's like we have a different, better child!!! Duncan is so much calmer and more articulate. He is learning better every day and is really interacting with the rest of the family. Going to the supermarket has become much easier. He just learnt to ride a bike for the first time. He can understand more complex instructions. He has started to make lovely clay art. He is better able to express himself.

His grandparents have all noticed the changes for themselves. They have remarked on how improved he is recently and none of them knew about the new treatment!!!! It's like a miracle!
I have been crying tears of joy to think that I have found a way to save my son from the grip of autism.

You will be very keen to know what this wonderful food supplement is, and I will tell you for free!!!

Astonishingly, all these things happened just because we switched the brand of tomato ketchup he uses, yes REALLY...it's all down to KETCHUP! Duncan loves his ketchup and smothers whatever he eats in the stuff so I started to buy a reduced salt and sugar version of our usual brand and that has made all the difference!!!

Or...perhaps it was the bath water in the hotel at Disneyland. He had a bath every night we were there and all the improvements seem to stem from that time too. Perhaps there were healing properties in that water, sorta like Lourdes but with better rides...

Or perhaps it's the modelling clay; manipulating it helps draw out the toxins that (as we all know) cause autism...

Or is it to do with the change in the weather? We've been outdoors much more over the past few weeks and enjoying plenty of fresh air, sunshine and exercise. That might have had an effect...

OK enough.

It's none of those things, though the better weather certainly helps us all feel better. Duncan is just one of five people living here and is sensitive to the mood and affect of all the rest of us. He's growing up and developing all the time. He honestly has been doing great these past few weeks and other people have remarked on how calm, happy and chatty he is. It made me think about correlation and causation. I have read parent testimonials similar to what I wrote above and they always made me wonder how the author could be so sure that the effect they were describing was due to the intervention (homeopathy, nutritional supplements or diet changes, HBOT, etc.) applied. People are complicated. There are good reasons why testimonials, even multiple testimonials, do not make evidence.

My children, all three of them, autistic and not, learn and develop every day, no miracles required.

21 May 2008

Springtime news

Duncan has found a new form of artistic expression; modelling clay. We bought a few blocks of stuff that can be baked and he got to work. The first time I over cooked and blackened it but since then we've got the hang of it and now Duncan can make and bake his sculptures (with supervision). All these he made from memory.

This is one of the first things he made. It's Po from the Teletubbies. Of course, observant people will have known that just by looking at the little telly in the tummy.

Then he made a model of the train from the Disneyland Paris's Big Thunder Mountain train.

He made Casey Jr, the train from Dumbo.

The next item, he told me, is a "mometer, like in Madagascar." I thought it was some sort of snake from the film, so asked for further clarification. "It's a mometer, for medicine. Like Melman in Madagascar." Oh, it's a ther-mometer. He has since learnt the correct pronunciation of the word, having practised it many times.

But my favourite, is the EasyJet aeroplane. He has the wings, engines, tail and even the writing on the side; esy jet!

We've been enjoying the warmer weather and spending much more time outdoors. Lady took the camera out and snapped her brothers playing. I love the picture of Duncan, in which you see Lady's reflection in the window and the weird looking shot of Thomas looking like an alien, with Lady reflected in his eyes!

Further news on the dog question; our local animal sanctuary, where we got our 2 guinea pigs, have decided not to let us adopt one of their dogs because we home educate and have not had dogs before. They don't see how I could find the time to look after a dog when I am so involved with my children. It's ridiculous. There are all these dogs who are put to sleep all over Ireland daily, and they could ensure at least one gets a chance at a home but irrational prejudice prevents it. I explained to them that HE usually takes no more time than parenting a school child, who needs to be dropped off and lifted from school as well as packed lunches prepared, uniforms readied, supervision of homework, attendance at school meetings, and often helping out in the classroom or on school trips.
Thankfully, another rescue organisation has approved our application so I hope we'll find a good canine match through them.

Other family news; Thomas and Lady have new bikes, and Duncan will get his at the weekend. Neither Thomas nor Duncan had ever ridden a proper two wheel bike before. They have been bombing about on a cheap little trainer bike that has two wheels but no pedals, just getting the hang of balancing and steering it. It wasn't much of a surprise when they both mastered riding the proper bike within 3 minutes! So I took them to the park yesterday to have a good long ride each and to learn how to use the brakes properly. They did great!

12 May 2008

Sunday Morning

Warning; contains spoilers on Doctor Who episode 6!

I do love Sunday mornings. It's the day when Gordon usually brings me breakfast in bed. I was trying to read the newspaper on-line (begone, days of piles of paper and newsprint rubbing off on the covers) but Duncan was snuggled beside me and kept taking over my laptop to look at films of roller coasters.

I was chatting to him as he tried to poke my ears (that's a recently developed habit of his; he'll tell you he's trying to get the wax, yuck). I asked him about the episode of Doctor Who we'd all watched the previous night. That was a lovely time; all 5 of us on the sofa, both boys cuddling in to me. He said, "The soldiers were shooting."
And then what happened.
"Then the girl died. Doctor Who loves the girl. Doctor Who was sad...and happy."
And then what...
"The girl went to Doctor Who."

The show had been sad and happy, and that was a pretty good summary of the episode.

So what better thing could a family proceed to on a Sunday morning than a trip to the rescue centre once more, where we picked out a puppy. Hopefully, subject to a home-check, we'll be adopting a Cocker Spaniel cross pup. We just thought we didn't have anything like enough going on in our lives already!

For the rest of the day, the children played outside. Duncan's great joy right now is to ride a bike or scooter up and down along the path in front of our house. I need to be out to supervise him so I took a little film of his fun.

Lady and Thomas spent the afternoon with their new friends from our street, in either their house or ours. Thomas in particular is delighted to have another boy to play Wii and Doctor Who games with.

These are good days. Perhaps it's the good weather, perhaps the glow of a good holiday is still lingering, but for whatever reason we are happy together and Duncan is being just marvellous.

6 May 2008

Disneyland Day 4

On our last day, Gordon and Lady went off alone after breakfast to ride on Crush's Coaster. I'd expected them to be back before 11am to help me check out and leave our bags with the hotel. Also, shortly after they left E. told me that she didn't want to go into the park that day. She just wanted to stay around the hotel and take it easy. It was a bit inconvenient that she had no room to rest in, but she was content to remain in and around the hotel. Since Gordon wasn't back in time, I lugged the cases and the boys by myself and checked out. I had to leave a mobile phone with E. just so she wasn't entirely cut off, and I headed off to meet Gordon and Lady, waiting with the boys in the Videopolis for a further 40 minutes for them to arrive (they loved the coaster!) I was very grateful for the big screens showing cartoons while we waited!

We ate lunch then decided to watch the live Lion King show. It was a shame that E. didn't feel up to coming out again because she would have loved it, but it's better by far that she knew her own limits and didn't try to push past them. While waiting for the show Gordon and Duncan enjoyed watching Space Mountain again.

On presenting Duncan's access card, we were shown to some great seats to watch the show. Thomas was not much interested claiming that it was too boring. Lady loved it; the Lion King is her favourite Disney film. Duncan really enjoyed it too, more than I'd have anticipated. He figured out who all of the characters were, and was excited when Simba ran up the aisle at the end and shook his hand!

We decided to go on a few more rides, and ended up going on the Carousel, Pirates of the Caribbean (very long wait, the children did brilliantly) Casey Junior (yippee) Peter Pan, and Buzz Lightyear. I was astonished at how happy Duncan was at dealing with all this. Obviously, without the green card, it would have been impossible for him to deal with all but the shortest of queues. But the park was jammed with people, far busier than when we'd gone last year, and much worse weather too.

We ended with the Tarzan show.

Now I have a special place in my heart for the Tarzan film. Lady received the video when Duncan was born, and I always think of baby Tarzan as representing baby Duncan and some of the songs just get me all emotional.

Duncan loves the film too, especially Jane in her yellow dress. I told him he'd see a real Jane and Tarzan and he was really exited. The show didn't disappoint. It started with gymnasts dressed as apes and monkeys, tumbling, swinging and bouncing. Thomas was again in a bit of a huff since he thought it wasn't interesting, so I tried to engage him in the gymnastics aspect of the show. Duncan recognised Kala, the mother gorilla and was delighted to see Jane and Tarzan, showing noisy appreciation of their swinging antics. There was a nice bit of audience participation when the children got to bash some metal plates. Lady was first to be asked to go up, and Duncan just ran after her and got stuck in.

By then we had to return to the hotel and drive to the airport. Thankfully the taxi service was punctual this time, and we actually arrived more than 2 hours before the flight departed. Duncan was happy to be flying back and told me he likes Easyjet the best!

The flight back was perfect. Having already experienced flying, Duncan was much less nervous.

Back in Belfast we were at the end of the queue for passport control, since E. walked more slowly from the bus than other people. I stood for a while with my exhausted, squirming boy, before walking past the line, calling for help, and getting us all fast tracked out of there.

Home at last. I was delighted at how well it had gone. We'd taken an 80 year old, and an autistic 7 year old and it had worked! Yes sure, as I'd known would happen, there were times when it wasn't going so well and one or more of us was tired and grouchy. But overall, a resounding success that we'll all remember for ever.

Disneyland Day 3

We spent all our of day 3 in the Studios Park. Again, it was very wet and quite cold. Moreover, the park was extremely busy. Obviously many French people were on holidays. If I ever go again, and I expect we will, I will check the French school holidays schedule carefully!

This day we were determined to see a few of the shows, hoping to enjoy shelter from the awful weather. We were on time to see the Motor stunt show. I kept Duncan in his pushchair, waving his green access card when asked to leave the chair with all the other pushchairs. This helped him and he was more comfortable to remain in his little chair. I had wondered how he'd cope with the car show, with its loud noises, smells and scenes of danger and simulated shooting and fire balls. I explained carefully what was going to happen, and kept whispering to him throughout. He actually loved it, his little head moving from side to side as he followed the action. He got a real thrill when a stunt man pretended to be shot and dropped off the top of a building or when the cars jumped over a lorry. He reached his limit a while before it ended and I took him out early, and we had fun watching the newest roller coaster there, Crush's Coaster based on the Finding Nemo film. Gordon and I had mobile phones and walkie talkies to keep in touch, all of which were so useful.

We all enjoyed the Animagique show. This is one of Thomas ans Lady's favourites. Again Duncan sat next to me, and he was wide eyed with wonder as the well known characters sang the familiar songs on stage.

The live Stitch show, while hugely enjoyable, wasn't so successful for Duncan. It was a lot more discursive, and he isn't that interested in the character. So although he didn't want to leave, he did shout out a few times during the show. If I'd been able to see how to leave easily I would have done so. As it was, a little girl sitting in front of us spent more time staring at Duncan than at the screen.

My whispering reassurances helped him. We'd stumbled upon a new phrase that seemed to help him. I would ask "who does Mummy love the best?" and he then calmed down to answer that I love Duncan the best, then I'd ask, "who is the best boy in Disneyland" to which he'd say he was! Lady and Thomas knew that neither statement was entirely accurate!

Afterwards we ate at possibly the worst eatery in France. I really don't know how Disneyland Paris can serve such over-priced, poor quality food despite the deserved reputation for quality and appreciation of food in France. Why do the French let them get away with it? Is eating terrible American-style food seen as part of the Disney experience?

But there was more fun to come. We went on the Studios Tour, again something I was worried Duncan would be frightened by, but which Gordon felt he'd enjoy. And G. was right. When the lorry went on fire, D. got a shock (even though I'd whispered to him it would happen) but recovered instantly, understanding that it was part of the show, and that no-one was worried. He got a real thrill watching and hearing thousands of litres of water gush down over everything.

I took Thomas and Lady on the Aladdin Flying Carpet ride, which Duncan didn't want to go on then we went back to the hotel. As before, E. had had enough and stayed there for the rest of the evening. Lady and I had earlier picked up FastPass tickets for the Tower of Terror ride and we both rushed back to make our allocated time slot.

Now this is an appropriately named attraction. We queued up, having a good idea of what was to happen, thanks to YouTube. But to experience it is something else. We lined up for about 20 minutes and were shown to our "lift". The cast member showing us in played the part to perfection. He was tall and gaunt, he gesticulated, and eye rolled. On entering, I asked, "should I be scared" and in a Norman Bates Manner, he assured me that all was well...

Merde alors!

It was far more scary than I anticipated. Lady was wailing and promptly shut her eyes. I had to fight my instinct to hold on to the handles below my seat with my instinct to put my arms around my distressed daughter. After the 1st drop, I managed to let go of one side and hold her. We came to a stop and Lady asked, with her eyes still tightly shut, if it was definitely over. "I'm going to kill him!" she said referring to the staff member who'd shown us into our seats. And as we walked out past him, she glared at him, drew her finger across her neck in that universally understood sign of "you're dead" and pointed at him. I was shocked, but he played along and pretended to fall down. Wow, scary daughter! But we felt very proud of our accomplishment/craziness.

Later still, I took Thomas and Lady out for a meal at the Rainforest Cafe while Gordon stayed with Duncan. I ordered a starter which turned out to be revolting and they each had a children's meal of disgusting spaghetti with meatballs, a small drink and an ice-lolly for almost 15 euros each! Despite that we enjoyed being out together, and Thomas was thrilled that I allowed him to wander around the restaurant alone (he went on tours of 1-2 minutes each over to the aquarium) so we didn't let the terrible food bother us too much. Well, I went out with Gordon again later for something a bit better so I wasn't bothered.

So ended the 3rd day.

Disneyland Day 2

On Tuesday, we woke, wished Thomas a happy 6th birthday, and headed for breakfast together. There were no tables for 6 people available and we had to sit in a row of tables for 2. This was tricky, and we were relieved when a better table in an alcove became available soon after. That way, someone was able to supervise Duncan while the other raided the buffet. The children all loved the breakfast selection of cereals (including chocolate covered varieties) croissants (again with chocolate options) and plentiful mini-packets of Nutella. Duncan drank hot chocolate with frothy milk and ate croissants. It was all a bit messy and disorganised at our table, but eventually we'd filled our bellies and were ready for the next stage.

At last, we were heading to the park. We bundled into our raincoats, since in accordance with the forecast, it was very wet and cold. Although we would have been allowed to enter certain portions of the park 2 hours early as Disney hotel guests, our particular group make-up prevented the rushing and early rising that would have involved. So we joined the throng and headed in. The first thing I did was to get an Access Card for guests with disabilities, after showing a letter from our GP (which I had written and he had merely signed and stamped!). Then we had to go see Space Mountain. This is one of Duncan's current favourites. He loves watching footage of the ride and films about its construction on YouTube, as well as films created by Roller Coaster Tycoon users, some of which are fabulous. He was in awe of it, and so pleased to be there beside the real thing.

Before we'd left, Duncan had insisted that he'd only go on the Casey Junior ride. I wanted to see if he'd be willing to try any of the others and suggested the Buzz Lightyear one. I stressed that it was not a roller coaster (which are great to watch but much too scary for small boys!) and he agreed to try it. We used our Access card for the first time, and were allowed to join the much shorter FastPass line for the ride. Before long all 6 of us were blasting away with our laser guns at Zurg and his minions. Duncan loved it! Having got a taste of the action, we kept the momentum going by heading back to Fantasy Land and the Peter Pan ride. Again we had only a short wait before boarding our flying ship and heading off over London to Neverland.

Duncan is so familiar with many, if not most of the Disney films. Many times I was reassured that he understood and recognised what he was seeing. The characters and stories are so well known and beloved by him, and it really helped him enjoy the narrative of the rides as well as the various shows we watched.

Duncan was keen to see the ride he was most looking forward to, Casey Junior. We headed over there, both Gordon and I relieved to know our way around fairly well from our previous trip. On the way we headed into the Small World ride, knowing that E. would enjoy it particularly, and she did! Then finally, Casey Junior. Only 3 others were allowed to accompany the Access card holder on this ride, and we had a longer wait to board too. This really tested Duncan's abilities to wait and stay calm, when the train came past him over and over and he wasn't allowed on. It was much easier to be waiting away from the main queue though, since Duncan would have been trying to push past other people.

At last we were on, Duncan next to me, and Lady beside Thomas. Gordon and his mum had joined the standard queue, and waved us off. This was it! This was why we'd gone to all that effort and expense to bring them to Disneyland. Duncan was perfectly happy and I just couldn't help getting a little misty eyed to witness such joy. The photo shows Thomas and Duncan on a later trip on Casey Junior.

We were all hungry and cold so went to the Videopolis to eat some burgers and chips etc. These were OK, much helped by the trays of salad available to green up the burgers.

We wanted to see the Tarzan show, but arrived 45 minutes before the start. Thinking that was far too long to expect Duncan to wait, we walked over to Phantom Manor, and using the disabled users entrance, were able to bypass the most freaky part of that ride (crowding into a room which goes dark before descending to where you board the carriages of the ride). Thomas thought it was boring, and Duncan wasn't too enamoured of it either. Moreover, by the time we got back to the Tarzan theatre, we were too late to be admitted which was a shame. But never mind, there was more to see and do.

Next up was the character tea party I'd booked for Thomas' birthday. Well, I thought I'd booked a birthday party but it appeared I hadn't. This didn't go well, partly I must admit, due to my own grumpiness. We entered the restaurant via the wrong set of doors, well who knew! We had some trouble convincing the staff that we wanted to attend the tea party which we had booked and paid for. We were shown to our table, far away from the buffet, and with 6 chairs squashed around a table for 4. Then we were ignored. Eventually, I figured out that we could just go and help ourselves to the food, but I was a bit riled up by then having tried unsuccessfully to get some help and information from a member of the staff. Next they brought out the birthday cakes, singing happy birthday and didn't bring one to Thomas. WTF! Gordon eventually found someone to find out what was going wrong, and it transpired that I had not booked the birthday meal, merely a character meal. Hmm, not what I thought when I made the booking but if so, the error was mine.

After all that it was hard to settle in and enjoy proceedings, but we managed with the help of Goofy, Pluto and Captain Hook among others who made a great fuss of the children, even Thomas who was a bit miffed at not having the promised birthday cake, but who being such a trooper, kept smiling anyway.

We went on a few more rides, Pinocchio and the very freaky, even dystopian Snow White ride (more cuteness, less oppressive forests please!) before deciding we'd had enough.

For much of the day, Duncan had been riding on my back. I'd considered hiring a pushchair, but decided to try to do without. It was clear however, that he'd benefit form having the refuge of a pushchair just as he often does at home. So Lady and E. went ahead of us while Gordon and I arranged the presumably simple task of hiring a pushchair. Not so. It took ages, and even when it was all arranged, when we were trying to leave, an employee at the exits wouldn't let us out with the pushchair without seeing our hire contract, which unfortunately Gordon hadn't been given. He had to go back and sort that out, which took yet more time. By then I was exhausted, cold, wet and wanted nothing more than a hot shower and a sit down. Eventually Gordon returned with the form, but Miss Prissy on the gate still didn't think it was right.

So I unleashed just a small portion of pissed-off mammyness, and let her know that she had proof that we'd hired the chair, that my child is disabled and stressed out by the waiting around, that we wanted to leave and were within our rights to do so, so could you just let us the hell out!
She complied, but was just a bit too stupid to move back far enough to let me push Duncan out, and I inadvertently rolled a wheel over her booted foot. I apologised profusely, while she rolled her eyes. And silly me, I was just so stressed out that I burst into tears. How embarrassing. Ah well, I got over myself soon enough and we got back to the hotel and met up with Lady and E. again. E. just wanted to stay in her room for the rest of the day, understandably, and she wasn't hungry having eaten at the tea party.

Duncan and Thomas decided to have a bath, and a while later when we were all recharged a bit, we headed to McDonald's where they ate. When they were all in bed and asleep, E. looked after them all again, and Gordon and I went out for an hour to ourselves, a few drinks and surprisingly decent fajitas at the Planet Hollywood restaurant. So ended the second day.

Disneyland Day 1

So we went to Disneyland Paris for a couple of days last week. We left on Monday evening. Duncan was rather worried about flying. Shortly before we left he explained his fears; "aeroplane not go upside-down, aeroplane not go side to side!" I was able to confirm that indeed, we would not be doing any stunts during the flight.

While passing through airport security, Duncan dashed over to one of the security staff and lifted up his identity badge to peer at something. I rushed to intervene and explain; you don't mess with airport security these days. It transpired that the man had a tiny Noddy zip-pull figure clipped on behind the ID tag around his neck. I explained Duncan's autism and love of all things Noddy. The man was very understanding and explained he'd been given the Noddy for contributing to a cancer research charity. A minute later, as I was gathering up my bags and putting my boots back on, he came over and handed the Noddy to Duncan. How kind was that! Duncan was delighted. Even better (for him) in the airport shop where he spent much time as we waited to board, he spotted yet another Noddy toy. I bought it for him, so for the next 3 days, he went everywhere with Big Noddy, little Noddy and his Big Ears toys.

Gordon's mum E. was with us on the holiday. She sat beside Thomas and Lady on the plane while Gordon and I stayed with Duncan. He was still a bit nervous, but excited. He kept pulling my arm around him as tight as he could and burying his head in my shoulder. He was repeating his worries about the flight, and his wish that the plane not go too fast, and I explained many times that we would be safe, we'd not got too fast, the person flying the plane is called a pilot and is very good and safe and clever. As we took off he shrieked a bit in excitement, but was happy. He was a bit bothered when his ears started to hurt but followed my instructions to yawn or have a drink. All in, the flight and airport parts passed as well as hoped.

We landed in Paris a bit early and since we had no hold bags, were through passport control and in the terminal very quickly. I had booked a taxi to take us directly to Disneyland, the same service I'd used last year. While then, the driver had been waiting for us with my name on a card, this year we had to wait for almost 30 minutes for him to arrive. I was not happy. Then on the way, he pulled into a petrol station. I thought he was a bit disorganised to need fuel while on route with customers, but instead he left us on the minibus for 10 minutes while he went into the bloody shop! Disgusted and knackered was I. His tip prospects were well and truly vamooshed.

Eventually, at about 10.30 French time, we reached the hotel and after a rather lengthy check in procedure, we went to our rooms. These were in a great location, on the ground floor, close to the reception and restaurant. We had 2 connecting rooms, and soon the children and E. were in bed, with the ajoining doors open, while Gordon and I headed to the bar for a cocktail and a few crappy snacks. (Thus, the standard of food for the duration was set.)